Monday, January 20, 2014



Collects Swamp Thing Nos. 12-18 and Animal Man Nos. 12, 17 (cover dates October, 2012- May, 2013)

Writers: Scott Snyder and Jeff Lemire

Artists: Yanick Paquette, Steve Pugh, Marco Rudy, Andrew Belanger, Dan Green, Andy Owens, Timothy Green II, and Joseph Silver

Colorists: Lovern Kindzierski, Val Staples, Nathan Fairbairn, Lee Loughridge, and Tony Avina

The New 52 version of Swamp Thing remains a gruesome re-imagining and redefining of the Swamp Thing mythos, and for my money, it works. While some of these concepts (i.e. Swamp Thing being the avatar of The Green) were laid out in Alan Moore's 1980s run, this run is turned on its head with Abigail Arcane being a part of The Rot. Her father, Anton Arcane, is the avatar of The Rot, ramping up his status as the Swamp thing's arch nemesis.

The first issue in this book is the Animal Man Rotworld Prologue issue, #12. As the third volume in this series and the first issue that I can recall ever encountering Animal Man in, it serves as a piss poor introduction to the character. No context or explanation of any kind is given, as if readers are expected to know who he is and what he does. Mind you, I am a hardcore comic fan who reads upward of 1,000 comic books a year, and I was lost with the introduction of this character within the confines of this series. Assuming that fans know who every character is detrimental to the mythological mainstream buyers that allegedly scoop up New 52 books. Animal Man is the champion of The Red, something not laid out until the second Animal Man issue (#17) collected later in this book.

Animal Man and Swamp Thing form a tenuous balancing act with The Rot, a sort of natural check and balance that Anton Arcane is trying to upset. Animal Man and Swamp Thing journey to The Rot, with Swamp Thing leaving a vine grown from his body acting a tether to our world. While in the realm of The Rot, the vine gets cut by Anton Arcane, leaving them stranded and searching for a way back home.

When Swamp Thing comes to, he finds that The Rot has taken over the world in his absence, even co-opting every superhero into twisted Rot-version of themselves. This all seems tired and tedious, as it has happened so many times across so many series over the years. Some of these versions, like Batman and Man-Bat, play an important role, while others just seem to be added scenery to give this crossover some sort of universe-shaking merit. I tend to roll my eyes at this sort of thing.

Those complaints aside, this was a fairly enjoyable read with absolutely gorgeous artwork and coloring. This series can be downright gruesome, with the Horror elements ramped up and the more philosophical nature of the Alan Moore run taking a backseat to more visceral imagery. If you can take this series as it's own thing then you will enjoy it. I am suffering from crossover and event fatigue, but this one was thankfully contained to two titles. I have discovered that Animal Man is the other side of the coin to this series, but I won't be checking it out. I have too many irons in the fire as it is.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 4 out of 5.

The OCD zone- Some of the caption boxes are swallowed by the gutter, albeit slightly. I would think that DC would take the gutter spacing on their collected editions into consideration when doing page layouts in their periodical comic books, since nearly everything is compiled into a hardcover or trade paperback several months after the completion of every arc.
DVD-style Extras included in this book: Cover sketches and designs (1 page).
Swamp Thing #12 and Animal Man #12 combined covers by Yanick Paquette, Steve Pugh, and Nathan Fairbairn (2 pages).
Swamp Thing #17 and Animal Man #17 combined covers by Yanick Paquette, Steve Pugh, and Nathan Fairbairn (2 pages).
Character sketches by Yanick Paquette (1 page).
Paper rating: 4.5 out of 5. DC now uses better paper in their collected editions of modern material than Marvel does. This has a nice weight glossy coated stock which is optimal for material with computer coloring.
Binding rating: 4 out of 5. Perfect bound trade paperback.
Cardstock cover coating rating: 5 out of 5. Nice weight cardstock cover with a thick waxlike lamination. My copy had a manufacturing defect, an air bubble trapped in the finish. DC now uses the same weight cardstock cover that Marvel used to use, making DC's trade paperbacks of modern material superior to Marvel's.

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