If Anton Arcane had a mustache, he’d be twirling it by the end of “Swamp Thing” #12. The second part of the “Rotworld” prologue brings Arcane back to the pages of “Swamp Thing” and propels the alliance of Alec Holland and Buddy Baker towards the proverbial fan. Arcane monologues like the timeless villain he is and reveals all to the heroes and readers before the split-page cliffhanger.
Arcane reveals everything except how to undo the damage from the Rot. While Swamp Thing’s rogues gallery is certainly more impressive than Animal Man’s, there is no denying that Scott Snyder writes Arcane as a big villain bold enough to threaten multiple heroes.
Scott Snyder and Jeff Lemire are credited as co-scripting this issue, which is done seamlessly. Socks, Ellen and Maxine Baker and Abigail Arcane are introduced, remain distinct characters and bring their own history and voice throughout the story. All of them have roles to play and are very deserving of the panels they share with the titular heroes. Snyder and Lemire seize the opportunity to have Socks and Abby strategize against the Rot -- a pairing almost as entertaining as Swamp Thing and Animal Man.
From page one, Marco Rudy successfully upholds the organic page layout designs Yanick Paquette established for this title a year ago. With three different inkers (two if you exclude Rudy inking his own work) applying definition and dimension to his pencils, Rudy’s figures are not as heavily bogged down by shadows as they would be with Paquette at the helm. This provides Val Staples with more canvas to fill with digital coloring brilliance. Staples keeps the coloring tight and dramatic, leaving hints of the real world to shine through the garish attack. The lighter shadow works for the elements in play, but there are some scenes, like the bone ladder, that would have been more visually impressive with more detail, shadow or both.
After a year of drifting around one another, “Swamp Thing” and “Animal Man” finally connect, allowing Lemire and Snyder the opportunity to share their collaboration with readers. Both writers have made this team-up seem natural and worthy of any classic team-up title from yesteryear. This adventure is the type of fun the darker corners of a pre-Vertigo, pre-Crisis DC Universe provided on a regular basis. The read is disturbing, making the characters that much more heroic, but even so, there are no guarantees. The suspenseful results growing out of “Swamp Thing” #12 assure readers the action and anticipation will not subside any time soon.