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Since Swamp Thing #10 I haven't bothered to review an issue of Swamp Thing, but that doesn't mean I haven't been reading it. The last several issues of this series have been a part of the highly-anticipated (though aren't they all?) crossover event between Animal Man and Swamp Thing known as "Rotworld." The crossover, which started out alright but inevitably flawed, became a laborious crossover to read through that cost much more money than it was worth.
Swamp Thing #18 is an epilogue to "Rotworld" with Alec Holland, the Swamp Thing, sent back in time to save his love, Abby, only to find out there is only one way to stop the post-apocalyptic future he just came back from: Kill Abby.
To get the full analysis of this issue I'm warning you right now: there are spoilers in this review and I'd suggest only reading it if you have already read Swamp Thing #18 or don't care about being spoiled. But I would only suggest this issue to die-hard Swamp Thing fans – both the old and new ones.
Here's the biggest spoiler right off the bat: Alec chooses to kill Abby. The huge problem is there is almost no deliberation about killing Abby. You would expect Alec, who's main reason for fighting to save the world was Abby, to reject the idea of killing Abby. Instead, Abby doesn't even finish her sentence before Alec kills her a couple pages in. This quick decision mirrors the fast pacing throughout the rest of this issue.
Of course, after Abby "dies" she becomes the Avatar of the Rot and assumes an amazing new form that I look forward to seeing in the future. Unfortunately, she's going to be apart from Alec for a while since the lovers are "tragically" separated because they are different Avatars, a plot device for couples that has become overused not only in comics but in TV and books.
The rest of the story was a mediocre mess with a sloppily written fight scene here and there and a boring opening where the Rot repetitively reassure themselves that Alec is alive. We get it – the title character who clearly isn't going to die nor is he dead is not dead. Thanks for the pointless opening bit, can we get to the real plot please?
One thing that writer Scott Snyder let "slip" which I find interesting (but that doesn't seem to pertain to the current plot at all) is that the next person destined to be Swamp Thing not only isn't ready, but is also a woman. I find this interesting since the only three "Avatars of the Green" that we've seen in action have been men. But that may not come into play for a long time, so it'll have to be back-logged for now.
After Abigail assumes her Rot form the design drawn by Yanick Paquette is absolutely stunning. He drew Abby as a human well, but after her transformation Paquette gives her back her beautiful long hair which she lost in the New 52, has the always practical wings and a cool blue-armored body. The panels with her in this new form, especially those she shares with Alec, is some of the best artwork I have seen from Paquette in a while.
Unfortunately, the rest of Paquette's art doesn't blow me away. I've never liked his take on Swamp Thing and Anton Arcane's designs. The horns on Swamp Thing's head look out of place and Arcane's design is just a generic stitched up zombie look that doesn't stray from the old Arcane design even though it should.
Paquette also continues his revolutionary yet simple (and problematic) layout scheme of having black lines, sometimes laced with blood spatter, separating the panels so there isn't any dull white background behind the panels. While I think this is a good idea that I would like to see implemented in other comics, it does need work: some of the pages become so chaotic because of the technique that I'm not entirely sure what order to read the panels in which immediately took me out of the story and had me scratching my head for a bit. The first page didn't even need the clearly out of place blue squiggly lines.
The emotion in this issue seems gravely misplaced. There is almost no hesitance when Alec decides to kill Abby and not even her wonderful new design can make up for that. Really, I'm just glad "Rotworld" is officially over for Swamp Thing and we can now get on to something else which will hopefully take this series, which has been particularly disappointing to me, to the next level. If not, my dedication to the Green may be worn away to the breaking point. However, it could go either way with the next issue, which I just learned has a different creative team since this was Scott Snyder and Yanick Paquette's last issue. The new creative team will be writer Charles Soule and artist Kano and I'm looking forward to seeing what they can bring to the table - though I have a feeling a lot of people who have been enjoying Snyder and Paquette's run on this series (and I know there are many) will not be happy.