There’s no getting around it: people are probably going to remember the final page of “Swamp Thing” #11 more than anything else this month — but here’s the thing; the other 19 pages are pretty darn good in their own right thanks to Scott Snyder and Marco Rudy.
It’s nice to see Rudy serve as the regular fill-in artist. As much as I enjoy Yanick Paquette’s art (and it’s quite good), Rudy has a similar sensibility that makes him the right choice to sub in from time to time. Rudy’s art has some gorgeous and dynamic layouts; I love when he creates custom panel borders, from the swirling, floral Age-of-Aquarius panel borders to the dark red, bloody, rotting lines near the end of the issue.
Of course, his figures look great too. He’s got a strong sense of detail here, evoking past “Swamp Thing” artists like Steve Bissette and John Totleben, especially when we enter the swamp itself. Anton Arcane ends up looking more disgusting as the issue progresses, with additional tendons, teeth and gristle showing up. It’s a curious decision but if anything it makes the villain feel that much more dangerous as a result. Only Swamp Thing himself doesn’t feel quite right, although part of that could be merely getting used to his new slightly different form. Still, it’s not a bad depiction, just one that feels a little rough around the edges.
The story itself is another good chapter in the overall saga against the Rot. I found myself appreciating Snyder’s update on the typical “damsel in distress” storyline. Abby Arcane has shown herself throughout this entire series to be a strong and capable character, so it’s a relief to not have that thrown out for the sake of having Swamp Thing swing in and rescue her. They’re ultimately a team rather than a hero and sidekick/companion, and I like that this is a situation requiring both of them to fully untangle. On the whole, it’s a fast-paced and satisfying issue,, which resolves last month’s cliffhanger and moves into the last page to launch the series into next month’s excitement.
“Swamp Thing” has moved from one strength to the next over its first year back, and this issue continues that trend. Of the various New 52 titles from DC Comics, “Swamp Thing” is one of the most-consistently strong titles. That’s a good thing.