“Swamp Thing” #13 seems like the first time I’ve seen Yanick Paquette drawing an issue of this title in half a year or more. That might be an exaggeration, but seeing Paquette’s work here makes me realize how much I missed it, despite the wonderful talent this book has hosted. I truly enjoy Paquette’s interpretation of this corner of the DC Universe. Just as “Batman” and “American Vampire” have “definitive” artists to writer Scott Snyder’s adventures with those characters, Paquette is cementing himself as the “definitive” Swamp Thing artist.
Paquette delivers masterful page layouts throughout “Swamp Thing” #13. Layouts and panel borders confidently run across spreads and Paquette’s overall design is a stunningly organic entity. Using branches and roots, spores and mold to delineate panel borders, Paquette provides atmosphere and context absent in most other books. There are levels to the art and to the panels; the issue in and of itself becomes a piece of art to be studied. Paquette, having crafted the redesigns of Abby Arcane and Swamp Thing, draws these characters with deceptive ease and grace. There is an eerie bulk to the characters, not unlike the work of Kelley Jones, but unlike Jones’ work, Paquette’s characters are not haunting and nightmarish.
Nathan Fairbairn’s coloring is as soothing for this issue as crayons on warm newsprint coloring book pages are for a six-year-old child. The creativity with the work presented is bold and unapologetic yet Fairbairn’s colors blend nicely. The visual festivity is capped by Travis Lanham’s portrayal of the vocal strain of the Swamp Thing’s speech, which is marvelously absent when Alec Holland consults the Parliament of Trees. If every installment of “Rotworld” is blessed to have this visual team intact, then this is going to be a Swamp Thing tale for the ages.
The art in this issue is gorgeous and rewarding, so much so that I had to remind myself it didn’t all spew forth from the paper itself. Scott Snyder has been working vigorously to incorporate the history of the Swamp Thing while defining the shambling shell of a man for a whole new generation. Snyder’s story, while co-plotted with Jeff Lemire to coincide with “Rotworld” over in “Animal Man” is sturdy enough to stand on its own and sharp enough to keep the reader hooked despite casting a feeling like it is smack-dab in the middle of something. Truly, the story is in the middle of something, but “Rotworld” is part mystery and part suspense as we learn what happened as Alec Holland learns it. There is a war going on between Green and the Rot as Holland embraces this voyage of discovery.
Now that zero month has concluded, Snyder can regain his footing and the story can find a comfortable pace. This issue ends with a cliffhanger and the promise of Swamp Thing fighting Rot-infected Teen Titans, which caused me to draw comparisons between “Blackest Night” and “Rotworld.” This is truly the first chapter of “Rotworld,” so I am certain Snyder and Paquette will distance themselves appropriately, providing an entertaining and haunting story along the way.