With Scott Snyder and Yanick Paquette’s run almost at an end, “Swamp Thing” #16 carries a little extra heft, being more than just nearing the end of “Rotworld: The Green Kingdom.” Even if their run wasn’t moving towards its conclusion, “Swamp Thing” #16 would still be a fun comic. The duo explores what’s become of Gotham City, and remind readers that even in death, the old adage of “Batman always wins” can still hold some weight.
Most of the issue is devoted to Swamp Thing’s tour of Gotham, and there are a lot of clever ideas; not only on how some were able to survive using an invention from a classic Batman villain, but also on how Batman was able to create a stronghold for some members of the city and how to find the perfect protectors. With each little revelation, it’s hard to keep from smiling; Snyder is mining both “Swamp Thing” and “Batman” mythology to come up with his ideas, and the synthesis of the two comes out remarkably smooth and satisfying. Swamp Thing’s curiosity ends up echoing that of the reader — you want to see more, and each new discovery is something of great interest. By the time the final revelation appears, you might even want to applaud.
Snyder has wisely left the fate of Abigail Arcane up in the air in “Rotworld: The Green Kingdom.” Even with the early claim a few issues ago that she’d died in the time gap between the present day and the future of the Rotworld, we’ve been seeing what actually happened to her revealed in dribs and drabs. It’s been a smart move, because it’s kept the level of suspense high for her, and every time we jump back to the present day it’s not a distraction but something to actually look forward to. I think it’s why the “Swamp Thing” chapters of “Rotworld” are working more than in its sister title of “Animal Man.” There’s still that sense that anything could happen (instead of the inevitability of a big timeline reset), and it makes you excited to see what will happen next.
Paquette’s art is lovely to look at. The large vistas of Rotworld are eye-grabbing; a landscape of destruction and death with a great deal of detail but never feeling overwhelming. Paquette works well with colorist Nathan Fairbairn to help achieve that effect; Paquette uses slightly thicker lines for the foreground characters, and Fairbairn likewise gives them a more dark, robust color palette so that they jump out at the reader instead of getting lost in the background. In general, though, Paquette brings a strange sense of fun to the horror of the Rotworld. His Superman, for instance, reminds me a lot of “Superman: The Man of Steel” artist Jon Bogdanove’s take on the character in the ’90s, and the legion of people wearing Robin domino masks and R t-shirts can’t help but make you chuckle. It’s another reason why “Swamp Thing” #16 is so enjoyable to read; the Rotworld might be an awful place to live, but Snyder and Paquette haven’t made the reader wallow in it.
I’m definitely going to miss Snyder and Paquette on “Swamp Thing,” and this issue is a prime example of why. The duo have a strong sense of how to create a comic that’s as much adventure as it is horror. With an engaging story since day one, “Swamp Thing” has brought a level of class to the New 52 that will be sorely missed.