“Swamp Thing” #18 presents Scott Snyder and Yanick Paquette with the opportunity to depict one final scuffle between Alec Holland and Anton Arcane with the life of Abigail Arcane hanging in the balance. This epilogue to the “Rotworld” saga picks up from the end of the multi-part crossover with “Animal Man,” but peels back the detritus of that decrepit world to hit the heart of what Snyder has built this series around: avatars called to their true purpose and their struggles to answer that call.
Snyder picks up the Parliament of the Rot’s misgivings and regrets regarding their choice of Anton Arcane to serve as their avatar. While I like the notion of the Rot having a Parliament, the same as the Green, it seems to me that the composition of the Rot overlords is lacking a measure of spectacular oddity. All of the Rot Parliament are vaguely human and much more reminiscent of the Science Council from the first Christopher Reeve “Superman” movie than an otherworldly governing body over death and decay.
All along I have pointed to this book having a much different appearance when Paquette draws it, even when the fill-in artists try to mimic his style. This issue fully demonstrates that difference, from Anton Arcane’s jaws that project shark-like from his mouth to the decaying leaf pattern that borders the two panels on the second-to-last page. Paquette’s art is detailed and disgusting, perfect for a comic that features the avatars of the Green and the Rot and the artist makes some great decisions in what he chooses to display and what is implied instead.
Fairbairn’s coloring of the three primaries in this event — Anton Arcane, Abby Arcane and Swamp Thing — supports their respective essences. Anton is a harsh, brilliantly red-tinged tone evocative of the gory, egregious deaths and mutilations he has committed. Abby is ashen in her flesh, but deftly shaded with deep blues and rich black tones in her negotiations with the Parliament of the Rot. Naturally, Swamp Thing is lush and green, full of the promise of spring, but tempered with the earthtones that sustain him. Fairbairn truly serves as a partner to Paquette, adding dimension to the artist’s gorgeous drawing.
Snyder’s farewell is poignant and on target for this series. The writer’s work finally comes full circle, closing his adventure for Alec Holland while establishing a new beginning for Swamp Thing. Snyder even sneaks in some humor into the issue, which helps ground the story despite all the zaniness and cosmic level grotesquerie occurring in this issue. While I’m unsure where upcoming writer Charles Soule will take the legacy of the Green and the adventures of Swamp Thing next, but I do know that I’ve enjoyed this past year-and-a-half. Snyder redefined the avatar of the Green and Yanick Paquette celebrated the horrendous aspects of the character’s visual history while delivering stunning new interpretations of page and panel composition for this title.