"Brightest Day's" Protector Revealed

SPOILER WARNING: The contents of the following article contain plot points from today's "Brightest Day" #23.

Over its year of bi-weekly issues, DC Comics "Brightest Day" event series has brought up a lot of questions for readers. What tasks would the resurrected heroes at the heart of the series be called upon to complete? What was the secret of the mysterious extra white ring given to Deadman? And most important of all: Who would be called on to take the White Lantern as earth's new protector?

With the release of today's "Brightest Day" #23, it appears that final question has been answered, although the answer may be bringing up more questions for the DC Universe than anything else.

To help spur the discussion, DC has released to CBR an exclusive peek inside the issue's big reveal along with a statement from the story turn from DC Editor-in-Chief Bob Harras. Below, we help navigate the role the protector's identity may mean for the publisher both in "Brightest Day's" final issues and the incoming "Brightest Day Aftermath: The Search" mini series.

Of course, it goes without saying, but once again, we'll note A SPOILER WARNING for "Brightest Day" #23, in stores today.

As this exclusive image reveals, "Brightest Day" #23 contains the much called for return to the DC Universe of classic horror character Swamp Thing, who's been exclusively under the providence of the company's Vertigo imprint since 1997.

However later in the issue, the White Lantern's voice also named the protector of earth as Alec Holland - also known as Swamp Thing's alter ego. Could the two entities be separated? Asked exactly what all this means for the future of the book and the DCU, DC Editor-in-Chief Bob Harras told CBR News, "Having seen the plans we've got coming up for Swamp Thing, I'm incredibly excited about his return. Issue #23 sets in motion an amazing chain of events that impacts just about everybody and everything in the DC Universe. 'Brightest Day' is just the beginning of an extraordinary journey for Swamp Thing."

Regardless of where the story moves next, the appearance of the character marks a very specific turn for the publisher's use of the company-owned characters that have been published by its mature readers Vertigo line. While many Vertigo mainstays such as Swamp Thing and (in a way) the Sandman have their roots in DC's proper superhero line, there has a strict division barring their use in the DC Universe line since the mid 1990's. Readers have been asking whether Swamp Thing and other Vertigo heroes could return to the DCU often of late - largely spurred by sci-fi writer China Mieville's statements that a Vertigo book with the character under his pen was cut short due to a DC return.

But now that he has returned, the readers are left with the mystery of how the hero's personal backstory may impact "Brightest Day" and its surroundings stories. As dedicated DC readers may recall, Swamp Thing was revealed to be the Plant Elemental of Earth in Alan Moore's legendary run on the character's title in the '80s. That comic - which eventually brought the hero to the Vertigo imprint due to its sophisticated themes and adult content - revealed that Holland hadn't turned into Swamp Thing so much as the Swamp Thing created to be an Elemental had absorbed the man's personality. Whether that plot point will be explored with the return of both Swamp Thing and Holland has yet to be seen.

Additionally, the idea of earth Elementals in the DC Universe was expanded beyond Swamp Thing's service to the Parliament of Trees introduced by Moore. Most notably, the '80s series "Firestorm" saw its lead hero become the planet's Fire Elemental serving the The Parliament of Flames as other characters took similar positions with the Parliaments of Waves, Stones and Vapors. That series was written by John Ostrander who, like Moore, has proven a favorite of "Brightest Day" co-writer and DC CCO Geoff Johns. At the very least, the final cover for "Brightest Day" #23 (shown at right) seems to point toward Elemental plotlines playing a role in the series finale.

And of course, the last two official appearances the character made in the DCU came in 1997 with "Green Lantern" #81 and "Aquaman" #32 - 33. In those stories, Swamp Thing oversaw the funeral of Hal Jordan and an inner journey for Arthur Curry - two characters whose resurrections have helped form the backbone of the current even.

For more, check out "Brightest Day" #23 in comic stores now, and sound off on the CBR Message Boards about what its contents may mean for DC's big green monster. And of course, stay tuned to CBR in the days ahead for more from DC Comics editorial and creative staff on what Swamp Thing's return means for the DC Universe and DC publishing.

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