At the shocking finale to ‘Swamp Thing’ #13, Alec Holland had arrived in the “Rotworld”, a decimated version of Earth where Anton Arcane and The Rot had defeated The Green and Red. To make matters worse, Alec learns from Poison Ivy that his beloved Abby Arcane was dead.
This issue picks up mere seconds after that shocking reveal. The Swamp Thing refuses to believe that Abby is dead, stating that he can sense her somewhere in the Rotworld. The Parliament of Tree tell Swampy that what he senses isn’t Abby, but rather a memory that was taken from him by The Rot many years ago. When they see his confusion, the Parliament begin telling a flashback tale to the first time that Alec Holland met Abby Arcane.
When he was a young student botanist, Alec Holland paid a visit to the Carpathian Mountains. A village there was bombarded with some sort of radiation causing all plant life to die off and they enlist the aid of Holland to see if he can’t find a way to bring vegetation back to the town. When Alec arrives in the town, it quickly becomes apparent that something isn’t right. Alec is picked up at the airport by a creepy Igor-type character and taken to the home of the man who summoned him… one Anton Arcane!
Okay… so Alec doesn’t know Arcane yet but readers are given some hints into the nature of the man and it’s clear that Arcane has been dealing with The Rot for a long while and is probably the cause of all of the dead vegetation in the area. Meanwhile, Alec meets Arcane’s daughter Abby and the two go on a quick whirlwind tour of the village, ending with the two beginning to have feelings for one another. However, as they explore, it’s revealed that Alec wasn’t summoned to save the village and that there is a much more nefarious plot afoot. In the end, Alec escapes Arcane… but not before he leaves behind something very important.
I absolutely loved this issue. Scott Snyder delivered a story that is something straight out of an old Hammer horror flick with all of the ominous scenery and foreshadowing with Arcane. The only reason this one didn’t earn a perfect score is that the story, while amazing, isn’t really essential to the “Rotworld” plot overall. It’s more of an interesting aside into the history of the New 52 world of Swamp Thing.
SWAMP THING ANNUAL #1
Story by Scott Snyder and Scott Tuft
Art by Becky Cloonan
Cover by Yanick Paquette and Nathan Fairbairn