When we last left Alec Holland in ‘Swamp Thing’ #6, he was dying… again. The armies of the Rot had overrun Alec and one of the literally twisted minions ran our hero through with a chainsaw. With the Parliament of Trees burning, the emissary of the Red sitting around in a camper over the pages of ‘Animal Man’, and the Green’s hero dying, it seemed as if all is lost and that the Rot would soon overrun the entire world.

[Warning: There are some spoilery seeds scattered into the next couple of paragraphs.]

This issue, the Parliament of Trees pulls Alec Holland into their protection. At first glance, it would appear as if Alec’s death has given the Parliament exactly what they have wanted since this series began… a new Swamp Thing. According to the Trees, Alec is supposed to be the emissary of the Green and the only way to do that is to die and be resurrected as the monsterous Swamp Thing. Thus far, Alec has fought the Trees on every account, holding to the fact that he’s been resurrected and doesn’t want to become a monster again. But, in a shocking twist, the Parliament’s protection of Holland isn’t to create their new Knight of the Green. Instead, they reveal that they are too weak to turn Holland into the Swamp Thing and that they are merely keeping him alive for as along as possible to prolong his suffering. Cold bunch, aren’t they? Meanwhile, Holland’s ally and ex-lover of the Swamp Thing, Abby Arcane is being recruited by the Rot as its own Emissary and Holland is now forced to sit bleeding and dying as he watches the world go down the drain.

[The spoilers are over. Read on!]

Between this title and the amazing Court of Owls story over in ‘Batman’, Scott Snyder is consistently in my top three writers of DC’s New 52. In less capable hands, an issue that is essentially 20 pages of dazed dream images has so much potential to go boring and wrong. (Look at this week’s issue of ‘Animal Man’ to see what I mean.) But Snyder’s character-building of Alec as he faces off against the harsh faces of the Parliament is pure brilliance here. When things finally come to a head in the final few pages of this issue, I was shaking with excitement. Snyder has pulled off the impossible and given me a story that’s rapidly rising to the level of Alan Moore’s legendary turn in ‘Saga of the Swamp Thing’.

Snyder’s vicious dream is aided in no small part by the glorious visuals from Yanick Paquette. As the story flips between Alec’s surreal face-off with the Parliament to the real world horrors of the Rot and Abby, the art changes in turn. When it’s the Rot, it’s harsh and violent, even down to the very layout of the page and the borders of the images. But when the story is in the Green, it’s exactly what you’d expect from someone inside the force of all plant life on the Earth. It’s dreamy, colorful, and organic. The panels flow in and out of one another like vines and the images seem to blossom from within while harsh roots keep the entire thing grounded.

Snyder’s ‘Batman’ #5 was on my list for best single issue of 2012. Now it has some competition in the ‘Swamp Thing’. This one is simply stunning!

Verdict: Buy

Art and cover by YANICK PAQUETTE