Just so we’re clear. Despite the cover for Swamp Thing #10, Anton Arcane and Swamp Thing do not rumble. Well, they kind of do, but it’s more like Arcane beats down a sleeping Swamp Thing. Why is Swamp Thing sleeping? Patience grasshopper, all will become clear. I will say this – at least writer Scott Snyder’s way of prolonging the coming war with The Rot is more interesting than the stalled Animal Man.
First, for those who do not know, Anton Arcane is Swamp Thing’s oldest and most diabolical enemy. Long dead, the New 52 sees Arcane reborn as part of The Rot, almost a God to them. Swamp Thing #10 opens with the spiritualized human form of Abigail Arcane, recently freed from The Rot, helping Swamp Thing back to her house in the swamp. Our hero is wounded from his battles and needs to rest in the thick of the green to regenerate his power. Narrating all of this is the demon form of Arcane, who has risen to take revenge against Swamp Thing and his daughter. Arcane is fucked up both mentally and physically.
After rising, Arcane finds the sleeping Swamp Thing and supposedly beats him to death. Then, with his vile unmen in tow, Arcane descends on his daughter. Outside of that, not much action goes down in Swamp Thing #10. Fret not, though, the issue is still good and does something quite spectacular with Anton Arcane. For most who even know the name Swamp Thing, Arcane’s evil has been largely downplayed and for the public at large, few even know who Arcane is. Even in deep comic circles, he’s seen more as Swamp Thing’s Lex Luthor than the dedicated personification of evil. Snyder and artist Francesco Francavilla do an astounding job or re-establishing Arcane as a true threat to humanity.
Swamp Thing #10 also manages to put off the war with The Rot by focusing on another aspect of the story. Snyder puts The Rot on the backburner so he can bring Arcane into the story. The timing for the return of Swamp Thing’s oldest foe is perfect. While Animal Man wallows in unnecessary issues that feel like time killers, Swamp Thing gets a fresh outlook on the whole Rot situation. By the end of issue 10, I was excited to see what would come next with Arcane and how he would remain in the current Swamp Thing mythos.
Art wise, Francesco Francavilla is right on as always. His version of Anton Arcane is so evil that in one panel the character is reborn. I love Francavilla’s use of shadow in this issue. The shots of Arcane are shaded in a way to bring maximum creepiness and yet the swamp images are shaded in a style that makes the swamp inviting but secretive. I was especially knocked out by Francavilla’s use of color. The panels are so lush that they almost bleed off the page. I’m still waiting for this war to happen, but for now I can sink a little deeper into the swamp.
4 story/4 art