In Animal Man #12, Animal Man and Swamp Thing plunged into the depths of Rotworld in a bid to restore balance to the Red and the Green. Snyder and Lemire continue the story as Animal Man and Swamp Thing penetrate to the core of the Rot, knowing that they are walking into a trap.
Focusing on the journey rather than destination, Snyder and Lemire work a heavy atmosphere of tension and horror as the reader waits to see how far our heroes have gone down the rot hole. In many ways, the story has similarities with great horror films like Alien with the imagery of Swamp Thing and Animal Man’s only remaining lifeline to the surface being the vine Swamp Thing uses to tether them to the Green.
There’s solid foreshadowing with this imagery of what’s going to happen as they dive deeper into the Rot. It’s not a matter of who’s going to get it, but how and when they’re going to get it.
On the surface, Abigail Arcane, Ellen, and Maxine fend off an intrusion of Rot warriors in a mad scramble against their sudden and overwhelming numbers, giving a sense of panic and claustrophobia to the madness overrunning the Green and the Red.
Snyder and Lemire use these opposite moods to create an overall tension that’s almost ready to snap, much like Swamp Thing’s vine tether. Knowing it was just a matter of time, Swamp Thing and Animal Man are confronted by Arcane as he takes hold of the vine and severs the connection. This scene works really well with Arcane biting off the vine like and umbilical cord, creating the ultimate visual simile for the rapidly deteriorating situation.
At this point, Animal Man and his family are the odd ones out in the story because they have never faced off with Arcane. It’s up to Abby to attack the last possible pressure point of the Rot – The Parliament of Decay by using her power and knowledge of the Rot against it.
Thrown off the bone ladder of Rotworld, Swamp Thing and Animal Man plunge through the depths of the Rot, only to find themselves back in a future world where the Rot has overtaken the Earth. Snyder and Lemire have a lot of work to do in working this out. It’s the only part of the story that doesn’t work as well with the plot they’ve developed.
Since both writers have proven themselves capable of working out strange twists that ultimately work, readers should stay tuned for how this works out in the long term. This story has been unfolding for the past year, so a little bit more patience is required.
Marco Rudy does a nice job maintaining the feel of Steve Pugh’s work on the Animal Man issue, but doesn’t plumb the depths of terror as effectively in his renderings. In his defense, he had two other inkers on this issue. He does capably draw the story as a whole with an endless feel to it that helps the imagery of the script.
Overall, I grade the story an A- for the incredible atmosphere that Snyder and Lemire’s writing lends to the story. The artwork rates a B+ for maintaining the flow of this terrifying tale. DC would be wise to option both of these titles into their film world. Cinema could use a super hero-based horror movie or two.