This is Charles Soule’s third comic this week, and given that this is for the book he’s already doing great work on, it makes sense that it’s the best. Arcane hasn’t appeared in Soule’s run yet, with Scott Snyder taking him off the board after Rotworld, but this was a welcome return for both Anton and Abby, and it shows that whilst Soule is mostly introducing new threats in his Swamp Thing run, he’s more than capable of writing the classics.
This issue begins with Arcane in his own idea of hell, a perfect world where nothing rots at all. He tries to kill a rabbit, but can’t, it just stays the same, nothing rots. He is then visited by Abby Arcane, the new Avatar of the Rot, who is looking for answers about her past, and in particular, what Anton did to her mother.
The answer to these questions are delightfully creepy, as Anton takes us through his origins, including a disgusting scene where he eats a rotting rabbit carcass, and how Anton experimented on Abby’s mother, making her skin rot, and then replacing it over time, until she was some kind of patch-work Frankenstein’s monster. And then, the final kicker (which we already knew from Snyder’s run, I think), that the woman Abby remembered as her mother, wasn’t her mother at all, just ‘some whore’, and that Abby’s real mother was killed by Abby when she was a baby.
This whole comic just had a brilliant air of creepiness to it, which makes a lot of sense, since Swamp Thing is really a horror comic, and Anton Arcane certainly brings the horror. In the end, Abby is furious about the truth she has uncovered, vowing that her Uncle will never escape, but unfortunately, she let him get too much power back, and he seems to have found an opening. That final page with the innocent family and the rotten apple was a great teaser for the future, and I’m excited for what Soule has up his sleeve for the next Arcane/Swamp Thing confrontation.
The artwork from Jesus Saiz here was excellent, he’s already done really good work on previous issues of Soule’s Swamp Thing, so it’s great to see a Villain’s Month book handled by what is basically the regular creative team for once. Too many of these comics have been fill-ins, but this one felt like an integral part of the ongoing story.