Swamp Thing #9 is where my faith in writer Scott Snyder comes due. Thus far, Snyder has delivered across the board in his angle for the series. He’s taken what Alan Moore, Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson did before and expanded that legacy with great success. Swamp Thing #9, while not a fail, is the first harsh stumbling block of the entire series. It stumbles for one reason, failing to deliver what it promised. The build up of Swamp Thing #7 and #8 was that of war. Swamp Thing #9 doesn’t deliver war and what it does deliver is only slightly more exciting than a dodge ball game.
The newly formed Swamp Thing attacks the Queen Of The Rot. Think of how epic that sounds. Swamp Thing, the all mighty protector of the Green, is going to throw down against the queen of death and rot itself. The ensuing battle is little more than Swamp Thing using the ever popular “you can fight it” speech on Abby Arcane, the woman who happens to be the avatar for the Queen. Many lofty speeches are thrown back and forth before Swamp Thing hits the Queen with some seeds, which force the natural side of Abby Arcane to emerge.
Confused? Don’t worry, so was I. What goes down is a fight between a purple flower-covered version of Abby Arcane, who has left her human body, and the vile vestige of the Queen. Best I can tell, this flower-version of Carol destroys the outside husk of the Queen and severs her connection to the Rot, leaving the Queen’s spirit trapped inside the human form of Abby Arcane. I say this because her human form babbles like an evil demon. The end of issue #9 sets up the next story arc, as Anton Arcane raises a hand from the black depths. Yep, the Swamp Thing’s old enemy is coming back and looks to be powered by the Rot.
All of these developments are solid, but Snyder could have punched up the confrontation. The way this conflict unfolds, the Swamp Thing continues to look weak, and after waiting so long for Alec Holland to accept being the creature, we’re due some ass kicking. Issue #9 isn’t bad, I doubt Snyder could write a “bad” issue, but it just lies there. The anticlimactic nature of the issue makes the entire Rot story seem like just a way to bring back Anton Arcane. Rising above easy plot devices like that is what makes Swamp Thing one of the best of the new 52 titles. I’m still in love with it, I still think Snyder is hands down the best writer in comics right now, but I’d be a liar if I said Swamp Thing #9 was a good read.
Visually, the issue fires on all pistons. Goddamn but Yanick Paquette is a fucking beast. His work on Swamp Thing has been so good, so outside that box that I hope other artists are paying attention. His layouts are imaginative, his pencils perfect, his ability to communicate horror or action or beauty is above reproach. I especially love his eye for detail. While Swamp Thing #9 wasn’t as much fun to read as usual, it was seriously fun to look at.
(3 Story, 5 Art)