Swamp Thing 23.1
Special “Villains Month” Title: Arcane 1
Charles Soule, Jesus Saiz
Forever Evil Crossover
Spoiler alert! You have been warned!
Excluding the Batman (Penguin) issue and the Detective Comics (Scarecrow) issue from this week, the Swamp Thing tie-in to Villains Month and Forever Evil was unrivaled in terms of excellence. As is the standard of the regular series, writer Charles Soule (joined yet again by one of my all-time favorite artists, Jesus Saiz) continues to deliver stories that are dark, disturbing, and flat-out disgusting. It should come as no shock to regular readers that the spotlight on Anton and Abigail Arcane was no exception to that standard.
The issue begins with a narration not by Arcane, but about him. We find out very soon that he is being talked about by his niece as she visits him in his own personal Hell. She wants to know more about her own mysterious origin, but is tricked into hearing a sick and twisted love story about the woman she believed to be her mother, only to be revealed as a whore (Anton’s words, so take them for what they’re worth) who was only posing as her mother. She killed her with a simple touch as a baby, hence never knowing her and always having a need to be accepted. It also focused, albeit briefly, on just how evil and murderous Arcane truly has been all of these years. Just in case we missed it in issues of the past. Or if you’re a new reader as of Scott Snyder’s departure. The ending of the issue, which is arguably the most important part of a one-shot comic, decides not to go for closure and a nice wrap-up, but rather a satisfying cliffhanger. Anton literally rips his own eye out and throws it into a portal without Abi’s knowledge, planting the seed for his inevitable return to the real world. And as Soule and Snyder before him (and even Len Wein before them) have proven time and time again, Arcane is quite possibly the most vile of the villains of the DC Universe. He is the character that the Devil has nightmares about when he goes to sleep, so to speak.
So all in all, you’d be a fool to miss this issue. Whether you’re a huge Swamp Thing fan, a Charles Soule or Jesus Saiz fan, or even just a fan of good old fashioned horror comics, you won’t want to miss this one. Go ahead and pay the extra dollar for the fancy cover. It’s by far one of the best ones so far this month. And though it is rated “teen plus,” I would argue that it simultaneously doesn’t go too far over the top as well as accomplishes the overall goal of thoroughly disturbing its readers into secretly hoping that Arcane never comes back again. Well done, guys.
My Rating: 5/5