In Fall and Winter of 2012, Jeff Lemire and Scott Snyder plunge their avatars of life headlong into Rotworld. Swamp Thing and Animal Man will be fighting off the Rot until February – and they might just be getting a little help from Frankenstein. This is your nerve center for all of our Rotworld coverage.
Shelby: I’m going to be honest with you all: I’m at a loss, here. I’m not sure where to begin. Swamp Thing has been one of my favorite titles since I picked it up around issue 6. Scott Snyder’s Alec Holland is a conflicted man, trying to find his place in the world, but ultimately following his heart. Yanick Paquette’s art is horrifyingly beautiful, so beautiful I was inspired to permanently ink it into my skin. Add a couple star-crossed lovers, disgusting zombie creatures, and the destruction of the DC universe, and you’ve got something pretty special on your hands. This issue marks the end of Rotworld, the end of Snyder and Paquette’s work on the title, and the fates of Abby and Alec; it’s no wonder I’m feeling a little bittersweet about this write-up. Continue reading →
Drew: Many fans were dismayed when DC spoiled the end of Batman Incorporated 8, but it really wasn’t just that they had made those spoilers available — it was that they made them unavoidable, popping up when you accessed their website with no way of avoiding the information. Sure, you could argue that the cover to that issue (which had, unfortunately, already been leaked) gave the ending away, but it’s not exactly like comic book covers have to be representing actual events in the issue. Case in point: Batman R.I.P., which — contrary to what the title suggests — [SPOILER] doesn’t feature the death of Batman. In fact, the well-known hyperbolic nature of comic book covers is precisely what made me so skeptical that Animal Man 18 would actually feature “the most TRAGIC DAY in the life of BUDDY BAKER!” (Spoilers after the jump) Continue reading →
Scott: This comic is called Animal Man, but it’s hardly about Buddy Baker at this point. Sure, Animal Man and Swamp Thing are the focal points of the RotWorld crossover event, but their personal objectives and motivations are overshadowed by RotWorld itself. There are so many characters fighting against the rot that it’s tough to consider Animal Man the main character in this issue, and even more difficult to think of his personal motivation — to save Maxine — as the emotional center of the story. Throw in the fact that this issue truly is a crossover with Swamp Thing, and it’s harder yet to think of this as Animal Man’s story. Not that that’s a bad thing. Animal Man is part of an awesome team fighting against the Rot, and the collective inventiveness they display here makes Animal Man 17 a thoroughly fun and often jaw-droppingly cool experience.
“It’s horrible when you sense the “to be continued” coming. You know, you’re watching the show, you’re into the story. You know, there’s like 5 minutes left and you realize “Hey! They can’t make it! Timmy’s still stuck in the cave. There’s no way they wrap this up in 5 minutes!” I mean, the whole reason you watch a TV show is because it ends. If I want a long, boring story with no point to it, I have my life.”
– Jerry Seinfeld
Drew: Comics are a serialized medium. Spirited debates can be had about the relative virtues of straight serialization or a more episodic approach, but most readers understand that a given story may not wrap up in a single issue. The surprise “to be continued” described in the epigraph doesn’t happen as often in comics, where issues are clearly billed as the conclusion, but I found myself reminded of that experience as I neared the end of Swamp Thing 17, realizing that the “Finale” billed on the cover might not be so final, after all. Continue reading →
Shelby: Enough “Poor Alec.” Last month, we talked about Alec’s lonely road and his single shining star, Abby. Well, that’s all over! He’s got the resources of Batman in the hands of Barbara Gordon, one of the smartest people in the DCU. He can feel his lady love leading him on, and now that he’s got the backup he needs, he’s going to put an end to this Rot shit once and for all! It’s Swamp Thing’s rallying call! He’s gonna kick some ass in the greenest way imagined! No more pity, it’s time for action! Just as we start to get really pumped, though, Scott Snyder reminds us that it might actually be too late after all.
Patrick: The End of the World. Pretty bleak subject matter, right? But we can go bleaker. Let’s kill as many superheroes as possible, and then use their grotesquely reanimated corpses to attack our protagonists. Also, no one’s safe, so those protagonists themselves can get picked off at a moment’s notice. Still not grim enough? Then let’s keep flashing back to the putrid death of our hero’s family. These are the principal building blocks of Rotworld. So if I’m using the adjectives “grim,” “grotesque” and “bleak” so much, why is this issue so much fun?
Scott: Perspective is everything in storytelling. Storytellers can have a profound impact on how a story is received based on the information they have access to and how they choose to present that information. Really good storytellers include personal touches that show their passion for the subject, giving emotional weight to the story. I would venture to guess Frankenstein is not this type of storyteller. Frankenstein has fairly simple tastes; he likes killing monsters and not being around people. So how do you elegantly tell a story about a character whose preferred mode of communication is a disinterested grunt? Take the story out of his hands and tell it from a third person point of view, which writer Matt Kindt does to beautiful effect in Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. 15.
Shelby: Last month, Drew talked about Jeff Lemire thwarting our expectations to surprise us in the best way. This month is no different, as he sprinkles some obvious and not-so-obvious surprises throughout the issue. And really, he’s made it easy for us to be surprised; with Rotworld, Lemire has turned the DCU into a place where literally anything can happen. Kill all the heroes and leave the world a rotting shell? Sure! Turn characters we all know into horrifying monsters who want little more than to tear our protagonist limb from limb? Why not! In a universe where all the rules have been broken, even our wildest guesses fall short of the mark. Continue reading →
Patrick: Naturally, I copied the our previous post about Swamp Thing to get this article started. I noticed that Capristo started the piece: “Poor Alec.” And thus I lost my opening line for this write-up. Looking back on our Swamp Thing Alternating Currents, it is remarkable how much we pity Alec. No matter what he does, he can’t be granted a minute’s peace. And while his counterpart, Animal Man, seems to be amassing allies left and right in the Rotworld, Swamp Thing’s road is a perpetually lonely one. It makes Alec’s quest for his singular companion that much more compelling. They are two against the Rotworld, and the pair’s separation lends as much uneasy tension to this issue as the undead tentacle-monster. Oh, did I not mention: there’s an undead tentacle-monster.
Today, Patrick and Scott are discussing Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E 14, originally released October 10th, 2012. This issue is part of the RotWorld crossover event. Click here for complete RotWorld coverage.
Patrick: 2003 was supposed to be the year that the Matrix series ruled the world. To follow-up their genre defining 1999 masterpiece, the Wachoskis planned an all-out media blitzkrieg. Over the course of six months, they released two enormous science-fiction action movies, a set of animated shorts that tied directly into those movies and a AAA video game whose narrative wove throughout the movies and the shorts. Naturally, the movies were the flagships of this Matrix armada, so when they weren’t very good, the whole fleet sank. But I played the everloving shit out of that Enter the Matrix video game. It worked because Enter the Matrix had to embrace conventions of a video game directly, instead of stylishly dancing around them (as the films did). It might have seemed strange when Morpheus would tell you to collect three keys to access the next level, but there’s something refreshing about that objective-based narrative — especially considering that the terms of victory in the Matrix movies were becoming ever more grim and convoluted. Frankenstein is the Enter the Matrix of Rotworld: what it lacks in subtlety, it makes up for in clarity of objective.