Artist: Jesus Saiz
This has been one of the Villains Month issues that I've looked forward to most, as although I've not been as excited about Swamp Thing as I was when Scott Snyder was writing it, it's still been an amazing series. I also have really been looking forward to seeing both Anton and Abby Arcane again.
Abby Arcane visits her uncle Anton in his own personal hell to try and learn who her mother was.
This was a fantastic issue, and one of the best Villains Month issues so far, being by far the best from this week. Charles Soule did an outstanding job with this issue, as with it using characters that were key to Snyder's run there was always the risk that it wouldn't quite live up to the high standards of what he produced. Character wise Soule matched Snyder easily, showing both Anton and Abby perfectly in their current predicament. Soule also did an amazing job of making this a very gritty and gory issue, as it was full of grotesque sequences that although may seem disturbing to some, added a great atmosphere to the issue.
The art in this story was also amazing, and this is probably the best artwork that I've seen from Jesus Saiz, as although he's done good artwork on this series before, nothing quite as spectacular as his artwork on this issue. The detail was simply outstanding, as everything from the rabbits to Anton's grotesque from looked amazing. I also loved the layout of Saiz' artwork as although it wasn't the most unique style I've ever seen it suited this story perfectly, adding plenty of depth as well as great tone. I also loved how Saiz handled the more grotesque sequences as he didn't shy away from gore, which was needed to make this issue feel as impactful as it did.
The setting for this issue would be the prison that the Parliament of Decay have placed Anton Arcane in, focusing as his own personal hell. Now I won't go into any details over the location as I wouldn't want to spoil the surprise, but I will say what I thought of it. Soule really did a great job here, and I loved how well thought out this place was, as although it wasn't anything spectacular, it worked well with the character which at the end of the day is all that matters.
The thing that I was most looking forward to in this issue was seeing Abby Arcane return, even if it was only for one issue, as bar Swamp Thing himself she was my favourite character throughout Snyder's run. Soule however got her characteristics spot on, and I loved seeing her utilise her new powers to get what she wants. I also enjoyed the interaction she had with Anton, and how weak she made him look due to their current states. I do however hope that she will eventually return to the series on a permanent basis, though not straight away as Soule is working well on his current story.
This issue would also see parts of both Anton and Abby's origins told throughout, as Abby would demand answers about her mother from Anton. This was actually the part of the story that most appealed to me, as although it went away from the usual type of Swamp Thing storytelling that I enjoy, the tone was perfect, and I loved the slightly disturbing nature of it. I also liked how this would show how Anton has always been a sick individual, and that he always had it in him to be an Avatar of the Rot. I also enjoyed how we saw a more human side to Anton as well, and especially considering the fact that he was rotten then as well.
This was an amazing issue, and one of the best Swamp Thing issues of recent months, as well as one of the best Villains Month issues so far. The story itself was very gory, also being slightly disturbing which suited the characters perfectly. The dram and suspense throughout was also outstanding, and overall the issue had the perfect tone to it. This makes this issue easy to recommend and I'd especially recommend it to any Swamp Thing or Arcane fans.