Swamp Thing Vol. 1: Raise Them Bones Breakdown and Review!

This breakdown takes us a step further into the “Rotworld” and just overall the weird side of DC. Last week we broke down Animal Man which is a big part of this story arc as he is the Red Kingdom half, where Swamp Thing is the Green half and both fighting against the Rot. For now, I will only be establishing the base of this war because I am breaking down New 52 Year One and advancing chronologically.  

This volume starts on Issue #1 obviously, but I think it is important to back up and read issue #0. In issue #0 we have the Arcane coming after Alec Hammond before he even knows about Swamp Thing or the Green kingdom. Arcane in a minion of the Rot. He hunts and kills both Red and Green avatars and right now is in the body of Alec’s partner Dr. Ross. Alec is working in his lab on a plant formula that can regrow plants even in hot and barren conditions.

That night, Arcane comes for Alec but instead finds his wife. After she hurts the body of Dr. Ross, Arcane takes her and goes after Alec. He decides against just killing Alec but blows up the lab and destroying Alec’s body so the rot will claim it and he can never then be claimed by the Green.

Although seeing the Green Totems, they have a plan.

Now into Issue #1, even more backstory about Alec is revealed going all the way back to his childhood when his parents owned a flower shop. Even at this age he hears the call of the Green, much like Maxine heard the call from the Red. After the explosion which took place six years prior (Issue #0) he only remembers some time as being Swamp Thing and a woman with white hair.

In present time, Alec is living a normal life as a human but in construction instead of at the lab. He is approached by Superman who is concerned about him and some weird animal phenomenon that has happened. Alec blows this off and denies that he is Swamp Thing. Superman pushes him to continue his work on the formula because of all the good it can do but Alec is worried that the plants are too hostile, and he dreamt of a world where the plants took over. Later that night, after having a bad dream he decides that he will throw away his formula but is stopped by Swamp Thing.

Off in another part of the world we see where the rot is beginning to take over the dead, like this Mastodon discovery. The Mastodon is then used to attack the humans who begin the army for the rot.

In Issue #2, We learn that this other Swamp Thing is Calbraith A.H. Rodgers. He was a previous Swamp Thing after dying in 1942 as an air force pilot. He explains that when he was living, he too heard the call of the Green but took to the sky to avoid it. When he died, he was claimed by the Green to be their avatar. He served as Swamp Thing up to the point where it was Alec’s turn to become Swamp Thing where he then took his place on the parliament.

Alec tells him that he feels like he has already sacrificed enough and does not want to become the monster he remembers being. He then again goes to throw away the formula, but Rodgers gets him to take a moment to listen.

In a brief history lesson, it is explained that Sethe is coming and he is the lord of the Other. That this is the moment that Swamp Thing was created, to defend against the Rot. Currently Sethe is working to build his army and that he will most likely be sending an envoy now to take out Alec. Alec has a special family bond with the Green, because of this he is believed to be the greatest Swamp Thing to ever exist. However, when Alec was attacked 6 years ago, he was so damaged that he could not connect with the Green Kingdom to become Swamp Thing. We saw this at the end of Issue #0. The solution for that was to keep Alec alive and heal him and then sent out a body double that had a connection with Alec. This explains the memories that Alec has that aren’t technically his. The essence of the story and something that Alec has been struggling with is that the explosion did not create Swamp Thing, it prevented it.

I think that the saddest part of this issue is that when a Swamp Thing goes onto Parliament his mind is planted in the tree and that is where he lives out eternity. The catch is that if he is ever unplanted, he died completely and forever. Rodgers sacrificed living for eternity to come and talk to Alec as Swamp Thing.

Right as Rodgers is dying Alec is met with the first envoy of Rot. He flees but is saves by the woman with white hair from his dreams. The one, that in his story, Rodgers warned him to stay away from. She forces him to prove his connection to the Green and then they ride off together.

Issue #3 has us starting with William, a boy that is isolated in a small bubble-like chamber because he is allergic to the air around him. He is bullied by the other kids and they threaten to pop his bubble which would essentially kill him.

While the doctor is talking to William, he begins to hear the call of his name coming from the fish on the wall. With Alec, the blonde woman, Abby Arcane, tells him that she is setting off to Texas that they need to save a little boy there that will have the power to end the world. In reading this it is obvious that the boy is William.

That night, the boys sneak into Williams room and are going to pop the bubble but the fish lure William into using powers he didn’t know he had. This acceptance makes him a minion of the Rot.

Abby explains to Alec that her family has a close connection with Rot and that it has been calling to her. However, by staying in the Swamp she was able to calm the pull that calls her. She also mentions that once William is connected to the Rot then he will be unstoppable and have biblical powered destructive capabilities. Oh, and he is her half-brother.

When they arrive to the hospital to get William, he is already gone leaving a gory scene behind him. In Issue #4, William ends up at a new by town. This ends just about the same way as the hospital. Abby tells Alec that William can bloom death wherever he goes. He can draw it out of people from something like a decayed tooth. If he makes it to the wasteland and connects with Sethe then there will be not stopping the rot.

They decide though that for tonight they will rest and the safest place for that would be in the grass outside. They sleep close but with the promise that they will not touch even though Alec has strong conflicting memories of their previous time together when she was with the Swamp Thing place holder. Alec’s dream includes warnings from the Green Parliament. That he is the chosen king warrior and that he needs to connect with the Green and accept the monster they want him to become to stop the rot. They also tell him that his greatest enemy is not William, but Abby. That she will connect and go to the rot and then she will be his downfall. They think that he should kill her there now while she sleeps to stop it, but Alec’s feelings are too strong for her and he can’t.

I really like the art here with their parallels with Abby and Alec as they are both called to their destinies. When Alec wakes, Abby is leaving, and that Alec cannot go with her. That if he goes into the Wasteland, he will lose his connection to the Green and die. Eventually she agrees for him to go but that they need to look out for anything that could involve mass deaths like a graveyard. Of course, they miss the slaughterhouse sign.

In Issue #5 the stakes get even higher when the Rot sends and envoy to take out the center of the Green Kingdom, the parliament. This coincides with Alec and Abby being attacked by William and his army of dead animals from the slaughterhouse. He is separated from Abby in the fighting but when he sees that she is in danger he uses his powers of Green to stop the animals and trap William.

Abby is slightly injured from the attack and as Alec helps her, they talk openly about how he always felt this connection to the green like she did the rit. He even mentions the bone girl in his dreams as she mentions the leaf boy in hers. As they finally kiss, the parliament is set on fire by the rot.

Obviously in Issue #6 the parliament is a little peeved with Alec as this probably could have been avoided if he would have turned into Swamp Thing and listened to them about Abby. William explains his comparison of what has happened to his time in the hospital playing chess. That he would play with one set by on two boards. Also, that they were missing queens, their most powerful players. This is when William calls the Rot to then take Abby and transform her into the Black Queen. Apparently, Abby is to the Rot what Alec is to Green. She begs for Alec to kill her before she turns into the Bone Lady, but he can’t do it. Then then take her to the Wasteland for her transformation.

Alec pleads with the Green Parliament to now turn him into the Swamp Thing, but it is too late, they are not powerful enough.

In the final issue of the volume, the Green Kingdom has put Alec in this protective leaf shelter from the rot but only so he can watch them die out before he does. They remind him that he was supposed to be the greatest of their kind, he was going to end the Rot finally and maybe even the Red Kingdom too, but instead he fell for a witch.

Alec argues that Abby will not fall to the rot, and we see that she is, but the Green Kingdom thinks it impossible. However, Alec reminds him that he has refused the call. He then pushes back on them by calling them conscienceless and greedy. Even then he still wants them to change him into Swamp Thing. Again, they remind him that they are on fire. Alec reminds them of his formula, and they break it to restore the parliament and Alec become the Swamp Thing so he can save Abby.  

Review:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Honestly, I love all of the Rotworld story arc but for me this volume is just spectacular. I love the complicated relationship with Alec and Abby, as well as, Alec’s will to be something more than what he is told to be. Sure, the end result was the same and he became Swamp Things but it was on his terms.

Where to Buy:

Animal Man Vol. 1: The Hunt: https://amzn.to/2kvWRw5

Swamp Thing Vol. 1: Raise Them Bones: https://amzn.to/2kyMKH7

Fankenstien, Agent of SHADE Vol 1. War of Monsters: https://amzn.to/2kCHySD

Read All of My DC Comic Breakdowns!

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