The Swamp Thing that confronts Alec Holland at the end of issue one is not a new plant elemental but an old one that has come out of retirement to bring Holland a message. He said he died on May 3rd, 1942 and his name had been Calbraith A.H. Rodgers. He had left his rooting at the Parliament of Trees to find Alec.
This got me curious about the Parliament of Trees and the original DC Swamp Thing, so I pulled out the old Who’s Who. Not the old one but the binder one that came out in 1993. It turns out we have a change of history here that isn’t very important but could add to the evidence of changes to the New 52 due to legal reasons. Here’s an excerpt from The Parliament of Trees entry in Who’s Who, 1993:
"In December, 1942, the plane bearing German pilot named Albert Hollerer was shot down. [The awkwardness of that sentence is not a typo on my part. Looks like whoever wrote that sentence did that thing where they change thought in mid-sentence or edited it later. I’m sure ‘named’ wasn’t supposed to be there.] Engulfed in flames, the plane crashed into a bog. The plant elemental that arose as a result had a consciousness based on Hollerer’s, but that consciousness was damaged and confused, leading the elemental to wander the Earth purposelessly until it joined the Parliament in 1954."
Incidentally, the very first letter in Who’s Who #15 is from Vince Bellizia and he asks, “Why are creator credits not given for recent characters like Dorothy Spinner, Firestorm, Robin, etc.? Are there backstage politics preventing the proper names from being printed?” The editor answers simply, “Certain legal restrictions keep us from crediting every creator. Sorry.” What a find!
So the New 52 changes this previous Swamp Thing character in a few non-essential ways. I like that they let him retain his original initials in his new name. Which are also Alec Holland’s initials! Previous plant elementals were named Alf Oldland and Alex Olsen. Is there a reason all Plant Elemental names should have the initials AO? Or AHo which is really just the same thing.
Without the quote, this would make a nice, ambiguous t-shirt.
Alec decides listening to Swamp Thing wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world as long as the walking plant and his buddies back in South America will leave him alone afterward.
World War II Swamp Thing’s message to Alec is, of course, outrageously important! It’s about the Force of Rot which is the antithesis of The Green. WWII Swamp Thing actually says this the Swamp Thing was created to protect The Green from this creature. And yet nobody speaks of him. Ever. Not one mention of him since 1972. But, you know, he’s the whole reason for a Swamp Thing to exist!
That’s okay. I’ve suspension of disbeliefed far worse than this! Also, it looks like this creature hides in places where The Green is weak and so a human-imbued Swamp Force needs to fight against it. Perhaps that’s why it was never mentioned. No need since it stayed far away from the vegetation that would continually spy on it.
And then comes pages 10 and 11. I think there are more words on these two pages than in the entirety of the Supergirl series. Apparently this Swamp Thing reboot needs a lot of explanation to change it around! It seems that Alec Holland’s Swamp Thing was not the Swamp Thing that should have been. Alec Holland actually died before he could become the Alec Holland Swamp Thing. Thus the Parliament of Trees tried to replicate an Alec Holland Swamp Thing using Alec’s memories. So it was more of an automaton with some Alec bits thrown in. But the Parliament of Trees always believed Alec Holland’s Swamp Thing would be their saviour of The Green. So now they want him back as Swamp Thing.
That makes some of the other stuff easier to believe. Why tell the half-assed Swamp Thing you created to replace the one you really wanted about some big Doom Death Rot Thing? But we still don’t know why Alec Holland is back. Unless he was given a White Ring in Brightest Day or something.
WWII Swamp Thing dies (because that’s what happens when you come out of Green Retirement) with a last warning to Alec to stay away from Abby Arcane. I wonder if Tefé is still around? It also warned him that the rot creature, Sethe, is already looking for him. Alec goes back to his motel room unsure what to do. And then he gets some visitors.
Alec is rescued by a woman on a motorcycle. I’m pretty sure it’s a woman because of her body shape. Although it could be Ronnie Raymond, the white Firestorm. She also has on a helmet. Which means it’s probably hiding her white hair. Which means it’s probably Abby Arcane!
Oh no! Holland has been warned about Abigail and now she seems to be threatening him! But she also just saved his life, so maybe she’s actually, um, warning him in a really bad way? Like he’s about to be killed by one of those creatures but she’s going to blow it’s head off? So what she really means is, “I’m Abigail Arcane and I’m about to save you by shooting the creature behind you so that I don’t have to watch you die!” Or, you know, something like that.