Swamp Thing: Green Hell
Jeff Lemire, writer; Doug Mahnke, artist; David Baron, colorist
DC Black Label, 2023
Swamp Thing has been revisited so many times that it can be difficult to begin a new series without having some confusion about the status quo: this one seems to be set in the New 52 version of the DC Universe, where Jeff Lemire worked on Animal Man, and the two series interacted. So, there is no Parliament of Gears (which was introduced in the recent series by writer Ram V. and artist Mike Perkins), but the Rot (introduced in the New 52) is a factor in the story, along with the historic Green and Red.
The series has used ecological disaster as a plot point many times: here the situation is far worse. It takes place on an Earth so far gone that the last of humanity is surviving on a mountaintop island in the midst of endless floodwater. The Parliaments of the Green, the Red, and the Rot are unified in their decision that it is time to do away with human beings altogether and give the planet a reset, since humanity only succeeded in achieving apocalyptic ecological failure.
The Parliaments summon a horrific avatar, which is far too powerful for the surviving humans to defeat. Alec Holland (the former Swamp Thing, avatar of the Green) would be the perfect champion, if he hadn't been dead for decades. The old man who lives in the lighthouse is John Constantine–a character reference that goes back to the original Alan Moore run–and he knows how to summon the Swamp Thing. Alec is not happy, but Constantine tells him that they need his help to save humanity from the Green.
He has been pulled from a happy existence with Abby and Tefé in a virtual haven. When he pleads with the Parliament to save the remaining humans, they instead cut off his connection to the Green. He will have no more powers, nor the ability to be reborn. Meanwhile, Constantine seeks Deadman's help to find Maxine Baker: Animal Man's daughter, now Animal Woman. John even goes to Hell and strikes a bargain (another thing that has happened more than once in the history of the character). The climax is huge–even given the ever-escalating stakes in the history of these characters–but I don't want to spoil it. If you have read this far, you probably want to read it. Terrific work by the whole creative team.