SCOTT SNYDER Readies For SWAMP THING's Return; Crossover

Swamp Thing #8

Swamp Thing is back.

For the past six months, the surprise hit DC series Swamp Thing has been building the mythology behind the titular character, from allies to adversaries. Featuring the artwork of Yanick Paquette and Marco Rudy, the title has introduced Alec Holland to the DCnU, expanding his cast of allies and adversaries under the pen of Batman scribe Scott Snyder.

But so far, the titular character has been absent. Instead, Alec has been resisting his call to become the avatar of the Green, and thus the creature known as Swamp Thing.

In issue #7, readers will get a new Swamp Thing, although nobody's guaranteeing that Alec is involved. And this new incarnation has a secret new look that inspired the "blacked out form" on the cover of issue #8.

Swamp Thing #7 also has what Snyder is calling the beginning of the battle against the Rot. It's a story that is building toward this summer's crossover with Animal Man, titled "Deadworld."

Newsarama talked with Snyder to find out more about Swamp Thing's return and what readers can expect from "Deadworld."

Newsarama: Scott, the last issue of Swamp Thing felt like a real turning point for the series as a whole. Over the first six issues, the series was introducing and developing the main players in this story, their relationships, the threat of the Rot and the mythology of the Green. But now it feels like the battle's going to really begin. Is that a good summation?

Scott Snyder: Yeah, I couldn't have said it better myself. In Swamp Thing #7, this is the return of Swamp Thing.

And now the war begins.

In the last issue, you found out the scope of the Rot's plans, and that they've been after Abby all along. She's potentially the reverse Alec. She's a person who's been running away, whether she knows it or not, from her own destiny as the avatar of the Rot. And that's why they've been so drawn to each other. They're both rebelling against it, and they find an independence, they find a safe space, in the way they cancel each other out.

So now that the Rot has her, it has burned the Parliament, and it has chainsawed Alec. All it needs to do now is take down the Red.

But in issue #7, the Rot's victory is short-lived because we see the return of Swamp Thing.

Nrama: So is that why issue #8 has a blacked out figure? Because it's this new Swamp Thing?

Snyder: Yes. Swamp Thing returns in issue #7, then the reveal of what he looks like will be in issue #8 in April. That's why he's blacked out on the cover.

I know people have been waiting for the return of the titular character. But he'll be coming in a very big way, in a new form, in both issues #7 and #8.

Nrama: You didn't exactly make it clear, though. Is this Swamp Thing actually Alec?

Snyder: Well, that's a good question. Can Alec survive the chainsaw attack? And if so, can he become Swamp Thing again? And if he becomes Swamp Thing, will he be the Swamp Thing we all hope he will? And if it's not him, what kind of creature is it?

We've been led to believe that if Alec himself was the Swamp Thing, he'd be this creature with much greater powers than any Swamp Thing has possessed before. A "warrior king" Swamp Thing.

I can't say whether that's going to happen, or even whether this Swamp Thing is Alec. But I can say that Swamp Thing will be back, either in a rebirth or a transformation. And that when you see him, it'll be worth the wait.

Nrama: The solicitation for issue #9 indicates we'll see more of the Bone Kingdom, which we got to peek at last month. What was the inspiration for that?

Snyder: I was re-reading a lot of the early Swamp Thing, and the monsters that he faced. And they always had this kind of decay to them, whether it was the Patchwork Man, or Arcane himself.

Plus it seems as if Swamp Thing is about growth, and Animal Man is about biological life and thriving and evolving. And therefore, their natural enemy would be some thing or some place or location that is made entirely of death and rot.

I wanted to pick a location where, if the Rot was going to stage an attack or come through to this world. And historically and geologically, it would make sense that it is Death Valley, not only because of its name or because it's one of the most barren places in the world, but also the fact that it evokes images of tremendous dust storms and people vanishing in shallow graves. There's this whole mystery of being swallowed up by the sands, almost like a bottom of the ocean.

So I imagined the Rot making a kingdom for itself out of death and sort of the undead. It just felt appropriate.

Wait until you see it in its full, terrible bloom, the way Yanick and Marco have drawn it in these upcoming issues.

Nrama: The solicitation also indicates there's a "classic" Swamp Thing villain coming back. I know you probably don't want to reveal who that is, but you've been linking so many of the older Swamp Thing villains into the Rot. I assume that will continue over these issues until the crossover begins this summer?

Snyder: Yeah, the Rot is the force and Animal Man have been created to keep in balance. These elemental forces have human avatars, of life on one side and decay on the other. And they're meant to be kept in balance, but they're all viciously hungry, the Green included. And they all want the plant.

So in that way, these characters are there to restrain the forces that they represent. And it's a very difficult position, because the forces themselves are always looking for you to be their warrior and their conqueror. That's why it's so important for you to retain your humanity and resist.

So the Rot isn't going anywhere in either Swamp Thing or Animal Man. And even if the Bone Kingdom falls, it will exist in another form.

And yes, we're bringing back a really classic villain, my favorite Swamp Thing villain. I can't wait for people to see the cover. My only hint will be that it's issue #10. You can look back at Swamp Thing's history too. I don't want to give too much away.

But we're very excited about this villain. And he will be connected to the Rot and to the storyline that's been building.

These stories aren't just separate arcs. It's not like I'm telling a story about the Rot and the Bone Kingdom, and then there's going to be some break, and then all of the sudden there's a new storyline that doesn't involve those things. These are things that are all part of one big story. It builds cumulatively.

The things that happen at the end of each arc set the stage for the next arc, and it's the same set of forces working against Alec and Buddy and Abby and everyone involved. So it's one, big, accumulating story from go.

Nrama: When you recently talked to me about "The Night of the Owls" crossover, you mentioned that the Swamp Thing/Animal Man crossover was very different in structure. What did you mean?

Snyder: While the "Night of the Owls" doesn't require to you read all the issues that are involved, for Animal Man and Swamp Thing, Jeff and I are actually co-writing this thing so that there are a couple issues that cross over between the books.

We didn't want readers to be forced to spend a lot of money, but there are certain points where the story has to overlap, when the characters are together and are facing the same thing, physically, together.

So what we decided to do is just have a prelude in issue #12 of Swamp Thing and issue #12 of Animal Man. So you'll read those together. But then we're telling separate parts of that story, allowing you to read either Swamp Thing or Animal Man separately or together. Your choice.

And then the conclusion will probably be the same as the prelude, where you'll read two issues together in Animal Man and Swamp Thing. So at the very most, you'll have to buy two issues of the other book to understand. So we're trying not to hurt you in your pocket too much.

And look, if I forced you to buy a couple issues of Animal Man, I'd feel very good about myself anyway. I wouldn't lose any sleep at night because, in my mind, it's one of the best books on the stands. So shame on you for not buying it anyway.

Nrama: And Yanick Paquette is doing the crossover?

Snyder: Yes. We're trying to work it so that Yanick has the lead-time he needs to do all the issues. I would prefer he does all the issues. We're working together closely on the comic and Yanick is a dream artist to work with on this book, and we've become really good friends. I just couldn't be happier with his work.

He had only really signed on for the first year, and when I told him the story we're doing with the crossover, he signed on to do this too.

Nrama: It sounds like you're really figured out the whole story. You're working that far ahead?

Snyder: Yeah, a few weeks before the holidays, Jeff and I just decided to set aside two days after Christmas to rack up a phone bill and Skype and plan out the whole thing. So we had, like, a big conference over Christmas, on the 27th and 28th.

We planned out the whole thing issue by issue, beat by beat; which characters we're using; what the surprises are; what the beginning, middle and end is; so we have a 10-page outline that's really every issue of it. So we can't wait to get to it.

Swamp Thing #7

It's pretty epic, and it will introduce a whole world unto itself, this "Deadworld" that they're going to function in. It really will be a fun universe, a fun place for readers to get to explore. There will be tons of surprises and a bunch of cameos of characters that I think people will be excited to see. It will be something where Animal Man and Swamp Thing are against these forces that have created a nightmare world for them to travel. They're bringing their nightmares to life.

I can't wait to get to it. I really can't. I wish it wasn't eight months away.

Nrama: But if you're that far ahead, you're probably close to writing it, aren't you? I know you usually work pretty far ahead, don't you?

Snyder: Yeah, I do. I already am! Jeff and I are both really neurotic about writing way ahead, because in my opinion, writing way ahead lets me start thinking of the next thing in time, you know? And it gives me time to plan and work the story in that direction. That's the way it worked with the Court of Owls story, with Detective, and here with Swamp Thing. On American Vampire, I'm writing the story for #28, #29 and #30. So I'm way ahead.

I'm actually writing issue #12 of Swamp Thing now, so I'm at the crossover, in my writing. And so is Jeff. He's actually head of me. I think he's at #13. It's not because we're just amazing writers. It's just that we're both totally neurotic.

So for us, it's happening now! We're already excited.

And I really get excited about the next thing, a lot of times. So this gives me room to then say, I'm going to take a month and plan an American Vampire mini-series, or something like that. Or I can take a vacation with my family and not have to worry. Building in that time is really tough, as a writer. You have to really build in those breaks or that time for thinking. I go crazy if I don't have a couple weeks off so I can do research for the next thing, or at least just have time to myself and be with my family.

But for this crossover, we're already into writing it, and I can tell you that it's a story we're really proud of. Jeff is one of my best friends in the world, and my best friend in comics, and to be able to do that, and work with your friend so closely, is really a dream come true.

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