Swamp Thing 31 (1984)
Brimstone Ballet depicts Swamp Thing coming to terms with Arcane’s arrival into the land of the living (again) and Abby’s sudden departure from the land of the living. Arcane has taken her soul and sent it into the depths of hell. Swamp Thing also comes to terms with his powers in this first issue of… “Sophisticated Suspense”
In issue 30 we last saw Swamp Thing taking Abby’s lifeless body into his arms. this issue continues, with Swampy carrying her down the staircase, outside into the snow and away from the house of horrors that Arcane built. Surrounded by demonic Un-Men, Swampy tries to make sense of it all while Arcane toys with his emotions.
The title page introduces us to a melee erupting from Abby and “Matt’s” new home. Swampy fights his way out.
The little demon/Un-Man (below, left) looks a lot like Baytor from Garth Ennis’ Section 8. The fella’ on the right looks way in over his head.
Arcane turns the screws, toying with Swampy. For a moment, he tries to trick Swamp Thing into ripping off Abby’s head, saying that she is not real, but a construct he created using Matt Cable’s powers.
Arcane continues to taunt Swamp Thing.
Just as Swamp Thing sees a glimmer of hope, that Abby might still be alive somewhere else, Arcane wickedly admits that she is indeed dead.
Arcane unleashes a blast of energy, violently destroying the house.
Arcane tries to bring Swamp Thing down to rock bottom. He almost succeeds. If it weren’t for the constant suffering and strife, Holland has encountered up to this point, he’d surely find some reason to give up hope.
Arcane contines his exposition. He not only damned Abby’s soul to hell, he’s brought back the souls of some of Hell’s worst inhabitants to join him in his apocalypse. This helps to explain the wave of terror emanating from Houma/Arcane.
The wave of terror that’s been spreading across the country continues as Arcane had planned. It’s all part of his apocalyptic plan.
The chaotic nightmare is disorienting. Swamp Thing tries to find refuge and resolve as he makes a mad dash into the woods.
Far above earth, Monotor and Harbinger continue to monitor the events surrounding Houma. They’ve been keeping tabs on the situation since issue 30.
They can’t take their eyes off what’s transpiring.
Back on earth, Swamp Thing comes to the conclusion that “this is the final battle.”
Arcane is so sure that he has the upper hand, he’s confident he knows who he’s battling. But things have changed since last he stepped foot in Houma.
Moore continues to explore the depths of the characters in this issue. Further expanding the mythology of the Swamp Thing universe. Arcane is not aware of the powers that Swampy has harnessed since he was last killed in issue 19 and 20. He doesn’t realize he’s vulnerable to the massive damage Swamp Thing can now inflict. Being an elemental, Swamp Thing poses more of a threat to Arcane than ever.
Arcane follows in confusion. Swamp Thing walks to a clearing amidst the snow storm. As if within a reverse snow globe -free from the environment that Arcane dragged with him from hell- Swamp Thing finds clarity. He’s ready to fight the battle.
He sets Abby down and begins to destroy Anton Arcane.
As Swamp Thing gives Arcane “the business”, the constructs Arcane created begin to breakdown. The fake business he created for Matt Cable’s job is reduced to a pile of rotting flesh and decay.
Arcane tries to piece together how Swamp Thing got his increased powers.
In his weakened form, Matt Cable is able to regain control of his body and send Arcane back to hell.
All of the people possessed by Arcane’s evil apocalypse snap out of the wicked transe they’ve been under. They’re not aware of what they’ve done or why they’ve started on a pilgrimage to Houma. They return home, confused.
With Arcane gone Matt’s body returns to the state it was post-crash. He begins to die all over again. As Swamp Thing comforts him, Cable tries to find a way to use his powers to help Abby before he passes on,
the touching scene often raises the question, how did Matt know he could bring someone back from the dead? And what’s that talk about, “her cells…some decomposition…have to reverse it.” When did Cable learn how to do this? Perhaps he had some shared knowledge/experience leftover from Arcane? I don’t know but before Cable passes on, he’s empowered and determined to raise Abby from the dead.
In the end, Matt doesn’t have enough power to save her. she is too far within the depths of hell to recover. He is, however, able to revive her body.
Matt passes on after fighting the good fight. Swamp Thing leaves him in peace to be found by the local police. Swamp Thing returns to Abby’s body and takes her in his arms.
Abby’s body shows signs of life but her soul is still absent. Her human form is a mindless, semi-operable body. Swamp Thing finally finds a moment to grieve, alone. He walks off into the Swamp. His journey to save Abigail begins…
From the letters page!