Jeff Lemire and Scott Snyder have reached the climax of the epic, Red and Green crossover “Rotworld” with issues 18 of both “Animal Man” and “Swamp Thing.” As the frequently grotesque, nature-based story comes to an end, Snyder steps away from Swampy, handing to vines over to “27” writer Charles Soule. I spoke with Lemire and Snyder about upcoming finale, how Buddy Baker and Alec Holland will separate now that “Rotworld” is over, and what the central theme of the crossover has been.
MTV Geek: What can you tease us about the big finale in Rotworld in issue 18?
Jeff Lemire: Well, obviously we’re not going to spoil anything, but 17 is kind of a big climax where all these forces that have been gathering in Rotworld collide. Swampthing has his band of oursiders and, likewise, with Buddy. I think 18 for both of us is sort of the emotional climax of the series so far. It’s their final love letter to the characters, and for me it’s kind of a big status quo change for the Baker family, who kind of inform the book now moving forward.
Geek: These Characters seem linked together in a lot of reader’s minds. Is it going to be possible to separate them after Rotworld is over?
JL: We thought that after 18 issues of the these characters being so closely-linked that now was the time to separate them. To have them – no pun intended – “branch off” into their own stories and their own lives and try to make each book as strong as it can be on its own. It really will be the Baker family, and Buddy’s story will be separate from the Green and the Rot until the end of my run, at least.
Geek: Scott, speaking of the end of your time with Swamp Thing, you said you were planning on leaving earlier, but you wanted to see Rotworld to the end. Is that true and can you elaborate on that a little bit?
Scott Snyder: I think it was more before Jeff and I came up with the idea for Rotworld I had an ending in mind and it took us to a place that was somewhat similar emotionally for the characters where we’re ending at Rotworld. Once we started talking about how much fun it would get to be to work with Jeff, as one of my closest friends, and also the idea that I could get to the same place that I had originally intended emotionally but even in a bigger, more epic way with the stakes being even higher. So it was a real joy and pleasure to get to work on it and have this be the way we both got to the sort of ending we had hoped to get to since issue 1. It’s really hard to say goodbye to the character, and Jeff knows, I spoke to him several times, maybe I should save him for another artist. When you get closer to the end, you come up with other stories and things you want to do, but I really feel like one of the great things about each character is that they’ve always been one’s that demanded a kind of fearlessness and rebellion and individual storytelling. The people that take them on are challenged to do something brand new with them that’s really their own and it speaks to their own interests as writers. The stories that I had in mind, if I did stay on the characters, I wasn’t sure if they were as bold as the stories Charles [Soule] would get to tell. I would rather step aside and let them reinvent the character in a way that is really exciting than these stories that I wasn’t sure what I was going to do.
Geek: Do you feel like you took “Swamp Thing” as far as you could take it?
SS: It depends on how you mean. With 18, youll see how everything has been building towards a change in the status quo and a kind of reimagining of certain parts of the mythology that were set up from the first issue that we did together. For me, it’s not about pushing him or shocking people with anything, or doing anything to change him for the sake of changing him more than taking him to a place that we most feel the emotional and psychological transformation in him, we’ve been trying to build from the very beginning. I’m really proud of where we’re leaving him off, if that’s what you mean.
Geek: Jeff, do you feel like Rotworld and your characters have paid tribute to the legacy that was put forth by Alan Moore and Grant Morrison on each of these guys?
JL: Well I mean, we tried to respect those histories as much as we could, but also do our own thing. At the end of the day, I don’t know how to answer that. I don’t know how they would feel about the stuff if they read it. All I can do is do the best stories I can, and I know in my heart, I respect those guys a lot and respect everything they did. I try to keep those characters true to who they were. I’m very proud of what I’ve done with the character and I guess that’s all I can really say with confidence.
Geek: Scott, any thoughts on that?
SS: I think Jeff said it best. During the first few months of the characters we joked around about it, about it being an impossible task to take on characters that have such long shadows over them. It really was that. When you look at all the reinvention of both of them, with Swamp Thing, for me it was going back and seeing now just how Alan Moore reinvented the original, but the really interesting things that came after. rom Josh Dysart, Andy Diggle, and Mark Millar, and seeing some of those stories. Jeff actually gave me all of the issues, from the Millar years. The idea that you see these other writers take them on and do something that is personal to them and different, and really radically change of the character, but in a way that has integrity to what they like to write about themselves. It makes you excited to try it and know that as long as you do something you belive in with the character, you are honoring the legacy. We made jokes about dressing up and going to Con at the very beginning, but we’re really proud of it. We hope readers feel like we’ve done a good job with the characters in that regard.
Geek: If you could sum up this crossover with one theme, what would it be?
JL: For me it was evolution and rebirth. It really talks about sacrifice. I think that’s what It really ends up being about.
SS: I think both of our runs have been a lot about sacrifice from the beginning.
“Animal Man” #18 and “Swamp Thing” #18 are both available on March 6.