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|As a result of the New 52 in 2011, the entire line of DC characters was relaunched, incorporating properties belonging to the company's imprints: Wildstorm, Milestone, and Vertigo. As such, elements of this character's history have been altered in some way from the previous incarnation. For a complete list of all versions of this character, see our disambiguation page.|
Anton Arcane is the archnemesis of Swamp Thing.
When Anton Arcane was twelve years old, the year was 1875, and he had been living in what is now known as Belarus, but was then part of the Russian Empire. He would spend time alone in the forest, and had once discovered a hunter's trap - which was illegal at the time - and what pleased him most was that there was a long-dead rabbit's corpse caught in it. He thought it was beautiful, and in his excitement, he ate the rabbit's rotting corpse. Initially, he thought he might get sick, but soon realized that he felt stronger. The Parliament of Decay came to him, and made him their avatar, and he did their bidding for more than a century. As an Avatar of the Rot, Arcane's task was to advance the cause of decay and destroy as many avatars of The Green and The Red as he could. He had thought, at first, that murdering was the simplest way to pay tribute to his Parliament - it was only happenstance that he enjoyed doing it. But over time, he began to think that perhaps there might be a way to spread the Rot without killing. He wanted to share his decay as an act of love.
In the service of that desire, he infected Ilse with a form of necrotizing fasciitis - the flesh-eating bacteria. The doctors cut out the infected tissue, and grafted on new skin to replace it. It was then that Ilse sent her adopted daughter away to France. Anton was amused by Ilse's perseverance. She had survived the Rot, and come out stronger. He wanted to make her even stronger than that, and so, he infected her again and again, watching her survive each time. Eventually, Ilse was so affected by her infections that other donors' skin was needed for all of her grafts. The effect was that she looked as though she was made of patchwork, and Anton thought it was beautiful.
By some time after killing the Green Man at the turn of the 20th Century, Arcane had found the soon-to-be newest Avatar of the Green, Alec Holland, and determined his strength in it when he came to his castle, and used rot-based flowers to corrode his mind so that he forgot ever meeting with Arcane.
Using Alec's friend Dr. Ross's flesh as a host, Arcane had met with difficulty in finding the future Avatar. One night, he snuck into Alec and his wife Linda's house, to find only Linda lying in bed. Startled by his presence, she had clocked him upside the head with a pipe. The impact tore Ross' flesh from Arcane's body, and so he took her body as a host instead. In Linda's body, Arcane found Alec working in his lab. Despite the fact that the Bio-Restorative Formula had been completed, something still called him to do more for the earth. He saw his wife coming and apologized for waking her. She urged him to come to bed, to put down his work for now. She behaved as though she would be waiting in bed for him, but instead, she opened a valve on the vat of the formula, and set it ablaze with a Bunsen burner. The resulting explosion burned the flesh of Alec's body, and he rushed out into the swamp below. As Alec died, Arcane laughed aloud to the Parliament, mocking their efforts to salvage him. It was too late. Holland was dead, and the warrior they dreamed of could not be. Little did he know, the Parliament of Trees had ways of making an Avatar regardless of whether the host had died, and Alec did not truly belong to the Rot, the Swamp Thing that took his place returning and killing Anton later in his career.
Main article: Swamp Thing: Family Tree
With his niece Abigail's killing of Sethe, his replacement as avatar, Anton Arcane was brought back by the Parliament of Decay to take his place, reassuring his nephew, William, that Sethe's death was all according to his plans.
Leaving for Houma, Louisiana, Arcane approached Holland, who had been encased alive within the Swamp Thing as an armor, and revealed himself as alive once more. After beating Alec over the head savagely, Arcane began whispering menacingly into his ear that he wanted to keep him alive just long enough to hear what he planned to do to Abigail. He explained that he is very old, and had walked the earth for more than a century, siring more than fifty children for the Rot. Of those, Abigail was the most special. At just a few months old, Abby had killed her mother by playing with the aspect of the Rot inside of her. He knew she was exceptional, then. Arcane took her under his wing and taught her, but she fought him every step of the way; she fought her destiny. And as much as she may fight, Abby knows that her place is with him; that the fight in the desert was only the beginning. Even as she continues to try to hide in the Green - hiding from herself - he will find her. And now, she is just steps away. His story told, Arcane beat Alec into pulp. After this, he went to Abigail's house with his Un-Men, and gleefully announced that he killed the Swamp Thing, and had come to take her home.
Knocking her unconscious, Arcane prepared to make off with Abby, but she made another attempt at escape from the Un-Men. Her uncle reached out and placed his hand on her shoulder, and screaming in pain, she discovered that his palms had toothy mouths on them. Menacingly, he waved them at her until Swamp Thing's knotty fist cracked across his rotting jaw.
The Un-Men attacked, their tentacles and claws choking and scraping at the man beneath the mantle. Though Swamp Thing tore Arcane's limbs from his body, Arcane had grown more powerful too, and in place of every wound he was dealt, he grew a ravenous toothy mouth. Arcane's head exploded in a shower of blood as Abby unloaded a shell from her shotgun at point blank range. Though Arcane lived, he was weakened, and shuffled away, warning that he would be back soon, sinking into a pestilent pool of Rot that appeared to lead to a world entirely covered in Rot.
Luring the Swamp Thing and Animal Man into the pool of rot after him, Anton severed their plant-based tie to the Earth above, trapping them in his world of Rot. Anton Arcane explained with joy that every thing that happened recently was a machination by the Rot, which It was not weak as Alec and Buddy had believed. Sethe's return was merely meant to force the resurrection of Alec Holland in an act of desperation, which broke the rules saying that human Avatars could not be returned from death without expecting the other elements to do the same with their Avatars: The Green's gamble allowed the Rot to bring Arcane himself back. Arcane announced menacingly that despite their feeling that they have only been in the Rot for a short time, the dead perceive time differently. Alec and Buddy had been in the Rot for an entire year, during which the Rot had taken over the world.
During the time passed, Anton had met his niece as she attempted to infiltrate Blestemat to stop him, capturing her with his Un-Men due to the Swamp Thing not being there to stop him. Anton revealed that since he took a bite out of her back in the swamps, he kept her genetic material in his mouth long enough to create Un-Men clones of her. The difference between the clones and Abby is that they have no brains, only stems. Outraged and disgusted, Abby tried to use her power to free herself, but was no match for Arcane's own powers, which, though his rot "flowers", had been able to make her forget any time she came close to his level of strength in the Rot, thereby dampening her strength. Attempting to escape from her uncle, Abigail learned to her horror that he had also taken so much power of the Rot that the Parliament of Decay was nearly powerless, and unable to protect her from her uncle even if they had no rules restricting them. He subsequently decapitated her, leaving only her Un-Men clones, and presented her head to the weakened Parliament in triumph.
Upon the arrival of the assembled forces of the Green and the Red at his castle, Anton emerged with his two greatest triumphs over the respective avatars: the rotten Maxine Baker and the aforementioned clones of Abigail. Though the combined forces of the Green and the Red manage to use a device capable of restoring true growth to the castle of Arcane and defeat his army there, Arcane manages to follow the Swamp Thing and Animal Man into a temporal portal one year back made by the Parliament of Decay in an attempt to regain their former glory.
The Anton Arcane of the Rotworld returned to the present with some confusion, seeing his own body torn in half on the ground. His former self warned that it was the Parliament who betrayed them, and demanded to be aided in reformation, so that they could help each other. Rather than help, Arcane devoured the body, and rushed down to the tunnel where the Parliament resided. As Alec reluctantly killed Abby in order to make her a replacement Avatar of the Rot, Arcane bursts through the door. Playing upon Alec's grief, Arcane urged him embrace his pain and the meaningless of his life without Abby while he killed the Parliament. Instead, Alec stayed true to her sacrifice, stabbing Arcane in the chest. His arm became stuck in one of the infinite mouths of Arcane's body, allowing Arcane to thrust his own spears through Alec's human core. He then turned to the Parliament, only to be stabbed from behind by Alec's antlers. Angrily, Arcane turned on him, intent on finishing the job of killing Alec Holland. At last, Alec's human body died, and Arcane felt he won. However, the Parliament had been busy, and Abigail Arcane was now the Avatar of Rot in his place. With his power gone in that moment, his body was destroyed by the Parliament with no hope of regenerating.
Anton Arcane was placed into his own special Hell, barely able to remember ever having been anywhere else. What tormented him most about this place was that nothing rots, and everything, from plants to animals, flourishes. He tried to kill wildlife, waiting for it to rot, but the corpses just sat until his eyes wandered, and as soon as he looked back, the creature was alive again.
One day, he was visited by his niece, Abigail, who had become the avatar of the Rot. She took a risk by allowing him to touch the Rot, even for a moment, but all she wanted was for him to remember what it feels like and to want more. The experience led him to try to take the Rot from her, and she was forced to sever his connection by severing her own arm.
Reduced to grovelling, Anton fell to his knees and wondered why she came. Disgusted by him, she responded that she wanted a favour of him, and in exchange, she would let him touch the Rot again. Coldly, she stated that she wants only to hear about her mother. After he told of what had truly happened to her mother, and who Ilse really was, he was angrily warned that he would never touch the Rot again, and that neither she nor the Parliament would ever let him leave. As she left, he mocked her warnings, plucking out his own eyeball, and throwing it through the doorway just before it closed.
Somewhere, a young boy prepared to bite into an apple, but was stopped at the last second by his mother, who noticed a peculiar patch of rot on the fruit. She threw it into the garbage, unaware that she had just touched the vehicle of Arcane's inevitable return.
When Alec went to the Rot in order to speak to Abigail about the encroaching threat of The Metal, she told him that Anton had managed to escape from his prison once more by means unknown to her. He was contacted, hiding himself in human clothes and eating an animal corpse raw, by the Machine Queen of The Rithm to aid the Metal in their coming war with Alec Holland. In order to prevent her from killing him and to show his worth, he presented her with the human, desiccated corpse of Alec Holland's former human body. After a sexual encounter with both the Machine Queen and Miki of Mycos, the three managed to recreate the bones of Alec Holland into an amalgamation of their three powers. Attacking Houma and puppeteering Guarav of The Sureen through Miki's powers, they managed to first distract the Swamp Thing by having him battle his human body, then infiltrate the Green itself with Guarav forced to open the way. Inside the Green, Anton begged the Parliament of Decay to give him his power over the Rot back, citing his successes as an Avatar and professing his deepest apologies for his former betrayal. Placating them, he was given back his full strength, and immediately used it to attempt to corrupt the Green with Rot from within.
Powers and Abilities
- Elemental Control: Anton Arcane is an extremely powerful Avatar of the Rot, far stronger in its use than his successor in the early 21st Century, Abigail.
- Regeneration: Capable of regenerating even when his entire body is torn to pieces.
- Monstrous Appearance: Requires other human skins to cover his true, rotted form in order to interact with others in society without suspicion.
- Anton Arcane was created by Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson, first appearing in Swamp Thing #2. However, in the Prime Earth continuity, Anton Arcane first appeared as part of the New 52 DC Universe in Swamp Thing (Volume 5) #3 by Scott Snyder, Victor Ibáñez, and Yanick Paquette.
- Anton Arcane has died numerous times. His death notation will be that of his most recent death, whenever that occurs.
- 36 Appearances of Anton Arcane (Prime Earth)
- 9 Images featuring Anton Arcane (Prime Earth)
- 4 Quotations by or about Anton Arcane (Prime Earth)
- Character Gallery: Anton Arcane (Prime Earth)
- Swamp Thing (Volume 5) #23.1: Arcane
- Swamp Thing (Volume 5) #0
- Swamp Thing Annual (Volume 5) #1
- Swamp Thing (Volume 5) #9
- Swamp Thing (Volume 5) #10
- Swamp Thing (Volume 5) #11
- Swamp Thing (Volume 5) #12
- Swamp Thing (Volume 5) #14
- Swamp Thing (Volume 5) #15
- Swamp Thing (Volume 5) #16
- Animal Man (Volume 2) #17
- Swamp Thing (Volume 5) #17
- Swamp Thing (Volume 5) #18
- Swamp Thing (Volume 5) #36
- Swamp Thing (Volume 5) #37
- Swamp Thing (Volume 5) #38
Swamp Thing Character
Swamp Thing and is predominantly seen in the Swamp Thing family of titles. This character may be part of the Swamp Thing's supporting cast, a minor acquaintance, or one of his adversaries. This template will automatically categorize articles that include it into the Swamp Thing Characters category.