"The Zeugma": Swamp Thing rules the Green Kingdom, one of six protectors of six realms including The Green, The Red, The Black, The Grey, The Divided, and The Metal. He has spent the last five years preparing for his last battle, a
- And I asked myself, with everything you've taken from me, all the evil things you've done to the planet, to me, to Abby... the love of my life... what should I do? Tear up? Or tear it down?
Swamp Thing: Futures End #1 is a one-shot with a cover date of November, 2014. It was published on September 3, 2014.
Synopsis for "The Zeugma"
Swamp Thing rules the Green Kingdom, one of six protectors of six realms including The Green, The Red, The Black, The Grey, The Divided, and The Metal. He has spent the last five years preparing for his last battle, and now the time has come to visit each of those kingdoms in turn, to persuade them of the role they must play.
His first stop is the Grey, whose avatar has spent his time isolated on an island, trying to use his abilities to recreate a particular woman for himself. When Alec arrives on the island, he finds a great many of the avatar's failed attempts, and slices one in half to get is quarry's attention. Annoyed, the avatar appears, complaining that that one Alec had destroyed was the closest he'd got to getting her right. In order to convince the avatar, Alec has brought leverage: a photo of the woman. Years ago, they had made a bargain that if he could get this photo, the Avatar of the Grey would do something for him in return. Naturally, the avatar is excited by the prospect of having the photo, but he must do his part for Alec first, though he knows Alec may not survive his own plan. Even so, he agrees to the bargain, and soon Alec is on his way to The Red.
Banging on the walls of the Red Kingdom, Alec commands the Avatar of the Red to come out and see him. Instead, the avatar sends a ravenous, three-headed bear to maul him. Carefully, Alec grows some tranquilizing plants on his body to put the bear to sleep, wrapping it in a net of vines, and dragging it away. Annoyed, he curses the Avatar of the Red as an idiot, and thanks him for the bear.
Next, Alec travels to the realm of the Divided - home to bacteria. For billions of years, none had even known of this realm's existence, but when mankind turned its microscope on them, they were discovered. And when illness was fought with antibiotics, the Divided knew war for the first time, learning to resist. As a gift, Alec offers the Divided the body of the bear. Gratefully, the avatar takes control of its corpse and wonders why Alec would come to her when it was he that imprisoned her within her own realm. Alec reminds that he made her an offer years ago, to expand her territory, and he has come to make good on it - if she will live up to her end of the deal; to work with the other avatars.
With her promise made, Alec travels next to the realm of metal, to the home of the Processor; the machine. He worries that it will be hardest to convince, given its cold logic. However, as soon as it becomes aware of his presence, it simply agrees. It has already surmised that he wishes it to monitor the Grey and the Divided to ensure that neither gains advantage over the other. Alec impotently offers an incentive, but the Processor refuses it, promising to do what is asked, provided Alec succeeds in his plan. The odds of success are at approximately 11%, and the Processor wishes Alec luck in that.
At last, Alec takes his final journey, travelling to The Black, where his Green cannot survive the barren, lifeless desert. At last, he makes his way to the throne of Anton Arcane, who sits next to his daughter-bride, Abigail. Knowing he will not succeed, Alec asks Anton again to let Abigail, his former love, go. As always, he refuses, reminding that she was the price to end the war between the gods and the heroes. They both had agreed to this plan - all of the Avatars had agreed to be locked within the Spectre's prisons, able to see and govern their realms, but not touch them. Abigail was Arcane's price for agreeing. The rules allow Arcane to kill Alec in his own realm, if he so chooses, and he does so choose.
Fortunately, Alec has spent the last five years seeking a weapon that could protect him; that could spell the end of Anton Arcane: the White Lantern Ring. Arcane scoffs, reminding that Alec can't simply put on the life ring. It must choose him, and he was never chosen. Alec admits that Arcane is right, but he has also brought the Swamp Thing with him; his predecessor who once wielded the ring. Grumpily, Arcane agrees to give up Abigail, reminding that he has already drained her of all her use. Alec responds coldly that he has no interest in destroying Arcane - he wants to destroy the Rot, allowing the Grey, the Divided, and the Metal to take over his duties. Arcane warns that if Alec goes through with that plan, Abigail will die. She is as much a creature of decay as he. Alec believes, though, that there is life in her yet, and that she would surely rather die than spend another moment stuck to her uncle. Angrily, Arcane sends rotlings to tear Alec down, as Alec thrusts the Swamp Thing's head upward. In that same moment, Abigail returns to herself, and cuts herself free of her uncle's grasp.
Though Alec had not expected to survive this encounter, and nor had his predecessor, they hoped that success would come, because the greater good made trying necessary whether the odds were against them or not. The White Lantern's light of life destroys Anton Arcane and erodes away at Abigail's body as Alec collapses.
Appearing in "The Zeugma"
- Anton Arcane (Dies)
- A Zeugma is a word that joins two disparate sentence fragments. In the case of this story's title, it is a metaphor for the gathering together of the realms by Alec.
- This issue is reprinted in Futures End: Five Years Later Omnibus.