"The Garden of Earthly Delights": Gotham City is now an overgrown jungle. Much of the city has been completely taken over by vines and plants. This is all the result of the Swamp Thing's vengeance against the city for keeping his wife [[Abigail Arcane (New Earth)|
- Abby... I have made of this City... a fabulous Bouquet. For you. All for you...
Synopsis for "The Garden of Earthly Delights"
Gotham City is now an overgrown jungle. Much of the city has been completely taken over by vines and plants. This is all the result of the Swamp Thing's vengeance against the city for keeping his wife Abby in custody for sex crimes, after she was caught on film engaging in sex acts with him.
Batman answers the Bat-Signal, arriving at Gotham City Police Headquarters. He assures Commissioner Gordon that he has met the Swamp Thing before, and that he will make an attempt to reason with the creature before things get worse.
As Swamp Thing's hold over the city gets stronger, members of the D.D.I. plot with Lex Luthor to come up with a method by which they can overcome Swamp Thing's invulnerability, and kill him. In doing so, they will eliminate a witness to the underhanded dealings of the D.D.I. Luthor proposes a scrambler that will alter Swamp Thing's frequency, making him unable to leave his body in the event of his death, and regrow elsewhere.
On the outskirts of the city, Chester Williams makes his way on foot along the overgrown highway. On the way, he encounters Wallace Monroe. Both of them have come from Louisiana to see the Swamp Thing, and both have environmentalist ideologies. They decide to join forces, and begin the trek into Gotham.
As he observes his work, the Swamp Thing suddenly hears the sound of saws buzzing through the trunks of the newly grown trees behind him. Suddenly, a Batmobile equipped with enormous circular saws bursts through the growth, and stops in front of the Swamp Thing. From inside, Batman asks to talk. Swamp Thing demands only to have his wife released to him. Batman states that until she has been through the judicial process, her return is impossible. At an impasse, Batman chooses his last resort, and equips a backpack canister and hose filled with defoliant. After releasing the chemical upon the Swamp Thing, he discovers that the creature is more powerful than he had guessed. Several Swamp Things surround him, and beats him into submission. As he walks away, he leaves the message that things will get worse if Abby is not returned.
Later, the commissioner visits with the mayor, but they are interrupted by the sudden appearance of Swamp Thing. He reports that Batman and Gotham itself have fallen to The Green. He commands that his wife be returned to him by dawn, or else Gotham as a city will be completely erased from the map.
Elsewhere, many people from Gotham and beyond have gathered together, worshipping the Swamp Thing as something of a cult god. Chester and Wallace are among them. Chester still has a piece of the hallucinogenic tuber that he picked up months ago, and he still wonders what will happen to him if he uses it. Wallace reveals that he is the same Wallace Monroe who ran away from his pregnant wife after she was exposed to the nuclear waste that saturated the homeless man called Nuke-face. Sadly, his baby was stillborn, and his wife hasn't got much time left either. He is saddened by the fact he can do nothing for her. Seeing what kind of man Wallace is, Chester offers him the remaining piece of the tuber, to ease his wife's pain.
Just before dawn, Batman, the Commissioner, Harvey Bullock, and a retinue of National Guardsmen await the Swamp Thing's retaliation. Batman warns that he wouldn't dare guess at the upper limits of Swamp Thing's power now, and suggests that they release Abby. He expresses distrust of the laws used to charge her. Suddenly, a huge swarm of bugs attacks. As they attempt to maintain composure under the bugs' onslaught, a growing rumbling sets them ill at ease.
They are horrified to discover that the rumbling is the sound of the Swamp Thing inhabiting a giant plant construct built out of redwoods, and – towering over everyone – he addresses Batman and the police. He warns that there are no limits to his power, that he could cause the flora in human intestines to overgrow if tempted. He states that he will have his wife now, with no more delays. As the construct crashes to the ground, Batman insists on speaking to Mayor Skowcroft. Batman warns of the creature's power, and criticizes the charges against Abby. He warns that if charges are to be brought for fraternizing with non-humans, other heroes such as Hawkman, Metamorpho, and even Superman would have to be condemned. Faced with these warnings, the mayor calls Washington, D.C. and negotiates a pardon.
Batman delivers the news of the pardon to Swamp Thing personally, warning that if he ever does this to Gotham again, he will kill the creature. Swamp Thing responds that he believes that Batman actually might. As Swamp Thing arrives at the courthouse, the D.D.I. prepares to launch its attack. Abby emerges from the courthouse and as soon as she sees Swamp Thing, she bursts into tears, and they run toward each other. As they finally embrace, a D.D.I. sniper fires Luthor's frequency scrambler into the back of Swamp Thing's head. He senses that something is wrong immediately, and finds himself unable to leave his body. Desperately, he shoves Abby away, knowing that something bad will soon happen. Moments later, the snipers attack him with napalm. Batman rushes to hold Abby back as the creature is engulfed in flames. As he feels himself dying, Swamp Thing flashes back to the death of Alec Holland, who also burned to death violently. He remembers the Parliament of Trees' warning that he should reject the allure of power and accept the way of calmness. He collapses in a pile of burning ash, and the D.D.I. assure themselves that he didn't survive. The city looks on in horror as Batman feebly attempts to comfort Abby.
Appearing in "The Garden of Earthly Delights"
- Chester Williams
- Wallace Monroe
- Gotham City Police Department
- Denzil Peachy
- Mayor George P. Skowcroft (Single appearance)
- Kirstin Hoberman
- Lori Dickens
- Sara Finney
- Superman (Mentioned only)
- Metamorpho (Mentioned only)
- Hawkman (Mentioned only)
- This issue is reprinted in the Swamp Thing: Earth to Earth trade paperback.
- Starting the Gotham City origin, according to Alan Moore's tale, a Norwegian mercenary founded Gotham City and the British later took it over. During the American Revolutionary War, Gotham City was the site of a major battle.
- The issue title references the Hieronymus Bosch triptych of the same name which depicts Paradise and Hell. Commissioner Gordon's reflections on the Swamp Thing's siege support this allusion:
- You see, he's given Gotham a taste of some sort of savage Eden. Some people out there are acting as if it's a natural-born paradise...but all I can see is a green hell.
- Mayor Skowcroft alludes to U.S. President Ronald Reagan's notorious 1981 claim that trees cause pollution. Reagan's actual words were, "Trees cause more pollution than automobiles do."
- Lex Luthor dismissed Swamp Thing as a "refugee from a canned sweet-corn label." This is an allusion to the General Mills mascot, the Jolly Green Giant, who represents the company's Green Giant line of frozen and canned vegetables.
- Swamp Thing Recommended Reading