"Rotworld: Prologue, Part Two": Swamp Thing and Buddy Baker land in The Rot, but they can sense that it goes even deeper than they expected. Soon after getting their bearings, they are attacked by the Un-Men. Buddy
- This is where it has already begun, I'm afraid. Now the Rot's hive-mind, the Parliament of Decay, will allow their forces into this world, in an attack the likes of which hasn't been seen in centuries.
- — Socks
Synopsis for "Rotworld: Prologue, Part Two"
Swamp Thing and Buddy Baker land in The Rot, but they can sense that it goes even deeper than they expected. Soon after getting their bearings, they are attacked by the Un-Men. Buddy is surprised to be able to sense The Red within them, and Alec explains that the Un-Men were once humans who worshipped the Rot. Their deformities were their reward. The ensuing fight is suspiciously easy, but there is no turning back now.
Meanwhile, the portal into The Rot is being used by the Un-Men as a passage into the world, where Abigail Arcane, Ellen Baker, and her daughter Maxine become easy targets. Filled with horror, Ellen gives Maxine permission to use her powers as the young Avatar of the Red. Abby tosses Ellen her shotgun, using her own connection to the Rot as a weapon against it. The creatures keep coming, and Socks warns that Abby must use her abilities to seal the portal for their own protection. Unfortunately, this act could come at the cost of preventing Buddy and Alec from coming back. She leaves a small space in the hole for Alec's root-tether to this world to find their way back.
Alec and Buddy make their way down into a lower level of the Rot, catching hold of a ladder of bone, and continuing downwards. It becomes clear that in the Rot, Buddy is without his powers. Alec only retains his power because of his tether. Alec suggests that Buddy should return to the surface if he is powerless, but Buddy persists, explaining that he always intended to enter the Rot, powers or no.
Abby explains that like Maxine, she was born into her connection to the Rot. Fortunately for Maxine, though, she had a supportive family to raise her. Abby had to contend with her cruel uncle Anton. He was once the Avatar of the Rot, but he died long ago. Somehow, he has managed to come back and take the mantle of Avatar once again. This is confusing, because Avatars are not supposed to be able to return from death.
Alec claims to be able to feel the Rot's fear. Though they have met with no resistance since finding the ladder, they believe it is because they weakened the Rot by killing the Hunters Three and Sethe. As such, now is the best time for them to hit it hard and where it lives before it can attack again. Suddenly, though, they sense something following them down the ladder. It is Anton Arcane, who admits with glee that they have fallen into his trap, as he severs the tether to earth. As a last-ditch effort, Alec tries to send a message to Abby.
On the surface, the vine grows out into the shape of Abby's name, and then promptly wilts and dies. The ladies now know that their men are lost to them. Abby realizes that the Rot has grown - is growing - stronger. Her own power is growing stronger as a result. Socks admits that he believes that Alec and Buddy are trapped deep within the Rot and may never return. He and Abby have both been having visions of a horrible future in which the world has been transformed by the Rot leaving everything dead and twisted. This series of events indicates that that future has already begun to take root in the present. The Rot's hive-mind, the Parliament of Decay will allow its forces into this world and overrun it. Socks fears that the Parliament of Decay cannot be stopped, because its location has always been well hidden from both the Red and the Green. Abby reveals that she knows where it resides, and somehow, she always has. She intends to find it herself.
Abby offers to let Ellen and Maxine stay in her house in the Swamp, but it is no safer than anywhere else, and Ellen just wants to get back to Cliff and be with her family. She trusts that her husband will come back for his family, because he always does.
Anton Arcane explains with joy that every thing that has happened recently was a machination by the Rot. It is 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. That event broke the rules. Human Avatars cannot be returned from death without expecting the other elements to do the same with their Avatars. The Green's gamble allowed them to bring Arcane himself back, and now it's too late to stop the Rot from overtaking the world. Arcane announces 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 have been in the Rot for an entire year.
Alec and Buddy both feel strong sensations of falling, and then wake in what they first think must be a deeper part of the Rot. However, they both begin to sense their own elements, though muted. The Green feels fury and betrayal. Arcane was not lying. A year has passed, and the Rot has destroyed the world as they know it.
Appearing in "Rotworld: Prologue, Part Two"
- Poison Ivy (Cameo)
- Continued from Animal Man (Volume 2) #12. The story continues in both Swamp Thing (Volume 5) #13 and Animal Man (Volume 2) #13.