One of the world's most iconic characters has returned to the heart of the DC Universe, and every step he takes will shake the foundations of the Earth! Alec Holland has his life back…but the Green has plans for it. A monstrous evil is rising in the desert, and it'll take a monster of another kind to defend life as we know it!
All across the world, animals are dying; birds falling across Metropolis, bats slumping to the ground in the Batcave; fish dead and dying deep under the sea. Two days later, in Louisiana, Alec Holland is helping to build a house, having given up science for a more practical job. He senses plant tendrils growing up around his boot and kicks them off; it seems that The Green still wants him back.
Meanwhile, in Northwestern Arizona, an archaeology site finds itself caught in a crackling, lightning-infused tornado that rips mammoth bones and dead animals from the ground and draws them into its swirling mass; inside, human shapes seem to writhe and shudder.
Ales is sorting timber when Superman arrives, saying that he's been looking for the errant scientist. He adds that Alec stopped going to his lab two weeks ago, and left no forwarding address or number. Superman says that he wanted Alec's help with the dying bird situation in Metropolis, saying that the events of Brightest Day have shown them that nature can ring a warning bell. He wonders whether Alec has any insights from his time as Swamp Thing, but Alec says that he never was Swamp Thing - though he shares glimmers of its memories, including a relationship with a white-haired woman. He says that he didn't come back as the Alec Holland who died, but as something else - as someone with a past shared with Swamp Thing. That's why he left the lab, even though he'd managed to make another batch of the bio-restorative formula that he was working on when he died.
Superman says that the formula could save millions and Alec says that upon making it he remembered the words of an old professor of his, who believed that the plant world was even more violent and brutal than the animal one, but that its slow pace tricked people into thinking otherwise. Claiming that he envisioned a world covered with green, Holland says he destroyed the formula again. Superman tries to talk him out of it, but Alec says he just doesn't want to be found.
Back at the dig, three archaeologists inspect the damage. One, Gil, blames a man called Vickers, who he believes sold info on the site to some rivals. Suddenly he hears a thudding sound over a hill. Going to investigate, he finds a terrifying creature of meat and bone, constructed from the remains of the mammoth and the flesh of the creatures - living and dead - that were caught in the twister. It unleashes a cloud of flies on the men, and one of the flies manages to insert itself into Gil's ear. To his horror, his neck begins to twist around, and though he fights it with his will and his own hands, he's unable to stop his neck from breaking. The moment he dies, his body becomes animated by some other conscience and begins to chase after his colleagues. They make it to their car but are similarly caught by the flies, and soon the creature is stomping off over the desert, followed by its three dead puppets.
In his motel room, Alec Holland dreams of his death in the swamp, waking to find his room filled with flowers, growing through the walls and floor. The vines try to wrap around him but he fights them off and runs to the safe, where he finds the bio-restorative formula, apparently not destroyed after all. He runs out to the swamp behind the motel and is about to throw it in when vines wrap around his hand and stop him. He turns to find himself faced by the Swamp Thing, who says, 'I wouldn't do that if I were you...'
Continued in Swamp Thing volume 5 issue 2
- This issue takes place six weeks after the events of Brightest Day issue 23.
- The creature's victims, with their twisted necks, somewhat resemble The Invunche, a monster from Alan Moore's run on Swamp Thing.
- Superman's talk with Alec suggests that, although this issue takes place after the DC Universe has been rebooted, the events of Brightest Day are still in continuity.
- The white-haired woman mentioned by Alec is Abigail Arcane, later Abigail Cable and, later still, Abigail Holland. She married Swamp Thing in Rick Vietch's issues, which came after Alan Moore's run.
- Beginning this month, the entire DC line was renumbered with issue ones, including decades-old titles Action Comics and Detective Comics. The line of 52 titles was termed 'the new 52', as seen on the front cover.
- Alec is staying at 'Totleben's Motel' - John Totleben was one of the artists who worked on the early parts of Moore's Swamp Thing run.
- The passcode to Alec's safe is '1971' - the year that the first Swamp Thing story, in House of Secrets #92, was published.