Swamp Thing Introduces Another Major Comic Villain

Swamp Thing and Anton Arcane

The latest episode of Swamp Thing, "Darkness at the Edge of Town," seems to have introduced another classic villain from the comics into the reality of the DC Universe series. While the appearance occurs within a dream sequence, it seems likely that this horrific introduction is foreshadowing the character's arrival in the flesh later this season.

"Darkness on the Edge of Town" sees Dr. Abby Arcane continuing to explore the mystic nature of the swamps around Marais, Louisiana, while helping Dr. Alec Holland understand what manner of creature he has become after his apparent death and rebirth as the Swamp Thing. The plot of the episode centers around another mysterious force hidden within the swamp - a virus that infects only one victim at a time, forcing them to hallucinate their worst fear and pushing them to react violently to those around them. The disease passes from one victim to the next, after they draw the blood of another.

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After Abby becomes infected following a struggle with the town sheriff, she heads to the swamp and seeks Swamp Thing's help in curing herself. However, before she finds him, she is treated to a horrifying image of the moon being eclipsed and a raspy-voice man obscured by shadows saying that he has been waiting for her. Suddenly, Abby sees herself as a young girl, as the man continues to rant about how Abby's mother tried to take her from him and how he will show her the darkness she seeks.

Swamp Thing Abby Arcane and Nightmare Anton Arcane

Thankfully, Swamp Thing finds Abby as she's in the middle of her hallucination and is able to draw the disease from her before returning it to the corpse from which the plague originally came. When Swamp Thing later asks her what her nightmare was, Abby says that it was the faceless monster from a recurring nightmare she had as a child. The monster kept threatening to take her away from her mother, but for some reason the dreams stopped after Abby's mother died. While not identified by name in the episode, it seems likely that this shadowy man is Abby's uncle from the comics, Anton Arcane.

Introduced in Swamp Thing #2 in January 1973, Anton Arcane is Swamp Thing's oldest enemy and perhaps also his most dangerous foe. A scientist and sorcerer who sought the secrets of immortality, Arcane abducted the creature who was Alec Holland hoping to find a way to place his mind inside of Swamp Thing's virtually indestructible body. The two would clash repeatedly over the years, with Arcane returning to menace Swamp Thing and Abby, whom Anton had hoped to guide into the family's tradition of practicing black magic.

This background was changed slightly following the New 52 revamp of the Swamp Thing comics in 2011, with Anton Arcane now being a champion of The Rot - the primal force of decay and death that stood opposed to The Green that empowered Swamp Thing. It seems likely that Anton may emerge in a similar capacity, having apparently been reawakened like so many other things since Abby's return to Marais. However, it remains to be seen if Anton Arcane will emerge by the end of Swamp Thing's season finale or if he was meant to play a major role across the series' original three-season plan.

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