SWAMP THING: Rotworld by Scott Snyder, Jeff Lemire and Yanick Paquette does a surprisingly good job for a TPB collecting a crossover (unlike some of those Supergirl TPBs, there’s no major plot gaps). As representatives of the animal and plant kingdoms, Animal Man and Swamp Thing enter the domain of the Rot (the kingdom of death and decay) only to discover the Rot’s avatar Arcane has been playing them. By the time they return it’s a year later and the Earth has become … Rotworld. I liked this one despite the obvious ending: when you have an apocalypse like this, you know it’s not going to take (and the solution wasn’t that great).
Charles Soule (and multiple artists) takes over with SWAMP THING: Seeder wherein the eponymous figure taps the power of the green to make the deserts bloom (among other wonders) but each miracle causes trouble somewhere else. Can Alec Holland restore the balance? What does the warrior woman Capucine want from him? This was good (though unfinished—the plotlines continue into the next volume) except for a Scarecrow subplot that felt like unremarkable filler.
SUPERMUTANT MAGIC ACADEMY by Jillian Tamaki is a collection of one page strips about the various students at the title school for both metahumans and sorcerers. While not all the strips work, enough of them do to recommend this. Quirky fun.
THE SHOTGUN ARCANA (cover by Raymond Swanland) is RS Belcher’s sequel to Six Gun Tarot wherein the presence of he Skull of Cain in the accursed town of Golgotha draws a fallen angel (“This world is God’s suicide note!”) and his cult of slayers to challenge the resident not-so-fallen angel, the possibly unkillable sheriff and the resident mad scientist (who turns out here to be much more a hero than I expected, culminating in a showdown with a Doctor of Doom). Very good, with the same kind of throwaway weirdness I enjoyed in the first book. For example the sheriff acknowledges the town doctor is a jerk, but points out he’s better than his predecessor who drained away people’s memories, or the guy before him who had to be staked through the liver and have his head crushed under a railroad train. I look forward to #3.
ONE NATION UNDER GOD: How Corporate America Invented Christmas America by Kevin M. Kruse argues that the myth America was founded on Biblical principles and conceived as a Christian nation actual dates back to the 1930s. That’s when a combination of corporate and Christian anti-New Dealers built up the image of Godly America as a contrast and rebuke to FDR’s supposed Godless Statism. A couple of decades later, Eisenhower both embraced and confounded this movement, heavily emphasizing religion in his campaign and presidency beyond anything seen before, but also embracing the New Deal safety net instead of treating them as polar opposites. Then came the debates over school prayer, which highlighted the challenge of turning “ceremonial deism” — the vaguely Christian stuff like having “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance — into local disputes where the issues weren’t so abstract (Jews and Catholics who might accept “under God” weren’t so keen on daily Protestant prayers). A good, informative look at a familiar topic.