The Saga of the Swamp Thing 11 (1983)
Heart of Stone
After writing about issue #25 (the unpublished book from series 1), it seemed fitting to start this post with the letters page. A fan wrote in to express his disappointment with Len Wein’s response regarding issues 21-24 not being recognized as part of series 1 continuity. In Saga of the Swamp Thing #6, Wein famously declared, “As far as we’re concerned, the stories published after #21 never happened; that is, Alec never became predominantly human, he never had a brother, there was never any Colossus, etc.” “…our readers may consign those stories to “Another Earth” or to the trash heap”. I enjoy conside ring issues 21-24 as part of the first series’ continuity but I can understand Len’s sentiment. Everything certainly seemed to fall off the rails toward the end of the series. Len’s opinion would have, no doubt, applied to issue #25 if it had been published.
Such a strong letter from the editor (Wein) to a fan within a Swampy book deserved a response. Swamp Thing fanatic Chris Lewis of Connecticut had to wait five issues to have his letter published here in issue #11. His response is below.
Chris mentions the Challengers of the Unknown series that features Alec Holland, then Swamp Thing. I wrote about the books a while back and more info can be found at the following links. 82, 83, 84, 85, 86 and 87
It would be great if every character adhered to a unified continuity (or not) but it just doesn’t happen all that often. There will be one-offs and special issues that live on their own or within a vague sense of the timeline. Within Swampy’s continuity, Brave and The Bold #122 (1975) is a decent example of this. None of the Swamp Thing books from series 1 reference this Brave & Bold/Gotham encounter but based on Batman’s flashbacks and narration, this storyline would have taken place between ST issues 7 and 22. The crew who worked on the Challengers series had to establish a jumping off point for Holland and they chose to pick-up where Swamp Thing, series 1 left off. Instances like these are why I decided to re-read Swampy’s chronology and document my findings along the way. In the past, I didn’t pay a great deal of attention to the minutia within the continuity but now that I am, it’s really fun to see how the books and fan letters string together; how the articles and ads co-exist and which characters get enough attention to have a more concrete continuity throughout the Swamp Thing canon.
Now, back to the good stuff… Heart of Stone
Swampy, Kay and the crew are still at Dachau, or what remains of the horrific site after Karen decimated it with her psionic powers.
The book starts with a comprehensive recap that covers the Saga series up to this point; issues 1-10. I don’t recommend it but you could probably get away with skipping issues 1-10 by reading the first two pages of this book. I feel that this is the issue where Yeates and Pasko pick up the pace and things start to get interesting.
Casey (Karen) the psychopathic/telepathic, murdering she-devil is hell bent on world domination and exterminating a large portion of the population.
She retrieves the pendulum of Ernst Von Ruhnstedt, a wicked, mystical stone capable of mass destruction. Karen displays her powers on ol man Ruhnstedt
Back at the ruins of Dachau, the good guys are still figuring out next steps and a game plan to stop Karen.
The bickering that takes place is slightly comical and much like a Three Stooges routine. Barclay hollers, “He started it!”, Kay picks up a beam to club Barclay over the head but inadvertently smacks Swamp Thing while winding up.
Meanwhile, Feldner rambles on about Karen, the “herald of the beast” and her master plan to summon the beast in question.
Above is a proper explanation of the pendulum and its powers.
Karen destroys the mansion that she stole the pendulum from. From the explosion and ruins, the mansion magically turns into the Fortress of the Beast.
When I first read this issue, I remember being very excited that the Golem was being introduced to fight Karen. The Golem is the perfect solution to an anit-semitic, hell spawn like Karen.
After all that Barclay has done to help save Liz from danger and certain peril, she is still able to muster up some resentment and bust his chops.
Swamp Thing, Kay and company track down Karen with the help of the Golem. The Golem is fixed on Karen’s psionic energy and is able to track her down quite easily. Oddly enough, they find her at a bar carrying on with a group of Nazi sympathizers.
The Golem takes the lead in the fight but is instantly put down by Karen. Swampy is left picking up the slack.
Karen burns Swamp Thing, searing the medallion into his chest. The very medallion that psychically connects him with Karen.
With the medallion trapped, burned into Swampy’s chest and psychically connected to Karen, the Golem fixates on attacking Swamp Thing. Quite the pickle to be in.
This issue features the Phantom Stranger short, And I Shall Stand in the Shadow of Death
Featuring Chris Lewis’s letter, from above.