The Saga of the Swamp Thing 16 (1983)
Stopover in a Place of Secret Truths
Totleben and Bissette are on the case! Not since Wrightson’s work has there been this much energy and care put into the character (at this point in my re-read of the chronology. Please reference the Chronology page for details). The layouts are creative, the art work is heavily detailed and the panels are well thought out. Maybe not all of them hit it out of the park but it’s refreshing to see this level of care put back into Swamp Thing books. Compared to the previous drawn-out, tired stories and visual depictions, this book feels like the shot in the arm series two needed. The script is still a little clunky but the artwork more than makes up for it.
Since issue 15, Swamp Thing has trudged back to the company of Barclay, Liz and Dr Kay. This issue dedicates a few pages to catch readers up to speed on how Swampy got to this point.
Swampy is digging up the grave of his wife Linda to see if her body has been disturbed. The US Government handled all burial arrangements but to his surprise, her body is missing from the coffin. This leads the four to believe that the government is in cahoots with Sunderland Corp. They decide to venture to DC to get to the bottom of things. These four have seen a lot of travel time together.
This detail of Barclay helping to put Swamp Thing in the back of the station wagon is pretty funny.
I love these layouts and the detail work within the rain. The craftsmanship is wonderful.
“*details in a forthcoming DC Comics Presents!” The device to keep people away from the graves, noted above, is never explained. The DC Comics Presents book that Len references was never published.
Below is a perfect example of an interesting layout, as I mentioned above. Harry Kay’s silhouette takes on the form of the panel, presenting the flashback of Kay telling Swampy of the depths of Sunderland’s corruption. It seems like an overall increased effort and interest went into producing this book. The great Tatjana Wood assisted in layouts, presentation as well as colored the book.
There are some wonderful details in this issue. I particularly enjoy the roadside billboard below. “Hey, baby. All my men drink Silk Three” …I think that’s what it says.
The crew drives all night from Louisiana to Virginia, where they setup for the night at the New Moon Motel. Swampy has been sleeping in the wagon all night and needs to get out and stretch his legs. I’m not quite sure why the whole crew gets to sleep in beds but Swampy is confined to the backseat of the station wagon.
I love the two panels below.
It’s Abby! She’s waiting tables at the New Moon Motel’s cafe in Virginia. The last time we saw Abby was in issue #20 of series 1 when she thought Swamp Thing was destroyed in an explosion.
I added this panel because I enjoy it. Swampy has been meandering for 7 miles, as the billboard indicates.
This page is beautiful. I mentioned the energy of the drawings in this issue at the beginning of this post. This whole page exemplifies that energy.
These panels remind me of the strength, action and detail that we saw in Swamp Thing #3 (series 1) The Patchwork Man. The right side of the page, displaying the cliff and town below is really wonderful.
Swamp Thing saves the boy from careening over the cliff. A local woman notices his good deed and invites him back to her little town. Swampy is confused that the woman does not acknowledge his monstrous form.
Oddly enough, no one in the town acknowledges Swamp Thing’s appearance.
There is no mention of the New Life Corp. throughout the book. It would be fun to think that the underlying thread of this community of hidden monsters is run by the New Life Corp. Maybe the New Life Corp makes the masks or it’s just an allusion.
I found the below typo to be interesting. The old woman mentions that Mallory is Swamp Things daughter.
Obviously a typo but kind of funny.
The old folks welcome Swamp Thing into their home and among their family. The old man takes Swamp Thing up to their attic where he keeps his collection of masks.
The masks hold special powers, able to cloak the outer appearance and reveal the inner soul of those that wear them.
During dinner, a unstable love triangle is brewing. The relationship and scenario escalates quite quickly for the muck-encrusted monster that decided to go for a little walk in the woods to stretch his legs.
Cyrus’s hand angrily clutching his napkin reminds me of Wrightson’s work.
next thing you know, Alec is receiving blessings to marry Mallory.
as you can imagine this doesn’t go over well. Swamp Thing decides to reveal his true form and tell Mallory that a relationship isn’t realistic nor will it work out. Cyrus only sees red due to Swampy stealing his gal
The issue comes to an odd, abrupt ending. All of the towns people reveal that no one is what they seem (with the help of the masks) and it was all a test to see if Swamp Thing could live within their sanctuary. Swamp Thing thinks Mallory only loved him because he was a normal human but it turns out Mallory loved Alec regardless of what form he took on. Alec’s dream of living a normal life escapes him as he leaves the small town. To top it off, the town disappears. Typical, Swamp Thing finally finds true love and it didn’t even exist.
Back at Sunderland Headquarters, we find out that “Project Holland” is way over budget and it’s about time they contact their government connections. This reveals that Kay, Barclay, Liz and Swampy’s assumption is correct. Sunderland Corp is in bed with the US government.
It’s been a while since I included an ad. This one was too good to pass up. There’s nothing quite like predatory BMX accessories.