Swamp Thing 24 (1984)
“Enter: The Justice League of America!”
I love the way this book starts. I’ve been looking forward to writing about the issue for a little while now. Let’s jump in!
Not only does Moore, Totleben and Bissette deliver an awesome story, they provide some humorous moments and a heaping pile of super heroes.
The JLA reviews Woodrue’s warning of global destruction. He’s hellbent on killing mankind to allow plant life/The Green to reign supreme. He has decimated Lacriox, Louisiana and it seems that he will stop at nothing to achieve his goal.
Moore continues to develop the idea of The Green; the sentient realm of organic/plant-based life. Moore also starts to add humor into Swampy stories. Where his first few books were quite dramatic, this issue is peppered with humorous moments. The book is truly thrilling while touching upon on a number of themes including mental illness, idealism, loyalty, responsibility and love.
The panel below always makes me chuckle. While figuring out what to do, the JLA always upholds the code of manners. “shhhh.”
One of Woodrue’s plans is to increase the output of oxygen by plants, making the earth’s air highly flammable. This device is reused in future Swamp Thing books years later.
After hearing just about enough, Green Lantern ends Woodrue’s transmission.
I’m not sure how Moore feels about Firestorm but he certainly puts him in some funny conversations at the beginning of the book. It’s as if the JLA’s hothead can’t get any respect…
“… yeah, well, don’t bother” Firestorm: The Fire-Redheaded Stepchild
The JLA worries that their efforts have been focused elsewhere, on notable cities with large populations. “But who was watching out for Lacroix?”. Green Arrow’s question is answered soon enough. As you can see, some of DC’s greatest superheroes finally make it into the pages of Swamp Thing. It’s quite an exciting moment as some of them learn of Swamp Thing for the first time. If my memory serves me right, Superman is the only JLA member, represented in this book, to have previously encountered Swamp Thing. (Batman does not make an appearance in this book but is also a JLA member who has also encountered Swampy).
Last issue, Swamp Thing was in a deep, contemplative sleep pondering his existence and purpose. Here, he has finally awoken from his slumber to try and restore some balance to the green. Woodrue is about to be in a world of hurt.
Above is another beautiful splash page by the creative team. The framing -with Swamp Thing’s arm coming into frame- reminds me of his very small appearance in Guy Gardner #29 “It’s My Party, and I’ll Fight If I Want To” (1995).
Below, you can see Swampy’s arm on the edge of the comic panel similar to title page.
Surprised to see Swamp Thing, Woodrue thinks he has returned to join his side, in union, finishing off humanity. Unfortunately for Woodrue that’s not the case.
After hearing just about enough, Swamp Thing ends Woodrue’s transmission.
The no-look punch by Swamp Thing is quite humorous. After a long rant by Woodrue, Swamp Thing nonchalantly punches him out of panel.
Woodrue doesn’t take kindly to the gesture and uses vines to restrain the muck-monster. The dialogue in this issue is really great. Moore continues to develop Swamp Thing’s identity while Woodrue and Swampy discuss the scenario they find themselves in. Both characters are in a transitional period, learning who/what they are along with what they are capable of.
“That’s Woodrue?”, He’s “uglier than death backin’ outta the outhouse…”. One resident of Lacrioix, LA is no longer going to put up with Woodrue’s torment. During a fun exchange with Abby, the man humorously describes Woodrue, telling her he “ain’t runnin'”. He then proceeds to run off… to retrieve his Evangeline.
“I ain’t runnin’… I’m gonna be right back!”
The old man, sure enough, comes back with Evangeline ready to cut Woodrue down to size.
“I sure know a candy-butt when I see one.”
Unfortunately it doesn’t end well for the ol’ timer. Woodrue dispenses of him and goes after Abby. “close your eyes, Mrs. Cable. Close your eyes and shout “timber.”
I love the panel of Woodrue jumping toward Abby. His silhouette is very menacing and all you can really see are his creepy, yellow eyes.
Swampy escapes Woodrue’s restraints and confronts him once again, advising him of his misinterpretation of the green. He has used his powers for evil. He will pay a price for his recklessness
In trying to rid the world of humans, Woodrue failed to account for the delicate balance both plant and animal play within the ecosystem. Destroying one would surely compromise both. With the help of Swampy, Woodrue realizes his error and descends deeper into madness and no longer one with the green.
Moore, Totleben and Bissette beautifully depict Woodrue’s fall. He is shattered, inconsolable, alone. For his reckless behavior, the green turns its back on him. Villains don’t necessarily think they are the antagonist. From their perspective they think they’re doing what others are afraid to, for the betterment of their cause.
His plans thwarted and rejected by the plant world, Woodrue retreats to his camp in the bayou. He applies his skin makeup. He awaits the Justice League’s arrival.
Dispite his destructive behavior, Woodrue clearly needs help. the JLA take him in and away to Arkham.
After the dust settles, Abby and Swamp Thing address the state he’s in. Alec is no more. Moore ushers in a new era. From this point forward, the character is never the same. Abby is never the same. Matt Cable is never the same. Swamp Thing is developed further, solidifying his role as one of comics greatest characters.
The final panel with the JLA is interesting. Woodrue’s notes, scattered on the ground depict sketches and notes relating to Swamp Thing; notes from The Holland Report that Woodrue worked under Sunderland.
“facial structures of Alec Holland”
One of the crumpled pieces of paper bears the name of French post-impressionist painter, “Henri Rousseau” along with what appears to be one of his paintings. Like Dr Jason Woodrue, Rousseau was ridiculed during his lifetime; “His ingenuousness was extreme, and he always aspired, in vain, to conventional acceptance.” –ref
The JLA is grateful for Swampy’s efforts. Superman doesn’t tell the rest of the group about Swamp Thing. He says below that he doesn’t know what happened and I’m not completely sure he is alluding to Swampy, specifically when says, “be grateful that there’s something watching out…” This being said, 5 years after Swampy and Superman’s encounter in DC Comics Presents 8, The Sixty Deats of Solomon Grundy.
In typical fashion, Swamp Thing lumbers off into the swamp, alone. But this book differs in that it ends with this amazing, celebratorial pose.
the spectacular artwork doesn’t seem to stop in this issue. The back features a preview image for issue 25.