The Saga of the Swamp Thing 28 (1984)
The “Spotlight on… Swamp Thing” feature located toward the back of this issue seemed like an appropriate place to start things off. This book marks the fourth Swamp Thing issue under Karen Berger as editor (her first being issue 25). Berger’s introduction…
Moore’s wonderful writing echoes the tone that we encounter in his amazing run. In her intro, Berger mentions the “prose passage” not being included in DC’s Summer Sampler, but it did indeed apear in, “DC Sampler 2” which was released the same month as this issue, ST 28 (September 1984).
Saga 28 pumps the breaks as the story slows down with a crisis of identity as Swamp Thing continues to put the pieces together after learning of his origin, in issue 21. As the title alludes, Swampy tires to bury his past. Although Totleben and Bissette are credited on the cover, Shawn McManus acts as guest artist on, “The Burial”.
The change in style is immediately recognizable. McManus presents a much more whimsical take on Abby and Swamp Thing. The two come across as childlike and carefree. The title page even features a couple “plut” SFX which further lends to the cartoonish feel. But the mood is anything but playful and cartoon-like. It’s a somber, cathartic moment for our favorite muck-man.
The pace may slow down but it’s a welcomed moment to catch our breaths after Etrigan’s breakthrough performance. The story breaks down; while Swamp Thing remembers the past in a series of flashbacks, he searches for the bones of Alec Holland. His flashbacks become like lucid dreams as they guide him through his journey to come to terms with his past.
Moore introduces a few fun elements in this book. He retroactively builds upon Swampy’s history and past chronology, presenting memories in this issue that could be strung together with moments from Swamp Thing #1 (1972). As I mentioned in my previous post, it’s this type of connective tissue I get excited about while researching the character. Another fun addition is Moore bringing attention to Swamp Thing’s seasonal growth patterns. Abby notices that Swampy is changing colors as Fall rolls in. During their exchange, Moore calls out this new season based feature, as if to pat himself on the back.
“has it happened before?”
“no. I was not in touch with the seasons.”
I love this panel. Below, Abby and Swamp Thing look like two adventurous kids, off to take on the world. They’re not, of course, but it is around the time they part ways in this book.
Dr Alec Holland. Dead
I like how primal McManus depicts Swampy as he sees the ghost of Holland. Swampy’s so shocked, he’s molting.
In tandem with the cartoon-like aesthetic of the characters in this issue, this ad runs adjacent to the first dramatic scene of the book. An interesting placement that, at the time, gave me the feeling the book was starting to take a change in direction and maybe appealing to a younger audience.
In the flashback, Swamp Thing lashes out at the sight of the premonition of Alec Holland. He leaves Abby behind to follow the ghost. Meanwhile, he continues to dig for the body of Dr Alec Holland.
The ghost of Holland leads him to the now dilapidated top-secret science lab, disguised as a barn; where it began.
During Swampy’s trip down memory lane, Moore gives us a -for a lack of better words- directors cut of issues 1 (1972). Like in A Christmas Carol, Swamp Thing watches the past play out before him.
The living accommodations within the top-secret science lab disguised as a barn was fairly luxurious. I love seeing the stacks of paper next to Linda, by her vanity. A little detail indicating the Hollands were diligently working to develop their biorestorative formula.
Above, McManus depicts Linda with a brush much like character of the same name from the cover of House of Secrets 92 (1971).
As we all know and so it was told, Bruno and the boys rough Alec up. But, Moore shows a little more of the story -what could have been in Wrightson & Wein’s issue 1 (1971)- after Alec was rendered unconscious…
and before the explosion.
In his dream-like journey, as his past replays, a specter of himself appears from the swamp. It steers him toward his objective.
He ties to touch, he tries to communicate.
Amidst this deep moment of premonition, this panel always stands out as a real Scooby-Doo moment.
Swamp Thing retrieves the bones of Alec Holland. He may not be the doctor any longer but the bones are as much a part of him as his memories and consciousness.
He lays Alec to rest.
In the next issue, the series starts jumping and jiving again but in a dark and twisted way. Speaking of jumping (pro segue!), the letters page is flooded with pleased readers. Moore starts his run strong and folks can’t get enough.
Editor, Karen Berger announces the epic second annual of series two. As I’m sure you recall, ST Annual 2 is a star studded story that takes Swamp Thing to hell. It’s also what retroactive continuity devotees believe to be the first appearance of the Justice League Dark. I’m not a fan of how a book involved in ret. con. can over-inflate the price of something that would otherwise be a dollar bin find. The newly inflated value typically results in folks grading and sealing their books behind plastic, driving the price up even further. These are the harrowing struggles of a collector and completist. Ha!
Onward, to the letters…