The Saga of the Swamp Thing 30 (1984)
A Halo of Flies
The saga continues…
“The returned man smiles…” Anton Arcane is back from the dead and out for vengeance. Like a shockwave rippling across the country, his evil is infectious and spreads. Folks start acting weird, committing violent acts. They start to do very bad things.
In a sick and cruel twist, Abby’s new home (-see SOTST 29) has become the epicenter for evil.
“…and everything bad within two hundred miles finds itself heading for Louisiana without knowing why…”
The story is absolutely chilling. I’ve shared four of my favorite panels so far. The scene the creative team establishes within those four panels alone, is terrifying.
The title page looks like a scene from an EC horror book. Abby’s terror continues as recently resurrected, Anton Arcane launches into exposition. He tells the tale of his time in hell and how he came to inhabit her husband, Matt Cable.
We learn that Arcane has been the driving force behind the trouble that’s surrounded Abby, Matt, Swampy and Houma. Arcane guided hands in summoning the Monkey King with a Ouija board (SOTST 25 and 26), orchestrated Matt Cable’s downward spiral and eventual death, and is -of course- the one Jason Blood cryptically warned Abby of.
It’s funny that within Moore’s first 10 issues, he kills the protagonist (SOTST 20), then brings him back to life, reinvented in the next issue (SOTST 21). He confirms the death of the antagonist (SOTST 19) only to bring him back as well, for this epic battle that is about to unfurl.
“a tale of how it was when I was dead.”
Swampy and Dr Kay sent Arcane packing in issue 19. As you recall, they were able to thwart Anton’s plans. Arcane and his crew of demonic creations/Un-Men perished in the blast and when the ship crashed. Swamp Thing goes on to confirm the fate of Anton Arcane in issue 20. But, as we know, Arcane never stays dead for long.
I love Kay’s melting glasses in the corner. That poor guy really gave it his all.
Arcane’s halo of flys really seals the deal depicting Arcane as an anti-Christ character.
Abby finally learns the fate of her troubled husband, Matt Cable. The cold-hearted monster relishes in putting his niece though hell.
Abby was aware that Cable had demons but she certainly didn’t realize the extent. Arcane molests his niece. It’s disgusting, chilling.
Arcane’s hellish monsters take Abby.
Now, even more empowered, Arcane takes flight. He levitates to the French doors that lead to the balcony, outside. He floats out into the night where he disappears into the darkness.
“And above the sky the watchman watch…”
Like Swamp Thing 24, I appreciate it when Moore includes DCU characters that take notice of catastrophic/unnatural events. After all, it would stand to reason that the JLA, Harbinger, The Monotor, etc. would be aware of any shifts in power or planetary forces.
Harbinger and Monitor don’t intervene but continue to watch…
Spectre and Trigon appear on Harbinger’s screen.
Everything and everyone is effected by Arcane’s evil presence. Even in Arkham, the inmates know something is happening. Something has changed. “…the Joker’s stopped laughing.”
Back in Homa, Swamp Thing walks in on the scene. He hasn’t had much of a presence in the book up this point. We find him walking through the woods. He is not completely aware of what has transpired or what awaits him; nor does the world.
Side note: In Louisiana, snow does not accumulate as it appears here. If it snows in Houma, it’s rare and would be a dusting. this doesn’t bother me one bit but rather, makes the scene even creepier. As Swamp Thing is aware, something is wrong and the natural balance -good/bad, dead/alive- has been shifted.
Bissette and Alcala handled the artwork in this issue and it’s interesting to see that the style in which Swampy is depicted varies in a few panels. As has been the case for many inkers, Alcala’s style takes focus from the penciler’s style at times.
Shocked, Swampy is beckoned by Matt Cable. Swamp Thing quickly realizes this is not Matt Cable and that Arcane has set something wicked in motion.
I love how Swamp This is depicted in the final pages. He seems almost more surprised that it isn’t Matt Cable rather than surprised that it’s Arcane. It must be overwhelming to be pursued constantly by people who want you dead. Not too long ago Swampy was able to get Sunderland Corp off his back and now he has to deal with Arcane once again. A battle is imminent.
Swampy isn’t going to put up with Arcane any longer… or so he thinks. As it’s stated, later in the letters page, there is a weary wisdom behind Swamp Thing’s eyes. This is the Swamp Thing I first fell in love with. He knows what needs to be done. He’s seen it all at this point and is willing to go to hell and back if that’s what it takes
“I will not… dance… for you…”
“I have Abigail”
Swamp Thing silently walks to Abbys house. He enters the house of horrors hoping for the best. He finds her lifeless body on the bed. All the while, Arcane laughs at the top of his lungs.
Swamp Thing takes Abby into his arms and asks Arcane, “how… long…? HOW LONG HAS SHE BEEN DEAD??”
Swamp Thing carries Abby’s body from the house… Arcane continues to laugh. He kackles and mocks his dead niece and the one thing who cares for her.
I recently found this great image of Bernie’s letters page banner. The original piece is in George Pratt’s collection.
The letters page in this issue is great. Below are clippings from some of my favorites. There’s praise all around…
Tyrone mentions Moore and screenwriting. Little would we know, Moore would come to resent all of his creations that made their way to the silver screen.
It’s fun to read a letters page that’s full of fellow fans who echo your same feelings!
I couldn’t agree more with the excerpt below.
To paraphrase; bemoaning your plight is boring. Yes! I always dread the, “I want to be human again”, body switching stories.
Karen Berger brings the letters column to a close by thanking Alfredo Alcala for stepping in as inker. she also has a few announcements…
I would have loved to have been in attendance at the Creation Convention of 85!
“DC, where legends live.”
Like similar house ads from around this time, SOTST #27 appears in the mix. Differening from the final, printed cover the ad features a yellow cover.