Martian Manhunter #11 “Pilgrims” (Volume 2) October 1999
Throughout his history, Swamp Thing has been known to leave his mark in space. Outside of the Swamp Thing title series, there have been a handful of space based appearances that I really enjoy. Adam Strange Book #2 (April 1990) is a good one. Time Masters #5 (June 1990)-which I will write about soon-has a really fun, Swampy appearance in it. This Martian Manhunter book provides a wonderful glimpse into Swamp Thing taking the time to inspire and empower a race of plants.
It’s the 853rd Century. Hssfsstss are a race of sentient plants. They travel throughout space in cool, little pods. They put their roots down on alien worlds and help heal plant-based illness. They are also storytellers. They tell their history and of their admiration for the “two green men… one of our creation, one of our salvation.” In this book, we learn of the two green men who helped develop the Hssfsstss race.
Before the Hssfsstss became nomadic, healing heads of cabbage, they were a grouping of telepathic plants on their home planet. Before the great, green men arrived, they were rather unremarkable. The Hssfsstss’ sentience was taught to them by Swamp Thing. The space travel came from J’onn J’onzz.
It sounds like there is a lot to unpack here but it’s pretty simple. This book takes place in the 853rd Century. The Hssfsstss recall its origin story which occurred in the 20th century, circa 1987. It plays out as a flashback within the comic. Most Swamp Thing fans have fond memories of Swampy’s space travels in 1987, especially in issue #56 “My Blue Heaven.”
Building upon Moore’s continuity from ’87, Swamp Thing makes his way back home to Earth. In doing so, he happens upon the home planet of the Hssfsstss.
Upon his arrival to this new planet, Swamp Thing communicates with the telepathic plant life. He helps them to understand who/what they are and what they are capable of. Swamp Thing’s visit with the plants is brief but impactful.
Below, the Hssfsstss thrive and adapt after gaining knowledge from Swamp Thing.
Below are the 2 pages that Swamp Thing appears on within the book. As quickly as he blows into town, he leafs… classic plant pun.
The Hssfsstss’ salad days didn’t last for long. Sometime after Swamp Thing left their planet, J’onn J’onzz stepped in to help them. The Hssfsstss’ planet was being stripped of its natural resource and left barren. With the help of Martian Manhunter, the Hssfsstss could leave their dying home planet for greener pastures. He also taught them to splice themselves so that they could spread. The scene looks slightly similar to the end of Little Shop of Horrors, except Hssfsstss aren’t hell bent on world domination.
For as neat as the The Hssfsstss are, I’m surprised they’ve not made more appearances in comics. Cruising around the internet, I could find very little information about them. It’s fun to think of them as carrying on the legacy/lessons of Swamp Thing & Martian Manhunter. Maybe one day The Hssfsstss will return to help Swamp Thing and Earth.