Swamp Thing – Episode Two

If you’ve not seen episode 2 of the new Swamp Thing series, you may be disappointed to find that the following contains various spoilers.

DC Universe’s Swamp Thing, episode 2 was released last Friday (6/7) and it was even more fun than episode 1. Although the episodes were cut from 13 to 10 and recently held to just 1 season, it’s ramping up to be one of the most exciting comic related shows at the moment. It doesn’t adhere to the continuity of the comics but it has involved exciting choices in how the characters are portrayed.

There’s quite a bit of eye candy throughout the episode but three scenes captivated me the most: the first being Swamp Thing’s connection to Susie Coyle.
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The writers establish a strong connection between the newly created Swamp Thing and Marias native, Susie (one of the townspeople infected by the bio accelerant formula). As if psychically linked, young Susie feels Swamp Thing’s emotions. She senses Alec’s fear and confusion as he helplessly trudges through the swamp. Later in the episode, Swamp Thing is also able to sense the danger Suzie encounters while in the swamp. He’s able to quickly find the child through their connection and their bond to nature.

The powerful link they share aids in establishing Swamp Thing’s powers. Most importantly, their bond introduces the symbiosis between plant and human.
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The second moment in the episode that brought me great joy was seeing Jason Woodrue!
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Feeling the heat from the CDC, Marais townspeople and local authorities, Avery Sunderland calls upon his science mastermind. At 29:21, Jason & Caroline Woodrue enter the scene. The two are doctors and appear to be professional partners. They’ve arrived in Marias to address the outbreak caused by Jason’s bio accelerant.

Before meeting Sunderland, Jason diverts his attention to tend to a Japanese elm suffering from transplant shock. He’s captivated by nature and his surroundings more than the problems that plague humanity. At one point, Woodrue grits his teeth in disdain, creating an intensity that shines off the screen. It got me in the mood to pickup some old Floronic Man appearances!
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While talking to Avery, Woodrue displays contempt for his simple/one-track mind, and tone. Actor, Kevin Durand delivers a fantastic portrayal. Durand puts Woodrue’s brilliance, intensity and attitude on exhibit. This character appearance alone endears me to the series. Jason Woodrue was my highlight of the episode and is one of my favorite characters from Swamp Thing’s world.

During the brief meeting between Sunderland and the Woodrues, Avery admits to having hired Woodrue to develop a growth accelerant in order to profit from the swamp’s lucrative, natural resources. As Avery put it, “more trees to drain the water, more land to develop, more plants to develop into drugs and cosmetics and things to monetize.” Woodrue denies that his accelerant could have anything to do with the outbreak of sickness in Marais.

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During his 3:56 appearance we also learn that Woodrue is a professor, taking leave time to address Sunderland’s concerns. Caroline Woodrue mentions that he is only using Avery’s money to fund his personal projects/research. I hope we learn more about Woodrue’s other projects.

The third and final scene that captured my attention occurred during an epic encounter, when Swamp Thing makes his first kill.
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In typical comic fashion, Swampy comes to the rescue. Susie has ventured from the Marais hospital to look for Swamp Thing, who she’s been psychically connected to. In getting to the swamp, Suzie encounters one of Sunderland’s thugs who’s been tasked with retrieving the bio accelerant drop boxes. The thug chases Suzie, looking to kill the child for what she has witnessed.

While Swamp Thing faces off against the Sunderland thug, we learn of his regenerative powers. The thug stabs Swamp Thing repeatedly. Swampy recoils in shock and pain. Within seconds the stab wounds heal, his mossy exterior grows back together.

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Swamp Thing controls the surrounding trees and swamp vines to ensnare the thug. The vines grab hold of his extremities and violently pull. The thug is drawn and quartered. Swamp Thing’s expression and mood shift from vengeful to disturbed after seeing the death and destruction he’s capable of. With his mossy, furrowed brow, Swampy looks almost disappointed with himself. It’s an insightful glimpse into the character and a key scene, depicting his internal struggle. Is Alec Holland coming to terms with being a monster? Does saving a life require the destruction of another?
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The magic of the gore is captured in his expression, reacting to the results of his brutal powers.

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Swamp Thing Series to be Cancelled After Season 1

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…and in other news, it’s being reported that the Swamp Thing series has been cancelled. From what I’ve heard and read, a second season has been scrapped and the remainder of season 1 will continue to be available on the DC Universe streaming service. This doesn’t come as a shock after the clumsy roll-out of the teaser a couple weeks back. I’ll be sure to share more as news develops.
Unfortunate news aside, go read and enjoy a classic Swamp Thing story. That’s where the real fun is at.

Regards,
John

Swamp Thing – Episode One

If you’ve not seen episode 1 of the new Swamp Thing series, you may be disappointed to find that the following contains various spoilers.

The Swamp Thing series premiered last Friday (5/31) and I’ve watched it a half dozen times to take in all its glory. The first episode is a thrilling, new take on Swamp Thing sure to leave some fans scratching their heads, and others on the edge of their seats. All the pieces are there, however they fit together differently than you’re use to.
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The title sequence is beautifully produced and telling of what’s to come. The amazing design and motion graphics blend maps of Louisiana with elements of human anatomy, alluding to earth and human merging together to represent Swamp Thing. The sequence also alludes to the fate of the Sunderland daughter (who we see briefly in the episode) on the bridge.

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Various visuals depict the town being turned upside down, underwater and overcome by natural elements. Fire burns atop the swamp water while skulls settle below. Telephone poles lean at various angles as if a hurricane hit. A police car slowly sinks away from the surface of the water. A sign reading, “Leaving Marais y’all come back” sinks into the murky depths as it breaks apart in three pieces (Marais being the name of the town that is used in place of Houma, Louisiana).

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Alec Holland’s swamp lab falls, breaking apart. Madame Xanadu’s hands reveal a deck of Tarot cards. “L’Empereur” and “La Morte” are the cards easiest to identify. What looks like a woman’s putrified, decayed arm, wrapped in ivy, drips a thick, dark, liquid that looks like blood. The title sequence alludes to a grave future for the small town of Marais, Louisiana. Death and destruction are on the way and Swamp Thing will be in the thick of it.

Friend and Swamp Thing Correspondent, Randi passed along this great tarot reading for “La Morte” from Wikipedia. It’s spot on for what Alec is going through.
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The app, Labyrinthos is the source for the following “L’Empereur“ card reading.
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It may be worth noting that the town, Marais is French for, Swamp. This may be due to the town being on a Swamp, or perhaps the town is one with the swamp. Maybe the show creators wanted more of a French sounding town to create a stronger connection with New Orleans? Regardless, t’s an interesting choice when Houma sounds just fine as is.

The episode begins with a familiar scene. Much like the film, The Return of Swamp Thing, a group of men have ventured into the dark, sinister swamp to meet their fate. The three men in this episode have far more nefarious plans. From the start of the episode, I couldn’t help but to compare it to the USA series from 1991. For those who remember the wackiness in episode one from that series, this is a breath of fresh air.

Right out of the gate the show depicts the swamp as a vengeful entity. The swamp has been poisoned and polluted by a biological growth accelerant, giving it aggressive, sentient powers. There’s no limit to the strength it possesses, and lately it’s been violent toward those who harm it. The kicker is, Swamp Thing isn’t even in the episode yet.

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In contrast, the original Swamp Thing origin in comics (1971), we learned that Alec was turned into a monster with help from his bio-restorative formula. From there, we begin the long journey of learning his capabilities and strengths. It’s my assumption that in changing the Swamp Thing origin story in the tv show, writers present the all-powerful and vengeful nature/swamp to get viewers used to what Swamp Thing will be capable of. It also positions the viewer to wonder, “will this Swamp Thing be as violent and angry as the vegetation he spawned from?” Perhaps to help expedite origin exposition in the tv show, the destruction that Swamp Thing will be capable of is quickly introduced. This different take on the origin allows the viewer to be thrown into the scenario, more fitting for the overt horror style the show presents. It’s an engaging, alternative introduction for our favorite muck-monster.

There are a few, fun telling items throughout the show.

Regarding key characters:
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First and foremost, the Swamp is the main character. It thrills and dominates the episode. It serves as the lifeblood for the town of Marais. Due to the biological growth accelerant, the swamp is bent on punishing anyone that hurts it. The Sunderlands appear to have as strong of a presence, if not greater, than the CDC who’s descended upon Marais, Louisiana. The CDC is called into town as a group of residents have turned up infected by an unknown poison. The threat is dire enough to assign CDC scientist Abby Arcane back to her hometown of Marais to assist in the matter. Alec Holland is on the scene-a Sunderland Corp scientist who’s been asked by Avery Sunderland himself, to stop searching for the cause of the poisonous outbreak. As it goes, the determined, charismatic Alec Holland ignores the request and aissists Abby Arcane. Matt Cable makes a brief appearance. We find out he’s an old friend of Abby’s and is a police officer of four years in Marais. He’s tasked with assisting in the case. Madam Xanadu and Liz Tremayne round out the classic character appearances. The two make brief appearances while Abby and Alec search for information at the local bar.

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I’m really looking forward to finding out who shot Alec. My theory is: the dog in Alec’s lab (much like the dog from the ST #1 origin story from 1971) has a mic in its collar allowing Avery Sunderland to listen in on Alec at all times. BUT I don’t think Avery shot him. I think Woodrue is working for Sunderland, pulling the strings and making the biological growth accelerant formula. Who enjoys toying with nature more than Woodrue? (I know. But, poison Ivy won’t be showing up in this show). Perhaps they’ll spin that off into the “Anatomy Lesson” style of story and Woodrue can explain to Alec why he is the way he is! Stay tuned.

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Poison Ivy & Jason Woodrue have a child?

What seems to be a significant development in the DCU, the new Walmart Exclusive Swamp Thing #4 revealed the full name of Swamp Thing’s current associate… Briar Woodrue! As you may know, Woodrue is the surname of Floronic Man, AKA Jason Woodrue/Plant Man/Floro/Plant Master/Seeder. This revelation creates extremely fun plot opportunities to explore.
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Jason Woodrue has a rich history within the DC Universe as a B-list, plant wielding  villian, first appearing in The Atom #1 (1962). Prior to adopting the name “Floronic Man” (-see The Flash #245, 1976), Woodrue went toe-to-toe with classic DC characters such as, Wonder Woman, The Atom & the Justice League. Along with being involved in the Atom’s origin story, Woodrue played an integral role in the creation of Poison Ivy. While working as a college professor in the Pacific Northwest in the ’60s, Woodrue seduced and experimented on one of his young students, Pamela Isley. These torturous experiments gave birth to one of DC’s most notable villains. Now, it seems that Woodrue’s experiments have extended his family tree.
Note: The Poison Ivy origin I am referencing is post-Crisis on Infinite Earths, not the Earth-One version.
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Throughout the series, hints and allusions are made regarding Briar Woodrue’s family/origin. In Swamp Thing #1 (Walmart Exclusive, 2019), Swamp Thing explains,

“she says she’d defended herself, telling the FBI agents that her mother’s ravenous and demanding rhododendron had directed the crime. The flowers had spoken to her all her life. That mistake, she says, leads her to understand why the man we’re hunting would want to escape the psychiatric ward he was held in until very recently.”

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Swamp Thing’s narration in issue #1 paired with the reveal of Briar’s full name in issue #4 leads me to believe, Jason Woodrue and Poison Ivy have a child. The methods in which the two villains created the child, I’m sure, are as sordid as it gets and hopefully more backstory comes to light. Knowing Ivy and Woodrue’s past, the two would seem more likely to throw one another under a bus before collaborating.
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Continue reading “Poison Ivy & Jason Woodrue have a child?”

Battle for the Bayou

Swamp Thing Battle for the Bayou Board Game – 1991

Last weekend I had company over and decided to unleash the Swamp Thing board game. It’s always a blast to play and easy to learn. Along with a slew of Swampy merchandise, the game was released in conjunction with the short-lived Swamp Thing animated series in 1991 by Rose Art. Gameplay is easy enough, allowing two to four players, ages seven and up.

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Players take turns advancing their game pieces, utilizing “Swamp Thing” and “Hero Card” cards as they make their way toward the evil Anton Arcane. The first player to reach Arcane, and defeat him, wins!

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There are various pitfalls and obstacles throughout the board. Arcnae’s Un-Men are dead set on stopping you and your opponents from defeating Arcane. It’s a simple and fun game Swampy fans are sure to enjoy.

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Rough start for the Swamp Thing TV series

Two big things happened in the world of Swamp Thing this week.
1) Production of the Swamp Thing series was cancelled
2) The series costume was revealed in a teaser

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In a seemingly sudden change of direction, DC/Warner Bros. has decided to cancel the remaining production of the Swamp Thing series. The first season was intended to be 13 episodes long but, last night cast and crew members were notified that production will be cancelled except to finish the tenth episode (they are currently working on), along with re shoots they may need. Without a teaser, leaked photo from the set or much of anything at all to entice, eager fans woke up this morning to the unfortunate news. Although the season will not be the full 13 episodes, DC/Warner still plans to release the 10 episode series. The show debuts on May 31st on DC’s streaming service, DC Universe.

Last night (4/16) I was contacted by a crew member who’s working on the series. He relayed the following information.

“We just got told they’re stopping production on Swamp Thing… we had three episodes left and we’re finishing this one and some re shoots and it sounds like that’s it for now. DC streaming is apparently not doing well. Not sure if Warner Bros will try to find Swamp Thing a home elsewhere or what. We were all basically under the presumption this was gonna go five seasons minimum… not good. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.”

To make things even more confusing, less than 24 hours after the news broke that production cancelled, DC released the following teaser for the series.
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It’s a shame Swamp Thing fans weren’t shown the teaser before hearing about the production cancellation. The suit looks great and I have no doubt it will be a fun series.
Continue reading “Rough start for the Swamp Thing TV series”

Manusia Rawa #1 – Indonesian trading cards

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I was lucky enough to acquire another sheet of uncut Indonesian trading cards and am thrilled to share it with you. This sheet depicts the first installment of the narrative that continues in “Manusia Rawa” #2, which I posted a little while back. To get caught up, visit my previous post here. The storyline is poor, but it’s exciting to see young Jim (from the TV show) again. Manusia Rawa, sheets #1 & #2, seem to help explain Jim’s unfortunate departure from the television series.

I’ve provided a rough translation of the trading cards below. A very special think you goes out to Rich Handley for his help in translating. Throughout the sheet, Swamp Thing is referred to as Amos. I’m assuming “Amos” is being used in place of “Alec”.

The Cast:
Thub – Henchman
Jim – Kidnapped boy
Simon – Villain
Jane – Jim’s Mother
Jevry – Good Guy
Swamp Thing/Amos – duh

1.
Swamp Thing: “Manusia Rawa” translates to “Swamp Man”
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2.
Jevry: “Let’s go now”
Thub: “OK”
Caption: Jevry and Thub are work colleagues.
Continue reading “Manusia Rawa #1 – Indonesian trading cards”