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Last week the guys from Wednesday Comics had me on the show to discuss their latest book club trade paperback, Saga of the Swamp Thing! The fellas learn about the world of Swampy through the lense of Alan Moore and we discuss each issue.
“It’s a mystical poem… it’s so good” –Garrett Walz
If you’re not listening to the Wednesday Comics Podcast you’re missing out on a fun, insightful, comics based conversation with long time friends, Marvin, Garrett and Alex. They’ve had me on their show numerous times and it’s always an honor. Their shows are available weekly and are a huge help on keeping up to speed on all the great comics comics out. You can subscribe to the Wednesday Comics Podcast here.
Provided are links to each issue I’ve written about in the past: Saga of the Swamp Thing 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27.
Swamp Thing 35 (1985)
“The Nuke-Face Papers: Part 1 of 2”
“Everybody left Blossomville in the end…” but some folks, like Bob, take a piece of the town with them wherever they go.
This seemingly simple, part 1 of 2, is a relevant character development point for Swamp Thing. Sure he’s been a helpful hand in the past but in this issue, he feels compelled to be proactive toward the nature related disaster lurking around the corner. Tapped into the earth/Green, Swamp Thing dreams he’s in Blossomville, PA. He asses the damage and weeps at the amount of destruction. This more eco-friendly/in-tune character trait is something that Moore (and others down the line) develop and nurture. In this issue, Swamp Thing is called to action and his connection to the earth, as being second nature, begins to blossom.
Continue reading “Nuke-Face pt.1”
Swamp Thing 34 (1985)
“Rite of Spring”
This issue is amongst my favorites, solidifing my love for introspective, character-building Swamp Thing stories that take place in Houma. It paints a wonderful picture of what life could be like for the lumbering plant monster. Could a muck-man find a partner and live a normal life? Moore, Totleben, Bissette (and the rest) deliver a world where such a scenario exists; if only for a moment.
The book begins at Terrebonne Parish General Hospital. We’re caught up on Matt Cable’s condition alongside Abby. Perhaps she was expecting it. His body was broken after the accident, then held together by Arcane’s forces. Moore writes the most beautiful words…
What happened to Cable is tragic but he put Abby through Hell and back. Abby wants a try at a normal life. She returns to the swamp to be with Alec.
Continue reading “Love in the time of tubers”
Swamp Thing 33
It’s not quite fitting to call this Sophisticated Suspense of an issue, filler. Although a great deal of the book is a flashback—reprinting Wrightson and Wein’s classic 8-page story from HOS 92—, Alan Moore does something really special. He cracks open the Swamp Thing folklore/lineage.
With Bissette and Totleben taking a breather since the Annual 2, Ron Randall takes over the reigns in the visuals department for this issue. Totleben takes care of the cover. Not only is it an homage to Wrightson’s House of Secrets 92 cover, it further illustrates the concepts Moore unveils in this issue; Swamp Thing and Abby are involved in a greater purpose throughout time.
In this issue, Moore uses the downtime in the story-arc to develop Swamp Thing’s rich history, pulling the curtain back on the powerful folklore behind the character. He establishes the historical relevance of Dr Alec Holland, and his role as “Earth’s Elemental Champion”.
The last we saw Abigail Cable she was being retrieved from hell by the one thing in her life that loves her, Swamp Thing. It’s been an extremely trying time for Abby.
Although Swamp Thing is able to provide her with protection, he can not provide her a warm, safe place to rest her head. Abby Cable has returned back from hell and now resides at s small apartment in Houma, Louisiana. Her husband Matt is in a coma at the local hospital. She’s still working at Elysian Fields, trying to navigate normalcy and maintain her sanity.
She enters The Dreaming.
She is greeted by Cain and Abel, the caretakers of the Houses of Mystery and Secrets. They present her with a choice…
Cain explains, “your subconscious has directed you here to learn something important”. She can see what’s in store within the House of Mystery or the House of Secrets.
Continue reading “Swamp Thing 33 – Lineage Launched”
Swamp Thing 32 (1986)
After the intensity of the Swamp Thing Annual #2, Moore and the story-arc tapped the breaks for a couple issues (ST 32 & 33). It’s been said that Bissette and Totleben had been falling behind on the series schedule; due to the extensive craft & detail they’d put into each book, and perhaps other professional commitments. But, it’s also not abnormal for a few filler issues between story arcs.
Editor, Karen Berger confirms this within the letters page.
This issue was illustrated by Shawn McManus while Bissette and Totleben took care of the cover.
Location: Louisiana swamp, 1 3/4 miles from Baton Rogue…
Moore creates a seemingly cute, whimsical scenario focused on a group of small space travelers who’ve been on a tireless journey to find a new “Lady” (home planet/Mother Earth). The scenario-and their new familiar looking Lady (Earth)-is not what it seems and what once felt like salvation becomes a nightmare.
The terrain seems to be suitable. The little alien crew members are restless and eager to explore what looks like an ideal environment.
It’s interesting and fun to read this issue after the barrage of chaos that occurred in the preceding Swamp Thing Annual, and issues following up to. It’d be justifiable if confused as if you’d missed an issue after Abby returned home. Swamp Thing was able to escape Hell but he’s being detained by… cute little alien creatures.
Initially, Moore’s use of Walt Kelley’s Pogo-like characters seems as random as it gets. But, Moore crafts an amazing, tender homage through the little, nature-loving creatures.
Swamp Thing and the alien, Pog are kindred spirits. Words do not need to define yearning for a sense of home or belonging; something Swamp Thing will forever struggle with. Throughout the story, Moore brilliantly reverses the translation talk bubbles. We now know what the aliens are saying and Moore has given us such a world that we understand what Swamp Thing is conveying.
Much of the story is a byproduct of the terrible realization that Earth is no home at all for the Pog and his crew. Earth is brutal like the Lady they left behind. The crudity of the humans is much like the primates they fled from. Through this seemingly brutal landscape, Moore depicts inescapable cruelty as well as environmental issues; man’s impact on the environment.
Continue reading “Swamp Thing 32”
Swamp Thing Annual 2 (1987)
Down Amongst The Dead Men
The only thing in Swamp Thing’s life that is normal, steadfast or makes any sense is Abigail Cable. She’s evolved into the glue that helps hold together the humanity and the muck. In this Annual, Swamp Thing goes to hell and back to save her.
It was clear that Moore’s scope to develop the complexities of Swamp Thing was seemingly limitless. When I first read this book I remember being blown away by Swamp Thing’s ability to harness his powers and quickly understand his capabilities. It’s the complex, quickly moving continuity that I now judge other books by. Moore doesn’t linger on exposition. It’s full speed ahead…
When figuring out how to make his way down to hell, Swamp Thing doesn’t seem completely out of his element. The concept is wild but from the get go (issue 20), Moore established that things aren’t what they seem. Swamp Thing is no longer the physical make-up of Alec Holland and the Swamp Thing universe became much more complex. Moore made it very easy to buy into the new direction and suspend disbelief. When he involved Jason Blood/Demon, Phantom Stranger and Deadman, the characters held a sense of greater wisdom. They provided direction and aid for Swamp Thing but also held their cards close to their chest, acting as cryptic guidance. Paired with a character (Swamp Thing) that is quickly developing his seemingly endless abilities, the mythology feels established and Moore has only scratched the surface. A misunderstood good guy with the powers of a god, involved in something even greater than he, is pretty darn intriguing.
Continue reading “Swamp Thing Annual 2”
Swamp Thing 31 (1984)
Brimstone Ballet depicts Swamp Thing coming to terms with Arcane’s arrival into the land of the living (again) and Abby’s sudden departure from the land of the living. Arcane has taken her soul and sent it into the depths of hell. Swamp Thing also comes to terms with his powers in this first issue of… “Sophisticated Suspense”
In issue 30 we last saw Swamp Thing taking Abby’s lifeless body into his arms. this issue continues, with Swampy carrying her down the staircase, outside into the snow and away from the house of horrors that Arcane built. Surrounded by demonic Un-Men, Swampy tries to make sense of it all while Arcane toys with his emotions.
The title page introduces us to a melee erupting from Abby and “Matt’s” new home. Swampy fights his way out.
The little demon/Un-Man (below, left) looks a lot like Baytor from Garth Ennis’ Section 8. The fella’ on the right looks way in over his head.
Arcane turns the screws, toying with Swampy. For a moment, he tries to trick Swamp Thing into ripping off Abby’s head, saying that she is not real, but a construct he created using Matt Cable’s powers.
Arcane continues to taunt Swamp Thing.
Continue reading “Swamp Thing 31”
Saga of the Swamp Thing 29 (1984)
Love and Death
There are a number of reasons why this book is great but it’s special in that DC released it without the Comics Code approval. With this issue, Swamp Thing takes another significant step in leaving his mark in comic book history. Moving forward, DC decided to stop submitting the book for Comics Code approval. This further allowed the creative team to explore taboo subject matter and the nightmarish situations within Swamp Thing’s world.
I can recall the progression of most Swamp books but I tend to forget the pacing of the stories. Rereading the chronology revitalizes my excitement for the story telling and craftsmanship. This issue is a great example. It’s terrifying what Abby goes through and Moore tells the terrifying experience all too well. So well that it would eventually make him the subject of intense debate on how he depicts and perceives women.
I’ve read this book numerous times and it still seems to kick my brain around. This is the seemingly cursed, nightmare life of the Arcane family. None of them get out unscathed…
Continue reading “DC kicks the code”
Saga of the Swamp Thing 27 (1984)
By Demons Driven
Gone, gone the form of man. Oh, look it’s Etrigan… breaking through another window. The tale involving the Monkey King carries on as Etrigan takes invasive maneuvers at Elysium Lawns.
The evidence is there. Jason Blood’s Morning After Window Repair biz could be a lucrative venture. His arial entrance is repeated on the cover of John Byrne’s Wonder Woman 107 (1996).
Pandemonium’s broken out at the children’s hospital. Two demons and a vegetable monster duke it out while Abby and the kids of the Elysium Lawns hospital find a safe place away from the chaos.
It’s clear that Etrigan is here to destroy the Monkey King but at what cost?!
Abby’s new job is proving to be extremely stressful. Swamp Thing joins the fight so that she can get Paul to a safe place. Etrigan realizing the Monkey King is a manifestation, influenced by Paul, has no problem taking on the collateral damage. If he can’t beat the monkey, he’ll have to destroy Paul. Continue reading “Swamp Thing 27 (series 2)”
The Saga of the Swamp Thing 26 (1984)
…A Time of Running
This issue, along with the previous issue 25, are the only books that deviate from the series two Swamp Thing logo until issue 57, where a question mark was added.
This swamp fact is brought to you by the informative fellas at the
Wednesday Comics Podcast.
I don’t always have time to read the books I want every week which is why the Wednesday Comics Podcast is such a great resource for reviews and to catch up on what’s new. I appreciate good comics podcasts when I find them and I’ve recently teamed up with the Wednesday Comics Podcast to help spread the word regarding rootsoftheswampthing.com. Now… onto issue 26!
The book starts out with a frantic foot race to Elysium Lawns; Abby’s new place of employment. Swamp Thing pulls Abby through the marsh, hoping to stop the Monkey King before it’s too late.
amazing layouts and beautiful splash pages…
“It began with blood.”
Picking up where issue 25 left off: immediately after the marlin skewering of Harry Price, Jason Blood and Abigail Cable visit coffee. Continue reading “Saga of the Swamp Thing 26”
The Saga of the Swamp Thing 25 (1984)
“The Sleep of Reason…”
Swamp Thing isn’t the only one who’s settling back into Houma. Jason Blood has arrived via Greyhound, Abby is looking for employment and Matt Cable sinks deeper into his psychosis; living nightmare. The Monkey King is introduced, wreaking havoc within the realm of the dark arts and conveniently enough, Sting (who eventually becomes John Constantine) makes an appearance; albeit, a small one. This Sting sighting is a full year before his official first Constantine appearance in Swamp Thing 37 (June 1985). It’s known that Totleben and Bissette were pushing to work in a character that looked like musician, Sting.
Enter: Harold Price…
Before we know of his intentions down in Louisiana, Blood uses most of his time to inform random people of their impending doom. …at least he warned them, I suppose.
Jason Blood settles in.
Continue reading “Saga of the Swamp Thing 25”
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.
Continue reading “Swamp Thing 24 “Roots””