Archie & Predator in the House of Secrets

Two fantastic books were released recently and I’ve been waiting on the Archie book to arrive in the mail before sharing them. House of Secrets 92, the book that started it all for our favorite character, Swamp Thing is represented through parody and reproduction!
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House of Secrets Facsimile Edition – 2019
It’s wonderful to see House of Secrets 92 (1971) reprinted once again. The book is excellent exposure for Swamp Thing and for fans to finally get their hands on a copy… without the hefty price tag of an original. Len Wein & Bernie Wrightson’s masterpiece lives on in this fresh release. The book was in stores August, 28 and I’d guess they’re readily available at most local comic shops.
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The reproduction includes ads and all. I suppose it should be noted that the five stories within (“Snipe Hunt”, “Swamp Thing”, “After I Die”, “It’s Better to Give” and “Trick or Treat”) have been recolored.
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The back cover
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Archie vs Predator II – 2019 (Marco D’Alfonso cover)
As soon as I saw this book last month, I had to have it. Although limited to a print run of 300 copies, it was easy to obtain on-where else but-eBay. There’s also a virgin version of this variant cover, also limited to 300 copies.
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Marco D’Alfonso crafted this amazing homage to the cover of Swampy’s first appearance. This whimsical take on HOS 92 includes the same subtle textures Bernie Wrightson used on the original; note the items in the foreground, on the vanity.
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I’ve not read an Archie comic since Afterlife with Archie began (2013) so I’ve got some catching up to do but the setup of this first issue is fun and dark.
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A fella named Dilton purchased a mask off of eBay. What he’d hoped to be a costume for dance night becomes a beacon… for Predators.
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I got a kick out of seeing Predators messing with Opportunity, the Mars Exploration Rover.
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And with the original
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Harley Quinn 64

Harley Quinn 64 (2019)

Even though Swamp Thing and the Justice League Dark are busy battling forces of evil in their own title, they’ve found time to make an appearance in the new Harley Quinn 64.
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The quirky and beautifully written story focuses on Harley Quinn reading to her mother who is in intensive care, battling cancer. In the imaginative story, Harley eludes Lex Luthor as he tries to convince her to join his villainous cause. Unfortunately, Lex has an offer Harley can’t refuse.
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Lex is wrapped up in his Year of the Villain mission. In keeping her distance, Harley jumps from story to story, trying to focus on reading to her sick mother. While story jumping, Harley pops-in on The Justice League Dark who are in the midst of their own adventure.
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While visiting Rocky Point Beach, Swamp Thing and the JLD investigate the case of Captain Cutler’s Ghost! The team is depicted as various members of the Scooby-Doo crew. This parody provides a fun connection to when we found out that Shaggy was Chester Williams’ nephew.
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It’s a brief, zany, one-page cameo for the JLD.
Zatanna plays the part of Daphne, Wonder Woman is Velma, Man-Bat is Fred, Detective Chimp plays the part of Scooby, and Swamp Thing is Shaggy.
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I’m excited to see how this plot turns out for Harley in future issues. The subject matter and what’s at stake for Harley and her mother is quite intriguing.
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Poison Ivy fans will be excited to hear that Ivy make an appearance in this issue as well!
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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.

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?”

The DC Universe by Len Wein

The DC Universe by Len Wein – 2019

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The DC Universe by Len Wein was released last month and I had to get a hold of it to see what great Swamp Thing goodness is inside. The book collects 23 of Len’s greatest stories including the last Swamp Thing book he wrote, Swamp Thing Winter Special #1. As you’re aware, Len created Swamp Thing along with Bernie Wrightson and Joe Orlando in 1971. In December of 2017, Len’s last Swamp Thing story was published following his sudden passing on September 10 of 2017.

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The book collects Len’s stories throughout his career, from 1968 to one of the last stories he wrote. The book includes, Teen Titans #18, Phantom Stranger #20-24, Justice League of America #100-102, Action Comics #419-420, 422-423, 425-426, 429, 432, DC Comics Presents #27-29, Justice League of America 80-Page Giant #2, DC Retroactive: Green Lantern—The ‘80s: Big Betrayal #1 and Swamp Thing Winter Special #1.
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Below are a few pages from within the book.

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Continue reading “The DC Universe by Len Wein”