The Saga of the Swamp Thing 22 (1986)
As the cover indicates, the book has it all. It features many of Swamp Thing’s old adversaries. It also exemplifies the amazing turn that the title takes with Moore, Totleben and Bissette at the helm. This is a book with a lot to see and digest. It’s a story that feels much larger than a single issue. Bissette and Totleben put on a clinic with their beautifully crafted panels while Moore constructs two worlds -psychological and physical, both depicting the depths of despair- tightly woven together. The book gives us a heaping helping of Alan Moore’s rambling descriptions that sometimes may not enhance the story but are greatly appreciated.
This era of Swamp Thing tends to warrant a closer look. As I previously mentioned, the book has it all.
Refresher: last we saw Swamp Thing in issue 21, he learned that he is no longer human but merely a sentient vegetable. Upon learning the news, he kills General Sunderland and escapes Sunderland Corp HQ with the help of Dr Woodrue. Swamp Thing hightails it from Virginia down to Houma, Louisiana where this whole mess started. Swamp Thing returns home to try and put the pieces together. Abby and Matt Cable have been looking for Swamp Thing ever since he went missing after the shooting.
In an interview with Amazing Heroes 39 (1984) Moore says, “…we’re taking him a lot, lot further. We have him stay in the same place for probably a month, he doesn’t even move”. Moore builds an extremely compelling story even though the lead character is incapacitated.
Swamp Thing has returned to Houma, severed ties with humanity and resides in a rooted, sedentary state; painfully deep in reflection.
Continue reading “Saga of the Swamp Thing 22 (series 2)”
Saga of the Swamp Thing 21 (1984)
The Anatomy Lesson
This is the book that started me down the long, passionate (some say obsessive) path of Swamp Thing fandom. The previous issue, “Loose Ends” was Moore’s first Swampy book but this issue really kicks things off. Like many, I appreciate this time in Swamp Thing’s chronology quite a bit. The artwork and writing set Swamp Thing apart from many other books. The level of artistry, detail and effort that Totleben and Bissette put into each panel and page is extraordinary. Also, Swamp Thing feels more relatable than ever before with Moore at the helm. He brings Swamp Thing back to life in an almost poetic way. it’s the greatest.
Moore starts this issue in such a wonderful way. The deed has been done and Woodrue is contemplating his actions.
Moore starts the book by immediately killing off Sunderland; the giant thorn that has been stuck in Alec Holland’s paw from day one.
Last we saw Swamp Thing, in issue 20, he had been shot and killed by Sunderland and Government goons (DDI). In the meantime, Swmapy’s body was transported back to Sunderland Corp to be exhumed under the close eye of Jason Woodrue/The Floronic Man. This is the first time we get to see Woodrue interacting with Swamp Thing.
Due to his expertise and unique form, Sunderland sprang Woodrue out of jail to conduct Swamp Thing’s autopsy and to unlock the science of the Holland’s bio-restorative formula
Woodrue stumbles upon the key to what turned Alec Holland into Swamp Thing. He excitedly informs Sunderland but is met with disdain.
The pseudoscience that Alan Moore constructs is fantastic. He draws the reader in, making them believe that there just might be a realistic way for a Swamp Thing type of creature to exist. Another reason that this book stands apart from others is that Moore reveals that Alec Holland is no more; that Swamp Thing is merely sentient plant matter that holds the memories of Alec Holland. This was a great shift in continuity compared to previous notions of who/what Swamp Thing was.
Sunderland fires Woodrue after he has completed his research. Sunderland fails to listen to Woodrue’s warning that a plant can not be killed with bullets and that the Swamp Thing has the ability to defrost from his slumber.
Continue reading “Saga of the Swamp Thing 21”
Last night I flew back home from a fun filled week in Savannah, where I’m originally from. While there, I officiated my brothers wedding, caught up with old friends, visited the filming location of the Return of Swamp Thing, went on a Swamp Thing treasure hunt, got a Swamp Thing tattoo and much more. I can’t wait to share some stories of my trip. Until then…
The Saga of the Swamp Thing 20 (1984)
Alan Moore’s first of many great Swamp Thing books. He breathes new life into the character and begins in an almost poetic tone, delving into Swampy’s feelings.
Continuing where issue 19 left off, Swamp Thing follows the trail of wreckage leading to Arcane’s body. Moore presents an almost Shakespearean like encounter as Swampy comes to terms with finally meeting up with his long time adversary and the only person who could change him back into a human. Moore explores their similarities as well as opposing views toward life and being human. Despite the hatred the two share for each other, Swamp Thing takes the time to put Arcane to rest. …until next time
Alas, poor Arcane
Liz and Barclay wake up after an evening of hanky-panky in a broke-down pickup truck. Liz, yet again, pulls the rug out from under Dennis by telling him their relationship is nothing more than a tryst on the run amid chaos. Meanwhile, government goons are hot on their trail already.
Like most stories, Swamp Thing has very little time to recoup and establish any sense of normality. Sunderland, the DDI and Dwight are already on their way to Cable’s cabin to destroy all evidence of their existence. Barclay, Tremayne, the Cables and Alec are the only ones aware that Sunderland and the government have been working together for some time. This knowledge makes them dangerous to the wrong people.
Abby makes her way back to her cabin. Matt tries to convince her that everything is ok, that he has harnessed his powers and demons. Nothing could be further from the truth. Matt Cable is spiraling out of control. His demons manifest.
Continue reading “Saga of the Swamp Thing 20”
The Saga of the Swamp Thing 19 (1983)
…And the Meek Shall Inherit
It’s been a busy month so far and I’ve been meaning to post this issue for a couple weeks now. This is an exciting book because after this issue I’ll be moving onto the Moore years. They’re some of my favorites and I have a feeling, how they breathed new life into Swamp Thing, they will do the same to my website. The hype and popularity that surrounded Moore’s Swampy run generated many articles, interviews, parody strips, merchandise… all sorts of content. Lately, I’ve been busy tracking down obscure appearances and foreign articles. My chronology list has grown quite a bit and I’m excited to write about the many appearances that are interwoven throughout Moore’s run. Stay tuned for all sorts of fun posts along with updates on SiouxperCon. The Sioux Falls based comics convention is in less than a month and I’ll be prepping for a Swamp Thing panel that I’m hosting. Phil Hester will be sitting in on the panel and I’ll be exhibiting my Swampy collection on the convention floor. It’s going to be a great time. Now, without further ado…Saga 19.
Back at the Cable cabin, Matt’s delusions have caused a considerable amount of trouble. Abby is out cold, surrounded by flames and Swampy is the only one capable of saving her. Swampy puts the flames out using the moisture in his body.
Issues 18 and 19 establish Cable’s psionic powers. Matt realizes he can conjure monsters. He goes on to tell Swampy a little more about the electroshock, brainwashing and torture he endured in the hands of the DDI. Although Abby, Matt and Swampy are relatively safe for the moment, the situation quickly spirals out of control; out of the fire and into the frying pan.
As we saw in the previous issue, Arcane is back on the scene, has Dr Kay and is turning him into an Un-Man.
The title page is horrifically wonderful. Kay is done for; the most recent poor soul to fall victim to Arcane’s wicked experiments.
The panel above is quite amusing. Last time Arcane was Continue reading “Saga of the Swamp Thing 19 (series 2)”
The Saga of the Swamp Thing 18 (1983)
The Man Who Would Not Die
This issue is 95% flashback and 5% flying, killer brains. “Flashback” is giving the story a bit too much credit. The majority of Swamp Thing #10 (series 1) is reprinted in this book to serve as an explanation for Arcane. I find this to be a very odd choice in advancing the story. At the end of the book, the narrator mentions that Arcade’s explanation may have been told with some bias. It would’ve been much more compelling and creative to represent Arcane’s biased account of issue #10 (series 1) rather than simply reprinting it. A short article featured in Comics Journal #82 may shed some light on why issue #10 was reprinted in this story.
Scheduling on the Ropes:
“The scheduling on DC’s titles is going further and further astray. Now comes the announcement that two of DC’s titles, including the best-selling Teen Titans, will actually skip a month, resulting in only 11 issues that year. Teen Titans #36 and Saga of the Swamp Thing #18, both scheduled for June release, have both been pushed back to a July release date.”
This filler page (found in the back of the book) would have acted as a good intro to this issue.
Swamp Thing, Abby and Cable are still being attacked by flying, killer brains and eyeballs since last we saw them in issue 17. The monsters are a physical manifestation of Matt Cable’s psychosis, paranoia, trauma and alcohol abuse.
It’s kind of a bummer to see Swamp Thing being man-handled by a couple of flying brains. Is the brain truly mightier than the mightiest muck-encrusted mockery of a man? I’d like to think not.
Swamp Thing has a great dental plan
Arcane still has Helmut Kripptmann (Dr Harry Kay) held in captivity, aboard his creepy dragonfly helicopter from hell. Arcane wouldn’t be a true antagonist if he didn’t provide a back-story and an evil plan to match.
Cue the “flashback”… Continue reading “Saga of the Swamp Thing 18 (Series 2)”
Swamp Thing 17 (1983)
…And Things that Go Bump in the Night
Issue #17 continues, back at the motel, as if Swamp Thing never went to the small town where monsters where disguised by face masks. Swampy’s crew waits for him to return so they can continue their plans in DC.
Coincidently, Abby leaves the cafe as Swamp Thing returns from the woods.
Finally, together again! I love this panel and how their excitement is captured through their silhouettes. A strong silhouette speaks volumes.
I love Swampy’s reaction to Abby being married to Matt Cable. He really shouldn’t be too surprised. After a brief moment of catch-up, Swamp Thing agrees to visit the Cable residence.
Similar to his trip to Germany, Swamp Thing gets boxed up and hauled off. Continue reading “Swamp Thing 17 (series 2)”
The Saga of the Swamp Thing 16 (1983)
Stopover in a Place of Secret Truths
Totleben and Bissette are on the case! Not since Wrightson’s work has there been this much energy and care put into the character (at this point in my re-read of the chronology. Please reference the Chronology page for details). The layouts are creative, the art work is heavily detailed and the panels are well thought out. Maybe not all of them hit it out of the park but it’s refreshing to see this level of care put back into Swamp Thing books. Compared to the previous drawn-out, tired stories and visual depictions, this book feels like the shot in the arm series two needed. The script is still a little clunky but the artwork more than makes up for it.
Since issue 15, Swamp Thing has trudged back to the company of Barclay, Liz and Dr Kay. This issue dedicates a few pages to catch readers up to speed on how Swampy got to this point.
Swampy is digging up the grave of his wife Linda to see if her body has been disturbed. The US Government handled all burial arrangements but to his surprise, her body is missing from the coffin. This leads the four to believe that the government is in cahoots with Sunderland Corp. They decide to venture to DC to get to the bottom of things. These four have seen a lot of travel time together.
This detail of Barclay helping to put Swamp Thing in the back of the station wagon is pretty funny.
I love these layouts and the detail work within the rain. The craftsmanship is wonderful.
“*details in a forthcoming DC Comics Presents!” The device to keep people away from the graves, noted above, is never explained. The DC Comics Presents book that Len references was never published.
Continue reading “Saga of the Swamp Thing 16 (series 2)”
The Saga of the Swamp Thing #15 (1983)
Empires Made of Sand
There are a few fun and goofy moments in this, the second half of the two part story (part 1: Saga of the Swamp Thing #14) featuring the Broders, Swamp Thing and Phantom Stranger.
Swamp Thing is still a crystal statue due to Nat Broder who, in last issue, accidently turned himself into an ego-maniacal crystal who’s now hell bent on world domination.
Even though he’s stuck in a crystal, Swamp Thing maintains his charm.
Continue reading “Saga of the Swamp Thing 15 (series 2)”
The Saga of the Swamp Thing #14 (1983)
Crystal Visions, Shattered Dreams
After the drawn out satanic/Karen story arc, writer Dan Mishkin takes the reigns for this two part story. Artists, Bo and Scott Hampton handle the artistic duties.
Wealthy young scientist Nat Broder is taking the silicon chip technology field by storm but the technology will have the last laugh. While working on a cutting edge experiment, Nathaniel finds himself in trouble. Live by the silicone, die by the silicone is an old saying I’m sure someone says… somewhere.
Famous last words
Continue reading “Saga of the Swamp Thing 14 (Series 2)”
The Saga of the Swamp Thing 13 (1983)
Lambs to the Slaughter
Lucky issue 13, The long awaited conclusion with Karen/Casey and the beast is finally here. The resolution seems rushed and a bit rough. The issue involves a few flashbacks/recaps and the twist at the end comes across more as a deus ex machina than a surprise.
since issue 12, the cast of characters are beamed to the beast’s castle. Liz is floating in the air, possessed, while Kay, Barclay, Grasp and Swampy figure out the situation they’ve fallen into.
Our heroes are put into hallucination-like states with the hopes of leading them to their demise.
Swamp Thing narrowly escapes a spike pit while Barclay avoids a slow death involving quicksand.
Without much explanation, Barclay and Swamp Thing find themselves in the bowels of the beast’s castle. They are confronted by a floating, cloaked Karen and the beast. I’m not sure how her body made its way back to the castle since she had been killed and the evil spirit exited her body. Continue reading “The Saga of the Swamp Thing 13 (series 2)”
The Saga of the Swamp Thing 12 (1983)
And Yet It Lives
We last see Swamp Thing plummeting over an icy cliff with the Golem dead set on killing him.
Swampy makes short work of the Golem
Back ar their hotel, Barclay and Liz are assaulted by Grasp (the Conclave henchman). They are able to escape his clutches and make their way to Swamp Thing, Kay and the crew.
And just like that, the Golem is back.
Kay gives a pep talk to his crew. Everyone looks less than excited. They really should make a reliable vehicle adequate for a Swamp Thing. He doesn’t have much room back there
Continue reading “The Saga of the Swamp Thing 12 (series 2)”
The Saga of the Swamp Thing 11 (1983)
Heart of Stone
After writing about issue #25 (the unpublished book from series 1), it seemed fitting to start this post with the letters page. A fan wrote in to express his disappointment with Len Wein’s response regarding issues 21-24 not being recognized as part of series 1 continuity. In Saga of the Swamp Thing #6, Wein famously declared, “As far as we’re concerned, the stories published after #21 never happened; that is, Alec never became predominantly human, he never had a brother, there was never any Colossus, etc.” “…our readers may consign those stories to “Another Earth” or to the trash heap”. I enjoy conside ring issues 21-24 as part of the first series’ continuity but I can understand Len’s sentiment. Everything certainly seemed to fall off the rails toward the end of the series. Len’s opinion would have, no doubt, applied to issue #25 if it had been published.
Such a strong letter from the editor (Wein) to a fan within a Swampy book deserved a response. Swamp Thing fanatic Chris Lewis of Connecticut had to wait five issues to have his letter published here in issue #11. His response is below.
Chris mentions the Challengers of the Unknown series that features Alec Holland, then Swamp Thing. I wrote about the books a while back and more info can be found at the following links. 82, 83, 84, 85, 86 and 87
It would be great if every character adhered to a unified continuity (or not) but it just doesn’t happen all that often. There will be one-offs and special issues that live on their own or within a vague sense of the timeline. Within Swampy’s continuity, Brave and The Bold #122 (1975) is a decent example of this. None of the Swamp Thing books from series 1 reference this Brave & Bold/Gotham encounter but based on Batman’s flashbacks and narration, this storyline would have taken place between ST issues 7 and 22. The crew who worked on the Challengers series had to establish a jumping off point for Holland and they chose to pick-up where Swamp Thing, series 1 left off. Instances like these are why I decided to re-read Swampy’s chronology and document my findings along the way. In the past, I didn’t pay a great deal of attention to the minutia within the continuity but now that I am, it’s really fun to see how the books and fan letters string together; how the articles and ads co-exist and which characters get enough attention to have a more concrete continuity throughout the Swamp Thing canon. Continue reading “The Saga of the Swamp Thing 11 (series 2)”
Swamp Thing TPB (2015)
The trade that collects Swamp Thing 151-160 (series 2) is now available in stores! I picked my copy up this evening and am very excited to revisit the run. the book features the work of Mark Millar, Phil Hester, Kim DeMulder, Chris Weston, Jill Thompson and Phil Jimenez.
Swampy in a jug by Phil Hester
Continue reading “Darker Genesis and Josh, my book guy”