Thursday, May 6, 2010

Swamp Thing by Alan Moore (W), John Totleben (A) and Steve Bissette (A)

Saga of the Swamp Thing: Volume 1Even as a young child living in Ohio, I fondly remember many of the comic books that I treasured and read repeatedly over my young years.  I was always a fan of Spider-Man, Iron Man, Thor, Godzilla, The Shogun Warriors, The Micronauts and the few older issues of comics that had somehow managed to make it into my very beat up collection, including one of my all-time favorites, Swamp Thing #10 from 1974.

Swamp Thing was created by writer Len Wein with art by master artist Bernie Wrightson and was the story of botanist Alec Holland, who's wife is killed by some thugs wishing to gain the knowledge of Alec's experiments.  A bomb is placed, which explodes, covering Alec in his incredibly flammable plant formula and in a panic, he rushes to the swamp and dives in to extinguish the burning flames.  What eventually rises from the swamp is no longer human, but a creature of moss and root and the flora of the swamp.  Alec has become a monster and despite his rasping voice and inhuman appearance he seeks revenge in the real world on those who killed his wife and destroyed his life.

My favorite storyline from Wein is still issue #10 from the moment when I first grasped it in my grubby, 6 years old, PBandJ smudged hands.  How could I not love the idea of a swamp man who fought against the reborn madman Dr. Anton Arcane in his horrifically modified body and his monstrous entourage of Un-Men, one of whom was nothing more than a head affixed to a hand.  Let me say that again...a head affixed to a hand!  The seventies, gotta love the seventies.  When else could a 6 year old boy listen to James Taylor's "Your Smiling Face", while watching the TV show Johnny Socko and His Flying Robot and reading horror comics.  I'm pretty sure there was some ABBA or disco in there at various points as well.

Swamp Thing was eventually canceled and revived years later in 1982 under the title of Saga of the Swamp Thing, and I once again picked up the series.  It was okay and oftentimes pretty good, primarily the underwater vampire story and the resurrection of Anton Arcane, this time as a cybernetic grody to the max bug-monster-man.  It was not until the mid-eighties, when Alan Moore became the writer for the series, that Swamp Thing went from somewhat cool and pulpy to extraordinary and terrifying.  

Moore took control of the series in issue# 20 and ended that issue with Alec, the Swamp Thing, being shot in the head by a sniper employed by the Sunderland Corporation...shot dead.  The creature's body is then gathered up and carried away for further study back at the corporate offices of the same company that was responsible for the murder of Alec's wife.  Issue# 21 is where Moore's reinvention of the comic truly begins. 

to be continued later.   Off to work...blah.



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