Saga of the Swamp Thing Book 1
Wrttien by Alan Moore
Feb 01, 2009 Winter 2009 - Anticipated Albums of 2009
When British writer Alan Moore took over Swamp Thing in 1983, the title was a formulaic monster comic on the verge of cancellation. DC, thus, gave Moore free reign to revamp the series as he pleased, even though he was largely untested by American comics companies. What Moore ended up creating was way ahead of its time, and his work on Swamp Thing has had an influential impact both on comic writers and the potential of the medium. Moore’s first eight Swamp Thing issues have been collected in a new hardcover book.
If you only know of Swamp Thing from the various cheesy movies and TV shows about him (such as 1989’s The Return of Swamp Thing, which co-starred Heather Locklear), then you don’t know the depths to which the character was capable of reaching—and that in the right hands he was much more than a freakish monster. Moore’s work on the title was complex, horrifying, and lyrical. Originally Swamp Thing was a scientist named Alec Holland who, via an explosion in his swamp lab that also killed his wife, was transformed into a thinking/walking plant creature. In Moore’s hands it is revealed that Holland actually died in the explosion and that Swamp Thing is an independent living humanoid vegetable that was created in the accident and was imbued with Holland’s essence and memories, which leads to something of an existential crisis for the creature and an eventual journey to the afterlife to encounter Holland’s spirit.
Moore’s reputation as a comics writer above most others was cemented with 1986’s Watchmen, which is probably the most celebrated graphic novel of all time, and his work on Swamp Thing helped pave the way for that landmark achievement. Moore’s comics are actually written, with beautiful prose worthy of a 19th-century English novel, and his plots are far from ordinary. Swamp Things faces all sorts of strange creatures and demons, including a fellow vegetable monster bent on having plants destroy all human life. Through it all runs a subtle and deeply felt love story—Swamp Thing and the silver haired beauty Abby fall for each other, which culminates in a most psychedelic “sex scene” when Abby eats an hallucinogenic vegetable borne from Swamp Thing’s body, one which briefly makes her one with Swamp Thing and all of nature.
Stephen Bissette and John Totleben’s surreal and flowing artwork also bears mention, encapsulating a beauty and darkness rarely seen in comics at the time. Moore’s Swamp Thing would be seen as a phenomenal achievement today, so one can only imagine the stunned reactions of readers in the early ’80s, with some perhaps understanding the true potential of comics for the first time. (www.dccomics.com/vertigo)
Author rating: 9/10
Average reader rating: 9/10