I really didn’t mean for this Swamp Thing post to go on for this long.

§ September 20th, 2011 § Filed under swamp thing § 11 Comments

Note: post contains spoilers for the ending of Brightest Day, in case you haven’t read it yet.

So to the surprise of absolutely no one, I have a Google alert set up for any occurrences of the phrase “Swamp Thing” that should come along. And, in my feed reader one day, I happened to spot a tantalizing excerpt from an article entitled “Should I pick up the Relaunch Issue 1 of Swamp Thing?” but when I clicked to read the whole thing, it had already been deleted.

However, thanks to the wonders of the Google Cache, I managed to recover it (pardon the highlighted words…those are the search terms I used to track down this article):

I realize the new Swamp Thing #1 has already come and gone, but a second print is on the way, so if this person passed the first time, maybe he has a second chance. I also realize this person is an…Enthusiastic Capitalizer of Words, but, you know, me too, so Who Am I to Judge?

Let’s try to answer this person’s query:

First off, my friend, Swamp Thing’s status as a White Lantern is likely limited to just the Brightest Day series itself, along with tie-ins books such as the Green Arrow issues you mentioned. If you are looking for “The Further Adventures of White Lantern Swamp Thing,” that’s likely not to happen. The Brightest Day/White Lantern stuff was the method by which Swamp Thing was reintroduced to the current DC Universe, and not intended as an ongoing part of the character.

…I mean, as far as I can determine. You can never tell if, one day, someone at DC decides we need to see “The Return of White Lantern Swamp Thing!” and lo, there he is, fighting Dex-Starr or whatever. But it doesn’t seem likely.

Next you say that you hate “horror films and comics.” Unfortunately, if that’s the case then Swamp Thing may not be your cup of tea, as it’s definitely headed in a horror direction. However, as the series is being published as part of DC’s standard superhero universe, the blood and gore and eviscerations will probably be kept to a minimum, if that’s the concern. (They tend to save that for the more traditional superhero series.) It will still be a horror book, however, with weird monsters and creepiness and suspense and all that jazz, so if that’s not your thing, well…it’s not your thing, I guess.

Swamp Thing himself is not an evil creature who goes around killing people and being scary…I mean, not usually. He’s certainly not evil. Sometimes he kills people, but usually only if they have it comin’…you know, like Wolverine.

The comparison between Godzilla and Swamp Thing as “forces of nature” is an interesting one, as Godzilla is sometimes considered an allegory for atomic weaponry and warfare, and Swamp Thing can been seen as…the environment rising up against those who did it wrong, I guess? I mean, that’s not all Swamp Thing was (especially at the beginning), but that was part of it. Also, noted Swamp Thing scribe Alan Moore once drew Godzilla and it was awesome.

But while Swamp Thing is a force of nature “you don’t screw with,” he usually doesn’t go looking for things to avenge…mostly he just wants to live in peace, but (and it’d be a boring comic if he didn’t do this once in a while) is willing to open up a can of whupass when necessary.

A significant amount of the multiple previous series have also involved a great deal of introspection, pondering the nature of existence, the evils that men do, that sort of thing, so it isn’t just monsters punching monsters.

What I guess I’m trying to say is that the Swamp Thing series encompasses a lot of styles and genres, mostly seen through a horror filter. And a lot of the time, that filter isn’t necessarily “look how scary this is…BOO! Gotcha!” but “let’s look at this thing a little differently than what you’re used to” – which, for a lot of superhero fans, was used to disturbing fashion on DC’s established characters, caped and otherwise. And for those fans, this is part of the big deal of getting Swamp Thing back into play in the regular DC Universe…an opportunity for that filter to be turned on superheroes again.

Which brings us to your last point, about the series being a “reboot.” It’s not so much a reboot, as Swamp Thing’s past history still seemed to have happened. But it is a reboot of the character’s status quo. Lemme ‘splain.

When Swamp Thing was first introduced in the 1970s, the premise was that Dr. Alec Holland, a biochemist, was caught in an explosion where his body was doused with his bio-restorative formula (designed to accelerate plant growth)…and when he dove aflame into the swamp, that formula mixed with the plant life there turned Holland into that muck-encrusted mockery of a man we all know and love. Holland was a human trapped in the body of a monster.

In the 1980s, Alan Moore explained that, no, Holland actually died in the explosion, and what arose was plant life, infected by the formula, that somehow absorbed a copy of Holland’s memories, and wasn’t Holland himself. And then there was a bunch of “Swamp Thing is the latest in a long line of Earth Elementals” stuff, where it’s established that the Earth Elementals always took their mental templates from other beings, without actually being them.

And now, in Brightest Day, we had the elemental force of Swamp Thing running amuck, possessed by the Black Lantern power. The solution from the White Lantern was to bring the long-dead Holland back to life, and use him to reestablish his personality in Swamp Thing.

So here’s the reboot part…it seems like, in this new series, we’re going to be back to the “Holland is still alive trapped in a monstrous body” status for Swamp Thing. But, as the series starts, Holland and Swamp Thing are still two separate beings (which is a bit weird, because it sure looked to me like the two were reintegrated at the end of Brightest Day…I’m assuming an explanation is forthcoming).

Those last three paragraphs are pretty much all you need to know about Swamp Thing before getting into this new series. You said you don’t like horror, so I don’t know why you’re even considering picking up a title that is traditionally a horror comic…but this new series is off to a good start. Scott Snyder and Yanick Paquette are doing a great job, from the one issue I’ve seen, and if you want an off-kilter look at the DC Universe, it appears that this series may be following in the previous Swamp Thing series’ footsteps in this regard as well.

In conclusion…yes, you should buy this comic. It’s a good’un, and if you don’t like horror now, maybe it’ll change your mind. Plus, the more readers this book has, the more likely it will continue to be published, which will make me happy. You want me to be happy, don’t you?

…So, who was surprised by my ultimate answer to this fella?

…Anyone still reading? Hello?

11 Responses to “I really didn’t mean for this Swamp Thing post to go on for this long.”

  • Chris T says:

    I love how, even though that guy withdrew his question, you answered it anyway : )

    That scene in the Moore run where Swamp Thing takes over Gotham etc when Abigail was arrested was definitely Swamp Thing in Godzilla mode. Was it a deliberate homage on Alan Moore’s part?

    Also thanks for explaining what happened in Brightest Day. I skipped those comics being allergic to mega-crossovers in general.

  • ExistentialMan says:

    You know, It’s 5:30 am here in Columbus, Ohio and I just realized how much “Progressive Ruin” has become an integral part of my daily morning routine (for several years now).
    In case you don’t hear it enough, thanks Mike – you provide that soothing funnybook balm for the soul. And you can write about Swamp Thing as much as you want and as long as you want.

  • John Parker says:

    Mike, I’m a lapsed Swampy reader but I just bought a two-volume set of Swamp Thing 140-170 in Spanish,here in Spain where I live.Half-price so it only set me back 30 euros. It’s the Millar/Morrison run and skimming it, it looks great. Am I in for a good time or is this run considered to be pretty average?

  • Mikester says:

    Chris T. – It doesn’t feel like that was a deliberate Godzilla homage…it was definitely ST in “force of nature” mode, however!

    ExistentialMan – Thanks, I appreciate it!

    John – I would say that particular run of Swamp Thing is very well done…probably Millar’s best work.

  • Greg says:

    Since I consider the Alan Moore years of Swamp Thing to be possibly the best run of comics ever produced, I am a bit skeptical about the DCnU relaunch, but it is supposed to respect the old stories, so I’ll try it.

    Swamp Thing Annotations at http://www.tinyurl.com/readswampthing

  • Dwayne the canoe guy says:

    I saw today that Tamga.com is selling a discount subscription to Swamp Thing and recently featured Justice League. Tanga normally discounts boardgames & novelty electronics. Does this discounting indicate that DC is desperate?

  • CW says:

    It’s at times like these that I’m glad I’m a Man-Thing fan. ;)

  • Googam son of Goom says:

    Well put. But that’s what we expect.

  • eee-gah says:

    “…the blood and gore and eviscerations will probably be kept to a minimum, if that’s the concern. (They tend to save that for the more traditional superhero series.)”

    Seriously, what the hell is up with that? Has anyone ever complained to you at the shop about the level of gore in a random DC book? I was kinda hoping that the relaunch might staunch the flow a bit but BOOM! there’s The Joker biting out someone’s throat.

  • Sarah says:

    Some day, I will open a window in Cairo or somewhere and yell out, “What’s up with Swamp Thing, anyway?” I fully expect that this incantation will summon Mike, wherever he may be, directly to my location so he can give me a fifteen-minute “quick rundown” on the comic.

  • robcat says:

    I got partway thru and skipped to the end, so yeah… I had to laugh!