So Tom Spurgeon had a Five-for-Friday call for entries recently, asking folks to “Name A Character Or Characters Or Title And Then Name Four Iconic Visually-Driven Single Moments For Your Choice.” I saw that in my feed-reader and was well on my way to gathering some choice Swamp Thing panels, when I realized I’d missed the deadline. Ah, well…you can read other folks’ entries over at Tom’s site (which as I write this is experiencing some technical difficulties, but should be up again soon), but I thought I’d share a few of the panels I was thinking about.
First one that came to mind was this one from Swamp Thing #1 (1972), which I’ve featured on the site before:
…And then there’s this, though there are lots of versions of that panel to choose from!
And there was this panel from issue #7 from that first series, which maybe isn’t an “iconic” pic that immediately comes to mind when one thinks about “Swamp Thing,” but it’s Swampy in an overcoat slapping Batman around, and that’s always great:
The next panels I thought of were a pair of splashes that are in fact connected plot-wise. In Alan Moore’s first story arc, Swamp Thing finds out he was never actually a human being, but a plant “infected” by Alec Holland’s memories. Traumatized by the revelation, he collapses in some Louisiana marshland and lets himself take root, resulting in this startling image from Swamp Thing #22 (1984):
I remember showing this page to…hmm, someone, can’t recall who, but that person couldn’t tell that was Swamp Thing beneath all that overgrowth. I had to sort of trace my hand along the image…”there’s his head…see his arm, there?” …
The follow-up to this in the next issue, when Swamp Thing finally snaps out of it and uproots himself in time to come to Abby’s rescue:
Such a great, detailed image by Steve Bissette and John Totleben. When Bissette and Totleben first came onto the book a few months prior, Swamp Thing began his visual transition from a generally smooth-ish skinned monster with his plant-like nature represented by twisted roots covering his body, into a creature that actually sort of looked like it was comprised of plantlife. It was this particular storyline, though, that finally brought us a Swamp Thing that really looked like a big ol’ walking swamp.
Another panel I considered was this one, from the very first Swamp Thing story in House of Secrets #92 (1971), where the Swamp Thing stares sorrowfully down at his wrist, wondering if his golden bracelet is still buried there:
…but I decided I would more likely go with the wordless panel immediately following, which feels much more despairing:
Here are the two panels, together as printed:
…And I could keep going even farther beyond Tom’s four-panel limit, but I’m sure he’s not quite ready to start curating “Fifty for Friday” posts. A few years back, I made a list of my favorite Scary Swamp Thing Moments, and I’m sure there’s more than one iconic Swampy image located therein.
However, I’m pretty sure this remains the definitive image of Swamp Thing for most people in the world.
This is obviously not comprehensive, and I suppose if I’d been able to meet the deadline, I would have pondered it a little longer and thinned down the selection to an actual four-image submission, but I wanted to pass along the first few candidates that popped into my head. I’m sure some of you out there have a specific single Swamp Thing panel that sums up the character for you, and please feel free to share in the comments.