So the first two caption boxes of this comic are “Anton Arcane” and “He is in hell.” If you’re a longtime Swamp Thing reader and fan, and of course you are, you probably can’t help but think of all those older Swamp Thing comics by Moore and Veitch and those other guys ‘n’ gals where, well, Arcane is in captial-H Hell with demons and all that. And that the title of the story is “The Patchwork History,” evoking memories of early Swamp Thing adversary (and Arcane’s brother/early victim) the Patchwork Man (a gender-switched form of whom plays into this newer tale), the reminders of older Swampy-continuity flow freely.
I have been enjoying this New 52 series as a whole (even though the Rotworld storyline ran a decade or two too long), but the reminders of what has been feed into the constant struggle — well, “struggle” is too strong a word, it’s more like an itch at which I keep scratching — to reconcile my deeply-ingrained-by-multiple-rereadings memories of his old comics of how Swamp Thing’s world should be, with the new events and histories being presented to me. There’s the little fanboy voice in the back of my head that calls out “hey, that’s not right” whenever I read some new revelation about Arcane’s backstory, even though I understand it’s all part of the retooling of the Swamp Thing franchise, moving Arcane away from his mad scientist origins and positioning him more explicitly as an antithesis to our hero.
In a way, “rebooting” Swamp Thing’s character the way they did, replacing the Swamp Thing with Alec Holland’s memories with the actual Alec Holland, while not ignoring that the previous Swamp Thing in fact existed, was pretty clever, I thought. It gives a fresh start to the character, unburdened by the decades of history, while still being true to the character’s basics. But the occasional reference to the newly-defined pasts of Holland and Abby and Arcane still jar a bit. I mean, it’s my particular problem. They’re not trying to write to me, the guy who’s read Swamp Thing comics forever and will continue to do so. It’s new people they’re trying to get, and not trying to scare off with a character with loads of backstory and continuity by presenting something a little more manageable. Sort of a Reader’s Digest condensed version of Swampy, maybe.
However, if I’m reading between the lines of the solicitations of upcoming issues correctly, we may be seeing some version of the pre-New 52 version of Swamp Thing in the book shortly, so I’m curious how that plays out, if in fact that’s happening.
Shorter version of the above: MIKE LIKE NEW SWAMPY BUT IT MAKE MIKE’S THINKER HURT
And then there’s the Swamp Thing Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack, released about a month ago and delivered by Diamond Comics to our shop last week. I finally sat down and watched the special features, fun interviews with star Adrienne Barbeau, co-star Reggie Batts (Jude, the kid who befriends Cable and Swampy) and ST cocreator Len Wein, wearing a Swamp Thing t-shirt that immediately made me think “hey, I have that shirt!” which, man, I don’t know what that says about me. Wein does note in his interview that he likes the fact that Swamp Thing is back in the regular DC universe interacting with Batman and Superman and those other folks in tights and capes. Hey, so do I, Len!
Haven’t really watched the movie proper yet, aside from some of the clips inserted into the interviews themselves. That costume, the source of much derision, isn’t as bad as I recall, but keep in mind I’m still just seeing bits and pieces of it in clips. Sometimes it looks like a green wetsuit, sometimes it looks like poor Dick Durock is wearing a saggy diaper that leaks (or just filled with sweat, since I’m sure he was melting in that outfit), but sometimes, just sometimes, it looks just enough like Swamp Thing. That Durock is (as I recall) doing his best to act his heart out in that get-up, giving it some level of gravitas despite everything, certainly helps.
There are two commentary tracks on the disc (one from director Wes Craven, the other from make-up artist William Munns) which I’ll make time to listen to when I can. Maybe those will inspire me to record my own commentary for the film. “This scene totally contradicts established New 52 continuity!”