So pretty much in every media adaptation of Swamp Thing, be it cartoon or live action TV show or two fantastic movies or video game, hearing him refer to himself out loud as “Swamp Thing” always sounds just a little goofy. Some kind of weird combination of self-importance and “…seriously, that’s the name you’re going by?” And look, I’m saying this as the guy that, some of you may know, kinda likes this Swamp Thing character. But sometimes, something that reads okay on paper just doesn’t seem to translate to actual spoken out-loud dialogue, and, well, what can you do. And maybe they hit the “I AM THE PROTECTOR OF THE GREEN” thing a little too hard. Still, though, it was nice to see an animated Swamp Thing that had purpose beyond selling toys. Would love to see a standalone Swamp Thing animated movie at some point, but it would have to probably have to shoehorn Batman or Superman into it like they do with pretty much all the direct-to-home-video DC cartoons, like they did with this one, so I’m not holding my breath.
Oh, and by the way, “this one” is Justice League Dark, as some of you probably surmised, teaming up DC’s spooky characters, like Deadman, the Demon, Zatanna, and John Constantine, mispronouncing his name as they have in, I think, every TV and movie version of him:
…but What Can You Do? Despite that particular issue only I care about, I enjoyed the film well enough. It’s still weird seeing Constantine just straight-up casting magical spells like Dr. Fate in an overcoat, which is not something you saw him really do too much in the early comics but is perhaps a bit more frequent in modern funnybooks. But beyond that, it was a good showcase for all the characters, all of whom got something to do, with a variety of action sequences and creepy locations, but that one scene with the cast being chased by a hurricane with a face felt more like something out of Scooby-Doo There was just enough left unexplained in characters’ backgrounds to maybe urge the more inquisitive viewers to Read More About It. Hopefully in the comics, that is, and not just on Wikipedia.
As mentioned above, Batman does appear in the film to help sell it to people for whom the “Justice League” in the title isn’t enough to entice them, but other JLA members appear as well. Alas, though we’ve all moved on to the “Rebirth” era in the comics, the movies are still in their “New 52” phase, so that’s the Superman we get, whose New 52 costume is somehow even worse in animation than it is on the page. Fortunately he’s not in there that much, since that costume more than anything dates the film (to, like, the early ’90s, frankly). Wonder Woman’s New 52-era costume makes an appearance, too, though that’s slightly more tolerable.
I haven’t really gone through the extra features (available on the Blu-ray version) just yet, beyond the “Story of Swamp Thing” short, in which Len Wein and Kelley Jones discuss the character’s origins and history. There are other short pieces titled “Did You Know? CONSTANTINE ORIGIN” and “Casting Deadman” and the like, plus a preview of the New Teen Titans: The Judas Contract cartoon, originally announced years ago, which is finally coming out. (Not that it was made years ago and has been sitting on a shelf, but…well, you know what I mean.) There are also the usual “From the DC Vault” cartoons, this time a couple of episodes of The Brave and the Bold featuring the Demon.
…And speaking of Deadman, Nick Turturro does the perfect voice for him. I don’t know that I ever imagined what Deadman would sound like as I was reading the comics, but now this is the voice. So great.
Overall, an enjoyable film, I thought. Not really expecting a sequel, despite the fact it would be nice to see some…resolution to the seemingly final fates for some of the characters. But, despite what I said above about the possibility, I’m still holding on to that faint hope that maybe, just maybe, now that we’ve cracked the seal, we might see some kind of solo Swamp Thing animated effort. Well, even if it does have to guest-star Batman…whatever it takes, I guess.
So I’ve had a couple of late nights over the last two days, and, for some reason, before going to bed last night, I thought “you know, I really need to learn how to make GIFs.” You know, as rational people do. And of course, all it takes is downloading the right program to do it for you, and then suddenly I seem to have a handful of Swamp Thing GIFs on my hands. What a shock to everyone, I know.
I ended up posting them to the Twitterers, if you’d like to pop over there and see what madness I’ve conjured up, and also let Twitter take the bandwidth hit instead of me.
First off is this, a variation on the old “Swamp Thing Approves” still pic I’ve posted over there from time to time. I love the little off-camera nod he gives before throwing the thumbs-up.
Then there’s this bit of insanity, identifying pretty much the exact spot in the film where I began to think “hmmm, this movie may be a little off-model from the comics.”
More thumbs-up action, this time featuring the kids to whom Swampy was responding back in that first GIF. That kid on the right doesn’t know how a thumbs-up works…or he’s so excited that he’s lost control of said thumbs-up.
Here’s an example of nature’s eternal battle of Jogging Men with Guns versus Jogging Swamp Creature.
Okay, so that was a couple of weeks of prediction coverage…hope you all enjoyed the last few posts while I took care of that. I’m still taking 2017 industry predictions in this post here, but we’re nearing the end of January, so I’m probably going to shut down comments there shortly. Get them in while you can! …I’m not sure if I’m going to take 2018 predictions after the next new year, but I still have some time to think about it. Your thoughts could sway this vital decision.
Let me catch up on a few things, here:
A couple or three weeks ago twitter pal Dan put up a picture of the cutest darn Swamp Thing that you ever did see, and one “uh, how much do you want for that?” DM later, I have it in my hot little hands:
Look at how adorable that is. …Dan also designed my Twitter icon, and you can see more of his swell art here.
Recently, I was pricing up a bunch of comics that, um, I may have acquired a while ago and am only getting around to processing now, when I came across this Richie Rich cover and the following thought got stuck in my head and I had to let it out:
…Well, I mean, he is hangin’ out with Casper and all. Also, I had to create the letters “T” and “H” by altering other letters in the same balloon. This is a dumb amount of effort, but now this exists so…um, there it is, I guess.
My blogging sister Tegan just celebrated her lucky thirteenth anniversary of her blog about a week ago, and I certainly wanted to point you in her direction for more of her great writing. Tegan said a few very kind words about me in said post, for which I am most appreciative and flattered. She’s always been one of the comics blogosphere’s (if I may still use the term) foremost essayists on the topic of funnybooks and the industry that mostly supports them, and is always worth reading. (And you can help fund her work via her Patreon.)
Speaking of Patreons, Dog Boy creator Steve Lafler just started one up to support a new series of political cartoons. I do like Steve Lafler comics, so I signed up, and maybe you can, too. I mean, yes, it is political in nature, so you may not see eye-to-eye with him, and that’s okay. However, if you do like his work, Patreon makes it easy to throw a dollar or two his way to directly support his efforts.
But one thing we can all agree on is that Nazis are terrible, and Bully, the Little Bull Stuffed with Patriotism, brings us another of his Ten of a Kind posts featuring those lousy Ratzis getting what-for, and how.
I received a certain item in the mail this week…that item being the Blu-ray disc of the Suicide Squad movie from Netflix, which I never made it out to the theater for. Not sure when I’m going to make room in the schedule for it, what with Christmas looming in the very near future and me with shopping and wrapping to do still. (I haven’t even made it out to the new Star Wars movie, which makes the Ghost of 8-Year-Old Mike loom over me and shake his head in disapproval.) Anyway, I’ve been curious about the film, even though I’ve heard only generally negative things about it from other comic folks…but then again, I’m the Guy Who Liked Batman V Superman so maybe I’ll be more favorably inclined toward it. I will say that my initial reaction to trailers and stills is that it appears all dirty and grimy and sickly and yeccchh so the movie may have a struggle overcoming my visceral negative response to its looks.
Yes, I did watch the first episode of the new Justice League Action cartoon, and yes indeedy, it does contain the Swamp Thing/Plastic Man team-up the world has been clamoring for. Also featured: an all-ages appropriate John Constantine, who is more British than approximately 10 British men in, at least, this initial installment. There’s a story reason given for his particular style of dialogue, but I hope that’s how he’s portrayed consistently in the series because it’s hilarious…and probably can be read as a critique of how folks can kind of go overboard writing his dialogue in the comics.
Anyway, I had a hard time pulling a still of Swampy from any of the clips I saw online, so here’s a link to the trailer where the timestamp should take you directly to Swamp Thing getting clobbered by Solomon Grundy. Not his most dignified moment.
ATTENTION! THIS IS NOT A DRILL: Swamp Thing appears in this week’s Superman Annual #1:
Aside from the fact that this is the…fourth? “Superman Annual #1” to be released by DC over the years, it’s not a bad comic. Swamp Thing confronts Superman about the fact he’s not really from this universe, the harm that’s causing and what must be done to fix it. Somewhat reminiscent of DC Comics Presents #85, another story where Swamp Thing has to come to Superman’s aid, only this time Swampy is all up in Superman’s face, as opposed to surreptitiously doing so in that old team-up book. Maybe a little too heavy on the fight scenes, but it does establish Swamp Thing as being able to hold his own against the Man of Steel, which was fun to see.
So between this, Swamp Thing appearing in Batman in a month or two, and Swampy’s appearance in Wonder Woman a couple of years back, the old muck-encrusted mockery of a guest-star has completed his tour of the recent versions of the DC Trinity, post-Flashpoint/Rebirth. Now to get him to pop up for brief team-ups in DC’s other superhero books…like, I don’t think he’s been in The Flash ever. Well, the Flash has been in Justice League Dark with him a couple of times, but clearly we need a Flash/Swamp Thing race in the Flash comic itself.
Hey, in 2021 it’ll be Swamp Thing’s 50th anniversary. We gotta start planning for this stuff now.
As I’m sure you’ve heard, Steve Dillon, artist of Punisher and Hellblazer, as well as the co-creator of Preacher, passed away over the weekend at the much-too-young age of 54. I’m sure I’d come across his work before this, but it was his run on Hellblazer (with writer Garth Ennis) that I really began to notice and appreciate his work. As I said on my post about his passing on the store site (where I scanned and posted a Preacher sequence that I particularly like), he had a very clean, uncomplicated style that managed to convey huge amounts of detail and wide ranges of emotion. In a way, his style reminds me a bit of Jaime Hernandez’s, particularly in his later work (as opposed to that slightly rougher-edged, but still wonderfully expressive, artwork on view in those panels above).
He was a wonderful artist, and judging by some of the tributes I’ve seen on Twitter, he seemed to be a pretty darn good guy as well. I mean, look at this swell Scarecrow he drew for a little kid.
My most sincere condolences to his family, friends and fans. So long, Steve.
So there’s a little extra information brought to my attention by pal Christopher in regards to that lost DC Comics Presents Swamp Thing/Superman team-up that I mentioned last time. Christopher informs me that an interview with early ’80s Swamp Thing scribe Marty Pasko in Back Issue #87, Mr. Pasko relates that he had a script for said team-up ready to go, but the script was assigned to artist Alex Toth, who never got around to completing the job and turning it in. Though no details about that story were related in the article, Christopher guesses that this may have been the story promised in Saga of the Swamp Thing #16, and I’m inclined to agree with him. Ah, well…that’s too bad, as I’d like to have seen an Alex Toth-drawn Swamp Thing…I know his Superman wasn’t too shabby.
In other news:
Pal Rich has published his book Watching Time: The Unauthorized Watchmen Chronology, which is pretty much what it sounds like: a gathering of all the events from all across the Watchmen universe, from the original comics to the prequels to the movie and even the video games, and placed into a chronological order. Each entry is tagged with its source, so you can determine the level of its relevance yourself. Rich even points out where there are contradictions between sources on particular topics (such as multiple conflicting details about the character of Rolf Müller, who may or may not be Hooded Justice).
There is an enormous amount of information presented here, and for someone like me, who likes seeing how the various interpretations of the same material/franchise fit together (or don’t), there’s a lot to enjoy. And yes, even the unproduced film scripts are included in the chronology. Rich was very thorough. Also noted is the virtually hot-off-the-presses inclusion of the Watchmen characters in the DC Universe “Rebirth” event. No, Rich doesn’t know any more about what’s going on there than we do. He can save that for Watching Time Part Two!
Now I’m a little biased here, since, as implied by the “pal” above, Rich has been an online chum for some time now, and I am in fact thanked in the acknowledgements in the book (I helped look into a couple things for Rich as he was putting this together), and he was good enough to send me a digital copy of the book to peruse. However, I think I’m going to end up getting a print copy of this to keep with the rest of my Watchmen goodies. And you can, too, if you go to his promo page and follow the various store links there.
In other, other news: I produced another in my “Back Issue of the Week” entries for my store site. I like writing those…it’s very “back to basics” blogging that I don’t do enough of here. Hey, remember when it seemed like bloggers were rediscovering this comic every couple of months? I don’t think I ever got around to writing about it…maybe now’s my chance!
I’ve once again dipped my toes into the Trouble with Comics pool, contributing to the Weekly Question of the Week, he said redundantly and repeatedly, this time discussing favorite “Comics What Never Wuz.” As you probably have guessed, I picked Swamp Thing as the focus of my discussion, and if you’re familiar with Swamp Thing at all, there should be one story that comes to mind right away, so of course I primarily discussed another one. Anyway, go read what I had to say and then meet back here so I can give you some additional notes on the matter. Go on, read it. I’ll know if you haven’t. I’M WATCHING.
Okay, one thing I wanted to add was a bit of information I gleaned from the Tom Yeates interview in the new-last-week issue of the Back Issue magazine. Yeates (who drew most of the initial storyline on the Saga of the Swamp Thing comic from the early 1980s) said he was approached to complete the art job on that Wein/Wrightson reunion comic that Wrightson ended up departing. In the Swampmen book I reference over at TwC, Wein says he suggested “several names” to the publisher, including Kelley Jones (who’s drawn his fair share of Swamp Thing comics over the years), so I imagine Yeates was probably one of said suggestions. Anyway, it’s a shame that particular mini-series never happened.
There were a couple of other Untold Swamp Thing tales I thought I’d mention…in fact, I’ve mentioned them on this site before, but what the heck, let’s bring ’em up again. Well, actually, when you get right down to it, these are more “abandoned plotlines” than “actual comics in that were in the process of being produced but subsequently canned.” First was the old “Abby’s magical powers” storyline that I examine in some detail in this post from (urg) nine years ago. This was a subplot that began in the post-Wrightson issues of the original 1970s series, and it seemed to be leading somewhere, but vanished along with Matt and Abby from the comic, which was cancelled only a few issues later. And, as I said in that original post, when Matt and Abby came back in the revival series Saga of the Swamp Thing, the “magic powers” thing was well forgotten.
I’ve discussed this one from 1983’s Saga of the Swamp Thing #16 before in the context of other abandoned plot threads in comics, but at least in this case it seemed like they were planning a specific comic to address the matter, as opposed to maybe eventually getting around to resolving a subplot (like in the case of Abby’s powers):
In fact, this particular “forthcoming” issue of DC Comics Presents was what might have been intended to be represented by Swampy’s headshot in the DCCP ad in 1983’s DC Sampler #1:
…as the next Swamp Thing/Superman team-up to appear in that magazine wouldn’t be until a couple of years later, well after Alan Moore took over the Swamp Thing comic’s writing chores and sent things in a wholly different direction, leaving behind the mystery of Linda Holland’s grave. Then again, the plugged Supergirl and Batman and the Outsiders team-ups wouldn’t happen for a couple of years, either, but I suspect the Crisis on Infinite Earths nature of the 1985 Supergirl issue wasn’t the story planned when that small mention was placed in the 1983 Sampler book.
All I know was that I waited for this Swamp Thing issue of DC Comics Presents very patiently, and when he didfinally appear in the comic, I enjoyed the story so much I almost, but not quite, forgot all about that gravesite device plotline. …Hence this blog post.
Thanks to Twitter pal Sean for sending this my way…a poster for a concert that, alas, was a few days ago as I write this, so if you wanted to go, you missed it. I sincerely hope there was a skateboarding Swamp Thing at the show, as advertised.
I’m reminded of something from a long time ago, the misty dawn of the 1990s, when old friends Rob (bass) and Zack (vocals) were in the local nerd-punk band Phooey. They were going to be doing a show with The Muffs, and I’d found a panel from a Harvey comic that would have made for a good flyer. It was a shot of, I believe, Spooky, exclaiming “PHOOEY! It’s no fun to play with girls!” I thought it was funny, but alas, the flyer was never made, but it’s just as well — I wouldn’t have wanted to make it even the tiniest bit easier for the he-man woman-hater types that pollute the internet now to find said image for sadly non-humorous, non-ironic usage.