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.
So you Swamp Thing fans out there, of which there are at least one or two I’m pretty sure, should keep a lookout for this edition of the British Canadian horror magazine Rue Morgue:
…that’s issue #169, and I normally just get a copy in that shop for a pull list customer, but of course once I saw what was being featured I had to get my mitts on one myself. I like the cover, which of course incorporates Steve Bissette’s cover from Swamp Thing #51. It’s a nice seven-page chunk of the mag in full color, featuring interviews with cocreator Len Wein, artist of the recent mini-series Kelley Jones, and writer of the back half of the New 52 series, Charles Soule. There’s a brief overview of Swampy’s history, and a review of the aforementioned mini. It’s a welome addition to the ol’ Swamp collection.
Checking with my distributor, it appears to be no longer available through them (and any other retailers checking there themselves should note they have a different cover attached to the item information for this issue). However, it appears you can mail order a physical copy from the official site for the magazine, or even get a digital copy, if that’s the way you swing.
And speaking of swinging…er, I mean, of Swamp Thing:
…there he is, palling around with his old chum John Constantine in the first issue (as opposed to the Rebirth one-shot that came out a month ago…thanks for making me have to explain the “two number ones” thing to every customer, DC) of The Hellblazer, which is different from the other Constantine series called Hellblazer in that there’s a “The” there in the title now.
Inside the comic, Swamp Thing needs John’s help with something-or-other, and the two trade quips and barbs and it kinda feels like the Good Old Days in case you read that previously-noted one-shot and didn’t care for it (as some of my customers expressed to me). There is an odd continuity thing, which…well, to catch you folks up:
1. Lab explodes, and Alec Holland’s burning body plunges into the swamp.
2. The chemicals Alec was working on merge with the swamp and with Alec’s body, and out pops Swamp Thing.
3. Swamp Thing believes he is Alec Holland, mutated by science gone awry.
4. It is revealed that isn’t the case, that Alec did in fact die in the explosion, and the plant elemental that arose used Alec’s memories as a template for itself.
5. That Swamp Thing hangs around for a long time, before eventually going away.
6. Alec is returned from the dead, and this time he actually is turned into Swamp Thing to replace the previous one.
As per what seems to exist in New 52/Rebirth continuity, that Thinks-It’s-Alec-Holland Swamp Thing still happened, and in one issue Actually-Is-Alec-Holland Swamp Thing meets Thinks-It’s-Alec-Holland Swamp Thing. What of the published stories is still in continuity is anyone’s guess, especially since a major thing that happened to a supporting character during the Alan Moore/Bissette/John Totleben era seems to Have Never Happened now.
In The Hellblazer #1, we get a discussion referring to a specific something that happened during the Not-Holland-Swampy’s tenure, with John chiding Current Alec-Swampy for it. Now it could be that maybe Alec-Swampy did a similar thing off-panel and this is the first we’re hearing about it, or that John somehow forgot these are two different Swamp Things, or that the previous Swamp Thing merged with the current Swamp Thing somehow and they’re basically the same being, or it’s a complicated Rebirth re-fiddling with the continuity thing, or this was all explained somewhere and I missed or forgot it because I don’t reread every issue multiple times anymore, or maybe I’m just thinking too much about it.
Anyway, it’s just a very minor point in this issue and only some crazy person who’s been reading Swamp Thing for the better part of four decades and also has a blog would really bring it up.
So ye olde Google Alerts pulled up this article about the recent Heritage Art Auction, and yeah, a Frazetta painting brought in a lot of dough, and sure, an Action Comics #1 sold for whatever, but what you’re here for is Swamp Thing news!
Bernie Wrightson’s original art for the cover for the first issue of the classic Swamp Thing series, published in 1972, went for over $191,000:
…and Wrightson’s wraparound cover for DC Special Series #2 (1977) went for the relative bargain price of just under $66,000:
What sort of surprised me is that these pieces were still out there, trading around on the market. It makes me wonder where all the Swamp Thing original art from House of Secrets #92 might be. Hey, if you see the original art for this cover pop up on eBay for, like, $100, maybe even $150, let me know, okay?
Speaking of original art, Twitter pal Jason pointed out this Amazon listing for the very-forthcoming Swamp Thing Bronze Age Omnibus due on in 2017. The listing notes that it includes House of Secrets #92 and Swamp Thing issues #1 through 25. As all true Swampheads know, the original series only published through #24, which has me wondering if the omnibus is going to include those unpublished pages from #25 that turned up in the original art marketplace a few years back. That would be nice, particularly if they were able to find other pages from the issue, if they exist.
It could just be a typo, though Twitter pal Christopher notes that the same information turns up elsewhere. That could just mean the typo’s in whatever press release got sent around to everyone, though. Wouldn’t be the first time a Swamp Thing #25 got typo-ed into existence…the Overstreet Price Guide mistakenly had it in their listings for a few years.
Anyway, it’s not like I’m not going to get one for myself, regardless. Can’t pass up my, what, fifteenth, sixteenth reprint of House of Secrets #92? Oh, and it’ll be nice to have the rest of the the Nestor Redondo-illustrated issues on good paper, after only getting three of them reprinted in that Roots of the Swamp Thing book from a while back. And speaking of that, the theoretical Roots of the Swamp Thing Vol. 2 that I wrote about a couple of years ago seems to still be a shadow of a whim of a dream, judging by this Amazon listing with no potential arrival date noted. If that even means anything. I have no idea. You should probably ask someone who knows something about comic books.
But regardless, thassa lotta Swamp Thing heading our way in our format or another. Now let’s hope this book sells well so we can get a second omnibus with all those Challengers of the Unknown and Super Friends and other Swampy appearances under one cover. And maybe that second installment of the Patchwork Man story that only appeared overseas, too. That’ll save me a trip to Sweden, at least.
Gaspar Saladino was the letterer’s letterer, providing logos and text for many a comic book for several decades, for Marvel and DC, and designed logos for all the 1970s Atlas books (such as this great one for Grim Ghost), and many, many more.
And of course he created the logo for a comic book series of particular importance to me:
And also did the lettering within, designing the distinct balloons for both Swamp Thing’s thoughts and his rare vocalization:
He was a great talent, and an essential part of the look-and-feel of those early Swamp Thing comics. He’ll be missed.
Mark Evanier has an obituary (he mentions that there’s some question to Saladino’s actual birth year, hence the question mark in this post’s title), and Todd Klein has an overview of some of Saladino’s early DC work (parts 123).
So the full Justice League Dark animated movie preview is out there on the internettings, which is a special feature on the soon-to-be-released-in-physical-media-preferred-by-the-old Batman: The Killing Joke DVD and/or Blu-ray that some of you out there seem to be very excited about. Anyway, the video clip I have here is just the short version of said special feature, which you can go out there and find if you’d like, but I wasn’t comfortable just posting it in its entirety:
Of note: Matt Ryan, star of the Constantine TV show and reprised the role on an episode of Arrow is back providing the voice of John Constantine in…Constantine’s first animated appearance, I think? Unless someone hid him in the background of an episode of Teen Titans or something.
Also, Swamp Thing is in the cartoon, his first animated appearance since this cartoon and the one or two sneaky cameos in one or two other DC animated thingies. No voice credit for ol’ Swampy as yet, so I happily throw my hat into that mossy ring. I always imagined him with a sassy valley-girl type voice, as I’m sure all of you have, too.
I’ve had a particularly long Tuesday, so all I have energy for, before I crumble to dust before your eyes, is to type out this link to Pal Andrew, who has answered my question posted to him re: his favorite Swamp Thing story.
I should ask him more Swamp Thing questions…he’s good at answering them!