Come to think of it, have we ever seen Swamp Thing immediately start trying to tear off all the muck ‘n’ stuff post-transformation? That’s what I’d do.

§ June 10th, 2019 § Filed under swamp thing, television § 3 Comments

[SPOILERS for the first two episodes of Swamp Thing (2019)]


So the big problem with watching a show that you already know is doomed from the start is, basically, investment. I mean, yes, you can just watch it and enjoy what you got, sure, but it’s difficult to divorce yourself from your assumptions of abandoned potential, watching as plot threads and character developments are introduced and you realize they’ll never get the required time necessary to play out properly.

You could think of the DC Universe’s Swamp Thing TV show, which debuted at the very end of last month, as a “mini-series,” I suppose (and it’s really only a matter of time before the cheery hosts of that service’s DC Daily news show start referring to it as such), but a mini-series would imply a planned beginning, middle, and end, and not a suddenly assembled “well, tie it up best we can” final episode when the word came down a while back that the series order was cut from 13 episodes to 10. Now that we know this is all we’re getting with news of the show’s outright cancellation (for not 100% clear reasons just yet…there seems to be some contention over the popuarly-reported financial causes for the shutdown) it makes it hard to think about what could have been.

Because what we got so far? Not too shabby, thinks I. My eye troubles over the past week were maybe a good thing, at least for blogging purposes, as I’ve now had two episodes under my belt to reflect upon, given that Swamp Thing his own self doesn’t really even show up ’til the end of the first episode. (Another nagging thought…with only ten episodes left, the slow burn on Swampy action is a little frustrating…I want as much crammed in as possible. I want a Swamp Thing/Anton Arcane throwdown, complete with all the Un-Men, by episode 4 at the latest.)

But overall, all the elemnts are there, if shuffled around a tad. Abby Arcane works for the Center of Disease Cotrol, sent back to her hometown in Louisiana to investigate a mysterious swamp-borne virus. She meets Alac Holland, a dusgraced scientist who had been working for local Powerful Man up to No Good Avery Sunderland, but remained in town investigating the weird goings-on in the swamplands after Sunderland let him go. And Matt Cable is there, now a policeman and old schoolmate of Abby’s, and Liz Tremayne, a reporter introduced in the Marty Pasko/Tom Yeates 1980s run, is there as well, and still a reporter.

Alas, no Linda Holland or Chester Williams as of yet. But we do get Dan Cassidy, a local actor who, as we all surely know, is the Blue Devil in our beloved comics. Will he become the Blue Devil in the series? That feels like a season two or three thing–oh, right. And Madame Xanadu, DC’s mysical seer-type person, is there as well, and she establishes with Sunderland’s wife that there are some supernatural shenanigans happening involvin their long-desceased daughter (whose death is tied to Abby, who was their daughter’s friend). Oh, and did I mention Matt Cable’s mother is the local sheriff, played by Jennifer Beals?

So yeah, it’s not quite as simple a set-up as in the original comics. But some of those elements are still present. It’s established that Matt had a crush on Abby, and since Abby started to have feeling for Alec before…well, more on that in a second, but that had the makings of some kind of love triangle eventually, made to play out over the years to…um, anyway.

About Alec’s transformation. As much as I was hoping to get some version of this scene, with all the retooling of the premise I guess that wasn’t going to happen. While overall I’m fine with what they’ve done, I do have to admit it does bother me a little bit that Alec’s transformation into Swamp Thing is not due to his own experiments, but rather because of some outside force dumping “growth accelerant” into the water, causing the mutations and odd behaviors of the plant life out there in the bog. I’m not sure why that troubles me, aside from losing the inherent tragedy, and irony, of Alec falling victim to his own discovery. Instead, while out in the swamp investigating the dumped chemicls, he’s shot, the boat he’s on blows up, and muck-encrusted mockery ensues.

But, you know, I can live with it, at least for the eight remaining episodes. And everything is certainly moodily lit and plenty creepy. (A shot of the body of an early victiim of the virus, suddenly bolting upright during an autopsy with roots and such jutting out of it, stiffly jerking about, is particularly jarring.) And Swamp Thing, once we finally get a ood look at him in Episode 2, definitely looks like Swamp Thing, all planty and slimy and goopy and stuff. No ill-fitting green wetsuit here. We haven’t heard him speak yet, but episode three is titled “He Speaks,” so I’m guessing we will. It’s definitely caught my interest, and I think it does a good job updating the character and situations for a modern audience, laying the groundwork for what could have been several seasons of story. But oh well.

A couple other things…Tim Russ, AKA Tuvok from Star Trek: Voyager had a bit part in the pilot. Some kind of weird Star Trek synergy goin’ on over at the DC Universe, what with Marina Sirtis showing up for an episode of Titans.

Also, there’s a little blonde girl, the daughter of one of the first victims of the swamp-virus, and appears to be affected herself, who’s present in the first two episodes. I don’t know if they were implying some kind of psychic connection between her and Swamp Thing (her tearing off wires while in her hospital bed, while Swamp Thing, immediately post transofrmation, similarly tearing at the roots and muck that have become his body), but it reminds me a little of the little blonde girl “Casey” from the early issues of this series:


I’m going to presume things don’t work out quite the same way in the TV show as in the comic. However, she does eventually meet our hero, who saves her life, and there’s a bit of offscreen bonding we learn about in the second episode’s cliffhanger (she tells Abby that creature says his name is Alec). I think it’s a nice callback to an overshadowed comic book run, whether it was intentional or not.

As may come as no surprise, I’ll be in for the duration of the series, but I can already see myself thinking “C’MON PICK UP THE PACE, YOU ONLY HAVE FOUR EPISODES LEFT” or whatever. Who knows, maybe this’ll be the killer app that gets everyone to finally sign on for the DC Universe service and the powers that be will strike some kind of new deal to make more episodes. A boy can dream.

The day of the show’s debut, the aforementioned DC Daily did a Swampy-focused episode, which began with this screen:

Kudos to whoever was responsible for that reference to the greatest superhero cartoon theme song of all time:

3 Responses to “Come to think of it, have we ever seen Swamp Thing immediately start trying to tear off all the muck ‘n’ stuff post-transformation? That’s what I’d do.”

  • Cassandra Miller says:

    Liz Tremayne? And Casey??

    Ok, I loved the Pasko/Yeates issues. I gotta get the DC service.

  • ExistentialMan says:

    Good to have you back and glad the peepers are starting to heal.

  • Turan, Emissary of the Fly World says:

    I was never much of a Swamp Thing reader (yes,I know, you stopped reading at that point), so I do not remember a character named Liz Tremayne. Seeing the name now, I have to assume this was a reference to the veteran character actor (and old-time radio star) Les Tremayne, whose comic book connection is that he played Mentor on the SHAZAM! TV series.

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