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Actually now I kind of regret not getting that Swamp Thang comic.

§ September 18th, 2019 § Filed under collecting, swamp thing § 1 Comment

So to continue from my last post, there are other aspects to my Swamp Thing collecting that I neglected to mention.

1. FOREIGN EDITIONS: I mean, sure, when I can find them. I have Swampy in handful of different languages, some I can kinda sorta read, and others I can’t comprehend at all. I still regret missing out a bunch of first series Swamp Things on eBay that were published in Mexico during the ’70s. Ah well. But I’m generally open to buying any of these that I can find.

2. REPRINTS: Nowadays “reprints” generally means “trade paperback collections” or “hardcovers,” and I usually don’t buy them if they’re just duplicating content I already own. I’ve made exceptions, like the recent Roots of Terror hardcover collecting together a bunch of one-shot stories in one place. But generally, if it’s just, say, a straight reprinting of issues, unless there’s some kind of new content, I’ll probably pass.

Now I did get that Bronze Age omnibus because it was the first time a lot of that material had been reprinted, and on nice paper to boot, like the Pasko/Yeates run, the latter portion of the original series, etc.

Iin the early days of my Swamp Thing collecting, like I mentioned last time, I did buy the comic book reprints DC had published of the original 10 issue run by Wein and Wrightson, partially because of new covers on the first two collections, and partially just out of the need for gettin’ ’em all. And, of course, I will keep buying reprints of House of Secrets #92 just because it amuses me to do so, and nobody’s been able to stop me.

3. PARODIES: Not that there’s been too many, but Swamp Thing parodies do pop up now and again. I generally buy these as I see ’em, though I admit to passing on the Spoof Comics Swamp Thang one-shot [COVER MARGINALLY NOT-SAFE-FOR-WORK] which was perhaps a little too far off from the character it was parodying. I did, however, totally get this Mighty Mites issue.

There haven’t been a whole lot of parodies of Swamp Thing over the years…or maybe there have been, and you’re all just hiding them from me to spare my feelings. In general, I’ve been pretty lucky as they’ve just turned up in things I was already reading, like Cerebus or Boris the Bear and so on. But I keep my mostly-working eye open, in case any others turn up.

So anyway, that’s that. Folks have been popping up in my comments section for that last post talking about what and how they collect, which has made for some good reading, and I encourage you to join in. I’ll probably go back and respond to some of those comments in a future post.

My apoologies to regular commenter Turan, who had one of his comments grabbed by whatever algorithm decides to hold entries for moderation…it’s approved now, Turan! He also mentions the Heap stories from the black and white mags of the ’70s have shown up in a print-on-demand collection, which may be of interest to some of you folks, as well as to me. The color comic isn’t included, but that’s okay, I already have it!

Okay, enough SWAMP TALK for today…will return to this topic next week, as I have something else planned for Friday. Thanks for reading and commenting, pals.

I’m also a Fatman the Human Flying Saucer completist.

§ September 16th, 2019 § Filed under collecting, swamp thing § 27 Comments

Thom H. asks, in response to my recent post regarding House of Secrets #92 tribute covers:

“How many Swamp Thing completists are there or do you know of? I had never heard of that type of fandom until I started reading this blog. And I didn’t think to ask about it until I realized there were multiple people into collecting every appearance of ‘ol Swampy.

“I’m sincerely interested in knowing about the different degrees of completism and extensions of that completism to characters like Man-Thing and The Plot (I assume he’s swamp-based, as well?). Does it extend to other characters?

“And it sounds like it includes things like cameo appearances and mentions by other characters. I guess I’m wondering: what are the rules completists use to define the boundaries of their collections?

“No disrespect intended. I’m not a completist of any character, but I do buy multiples of comics I like so I can keep one ‘nice.’ I think all comic collectors have their own ways of collecting, and I’d like to know more about yours.”

Now, longtime ProgRuin reader John Lancaster had his own lengthy response, which I suggest you all read (since I’ve plugged enough quoted material from the comments into this post). I’ll try to answer Thom’s queries best I can, though I doubt my own notorious predilection for excessive typing can match Mr. Lancaster’s prodigious efforts.

First off, completism is a common trait among comic book collectors, even above and beyond the the standard “get every issue of the series” that’s pretty much built into the DNA of the hobby, what with things having issue numbers an’ all. (OF course, in recent years, with many long-running titles having their chains broken by reboots and relaunches, that sort of collection has become less prominent, or at least concerned with gathering every issue of a specific series while eschewing other iterations of the same title.

The “theme” collectors, the ones who want every appearance of a character, or every comic by a certain artist or writer…I’ve encountered many of those over the years, too. The fella who wanted every appearance of Taskmaster. That one guy who wanted to own every comic drawn by John Byrne. There can even be folks looking for things like “every comic where a superhero fights one of the traditional movie monsters, like Dracula or the Wolfman.” Former coworker Rob used to collect Archie comics that featured bowling on the cover. Pal Cully used to get every appearance of the Hulk. Right now I have a customer who wants every appearnce of Iron Fist and that ol’ master of kung-fu Shang-Chi.

So no, it’s not really uncommon. People collect lots of different things for different reasons, and, you know, whatever floats their respective boats. If it makes you happy, what the hell…go for it.

Now for me personally…after coming across Swamp Thing for the first time in the early ’80s, via found copies in a second-hand book shop as well as that proto-Nickelodeon TV show Video Comics. For whatever reason, the character appealed, and I spent a lot of time gathering Swampy appearances, both in his own title and otherwise. Plus, a brand new series, Saga of the Swamp Thing, started around the same time to tie in to what could only be the blockbluster success of that first film, so I had new stories to collect, too!

One of the things that helped was that there were a limited number of Swamp Thing appearancs in comics. Outside of his own initial series, which only ran 24 issues (despite Overstreet mistakenly listing a 25th issue for a few years, which was a little annoying), a couple team-ups with Batman in Brave and the Bold, one in DC Comics Presents, that weird run in Challengers of the Unknown, a cameo in Super Friends, and probably a couple others I’m missing.

One of the first signs this wasn’t just going to be an ordinary collection for me was that I sought out the reprints, too. I mean, sure, a couple of them had brand new covers by Berni(e) Wrightson, but the others didn’t, and besides, they were reprinting stories I already had (or was about to have, once I found those original issues for my collection). So, already, I was on my “every iteration of Swamp Thing” kick.

Eventually I got my copy of House of Secrets #92…I had it in reprint form, of course, but didn’t have my own original one ’til I actually started working at the comic shop in the late ’80s. It was…the worst copy, apparently used as a coaster for a can of shellac, but I had one! Some years later, I managed to trade up for another copy of #92, a much nicer one, sold to us by Jan, a longtime friend of the shop. …As far as I can recall, those were the only two copies that the shop ever saw during my tenure there.

(QUICK ASIDE: Former boss Ralph used to tell the story of going through some dealer’s quarter boxes at a convention he was working at sometime in the late ’70s. He went through most of the boxes, not finding much, stopping before he finished going through them. A day or two later, when the con was about to wrap up, Ralph gave those same boxes one last shot…and in the back part of the last box, there was a copy of House of Secrets #92, which had apparently eluded congoers the rest of the weekend.)

As to the topic of being a completist to the point of cameo appearances and such…well, yeah, sure, I do my best. I noted on this site years ago that I was picking up variants on Brightest Day because both covers featured Swamp Thing…even getting a variant Justice League comic because of a cover word balloon mentioning Swampy. So, yes, I was buying comics for even the barest Swamp Thing connections.

However, I made an exception not too long ago. I even made a big ol’ post about it, where I decided I wasn’t going to buy every single Convergence tie-in comic with that one tiny image of Swamp Thing with a woman who was sometimes Abby Arcane, sometimes not. Ever since then…well, I’ve still been picking up Swamp appearances in comics when they occur, as generally they tend to be a bit more substatial than those Convergence ones. Also, due to DC’s multi-cover publishing scheme, I’ve been known to pick up two copies of Justice League Dark because each cover had Swamp Thing on it.

Oh, wait, I thought of another exception…there was an issue of Wonder Woman some time ago which had a 1/100 ratio variant that I didn’t get. One, I wasn’t ordering a hundred copies of Wonder Woman, and wasn’t about to bump my orders just to get my mitts on it. Two, it was crazy expensive on eBay at the time, though to be fair I haven’t checked lately, and 3) as I recall the picture of Swamp Thing was pretty off-model anyway, so I felt no particular rush to acquire it.

So, as of right now, I will still get all comics featuring Swamp Thing as I notice them, though some of the more obscure ones (like dialogue mentions or tiny one-panel cameos or whatever) may slip past me. However, I’m pretty good about picking up everything that has Swamp Thing in an active role or even just decor, I guess (like that one Guy Gardner comic by Howard Chaykin). My limit is probably too much duplicated content all at once, like that Convergence thing I mentioned.

How I eventually ended up getting in Marvel’s own muck-monster, Man-Thing…well, I don’t really recall. I probably just thought “huh, another swamp monster, I’ll check it out” and that was that. I was something of a completist on Man-Thing as well, picking up all his early appearances, though I didn’t try to maintain a collection of all newer appearances. I picked some up here and there, as they caught my eye, but I wasn’t grabbing everything like I was with Swamp Thing.

This weird swamp monster thing does get me to pick up other related titles…I have all those nice hardcovers reprinting The Heap, the original muck-encrusted comic character. And there have been other instances, too, like maybe if a swamp monster popped up in House of Mystery or some other horror anthology title. Man, I don’t get it either. I don’t think I’ve ever even been to a swamp.

Like I said above, there weren’t a lot of Swamp Thing appearances to start with. It was like that for a while, especially during that time when Swamp Thing was under DC’s Vertigo imprint, which restricted the character from appearing in the regular line (though he occasionally would sneak by, like his hand in that one issue of Infnite Crisis). Once Brightest Day brought him back to the regular DCU, the floodgates opened and…well, I don’t have it as bad as the poor bastard who’s trying to collect every Batman appearance, but still, it keeps me on my toes.

There’s probably more detail I could go into, but that’s enough for now. I’ll try to touch on this topic again if any more thoughts come to mind…like parodies and homages, which just occurred to me. Oh, and foreign editions. SIGH…look, I gotta get to sleep sometime, so I’ll talk about those soon enough. Thanks for reading, pals, and we’ll be back at it on Wednesday.

Maybe someday Tarot Witch of the Black Rose will do one of these covers.

§ September 13th, 2019 § Filed under archie, swamp thing § 4 Comments

So this was pointed out on the Twitters and lo, I did search lo and high to find my own copy and now, here it is:


It is one of those Retailer Exclusive variant covers (not offered through Diamond) for Archie Vs. Predator II #1, Pretty neat, right? There’s also a “virgin” variant without the logos and text, but I passed since the mimicking of the original House of Secrets down to the trade dress is half the fun.

Anyway, only 300 of these made (plus another 300 for the virgin variants) so grab it while you can if you want it.

Another House of Secrets #92 tribute is coming later this month from Vault Comics, with Cover B of their new series The Plot:


So, look, I’m not only buying assorted reprints of House of Secrets #92, now I’m collecting comics that look like it. This seems perfectly rational to me.

You do have a Swamp Thing collection, right? RIGHT?

§ August 27th, 2019 § Filed under swamp thing, this week's comics § 9 Comments


The only comic of note to be released this week is, of course, the House of Secrets #92 Facsimile Edition, reprinting the first appearance of the story “It’s Better to Give” illustrated by Alan Weiss and Tony DeZuniga, and written by Mary Skrenes under the pen name of “Virgil North.” Oh, the first Swamp Thing story is in it, too.

Anyway, someday I need to update this list I made in 2006 (eep) of all the reprints of House of Secrets #92 that I own, as I’ve picked up a few since then (including the very one pictured above). I laugh, laugh I tell you, at the concluding thought in that long-ago blog post that a mere eight copies of this issue were enough. Such is the folly of youth.

Also please note this reprint does contain the updated coloring for Swamp Thing’s eyes, making them the dark red we’re accustomed to, versus the whitish eyes of the original printing. A dealbreaker for some, I know.

Aside from that hideously untenable change, this is a nice looking reissue of this classic comic. Like Marvel’s line of facsimiles, it contains all the stories and ads and letter columns and other editorial content of the original, but on slightly better paper and with a UPC code and new improved pricing on the front cover. If you can’t get your hands on the original, or one of the dozen of more other reprints like someone you may know who’s been writing a blog for over fifteen years has, this will make a nice addition to your Swamp Thing collection.

DC borrows from Marvel, so does Marvel borrow from DC, and so has it always been and always shall be. And as what usually happens, one company sees another have a success with something, whoever’s in charge has their eyeballs pop out of their heads with little dollar signs forming at the end, and suddenly Company B is doing exactly what Company A did. And in this case, it’s the “#1000” issues DC recently published to great success for Action Comics and Detective Comics, both of which made it to that lofty peak one issue at a time, once a month (or eight times a year, or biweekly, or, hell, even weekly for a while) since their beginnings in the late 1930s.

Now Marvel doesn’t have anything really close to that at the moment…well, some things are approaching that number, but not for a while yet, and anyway Marvel’s still sticking to hiding the actual overall issue number to a series beneath their favored low issue number stemming from whatever was the most recent relaunch. Like, this week’s Amazing Spider-Man has a big ol’ “29” as its primary issue number, but beneath in smaller print it has “829,” indicating that this is in fact the 829thh issue in the series that began with that #1 by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko so long ago.

Now frankly I wish they’d just pick a number and stick to it…when Marvel briefly went back to “original” (or approximate, anyway) numbering on a bunch of their titles for their “Marvel Legacy” effort, that actually seemed to goose sales a little, particularly on some of the second-string titles that could have used the sales help. Don’t know if was just a coincidence, or if customers had a little more confidence that maybe there’d be some consistency to what they’re following, and it wouldn’t be relaunched soon with a new #1 just because it’s a Brand New Creative Team or something.

Marvel Comics #1000, I believe the conceit is, is based on the idea that if the original Marvel Comics #1 from 1939 (the one with the first appearance of the Human Torch) had continued publishing, it’d be at about #1000 right now. Or maybe that’s just my interpretation of things, and besides we all know Marvel would have relaunched it with a new #1 a dozen times by now, lest they unleash the curse or whatever.

The cover I have pictured here (shameless stolen from one of the many, many eBay listings since 1) I didn’t scan the copy I got at the shop, and 2) Diamond has no image of it on their retailer site) is the “Rare” One Per Store variant, showing what I think might be the first official comic book (well, comic book cover) crossover between Marvel characters and the hometeam characters of their Disney masters. I don’t know for sure, since Marvel ain’t shy about cranking out variants and I’m sure I haven’t seen them all.

And boy oh boy I was sorely tempted. I actually like that image, quite a bit, and it’s not like I haven’t used the ol’ executive privilege to keep a variant for myself, but…well, I mentioned the eBays earlier, and this was a pretty might total on my invoice this week, so I think I’ll give it up for the sake of the bottom line rather than my collection. OH THE SACRIFICES I MAKE.

Oh, hey, big ol’ article on Dreadstar. I do loves me the Dreadstar. Let me just add this to the previous issues of Back Issue with content I want to read but still haven’t yet because of my ongoing eye issues. I’m sure it’ll make me wish Dreadstar was still a thing again, but that’s the risk I’ll just have to take.

In which I only use the f-word once.

§ August 9th, 2019 § Filed under swamp thing, television § 3 Comments

JohnJ wrote, in response to my post about the final Swamp Thing episode:

“…After I recently watched the 11-episodes of Titans I am curious whether Swamp Thing also dropped as many ‘f-bombs’ as Titans did. I didn’t count them but there were soooo many. More than 50, less than 100 I would guess. Enough that it was painfully obvious what somebody thinks ‘mature’ means and from every character.
I’ve watched the first episode of Doom Patrol and don’t remember the language being that salty.”

Well, there were a few choice uses of that particular vulgarity throughout Swamp Thing‘s run, but relatively few and far between. In fact, it was a surprise whenever one would drop.

Not like in Titans, where, hoo boy, they weren’t shy about their pottymouths. The sheer incongruity between what our perception of what the Teen Titans has always been versus what the TV show presented probably made the that particular swear stand out…oh, and the fact that they used it like a million times, that helped too.

It just felt somewhat tonally inappropriate, whereas in Doom Patrol, where our favorite f-bomb was used with a significant amount of frequency and enthusiasm, it seemed, well, natural. Probably from a comic fan perspective of knowing that Doom Patrol spent time under the Verigo banner, therefore swearing, and just from the general feeling that this show is “different” and all that usage of Carlin’s Seven Words is just another example of how this superhero show is different from other superhero shows.

Oh, and then there’s the fact that Doom Patrol is genuinely funny. The enbtire attitude of the program is “hi, we’re super weird and we totally don’t give a shit” perhaps makes all the swearing just, well, part of the fun. Whereas on Titans, the swearing just comes across as “look how edgy and adult we are” and it can feel like it’s just trying to hard to convince the viewer that this is all serious business, that’s why Robin has to say “fuck.”

Look, not to say I didn’t like Titans. I thought it was fine, enjoyable superhero nonsense. Still don’t get that portrayal of Dove…though she and Hawk look perfect, but like I’ve said before, if Dove is supposed to be non-violent like in the comics, they must be grading on a scale compared to everyone else in the show. And the show is super-violent, but at least it’s mostly nicely-shot, easy-to-follow violence that my eged eyes and brain can appreciate.

Anyway, last time I was talking about Swamp Thing I said I was going to try to go into specifics about what I thought went wrong with the show. And…well, beyond rushing the hell through Swamp Thing’s character evolution, I honestly don’t have much to complain about. The one really unnecessary element was likely the Dan Cassidy/Blue Devil stuff, which pains me to say, being a Blue Devil fan since that 16-page preview in that long-ago issue of Firestorm. Just…what did he add to the story, exactly? He saved Abby and Liz at one point, but that could have been handled another way without him. And he was a test subject for Woodrue’s medical shenanigans, I suppose, but aggain, no reason for that to have been specifically that character.

My thought was that they were going to be leading to a contract between Alec Holland being trapped in a body we was tortured by, versus Dan being trapped in Blue Devil’s body, and having a grand ol’ time while doing so. But clearly that’s not what happened, and the truncated nature of the series meant Dan getting his happy ending, free of the curse or whatever after waiting around for years to save Abby that one time, which clearly wasn’t the intended resolution for that arc but that’s what we got. Oh well.

Anyway, I suppose my main complaint was “not enough Swamp Thing doing Swamp Thing stuff,” but that’s generally my complaint about every TV show and movie. It’s the main reason I never watched Friends.

Not even a single Un-Man.

§ August 5th, 2019 § Filed under swamp thing, television § 3 Comments

Near the end of the episode, Abby says to Swamp Thing that she’s fascinated by this new world she’s seeing through her relationship with him, and that she “wants to see more.” And she might as well be talking about the show, because I’m pretty sure most of us would like to see more…more seasons, more episodes, more weirdness from the comics, etc. Of course, Abby also tells Swamp Thing “I’m not going anywhere,” for that extra bit of ironic knife-twisting.

So anyway, that was ten episodes of Swamp Thing we got, cut down from thirteen a while back, and then eventually just plain ‘ol canceled for reasons that have never exactly been nailed down. But whatever the reason…it wasn’t a perfect translation, it had some problems, but overall it was a reasonable translation of the comics that maybe rushed through the concepts a little too quickly, plugged in some strangely irrelevant elements (I like Blue Devil an’ all, but still not sure why he had to be there), but it looked right and by and large, it felt right. And cudos for Swamp Thing being a dude in a costume, and not a CGI effect.

I seem to recall at the time, when word got out they were cutting episodes, that producers were also being told to kinda wrap things up best they can in episode 10. And now that I’ve seen said episode, with the very knowing title “Loose Ends,” it definitely feels like folks desperately trying to put as nice a bow on things as they could while not necessarily preventing continuation of any of the plotlines. Okay, one or two things were a little cliffhanger-y, but what can you do. One final curiosity is the inclusion of a post-credits scene, setting up a conflict for a second season that will never come. No, it’s not Arcane, but you can probably hie yourself hither to the YouTubes and see that scene yourself. It is, at least to me, an unexpected payoff to a character we’ve seen all season. Didn’t think they were going to go for it, but go for it they did.

But that’s as far as it’s going, and it’s too bad. Maybe a little more of the craziness from that final scene may have goosed the series along to survival, if the show’s survival did indeed depend on positive response (whether from viewers or highers-up at Warner Bros.). Like I said, both just above and in the last time I wrote too much about this show, they seemed to plow through Swamp Thing’s evolution from “man become monster” to “nope, just the monster, sorry” with all those cool elemental powers Moore gave him once he was on the comic. With the first season devoted to Swamp Thing accepting his place and his power, the “origin” was effectively over and maybe we could have moved on to just straight-up swamp monster adventure.

I half-joked on the Twitters about a SWAMP THING SEASON TWO comic book, and I would kinda like to see that just to get an idea of what the producers of the show had in mind. I think I read somewhere they had ideas for the next couple of seasons, and if those were presented in comic form, I think that would be interesting.

I mean, it would have been nice to see their idea for Abby’s uncle Arcane, Swamp Thing’s arch-nemesis, beyond that shadowy dream-figure I assumed was him from a past episode. In my last post on the show, I noted that it totally looked like they were going to introduce Arcane via Matt Cable’s car crash, the same way the character was re-introduced in the comics, but nope, big ol’ red herring for comic nerds such as myself. Ah, well, that’s probably all for the best.

So, Swamp Thing…a pretty good show, not a great show, but better than expected and certainly lots of potential for future installments. A shame it ended.

I will note that the DC Universe talk/news show DC Daily did finally start explicitly referring to the end of the series, with even some lamenting that they’re not going to see certain things before the show’s conclusion. I’m not sure they’re going to say anything about why the show is ending, not just because no one else seems to quite know, but I wouldn’t expect a DC promotional program to do that anyway. Probably we’ll get a “sad to see it end,” and that’s it, which is probably as much as we can expect, and rightfully os given the nature of the venue.

I’ll probably have to think a bit if I’m going to get into more specifics about what worked and what didn’t about the show (like getting into the whole Blue Devil thing and the superfluity thereof). Maybe next time. In the meantime…bon voyage, Swampy…better luck in your next live action incarnation. Maybe on DC’s Legends of Tomorrow…c’mon, why not.

Of course I bring “The Death of Superman” into this.

§ July 29th, 2019 § Filed under swamp thing, television § 2 Comments

[SPOILERS ahead for Swamp Thing episode 9, “The Anatomy Lesson”]


So we get a whole lotta stuff goin’ on in the ninth (and penultimate) episode of DC Universe’s streaming Swamp Thing series. Titled “The Anatomy Lesson,” it is very loosely based on the classic Alan Moore/Steve Bissette/John Totleben story of the same name, in which Everything Is Changed and Nothing Will Ever Be The Same.

And, well, that was the case in the comics, least until the whole “Brightest Day”/New 52 stuff happened. That was the story where we learned that Swamp Thing wasn’t a transformed Alec Holland at all, but rather plant life, affected by Holland’s formula, that absorbed his memories and molded itself into a humanoid appearance. All these years thinking he was a human being and seeking a cure for his condition, only to find out there is no cure, this is what he always will be…it was quite the shocking change to the status quo after the then-12 years of this character’s existence.

This is what happens in this episode as well. Swamp Thing, after being brought down in the previous installment (by being frozen, not shot through the head as in the comic, so they missed out on one of the great cliffhangers in funnybook history) is dragged into a secret facility for Dr. Woodrue to examine. Yes, it’s still Woodrue…not the former Justice League “Floronic Man” villain like in the original, but still a Woodrue, cutting Swampy apart in delightfully gross fashion.

In the comic, we learn of the odd nature of Swamp Thing’s inner workings (lungs that don’t process air, a heart that doesn’t beat) as commentary from Woodrue as he’s rooting (heh) though the inert corpse. The TV show makes it…well, weirder, by having Swamp Thing awake, restrained by bonds and a magical Kryptonite-esque light that apparently weakens him somehow. As such, Woodrue tells Swampy to his face just what he’s finding during his biopsy, cutting and slicing into the body as Swampy groans in agony.

Like I said, it’s weird and gross and that’s all fine. But it does pale in comparison to the original on a few points. First, like the various media adaptations of “The Death of Superman,” Superman isn’t really away long enough for the impact of the supposed “death” to really be felt. He was goine in the comics for a while…the Superman series themselves were even briefly suspended. While the comic fans never really believed Superman was dead, the way it played out in the comics couldn’t help but make some small, irrational part of you think “…but what if he is?” The actual physical presentation of the story, with several months of Superman comics without a Superman, and even a brief time without Superman comics, made you feel that loss. Compare to the adaptations, where he dies and comes back in the same film, or he dies and comes back in the very next film…the latter being a slightly better translation of the loss, but still not really the same since it’s not like there were a bunch of Superman movies put out in between where Superman was just dead and buried.

That’s a lot of set-up for my rather minor analogy, in that TV Swamp Thing hadn’t really been around long enough, that we hadn’t really spent enough time invested in his and Abby’s search for a cure, for the Shocking Revelation to have anywhere close to the same impact. I mean, I get it, they probably wanted to get that out of way early so they didn’t spend the next couple of seasons explaining why Alec just didn’t go with Abby to a friendly clinic somewhere to help him. But that reveal hits a lot harder after over a decade’s worth of stories he was a Scientist What Was Done in by Science and trying to find a way out.

And just to say again, leaving out the bit from the comics where Swamp Thing is shot through the head and you’re left to wonder “hokey smokes how’s Alec getting out of this one?” ’til the next issue was a real missed opportunity. I so wanted to hear this iteration of Woodrue declare “you can’t kill a vegetable by shooting it through the head.”

The other big difference is that, since Swamp Thing was never “killed” in the show, we don’t get the comic’s cool revival scene where he grows back, fresh and new, after Woodrue disables the freezer where his body was being kept. And of course we don’t get the reason for that freezer shutdown, which is Woodrue’s elaborate plan to kill his “benefactor,” Avery Sunderland. No screaming Swampy chasing Sunderland through the corriders of his gleaming building, and no final kill. I’m sure they wanted Sunderland around for future seasons of the TV show, which is a moot point now.

A couple of other notes about this episode:

  • Blue Devil finally appears! It’s brief, and Dan Cassidy apparently can change (unwillingly) from human form to Blue Devil form (iinstead of being a dude magically stuck in his costume, which would have made for an interesting comparison to Swampy). Let’s see how this plays out in the future (“checks notes”) one episode.

    However I suggested on the Twitterers that maybe they can replace the Swamp Thing show with a Blue Devil show, and have Swamp Thing’s plots transfer over to that for continuation. DC is free to use my brilliant idea.

  • Another Marty Pasko-era supporting character turns up, this time Dennis Barclay as a doctor from a mental health institution. No connection to Liz Tremayne, like in the comics, but who knows? Probably not us, ever.
  • As a payoff to the “you were never Alec Holland” plot, we do get a reenactment of this cover to issue #28:


    …as Swamp Thing hauls Holland’s corpse out of the murky waters. Another version of this same cover was used in promotional material, but with Swampy holding a more skeletal body, like in the original, versus the slightly more enfleshed one we see in the episode. Anyway, it was nice to see this classic Swamp Pietà actually used in the narrative.

  • The big thing in this episode is that Officer Matt Cable gets in a car wreck…which, if you’ve read your Swamp Thing, like I knoq I have, then you know this is what leads to the return of Anton Arcane, Swamp Thing’s arch-enemy. Arcane, escaped from Hell following his death in his last match-up with our mossy hero, possesses Cable’s body and and wreaks some havoc, as is his wont.

    Of course, we haven’t had that Arcane in the series yet (despite all my crazy talk last time), though we may have seen him in that nightmare/flashback/vision thingie Abby had a few episodes ago…a cloaked figure obscured by the darknbess dragging Abby through the swamp. Now, in the TV show, that Arcane may also be long dead and could come back in Cable’s body, or some other ghost or dark spirit from the swamp could take him over. I don’t know, it’s all speculation, but we’ll see what they do with it next week. And only next week.

And that’s almost that. Unless some miracle happens, or a rich benefactor with the initials “M.S.” donates a hefty sum to Warner Bros. with the caveat that more episodes of Swamp Thing get produced, we’re just about at the end of the line. It looks like we have a few pretty significant plot developments that will have to get tied up next time, probably not in a terribly satisfactory fashion…but it was nice having a reasonably well-done Swamp Thing TV show while it lasted. But perhaps I’ll save the eulogy for next time…though I suppose I’ve been eulogizing it since the start.

Mostly I’m just mad we don’t have that much more Jennifer Beals as Sheriff Cable to enjoy.

§ July 15th, 2019 § Filed under swamp thing, television § 1 Comment

[some SPOILERS for Swamp Thing episode 7, “Brilliant Disguise”]


So the weird thing about watching the Swamp Thing TV show for a longtime fan of the character like me, aside from the fact that there’s even a halfway faithful Swamp Thing TV show in the first place, is the way it mixes elements of the character from all across its history. Having the Conclave and Nathan Ellery (pictured above) from the original issue #1, in the same episode as the “hallucinogenic plant stuff lets Abby see Swamp Thing as Alec (from #34 of the second series) and all that Rot hoohar from the New 52…it’s just strange not having to wait for all this to gradually accumulate over decades. But then again, the show only has thre episodes left, they got a lot to squeeze in.

Oh, and yes, Avery Sunderland is there, too, as I mentioned when I covered a previous episode. Still a businessman, still involved in, y’know, bad stuff around the town while keeping up a positive public face…anyway, he gets shot out in the swamp for various plot reasons I won’t get into, and as he drags himself to shore, it appears he’s being taken over by whatever evil force has been lurking out in those dark waters and I’m pretty sure this is how we’re getting our Arcane for the series. Okay, he’s not really an actual Arcane, but he and his wife did take Abby in as a child and raised her, so I guess he’s kinda like her uncle now, if you kind of squint a bit? Oh, and the New 52 version of Arcane is tied into the Rot, which is, as previously noted, part of the TV show, whihc makes me think that we’re getting our Arcane-equivalent this way.

A customer asked me the other day if I liked the Swamp Thing show, and I said “yeah, it’s good,” and he was like “oh, I figured you were such a big fan of the character you’d be a purist about it,” and I was all “nah, they got the tone right, the specifics don’t have to be exact.” And I think I found my limit. I’m hoping we’re not seeing Sunderland’s origin as “Arcane.” Would not be a big fan of that.

Now, a couple of episodes back, there was a dream sequence where Abby, imagining her greateest fear, pictured some mysterious shadowed man dragging her off and, without going back to rewatch, I’m pretty sure it was implied this was someone she knew. I thought maybe that was foreshadowing an eventual Arcane appearance, sometime in Season Tw–oh, right. I mean, who knows…maybe that Arcane somehow is the dark force lurking in the swamp, and is possessing Sunderland’s body via the Rot, and thus will actually be Abby’s Uncle Arcane. …So welcome to Mike’s Fanfiction Corner, everybody.

I am trying to enjoy the show for what it is, and honestly, I do. But the part of my brain that contains the last five decades of Swamp Thing comics keeps pushing for certain things to happen. I want Arcane and his Un-Men. I want that alien from issue #9. I was Nathan Ellery controlling a big ol’ robot monster, oh, and also have a pet monkey. I want Chester Williams. …I’m grateful, and frankly amazed, at what we did get (again, pictured above, Nathan Ellery) that knowing the end is near for the show makes me sad for all the stuff we could have had but now won’t. Oh well.

And your DC Daily Update: I think one of the panelists on the show may have made a very, very slight reference to the Swamp Thing program’s impending ending. Nothing explicit, but a soft acknowledgement that maybe we don’t have that much more Swamp Thing to enjoy. I am really curious as to how it’s going to be addressed on the channel’s official “up with DC!” promotional outlet. I know I keep bringing it up, but I’m fascinated by this, and feel a bit for the panelists for eventually having to sell this cancellation as, well, maybe not a good thing, but perhaps not all that bad? We’ll see.

At the very least, we need the full on Blue Devil action we deserve.

§ July 1st, 2019 § Filed under swamp thing, television § 8 Comments


So in episode 5 of DC Universe’s Swamp Thing, we get a character I certainly didn’t expect to see in live action in my lifetime…though to be fair, the last few years have been filled with plenty of instances of “didn’t expect to see that character in live action.” But here we are, with a somewhat more down-to-earth Phantom Stranger, though still with the hat and medallion, popping up in our favorite TV show about a hideous muck monster. (You can see a snippet on the YouTubers here 0 yes, I said “YouTubers.”) It looks like, at least in this episode, he’s taking up the John Constantine role, as he shows up in the show to help Swamp Thing understand some of his new abilities.

As much as I love seeing the Stranger appear (complete with Roy Orbison’s “In Dreams” playing on his boat radio, for that additional DC mystery comic/ reference to Neil Gaiman’s Sandman goodness), it just adds to the frustration. I wrote about it at length last time I typed excessively about the show, but knowing there’s an premature end fast approaching leaves bit of a bad taste, as getting to see all these characters and situations play out over time is absolutely out of the question. I’ll enjoy what we get, I suppose, but it’s simply going to stand as a big ol’ lost opportunity.

Just so I’m not completely down about this episode, I will note that we got a lot of clear shots of the Swamp Thing get-up, and it does look quite nice. I’m glad they remembered Swamp Thing’s red eyes. It all certainly looks a lot better than the “soggy diaper that leaks” look of the costume in that first Swamp Thing movies in the early ’80s. I’ll even give this new costume the edge over Swampy’s look in the second film, mostly because of the “red eyes” thing.

Last Monday, on the service’s DC Daily talk/news show, they ran a graphic listing topics for episodes later in the week, and for Friday they had listed “MAD ABOUT SWAMP THING.” “Whoa,” I thought or at least saying I though for ease of describing my general non-verbal feeling at the time, “I wonder if the DC Daily show is going to address the whole ‘Swampy Got Canned’ sitch.” Given that the program is a promotional tool for the DC Universe service, and for DC publications, movies and other TV shows, it seemed unlikely we were going to see any hard-hitting investigative journalism regarding the abrupt cancellation. But still, that “MAD ABOUT SWAMP THING” title had me wondering.

Well, okay, as it turned out, it was folks from Mad Magazine riffing on Saga of the Swamp Thing #29, the first part of the “Arcane Returns” storyline, so it had nothing to do wtih the TV show at all. But I do wonder…you’d think eventually the show’s ending would have to be addressed, somehow. I just wonder how they’re going to do it while still maintaining a positive spin on the whole endeavor…or if maybe episode 10 rolls around, and the DC Daily is all “that was great! Can’t wait to see where it goes from here!” and just straight up never mention it again. It’s a tricky thing to handle, and it has me honestly curious about how they would go about approaching an admittedly difficult topic. …I still think just calling it a “mini-series” is still a good idea.

I realize the phrase “following up on my Swamp Thing post” doesn’t exactly narrow things down.

§ June 14th, 2019 § Filed under does mike ever shut up, sterling silver comics, swamp thing, undergrounds § 1 Comment

Following up on my Swamp Thing post, I should note that there are further reports about what may or may not have happened regarding the show’s cancellation. First it was “somebody messed up the tax credit,” then it was “they weren’t getting enough tax credit,” and now it’s “powers-that-be thought the show was a stinker and cut their losses.” The show’s getting plenty of good reviews now, but it’s probably too late for them to change their minds. Anyway, I have no idea what the full, real story is, but in the meantime, one of the My Little Ponies, a “community manager” at DC Universe, tries to keep things upbeat, as is the way of said ponies.

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More Swampy follow-up: after noting here and discussing further here that DC’s digital versions of certain Swamp Thing issues feature incomplete artwork or missing captions, BobH asked if the same problem was still in the print edtion. And yes, after getting Swamp Thing Book One TPB back in stock, I was able to check and…the color-hold image is missing from the reprint of #21, and the “and meet the sky” caption is still missing from the end of #24. Don’t worry, everyone, I’m sure they’ll have this fixed by ther time Swamp Thing Season Two shows up on DC Universe.

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Hey, look at this thing that showed up in a collection on Thursday:


And here’s the back cover, because why not:


I immediately recognized this as an Ods Bodkins book, featuring the work of Dan O’Neill, but quickly realized it was one I already had, albiet in the diffeof trent edition. It was, in fact the first edition, from 1969, of Hear The Sound of My Feet Walking..Drown The Sound of My Voice Talking. I discussed the book, or at least my edition of same, a couple of times on the site, including way super-early on, back when people read blogs. And I brought it up again a mere 12 years later when I decided my site needed a nice big scan of the cover.

It’s quite a bit larger than my copy (it’s about the size of one of those treasury edition comics) and there appears to be a page half covers in red ink. Not “oopsie we splashed some red ink on this page,” but literally “here, have a giant solid block of red for just that one page for some reason.” I’ll need to take a closer look and see what’s up with that…or just straight up keep the book, since I love “Ods Bodkins.” …Yes, I’m the guy.

• • •

So about the Will Eisner “Spirit of Comics Retailing” award my shop was nominated for…well, you can read the whole tragic tale here on my store’s Facebook page. If you eschew Facebook, and if so I salute you, the short version is: got the paperwork a while back, decided to hold off dealing iwth it ’til my eyes were a bit better, checked the due date, waited a bit, eyes are reasonably better, got out the paperwork again, realized I misread or misremembered the due date and now it’s too late to enter. Well, great.

On the other hand, if I tried to complete the paperwork and take the necessary photos and make the necessary video for the award application on time, I would have had to done with eyes that on a good day were barely adequate for my regular day-to-day stuff, and occasionally completely obscured leaving me with hardly any vision at all. So, let’s call this a “mixed blessing,” and should someone make the horrible mistake of nominating me again next year, hopefully my eyes will be back in business for good and I can give the award whatever attention I can manage.

And like I said in my Facebook post…my eyes are finally getting better. Both eyes. At the same time. Not “one eye’s mostly okay, the other completely blind” or anything like that. This is the first time I’ve had reasonable, though still a bit to go, vision in both eyes at the same time in over a year. Barring any more surprise sets (crossing my fingers ande my corneas) everything should be good sooner rather than later. Yes, I realize I’m jinxing it.

I can’t really call myself an “Eisner nominee” since I won’t be in the running, but it’s nice that someone thought well enough about me to throw my name into the hat. I’m not the biggest or most media-present store out there, but I am a guy who likes to sell comics, has a store full of them, and has done this for a long time. That I still get to do it is certainly an award in and of itself.

• • •

Don’t forget…I’m still taking your funnybook-related questions and post topics! I’ll probably start on them next, so be sure to tune in on your Internet Radio Box for that.

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