I started reading Swamp Thing from the very beginning... sort of. When I was a kid, I liked superhero comics and not much else (no western, no war, etc.). I also gravitated toward Marvel, so Swamp Thing had two strikes against it right out of the gate (to mix a metaphor or two). I remember seeing titles such as Swamp Thing and Kamandi on the spinner racks but not giving them a second look (or even a first). Even when I walked into a comic book shop for the first time in my life several years later, it took some time for me to overcome my preconceived notions regarding such titles as Daredevil (Frank Miller's) and Swamp Thing (Alan Moore's). Then, in 1986, DC released the Roots of the Swamp Thing reprint series and i started at the very beginning (#1) if not exactly from the very beginning (1972). 

Skip ahead 15 years. I'm now married. My new bride is not wholly unfamiliar with comic books and is willing to read more. I recommended a list of 8 or 10 of my favorites (including the Wein/Wrightson and the Moore/Bisette/Totleben runs of Swamp Thing), most of which she read. I had tens of thousands of comics in my collection at that time, enough to keep us busy reading and discussing for years. But she became interested in comics I didn't have, such as the post-Moore Swamp Thing as well as the complete run of Fables (which I myself still have not read). We spent the next however-many-it-was months collecting backissues of Swamp Thing plus I added those two titles to my pull & hold. 

At this point Tracy has read literally hundreds more issues of Swamp Thing than I have. We don't have every issue (she finally lost interest after the "New 52"), but we have quite a few. Ironically,  it was "Brightest Day" which reignited my own interest, so some of the more recent issues she has not read. I like to "prorate" the cost of my comics by a) reading them multiple times, or b) giving them to my wife to read. We get the best value from those comic we both read multiple times. To that end, we have decided to work our way through every issue we own from 1972 to 2018.

We recently led a discussion through every issue/series in Terry Moore's "SiP-verse" but, if we complete it, this project is more than twice as long. We invite you along for the ride. 

Wein/Wrightson - p1

Nestor Redondo - p2

The "Mopee Thing" - p3

Miscellaneous - p4

Martin Pasko - p5

Alan Moore - p8

Rick Veitch - p25

Doug Wheeler - p31

Nancy Collins - p33

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Two at least

I've heard it "Rahs"... "Rays"... "Raish"...

ISSUE #74:

The past several issues (ever since Swamp Thing refused to kill the Sprout, really) have been building toward a "synchronicity storm." In his astral form, Swamp thing takes the "Swamp Knucker" (his opponent from last issue) to Mars and strands him there. He returns to Earth just in time to save Constantine from being beaten to death by two thugs. He's still in a bad way, though. Swamp Thing contacts Constantine's subconscious mind and learns a little about what he knows and how he does what he does. 

Meanwhile, Roy Raymond's limo crashes right in front of Abby on her way to the swamp with Sprout's "chaoplasmic form" (not an unlikely coincidence; it's all part of the synchronicity storm). Raymond has lost his mind and his assistant is moments away from drowning in their own waste (yuck). There bodies will be found by the same two cops who found Matt Cable's back in #31 (see page 10 of this discussion). Wild Thing emerges from the car and begins to pursue Abby into the swamp. Swamp Thing arrives just in time to save Abby. He destroys Wild Thing and the four members of the the Parliament of Trees' "committee" emerge; Swamp Thing had bonded them to the elemental they tried to create. They exchange information. The synchronicity storm is leading to some sort of worldwide catastrophe which cannot be averted at this point. Swamp Thing sends Abby away so that he can do what he should have done earlier: kill the Sprout in hope of alleviating the effects of the coming disaster. She walks away but he does not kill the Sprout. 

At this point, the limo is as disgusting as you can imagine. Roy and his assistant had a fight so Roy's face-lift has melted. His mind has snapped so he thinks he is talking to Edge on a broken phone.

Those poor rural cops. They need a new beat. 

"When the CCA was established, one of the results was apparently to avoid the use of the word 'Flick' so that the wording would not run together."

...and then there are these guys.

And thus, the world was made safe from comics adaptations of My Friend Flicka.

ISSUE #75:

Last issue I was left with the (mistaken) impression that Swamp thing had changed his mind about killing the Sprout. As this issue opens, Abby comes upon them just as the one is about to consume the other. Abby suggests that Swamp Thing  increase his thinking capacity simply by "growing a larger brain." (There more to it that that, but that's essentially what he does.) This is a highly philosophical issue, another one told with experimental page layouts. Much of the middle section, in which Swamp Think considers the Earth and humanity's role on it, is told in a series of two-panel pages. The panel on the left (which takes up about 1/3 of the page) depicts a literal account of what is happening to the Swamp Thing's body has his "brain" grows and evolves. The other 2/3 of the page is more abstract, more symbolic. Ultimately, he learns what  his truth of "Duality" means.

Eventually, Abby takes an ax and chops the top of his head free of the trunk that is growing out of it. We learn that he has been in this trance for a month and a half. It's hard for him to relate what was so clear to him only a moment ago, but the solution involves Abby having his baby. The story continues into Hellblazer #9, which I'm going to have to skip because I don't have that chapter. (I wish I'd've known I'd need it yesterday when I went to my LCS; it's probably in stock.)

I just noticed the title change: "Swamp Think." Heh.

I wasn't reading these issues back in 1988 as I have mentioned, but I was reading a lot of other DC comics. I've been enjoying reading the old editorials. looking at the old ads and whatnot. This issue, for whatever reason (possibly to accommodate the art...?) all of the ads were pushed to the back. That's where I prefer to see them (and where I'm most likely to look at them). This issue has back-to-back full page ads for: the Swamp Thing #76/Hellblazer #9 crossover, and new series Animal Man, The New Guardians, Who's Who Update '88, Batman: The Cult, Tailgunner Jo and V for Vendetta. There is also an ad for four of the 1988 Annuals.

Abby chopped off his brain growth right above his forehead, leaving him with a weird crew cut for the rest of the issue. It was bizarre but interesting enough that I remembered the huge brain and the flat top. 

The story of Sprout is rolling along. 

Jeff of Earth-J said:

ISSUE #75:

Last issue I was left with the (mistaken) impression that Swamp thing had changed his mind about killing the Sprout. As this issue opens, Abby comes upon them just as the one is about to consume the other. Abby suggests that Swamp Thing  increase his thinking capacity simply by "growing a larger brain." (There more to it that that, but that's essentially what he does.) This is a highly philosophical issue, another one told with experimental page layouts. Much of the middle section, in which Swamp Think considers the Earth and humanity's role on it, is told in a series of two-panel pages. The panel on the left (which takes up about 1/3 of the page) depicts a literal account of what is happening to the Swamp Thing's body has his "brain" grows and evolves. The other 2/3 of the page is more abstract, more symbolic. Ultimately, he learns what  his truth of "Duality" means.

Eventually, Abby takes an ax and chops the top of his head free of the trunk that is growing out of it. We learn that he has been in this trance for a month and a half. It's hard for him to relate what was so clear to him only a moment ago, but the solution involves Abby having his baby. The story continues into Hellblazer #9, which I'm going to have to skip because I don't have that chapter. (I wish I'd've known I'd need it yesterday when I went to my LCS; it's probably in stock.)

ISSUE #76:

(The title means "Adoration of the Earth.")

The issue opens with the Phantom Stranger and Etrigan the Demon discussing the impending crisis. As the story proper begins, Swamp thing is taking over Constantine's body. (I may have to look for Hellblazer #9 next week after all.) Liz has finished writing a book, and she and Chester have started having sex. A stack of bills for Matt's care arrives but Abby, thinking it's a "computer error" of some sort (because, up until now, the DDI has been covering his medical expenses), throws them away. In Constantine's body, Swamp Thing sits next to Funky Flashman on a plane. [Note to Tracy: "Funky Flashman" was originally Jack Kirby's unflattering parody of Stan Lee.] He name-drops Maxwell Lord and Lex Luthor, and  suggests that they set up a fight between Swamp Thing and Darkseid. 

We briefly visit Anton Arcane in Hell. Abby goes to see Matt in the hospital to seek his permission for what she plans to do. His wedding ring falls from his emaciated finger when she picks up his hand, which she interprets as a sign. Back in the swamp, she and Swamp Thing (in Constantine's body) have sex and she becomes impregnated with the essence of the Sprout. The Phantom Stranger and the Demon (as well as Anton Arcane) witness the event. If it occurs to you they their use of Contantine's body essentially amounts to rape, I don't think they're too concerned about it. Abby hates Constantine, for one thing, but he has to be the one she has sex with because reasons. And Swamp Thing, while in control of Contantine's body, got an undisclosed tattoo in an undisclosed location. He has was looks like a sailboat on his bum, but that may just be a birthmark. He was completely naked but Abby didn't notice it, so I wonder what it was...?

From here the story continues back into Hellblazer #10, and from there to Swamp Thing Annual #4.

ANNUAL #4:

This self-contained done-in-one presents Swamp Thing's fifth encounter with the Dark Knight Detective. It is written, unexpectedly, by Stephen Bissette and penciled by Pat Broderick. Some sort of airborne fungus is infecting the people of Gotham city, causing them to climb as high as they can before bursting and spreading the fluffy whatever-it-is across the city. In sheer desperation, Batman goes to Arkham Asylum to consult with the Floronic Man, but he has recently become one of the New Guardians. He then talks to Poison Ivy (because he can't think of anything else to do), but she is unable t help him, either. He goes to police headquarter to inform Commissioner Gordon of his intention to seek out the Swamp Thing in Louisiana based on no evidence whatsoever. It is Harvey Bullock who does the only real detective work in this story, tracing these periodic fungal spreads back to the 18th century. All Batman really manages to do is get himself infected, which Swamp Thing has to cure. 

This story reminds me of a certain species of spider which migrates across Texas every five years. They travel via floating webs. I've never seen any of the actual spiders, but the webs are everywhere. Annual #4 also has a backup story, also written by Bissette, about Gen Labo, the traiteur (i.e., medicine man,  folk shaman, healer) we have seen from time-to-time. In this story, he chooses his successor, a 12-year-old boy named Etienne. 

Amazing how many DC projects in 1988 didn’t have Batman in them. What were they thinking?

Jeff of Earth-J said:

I just noticed the title change: "Swamp Think." Heh.

I wasn't reading these issues back in 1988 as I have mentioned, but I was reading a lot of other DC comics. I've been enjoying reading the old editorials. looking at the old ads and whatnot. This issue, for whatever reason (possibly to accommodate the art...?) all of the ads were pushed to the back. That's where I prefer to see them (and where I'm most likely to look at them). This issue has back-to-back full page ads for: the Swamp Thing #76/Hellblazer #9 crossover, and new series Animal Man, The New Guardians, Who's Who Update '88, Batman: The Cult, Tailgunner Jo and V for Vendetta. There is also an ad for four of the 1988 Annuals.

ISSUE #77:

This issue is guest-written by Jamie Delano and guest-penciled by Tom Mandrake. Delano was best known (by me at the time) for taking over Captain Britain from Alan Moore and for Hellblazer. I really came to appreciate Mandrake during in run on GrimJack, but his pencils are so overpowered by Alfredo Alcala's inks here the pencil art could have been anyone's. (To be fair, a strong inker on an ongoing series provides consistency.) This issue's story (and the tpb collecting #77-81) is titled "Infernal Triangles," and triangle imagery and symbolism are featured through out. For example, the issue opens with Abby trying to solve a little metal puzzle of interlocking triangles; some of the layouts are interlocking triangles as well; plus, thematically, the story revolves around the "triangle" involving Swamp Thing, Abby and Constantine.

Swamp Thing and Abby are going through a rough patch in their relationship since the conception of the new Elemental. What should have brought them closer together has instead driven them further apart. Abby hooks up with Constantine (but not in a sexual sense), and the next day the three of them work through their conflict. Also, Constantine solves the puzzle Abby and Swamp Thing were both unable to. We also learn that the tattoo on Constantine's bum (which I thought was a sailboat) is actually a tree.

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