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
Grant Morrison & Mark Millar - p37
Mark Millar - p38
ISSUE #130: Swamp Thing makes his way home shanks' mare, through Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Tennessee, hallucinating (and causing general mayhem) as he goes. Lady Jane attempts to level with Abby about the duplicate and the P. of T.s' ultimatum, but it is Abby and Swamp Thing's anniversary and she is being wooed by the duplicate. Dr. Polygon's profane experiments proceed apace. The non-sentient lifeforms created by Tefé go to war. Swamp Thing collapses and is found by a group of... leprechauns? This issue includes a pin-up by Kelley Jones.
ISSUE #131: The "leprechauns" are the "Tuatha de Daanan" (the Children of Danu) and refer to themselves as "The Folk," so I guess they're Fairies. Auntie Mave cures the Swamp Thing, although his outer form is vastly changed. By the time he returns to the bayou, two weeks have passed. He first encounters Labo, but Labo doesn't know him. He then comes upon Tefé, but she doesn't recognize him either. She runs to tell Lady Jane. Swamp Thing tries to explain to Abby, but she doesn't believe him and calls for "Alec." The duplicate appears but refutes Swamp Thing's story. There's a-gonna be a fight. Structurally, this is a rare issue with no sub-plots.
ISSUE #132: No, the duplicate didn't actually dispute what Swamp Thing said, he simply maintains that the "true" Swamp Thing abdicated his rights to be with his family by accepting a mission from the P. of T.s. The being I have been referring to as the "duplicate" is actually a different aspect of the Swamp Thing's self, the part which values family, much like Captain Kirk's "Enemy Within." Their fight is somewhat reminiscent of v1 #20.
Meanwhile, Barron (whose first name has finally been revealed to be Ben) and Mrs. Stanley from CPS contact Officer Rawls of the Houma police department to serve papers to Abby to have Tefé removed from her custody pending a hearing in family court. Rawls is very much against this action, but he has no choice but to accompany them while they serve the papers.
Elsewhere, the effects of the Swamp Things' battle are being felt around the world: Poison Ivy in Gotham City; Black Orchid and the Floronic Man in New York; Constantine in London. Closer to home, Tefé's creations are being affected and the lettuce on Chester's former neighbor Lester Boudreaux grows in this throat and chokes him to death. In the swamp, the flora attacks the trio serving the papers and Mrs. Stanley is killed.
Swamp Thing defeats and reabsorbs his doppleganger. Lady Jane says I told you so. Abby slaps her husband and runs back to the ouse in anger, where Mr. Barron and Officer Rawls are waiting to take Tefé away. Just then they are attacked by one of Tefé's flower creatures grown to giant size.
Swamp Thing makes his way home shanks' mare, through Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Tennessee
In my old age I still learn new expressions.
Old expression, actually. ;)
ISSUE #133: Tefé's cration "thinks" of itself as "Thunder Petal, King of the Daisies." By page three it has killed Ben Barron (just after he was given a first name, too!). (With both the social worker and the politician dead, I wonder if that's the end of the CPS sub-plot?) Swamp Thing and Lady Jane are at first unaware of "Thunder Petal's" rampage. (I wonder, also, where the relationship between Swamp thing and Lady Jane is headed?) Back at the Sunderland corporate HQ, Dr. Polygon provides a phonetic transcript of the spell Connie Sunderland must recite to bring her dead father back to "life" (or reanimate his corpse, anyway). The procedure is "successful" (IOW, it works).
Swamp thing is unable to defeat Thunder Petal. Lady Jane suggests letting Tefé take care of it, which she does. ("Bad flower!") Back in Houma, Chester is moving out of his place. Jo-Jo, Carl and Troy are helping him. He will be staying with Carl and Troy in New Orleans. He had hoped to see Abby one last time before he left. Then she arrives, finally fed up with her husband, and asks, "Do you have room for one more?"
Pin-up by Paul Chadwick.
ISSUE #134: Swamp Thing finally realizes Abby is missing. Jo-Jo tells him where to find her. Carl (an architect) and Troy (a troubleshooter for a computer consulting firm) have rented the top two floors of an apartment building. Chester has the attic and Abby will be sharing his space. Swamp Thing arrives and they have an awkward and uncomfortable argument in from of Chester. Abby slaps he husband and cuts her hand on one of his thorns. He eventually agrees to leave. Abby and Chester share an intimate kiss, but Abby rebukes him and he goes off to sleep on the couch.
At Sunderland HQ, Connie's father still looks like a corpse, but is otherwise recovered from being dead and in cryogenic suspension (not to mention Hell) for the last five years. He wants "complete and utter control of bioengineering" and wants to use Dr. Polygon as a test subject.
Abby begins looking for a job and is turned away from place after place. She settles for waitress in a club where the "uniform" is lingerie. Her very first customer is is John Constantine. "Hello, ducks," he quips. "Does the hubby know you're workin' outside the home?" He's sitting with a man I don't recognize who is dressed in old style clothing.
ISSUE #135: Swamp Thing has gone catatonic again, just as he did after "Anatomy Lesson."
Abby gets in a tiff with Constantine and walks off the job. Before she leaves, Constantine's companion introduces himself as Donatien Alphonse Reynard. "But call me Don. Please."
Connie's mother drops in unexpectedly at Sunderland HQ. Connie reintroduces her to her dead husband, but then is called away. "Bubbles" immediately realizes that he is not her husband (and I must admit I had completely forgotten the foreshadowing from the end of #125). "Carlton Sunderland" is revealed to be Arcane in Sunderland's body. Her husband is dead and she promises to see that he stays that way. Later, in her limo, a swarm of flies or locusts or whatever comes flying out of the A/C, causing the driver to lose control and swerve into an oncoming semi. Exit Bubbles Sunderland.
That night, "Don" shows up at Chester's with flowers for Abby and asks her out for drinks. She accepts and he offers her a job. He is an art collector and needs someone to catalog his acquisitions (he says. I don't trust him). She accepts. Later, he expresses an interest in her to Constantine.
At Sunderland, Arcane drugs and experiments of Dr. Polygon.
Lady Jane attempts to contact Swamp Thing and they "commune" in the Green.
"Carlton Sunderland" is revealed to be Arcane in Sunderland's body.
It's like they're purposely trying to upset Tracy.
I passed your comment along to Tracy. She laughed.
ISSUE #136: Swamp Thing and Lady Jane spend most of this issue copulating in The Green, pretty much ignoring Tefé. The point is made that, other than with Abby, Swamp Thing is pretty much sexually inexperienced. In parallel, despite her marriage to Matt, so is Abby. Abby goes on a date with Don but it is interrupted by an aggressive reporter. She asks Don to take her home, where they are met by police officer there to arrest her "as an accomplice to the first degree murder of Benjamin Barron, for failure to comply with the Family Court of the State of Louisiana concerning the surrender of [her] daughter, Tefé, to the proper authorities." Before the officer can arrest her, however, she is kidnapped by one of Arcane's un-men under the command of the now-altered Dr. Polygon.
Don contacts Constantine and, the next morning, they both go to the swamp when they find Swamp Thing and Lady Jane still engaging in their boink-fest. Constantine and Don tell Swamp Thing and Lady Jane about the arrest warrant and the CPS orders and the kidnapping, and Swamp Thing and Lady Jane suddenly realize that they've left Tefé unsupervised all night. (May she should be taken away from them, at that.) Lady Jane finds her, but Tefé has inexplicably begun to transform into an elemental; her hair is turning green and her facial structure has altered to resemble her father's.
Meanwhile, "Sutherland" confronts Abby and reveals his true identity.
ANNUAL #7: Back in 1993, the Vertigo annuals combined between two bookended specials to tell the seven-part "Children's Crusade." The other annuals included Black Orchid, Animal Man, Doom Patrol and Arcana. At the time, I was reading only Animal Man. I dutifully bought and read Animal Man Annual #1, but the only thing I remember about it after nearly 30 years was that I didn't care for it. (Not surprising, it being a middle chapter of a seven-part story.)
Swamp Thing Annual #7 takes place between pages six and twenty-one of #136 and tells what Tefé was up to while her father and nanny were off frolicking in The Green. In a land called Free Country, Tefé meets Maxine Baker, Animal Man's daughter. Tefé is just a toddler, so the instigator of the action is Maxine. Annual #7 can be read as a standalone, but is really an interruption of the story being told in the main title. Apparently (according to Maxine), Tefé's physical changes are due to her being separated from The Green.
ISSUE #137: Picking right up where #136 left off, Arcane threatens Abby. Connie interrupts. she cannot understand what "her father" wants wit this woman. Connie is a real "daddy's girl" and we are shown flashbacks to her unhappy childhood. Also, details of Dr. Polygon's past are revealed. Polygon, now a hideously deformed un-man, has the hots for Abby. Connie threatens Abby with a scalpel, but "Daddy"/Arcane smacks her around.
Meanwhile, back in the swamp... Arcane (as Sunderland) mystically appears before Swamp Thing, Lady Jane, Tefé, Constantine and Reynard. Swamp Thing immediately recognizes Arcane for who he is. Arcane demands that Tefé be delivered to him for Abby's life, otherwise Abby will become "bride of the un-men." Swamp thing can travel through The Green, but Tefé's ability to do so is iffy. Reynard offers his private jet. Without even having been introduced to him, Swamp Thing accepts.
Skipping ahead a bit, Constantine, Reynard and Tefé arrive at Sunderland using the front entrance. Swamp Thing and Lady Jane enter via The Green. Arcane is guarded by Polygon and his un-men: standoff. Arcane has a cloned fetus which he wants Tefé to artificially grow to adulthood so that he may inhabit it. If she does so, the Arcane will give Abby back. Swamp Thing agrees, but only if he can see Abby first. Abby is ushered in wearing a wedding dress and veil. Swamp thing whispers in Tefé's ear and she grows the fetus to manhood. Arcane transfers his consciousness to it, and Sunderland's body collapses. He then explains to Connie that he was never her dad, that Sunderland is still in Hell. Swamp Thing draws back Abby's veil to reveal that the left side of her body has been mutated into "un-man" form.
ISSUE #138: An all-out battle erupts. I'm not sure when Sunderland's head became separated from its body, but Connie walks away with it in her arms to set the building's self-destruct mechanism. She is attacked by one of the un-men, but saved by Dr. Polygon. She refers to him as "brave, loyal Polygon" and allows him to call her "Connie" for the first time.
Back at the fray, Arcane causes Swamp thing's body to explode with insects. the his own body begins to age. It is Tefé's doing. His belly begins to grow and Swamp Thing, in his classic form, comes bursting out. But simply destroying his host body did not defeat Arcane, who transforms back into a giant insect. He attempts to take over Constantine's body, but the use of his powers draws the attention of two angels who take him into custody and return him to Hell. It is then the building explodes.
All of the good guys escape, and Tefé restores Abby's body. Seeing Tefé for the first time since her transformation, Abby rejects her and rejects Swamp Thing, too, going off with Reynard. His family has enough clout to get the charges against her dropped, and he promises to take care of her. Realizing that she is at the limite of her endurance, Swamp Thing agrees.
Back in the Swamp later, Lady Jane asserts that Tefé is not human. Also, because of their love-making, "there will be repercusions... both inside and outside the gree... for months to come... both foreseen and unexpected." If she remains, she runs the risk of being permanently tainted. she must return to The Green rather than continue to pretend to be human. what's more, she's taking Tefé with her. All previous elementals were created fully grown, but Tefé is unique and requires rigorous training. Tefé says goodbye and they both disappear into the green, leaving their remains behind.
This is Nancy Collins' last issue.
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