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

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ISSUE #48:

The title of this issue is "A Murder of Crows" which is also the title of the tpb which collects #43-50. The title has double meaning in that it reflects both the crows Constantine sees at the outset as well as Judith's ultimate fate. Constantine and his crew assemble outside the Brujeria's stronghold in Chile, but Benjamin and Sister Anne Marie didn't show. Swamp Thing arrives bedecked in even more elaborate flora than when he was in Brazil. (Constantine refers to himself as Swamp thing's "manager," which brings to mind several connotations, to all of which Alec would object.) We already know what happened to Sister Anne-Marie, and we are soon to discover the fate of Ben. Also there are Frank and Judith, but Judith ends up being the traitor who betrayed their cause. 

Once Judith's treachery is revealed, Constantine points out that women are not allowed in the Brujeria and that they will kill her in the end. She maintains that certain women are allowed to become messengers, and that they have promised to transform her into a bird. As it turns out, they are both right. Her transformation is truly horrific, and probably not what she had in mind. (For those of you not reading along, that's the Invunche on the cover, with its head twisted around and its right hand sewn into its back.) Swamp Thing opts to save Constantine rather than to stop Judith's transformation (Frank is now dead, killed by Judith), and she flies off to complete her mission.

Meanwhile, the incriminating photos have been published in the newspaper and Abby has been arrested as a sex offender.

And everything hits the fan.

(As an aside, I would love to see an "epic" storyline like this where the villain never manages to put his or her plan into "unstoppable" motion. For instance, if Alevc had been able to save Constantine AND prevent Judith's transformation. Oh well.)

I do find it interesting that the Brujeria anticipated interference from a plant elemental. That puts them many steps ahead of most supervillains. 

Given Constantine's connections (as we'll see later), most of whom likely wouldn't take much convincing to join in, one wonders why he didn't have more alliesprepared. One also wonders whh he wasn't better prepared for cave exploration. A back up flashlight would have been a big help. 

If I had to choose a single issue to call a dry run for the Hellbrazer series, it would be this one. Judith's fate in this issue is perhaps the most clear indication of the tone, and at this point Constantine is fairly well developed.  We realize that deep down he tries hard to balance cynicism, despair and hope pretty much all the ime.

Judith's going to the trouble of bringing in Frank's severed head and dumping it in front of Constantine evoked for me an identical scene in Apocalypse Now. Having previously said that she was thrown out by Cox's mother, Judith reveals that she actually killed them both.

The odd phrase "a murder of crows," meaning a gathering of them is similar to another odd phrase, "a parliament of owls," also meaning a gathering of them. So, Parliament of Trees also has a double meaning, as a gathering and as a governing body.

ISSUE #49:

Judith as a bird flies off on its mission to summon the forces of evil, but Constantine and the Swamp Thing escape the Brujeria to assemble a defense of their own. It would be a disservice to the story to list only the play-by-play, however that's exactly what I'm going to do. They split up so that Constantine can contact Earthly allies and Swamp Thing can contact those beyond Constantine's reach. Constantine gathers Baron Winter, Sargon, Zatanna and Zatara; Swamp Thing Deadman, Phantom Stranger, Spectre and Demon. In addition, the Judith/bird is seen by Dr. Fate, Dr. Occult, Cain & Abel and the "Demons Three" (Abnegazar, Rath & Ghast).

As a side note, I'm not too familiar with Baron Winter,  who headed up a group called Night Force in the '80s. the team was revived in late 2011, preceded by a 100-page reprint of the team's first three issues. It reunited Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan, who brought us Marvel's Tomb of Dracula. I bought and read the Night Force reprint for the opportunity to see Colan's art on nice, slick paper. (Come to think of it, I'm not all that familiar with Sargon the Sorcerer, either, except for CoIE). 

The gathering of the heroes.

I'm amused by the Spectre's arrogance. It reminds me of a certain Prince of Saiyans. 

Constantine blatantly lying to Steve Dayton about how dangerous this would be is classic Constantine. 

Vegeta as the Spectre? Now, there's an interesting image!

Randy Jackson said:

The gathering of the heroes.

I'm amused by the Spectre's arrogance. It reminds me of a certain Prince of Saiyans. 

Constantine blatantly lying to Steve Dayton about how dangerous this would be is classic Constantine. 

"Constantine blatantly lying to Steve Dayton about how dangerous this would be is classic Constantine."

I also liked the way Constantine played the egos of Baron Winter and Sargon the Sorcerer off against each other.

I will be the legendary Super Wrath of God! 

The Baron said:

Vegeta as the Spectre? Now, there's an interesting image!

Randy Jackson said:

The gathering of the heroes.

I'm amused by the Spectre's arrogance. It reminds me of a certain Prince of Saiyans. 

Constantine blatantly lying to Steve Dayton about how dangerous this would be is classic Constantine. 

SARGON THE SORCERER possessed the Ruby of Life that gave the power to control anything he touched. He was also a stage magician like Mandrake and Zatara. He had a Doiby Dickles-type sidekick in Maximilian O'Leary. He was in All American Comics from #26 (My'41) to #75 (My'48) with appearances in Comic Cavalcade and Sensation Comics

When he was revived, it was as a villain in Flash #186 (Ma'69) and #207 (Ju'71)! But he returned to the light in Justice League of America #98 (My'72) where he became an honorary member! After some reprints, he seemingly turned corrupt again and battled Wonder Woman in Adventure Comics #462 (Ap'79) where she freed him from the influence of the Ruby of Life. He was the "Whatever Happened To..." feature in the landmark DC Comics Presents #26 (O'80), the first appearance of the New Teen Titans where he battled the Matter Master.

The Turbaned Troubleshooter reappeared in Justice League of America #219-220 (O-N'83) in the infamous Black Canary retcon story where it was revealed that he was originally from Earth-Two. That tied into his guest shot in All Star Squadron #28 (D'83) which linked his Ruby of Life to the Spectre's Ring of Life. After that it was just group shots for him there.

This all led to his Swamp Thing appearances where a good time was had by all!

HAW! HAW! HAW!

Randy Jackson said:

I will be the legendary Super Wrath of God! 

The Baron said:

Vegeta as the Spectre? Now, there's an interesting image!

Randy Jackson said:

The gathering of the heroes.

I'm amused by the Spectre's arrogance. It reminds me of a certain Prince of Saiyans. 

Constantine blatantly lying to Steve Dayton about how dangerous this would be is classic Constantine. 

My side notes on a great story.

I enjoyed the banter between Constantine and Zatanna. And their kiss was epic.

I was amused that as drastically as Judith was changed, she still had a remnant of her mohawk. 

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