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 #142: Alec Holland rides a Downbound Train and meets the Norse God Odin, who tells him that the P. of T. stripped Swamp Thing's humanity from him. The train becomes a roller coaster in a video game (?). Two shadowy figures watch. He returns to reality (?) to find the aftermath of his alter ego's rampage in the swamp. Meanwhile, Abby is driving across the desert into Arizona. When she stops for gas, she doesn't notice a familiar growth on her bumper. As she drives, she inagines she hears "Alec's" voice calling to her. That night she stops at a motel. The growth is gone from her bumper, a full-size "Swamp Thing" accosts her as she approaches her room. "AAAA-BEEEEEE"
ISSUE #143: The issue opens with "Alec" on a payphone in a big city. I don't know who he's talking to (Don Reynard?), but whoever it is assures him, "Don't worry, Abby's a very capable woman... I'm sure she'll be okay." He runs off without hanging up the receiver.
Abby has a lengthy fight with the "Swamp Thing" and somehow manages to escape.
In Peru, Michael, Ann and Lawrence are feeling powerfully sleepy. Don Roberto then puts three "voodoo dolls" in a bag saying, "Your work is done, little ones. Now rest. Rest in your sack till I need you again." He is meeting with the two shadowy individuals from #142, one of whom is Señor Blake and the other is apparently Odin. They speak of the Parliament of Trees and the Parliament of Stones. "If Holland does not survive this first of the initiations," says Roberto, "then he is not the one." Odin asks, "Could we not have given him some hint as to what is is to happen?" to which Blake responds, "If he knew what was to happen, his heart would freeze over. The Ordeal of the Bleeding Tree awaits him in Germany."
By this point, Abby is far off road in the middle of the Arizona desert. "Swamp Thing" attacks but "Alec" appears just in time to save her. Perhaps the most unbelievable thing this issue is how quickly "Alec" drove across Texas and New Mexico and caught up with her when Abby was already in Arizona. (Just ask Tracy, who has made that round trip (from Texas) by car three times in the past year.) As the two struggle, Abby douses them with gasoline and sets them afire. The the traditional Swamp Thing grows from a rose Abby just happened to be carrying with her. She dumps him, apparently for good, then sets out walking across the desert, even though I don't think her car was damaged in the battle.
In Frieberg, Germany, a Mr. Koestler, who has been comatose for eight years, gets up out of bed and runs down the hall. He affixes a towel to his head like a turban and says, "Ah. That's much better."
In England, some sort of demon thing appears at Stonehenge (the "Parliament of Stones") with a message from the P. of T.: "The Swamp Thing fears the wrath of the green and will soon be traveling east, seeking sanctuary in the shade of the Black Forest. He has passed the first stage of his ordeal and will shortly be entering the realm of the Parliament of Stones. We trust that you will take care of matters from here."
I can appreciate that the new writer wants to take the title in a new direction, but this is the kind of "creativity" that really turns me off: multi-colored Hulks, and the "League of Rainbow Lanterns" and whatnot. I don't know who has been responsible for what so far, but as #143 is Grant Morrison's last issue as co-writer, this looks like a good point to stop for the day to let it all sink in before resuming with Mark Millar's solo run tomorrow.
Let me focus in on something in this issue. Morrison and Millar leave the bayou and slaughter Labo's entire village. Friends. Allies. Protectors. Abby's midwife. Chester's healer.
It is a total betrayal.
Jeff of Earth-J said:
ISSUE #141: In the swamp, Gene LaBostrie is attacked by the creature that looks like Swamp Thing. It then attacks his little settlement and kills a dog, then begins to slaughter the people. Labo arrives to defend his family but is apparently beaten to death by the creature.
In New Orleans, Abby receives a phone call, apparently from Tefé (?), who warns her that Swamp Thing is now "two daddies" and one is on its way to kill her (Abby). Reynard just thinks Abby is off her meds. On the news, they see reports of "a young new-age couple" who have been brutally murdered. Abby flees in the car to keep Don safe.
Back in Peru, Holland visits the shaman, Don Roberto, again. Roberto tells him he dreamed of a white-haired woman who was running for her life and screaming for Alec. Back at the lab, Holland takes leave of his colleagues (Michael, Ann and Lawrence, for the record), and sets out for America on foot. He arrives in a bar. the only one there who will talk to him introduces himself as "El Señor Blake," who speaks cryptically of a "soul train." A plant/insect grows out of Holland's palm and flies away. A dream-like train pulls into a dream-like station and Holland boards.
I should also mention that the series' new regular penciler is Phil Hester.
I think that when a different established writer (as above) or a writer imported from TV wants to change a comic so radically and murder half of the characters they should instead create their own series and their own characters.
The slaughter of Labo's village (64 Cajuns according to #144) makes me wonder whether this was Morrison's call or Millar's. Coincidentally, Grant Morrison's Animal Man Omnibus shipped yesterday, and I am reminded of what happened to Buddy Baker's family in #19 of that series... and how it was resolved in #26.
ISSUE #144: The story begins in new York City, 1975. A Catholic priest volunteers for a magic act at a church fundraiser and disappears. The magician was actually an Earth-bound demon known as a "retriever," whose job it was "to locate a pivotal force of good in a deprived community and remove him."
In the present day, Swamp Thing arrives in NYC is a duplicate of Matt Cable's body. (He still needs to trim the leaves and moss that grow from his skin.) He is out of money but needs to get to Germany. He calls Alec Holland's mother-in-law to borrow some, but the nurses in the home where she lives suspect a scam and won't let him speak to her. He goes to the church where Alec and Linda were married which is, coincidentally, the same church where the priest vanished 15 years earlier. Also, coincidentally, he happens to be there the same night the priest is allowed out of Hell for one hours.
the priest just happens to have $800 in his pocket from the night of the fundraiser, which he gives to Swamp Thing. Then the retriever-demon shows up to usher Father Kelly back to Hell. He explains that Kelly was granted an hour on Earth only to compound his torment. Then he gives "Matt" the business card of a sex worker named "Linda Holland" who is based in Amsterdam. Meanwhile, the Feds have called in a specialist named Nelson Strong to deal with Swamp Thing (because of Labo's village).
Nelson Strong is not a new character, but he is a pretty obscure one.
I was curious about that. One of the "next issue" blurbs (maybe the one from #143?) said something about one of DC's oldest characters and I was wondering if it was him.
Here is the cover and a story synopsis of the one-and-only previous appearance of Nelson Strong
Thanks for the link.
"The story 'Adventurers' Club...' is reprinted in Wrath of the Spectre #1"
Ha! I've got that!
(I don't know what "blurb" I was thinking of; I can't fin it now.)
I started by reading the only previously existing "Nelson Strong" story as reprinted in Wrath of the Spectre! #1. It's no wonder I didn't remember it. Strong appears only in the framing sequence (two pages) and his only function is to listen to someone else's story. Apparently this was intended to be a monthly feature because he says, "I conduct these interviews every month... all you have to do to get in on them is purchase a copy of this magazine!" As it turned out, even that wouldn't have helped. Strong is pretty much a tabula rasa for Millar to do with anything thing he wants.
ISSUE #145: In the swamp, Strong realizes Swamp Thing has given him the slip. At JFK airport, several passengers and crew of a flight to Germany are introduced. In the men's room, "Matt Cable" fusses with his appearance and frets over the sex worker named Linda Holland. (Why? I don't know. He has seen Linda in the afterlife and seen her choose to be reincarnated. He knows the hooker isn't she; it's just a coincidence.) Deadman possesses the body of the security agent and warns "Matt" that the Black Forest is a trap. After Swamp thing boards, Odin appears and threatens Deadman.
Back in the U.S., Strong relates his origin to "Haney" (his butler, I guess). Strong's quarters are decorated with stuffed figures of a number of "monsters" from the Silver Age. His story isn't all that interesting; basically he ate some mushrooms on a dare and hallucinated he saw a seven-foot-tall "green man."
The P. of T.s manifests aboard the plane via a plate of Brussels sprouts and causes it to crash in Holland. From the ground, Odin looks on, holding a "lucky charm" that belonged to one of the stews. Colonel Strong gets word and is on his way. This is the point at which Tracy stopped (temporarily).
ISSUE #146: "Linda Holland" is working as a very specialized hooker in Amsterdam. She is immortal and, for 50 krona, her Johns can kill her as violently as they like. she bears the scars of every time she has been killed. "Matt" makes his way to her and introduces himself as "Alec Holland." In a panel based on the cover to House of Secrets #92, "Linda" responds, "You can't be Alec. That's impossible. Alec died in a fire nearly twenty years ago... [He] burned to death in a car accident. He died with that white-haired waitress he left me for." They kiss and he leaves. There's a lot more that takes place in this district, but it wasn't very fun or entertaining to read. It was like reading the "Cereal Convention" issues of Sandman, but that one at least had a point. I'm hoping this one will.
"Linda" is revealed to be a construct of Odin's, Swamp Thing loses control of himself in a bar, and Col. Strong catches up to him. "I've got you, you bastard!" he says. "After fifty long years... I've got you now!"
Oh. Fifty years since the mushroom hallucination. Nevermind.
ISSUE #147: This issue begins at a suburban home in Stamford, CT in 1951. Jim Corrigan knocks on the door and a pregnant Alice Holland answers. He turns into the Spectre and warns her to terminate the pregnancy because "Fifty years hence, your son will arise and destroy the world."
Back in the bar in Amsterdam, Col. Strong attacks Swamp thing with a flame thrower. Then the troops he commands rush in and douse him with defoliant. He staggers out into the path of an oncoming light rail train, then Strong hits him with the flame thrower again.
In Peru, Don Roberto converses with El Señor Blake. Blake speaks of the "Hooded Man" and Roberto says the Spectre has no jurisdiction over Elemental matters, but Blake is referring to "The Word." Outside, a hooded man carrying a large book stands.
Back in Holland, the flaming Swamp Thing douses himself in the canal. He climbs out and is frozen into a block of ice by Strong and his men. The Colonel orders a chainsaw so he can claim his prize, the Swamp Thing's head, but the Swamp Thing is able to kill all Strong's men but not Strong (for some reason). A man is stopped on the Dutch border and his truck is searched. He says, "A super-villain killed a friend of mine a few years back. He was in the United states on holiday, and some bastard dropped a hotel on him. I hope you find this punk, I really do."
Back in the U.S. (already?), a "Major North" delivers a package to Mister Haney (Strong's butler), who explains the space on the wall is reserved for "the greatest monster of them all." He opens the package and it is North's mounted head. "I believe it's what he would have wanted," says Haney. the the story flashes back to England in 1945 as a young Nelson Strong comes down from his mushroom trip. In Peru, present day (I guess), the "Hooded Man" slams his book shut and goes to play some sort of "game" with El Señor Blake.
I'm really not liking this new direction.