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 #148: The niece of Sargon the Sorcerer, recently returned from the dead, is on a quest to return his ruby to him. Weird and disturbing things happen along the way. Lady Jane and Odin gear up for a battle between the P. of T.s and the P. of Stones. (Col. Strong is their avatar.) Eh. 

I think I erased all these issues from my mental hard drive.

ISSUE #149: In Peru, Blake and the Hooded Man play poker while Don Roberto and Odin talk about it. In Germany, Sargon treats his niece to dinner, declares that he is Jesus Christ and performs a Satanic rite. Swamp thing arrives to do battle. (It occurs to me that Sargon is the character alluded to a couple of blurbs back.) Ugh. 

ISSUE #150: I can't even. 

No, I started this... I've got to finish it. 

Let's see... Sargon has caused a magical tree to grow from the underworld to the gates of heaven and damned souls are climbing up it. Swamp Thing's body has been badly burned, but he dare not enter the Green to grow a new one lest the P. of T.s retaliate somehow. Sargon's niece begs Swamp Thing for help, so he does grow a new body, triggering the Parliament of Stones to send their new avatar, the "Earth Thing," Nelson Strong, after him. (Odin is at Stonehenge, BTW.) In Peru, Blake and the Hooded Man (or "The Word," whatever) continue to play cards. All Blake needs to do is win one hand out of three, but he loses three in a row. Somehow Blake manages to bluff the "Hooded Word" by inviting him to look inside his mind. He retreats, vowing to return in two years' time.

Meanwhile, Swamp thing finds a way to defeat the Earth Thing without the Green. Then he uses his elemental powers to cleanse the tree. No sooner has he seemingly defeated the P. of T.s than he he forcibly sucked into the Green against his will, emerging in "The Melt" next to Odin, who informs him that he has won the first of four challenges, the Earth challenge. His body is now "a marriage between root and rock." Odin ushers him into the presence of the real P. of T.s, who decree him to be the elemental of Earth, not just the Green. Blah, blah, blah. Next he will have to face the Parliament of Waves.  Back in Peru, Odin joins Blake and Roberto. He now has Sargon's Ruby of Life. Sargon somewhere underground, said to have achieved "Illumination."

On the letters page, Mark Millar addresses the readers. He explains that this is the end of the first arc (of four), the Earth segment. Next up is the eight-part Water segment. Oh goody. this is a good point for me to take a break while Tracy catches up (she tends to do that on Sundays). Me, I'll take this opportunity too read Aztec Ace

ISSUES #146 - 150 Everything with Alec's delirium and pain, separation from the Green, and the battle with the champion of the P. of Stones is concluded. Swamp Thing returns to his swamp, happy thinking Abby and Tefé are doing well. Does he not remember fighting with her, stalking her to the desert, having Lady Jane take Tefé away? Or remember the mass murder of his friends? Next up is the Wave on Swamp Thing's journey to become a more well-rounded Elemental for Earth.

I have not read so many other comic book titles that I can have an accurate opinion. However, it seems to me that Swamp Thing has too many other characters meddling in his story. No one likes to be manipulated. One imagines that wouldn't play well to an Earth God. 

Jeff of Earth-J said:

I can't even. 

No, I started this... I've got to finish it. 

Sorry... I had to take a week off after that.

Although I'm sure I must have read things written by Mark Millar in the past, his stories have never made an impression on me one way or another... until now. I have often said, about Grant Morrison, that I suspect much of the weirdness he throws into his stories is for weirdness' sake alone. I have a similar theory about Mark Millar: I think many of the details he adds are for the shock value alone, the grossness. Me, I find it boring. I decided to handle the next storyline in one post.

ISSUES #151-158: "RIVER RUN"

In issue #151 Swamp Thing encounters the ghost of a drowned comic book writer named Anna. She has left a collection of short stories unfinished, and is now trapped in her own unpublished stories, which are set along the course of the Mississippi River (hence the title). Anna believes what each story needs is the Swamp Thing to resolve it, so this issue serves as an introduction to the next six as Swamp thing is "inserted" into each of the stories in turn. A surprise character in this issue is "Casey the Cop" from the earliest days of National.

But I'll tell you something: the key word in the phrase "willing suspension of disbelief" is willing. It is not entirely clear (at least it wasn't to me until the second story) what exactly is going on. If "City of the Dead" (#152) was the first story in her collection, why was Swamp Thing already in it? (Actually, he wasn't; the story changed at the point he entered.) I spent most of the the first part just trying to figure out the format.

The second story in the collection, "Twilight of the Gods" (#153) takes place in a reality in which Germany won World War II. (There was no Nazi President of the United States, at least not as of 1995.) In this alternate reality tale, Swamp Thing becomes the Golem which brings about the fall of the Reich. (One interesting aspect of the story is that English culture mirrors the Japanese culture of our reality due to Germany dropping the atomic bomb on London to win the war.) 

In "The Bad Seed" (#154), Anton and Anna Arcane have settled down on a farm in Iowa and invite Abby to leave her castle and live with them after her father dies. "The Secret of Slaughter Swamp" (#155) reimagines Cyrus Gold (Solomon Grundy) as a pedophile/rapist/murderer, the first of many murderers who dumped bodies in the swamp over the decades. Green Lantern is reimagined as Black Box. "Darker Genesis" (#156) is exactly what you should suspect at this point: a darker version of Alec Holland's story. In this version, Anna is Alec and Linda's daughter. These three issues are chock full of shock value for the sake of grossness. 

"Sink or Swim" (#157) is Anna's own story. In "Parliament of Waves" (#158) Swamp Thing learns that Anna herself is a "stillborn wave elemental" and, in order for her soul to pass on, Swamp Thing has to take on the responsibilities of the wave elemental. Anna herself was unaware she was a wave elemental, just as Swamp Thing thought he was Alec Holland for many years, which explains why Anna's stories revealed so many details of Alec Holland's life (because the Parliament of Waves were feeding them to her). They tell him that there is also a Parliament of Vapors and a Parliament of Flames.

Honestly, I found the "Parliament of Waves" section more satisfying than the "Parliament of Waves," but it was ultimately pointless, like when the (Sixth) Doctor was reunited with Jamie and Zoe after many years and it turned out [SPOILER] the entire story happened in the Land of Fiction. 

Maybe that's it, Millar writing for gross, shock value alone. Whatever it is, I'm not a fan. The Abby story in #154 flipped the story so that Gregory experimented and abused Abby while Arcane was a bland farmer. Abby is horrifying and there is a possessed scarecrow. Disgusting.

The Parliament of Waves unites with Swamp Thing in relative ease but tells him that humanity has no place in their plans. 

"Abby is horrifying and there is a possessed scarecrow."

Not to put too fine a point on it, but the "Patchwork Man" in this reality is the scarecrow in question, in which the spirit of Gregori Arcane is trapped and Abby repeatedly has sex with.

"I found the 'Parliament of Waves' section more satisfying than the 'Parliament of Waves'"

Make that, "I found the 'Parliament of Waves' section more satisfying than the 'Parliament of Stones'."

ISSUE #159: A young boy comes home to discover his parents have sold his beloved dog (to a bizarre food club who plan to eat it, but he doesn't know that). A year later, the dog comes to him in a dream, he goes out looking for it and is kidnapped by the same club who plan to eat him. As it happens, one of the Swamp Thing's discarded heads is the salad course, and the boy is the main course. Suddenly, inexplicably, the head is possessed by the spirit of the dog. It transforms into the shape of a dog, kills all the diners and saves the boy. the final twist is that the boy's parents sold him to the club as well.

Grant Morrison's cat Jarmarra dies and he gives us Animal Man #26; Mark Millar's dog Scooby dies and he gives us this.

Revolting...but it Swamp Thing wants to abandon his family and become the Earth elemetal, uniting all the Parliaments, he should definitely get a swamp dog sidekick. 

Jeff of Earth-J said:

ISSUE #159: A young boy comes home to discover his parents have sold his beloved dog (to a bizarre food club who plan to eat it, but he doesn't know that). A year later, the dog comes to him in a dream, he goes out looking for it and is kidnapped by the same club who plan to eat him. As it happens, one of the Swamp Thing's discarded heads is the salad course, and the boy is the main course. Suddenly, inexplicably, the head is possessed by the spirit of the dog. It transforms into the shape of a dog, kills all the diners and saves the boy. the final twist is that the boy's parents sold him to the club as well.

Grant Morrison's cat Jarmarra dies and he gives us Animal Man #26; Mark Millar's dog Scooby dies and he gives us this.

Who's a good boy?

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