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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Not to intrude but I'm not sure if you two know that THE PATCHWORK MAN had a solo story in House of Secrets #140 (Ma'76) by Gerry Conway and Nestor Redondo. It was supposed to be an ongoing series but HoS got cancelled. Weird thing was that it came back five months later without the Patchwork Man! 

"Not to intrude but I'm not sure if you two know that THE PATCHWORK MAN had a solo story in House of Secrets #140 (Ma'76) by Gerry Conway and Nestor Redondo."

No intrusion! I'm glad you brought it up or I would have missed it. Actually, I didn't know about this story until 2019 when I bought The Bronze Age House of Secrets Omnibus v2. I flipped through it, noted the "Patchwork Man" story, then forgot about it. I just read it for the first time now, though.

Cover-dated Feb/Mar '76 makes it concurrent with Swamp Thing #21. (Tracy will be pleased to discover that not one but two footnotes point to Swamp Thing #3.) It's too bad this obvious tryout never went on to become a series... or not a Patchwork Man series, anyway. Conway put in some time developing a supporting cast and underlying subplots (including abortion, I was mildly surprised to discover); he even had a title for the next story. I'm sure this story will add poignancy to the story of Abby's father when Alan Moore brings him back in v2 #59. I don't remember whether that story took place in America or Europe, but House of Secrets #140 relocates the former Gregori Arcane to Manhattan.

There was an ad for House of Secrets #140 in a lot of books from that period. 

I actually actively hunted for it as a back issue when I was in high school and have it in my collection.

I would have liked this to become a series. Let the writer deal with the problems and morality of experimenting on biological oddities. Let's explore the choices a working woman has in 1976. I particularly don't like the discussion between Darleen and Andy. Andy, her co-worker, loves her but she is separated from her husband. Does he offer support? A sympathetic ear? Nope. Only judgement and his point of view as right. I really would have liked to see this story have more substance, more than a few panels of character development. It's hard to judge it fairly otherwise.

One nice scene is when The Patchwork Man runs out of the lab and in front of a cab. The black driver immediately recognizes the fear in the creature and takes him home. There are assurances of no hospitals and no police. "Well, friend, I know about being scared." 

"Weird thing was that it came back five months later without the Patchwork Man!"

I'm not exactly certain which story you're referring to, Philip, but I went back to the HoS omnibus to look for it. I did find, tacked on at the very end, was a story by Conway and Redondo with the same title as mentioned in #140 listed as an unpublished story from #141 which did feature the Patchwork Man. The abortion subplot is advanced but not resolved; the cab driver sub-plot is resolved... but not, I'm going to guess, to Tracy's satisfaction, given what she said about #140.

She's reading it now. 

That's absolutely true. I'm mad at the writer's plot twist. 

Jeff of Earth-J said:

"Weird thing was that it came back five months later without the Patchwork Man!"

I'm not exactly certain which story you're referring to, Philip, but I went back to the HoS omnibus to look for it. I did find, tacked on at the very end, was a story by Conway and Redondo with the same title as mentioned in #140 listed as an unpublished story from #141 which did feature the Patchwork Man. The abortion subplot is advanced but not resolved; the cab driver sub-plot is resolved... but not, I'm going to guess, to Tracy's satisfaction, given what she said about #140.

She's reading it now. 

Sorry, I meant that the book itself House of Secrets returned five months later with #141(S'76) but did not continue the Patchwork Man series.

I'm not 100% sure but I think that the "Patch" story for #141 was published in Europe.

Oh, I thought you were referring to the storyline... and I thought the "cancellation" you were referring to was #154. The House of Secrets omni v2 goes all the way up to #154, BTW, so the two "Bronze Age" omnis complete the series. House of Mystery went on for a while yet (#321). There are two Bronze Age HoM volumes available already, with a third (reprinting #227-254) on the way (solicited for November 2022 release).

"I'm mad at the writer's plot twist."

One thing you can say about Tracy: she doesn't post spoilers. :P

House of Mystery always was considered the more prestigious title than House of Secrets despite Swamp Thing's debut there. HoM had 100 Pagers, became a Dollar Comic and gained some extra years with its "I...Vampire" series.

"I'm not 100% sure but I think that the "Patch" story for #141 was published in Europe."

I wonder if the reason it didn't see print in the U.S. had anything to do with that abortion subplot? (Yes, #140's  story had that subplot, but the CCA was nothing if not inconsistent.) Come to think of it, I can't think of a single comic book story from the '70s or '80s that featured abortion as a central element. Can anyone else think of one?

MARTIN PASKO:

It was in the midst of Alan Moore's run that I first started reading Swamp Thing. As was so often the case in those days, I would often discover an ongoing series I enjoyed and "collect backwards." I soon collected backwards to #20 (Moore's first issue) and, shortly after that, #16 (Steve Bisette and John Totleben's). Then, just for the helluvit, because the issues where so inexpensive and readily available, I collected all the way back to #1 of Saga of the Swamp Thing. (This is also when I scored the first annual which I just read for the first time.) I wasn't particularly interested in reading the early issues at that time. As a matter of record, I never did read the actual periodicals I bought that day. I eventually read those stories in 2017 via the omnibus. This is my second time through them.

I am not overly familiar with the comic book work of writer Martin Pasko. I know him primarily through this series, and the wrong-headed version of E-Man he did for First Comics in the '80s. Artist Thomas Yeates first came to my attention for the work he did at Eclipse Comics, also in the '80s. All of which brings me up to...

ISSUE #1:

"Something stirs here. Beneath the dark, limpid waters of the great dismal, the stirring is sudden and violent--in stark contrast to the water's gentle flow. These are tidewaters here in this North Carolina swamp. Not stagnant. Their sweetness is only slightly bittered by detritus and decay. And when that are disturbed by something alien and nameless, something that stinks of brackishness and slime, its presence is keenly felt. the natives flee. Something stirs here... and emerges. The creature men call the Swamp Thing.

"It rises to its full, towering height in the shallow water, and the splash echoes. Fluttering duck wings, switch cane stalks snapping under bear and bobcat paws--the last sounds of hasty retreat have dies out. It is quiet here again. But the monster's single misshapen ear rings still, with private noise. The soundless clamor of confusion, the mute protest of pain."

Okay, so far so good. Although this series opens in North Carolina rather than Florida (where v1 #19 left him), I'm prepared to say that everything from v1 #20 up to v2 #1 is non-canon. Swamp Thing is just outside the Limbo, NC when he is drawn to a pier on the shore of Albermarle sound several miles south of town by the sound of a gunshot. He arrives just in time to save a little girl, about seven years old, from being shot by her father, who has just killed his wife, her mother. A scuffle ensures and the man accidentally shoots himself. the girl cannot speak, but Swamp Thing somehow knows her name is Casey. 

Back in town, Dr. Harry Kay checks in to the local inn. His grey hair is too long and he wears green-tinted shades. He is looking for Swamp Thing and reports over the telephone to a man called "Mr. G." He has finished the analysis of a tissue sample and has confirmed their initial conclusion, that Alec Holland is dying.

Outside, a hot-rodding teenage struck the Swamp Thing as he and Casey were walking through town. This attracts a mob who refer to her as "the Clancey kid" and, when they see who she's with, conclude that the rumors are true, that she's a "witch-child," and form a mob.

We also learn that a woman named Lizabeth Tremayne has written a book titled Swamp Man: Fact or Myth?

I should also mention that Swamp Thing is slightly more "verbose" in this series than he has been. 

Martin Pasko was a fan and frequent letter writer, "Pesky Pasko", who actually achieved all our dreams to write comic books. He became one of Julius Schwartz's regulars on the Superman titles and was wrote the Doctor Fate issue of 1st Issue Special. He wrote for several TV series including Batman: The Animated Series.

He passed away in 2020. 

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