Bringing Swamp Ass Back Since 1985
Well folks, I’m back. Again. Been a minute, hasn’t it? Of course, there’s my usual rambling cavalcade of excuses and vague explanation (I love all of you out there reading these stupid things, but not enough to let all of you in on the inner workings of what remains of my personal life), but we’re going to skip all of that this time around. It’s pretty much the same shit as usual anyways. Instead, I’m just gonna go ahead and let you all know the handful of things that are going to change in this series. For one: Sadly, I’m gonna be dropping off on the list of suggestions I already had. I’m sure like, two people are going to be very sad about that, but as much as I would love to finish the list, I doubt anyone really cares too much about a bunch of nearly a year old picks for a series of articles that no one really knew about beforehand. Instead of the suggestions, I’m going to start pulling from my own little list of characters again, like I was way back when. However, if anyone actually, you know, asks me to write about anything or anyone in particular, I’ll totally consider it, at the very least. As much as I enjoyed writing about what people wanted me to write about (I realize that might sound kind of snide, but it’s sincere, it felt good), it kind of tended to burn me out when it was a character I didn’t particularly have all that much interest in, and even with some characters that I love and care deeply about, I just didn’t have all that much to say about them (We all remember the Poison Ivy article, right?), so from here on out I’m going to try and be a bit more selective and see if that gets me anywhere.
Second, I’m going to be sticking to my schedule, for real this time. Not really much else to say there, but hey, maybe writing it down again is going to actually reinforce it in my head instead of letting me get swallowed up by whatever thing happens to me that week.
Lastly, I’m going to try and control these things a little more. As I got sloppier with my releases and whatnot on this series, I kind of let proofreading and actual quality just sort of fall by the wayside, and I’m really pissed off at myself for that, because with as little effort as I put into most things (Believe me, it’s the bare minimum with almost everything for me), I do care about these shitty clumps of loose information, and I’d like to be cranking out something that I’m actually proud of. This one’s probably not going to see too much obvious development up front beyond less typos and grammatical issues (Hopefully), but there might be some more drastic stuff later down the line, format changes and the like. And, like I said a couple articles ago, I am working on some very early stage concept stuff to branch out and be doing things besides this, but I’m not going to just try and spin a shitload of plates while my first real big project languishes in a stagnant pool of mediocrity. After all, how can I be expected to venture out and get good with other shit if I can’t even do my main thing well?
Oh, also, to the one person who brought it up a while ago, yes, I am going to try and make the default font on these bigger. I’m fully aware that it’s kind of a bitch and a half for some people to read this tiny font, and I’m going to find a solution. Honestly, I’m pretty sure it’s the site’s default font, and I might have to speak to the people holding the domain around here about that one, but I’ll triple check in case there was some super obvious font tool I missed.
Now, with all that out of the way (And if you skipped through most of that text wall, welcome! I don’t blame you!), holy shit, Swamp Thing! When I was turning over the idea of dropping the suggestions I was working on, this dude was the first name that would always pop into my head when I was thinking of who I would write about instead, for a couple reasons. Firstly, he’s quite possibly my favorite character in anything ever (Tying closely with Spider-Man for the top spot), and secondly, holy shit, this series is just about a year old, so why not get myself an anniversary gift of sorts by talking about one of the characters I’m most passionate about?
I could go on and on here about the big green goofus, but I’ve taken up enough space of my intro with melodrama, so let’s fake an education in comics!
Whoa shit, a new segment! Where’d that come from? Well, as some of you may remember me joking about a handful of times, the SCENARIO bit just sort of felt tired and redundant a couple articles in, so it either had to evolve or disappear and make room for… more article, I guess? Being a big sentimental baby like I am, I couldn’t just dump a part of the series, so I went with evolving it a little. So, here’s what’s replacing it, and it’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like; a short, condensed little bit of general trivia on the character in question. That way, if you hate everything about me and the way I write (Or just don’t like reading that much and just want to know about cool comic book characters), you can just read this little bit up here and bail on the rest of the column. Nifty, huh? By the by, depending on the character, there may or may not be spoilers in this section, but then again, that applies to the rest of the article, so… you know. Prioritize accordingly.
The Subject: Swamp Thing
Secret Identity: Dr. Alec Holland
Pop Culture Lifespan: 1972-Today, unless you count the reboot version separately, in which case 1972-2011, followed by 2011-Today.
Raditude: Completely bitchin’, and definitely the coolest plant-based character on the market anywhere.
Appearances Outside Comics: Two movies, a TV show, a cartoon, several cameos and mentions in other shows, and two minor roles in Justice League Dark and Justice League Action. Also, an NES game, an original GameBoy game, and several playable appearances in other DC affiliated games, the most widely popular of which being Lego Batman 3. A good deal of these things are pretty fucking awful, by the by, but the movies and live action show are just barely cheesy enough to be good fun for a night in with some friends.
Played by: Dick Durock (Proud owner of an amazing porn name), Ray Wise, (almost) Ron Perlman, and most notably in recent appearances, Mark “The One True Joker” Hamill.
Created by: Bernie Wrightson and Len Wein, although he was perfected by everybody’s favorite Snake Cultist/Surprisingly Good Rapper, Alan Moore.
Best Books: Saga of the Swamp Thing and, shockingly, his eponymous New 52 series by Scott Snyder, Jeff Lemire, Charles Soule, and all your favorite people in comics besides Grant Morrison and Warren Ellis. I mean, I’m sure there’s others, but I’ve already gone on long enough.
Favorite Cypress Hill Song: I have no idea when this could possibly come up, but it would obviously be Dr. Greenthumb, and if you disagree, I will personally fight you.
Who Can He Beat Up?: A good deal of the DCU, but not really on a Superman level or higher without other extenuating circumstances. However, being a true fan of comic books means being able to pull a way for your favorite character to beat up another comic character out of your ass at all times, so I’m sure you can come up with something to prove to your dickhead friend that Batman can’t win every fight.
When to Bring Him Up: When Swamp Thing is not the focus of any given conversation or piece of media, all involved should be asking “Where’s Swamp Thing?”.
There you go. I’m sure you get the idea.
Enter the Swamp
Swamp Thing first burst onto the scene of comic books in the November of 1972, and thereby creating the perfect ecological hero roughly a decade before Captain Planet was even a twinkle in a genius marketing executive’s eye. Deep within the swampland of Louisiana, a scientist named Alec Holland and his wife Linda were hard at work inventing a formula that would be able to theoretically solve world hunger by encouraging plant growth and restoring biological mass. Of course, because the one true universal law of comic book reality is that nothing is allowed to go right for anyone ever, two asshole mobsters knocked Alec out and bombed the lab, pretty much just to be colossal dickholes. Waking up during the blast, Alec was covered in equal amounts of fire and Bio Restorative Formula, causing him to make a mad dash for the life-saving waters of the swamp, ignoring the fact that swamps are more often where one goes to a dank, moist grave instead of refuge. Miraculously, the formula reacted with the plant life in the swamp, saving Alec’s life by bonding his form with what can generously be described as “a big pile of gross shit”. Reborn as the Swamp Thing, Alec began a crusade to regain his human form and avenge his own losses, traveling America like some sort of plant-hobo on a vague quest for justice, frequently clashing with Anton Arcane and the Un-Men.
Of course, this version of the character, while imminently interesting and certainly not without merit, is just sort of boring, especially in an era when the trope of “well-meaning scientist turns into a huge beast fueled by justice” had been done to death. Clearly, a shakeup was in order, and when you put everybody’s favorite snake cultist Alan Moore on a book, it’s going to get shook the fuck up. Rather than sticking to the original version of the character, Moore scooped up all the boring aspects of Swamp Thing and promptly dumped them in the garbage, filling the hole he had left with a truckload of Lovecraftian horror, existential philosophy, psychedelics, and probably at least a little bit of drugs. Ah, who am I kidding, a lot of LSD probably went into the making of this book, which of course means it’s goddamn amazing.
You see, in one of the very first issues of Alan Moore’s take on ‘ol Swampy, our hero promptly had his head blown off his body by gunfire. His big gross corpse was recovered by the Sunderland Corporation, who assigned Jason Woodrue (Better known as the Floronic Man these days) to perform an autopsy on Swamp Thing and hopefully discover the secrets of Alec Holland’s formula. Instead, Jason discovered something much, much more interesting: Swamp Thing was not Alec Holland. In fact, he had never been. Rather, Swamp Thing was simply a rather large collection of plant organisms that had been imprinted with Alec’s memories, and thus, believed themselves to truly be Alec Holland. Understandably, when Swamp Thing regenerated and discovered this information, he was less than enthused, flying into a rage and destroying much of the compound where he was held, as well as killing the head of the Sunderland corporation. Then he headed deep, deep into the swamps to ponder his existence, rooting himself like a tree and entering a trance, allowing his mind to reach out and search for truth, where Swamp Thing would first come into contact with the Green, which is basically the collective consciousness of all plant life in existence. Unfortunately, Jason had followed Swamp Thing and also made a connection to the Green, which drove him mad, forcing Big Green to awaken from his slumber and attempt to reason with him in order to stop Jason from waging a war on animal life.
Things continued to get real weird after this, especially when Swamp Thing became friends with Anton Arcane’s niece, Abby Cable, after teaming up with Etrigan the Demon in order to save her autistic students from Kamara, the Monkey-King. However, on the same night that Swamp Thing was saving her students, Abby’s alcoholic husband, Matthew, got into a serious car accident in a misguided attempt to drunk-drive his ass over to his wife and help her. The spirit of the recently deceased Anton Arcane offered Matthew a deal: he could either die here, or he could allow Anton to possess his body and continue to live. Matthew, being a bit of an idiot, took the deal, and Arcane began to pose as Abby’s husband for several weeks, which is not just creepy, but also pretty gross. Meanwhile, Swamp Thing made contact with Alec Holland’s spirit, who told Swampy where to find his corpse in order to give him a proper burial. Out of respect for the man who gave him life, Swamp Thing dredged up Alec’s bones from the bottom of the swamp where he was born and finally laid them to rest, allowing Alec to move on to the afterlife. Of course, since a nice thing had recently happened to someone, the Comic Book Universe needed to balance it out, and had Abby discover that her husband was actually just a meat puppet for her dead uncle. The shock of this rendered her catatonic, which gave Arcane ample opportunity to send Abby’s soul to Hell, because he is a massive chode. Swamp Thing was furious when he found out about this, and beat Arcane (And by extension, Matthew) into a big bloody sack of ground meat, giving Matthew enough time to oust Arcane from his mind. Unfortunately, this left Matthew in a coma, but Swamp Thing was more worried about Abby. Setting out on another spiritual journey, Swampy traveled to Hell to rescue her, teaming up with Etrigan once again to save Abby from both the legions of the damned and Anton Arcane. After a lengthy battle, Swamp Thing and Abby were finally reunited in the real world, where they confessed their love to each other. This was swiftly followed by Swamp Thing feeding Abby hallucinogenic mushrooms and fucking her, which both warned readers several decades in advance that Alan Moore loves gross sex scenes that either involve monsters or old people, and created some of the most gorgeous art in any comic book ever made. However, I’m not going to post any of it here, because I’m too much of a coward to wade through the Google results for “Swamp Thing sex scene”.
However, Swamp Thing and Abby were not destined to live a life of tranquility together, as fate threw perpetual bastard John Constantine into their path. Constantine was in search of Swamp Thing to help him deal with a series of horrific events that were happening all over the country, beginning with a colony of vampires in Illinois. Constantine secured Swampy’s cooperation by virtue of knowing everything about Swamp Thing’s existence, and withholding said information until Swampy helped him out. Revealing that Swamp Thing was not a simple plant monster, but a plant elemental, Constantine promised that he would tell Swamp Thing everything else, provided he at least helped deal with the vampires. Swampy promptly set out for Illinois, where he discovered that the vampires in the area had adapted to aquatic life. Remembering that vampires cannot abide running water, Swamp Thing realized he would have to alter their stagnant environment in order to flush them out, and did so by growing a colossal new body out of a nearby mountain, diverting the mountain’s river in order to wipe out the vampires. Impressed with Swamp Thing’s near godlike power, Constantine continued to enlist him in other events, including a series of werewolf attacks and a war between slaveowner ghosts and zombie slaves. Eventually, Swamp Thing began to notice that there was a pattern in play, with something more to the seemingly random string of occult events, however, he knew he would need Constantine to help see the full picture. Constantine promised that if Swamp Thing helped him with one last job in California, he would reveal everything, not just about the supernatural events, but about Swamp Thing as well.
Out of the Gumbo Pot, Into the Fire
By this point in his publication history, Swamp Thing was officially a part of the big leagues. A quick and easy way to tell is by looking at the above cover, where Swampy is teamed with Batman and Phantom Stranger, while Hawkman observes from a respectful distance, trying to remember if he’s a space cop or a reincarnated Egyptian warrior in this timeline.
Anyways, Constantine had Swamp Thing travel to the Cambridge mansion in California, which was being haunted by every single victim of the Cambridge repeating rifle in history. Of course, a group of ghost hunters had chosen this exact moment to hang out in a gross abandoned mansion like a bunch of weirdoes, forcing Swamp Thing to save them. After exorcising the spirits from the mansion, Constantine revealed that he had only brought Swamp Thing here to show him the effect the coming Crisis (of “on Infinite Earths” variety) was having on Earth, which included blood red skies and various people and things being displaced from alternate realities. Suddenly, the pair were teleported to Alexander Luthor’s satellite, where Constantine also revealed that he and Swamp Thing were instrumental parts of the effort to preserve reality during the events and aftermath of the Crisis. Namely, they were going to travel to Brazil to take on a cult called La Brujeria, who were taking advantage of the general chaos surrounding the Crisis in order to summon a demon called the Shadow Creature in order to destroy Heaven. However, before they did that, they were going to visit the Parliament of Trees (Conveniently also in Brazil), who would be able to tell Swamp Thing everything he desired to know about himself.
Arriving ahead of Constantine, Swamp Thing met a man named Alex Olsen at the home of the Parliament, who revealed himself to be one of the previous incarnations of Swamp Thing. Turns out Swamp Thing functions like a Ghost Rider for plants instead of demons, and that every previous incarnation eventually dies and joins the Parliament of Trees, who rule the Green. After learning the stories of his predecessors, Swamp Thing met up with Constantine at the headquarters of La Brujeria and swiftly defeated them by flooding their underground caverns with dirt and tree roots. However, thorough as he was, Swamp Thing was unable to prevent a single operative from escaping, which was just enough to awaken the Shadow Creature. Swamp Thing immediately traveled through the Green and into the underworld in order to assemble a team that could take the demon down, making contact with Deadman, The Phantom Stranger, The Spectre, and his old friend Etrigan, effectively creating a sort of Justice League Dark decades in advance. Unfortunately, none of them were able to even come close to stopping the Shadow Creature, until Swamp Thing entered the demon’s darkness of his own free will and began to reason with it, explaining that the Creature’s place in nature is just as necessary as Heaven’s. Changing the demon’s mind, he traveled with it to Heaven, where it made an alliance with the Presence (Who is pretty much God in the DCU) that would change the nature of morality in the DCU forever. Or, you know, until the next big event.
Returning to Louisiana, Swamp Thing discovered that an amateur photographer had snapped photos of him and Abby making out, causing her to flee to Gotham to escape persecution.Unfortunately for Abby, she had been charged with obscenity and crimes against nature, and the Gotham police were holding her for trial. Needless to say, Swampy was not happy about this, and quickly traveled to Gotham, bursting into Abby’s trial and demanding her release. Unfortunately for Swamp Thing, the American judicial system does not revolve around the whims of a sentient pile of swamp muck. Unfortunately for Gotham in general, Swamp Thing doesn’t particularly give a damn about what the judicial system revolves around, and thus, he took the entirety of the city hostage with a massive overgrowth of plant life. This, obviously, drew the ire of Batman, leading to a fight where Swampy beat the shit out of Bats. Like, it was almost pathetic, especially considering the normally always prepared Dark Knight showed up to the party with nothing but a flamethrower.
Thoroughly whupped, Batman dragged his soggy, bruised ass to where Abby was being held and made a case for her release, citing the precedent of numerous other interspecies relationships in the DCU, which you’d think someone else would have thought to bring up, but hey, here we are. Thinking that things were finally going to go well for a change, Swamp Thing and Abby began to head home, only to be interrupted by a task force seeking revenge for the death of General Sunderland, who used a Lexcorp device to burn Swampy out of the Green on Earth, forcing him to regrow himself on another world, lightyears away from home. Trapped on a deserted planet covered in blue vegetation, Swamp Thing decided to embrace his inner Dr. Manhattan and sit alone on some rocks while musing about life as a lonely god, even going so far as to grow replicas of his friends from Earth. Realizing the futility of his turgid passion play, Swampy decided to try and find his way home by regrowing himself on different planets, kicking off a brief odyssey across the stars, featuring adventures with Adam Strange on planet Rann, as well as a fairly uncomfortable sequence where a sentient planet tries to rape Swamp Thing. Eventually, Swamp Thing found his way to a planet inhabited by sentient plant life, where the space sector’s resident Green Lantern helped Swamp Thing attune his consciousness to the Green’s frequency on Earth, vastly upgrading his abilities. Finally returning home, Swampy took his revenge on the men who exiled him and reunited with his wife. Alas, a quiet life with his lady love wasn’t in the cards for Swamp Thing, who soon discovered that the Parliament of Trees had thought he was dead, and in his absence, had begun to grow a Sprout that would eventually become a new Swamp Thing. Unfortunately, having two Swamp Things at the same time would put nature off balance, which meant that Swamp Thing either had to abandon Abby and take root as a member of the Parliament, or kill the Sprout in order to maintain order. Finding himself unable to do either, Swamp Thing implored the Parliament to give him more time to find another solution, and met with Constantine. Together, they concocted a plan where they would bond the Sprout to a living host, thereby (Hopefully) giving Swamp Thing enough time to live a life with Abby before taking root with the Parliament. Immediately forgetting that they had decided on a living host, they attempted to dump the Sprout into Solomon Grundy. Needless to say, this went extremely poorly, resulting in Swamp Thing being forced to seek additional guidance from the Parliament, who revealed that every previous Swamp Thing had been a living host who suffered some sort of death related to fire. Of course, because they’re a bunch of asshole authoritarian trees, they were merely using these expository visions to distract Swamp Thing while they forcibly rooted him. However, in the middle of their trap, the Parliament collectively felt a disturbance in the Green, caused in part by the Sprout bonding to a mentally deranged man named Alan Bolland (Apparently another criteria for becoming the next Swamp Thing is having a name similar to the last one). Swamp Thing took advantage of their distraction by using his newfound abilities to force their consciousnesses into space before rectifying the problem by re-killing Bolland and retrieving the Sprout, which he hid on the fucking moon. Constantine and Swampy continued to try and find suitable hosts for the Sprout, however, none of the hosts were a fit, forcing Swamp Thing to retreat into the swamps of Louisiana and grow him self a big’ll plant brain. After thinking for a month and a half straight on his predicament, Swampy came up with the genius/pretty gross solution of possessing Constantine and banging his wife so that she could have a child capable of bonding with the Sprout. This seemed to work, however, Swampy and Abby were still not destined for happiness, as the spectre of crossover events reared its ugly head once again, dragging Swamp Thing kicking and screaming into the epicenter of the INVASION! event, where the Dominators led a coalition of alien forces to wipe out all metahumans on Earth. Seeing as how Dominator weaponry is, for some fucking reason, entirely plant based, Swamp Thing had to be taken off the table, otherwise the central conflict of the event would be rendered trivial by the existence of a near omniscient plant deity. Their solution was to sneak up on him very, very carefully, and then use some bullshit time plant/device to send him back to World War II.
Swamp Thing had a pretty bad time throughout the Invasion event, with most of it revolving around his continued travels through time. Bumping into a young Anton Arcane almost immediately in World War II, he was then sent back in time to World War I, where he bumped into Arcane again, who sent him back even further in time to the Wild West, and so on and so forth. Apart from some run ins with older DC heroes and villains, like Bat-Lash and Shining Knight, it was mostly uneventful, until he reached a time period before mankind existed, where he conversed with the founders of the Parliament of Trees, who, of course, sent Swamp Thing further back in time, because fuck Swamp Thing, I guess. Arriving at the dawn of life on Earth, Swamp Thing grew himself a giant brain again and thought some more, and realized that, some fuckin’ how, he was actually the founder of the Parliament of Trees, which… makes no sense at all in relation to the laws of time, even with magic thrown in the mix, but fuck it, who cares. Swamp Thing also discovered that the artifact Arcane and others had used to force him through time was powered by a chunk of amber with his essence in it, creating even more of a nonsensical Terminator-esque time loop, which would be broken by Constantine shattering the amber in present day just in time for Swamp Thing to witness the birth of his daughter, Tefé.
Unbeknownst to Swamp Thing, Constantine had received a blood transfusion from the demon Nergal, passing on the taint in his bloodstream to his surrogate daughter. For some reason, this granted her control of the powers of both the Green and the Red (Think the Green, but for animal life), like some kind of nature Jesus or something. Unfortunately, she accidentally destroyed her human body in an attempt to mimic her father traveling through the Green sending her astral form to the Spirit World. Wandering aimlessly, Tefé eventually wound up on the outskirts of Hell. Her presence was immediately detected by Nergal, and wound up triggering a massive civil war in hell between a massive amount of factions, eventually resulting in Swamp Thing leading a force of alien souls trapped in the human afterlife in an assault on Hell to retrieve his daughter, with the end result being the destruction of a massive city in Hell due to the meddling of a now Demonic Anton Arcane. This, in turn, resulted in the release of a demonic fungus entity named Matango on Earth.
Swamp Thing and Abby, meanwhile, still had to find a way for their daughter to regain her physical form. Under guidance from a shaman, Swamp Thing began to search for a fountain in the Garden of Eden, first going to the Parliament of Trees, where he was reunited with the founders of the Parliament. Together, they revealed that most of what Swamp Thing had been taught was lies in order to bring about the birth of his daughter, because of course it was. Oh, also, there was a separate dimension of energy and shit for fungus called the Grey, and Matango had led a war between the Grey and the Green for the Garden of Eden, whose ruins now laid in Antarctica. Swamp Thing immediately set out to retrieve a frozen chunk of the water from the fountain in order to restore his daughter, narrowly avoiding death at the hands of the angels who still guarded the ruins. Unfortunately, the new body Tefé had begun to grow wound up corrupted by the Grey, forcing Swamp Thing to take his daughter to the Parliament of Trees for protection, because at this point Swamp Thing’s life has become a ceaseless vortex of misfortune and ancient eldritch bullshit. Arriving at the Parliament, Swampy and Friends were greeted by Yggdrasil, one of the Founders, who helped finally create a new form for Tefé. Yggdrasil also revealed that Matango had been, once upon a time, one of the Plant Elementals that Swamp Thing numbered among, as well as the last to know about the Parliament’s creation via time loop. Unfortunately, he was eventually corrupted and became an agent of the Grey, leading the war in Eden as well as a new war now. Thankfully, the Parliament took Swamp Thing’s side over, say, forcing him to eat his own baby or something, aiding him in putting together a force to oppose the Grey. Attempting to gather the Elementals who were trapped in the Grey by Matango, Swamp Thing was nearly unsuccessful, and would have also been condemned to the Grey had he not been able to grow a sick-ass ocean plant body. Returning to the Parliament with an army of Plant-Dudes, Swamp Thing discovered that Matango had already assaulted the Parliament, trapping Swampy’s family in the rotting trunk of Yggdrasil. Freeing them relatively quickly, Swampy discovered that Yatango’s weakness was his old Green body, which he rubbed all over Matango until the situation just sort of resolved itself, with the Grey choosing a more neutral avatar who agreed to wait until after the Green’s time on Earth was done before leading the Grey to prominence.
Meanwhile, Tefé became a brat who liked to turn cats inside out with her mind, and the Sunderland corporation returned, led by Anton Arcane wearing General Sunderland’s corpse like a meat suit, leading to conflict in Swamp Thing’s life. On the one hand, he had his family, which Abby was very insistent about Swampy being a part of, and on the other hand, the Parliament needed Swampy’s help with various ecological and magic disasters, creating a sort of “Two Dates to the Prom” situation. Taking inspiration from the schemes of half-witted sitcom dads everywhere, Swamp Thing created a double of himself to take care of his home life while he went out and worked for the Green. Eventually, when he returned home, he discovered that the double was convinced it deserved the family life more than the original, causing a fight that ended with Swamp Thing absorbing his clone and destroying his marriage, with Abby and Tefé fucking off with some douchecanoe named Chester. After attending Hal Jordan’s funeral and turning Coast City’s ruins into a beautiful garden, Swamp Thing, too, fucked off, disappearing from comics for a long, long time.
That is, until Geoff Johns came into power.
Of course, as great as it was to see old Swampy again, it wasn’t quite the same. Emerging as the savior of Earth during the end of the Brightest Day event (Which, while kind of fun and responsible for bringing back some of my favorite heroes and villains, is a bit of a mess), Swamp Thing was now grown from the corpse of Alec Holland, and had none of the memories of the previous Swamp Thing, as well as having additional power over the four classical elements. Unfortunately, we were never given an answer as to what happened to the old Swampy that we all used to know and love, but it has been theorized that the Dark Avatar body that Necron’s power inhabited during the event may have been his corpse. Beyond a couple shenanigans with Constantine, that was it for Swampy during the Preboot era. You may have noticed that, despite ending on a semi-hype note, it kind of devolved into a wet fart towards the end. Luckily, Big Green here was, as I’ve mentioned before, one of the handful of characters not named Batman who got a damn respectable treatment in the New 52.
ReGenesis 2: Electric Boogaloo
Okay, as much as I would love to talk about Swamp Thing forever and ever, I think I’ve taken up quite enough time for today, so I’m going to try and keep this section short. So in the new continuity, Alec Holland is still human, but he has memory of his time as Swamp Thing, and after completing a batch of his bio-restorative formula, he quits his job as a botanist and becomes a construction worker, as is tradition when one has become a hero with self-doubt. As he is about to dramatically hurl his formula into the swamps of Louisiana, he is interrupted by a separate Swamp Thing, who informs Alec that the Green and the Red need him to take part in a coming war against the Black, who represent the forces of Rot. Embracing his role as Swamp Thing, Alec transforms once again into the avatar of the Green, allying himself with Animal Man, Poison Ivy, and others in order to combat the Black, culminating in a fight against Anton Arcane, who had become one of the avatars of the Black. Soon after, Swampy came into conflict with another Plant Elemental named Seeder, with the strange ability to grow whatever he wanted into plant life. Meeting other Elementals in order to power himself up for the coming battle (As the Parliament of Trees was willing to let them fight for the position, a la Godzilla), Alec eventually met the previous Swamp Thing, whose history is closer to that of the old-school Swampy we love so much. Eventually, Alec has his climactic battle with Seeder, who is revealed to be Jason Woodrue. After being thrown to the god damn moon, Alec regrows out of the plants on Jason’s face and beats the shit out of him, theoretically winning the battle. However, because the Parliament of Trees is a bunch of dicks in any timeline, they banish Alec to the Green for refusing to kill Jason, allowing Jason to become Swamp Thing. Not a ton else happens in the series, beyond the introduction of the Chrome, which is the elemental force for machinery, but that was part of Future’s End, so who the fuck knows if that was canon or not. Swampy remained pretty far in the background for a while, with a brief cameo in Trinity War and a literal rebirth in Forever Evil. These days, he pops up occasionally in a relatively small role in the Hellblazer Rebirth book, as well as in the Superman Annual, and only time will tell if he regains his importance in the DCU.
Oh, I’m pretty sure he was in Justice League Dark for an arc or two, but let’s be honest, the book was often bland at best.
Sure, the book breaks a lot of the previously established rules and traditions in Swamp Thing lore, but you know what? It’s damn fun, and it gets away with that by being in a new continuity, so it’s fine by me. Plus, I’m a sucker for characters getting temporary redesigns to sell action figures (It’s why I love Blackest Night so much!), and how can you not love a book where crazy-ass stuff like this happens on a regular basis?
In summation: Holy shit, I think this is the first article in forever that I’ve actually spoken positively about the New 52. Weird.
Swamp Thing is rad as shit, sure. This much is known just by looking at him. But you know what really sells me on the guy? His heart. He’s not just a mindless plant god, he’s not an angsty doomsayer, he’s a big, thoughtful, relatively gentle giant. Sure, he’ll kill, he’ll get violent when push comes to shove, but more than anything else, he’s an agent of life and peace, and he prefers to solve his problems through speech and rhetoric rather than battle. Also, he and Abby were one of my favorite couples in all of comics, and as gross as it was, they had a beautiful relationship. If you haven’t gotten into the character at all, I cannot recommend him enough, especially if you enjoy your funny books with a big pinch of horror mixed in there.
Well, that’s it this time around. Thanks for sticking around to read another one of my big, rambling articles, especially considering this is my longest one yet by about two thousand words. And if you’ve been reading these since the beginning, or really since any time in the last year: Thank you. I know this is hardly the best or most well put together thing out there, especially in the comic book fandom, but I’m still proud of how many people come to read these, even when it’s only a couple dozen. Shit, there was a time when even fifty people would have blown my mind, and now there’s always at least a hundred views, and that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. So, to all of you, if you’re fans or just passing through: Thank you. So, so god damn much. I can’t possibly overstate how much it means to me that even one person out there likes these. Here’s to a year in the can, and hopefully, one hell of a new one ahead of us.
See you all next Friday. I’ve got another big one in store.