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Saga of the Swamp Thing, Book 1 Paperback – April 10, 2012
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About the Author
Alan Moore is perhaps the most acclaimed writer in the graphic story medium, having garnered countless awards for works such as Watchmen, V for Vendetta, Swamp Thing and Miracleman. He is also the mastermind behind the America's Best Comics line, through which he has created (along with many talented illustrators) The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Promethea, Tom Strong, Tomorrow Stories and Top Ten.
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What Alan Moore did was look at Swamp Thing and find that his origin made no sense so he completely reinvented the character. At the time I wasn’t super thrilled but looking back it was absolutely the right thing to do. Swamp Thing was no longer a man turned into a monster, he was a plant who thought he was a man. One of the most indelible moments in a sea of indelible moments was when the Swamp Thing fully accepted who he was. During a battle between The Monkey King and Ertigan the Demon, Abigail Cable urges Swamp Thing to flee as there are two monsters and Swamp Thing replies ‘Three Monsters… Run’. 33 years after that line was written I’ve always remembered it. I can remember so many specific lines and particular pieces of art and I’m the type of person who can barely remember comics I read a month ago. That is how hard these stories hit.
It would be a terrible miscarriage of justice to not include Stephen Bissette and John Totleben along with Moore as the reasons for success. Alan Moore’s writing is so good that even when paired with artists of modest skills *ahem* Eddie Campbell *ahem* he can still produce a masterpiece but in this case he couldn’t have asked for better artists. Not only are Bissette and Totleben fantastic artists they’re skills perfectly match Alan Moore’s horror writing. Dare I say they outdo even the legendary Bernie Wrightson? There is such an incredible creepiness and otherworldliness to the art and again they shine no greater than in the Monkey King story line. The Monkey King is meant to be the literal embodiment of fear and if you’ve ever read this story you will never forget the image of true horror.
If you’ve never read Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing do yourself a huge favor and read every issue. There is NOTHING like it being produced today and Moore puts to shame any modern writers. In fact Alan Moore today cannot match the work he produced in the 80’s. It can be argued whether or not Swamp Thing is his best ever but I would definitely say that this was written during Moore’s peak. This is the greatest era of comic’s greatest writer. Read Swamp Thing, read Watchmen, read Miracleman and prepare to be changed. These are life altering comics and I was privileged to read all of them when they were first published.
Let me finish off with a brief rant. What do Green Arrow by Kevin Smith, Identity Crisis and All-Star Batman and Robin have in common? They all have Absolute Editions. Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing does not have an Absolute Edition. Swamp Thing does not have an Omnibus Edition and currently no hard cover edition being sold on Amazon. How is that right? Swamp Thing deserves the royal treatment not some afterthought effort. Swamp Thing is not some historical DC footnote. It is a series that has continued off and on for over 40 years including up and until today. There IS an audience. Do it DC and make it right.
Now because the film introduced me first on the character of DC's ST, it did not inject interest in checking out the books since I felt Marvel's "Man-Thing" was the original "muck of yuck." But it was always in the back of my mind of probably taking a stab at it someday.
Well, after the success of the tv show version it still did not hit me to view the book history, BUT now I'm a full fledge fan and DAMN PROUD OF IT TOO. From the beautiful illustrations to the creepy, yet piercing narrative and/or the cast of multi-layered characters of goth-ridden and psychological paradoxes is a work of art, in more detail and abstract imagination to enter into this world as a participant then a reader only.
The utilization and integration of guest stars were well chosen and executed as support but never to overshadow ST, such as: The Justice League, The Demon/Jason Blood and even Arcane. I was really taken by the explanation of what ST is and how its origin is reinterpreted with more empathy and compassion then just as another human casualty.
I'm looking forward to reading the rest of Alan Moore's take on this life of plants and vegetation for a long time!
Needless to say I was too young to understand what Mr. Moore was conveying to his audience. But that didn't stop me from enjoying somewhat the Swamp Time movie and loving the Swamp Thing television show that aired around that same time.
Reading this today gives me a better appreciation for comic book writing. I mean, I knew that writing was important, but seeing it really shine in this way is just something truly masterful.
I hear there are five more volumes by Moore. I'm not sure when, but I'll be reading those.
Aided tremendously by the artwork of Steve Bissette and John Totleben, who joined the series with issue 16 (get those pre-Alan Moore issues as well, they're very much worth your while), this first collected volume features the first eight issues of their collaboration.
A highlight is the very second issue presented, "The Anatomy Lesson", which offered an alternate/new origin for the Swamp Thing that radically changed the character without altering any of the past stories presented, including the incredible Len Wein/Berni Wrightson original 10 issue run from the early 1970's.
A great start to a great series of issues. Highly recommended.