New Comics Spotlight: Swamp Thing #1
Legendary comic book writer Len Wein has once more taken up the reins of a character he first introduced to the world (alongside Bernie Wrightson) in 1971, the plant elemental known as Swamp Thing. ‘Swampy’ made his first appearance in House Of Secrets #92 (July ’71) in a single issue story that took place in the early part of the 20th century. The character next appeared in his own solo series in 1972, set in the contemporary world and was integrated into mainstream DC universe continuity.
Swampy was originally introduced as Alex Holland, a scientist caught in a deliberate explosion set by his co-worker Damian Ridge. Olsen, physically transformed by the various chemicals strewn across his lab, turned into the humanoid vegetative mass known as Swamp Thing.
After the success of the standalone issue, the creators were approached to write the ongoing series, Swampy’s backstory was altered slightly and the series itself brought forward to a modern setting.
British comic writing luminary Alan Moore took control of the character from Volume 2 (August ’85) and altered Swampy to an elemental entity that was created upon the untimely death of Alec Holland, absorbing the personality and memories of the scientist into itself, Moore described it as “A plant that thought it was Alec Holland, a plant that at its level best was trying to be Alec Holland.” Alan Moore pushed the character into even greater popularity, and his run has ultimately stood the test of time, and like all his previous works (Watchmen, V For Vendetta) has cemented itself into legendary status amongst fans.
This month, Len Wein returns to his beloved character with the first part of a six issue mini-series, that is taking, very much, an old style approach to Swampy, with horror overtones comparable with titles such as DC’s House Of Mystery, and EC’s Tales From The Crypt.
This fantastic first issue is a definitive return to Wein’s original version of the character, very different to the New 52 run by Scott Snyder, whilst still retaining all the elements that make Swamp Thing the character we know and love. Artistic talent falls to Kelley Jones, whose distinctive style is perfect for this character, lending a tense and claustrophobic feel to the proceedings with a heavily shaded ‘chunky’ approach.
Swamp Thing #1 is a perfect read for both old and new fans alike, with no prior knowledge of the character’s background needed, making this the ideal starting point for newcomers wishing to get to know one of the most unusual and well written comic book characters ever created. Highly recommended and available for purchase at your local comic-book emporium right now.