On the contrary to my last post about writers being utmost importance opposed to the character, I do find that there is one exception: Swamp Thing. The brooding creature with the conscious of deceased man, seems to be a character, that time-and-time again, brings out the most creative qualities in a writer.
It goes without saying that Alan Moore’s run on Swamp Thing is one of the greatest series in comics. After all, it is responsible for the creation of Vertigo, and for that, the industry should forever cherish Swamp Thing.
So what is it about the monster made from swamp plants, that tends to attract wildly different writing and inspiration? Let me start with why I love the character:
I first read Moore’s Swamp Thing when I was 18 and attending my first Fall semester of College. I had taken the first volume from my fathers collection after years and years of him rambling on about it’s greatness. I was sitting outside in the cooling air of September, in the midst of other college-goers aimlessly finding their comfort zone in the new college-life.
Sitting on the grass, I was listening to Siouxsie and the Banshees’ Peepshow, and began my ascension into Swamp Thing. About a third way through, I read about the story of a man who once was, but now a creature, that must learn to accept that he is not the person that he bares the conscious of. Swamp Thing drags the skeleton of Alec Holland around, a lost monster entangled in an identity crises – I considered it one of the most beautiful things I had ever read. It was inevitable, but I began to uncontrollably cry. At that moment, I could wholesomely say, that I was changed forever.
Now I must admit here-and-now, that I’ve yet to read much in between Moore’s run, and Scott Snyder’s start on the New 52. Though I don’t consider Swamp Thing by any means a “superhero,” I still drifted away from it during my early 20’s when I decided I was done reading superhero comics for a while. I know it’s silly, but I was also stubborn and stupid in my early 20’s. With that said, I haven’t read the likes of Brian K. Vaghn’s run, that of Rick Veitch’s, or Nancy A. Collins (I’m getting there, I’m getting there).
In the most recent of times, after picking up Lemire’s Animal Man, did I finally start dipping my toes back into the universes. It was hard to pick up Swamp Thing again, knowing that Moore had not graced the character for decades, and, I was personally afraid of possibly tainting my first experience with the character. I had a nostalgic link to Swamp Thing because of that moment sitting outside at college. Maybe it was because I was on that cusp of child to adult, entering a new segment of my life, and Swamp Thing having to accept that he’s not the human being he thought he was, in some way, had some strange correlation to own life. I simply wanted to hold onto that specific Swamp Thing. I’m sentimental.
Nevertheless, I ended up picking up the New 52 Swamp Thing because out of a strange twist of fate, Animal Man’s story would eventually cross paths with Swamp’s.
With apprehension, I picked up Scott Snyder’s New 52 Swamp Thing, and all over again, I fell in love. I didn’t fall in love quite the way I did with Moore’s, but there was something about the way Snyder turned Swamp Thing into a wooden suit of armor wearing, wings made of twigs and leaves, warrior, that I just found badass. Where Moore focused on the horror and inner turmoil of a lost creature, Snyder turned Swamp Thing into a protector of nature.
Now with Charles Soules at the throne, who started with trying to bring back the human element of Swampy, but has since then taken some outstanding twists and turns. Admittedly, I was disappointed to see a lot of familiar faces from the DC universe step into the story like Aquaman; Swamp Thing is much like an outcast of other DC characters, and I was able to read Swamp Thing and sort of observe the universe as an outsider without having to be dragged into all over again, so seeing JL characters step in was a bit out of my comfort zone.
Anyway, all I’m trying to say is: it seems that no matter who writes Swamp Thing, every writer has their own unique and creative view as to what to do with the character. Whether he’s a brooding lost soul, or a warrior of The Green, for whatever reason, his characters attributes encourages variation.
I personally find something so poetic, and melodramatic about Swamp Thing.
Swamp Thing is a mysterious mix of horror, romance, and fantasy – and all those things are much more captivating concepts then pure heroism.