Monday, October 15, 2007

1970's Flashback: Swamp Thing

Swamp Thing was created by writer Len Wein and artist Bernie Wrightson for DC Comics. The character first appeared in House of Secrets #92 (June/July 1971), but was subsequently featured in his own long-running series of the same name. Swamp Thing is a humanoid mass of vegetable matter who fights to protect his swampy home, the environment in general and often humanity from various supernatural or terrorist threats. The series later enjoyed a popular reinvention of the character in 1984 by British writer Alan Moore and artist John Totleben; which has been particularly influential on modern comics. Under Moore's stewardship, the character became a psychologically complex creature immersed in an auto-referential journey to determine his capabilities, the actual degree of his humanity and his true place in the world.

Originally Swamp Thing was simply Alec Holland, a scientist who had been working on a top secret bio-restorative formula (that could make forests out of deserts) in the Louisiana swamps. Holland was caught in the explosion of a bomb planted by agents of the mysterious Nathan Ellery, who wanted to black market the formula. Splashed with burning chemicals during the massive fire, Holland ran from the lab and fell into the muck-filled swamp nearby, and following which a creature resembling a humanoid plant was seen shambling out of some time later. The creature called Swamp Thing, was originally conceived as Alec Holland, having mutated into a vegetable-like creature or nothing more than a "muck-encrusted mockery of a man". However, under writer Alan Moore, Swamp Thing was reinvented as an elemental entity who was created upon the death of Alec Holland, but possessing Holland's memory and personality. Swamp thing is now described as "a plant that thought it was Alec Holland; a plant that was trying its level best to be Alec Holland."


rassmguy said...

As someone who maintains a Swamp Thing-related website (Roots of the Swamp Thing,, it was nice to come across this blog entry. Unfortunately, not enough attention is ever paid to Swamp Thing.

Chuck Wells said...

Swamp Thing is great, but I prefer Wrightson stuff over Moore/Totleben.