Saga of the Swamp Thing (Book One) by Alan Moore

details
Title: Saga of the Swamp Thing.
Book: One.
Writer(s): Alan Moore.
Artist(s): Stephen R. Bissette, John Totleben, Dan Day & Rick Veitch.
Colourist(s): Tatjana Wood.
Letterer(s): John Costanza & Todd Klein.
Publisher: Vertigo.

Format
:
Paperback.
Release Date: April 10th, 2012 (first published in 1983).
Pages: 205.
Genre(s): Comics, Horror, Fantasy.
ISBN13: 9781401220839.
My Overall Rating: ★★★★☆.

thoughts

In the early 1980s, the Swamp Thing was revived in a series entitled The Saga of the Swamp Thing with writer Martin Pasko leading the charge. While it stretched out till issue #19, its unpopularity and poor sales led DC Comics to consider cancellation until the editorial teams offered to hand over the reins to writer Alan Moore who was mostly only known for 2000 AD and V for Vendetta during this period. What they didn’t know is that they made one of the most benefecial and critical decisions within their organization as writer Alan Moore went on to shock the world with an impressive and memorable career filled with quintessential masterpieces, including Batman: The Killing Joke, Watchmen, and From Hell. Offered a clean slate, he thus takes over The Saga of the Swamp Thing from issue #21 and reinvents the character’s origin story while constructing him on a much more intimate and metaphysical level.

What is Saga of the Swamp Thing (Book One) about? Collecting issues #20-27 of The Saga of the Swamp Thing and containing a foreword by famed horror author Ramsey Campbell as well as an introduction by Swamp Thing co-creator Len Wein, this volume presents an origin story for the mythical creature from the depths of the swamps who struggle to understand its true nature as he only wishes to grasp onto intangible humanity. Following a brutal confrontation with the villainous Sunderland Corporation, the Swamp Thing’s fate remains a mystery. Then enters an unusual and radical villain, Jason Woodrue, also known as the Floronic Man, who looks into the Swamp Thing and discovers a fatal truth that will toss him into a furious transformation as he’s unable to comprehend his own self and spirals into a frenzied examination of environmentalism. The volume also explores a secondary arc where the Swamp Thing is needed to confront demonic beings and possessed children.

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As expected by writer Alan Moore, he brings a metaphysical touch to a character that was only barely explored superficially. Through introspection and reality-altering sequences, he looks into the creature’s identity to try and decipher if he’s man, plant, or monster. He also brings into play the Floronic Man to further expand the mythology behind the Swamp Thing and establish their roots within the world, giving the villain a different perspective on how he should feel about himself and how the world treats their ecological terrain. In an organic fashion, writer Alan Moore also brilliantly incorporates the classic horror elements that immediately distinguishes this comic book series from the rest of DC’s repertoire in the 1980s. His ability to create adult-targeted mature content is, after all, what essentially leads DC to bring forth the Vertigo imprint that went on to be one of the bests in the game. It also helps when writer Alan Moore brilliantly integrates DC superheroes into his universe while making them incompetent in the realm of the Swamp Thing.

It wouldn’t be complete without the artists in the creative team who perfectly complement writer Alan Moore’s wild ideas. Reminiscent of trending artwork in the 1980s, this volume embraces the chaotic structure and vivid colours worthy of any hypnagogic sequence in comic books. Through rough penciling, unconventional panel structures, extreme close-ups, and oddly satisfying fusion of realism and surrealism, the artwork is able to capture the sinister, gloomy, and enthralling qualities of the story. The colours are also heavily assorted and used to contrast between the foreground and the background. This is even more evident on splash pages that make for some memorable moments within the story. If anything, the artwork brings a very hallucinogenic edge to the narrative, especially when it ventures into the metaphysical or the horror.

Saga of the Swamp Thing (Book One) is a reinvigorating origin story for a creature in the midst of an identity crisis while offering relevant social, political, and ecological commentary.


EXHIBITA

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Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for sending me a copy for review!

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Despite garnering enormous praise and love from fans and critics for the first season released in 2019, creative differences with WarnerMedia, budget shortfalls, and mysterious circumstances have led to a cancellation of this TV series adaptation with only season 1 available today.

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30 thoughts on “Saga of the Swamp Thing (Book One) by Alan Moore

  1. Moore, portraying Superheroes as incompetents? Man, he really has that schtick down, doesn’t he?

    As for the tv show, I have to say I’m surprised, as DC has seemed to do pretty well on the silver screen.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahahaha at least the premise of this series isn’t focused on superheroes, he just made it clear that it wasn’t their terrain.

      It is sad but I think it’s because they launched the show on their new streaming service and that wasn’t ideal for the show… especially when it isn’t accessible to everyone around the world and isn’t an easy hook for people to subscribe to…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I really feel that DC shot themselves in the foot with trying to start their own service. They really should have gone with an already existing service. Oh well, I’m not in charge of them 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Fantastic review Lashaan of a remarkable run of comics. I read through all six volumes throughout last year and it really is (for the most part, it goes a little ‘off the rails’ towards the end I think) another astonishing work from Alan Moore with wonderful artwork. Metaphysical is definitely the right word to describe this run succinctly. I enjoyed the original Wein/Wrightson comics but I love the way Moore takes what was a fun monster/horror title and dive deep into themes of mythology and identity. The redefined origin of Swamp Thing is pure genius and makes the character that much more interesting.

    Man, I was gutted about the series being cut short – I currently have two episodes to go and it feels like there’s so much more to be done with it and to develop over subsequent seasons, which we now won’t get. It’ll be interesting to see what happens with Swamp Thing in live action now with J.J. Abrams being handed the keys to the Justice League Dark franchise in film and TV.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Chris. I look forward to completing this run and then checking out Snyder’s take on it. I really did love the direction he went to reinvent the character, it really gives him that Frankenstein kind of twist to the character.

      Oh man, I hope that J.J. Abrams project will come out some day. So much potential in the mere idea of it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I hope to eventually check out the Snyder run myself – would be interested to hear your thoughts on that. If you’re in Swamp Thing mode I’d also recommend checking out the Tom King/Jason Fabok Winter Special from a couple of years ago (it’s reprinted in the recent ‘Swamp Thing: Roots of Terror’ collection) – great story and phenomenal art!

        Speaking of Fabok, couldn’t be more excited about us finally getting a release date for Three Jokers!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Lashaan I had to look what hypnagogic meant LOL. But I do agree with you on the art in this book! Excellent and instructive review.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I didn’t realize Moore worked on Swamp Thing. I might have read a couple issues when younger, though I don’t know for sure. If I did I wouldn’t have had a clue who Moore was at that time. I do recall watching the ’80’s movies. It’s interesting (and good) to see this material still out there.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. You know, I really don’t remember all that much about the movies. I suspect I enjoyed them, but I was a kid who enjoyed ALL the “monster” movies of the time, no matter how corny or poorly made. I had no taste whatsoever at the time, and can’t claim to have much more now. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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