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Monthly (Comic) Book Club - August - Swamp Thing by Alan Moore18113

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Monthly (Comic) Book Club - August - Swamp Thing by Alan Moore




THE SAGA OF THE SWAMP THING #20-34 and SWAMP THING ANNUAL #2

Week 1 (8/1-8/7): Swamp Thing #20-22
Week 2 (8/8-8/14): Swamp Thing #23-25
Week 3 (8/15/-8/21): Swamp Thing #26-28
Week 4 (8/22-8/28): Swamp Thing #29-32
Week 5 (8/22-8/28): Swamp Thing #33-34 and Annual


Discussion topic ideas:

* Thoughts on the story or artwork
* Details in the story, artwork, or presentation
* References to outside events or other works of fiction
* Making of/Behind the Scenes details
* Editions you will be reading from
* Items in your collection pertaining to this week’s selection
Post 1 IP   flag post
If the viagra is working you should be well over a 9.8. xkonk private msg quote post Address this user
I've read a few Alan Moore works (we already covered Watchmen in the book club) but never Swamp Thing. Beyond learning about the character I'm curious to see how Moore handles an ongoing series as opposed to a self-contained mini.
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Now that you’ve mentioned it, I think the only ongoing Moore book I’ve read is the first arc of Miracleman, and even that’s a little different since it was first published in a Magazine and then compiled as a comic
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I hadn't thought about it before until I was looking at his bibliography to jog my memory. I've read Watchmen, The Killing Joke, V for Vendetta, one of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen trades, and From Hell. And it jumped out that all of those are 12 issue or less isolated series.
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#20 drops us into the aftermath of a big confrontation between Swamp Thing and Arcane. Without knowing the characters it's unclear what happened but apparently Arcane was the big antagonist and now he's dead. There are other characters shown and even though I don't know them, there's enough context to figure out the broad strokes. I take that as a sign of solid writing. I would guess that most people jumping into issue 20 of a series would feel kind of lost.

The art seems like what I would expect for a series created by Bernie Wrightson even if he isn't doing the pencils. Here it's Dan Day, who I've never heard of, and John Totleben. That name is slightly familiar and I think it's because of his work on this series. His wikipedia page says he has a vision problem that has slowed his work but I don't know if that was an issue at this point.

As for the plot I guess Swamp Thing is dead. Series over, that was a quick month of reading!
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#21 is from the perspective of another newly-introduced character, the Floronic Man. I recognize his name but had to wikipedia him; he was apparently an Atom villain and is also a plant person. Seems like a good choice for Swamp Thing.

This issue leans into horror much more than the previous one. Any kind of autopsy is automatically kind of creepy, and then we also get Swamp Thing reforming his (its?) body and hunting the old man through the building. The Floronic Man himself is also creepy, with his dissolving fake skin and plant-ish body.

This also seems like (I'm guessing, not knowing what happened in the previous issues) a big turning point in the story. If Swamp Thing isn't actually a person, but is a plant that think its a person, what is he going to do going forward? And if Swamp Thing hadn't attacked people but now he's killed the old man, what else is he going to do that he hadn't done before? Tracking down and killing a guy in cold blood isn't really a hero move.
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If the viagra is working you should be well over a 9.8. xkonk private msg quote post Address this user
#22 answers some of my questions. Swamp Thing goes back to the swamp and plants himself. His friends Matt and Abby find him and find the Floronic Man observing him and doing experiments. On the inside, Swamp Thing is having some kind of dream or internal debate reflecting his memories as Alec Holland and learning that he's actually a plant. It seems that the plant side won the debate. In the meantime, the Floronic Man uses stuff from Swamp Thing to contact the Green, although it isn't called that. After touching all plant life around the world the Floronic Man seems to lose his humanity.

There is an oddity in Swamp Thing's internal debate. There's a lot of stream of consciousness and wordplay, and that seems fine, but the planarians/plain aryans bit didn't sit well. I guess it seems unneeded to me. But otherwise I am enjoying the story and the art quite a bit.
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I’ll be reading from the Absolute Edition. The book itself has felt-like cover with a printed design. It looks absolutely gorgeous!




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So I started reading and in just the first couple of pages something was bugging me. Apparently the Absolute Edition has a new recoloring that’s been somewhat controversial (aren’t they always?). Some people seem to like them while others hate them, and some just hate the idea of them. For me what popped out was the very modern and digital look to the coloring which felt out of place since I know when the book was originally published. I haven’t read the book before so I don’t have any sort of attachment one way or another but it is something I noticed and had to look up


Here’s a page from the original comic




Here’s the page from a previous trade




And the same page from the Absolute Edition

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Issue 20 felt like the denouement of something major but being unfamiliar with the series up to this point it’s difficult to wrap your head around everything.

You do get some general ideas, like Arcane bing Swamp Thing’s main nemesis, some general is hunting Swamp Thing ala the Hulk, and a few other plot threads you get vague ideas about but not enough to get much of value out of the events we’re seeing. Nor do I have any idea of the specifics of Swamp Thing’s powers are. He mentions that his body is nearly invincible and then the ending happens so maybe even he’s not too sure himself.

I got a bit of a First Blood feel with Swamp Thing being hunted by the solders in the forest and Swamp Thing taking them down.

Did that “Dallas” fellow have any sort of backstory or did he just appear out of nowhere to get blown up?

A couple of things did jump out at me like a level of genre awareness from Swamp Thing when he notes that unless he sees the body he can’t be sure of Arcane’s death. Then the soldier saying the general plans to tie up app the loose ends felt a little like Moore making his intentions for the issue clear; tie up the loose ends of the previous arc so he can start fresh.

Totelbein I know from his work on Miracleman, again with Alan Moore. His style kind of defines the more mature, non-superhero books of the 80s to me. Kind of an extension and maturation of the art from the horror comics of the 70s
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I agree that issue 21 feels much more like a horror story than the previous issue. I could almost see it as a part of an anthology horror title with just a few tweaks.

This also felt very much like a starting point. The story recaps the Swamp Thing’s origin before redefining what the character was. The issue disposes of what seemed to be a longtime enemy in the Old Man and replaces him with a new one, the Floronic Man.

The issue reminded me a lot of the first issue of Sandman. The Old Man having captured a power he doesn’t fully understand to try to exploit it for his own benefit only for him to be destroyed by it when it eventually escapes. Of course it’s hardly a unique story but the fact that we read Sandman not too long ago made the connection rather easy.

Also the idea of a naked consciousness reassembling its body feels a lot like Doctor Manhattan’s origin from Watchmen
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In issue 22 Swamp Thing has somehow returned to Louisiana from Washington DC. I wondered how he would do that and the book didn’t think it important enough to explain.

Swamp Thing is back in the swamp and has started to grow i to it after the revelation that he is not actually human but a plant that remembers someone’s humanity. As he lays catatonic Swamp Thing’s mind has a surreal conflict over his humanity. In the dream Swamp Thing values his own humanity to the point that he abandons the memory of his wife and battles all sorts of dangers to keep it until he seems to realize that he’s holding on to something no longer worth fighting for and allows himself to be overcome by the swamp.

Outside you have Abbey and her husband, who seem to be having marital issues of their own, checking up on Swamp Thing. Swamp Thing is being observed by the Floronic Man, who is obsessed with achieving the union with plants that Swamp Thing unwittingly achieved.

That is one trope we’ve seen a few times in super hero fiction where the object of the villain’s obsession is the power wielded, often begrudgingly, by the hero. Often it is that same power that defeats them but if that’s the case here we haven’t seen it yet.

@xkonk I don’t know if it was meant more in a figurative sense but just as Floronic Man plugs himself into Swamp Thing he does mention that Swamp Thing is “in touch with the green.” The font is entirely in caps so I can’t tell if it meant “The Green” as a proper noun or just “the green” as a general term for the interconnected plant life on the planet.

Anyways, I wonder if Swamp Thing did give up his humanity or if it is something he’ll rediscover the value of later. I wonder only because in the parallel story Floronic Man also loses his humanity, willingly so. The story seems set up for one of them to desire change as opposed to both being happy with their lost humanity. It feels like maybe Swamp Thing may realize the value of his humanity by seeing what Floronic Man lost without it. Or perhaps the connection will be for the reader and Swamp Thing may rediscover his humanity through his human connections, particularly with Abbey and then the reader gets to see how these opposing forces behave in conflict when Swamp Thing and Floronic Man finally interact.
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If the viagra is working you should be well over a 9.8. xkonk private msg quote post Address this user
Quote:
Originally Posted by dielinfinite
@xkonk I don’t know if it was meant more in a figurative sense but just as Floronic Man plugs himself into Swamp Thing he does mention that Swamp Thing is “in touch with the green.” The font is entirely in caps so I can’t tell if it meant “The Green” as a proper noun or just “the green” as a general term for the interconnected plant life on the planet.


It's possible this was an early (the first?) reference then, but maybe not official. I won't claim to be a DC historian by any means so I searched The Green and the Parliament of Trees on a DC Wiki and their "first appearance"s were listed as issues in the 40s.
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If the viagra is working you should be well over a 9.8. xkonk private msg quote post Address this user
Quote:
Originally Posted by dielinfinite
Anyways, I wonder if Swamp Thing did give up his humanity or if it is something he’ll rediscover the value of later. I wonder only because in the parallel story Floronic Man also loses his humanity, willingly so.


I think Swamp Thing had a similar thought about Arcane in #20. Arcane is willingly giving up pieces of his humanity while Swamp Thing has been desperately holding on to his.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xkonk
Quote:
Originally Posted by dielinfinite
@xkonk I don’t know if it was meant more in a figurative sense but just as Floronic Man plugs himself into Swamp Thing he does mention that Swamp Thing is “in touch with the green.” The font is entirely in caps so I can’t tell if it meant “The Green” as a proper noun or just “the green” as a general term for the interconnected plant life on the planet.


It's possible this was an early (the first?) reference then, but maybe not official. I won't claim to be a DC historian by any means so I searched The Green and the Parliament of Trees on a DC Wiki and their "first appearance"s were listed as issues in the 40s.


Let’s call it a First Cameo appearance 😂
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dielinfinite
So I started reading and in just the first couple of pages something was bugging me. Apparently the Absolute Edition has a new recoloring that’s been somewhat controversial (aren’t they always?). Some people seem to like them while others hate them, and some just hate the idea of them. For me what popped out was the very modern and digital look to the coloring which felt out of place since I know when the book was originally published. I haven’t read the book before so I don’t have any sort of attachment one way or another but it is something I noticed and had to look up


Here’s a page from the original comic




Here’s the page from a previous trade




And the same page from the Absolute Edition



This is good to know. The original colorings look great and fit the mood more.

Part of the reason I havent been able to get into the storyline outside of the over designed panels, is how off putting the trade colors (middle example). That color palette doesnt scream horror to me. I wouldn't mind reading the absolute edition.
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@Hcanes What’s interesting is that most people opposed to the recoloring on principle seem to be comparing to the TPB coloring. Maybe they were unaware that it’s been recolored
Post 17 IP   flag post
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#23 certainly has more references to the green, and contrasts it to the red world (I guess of animals). While Swamp Thing is communing with the plant world, he feels the bad presence of the Floronic Man in the green as well. The Floronic Man is using his control of plants to destroy a town and attack people, including Abby. Her pleas, and feeling the green, lead Swamp Thing to get up from his place in the swamp. It looks like Swamp Thing will confront the Floronic Man and maybe the Justice League will get involved.

The Floronic Man going about toying with and destroying the town reminded me a bit of Doctor Destiny in Sandman. The narration is a third person description and not the internal monologue of one of the characters. I think having that remove maybe adds to the horror aspect a bit, and allows for more personal detail that Floronic Man couldn't know (this was so-and-so's family, and whatnot) to be included to add to the terror.
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If the viagra is working you should be well over a 9.8. xkonk private msg quote post Address this user
#24 seems to wrap the Floronic Man arc. Realizing that plants need animals as part of the ecosystem, he is cut off from the green and goes a little (more?) crazy. Swamp Thing seems more at peace and happily returns to the swamp.

The Justice League are pretty inconsequential to the story. There's a point about how they look out for major problems in big places (Atlantic, Metropolis) but not in little places, and they flail around a bit for a solution to how to talk to plants. But Swamp Thing didn't do anything unique to solve the problem, either. He broke Woodrue's arm and told him that plants can't survive without animals. Swamp Thing had the advantage of knowing more of the backstory but that was about it. But that's ok; Floronic Man is a well-suited bad guy for Swamp Thing and the arc did a lot of groundwork in setting up the status quo moving forward. I'm curious to see what Swamp Thing does now that he seems to accept himself as a plant but doesn't just want to root himself in one place.
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#25 starts a new arc. Abby is getting a new job and drifting further from Matt. She's going to work at a place for "autistic" children, although they all seem to have a much more troubled background. Paul, in particular, has some kind of little demon that appears to him and feeds on fear. Probably not coincidentally, Jason Blood arrives in town. We'll see how long it takes for The Demon to appear.

Here's the wikipedia page for Goya's The Sleep of Reason.
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I agree that issue 23 certainly has the feeling of Dr Destiny from Sandman.

So Floronic Man/Woodrue’s basically shed all connection to humanity and now wants to destroy it all to avenge the plants of the Earth. The early pages definitely give off that roadside slasher vibe but Woodrue then works up to larger game, destroying buildings and entire towns and having someone record it as a warning to the rest of the world.

I’m not sure we can say that Swamp Thing is quite on the road back to his humanity so much as he blames Woodrue for taking away so much from him; the latest being polluting the green with his red mind. He recognizes that he is not Alec Holland and doesn’t say too much beyond that so we’re still waiting to see what Swamp Thing is now. On one level he seems to be very similar to Woodrue. Woodrue wants to avenge the Green but Swamp Thing sees Woodrue as an alien organism within the green.

The art I think ranges from okay in the lower detail pages like the guys driving on the toad but is often very good with a great use of hatching to imply detail along with excellent use of shadow. I think this is closer to what Wrightson’s Punisher should’ve looked like.




Often, the art is just flat out amazing, particularly the beauty shots of the Swamp Thing where he’s filled with amazing detail. I also think the new coloring holds up especially well in these shots, like in the final page



I also think the new coloring does a solid job of conveying some of the more emption-driven scenes. Abby’s scenes where she is lost in the swamp have a cold, lonely blue-ish tone to them while Woodrue’s rampage is filled with angry reds and oranges.

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Yeah the Justice League is kind of just there. I wonder if it was an editorial decision that he had to crossover some characters or if it was his choice to take the wind out of the sails of DC’s main heroes?

Woodrue’s plan did seem a bit strange from the start. Sure hyper-oxygenating the world would kill animals and make the atmosphere super flammable but a worldwide firestorm hardly seems the best situation for plant life. Swamp Thing made it clear that it was Woodrue lashing out and not what the Green actually wanted.

I’m also glad Moore acknowledged that plants need carbon dioxide. He seems to have a decent grasp of science (as things were understood at the time) and it often makes an appearance in his stories. There was certainly lots of science included in Watchmen and he wrote a story for Supreme, I believe it was, about the entropic death of the universe which was a rather fascinating read.

The crazed Woodrue’s hastily applied skin spray did make for a bit of gruesome body horror at the end
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As this arc closes, I wonder how much of Moore’s work has made it into the various Swamp Thing adaptations. I think the first movie, released in 1982, would’ve been released too early to adapt anything but the sequel was released 7 years later so maybe some reference to Moore’s work could’ve been reflected in it.

Then there’s the tv series in 2019. I’ve had the blu ray for ages but still haven’t watched it. Given it was part of DC’s push into more mature live-action series, separate from the more mainstream Areowverse, I can see them incorporating some of Moore’s ideas
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dielinfinite
As this arc closes, I wonder how much of Moore’s work has made it into the various Swamp Thing adaptations. I think the first movie, released in 1982, would’ve been released too early to adapt anything but the sequel was released 7 years later so maybe some reference to Moore’s work could’ve been reflected in it.

Then there’s the tv series in 2019. I’ve had the blu ray for ages but still haven’t watched it. Given it was part of DC’s push into more mature live-action series, separate from the more mainstream Areowverse, I can see them incorporating some of Moore’s ideas


I couldn't say. I have the wrong streaming services for Swamp Thing. I might have seen the sequel movie but it's been so long I don't remember.
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If the viagra is working you should be well over a 9.8. xkonk private msg quote post Address this user
On the art front, seeing the few pictures you've posted, I think the new coloring takes a little something away. Not that it's bad, per se, but I think the old style/look adds to the horror vibe. I've read newer comics that are supposed to be serious or scary and there's something about the general style that just doesn't work for me. I think it's like when Tarantino and Rodriguez made Grindhouse to look like the film was damaged; it feels like how that should look.
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