Friday, January 28, 2011

Saga of the Swamp Thing #33: "Abandoned Houses"

Download Swamp Thing v2 #33

The most successful animated compost heap in comics, Swamp Thing first emerged from the bog in the summer of 1972 to make his muddy debut in DC's Swamp Thing #1. Len Wein was the writer and Berni Wrightson, a disciple of both Frank Frazetta and Graham "Ghastly" Ingels, was the artist.

The folk belief in spontaneous generation, the notion that a living organism can form from nonliving matter, is many centuries old. It became a favorite of comic books from the 1940s onward, providing such Swamp Thing precursors as the Heap and Solomon Grundy and such contemporaries as Marvel's Man-Thing.

An earlier prototype had appeared in House of Secrets in the summer of 1971. Revamped, he became Swamp Thing and got his own book a year later. Never a major hit despite two movies and a television series, he has managed to hold on in comics. Wein and Wrightson concocted sentimental horror tales about a scientist who was transformed into a muck-encrusted horror after being doused by chemicals when his bayou lab was destroyed by criminals. Swamp Thing was a caring monster, and Wein's scripts worked at being touching, even philosophical, but the real attraction of the early issues was the spidery, vaguely disturbing Wrightson artwork.

Another series devoted to the forlorn bayou monster began in 1982 as Saga of the Swamp Thing and later became simply Swamp Thing. The team of Alan Moore and Steve Bissette, who worked on the newer version, earned the title considerable attention. That second series ended in 1996, and Swamp Thing returned under the Vertigo banner for twenty issues from 2000 to 2001. Mike Kaluta provided some of the drawing.

Alan Moore/Len Wein
Pencils and inks:
Ron Randall/Berni Wrightson

  • from House of Secrets (DC, 1969 series) #92 (Pictured inset).
  • in Essential Vertigo: Swamp Thing (DC, 1996 series) #14.
  • in Saga of the Swamp Thing (DC, 2009 series) #2.


Gregory Plantamura said...

In the hands of a lesser writer, this issue would have come across as mere "filler". Here Moore takes a reprinted story and gives it more meaning and makes it an essential part of the Swamp Thing mythos. And Gaiman's Sandman (and another later series, the Dreaming) built on concepts introduced in Swamp Thing 33.

Note how the crumpled paper in the last frame is shaped like Swamp Thing's head. For many more fun facts, visit

The Executioner said...

So true, my friend. As Wikipedia puts it: "The major difference between the first and second Swamp Thing is that the latter appears more muscular than shambling, and possesses the power of speech. Being able to speak only with great difficulty, Alex Olsen's speech impediment is a major reason why his wife could not recognize him. In Swamp Thing #33, Alan Moore attempted to reconcile the two versions of Swamp Thing with the revelation that there have been many previous incarnations of Swamp Thing prior to the death and 'rebirth' of the Alec Holland incarnation."

I see that you're a Swamp Thing fanatic, too, and I like your Web site a lot. I tinkered with Angelfire years ago, but not being the most computer literate person around, I find blogger easier to use.

By the way, my apologies for the delay in approving your message and in replying as I was battling a cold bug for several days.

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