Swamp-Thing: How Alan Moore Resurrected The Character
Article contains spoilers for Swamp-Thing’s comic storyline.
Promotional image for the 2019 short-lived series, Swamp-Thing.
A brief history of Swamp-Thing
In 1971, when the character was first incepted into the comic book world, the creature formerly known as Dr. Alec Holland was only ever meant to be a single-issue horror-themed attraction in House of Secrets #92. However, readers’ significant and mostly unexpected positive reception towards Swamp-Thing prompted the publisher to green light (pardon the pun) a new solo series starring the titular character in 1972, which enjoyed much widespread acclaim for the next decade or so.
Cover for House of Secrets #92 (1971): First appearance of Swamp-Thing
Shortly after, Swamp-Thing remained rather placid in the marsh (pardon the pun once again) for a couple of years before resurfacing once more with renewed vigor in arguably the greatest comic book run of the character’s history, The Saga of the Swamp-Thing by Alan Moore. In a last-ditch effort to avoid the comic’s cancellation, DC Comics handed the reins over to Moore to reinvent the character in any way the writer saw fit. This resulted in the character’s origin being tweaked to perfection, simultaneously sending shockwaves through the comic world and fans’ minds.
Alan Moore’s explosive first issue: The Saga of the Swamp-Thing #21 (1984)
Alan Moore’s Swamp-Thing
You see, prior to Moore’s depiction of the character, Swamp-Thing was initially penned as the horrific transformation that Alec Holland underwent against his will due to a tragic event that befell him. Therefore, the portrayal of the character was summed up like that of a man who had wholly metamorphosized into the creature that we know. That being said, in Moore’s remake of the character, Swamp-Thing is illustrated as being Alec Holland and not at the same time.
This is because, in Moore’s version, it is revealed that Alec Holland had actually died after being attacked at the marsh. The swamp, failing in its attempt to try and save his human form, ended up creating a whole new plant-like entity that was imbued with Holland’s consciousness instead. Hence, this intriguing presentation of Swamp-Thing’s origins cast the character in an entirely new light among fans, as it raised some complex existential and metaphysical questions such as “what is identity?” and “what it truly means to be alive?”
Thus, in a single stroke of genius, Alan Moore resurrected Swamp-Thing and elevated the character’s very existence in DC Comics to new heights. By simply flipping the script, no longer was Swamp-Thing personified as a man who became a creature, but instead, a creature who tried to become a man.
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