Alan Moore is a remarkable storyteller and Swamp Thing contains some of his best work. This volume collects issues #35-42 of Saga of the Swamp Thing. The Swamp Thing meets a new ally named John Constantine, and he deals with a few new things that go bump in the night. The Swamp Thing is a horror comic, and this is a great showcase of what horror comics can be.
The first story is about a crazy guy named Nukeface. He’s addicted to a toxic sludge that a shady business is discreetly disposing of. He tries to share some of his delicious poison with the Swamp Thing and it ends up disintegrating him. But the Swamp Thing learns a new trick, his consciousness is not a part of his physical form and he can essentially recreate a new body for himself. He learns that he is capable of leaving his body in one place and re-growing a new one in another place.
The mysterious John Constantine shows up. He offers the Swamp Thing knowledge about what he is and what he is capable, in exchange for the Swamp Thing going around and stopping evil from spreading across America. Constantine sends the Swamp Thing to Rosewood, Illinois. A few years ago, something evil came to the town and they flooded it in order to destroy the evil. Now the town of Rosewood lies underwater, but the evil managed to thrive. This short story has one of the best interpretations of vampires that I’ve ever come across in literature. Moore twists vampire lore to make them unique creations. Vampires die because of oxygen and sunlight. It makes sense that they would thrive underwater. Driving a stake through its heart kills it because it causes oxygen to enter the heart directly.
The Swamp Thing is able to defeat the underwater vampires, and Constantine sends him on his next mission. The Swamp Thing must deal with The Curse. A lady named Phoebe is having her period and is pissed off and angry at her husband. Throughout the day, she is feeling more and more rage, and more and more detached until she reaches the breaking point and is transformed into a werewolf. This is a cool variation on the werewolf legends… werewolves transform once a month and you can argue that women do the same. This isn’t a sexist story, you have to read between the lines.
The last story in this volume is about a TV show about life of a plantation in the South. A new show is being filmed in the Swamp Thing’s hometown. There are a few celebrities in town and a bunch of the townspeople are hired on extras to portray the plantation’s slaves. Before too long, the actors are having trouble staying in character and it appears that the plantation’s tragic past is being relived through the people involved with the show. The past catches up with the present, and the dead start to rise to seek justice.
Saga of the Swamp Thing is a horror comic. The world is going to hell, and the Swamp Thing is one of the few things that can save it. I’ve seen vampires and werewolves and zombies a thousand times before. But I’ve never seen them depicted like this. They are unique and still recognizable. Alan Moore creates a world where the impossible can happen at any moment, and if it does, you’ll be glad if a walking/talking plant is willing to save you.
Critically Rated at 15/17