Before Batman: The Killing Joke and before Watchmen, there was Swamp Thing. In 1982, Len Wein offered Alan Moore his first DC Comics writing job, taking over Swamp Thing with issue #21. We all know of the brilliance that Moore can produce, and Swamp Thing is no different. His entire Swamp Thing run is a comic book writing clinic, but the issue that stood out for me personally was Swamp Thing #24, which wrapped up Moore’s first mini-arc on the title, and showed some of DC’s finest champions in a new and unusual light.
Dr. Jason Woodrue, a.k.a. the Floronic Man (John Glover’s character in the film Batman & Robin), has been rooted by Mother Nature to destroy all humans and save Earth from mankind. Such a titanic threat does not fail to gain the attention of the Justice League of America as they sit and discuss this matter like the Greek Gods of myth. As the JLA bickers about the situation in their satellite base far about the atmosphere, the Swam Thing rises from the soup like a sleeping giant, ready to confront Woodrue.
Woodrue and Swamp Thing do battle, but our hero’s slow, yet thunderous words of reasoning prevail, as Nature unroots itself from Woodrue, leaving him as the one thing he hates most: Man. And just like the all powerful champions of the skies, Superman and Green Lantern descend from the heavens to collect what’s left of the Floronic Man, unsure of how he is suddenly a broken rogue.
This story is chock-full with themes and metaphors of God and man, and Moore delivers it divinely through his strong and natural flow of dialog. So many writers from this decade rely way too heavily on exposition, but Moore lets his narrative flow cinematically, allowing the action and emotion to tell the story. Of course, it couldn’t have been executed so pristinely without the dark and moss covered art stylings of Stephen Bissette and John Totleben. You can feel the arrogance and smugness of the JLA, and the hot, humid air of the Louisiana bogs. This quality of art and storytelling would be not only acceptable, but welcome by 2011 standards.
Alan Moore wrote several issues of Swamp Thing, and every single issue is worth reading (especially after Karen Berger takes over as editor in issue #25), but of the entire run, this issue sticks with me the most.
Even today, Swamp Thing continues to impress as one of the best comics of DC’s New 52, and if you’re a new reader of the character, do yourself a favor and pick up some original Alan More Swamp Thing issues. You will not regret it.
For more Ye Olde School Café, click here!