The Essentials Of Swamp Thing

Abel Loza Abel Loza
Expert Contributor
January 12th, 2018

If you give me the chance, ill talk your ear off about comic books. As the legend states, "Abel's first words were 'Batman.'" #TeamBatman

The Essentials Of Swamp Thing

Dr. Alec Holland, better known as Swamp Thing, is one of DC Comics’ most underrated and underused characters in the DC Universe. Usually associated with the “darker” or supernatural side of DC, Swamp Thing has one of the most exciting origin stories and has a plethora of rich stories from his 45 years of existence in comic books, television, and film. Our Abel Loza takes a break from talking Batman and discusses what comics, movies and shows you should read and watch to be fully immersed in the world of Swamp Thing.  

The Essentials Of Swamp Thing

During my time here at ComiConverse, most of my writing has been focused on the Dark Knight, as he has been my favorite character since I knew what a superhero was. Although Batman is my favorite character to talk and write about, by no means, does that make him the only character that I care about? One of the characters that I enjoy exploring is classic and sometimes forgotten, Swamp Thing.

One of the many times Batman and Swamp Thing have faced off/worked together

With the announcement of the upcoming one-shot Swamp Thing: Winter Special, I was extremely excited to revisit the creature from Louisiana and catch up to get ready for the forthcoming issue. Writer Len Wein, one half of the original creative team behind Swamp thing (the other being artist Bernie Wrightson) was set to make a comeback and create an ongoing Swamp Thing series starting in 2017. Unfortunately, the untimely passing of Wein in September of 2017 (consequently and also, unfortunately, Wrightson also passed away earlier in 2017) left the project in limbo.



Queue superstar creative team Tom King and artist Jason Fabok, who initially teamed up on The Button together, decided to pick up where Wein left off and put together a single issue with Wein’s original script.

So to get everyone ready for the Swamp Thing: Winter Special, I compiled a list of some of my favorite and some of the essential Swamp Thing stories that anyone who is interested in learning and more about Swamp Thing should read or watch. My goal for this list is to not only introduce you to the character of Swamp Thing but also make him one of your favorite characters as well. The anthropomorphic, human/plant swamp monster was created in 1971 by the aforementioned writer Len Wein and artist Bernie Wrightson and made his first appearance in House of Secrets #92 in July of 1971.

Named Alec Olsen initially, Swamp Thing was renamed to Alec Holland when he got his comic book series in Swamp Thing #1 in 1972. Although a few other thing were changed in the origin story between House of Secrets #92 and Swamp Thing #1, the basic premise is the same: A scientist, who developed a world-changing chemical formula for plants, is burned to death by a jealous third party. When the scientist tries to put out the flames of the chemical fire in the waters of Louisiana, the combination of the bayou and chemicals turned the scientist into the Swamp Thing monster.


Essential Swamp Thing

7. Justice League Dark (Comic book/Animated movie)



Although Swamp Thing is not included in the entire run of the series (his first appearance isn't until issue #19), Justice League Dark is an essential Swamp Thing read since it explores and delves into the supernatural world that Alan Moore created during his original run. Justice League Dark was such a creative idea to give those characters that usually don’t get the spotlight a way to shine, which apparently includes the Swamp Thing.

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An animated movie was made (see my review for The Justice League Dark movie here), in 2017 which took the basic premise from the comic book run and turned it into a pretty good adaptation of the occult superheroes. Justice League Dark, the comic book, and movie are interesting to see the dynamics of how a usually solitary character like Swamp Thing, work with a team to solve some spooky crimes.

If the Justice League Dark proposed movie can escape production hell, I would love to see Swamp Thing in a more modern live-action movie, again. Without the rubber suit

6.  Swamp Thing: The Movie



Speaking of the rubber suit...

Before Batman, Swamp Thing was the star of his very own movie five years before the iconic Tim Burton movie was released.  In all of its classic 80s cheesy tropes and glory, the 1982 Wes Craven directed Swamp Thing movie is mostly faithful to his origin story, besides a few changes here and there (namely that Matt Cable is turned into Alice Cable and is Swamp Things main love interest and not Linda or Abigail Arcane).

Apparently, the special effects of 1982 are nothing compared to what we have today, so when watching this make sure to remember that. In classic 80s horror movie fashion, there is a rubber suit involved, and sometimes that rubber suit is not forgiving, but if you watch it for what it is, you’ll have a good time watching this new DC movie. Swamp Thing is currently available for rental on Amazon Video, YouTube, and is on the iTunes Store.

5.  Swamp Thing: The Animated Series


Every good DC character has their animated cartoon series. This rule of thumb applies for Swamp Thing as well. Although this cartoon is nowhere near the quality of Batman: The Animated Series, it was an excellent way to introduce kids to Swamp Thing in a Saturday morning cartoon format. As like the Swamp Thing movie of the 1980s, the Swamp Thing Animated Series is a product of its time. It’s incredibly 90s, and if you know what you’re getting into when watching this, you’ll enjoy the cartoon a little bit more. The Swamp Thing: Animated Series only lasts five episodes, but for anyone who is a fan of animated cartoons. All five events are uploaded to YouTube and if you want to check it out click here to check them out!

4. Batman Vol. 3 #23



Batman #23 teamed up two of my favorite characters in all of comics, Batman and Swamp Thing, to try and solve a murder-mystery in Gotham City. In this one-shot issue, Swamp Thing is brought to Gotham because the person murdered is a known acquaintance of Dr. Alec Holland (I don't want to ruin it. read it!), and he tries to get to the bottom of who murdered the mysterious man. Author Tom King does an excellent job of comparing and Contrasting the Dark Knight and Swamp Thing as a team. The ending does leave an open door for a possible future reunion between the two DC characters. If you have read this issue, click here to check out my original review of Batman #23.

This issue also made my list of favorite Batman moments of 2017, click on the link here to see what else made my list.

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3. Swamp Thing Vol. 6, 1-6

Cover of Wein's comeback series, Swamp Thing #1


Len Wein, famously only wrote 13 of the 24 issues of the very first run on Swamp Thing before a different creative team finished it. In 2016, Wein came back to DC to write what would have been the continuation of his Swamp Thing story, in a six-issue miniseries, that gave us a quick but fulfilling tale. The unfinished novel which was mentioned before was going to be a sequel to Wein’s 2016 series.With appearances from Zatanna, The Specter and Deadman, Swamp Thing Vol. 6 felt very much like a story that was written in the 1970s mixed with characteristics and mythos that have accumulated over the many years of Swamp Thing stories. This is a must-read for any Swamp Thing fan, especially since this has been the latest run of Swamp Thing we have gotten.

2. Swamp Thing #1

First issue of Swamp Thing's solo series


There is no better place to start than from the beginning. Swamp Thing #1, released in 1972, is the original run by creator Len Wein and artist Bernie Wrightson. Wein and Wrightson’s original series lasted 13 issues, before being replaced for the last 9. Although this is not the first appearance for Swamp Thing in comics, this is the first one where Swamp Thing is named Alec Holland and the first one where the chemical formula is what the bad guys are after. In House of Secrets #92, the man who is responsible for burning Alex Olsen (original name of Swamp Thing) was after his wife Linda Olsen (later renamed Linda Holland). This is as right a place as any to get started on the Swamp Thing story and learn about his excellent origin story.

If you want to read this issue, and you totally should, and it will cost you nothing. Comixology is currently giving the digital copy for free.  Click here to get it for FREE.  

1. Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing Run, The Saga of the Swamp Thing (#20-58, 60-61, 63-64 and Annual 2)



As mentioned above, revisiting this run was the catalyst for this list. The reason many of us, myself included, became Swamp Thing fans in the first place is that the world built around Swamp Thing is so full of life, mystery, and intrigue. Another aspect that makes this story so compelling is the characteristics (one with the green, an avatar for the planet, the supernatural) of the Swamp Thing, makes it a grandiose world that always has a story to tell. These additions to the character and world of Swamp Thing were added by the legendary and iconic comic book writer, Alan Moore.

Although Wein laid down the groundwork for Swamp Thing, the quintessential Swamp Thing came at the hands of Moore during the 1980s. Not only is Moore’s run efficiently the best Swamp Thing run of all time but is one of the best series runs of all time (COMPLEX named it the 13th best race of all time).

Moore did a masterful job of taking what Wein created and gave it a horror twist. Although not what we consider traditional horror, the element of the supernatural that was added to Swamp Thing gave it life and breath of fresh air that revitalized not only the character but the series as well. Moore created a true masterpiece, and his run on Swamp Thing runs alongside his other classics, V for Vendetta, The Killing Joke, and Watchmen.

Abel Loza is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Follow him on Twitter: @st_abel45

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