In the US: Fridays, DC Universe In the UK: Not yet acquired
Swamp Thing is one of the most oddly popular characters in the DC comic book universe. So-called because creator Len Wein couldn’t think of a name for that “swamp thing I’m working on”, Swamp Thing was originally just a horror comic character, with scientist Alec Holland seemingly dying in a swamp, but thanks to a chemical, ending up a plant-monster instead.
Gosh, wouldn’t you want to read that?
Not even two movies by Roger Corman persuaded people that Swamp Thing was worth reading. Instead, as with most things comics in the 80s, it wasn’t until Alan Moore was let loose on the title that a seemingly ordinary comic book character could become extraordinary.
Moore had already subverted Marvelman/Miracleman into a quasi-scientific analysis of superhero powers, their status as a new Greek pantheon and how they could transform the world if they so wanted.
With Swamp Thing, he was able to muse on the hidden horrors of US society, deconstruct the right-wing and Christian values at the core of comic book morality, and enable Swamp Thing to transcend his slock origins. He even introduced the world to John Constantine along the way, and ironically, it’s his run on Swamp Thing that gave Constantine its first season ‘big bad’
In his hands, Swamp Thing was no longer Alec Holland transformed into a plant beast – he was an elemental, a supernatural protector of nature, intended to preserve the balance in ‘the green’. He wasn’t a man: he was the plants themselves thinking they were a man, but actually borrowing his consciousness and creating a similar form – no more the true Alec Holland than the nearest tree or rose bush was.
That proved a successful enough interpretation of the character that the USA Network was able to resurrect Corman’s version of Swamp Thing for a three-season run from 1990.
Swamp Thing (2019)
Oddly, though, it doesn’t yet feel like DC Universe’s take on Swamp Thing is going to follow the successful Moore interpretation. Instead, Swamp Thing is very much a show rooted (ho, ho) in the horror genre, particularly the “things that go bump in the swamp at night” genre, but with a slight hint of Cronenbergian body horror.
It sees Crystal Reed (Teen Wolf, Gotham) playing Swamp Thing’s comic book main squeeze, Abby Arcane. Now a CDC doctor, she returns to the home town she thought she’d left behind forever, when a strange haemorrhagic disease breaks out in the swamps and people start dying.
In the hospital, she meets scientist Alec Holland (Power‘s Andy Bean), who hints that stranger things are afoot that might at first appear. He’s been hired by local bigwigs Will Patton and Virginia Madsen to see if there’s anything financially exploitable in the swamp. However, he’s discovered something else much stranger.
Together, Bean and Reed investigate the swamp – as well as the local town – and grow closer. But there’s a murder on its way that’s going to change everything…
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