New Reviews of Old Comics
I used to think Swamp Thing was a joke. Human shaped plant walking around just sounded dumb to me. And those movies sure didn’t do anything to help my perception of the character. I once received a free copy of Swamp Thing #21 (the first issue written by Alan Moore for those not in the know) for renewing my subscription to Comics Buyers Guide. I was less than impressed at the time so I quickly sold it to a comic store for a price I can’t even remember any more. The first Swamp Thing story I remember making a positive impression on me was #34 which I read long after it was initially published in one of those DC Digest magazines they used to put out, and I only bought that because Ambush Bug was on the cover. Even with the tiny size and lousy printing quality the story got enough of my attention to look for current copies of the title. Sadly this revelation came to me when Alan Moore was about three or four issues from wrapping up his run. Between the back issues I was able to get and reprint volumes I’ve become a Swamp Thing fan. Although I wish I had kept that #21, I still have that DC Digest issue. Some consolation, eh?
The cover on this issue is pretty cool, with a priest commanding a demon that has leapt through a window to put Swamp Thing in a WWE style choke hold. “The Soul-Spell of Father Bliss” was written by David Michelinie with art by Nestor Redondo. After our plant like hero is struck by lightning he meets up with a kindly old priest who wants to help a walking pile of moss. This is the first clue something isn’t right with the priest; any normal person would have avoided such a creature at all costs. Also Swamp Thing/Alec Holland’s friends Abby, Matt Cable and a couple others are in the swamp looking for their buddy. The priest casts a spell that causes a swap between Alec’s Swamp Thing embedded soul in with a demon living in a globe; now the demon inhabits the Swamp Thing while Alec sleeps in the globe. Why would a priest do such a thing? Why to bring about Armageddon of course, so people will be forced to turn back to God. Well, the couple of people that will be left on Earth can then worship God again. The demon turns out to be really bad, stealing someone’s soul, but the priest is slow to see his error and too weak to do anything about when he tries to correct it. Abby sees the problem and tells Matt to smash the globe, thus depriving the demon of his power source and bringing Alec’s soul back to Swamp Thing and the demon has to present himself in his own ugly body. After a brief fight scene the priest sacrifices himself to get rid of the demon he unleashed.
I’ve never understood why some religious types embrace the idea of humanity’s end, be it looking forward to the End Times and Revelations coming true, or the “Secret Imam” making his appearance on Earth. What’s to be gained by all life on the planet ending? Seems kind of short sighted to me since those people would be among the ones to go.
Certainly this story wasn’t anywhere near Alan Moore quality, but I found it to be enjoyable none the less. Nestor Redondo’s art was superb and enhanced the story quite a bit. The art style fits the mood of the story. If they haven’t already, DC should consider reprinting the pre-Moore Swamp Thing stories sometime in the near future.
Best Ad: Novelty items are nothing new to comic readers. From X-Ray Specs to Whoppie Cushions and Joy Buzzers, we’ve seen it all. Pretty early in this issue is a full page ad for the Honor House Production Corp of Lynbrook, NY selling a dozen or so of the usual items. This ad, however, also has an “Authentic Superman Costume” for $6.98. They even have an illustration of a happy boy wearing the cape, blue shirt/pants and red boots. He also has an eye mask, short sleeve shirt and blue pants without the red speedo, so I don’t find this a very authentic Superman costume. The copy touts “Made of long lasting, fire retarded materials to give you weeks and months of fun.” Weeks and months is long lasting? Uh, okay. I’m sure there are more than a few knuckle heads out there who bought this “authentic” costume and jumped off their roof or a nearby tree thinking they could fly, only to find gravity was more authentic than their $6.98 costume. They should have bought the $1.98 “Wolfman” mask to scared the whole neighborhood and save five bucks at the same time.