New Reviews of Old Comics
I bought quite a few of these Silver Age Classics reprints when they first came out in 1992 and enjoyed them quite a bit. When I recently came across this one in a local consignment shop I thought I had quite a find. As I’ve previously written, Swamp Thing wasn’t always a favorite, but over time I have grown to appreciate the complexities of the character. As a comic fan I always appreciate the chance to read a characters first appearance, even if it is in the form of a reprint.
Appropriately titled, “Swamp Thing” was written by Len Wein and drawn by Berni Wrightson (but you probably knew that already). This nine page tale is essentially the story of a love triangle gone wrong. Alex Olsen was a scientist who worked with his wife Linda and friend Damian Ridge. When Alex was killed in a laboratory explosion, Damian married his friend’s widow. That would be pretty boring all on its own, but Damian set up the explosion as a means to get Alex out of the way so he could marry Linda. As if it that weren’t compelling enough, Linda now suspects the truth and Damian is starting to realize it, so now he feels the need to kill her. The frosting on this cake is that Alex didn’t really die, he became Swamp Thing and he’s looking for Linda. This was fortuitous because he finds her just as Damian is about kill her and saves the day before returning to the swamp.
The second third of this issue is “After I Die!” written by Mark Evanier with art by Bill Draut, where Maxwell is at his wife’s bedside as she lays near death. In her final moments she gets a horrified look on her face which haunts Maxwell to point he becomes obsessed with knowing what is on the other side. Also he despises his brother in-law, Hal, who is something of a parasite. Maxwell spends time paying for near death patients hoping to see them in their final moments, but is thwarted. When he shows up to shoot Hal and discover the secret, the tables are turned and Maxwell is shot. Before he crosses over, he finds his answer and shares it with Hal. You’ll have to read the story to know Hal’s reaction to this bit of insider info.
Finally Virgil North wrote “It’s Better to Give…” with artists Weiss & Dezuniga about a bum who lives in a junkyard and helps a young boy buy a new balloon. His generosity is repaid by a bathtub faucet that pours out coins instead of water. The bum uses the money to clean himself up and also shares the wealth. A greedy thug attacks the bum, but the boy with the balloon sees the mugging and uses the balloon to trap the criminal before popping the balloon and ending the story.
Obviously if this comic is reprinted in a book titled Silver Age Classics there is something special about this comic. “Swamp Thing” of course is classic. I’m not sure if it was intended to be a one-shot or what, but this nine page story was the impetus for some of the best comics ever written. Len Wein’s story was very reminiscent of the classic EC horror comics (yes, that’s a compliment) and Berni Wrightson’s art is perfect for the story. The other two stories are good on their own, also in the EC vein, but certainly lack the impact of “Swamp Thing.” And if House of Secrets #92 isn’t one of the all time classic comic book covers, I don’t know what is.