SAGA OF THE SWAMP THING #29, DC Comics, October 1984
I've been swamped at work recently, which gave me an idea for the week's theme: Swamp monsters! Do you need a better reason? It gets me to talk about the Alan Moore, Steve Bissette, John Totleben Swamp Thing, how's that for a reason?
In the early 80s, I'd bought a Len Wein issue of Swamp Thing, and it didn't mean anything to me. Swamp dude fights Crystal dude in, where else, a swamp. But a year later, my kid brother begged me to buy the most recent issue of Swamp Thing because, well, he was 7 years old and it had monsters in it. I bought #29, relatively early in the seminal Alan Moore run, and I don't know about my kid brother, but it freaked me out so badly I didn't buy another issue of Swamp Thing until I was, like, 2 years into university.
Found on the regular comic book racks, it's one of the few comics at the time not to boast Comics Code approval. And naturally so: This is the incest/necrophilia/bestiality issue.
See, it seems that Swamp Thing's girlfriend Abby Cable is once again sleeping with her husband Matt, but guess what, he's dead and his corpse is being animated by Abby's uncle Anton via various insects crawling inside him. Incest. Necrophilia. Bestiality. It's all there in one neat package. Here's the love scene (don't worry, it's tasteful... as much as zombie love can be anyway):
Abby's reaction when she finds out? Scrubs herself raw with a toilet brush.
Man, today, this isn't that hardcore, but you've got to remember that this is 1984. And yet, it's still damn creepy today. Alan Moore is a master of horror, both subtle and shocking. I'm skipping over vast swathes of disturbing imagery here, but after the hell Moore puts Abby through, it's still the quiet last page in the company of the Swamp Thing that chills me every time.
Swampy sees a wounded bird moving on the ground. He reaches for it... "He saw it move and thought it was alive... but it was full of bugs." This, ladies and gentlethings, is how Moore orchestrates the final reveal about Matt Cable. And at the same time, it relates to Swamp Thing itself, an animate creature that only has the memories of a man, rather than a man that has been turned into a monster. The true horror here is that I was too young to appreciate this stuff at the time and had to chase after what back issues I could find later.