Welcome to the Swamp

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.


Marc Burkhardt said…
It's still pretty hardcore and terrifying today in my book, just because of what it implies rather than just showing zombies gang-banging somebody.
Siskoid said…
Once again, proves that what we DON'T see is a lot scarier than what we do.
rob! said…
that whole incest angle went right by me when i was a kid reading it for the first time.

DAMN alan moore is good!
cool to see something with Swamp Thing for a change. that was another favorite character/series of mine back in the day. my initial interest in the comic book admittedly had much to do with Wes Craven's cheesy movie adaptation. but as a kid it was cool at the time especailly when you factor in Adrian Barbue's chest into the mix. Allan Moore's writting in this series was some of his best stuff ever. aside from Batman's "A Killing Joke".
Siskoid said…
For a change on the SBG sure, but if you like Swamp Thing, check out http://www.progressiveruin.com/

Mike's fetish character is ol' Swampy.
a post script to my first comment. i also wanted to mention how great the art complimented Moore's writing. creepy and artistic at the same time. most definitely ahead of it's time and something you couldn't quite fully appreciate in your early teens if that's when you first saw it ( like me ).
who ever this Mike guy is he's welcomed to Swampy. just give me Adrian and i'll be a happy man. like i'm sure John Carpenter was for many years. she looked great in Escape From New York also. by the Siskoid, did you know Adrian Barbeau played a Romulan in a DS9 episode?

on a side note. the mystery spaceknight was Gloriole.
Siskoid said…
Yes, I'm quite the brainiac when it comes to Trek trivia. She was the second Senator Cretak, the one from Inter Arma...
Nice! got it in one you clever canuck. by the way you should check out my comment on your ROM vs. Rocketeer post. that happens to be a very special ROM issue for me. also, i used to have that HULK issue with the wraith kid story. forgot all about that cut away story until i saw your post. as you can see i don't have much going on this weekend with all this time i'm spending online today.
Siskoid said…
I get notices for each comment, though I may not always reply if I don't have anything new or clever to add.
i was wondering about because i don't know how otherwise you can keep up with the comments to all these subjects you post about. thanks for getting back to me with today's enjoyable sci-fi comic book nerd talk. i was almost about to say "Have a nice Labor Day weekend" but then i remembered who i was talking to.
Siskoid said…
Good call. I'm working over the weekend, business trip over the next few days. So I've pre-blogged all day today so that the SBG never lacks for content.
off the subject for a minute. how do you like living in Moncton? i've never met any Canadians from smaller cities like Moncton. only the bigger places like Toronto.
Siskoid said…
Just my speed actually. The Greater Moncton area has about 100,000 inhabitants, 40% of them French-speakers like myself. I've lived in smaller (Ballinger TX, 2-3000 inhabitants) and bigger (Montreal), but Moncton seems to be the sweet spot. Big enough to have everything I need, small enough I can walk or cheaply get to everywhere.
yeah Moncton looks like a nice place. not too big but not too small. but i would not have guessed that it had so many French speaking Canadians (like yourself apparently )in that part of the country, Fascinating, thanks for sharing. it's cool to find out stuff like this from people you have some common interests with in other parts of the world. well we're talking U.S./Canada but you know what i mean.
Siskoid, i need your help. there was an Enterprise episode that had one of Phlox's wives in it. she was pretty hot and apparently was trying to hook up with Tucker. which didn't seem to bother the Dr. because in that episode we find out Denobulans are polyamorous. i'm trying to find out episode that was.
Siskoid said…
We meet Feezal in Stigma.
Thanks, i hope to see a review of that episode on your blog some day. i would have tapped that Denobulan " " in a heart beat.
Siskoid said…
It's here somewhere. I finished all Star Trek episode reviews last year.
Hi Siskoid, i just discovered this ROM art blog site from Floating World Comics today. there's a lot of weird abstract type art that i'm not crazy about but it also has some really nice work too. i've seen some of the stuff on here before but there's also some new stuff i've never seen before too. it wouldn't surprise me if you know about this already but here goes anyways: