Alan Moore’s run on Saga Of The Swamp Thing, produced in collaboration with several artists but foremost among them Stephen Bissette, is a classic. Under Moore’s pen, the book became bitingly political and experimented in different genres. Under Bissette’s grotesque imagery was also a beating heart of a romance between Swamp Thing and his beloved Abby Arcane.
Moore’s run is also shockingly interconnected with the DC Universe, featuring regular guest appearances and tying into the concurrent Crisis On Infinite Earths. As such, it’s a bittersweet taste of the types of comics which Moore might have continued writing had DC not kept the rights to Watchmen from him and Dave Gibbons, an act of corporate malfeasance which extinguished Moore’s love of superheroes.
10 The Justice League Of America Stay On The Sidelines While Swamp Thing Handles The Floronic Man
In Moore’s first arc, Swamp Thing faces off against Justice League villain Jason Woodrue, aka The Floronic Man. Woodrue seeks to replace Swamp Thing as avatar of the Green, the elemental force which connects Earth’s plant-life. In Saga Of The Swamp Thing #24, the JLA— Aquaman, Flash, Firestorm, Green Arrow, Green Lantern, Hawkman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and Zatanna— monitor the events from their orbital Watchtower.
In a hint of the deconstructive angle he would take with Watchmen, Moore writes the heroes as gods on high who’ve insulated themselves from their subjects and have thus lost touch with them. Even the liberal Green Arrow remarks with disbelief that the latest world-ending threat comes from a place as insignificant as Lacroix, Louisiana.
9 Etrigan The Demon Guest Stars Twice
Moore’s Swamp Thing had many storylines focused on mysticism and so frequently crossed over with the magical side of the DCU. The first instance of such was when Jason Blood came to Louisiana in Saga Of The Swamp Thing #25 after Woodrue’s defeat.
Over the course of three issues, Blood and his split self, Etrigan The Demon, investigate then foil the demonic Monkey King. before departing as uneasy friends of Swamp Thing. Later, in Swamp Thing Annual #2, Etrigan helps lead Swamp Thing into Hell so that the latter may search for the imprisoned Abby, while in Swamp Thing #49-50, Etrigan and Swamp Thing ally once more to stop the Great Darkness.
8 The Joker Appears During A Brief Check-In At Arkham Asylum
For better or worse, Moore and Brian Bolland redefined the Joker forever with The Killing Joke. A few years before that book’s publication, Moore briefly featured the Clown in Swamp Thing #30. In this issue, Swamp Thing’s old enemy Anton Arcane (uncle of Abby) has returned from the dead by possessing his niece’s husband, Matthew Cable. Arcane uses his control over reality to incite violent acts.
Woodrue, imprisoned in Arkham Asylum since his defeat, senses the evil and raves about it. Furthering the asylum doctors’ sense that something is very wrong, the Joker stops laughing in his cell, which is even more unsettling than his actual laughter.
7 The Deadman Helped Guide Swamp Thing To The Afterlife
Etrigan wasn’t the only guest star in Swamp Thing Annual #2. Boston Brand, aka the Deadman, is the first mystical character Swamp Thing encounters in his journey to the Afterlife. Deadman encounters Swamp Thing the Region of the Just Dead – caught between death and life himself, Deadman is unable to follow Swamp Thing to the lower depths of the afterlife.
Like Etrigan, Deadman later returns in Swamp Thing #50 as one of the magical heroes who fights by Swamp Thing’s side to prevent the Great Darkness from destroying Heaven itself.
6 The Phantom Stranger Was A Recurring Presence…
The third mystical hero who Swamp Thing encounters is the enigmatic Phantom Stranger; incidentally, during Martin Pasko’s run on Swamp Thing, the Stranger’s stories served as back ups in the issues. In Annual #2, the Stranger takes Swamp Thing from the Region of the Just Dead and guides him through Heaven. The two part ways when they discover Abby is in Hell, with Etrigan taking over as Swamp Thing’s third and final guide.
Like Etrigan and the Deadman, the Stranger also unites with Swamp Thing to defeat the Great Darkness. When all seems lost, the Stranger gives himself to oblivion willingly before Swamp Thing finally defeats the Darkness.
5 …As Was His Counterpart, The Spectre
The Spectre is the fourth and final mystical character who guest stars in Swamp Thing Annual #2. Unlike the others, the Spirit Of Vengeance serves not as a guide for Swamp thing, but an obstacle. To enter Hell and search for the Abby, the Phantom Stranger and Swamp Thing must first gain the Spectre’s permission. After some convincing, he grants it.
Later in the series, the Spectre reappears a member of the front against the Great Darkness, coming the closest to defeat the Darkness of any of the heroes besides Swamp Thing himself.
4 Moore Introduced John Constantine In “Saga Of The Swamp Thing”
John Constantine has become an icon in his own right, but he debuted in the pages of Swamp Thing— specifically, Swamp Thing #37 (written by Moore, art by Rick Veitch). Sensing something evil on the horizon, Constantine seeks out Swamp Thing to recruit him for the eventual battle. Constantine becomes a recurring character until his storyline climaxes in Swamp Thing #49-50 with the clash against the Great Darkness.
While Swamp Thing and his allies directly battle the Darkness in the spirit realm, Constantine assembles a group of mystics for a seance meant to assist in the struggle. Constantine last appears in Swamp Thing #56, attending the titular hero’s funeral alongside the Phantom Stranger. However, neither Constantine’s story or his relationship with Swamp Thing ended with Moore’s run.
3 When Swamp Thing Comes To Gotham, He Butts Heads With Batman
While Swamp Thing is battling the Great Darkness, Abby has her own problems to deal with. After being photographed in a moment of intimacy with Swamp Thing, she is fired, socially ostracized, and eventually jailed for the interspecies miscegenation.
She flees to Gotham, but is soon arrested there as well. That’s when Swamp Thing arrives and begins holding the city hostage in exchange for Abby’s return. This puts him at odds with Batman, who is torn between rightfully reuniting the lovers and abiding by the law. Batman eventually convinces Gotham’s mayor to pardon Abby. But unfortunately, during the lovers’ reunion, military officials seemingly kill Swamp Thing. Despite the damage he inflicted on Gotham, Batman attends the funeral and comforts the recently-widowed Abby.
2 When Swamp Thing Finds Himself On Rann, He Meets Adam Strange
In truth, Swamp Thing’s death merely exiled him from Earth. After a futile attempt to recreate Abby and his lost life on an alien world, he spends the remainder of Moore’s run traversing the galaxy, desperately seeking a way back home. One of the alien planets he visits during this odyssey is Rann, adopted homeworld of the Earthman, Adam Strange.
After Swamp Thing assists the Rannians in their conflict with the Thanagarians, Strange promises to deliver the news of Swamp Thing’s survival to Abby. When he does so in Swamp Thing #61 (script by Moore & Bissette, pencils by Veitch), she naturally— and angrily— refuses to believe his fantastical story.
1 Swamp Thing Encounters Metron While Traversing Space
Rick Veitch would ultimately succeed Moore as the writer of Swamp Thing; he got a trial run in issue #62, written and drawn entirely by him. In this issue, Swamp Thing encounters the New God called Metron. While observing the Source Wall, Metron’s Mobius Chair is depleted of power; Swamp Thing is in turn summoned by Metron’s Mother Box, contorts his body into a new Mobius Chair for Metron, and breaks through the Source Wall with him.
Metron later recounts the tale to Darkseid. The Lord Of Apokolips reveals that Metron and Swamp Thing traversed not through the Source, but an Aleph, a point wherein one can view all of time and space. Learning that Swamp Thing thought only of Abby while in the Aleph, Darkseid discovers a part of the Anti-Life Equation he had not previously considered: Love.
NEXT: 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Darkseid & The Rest Of DC’s New Gods
Marvel: The 5 Strongest (& 5 Weakest) Magic Users
About The Author