Comic: "Swamp Thing #1"
Published by: DC Comics
Written by: Len Wein
Artist: Berni Wrightson

Reviewer: Thanos
Posted: 10/12/2010

Plot: Scientist Alec Holland travels to the muck-encrusted swamps of Louisiana with his wife Linda in hopes of completing their "Bio-Restorative Formula". Unbeknownst to them, a clandestine plot is in place to steal their project. After a skirmish with gangsters and an explosion, Alec is transformed into the bog-dwelling Swamp Thing!

Review: Created by Len Wein and Berni Wrightson, Swamp Thing serves as the ultimate horror comic icon of the 1970's. His grotesque features and horrific origin exemplify the monster comics of the decade. Swamp Thing and his cult following began in this issue in a very subtle, but direct way. All the comic clichés are present - eager scientists, moronic thugs, a puppet master behind the scenes, secret formulas and explosions! Beginning here, the cult status of Swamp Thing blossoms into four comic volumes, two feature films, both live-action and animated series and even a line of keen action figures!

Alec and Linda Holland are a husband and wife scientific research team. Under orders from an unspecified department of the federal government, they are shipped off to the bogs of Louisiana to finish work on their Bio-Restorative Formula. The Holland's work is top-secret and Uncle Sam obviously doesn't want anyone else getting their grubby hands on it. Escorted by federal agent Matthew Cable, they make their new home in an inconspicuous barn outfitted with tons of state-of-the-art equipment. A few days into their research, the Hollands have made amazing progress. Their happiness is short-lived, though. A trio of zoot suit sporting gangsters shows up to make our scientists an offer for the formula. Denied by Alec and Linda, the thugs are rebuffed and promise to soon return. Here, the reader learns that the gangsters are not working alone. The shadowy Mister E. is the true villain, sending the goons to do his dirty work for him. Deciding that if the Hollands will not cooperate and sell their research to him, then no one will have the amazing power of the Bio-Restorative Formula! Returning to destroy the lab and all the Holland's research, the minions knock Alec unconscious and plant a bomb.

Here, as they say, the plot thickens.

Waking to the ticking bomb, Alec is too late to stop the looming catastrophe. With a large "BWAROOOOMM!", the bomb goes off in Alec's face. Set ablaze by the detonation and the Bio-Restorative Formula exploding in his lab, Alec runs screaming into the night. The flesh melting from his body, he jumps into the one thing that may ease his suffering - the cool, murky depths of the swamp.

Cut forward to Alec's funeral service. Linda and Agent Cable are discussing the tragedy at graveside. We learn that Linda was conveniently absent from the lab at the time of the explosion. No sooner than Linda and Cable can say their last goodbyes, they return to the lab in hopes of finishing the research without Alec. The laboratory has been quickly restored by the government and no signs of the tragedy remain. Of course, our trio of murderous bruisers returns to finish what they started. They are being watched, though, by our titular creature of the night. Alec Holland died the moment he leapt into the moss-filled quagmire of muck. Through a mixture of the burning Bio-Restorative Formula and the life-filled essence of the slimy marsh, Swamp Thing is born!

Of course, I won't give away the ending to my fellow comic readers. We see Swamp Thing become a vengeful creature of the elements thanks to an oft-used comic plot device. Rampage and murder follow! Death and destruction abound! A line in the sand is drawn! And all the while, we discover an even greater, more demonic evildoer is setting his plan into motion. Len Wein hasn't written a masterpiece by any means, but the story itself is creative and makes full use of the comic-crafting catalogue. The dialogue isn't overly complex and distracting. The characters speak clearly and to the point. Sadly, the only glaring plot hole is the absence of Linda Holland at the time of the explosion. We never do learn where she was, so that does detract from the issue slightly. The real treasure found within these pages is Berni Wrightson's artwork. His depiction of the wetlands and Swamp Thing are both beautiful and haunting to look at. If not for Swamp Thing's thought balloons, the reader would be convinced our main character was a sinister beast from the depths of hell. Wrightson's art will remain with you long after finishing the issue. If you aren't a fan of his work after reading this, you absolutely will be.

Thanks to a mostly steady, standard framework from Wein and lush, eerie artwork from Wrightson, I'm happy to give Swamp Thing #1 four out of a possible five pickles!

Overall rating: WholeWholeWholeWhole
(Scored on a 0.5 - 5 pickles rating: 0.5 being the worst and 5 being the best)

Reader Comments

Forum Chaos Lord
Oct 13th, 2010, 11:27 AM
I remember reading this comic a lot during the 80s. I especially recall the unusually touching episode in which Swamp Thing got married, bringing into view an interesting tale of how true love transcends race and even species.

Not gonna lie, I was kinda a fan of this.
Oct 13th, 2010, 01:19 PM
I like the Alan Moore Swamp Thing a lot but haven't read the Berni Wrightson yet. Which do you prefer?
Teenager from Mars
Oct 13th, 2010, 04:12 PM
Ah, a nice article, my brother! I should have known you'd be doing Swamp Thing.
Forum Virgin
Oct 14th, 2010, 02:59 AM
Funny. I've loved Swamp Thing since I saw the first movie and was blown away...when I was like 3 or 4. Heh. But seriously, loved it since, from the sequel (which I love considerably less since I've grown up) to the toys, and all things Dick Durock.

But I've never read any of the comics. Some day I must remedy that.

Actually I lie. A friend had a single issue, and I saw within it one of my favourite things ever. One of Arcane's mutant men, was a head with a brain whose body was a hand. Again I say, bulbous brain head hand neck. I love that thing.
Forum Virgin
Oct 14th, 2010, 08:49 AM
Swamp Thing is published by DC, not Marvel.
Oct 14th, 2010, 01:54 PM
Marvel made "Man-Thing" which was a crappy knockoff of Swamp Thing.
Admiral of the Undead
Oct 14th, 2010, 07:11 PM
Two Points -

Moranzollams - Thank you for pointing that out. I am aware that Swamp Thing is published by DC Comics. I had a brain fart obviously. My apologies!

Shadowdancer21b - Man-Thing debuted in May of 1971, whereas the first Swamp Thing debuted in July 1971. The Swamp Thing (Alec Holland) we all know and love debuted in November of 1972. Technically, Swamp Thing is the knock off thing.

Speaking of Man-Thing, I love to read the huge old annuals from the seventies... known as "Giant-Size Man-Thing". Subliminal Message there? Perhaps.
Oct 15th, 2010, 04:21 PM
Not to mention that Len Wein wrote Man-Thing's second story in May of 1972, 2 months before he created Swamp Thing.
Forum Virgin
Oct 15th, 2010, 11:11 PM

im not spamming i just wanted to post a link that showed swamp thing and man thing are not a knock off on one another