Saga of the Swamp Thing Book 1

March 8, 2009 | Trades

Even before readers knew “who watches the Watchmen,” they knew Alan Moore was one to keep an eye on.
After enjoying success across the pond since the late 1970s with series such as V For Vendetta and Marvelman, Moore burst onto the North American comics scene in late 1983, taking over the poor-selling series, Saga of the Swamp Thing, about a scientist trapped inside the body of a monstrous, green plant creature.
Moore’s first issue, pencilled by Canadian Dan Day and collected alongside the subsequent seven issues in Saga of the Swamp Thing Book 1 (DC Comics, 208 pages, $27.99), tied up many of the character’s loose plot threads and ended with the hero apparently shot to death.
Moore’s second issue simply blew readers away.
With the kind of gripping prose that modern comic readers have grown accustomed to, but which was unusually thought-provoking and eloquent for its era, Moore literally dissected his protagonist, as the Swamp Thing’s body was examined by a botanist who made a shocking discovery about exactly who, or more specifically what, he is.
With the status quo of the series tilted on its ear, Moore, aided by then little-known artists Stephen Bissette and John Totleben (both of whom have gone on enjoy illustrious careers of their own), took their hero to the brink of insanity, to a meeting with the devil and to the depths of hell itself as what eventually became a nearly four-year run unfolded —overlapping with Moore’s and artist Dave Gibbons’ creation of the much-lauded Watchmen, the film version of which hit theatres this weekend.
While V For Vendetta, From Hell, Watchmen and others of Moore’s works have made it to the silver screen, allowing even those who’ve never read a word of his published pages to appreciate his impressive imagination, his work on Swamp Thing remains some of his best and well worth readers’ time, even if it’ll likely never be worth Hollywood’s.

(This review first appeared in the Toronto Star)

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