Roots of the Swamp Thing Issue #1 – July 1986 (DC Comics)

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TITLE: Roots of the Swamp Thing issue #1

YEAR: July 1986


Written By Len Wein

Illustrated by Berni Wrightson

Colored by Tatjana Wood

Edited by Joe Orlando

It was July 1971 when writer Len Wein and illustrator Bernie Wrightson introduced Swamp Thing to the DC Universe.  While the first appearance was in “House of Secrets” issue #92 featuring a scientist named Alex Olsen.

While that was a short story, the success of it would lead to DC Comics wanting the two to create an ongoing series and so the two would create Alec Holland, update the timeframe and release “Swamp Thing” issue #1 in October/November 1972.

The primary difference between the two is that the ongoing series featuring Alec Holland would depict a hulking, muscular version and that Swamp Thing is able to speak without any difficulty.  And Alan Moore, would bring the two together eventually for “Swamp Thing” issue #33 and brought up that there may have been other Swamp Things in the past.

There since have been five volumes of “Swamp Thing” and for those who never had the opportunity to read the 1971 series were able to read the reprints released in 1986 titled “Roots of Swamp Thing”, which was five issues long but reprinted issues #1-10 (Len Wein and Bernie Wright would work together for ten issues, Wein departed after issue #13 and Wrightson departed after issue #10).  Each issue of “Roots of Swamp Thing” featured two issues.

Another series titled “Saga of the Swamp Thing” became the first mainstream comic book to abandon the Comics Code Authority.

The first issue featured Dr. Alec Holland and his wife Dr. Linda Holland being moved to a safehouse to work on their Bio-Restorative Research project.

They are taken there by Matt Cable, an agent of the Defense Department and their close friend and told that there would be a patrol car in the area constantly.

As the two work on creating their project and seeing how their chemical would be able to create gardens in sweltering deserts, they have guests knock on their door from thugs who tell them that a private organization is interested in purchasing their Bio-Restorative Formula and they are offering a blank check for the exclusive rights.

Dr. Holland tells them it’s not for sale and before he is about to be roughed up, a patrol car comes and Matt Cable comes and warns them to not open the door as they are seen as commodoties and they can be bought or traded by whoever and how many people would rather see them dead than let their enemies get the formula

One day, they hear scratching on the door and it’s an old hound dog.  Through Linda’s pleading to keep it, they keep the mutt, not knowing that he has a radio transmitter embedded into him and their enemies can listen to their conversations.

Once again, the thugs are sent to visit the Hollands but to not get the formula but to kill them and destroy it.  Linda is not home but the thugs rough Alec up and set a time bomb under the desk of their lab desk and before Alec could remove it, it blows up.

Alec catches on fire with the chemicals all over him and he falls into the swamp.

As Linda, Cable and others mourn the death of Alec Holland, Alec emerges from the swamp but now as Swamp Thing, muscular, grotesque but he is able to think and speak.

Meanwhile, Cable brings Linda home and the dog runs out.    As Cable goes to get it, one of the thugs wacks him with a shovel, while swamp Thing manages to save the dog sinking in the swamp.

Unfortunately, the two remaining thugs end up going to the safehouse and killing Linda.  While Swamp Thing goes after the thugs, Cable awakens and thinks the monster is responsible for the deaths.

For the second issue storyline included, an old evil sorcerer named Arcane sees Swamp Thing through his magical mirror and has his monsters kidnap him and deliver him to his lair.

Cable has Interpol tracking the aircraft that took Swamp Thing but Cable is intent of catching the monster and hunting him down.

Meanwhile, Arcane makes a deal with Swamp Thing, allow him to take over his body and he will give Alec his human body right back.  Alec looks at it as the best way of becoming human again, so he agrees to it.  But when he finds out that Arcane plans to use the body to destroy villagers near his lair, Alec regrets his decision.

Overall, “Roots of the Swamp Thing” is fantastic for those who are interested in learning the history of how Dr. Alec Holland became Swamp Thing without having to spend the money on an online auction to acquire the first few issues.

Those who watched the old 1982 Wes Craven live action film may remember the antagonist Arcane.  Different from the comic book series but nevertheless, a major antagonist for Swamp Thing.  And he would become the primary antagonist again for the ’90s animated series.  It’s hard to remember that there was a series on cable also during the early ’90s as well.

It is printed on better paper and has a cool gatefold cover but for the most part, Len Wein’s writing and Bernie Wrightson’s illustrations made their collaboration for the first ten issues on “Swamp Thing” a series worth reading.


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