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Saturday, 11 August 2012

Archive's Sunday Comics - Alan Moore's Swamp Thing Vol 1

When Alan Moore first started his legendary run on Swamp Thing, I had more or less given up on reading comic books, but the ripples were so great  that I was aware of the  comic. I think I picked up a few of the issues late in his run because I was interested in the John Constantine character which Moore created .

The seven issues collected in this first volume of the graphic novel collection, which will eventually contain Moore's entire run, were completely new to me. And reading them like this I was really able to appreciate what  Moore did with the title - Swamp Thing under Moore's guiding hand was the first comic to ignore the Comics Book Code and aim the stories specifically at an adult readership -it was this direction that would eventually lead to the creation of the Vertigo imprint under which DC published titles aimed at a mature readership.

The stories contained in Book One are Loose Ends, The Anatomy Lesson, Swamped, Another Green World, Roots, The Sleep of Reason, A Time of Running and By Demons Driven.

The first story, Loose Ends, never reprinted until now, apparently ties up all the loose ends left dangling from previous issues of the comic, but as I've never read these I don't know how well it did this. However the story is a standalone and allows Moore to tinker with the Swamp Thing's origins and immediately I was drawn into Moore's surreal style of storytelling. Things get seriously weird at times, but the story always seems to make some kind of sense and the horror elements of the character are brought to the fore.

The second story is where Moore really starts to make the character his own and turns everything upside down, telling us that Swamp Thing isn't really Alex Holland, but that he is really the swamp who thinks it is Alex Holland, that it takes on this humanoid shape because it has consumed the man's consciousness.

And from there on in things gets seriously weird but totally compelling. Maybe some of Moore's concepts are too cosmic and way out for those used to more conventional comics, but sticking with the story will pay dividends. This is great storytelling with a feel for the Gothic and a concern for environmental issues. Swamp Thing is the ultimate Green icon.

The book features a foreword by respected horror author, Ramsey Campbell in which he calls Swamp Thing a remarkable fusion of the super hero and horror genres. He goes onto praise Moore's storytelling abilities and makes the heady claim that Swamp Thing can stand side by side with the finest works of contemporary horror and that the genre has been left all the richer for Moore's run on this title.

I enjoyed all of the stories in this first volume and I'll certainly be getting them all, as  Moore's complete run will embellish any library.

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