Welcome back to Graphic Content‘s “Just Swamp Things,” where this week we cover Swamp Thing #4, released May of 1973.
Swamp Thing #4 (May 1973)
The Swamp Thing finds himself in the moors of Scotland having survived a plane crash in a somewhat disposable and uneven issue of Swamp Thing. It’s like The Hound of the Baskervilles, but with a lot less mystery and a waste of a perfectly good werewolf.
This issue, like most in our run, is credited to Len Wein as the author, Bernie Wrightson on the art, and Joe Orlando with the lettering. You can, as always, find this issue in the collection Swamp Thing: Dark Genesis. Please order it through your local comic shop!
Not every issue of Swamp Thing is going to be a major driver of story. While continuity had been important in comics for a while, event through the 1970s Marvel and DC Comics were still very much caught in a cycle of loose serialization and single issues. This issue of Swamp Thing happens to be of the latter. It continues the journey back to the US from Bavaria, the setting of the previous two issues. Matt Cable and Abigail Arcane unknowingly had Swamp Thing on the wing of the plane, and the issue begins post-crash, with Swampy piecing together the situation and seeking survivors.
Again, the issue creates an anachronistic 1970s Europe that shares more in common with the 1870s and introduces the survivors of the crash, Matt, Abigial, Mutt (the dog) and their pilot, Paul, to a local family and their spooky manor. The family,the MacCobbs – two parents and a son who pops in briefly – seem sketchy. There is talk of a menace on the moors and predictably, Paul, the pilot meets an unfortunate end after wandering off, not heeding the warning.
With this set up in mind, the plot plays out how you would think. Nothing here is surprising.
There is something I love about the old-fashionedness of the simultaneous narration as to what we see on the page. At one point, Swamp Thing sinks into quicksand over the course of three panels, but each panel has a written description of what is occurring. Additionally, Swamp Thing’s own inner-monologue works into the panels as well.
It seems rather silly and antiquated at first. Three panels depict something quite clear, each featuring the narration of what is occurring, with the character’s internal monologue regarding the situation he is in. It works for Swamp Thing, however, as the comic has that sort of gothic tendency, but even a fan such as myself can roll my eyes at a bit at this. Wein is a good writer, but the tendency feels just a bit much here.
That being said, these moments reflect a certain rhythm that you do not see in some comics these days. Each panel has a beat that is measured out by the narration, and it’s one of those touches in Wein’s writing I can appreciate. The werewolf transformation, for example, uses dialogue to pace the panels quite well.
Wrightson’s art, as always, is gorgeous. I especially like the almost alien landscape of his interpretation of the moors of Scotland. The mist is so pervasive that some panels are merely ribbons of colors with only the vaguest suggestions of landscape. It can be quite creepy. There are also some incredible panels using Swamp Thing’s posing to frame objects and points of interest as well.
The usage of limited color in a key flashback is also quite impressive and I would love to see a more limited palet version of these early issues. Some of the color choices are a bit bright and garish, an artifact on 1970s comic print. Then again, with Wrightson’s art you wouldn’t even really need color at all.
Not a whole lot to Swamp Seeds this time around. That’s how inconsuiquential this Swamp Thing #4 is to the overarching story.
- Mutt, the dog, continues his unwitting betrayal of Matt Cable. Nobody is the wiser regarding the dog. Speaking of which, was in in issue three at all? I don’t recall seeing him.
- We get a solid moment of Abigail Arcane pointing out the heroic actions of Swamp Thing, while Matt continues to be a petty, vengeance-obsessed asshole.
- Agian, not a lot to say this time around. This is about a middle-of-the-road as Swamp Thing gets.
- Also, can you believe these issues used to cost 20 cents?
And with that, we’ll return to the regular world of Graphic Content comic reviews next. Thanks for checking out this installment of “Just Swamp Things.” Please let me know what you think. I would love to hear from other Swamp Thing fans about my impressions of the issue.
Creepy Comics Collages by Jennifer Weigel, Part 5
Well, you won’t get rid of me that easily… Ha ha, I lied about coming to the end and the afterlife in the Creepy Comics Collages segment, it was just an opportunity for rebirth. Besides, it’s World Collage Day! So having come into another comic book to rework, here we go again…
Creepy Comics Story 9: The Voice (of God or Reason or perhaps an homage to my ex)
“Come to me my children, the voice of God awaits!… Don’t let them escape!” Please beam me up out of this weird comic collage alternate reality. “God I am your hand! Lift me… to your place. I commend my spirit!” I want to go back to dreaming about starfish.
The computer programmer behind the scenes turns to face us and smiles. “Guardians! This is a place of God!… Come to the true voice of God!” “I am everything.” “Come to the voice!” And the horrific AI generated creatures abide by his every coded word.
Just like last night in the — signs posted for Nightmare, No Exit. The deer spirit faun screams in surprise, “Eeek!” “No! I defy you!” She returns to the form of a little girl with arms outspread to the open sky. “Y’know, a day like today makes all the stuff that happened last night seem just like a bad dream!” The dream seems so real…
Somewhere in the city, the computer programmer sits up at night in pensive monologue, “You try to make a difference… But it doesn’t really matter.”
Creepy Comics Story 10: The City (Metropolis becomes self-aware)
This segment is brought to you by Dead Artists and Talking Dinosaurs. No really, wait for it…
Woooooo Uhhhh Wooooooo Uhhhh… Wump! Uff! Wump! Uff! “She belongs to The City!” The Glenn Fry 1985 hit single looms ominously overhead as Metropolis becomes self-aware. “The City… will live!… The City… will breathe!” The City gasps for air, “Got to… breathe!… Got to… Breathe!“
Her breath is the wind… Her eyes are windows. Her heart pumps fluid through buried plumbing… “I’m The City!” Her mind is The City!
And we have a celebrity appearance by Rich Koz “Son of Svengoolie” WFLD 1973: “I take a nap for 10,000 years and look what happens… some-body builds a city!” Kerwyn chimes in, “Geez! Somebody’s been busy!” And we cut out to a scene of Svengoolie standing alongside his coffin.
Well, that’s all folks. Or is it? For now, any way… until I get more comic books… Duh duh DUHHHH…
Creepy Comics Collages by Jennifer Weigel, Part 4
Wow, I can’t believe you’ve stayed the course through four whole strange story posts of these creepy comics collages. But this is the final frontier, the last segment, the standing ovation as it were. So here goes…
Creepy Comics Story 7: The Grave (shallow enough for ya?)
“It should take longer, it seems to all of them. Such holy flesh should not give before a blade so easily.” “His brow is growing so cold.” “Yes it would be. He’s dying.”
“My god… I’m not dead.” Put the shovel down. “Life is a no-win situation. Besides… You’re already dead!”
“I’m not dead. I’m not dead!… Oh, Oh my god… I can’t move… What’s happened to me?” Buried alive. Or maybe not.
“Dead?” Perhaps I am actually dead. I was expecting something… I dunno… different.
“I’m not hungry, I’m dead. I’m not sure what I’m doing here, in fact.” At least I’m not a zombie. That seems a small consolation right now though. “My organs are shutting down. It is a relief.”
“Three days have already passed.” We’re just sitting here, rotting. Like Norman Bates’ Mother. At least someone was kind enough to supply a rocking chair. “Oh, one last thing before I go… You’re doing my fucking head in.”
Creepy Comics Story 8: Adrift Afterlife (why you save the best gold coins for the ferryman)
How’d we get here? “I do not stand alone. I am sat in a boat.” “.. to be millions of miles away from any care in the world.” Was that the Ferryman? “Only liberty I know.”
“He does not remember arriving here, or if he has been here before. It is not the island he grew up on, though it feels so very familiar… He has been waiting for the night tides to come in, for they will bring starfish. He has always liked watching them cling to the beach before the current pulls them back into fathoms.”
“And the ocean brings him starfish… Perhaps his father had nothing to do with this place at all.” The ferryman stands on the far shore. It makes no difference now.
“Beneath the ocean, razor-sharp coral grows and plunges towards the surface, sent by a green place that would not like to burn.” “The sand is soft between his toes and he is not ashamed of anything.” The ghosts are here, contentedly it seems.
Thank you for joining us for these creepy comics collage art stories. But here’s where we have to leave it off. Trust me, it’s best that way. Besides I’m out of creepy comics to collage with.
Creepy Comics Collages by Jennifer Weigel, Part 3
We’re ba-ack… Are you ready for the next creepy comics collages graphic story overload? After the last time and the intermission I wasn’t sure I’d see you again, but here we are, together again. You’d almost think we put something in the water – wink.
Now where were we? Oh yeah, the world was going to hell… or was it?
Creepy Comics Story 5: Alien Invasion (A Fist Full of Physics!!!)
“Elsewhere… months… earlier…” “It begins as a flicker pin-point of light getting closer ever closer until it takes form.” The sky is falling, damn you Chicken Little.
“…unconfirmed rumors of extraterrestrials have surfaced this evening following reported sightings in upstate New York earlier today.” There’s the news for you. Always blowing things up to increase viewership ratings.
“Then I would suggest a test immediately.” ‘K Doc, we get it; maybe there’s cause for concern. Guessing these aren’t friendlies based on intel, or that the government pissed them off. “Where’s William Shatner when you really need him?”
“Next morning… City Hall…” “A Fist Full of Physics” Blamm-o! “As if that’s some kind of homage.” It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I was feeling fine but now I’m not so sure. “All of this is on your head.” You can thank the world governments with their shoot first, ask questions later policies for that.
“The act was deplorable. It’s ramifications were permanent.” Doc looks unamused. “And the doctor drones on in his cold monotone… ‘Then we all die.’”
Creepy Comics Story 6: Werewolves (Londoners, eat your hearts out)
“Fables Werewolves… no one can hear you howl.” So now we’re elbow-deep in lycanthropy? This story just keeps getting weirder and weirder…
“… I feel so… disoriented… is this vertigo?” No, you wouldn’t be so lucky. Once bitten, twice shy. It’s The Change. Prepare yourself for the transformation.
“What now?” Enough with the damned interruptions already, can’t you see I’m at work?!
“Shall we start a war?”
“No! No! Leave me alone! Leave me alone! No!“
“I know one thing.” “Never will you suffer the indignity of this animal’s touch again.” The wolf seems somewhat offended by that statement. No really. And probably rightly so.
“Maybe it’s just an excuse, a fucking cop-out for when we inevitably fuck-up our lives and hurt people… We’re not cursed, we’re rotten, or mad or…”
“I don’t deserve this!” he howls. Stop blaming the werewolves for your own human indecencies. Teacups get broken and the London werewolves get angry.
Thank you for going all in with us over this series, there’s… one… more… final… huzzah… In the meantime, check out more of Jennifer Weigel’s work here on Haunted MTL or on her writing, fine art, and conceptual projects websites.