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We’re gearing up for the upcoming release of the new Swamp Thing streaming series to DC Universe. The series premieres this Friday, May 31st, 2019. It seemed appropriate to reacquaint Haunted MTL readers with one of the greatest horror comic characters ever. Please enjoy this brief primer on the legendary comic book character and focus of the upcoming streaming series.

Swamp Thing’s Origins

Created by writer Len Wein and artist Bernie Wrightson, Swamp Thing, the character and concept, originated in the DC Comics anthology series House of Secrets (issue #92) in 1971. Swamp Thing is in many ways considered a superhero. However, a great many takes on the characters skew more towards the occult and horror. In modern stories he can most often be associated with Justice League Dark, dealing with the supernatural. He is also famous for his tangles with his frequent frenemy John Constantine. Swamp Thing is also known as the protector of “The Green.” “The Green” is an elemental force of nature in the DC Comics.

The first appearance of the Swamp Thing in 1971

Swamp Thing’s Horror-Cred

As for the public, Swamp Thing’s heights of popularity were the 1970s, 1980s, and the 1990s. From 1972 to 1976 the first run of the Swamp Thing comic book started off rather popular. However, popularity waned once Wein and Wrightson left the title. The series was revived in the 1980s following the release of the Wes Craven adaptation of the comic.

As the series again began to face cancellation due to low sales, Alan Moore took on writing duties. Moore’s run caused the series to grow in popularity again. Beyond introducing the concept of “The Green,” Moore’s run also explored a number of spiritual and ecological themes. Moore’s approach to the character and setting surprised many critics with it’s sophistication. Ultimately, Swamp Thing during this period served as a proving ground for future characters that would make up titles for DC’s Vertigo imprint. These titles included Hellblazer and The Sandman.

The 1990s Swamp Thing Show

A classic Bernie Wrightson cover

The 1990s popularity of Swamp Thing was a result of the two previous film adaptations and the creation of a television show. The first film, the Wes Craven adaptation Swamp Thing (1982) would prove to be a moderate success and star Ray Wise as Alex Holland, Dick Durock as the Swamp Thing, and Louis Jourdan as Anton Arcane. The film is campy, but a fairly faithful adaptation of the characters and themes of the time.

The 1989 sequel titled The Return of the Swamp Thing, directed by Jim Wynorski, ended up lighter in tone compared to the first adaptation but far more critically savaged. However, Dick Durock returned not only as Swamp Thing, but took on the role of Alex Holland, alongside a returning Louis Jourdan as Arcane.

In July 1990, the USA Network debuted the Swamp Thing television series. The series ran for three seasons and ended on it’s 72nd episode. For USA, the series proved incredibly popular despite mixed to negative reviews. Ultimately, the show borrowed more from the darker Wes Craven adaptation and kept on Dick Durock on as ol’ Swampy.

A New Chapter on DC Universe

The track record for the character in adaptation has not been exactly kind to the green monster, but the pedigree of talent behind the DC Universe series certainly inspires hope. The series will premiere with a ten episode season, despite rumors of production troubles.

Produced by James Wan of The Conjuring and Insidious series, and Len Wiseman of The Underworld series, the show is certain to skew more toward the horror of the character. The show stars Andy Bean as Alec Holland and Derek Mears as the Swamp Thing, with Crystal Reed as Abby Arcane. The series also promises several deep cuts in the DC Universe, such as Madame Xanadu, a frequent point of contact for the magically-inclined.

Check out the trailer below for a taste of what is ahead on Swamp Thing, and check back with us this weekend for our weekly recap of the show.

Book Reviews

What Have We Done: Alex Finlay Produces Another Hit

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  • Jenna: A stay at home mom with a secret assassin past
  • Donnie: An alcoholic rock star
  • Nico: An executive producer of a reality television show

They all have a past, but who is out to get them?

The Plot

Jenna, Donnie, and Nico share a troubled past. They were all orphans who lived at Savior House — which is much less savior, much more terror. When their friend Benny, a famous judge, is murdered and the FBI comes looking, Jenna, Donnie, and Nico must race against the clock to figure out who is targeting them.

The Verdict

From the author of The Night Shift, which I reviewed here, I would expect nothing less than what Finlay has delivered. Finlay notoriously creates stories with palpable thrill and spine-tingling revelations.

I particularly enjoyed the character of Jenna. She is a reformed assassin living a normal life as a new stepmom. When she is called in to make a hit and her family is threatened, she goes badass mom on ’em. While I still thought Donnie and Nico as characters were engaging, it was nothing for what I felt for Jenna.

Also, major props to Finlay for creating a character that kills with a very unique weapon. Read it to find out more!

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

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Book Reviews

“The Writing Retreat” Gone Bad: Julia Bartz’s Debut

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Keeping it all in the family, Julia Bartz’s The Writing Retreat is the debut novel of the sister of Andrea Bartz, author of We Were Never Here, which I reviewed here.

I was much more impressed with The Writing Retreat than I was We Were Never Here.

The Plot

Five up and coming female writers under 30 are invited to a writing retreat hosted by the reclusive and acclaimed horror writer Rosa Vallo. Rosa reveals the details of the retreat: each writer must complete a full length novel from scratch over the next month. The best novel wins a multi-million dollar publishing deal with Rosa.

Suddenly, the retreat turns into a nightmare when one writer goes missing in the snowy terrain outside.

The novel hinges on friendships in turmoil and has a focus on LGBT+ representation as well as interpersonal female relationships. The novel explores the dark publishing world and the search for fame and the Great American Novel.

The Verdict

This novel is atmospheric and intellectual, page turning, and the English major’s required reading. I absorbed this novel and found Julia Bartz’s writing and conceptual chops to be leagues above her sister’s.

Ths novel releases on February 21, 2023 and it should be in your cart right now.

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

Buy it here!

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Book Reviews

A Murder in Reverse: “Wrong Place Wrong Time”

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The Plot

“A brilliantly genre-bending, mind-twisting answer to the question How far would you go to save your child?”  — Ruth Ware, #1 New York Times bestselling author

Jen watches her son murder a stranger. Stab him to death. She and her husband, Kelly, watch as their son Todd is taken into custody.

The next morning, Jen wakes up and it’s yesterday. Jen knows that at the end of the night, her son kills someone. She is determined to stop it.

Jen goes further and further back in time trying to discover why Todd murdered a stranger and how to stop it.

The Verdict

This book is twisty. Right when you think you know the ending, something else is there to prove that the story is more multifaceted than that. While the premise of the novel is simple, Gillian McAllister elevates a simple concept with deep, dark twists.

It is best that you don’t know too much going into this one. For fans of Blake Crouch, this is such a good thriller with time travelling vibes.

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

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