This is a review of Swamp Thing: Bronze Age Vol. 1. I have a confession to make. This is the very first graphic novel I read, back in 2022. Right now I’m eight issues into the first Moon Knight Epic Anthology, with no end in sight, so it’s a good thing I never wrote a review!
Swamp Thing is a comic with an interesting history. Alan Moore remade the character in the 1980’s, but it had a storied history before then. Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson created Swamp Thing back in the early 70’s, which makes sense, because that was the age of the superhero/horror mashup. Think Werewolf by Night, Tomb of Dracula, Creature Commandos, etc., etc., etc.
My feelings about this graphic novel did a 180 as I read it. Swamp Thing’s origin story – let’s put it nicely, here – has as many holes as Swiss Cheese. The plot: Alec and Linda Holland are working on their wondrous Bio-Restorative Formula. Apparently the only place they can do their experiments is in the middle of the Louisiana swamps, despite the fact that unsavory characters have an unsavory interest in their formula.
You’d think the government – which is very interested in the formula, also – could build them a lab, but apparently not. Instead, they send Matt Cable, the most incompetent security guard on earth, to watchdog them. All the bad guys have to do is watch the lab and wait until Cable leaves to patrol the area, which is what they do.
They blow up Alec’s lab. Unfortunately, Alec is in the lab when it’s blown up. He falls into the swamp waters, which combine with his Bio-Restorative Formula to somehow rejuvenate him – into a MOSS ENCRUSTED MOCKERY OF A MAN. After the thugs kill Swamp Thing’s wife, using the SAME EXACT METHOD, Swamp Thing takes his vengeance. Cable blames Swamp Thing instead of his own incompetence, and we have a series.
So yeah, the writing of the first issue isn’t exactly stellar. But the series finds its legs in the very next issue with the arrival of Swamp Thing’s greatest enemy, Arcane and his Un-Men. Other monsters follow – werewolves, stitched-together monsters, Lovecraftian creatures, zombies, mechanical men. There’s also a trip to Gotham City, where we get to see Swamp Thing punch out Batman in a single panel. This was 1970’s Batman, not the invincible crimefighting demigod we’ve all come to know and love.
The writing doesn’t get a lot better. Random shit happens. In a few instances, I got the impression the writer had his tongue firmly planted in cheek. There’s an issue later in the run that can kindly be called politically incorrect. The thing that sets this graphic novel apart and makes it special is Bernie Wrightson’s art, which is truly awesome.
Worth it for horror lovers, Swamp Thing groupies, and freaky art enthusiasts.