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Swamp Thing (Alan Moore era)

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  • Swamp Thing (Alan Moore era)

    On another forum I frequent, we were asked what we thought Alan Moore's best work is. Naturally, there's an awful lot to choose from - Watchmen, V For Vendetta, From Hell, Promethea, Marvel\Miracleman, LoEG, etc. - but after careful consideration (of all of a couple of minutes) I decided that imo Moore's best work remains Swamp Thing.

    My reasoning was as follows:

    What is Alan Moore's best work? Unquestionably, it's gotta be Alan Moore's Collected Notes to the Milkman 1977-2006.

    No, really, I'm not sure I can pin this down to just one work, to be honest. It's like asking what's Shakespeare's greatest play? It can't be done because the overall level of achievement is so high.

    Marvelman doesn't make it because of the inconsistent art in Book 2. Likewise Swamp Thing has a terrific run under Moore, Bissette & Totleben, but once Rick Veitch and Alfredo Alcala come on-board the art starts to slip imo. Watchmen is the obvious choice (kind of like Citizen Kane is), but both VFV and From Hell give it a bloody good run for its money - especially FH. I suspect Promethea will come to be seen as an extremely important work in Moore's oeuvre, due to its examination of Art & Reality, while LOEG is pure rollicking-good fun, but most of the enjoyment comes from picking up on Moore's references as much as the narratives themselves. More 'minor' works like Brought to Light, 'Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow', or 'For the Man Who Has Everything' - as superb as they undoubtedly are - don't make my grade by definition (by being 'minor' rather than 'major' opera), but that's probably just me.

    I suppose in terms of significance and cultural impact - rather than purely artistic/literary merit - I'd have to say Swamp Thing because with it Moore not only changed (revolutionised) one rather minor comic character, but arguably affected the wider DC universe, with the creation of John Constantine leading not only to a coherent cosmology which permeated DC's magical characters (i.e. the Spectre, Phantom Stranger and Neil Gaiman's Morpheus), but also of being the seed from which Vertigo was born, thus benefitting other writers like Pete Milligan, Grant Morrison & Garth Ennis.
    Anyway, the point of this post is that I last week I decided that I really ought to re-read Moore's ST issues to make sure that my assessment was correct - or at least reasonable.

    I was pleased to (re)discover that the comics do indeed stand the 'test of Time', and what's more remain as chilling and horrifying as ever. In fact, as my appetite for horror has diminished with age I probably found the stories more scary now than I did 10 or 20 years ago. The 'American Gothic' storyline in particularly I found very disturbing.

    I was perhaps a little unkind to Rick Veitch and Alfredo Alcala in my original post in hindsight. The fact that Alcala didn't possess the fine linework of John Totleben shouldn't really be held against him - although Bissette & Totleben are the highwater line that all other ST artists have to be held against I think.

    It still amazing how wordy the comic remains compared to most mainstream comics as well. It's probably true that in places Moore's prose does become somewhat florid, but on the whole the comics maintain a literariness that was uncommon for the time.

    I think the thing I liked best about Moore's run on ST was how he wrapped up the Swamp Thing and Abby's story in his final issue, so there's a real sense of closure to their story rather than leaving it open-ended for successive writers to carry on with (which is obviously what happened when Veitch took over the following issue. ).

    In the final analysis, this ground-breaking comic - where Moore refined his art before going on to script his later celebrated works - remains as fresh and vibrant as the Green does. 10/10
    _"For an eternity Allard was alone in an icy limbo where all the colours were bright and sharp and comfortless.
    _For another eternity Allard swam through seas without end, all green and cool and deep, where distorted creatures drifted, sometimes attacking him.
    _And then, at last, he had reached the real world – the world he had created, where he was God and could create or destroy whatever he wished.
    _He was supremely powerful. He told planets to destroy themselves, and they did. He created suns. Beautiful women flocked to be his. Of all men, he was the mightiest. Of all gods, he was the greatest."

  • #2
    Thank you, thank you , thank you. I thought I was the only one. I know it's blasphemy to say that any comic is better than Watchmen, but Swamp Thing definitely ranks as my favorite Alan Moore work. And I couldn't agree more about the sense of closure in Moore's final issue--in fact, I'd say it was entirely too satisfying for the good of ST as an ongoing series. It left me with absolutely no interest in reading anyone else's take on these characters.

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    • #3
      Swamp Thing is one of the most important comics in his developmen as a writer and it is one of my favourites, but the series lost steam for me when the setting changed
      in the closing issues. Here's a copy and paste of my amazon review of book 6 in the trades, covering th last few issues.


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      • #4
        Originally posted by Octo Seven View Post
        Swamp Thing is one of the most important comics in his developmen as a writer and it is one of my favourites, but the series lost steam for me when the setting changed
        Well, I concur totally that Swamp Thing was one the best things written by Moore, still, I have not read Promothea, Tom Strong, and most post 90s works, except the League. Anyway.

        "From time to time I demonstrate the inconceivable, or mock the innocent, or give truth to liars, or shred the poses of virtue.(...) Now I am silent; this is my mood." From Sundrun's Garden, Jack Vance.
        "As the Greeks have created the Olympus based upon their own image and resemblance, we have created Gotham City and Metropolis and all these galaxies so similar to the corporate world, manipulative, ruthless and well paid, that conceived them." Braulio Tavares.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by zlogdan View Post
          Originally posted by Octo Seven View Post
          Swamp Thing is one of the most important comics in his developmen as a writer and it is one of my favourites, but the series lost steam for me when the setting changed
          Well, I concur totally that Swamp Thing was one the best things written by Moore, still, I have not read Promothea, Tom Strong, and most post 90s works, except the League. Anyway.

          Some of those covers are great!

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Octo Seven View Post
            Some of those covers are great! <IMG>
            The covers were great. However, as for most of the saga we had to read on the bizarre Brazilian comics format, aka "formatinho" which is a crap 13x21cm edition. Also, for the most of the saga we did not get the original coloring. Prior to getting a sole magazine, maybe because at that time Alan Moore was huge here due to Watchmen, the executives did not bother to check a "comics for children", until the issue where Abby and Alec "have sex".

            Anyway, thanks for recalling me this. As David Mosley say perhaps it was Moore's most advanced, complex and important work and I cannot blame my self more for self-proclaimed stupidity for selling my issues.
            Last edited by Rothgo; 09-13-2012, 06:00 AM. Reason: Removed image from quotation
            "From time to time I demonstrate the inconceivable, or mock the innocent, or give truth to liars, or shred the poses of virtue.(...) Now I am silent; this is my mood." From Sundrun's Garden, Jack Vance.
            "As the Greeks have created the Olympus based upon their own image and resemblance, we have created Gotham City and Metropolis and all these galaxies so similar to the corporate world, manipulative, ruthless and well paid, that conceived them." Braulio Tavares.

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            • #7
              This may not be directly related to Alan Moore, but I've just been reading a, The Heap, story, over on the www.comicbookplus.com site.

              Airboy Comics Featuring The Heap ( Jan 1953)

              Swamp Thing's precursor, a walking veggie-man, from the Golden Age.

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              • #8
                After more than a year the Swamp Thing Saga finally has come to its last volume:

                "From time to time I demonstrate the inconceivable, or mock the innocent, or give truth to liars, or shred the poses of virtue.(...) Now I am silent; this is my mood." From Sundrun's Garden, Jack Vance.
                "As the Greeks have created the Olympus based upon their own image and resemblance, we have created Gotham City and Metropolis and all these galaxies so similar to the corporate world, manipulative, ruthless and well paid, that conceived them." Braulio Tavares.

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                • #9
                  I need to re-read it. Zlogdan how did you find the last two books? I remember being a bit disappointed in them compared to the earlier arcs but I have a feeling I should go back and read it all again now I'm older and relatively wiser. I have three of your hardcover editions and the rest are the original mass tpb vertigo ones.

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                  • #10
                    Octo, I still have not re-read these. But back when I read them I recall loving the last arc, a bit more than the previous stories. Basically because I am more of science fiction fan than horror, although I might say that best horror I ever read was written by Alan Moore for ST.
                    "From time to time I demonstrate the inconceivable, or mock the innocent, or give truth to liars, or shred the poses of virtue.(...) Now I am silent; this is my mood." From Sundrun's Garden, Jack Vance.
                    "As the Greeks have created the Olympus based upon their own image and resemblance, we have created Gotham City and Metropolis and all these galaxies so similar to the corporate world, manipulative, ruthless and well paid, that conceived them." Braulio Tavares.

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                    • #11
                      Swamp Thing is one of the few effective horror comics I've read. Junji Ito's manga works well too, especially Uzumaki. Sandman can also get under my skin at times.

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