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Saga of the Swamp Thing Book Five Paperback – December 10, 2013
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About the Author
- Publisher : Vertigo; Illustrated edition (December 10, 2013)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 168 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1401230962
- ISBN-13 : 978-1401230968
- Item Weight : 10 ounces
- Dimensions : 6.7 x 0.4 x 10.1 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #66,505 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Moore continues breaking new ground in this fifth book in the full range of its passage through the title. In this new arc of stories there is a shift of focus, from terror to science fiction, perhaps by Rick Veitch have become the main artist (this was his greatest interest) or perhaps because of the influence of the other jobs that Moore was already starting, as Watchmen and Miracleman.
The first story "Home Free" brings the monster returning from the battle at the gates of hell to find that, in his absence, Abigail was arrested for indecent conduct (she was photographed kissing the creature). Moore took the opportunity to criticize the hypocrisy and American prejudice against the romance between "the differents". Released on bail, Abby escapes to Gotham City and is arrested again. Why Gotham? Because Moore won't miss this chance to write about Batman again.
In "Natural Consequences," a furious Swamp Thing transforms the city of Gotham in a green jungle. Gotham was never so real. Moore enters into its neighborhoods and residents (you can almost smell the alleys) and shows the transformation of the urban landscape in the jungle. As a challenged God, the creature gives an ultimatum to the mayor: release your loved one or the city will be destroyed. Meanwhile many people like the new Gotham and try to turn the city into a primitive eden. They release their clothes and create an alternative community that scares the authorities even more. They summon the old Lex Luthor to stop the creature. Its passage through history is fast, but striking.
Next comes one of the best stories from Swamp Thing (and several of Moore's stories deserve this title), "The Garden of Earthly Delights" where Batman requires the monster to leave his city and enters in a deadly confrontation, but is easily defeated . While the city is falling more and more into green, Batman now struggle to overcome the prejudice of the authorities and release Abby before it's too late. He even manages to get it, but the divinity and immortality of the Swamp Thing apparently knows its end. In this story we have the return of the original artist John Totleben, which increases the quality of the tale.
In The Flowers of Romance we have Abby trying to get over the pain of losing her love and meeting two old characters from her past. Moore took the opportunity to mitigate the impact of previous history and take advantage for another "nudge" in American values: again the question of machismo and the impacts of the war in Vietnam.
The following two stories is that really mark the transition to science fiction. In "Earth to Earth", with a brilliant graphic introduction of space view from earth, it deepens the analysis of the feelings of Abby and the size of her loss. The story ends with a view of earth from the space, where we find the creature reborn on a distant planet.
Finally in "My Blue Heaven", another formal experiment of Moore (all in colorful shades of blue), we have the most radical metaphor of the creator and the creature already done in a comic book. Lost in a lonely planet, the Monster is distracted recreating his beloved and even the city of Hooma. This story had a profound influence on Watchmen and the fate of Dr. Manhattan.
Finish this book brings inevitable sadness. You know that you have only one more volume to end the period of Alan Moore in the title. In retrospect one of the best and most influential works already done in comics.
After letting the story digest a bit, I went back and started reading Moore's ST stories from the beginning, mostly via the Vertigo paperback compilations that are easy to find in used bookstores, like Green Apple in SF.
This particular book centers on Swampy's attempt to free his girlfriend, Abby Cable, from jail in Gotham City. There's a point at which Moore's Swampy started to become something like a God; nearly indestructible and invulnerable. I think Moore probably realized that leaving things that way would eventually corner the character in a way, and so he set out to introduce some new kinds of vulnerability. That's my theory anyway.
This arc has art from Alcala and Totleben, who is my personal favorite Swamp Thing artist. This particular hardcover edition is just a little bit nicer than the paperback ones, with full page reproductions of each cover, rather than a one-page collage of all of them. The paper is a little bit different too, although it's difficult to say that this is an improvement per se.
One thing to pay attention to is the use of color throughout the Swamp Thing series. The colorist, Tatjana Wood, is definitely one of the unheralded geniuses of comic book art from that era.
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This is all particularly annoying because these 6 collections (as of this writing, one more remains to be published) are essential purchases. The stories, the writing, the artwork are all wonderful classic comics which demand to be any remotely decent collection. So get them now because lord knows when they'll be reprinted again.