Sunday, October 27, 2013
Mucking About #12 - The Eternity Man!
Often Swamp Thing can seem like a bystander in his own comic. That's certainly not the case with the twelfth issue of the character's original run by Len Wein and Nestor Redondo.
The story begins where the last issue left off, with a time lost Swamp Thing face to face with a prehistoric Tyrannosaurus Rex-like dinosaur. He fends it off but is helped by an anachronistic caveman who attacks the beast and between the two of them the brute is killed. But the caveman too is killed and expires as two purple lights gleam in his eyes, purple lights similar to a great jewel which might responsible for transporting the Swamp Thing through time. Swamp Thing beings to fade as the caveman recovers and grabs the large jewel. A series of interludes finds Matt Cable trying to recruit Bolt to work with him to find the Swamp Thing; Bolt finally agrees despite his inexplicable anger towards Swamp Thing over Ruth's death. Swamp Thing finds himself transported to ancient Rome and ends up in the arena battling gladiators and lions. One gladiator who fights with him seems blind until he is killed and reveals the same odd purple gleam as the caveman. After Swamp Thing disappears this time the warrior rises and wanders off. Swamp Thing ends up in the Middle Ages in Europe during the Black Plague years and finds a man named Milo and a witch. Swamp Thing learns that Milo has stolen a great purple gem from her which gives him eternal life but she places a curse on him that he will become trapped in a never ending cycle of death and rebirth through time.
Soon enough Swamp Thing is transported to American swamps he came from but during the Civil War where he encounters the man with the purple eyes who dies yet again. Then we at last return to the present where the man who was Milo confronts Swamp Thing to kill him since being killed by a friend is the only release from the curse, but Swamp Thing refuses. The man is killed when he falls into quicksand, doomed to begin his journey through time again and again. But Swamp Thing merely wanders off.
This is a densely plotted story and the connection between Milo and Swamp Thing isn't really explained all that well, but it does serve to put the Swamp Thing in some really intriguing scenarios. Seeing him battle a dinosaur was really fun. Despite that, the story does shamble a bit before it stumbles to a conclusion. Maybe this was intentional given the theme an endless time loop, but the story seems merely to stop and not end.
It's refreshing to see Cable at long last give up his hatred of Swamp Thing if not his search. The replacement of Cable with Bolt who hates our hero is odd, almost as if the fundamental scenario of the series requires someone to hate Swamp Thing irrationally.
The sci-fi elements of the character are again fully explored but once again at the cost of the classic horror touches which informed the Wrightson era. I respect and admire the work of Redondo in this issue, but his Swamp Thing while nicely rendered lacks the weird punch of Wrightson's rendition.
One more issue for Wein and one more for me as "Mucking About" heads to a conclusion.