Friday, October 11, 2013

Mucking About #4 - Monster On The Moors!

The Swamp Thing comic really hits its stride with its fourth issue, a classic Gothic horror story with more than few shout outs to the classic horror films of yore.

The story begins with the end of the plane flight Swamp Thing started last time, and tragically the plane has crashed on the moors of Scotland, but thanks to the muscles of Swamp Thing the landing was devastating but not deadly and the pilot Paul Rodman along with Matt Cable and Abigail Arcane do survive, at least at the start. While Swamp Thing looks on from a safe vantage point the unconscious forms of the three are gathered up by Angus and Jenna MacCobb who cart them away in a wagon to their somber house hidden in the fog. We soon discover that the plane was tricked into landing and the three humans are the first to survive the ordeal, one the MacCobb clan has perpetrated many times. The MacCobbs introduce themselves especially Ian who it turns out has hair on his palm. Then Paul Rodman goes to check his plane and never returns as a mysterious figure approaches him just before he screams his last. Cable and Abigail go to check it out but get lost in the fog and are approached by a ferocious feral figure but are saved when Swamp Thing intervenes. A great battle ensues before Swamp Thing is ironically dragged down into the muck of the mire. Cable and Abigail return to the house but are soon enough drugged so that Lord and Lady MacCobb can attempt to save their son Ian who is a werewolf. A blood transfusion is the plan with Cable as the donor, but before this plan can develop Swamp Thing reappears and another battle breaks out. Ian MaCobb, in his wolf form moves to save his mother but at the cost of his own life. Cable and Abigail are quick to leave but not before Cable again shouts his intent to capture Swamp Thing despite Abigail's pleas.

This is a rock solid little horror romp. I like werewolf stories and this one is a dandy. Wrightson is at his atmospheric best with this story of a foggy moor haunted by a fanged horror and his rendition of the werewolf is one of the best ever to appear in comics, truly a man-wolf blend beyond the technology of the films to deliver at the time.

The MacCobbs are a properly sinister clan of miscreants, akin to many a offbeat family found in classic cinema. The Old Dark House is even name checked in the script. The idea of using lights to trick travelers into crashing was used a few classic tales too, not the least of which was "The Most Dangerous Game".

I felt bad for Paul Rodman who was cannon fodder from the first. These poor characters who show up in  stories only to get knocked off to prove the severity of the threat are sympathetic souls lost in a narrative which doesn't rate their lives worthy of close inspection. I dread the inescapable fact that most of us are in Paul Rodman's condition, just one more of the myriad souls who inhabit a wide world who have stories most would not find properly dramatic. I feel for him, because but the grace of God there go I. 

I'm still not at all sympathetic to Matt Cable who clings to his hatred of Swamp Thing in the face of the fact that Swampy has saved his miserable hide multiple times. Even Abigail's pleas are lost in the face of his clear obsession with the monster. The misplaced guilt he feels for the deaths of the Hollands must be overwhelming, but somehow I lack sympathy. He did live after all.

The Swamp Thing again is often off stage in this story appearing when his muscled might is needed to defend and protect. This seems to be the way the series will go at this point, but the future will reveal all.

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