Sunday, October 13, 2013

Mucking About #5 - Last Of The Ravenwind Witches!

The Swamp Thing comic book was a globe-hopper in its earliest days. After a jaunt across the pond Swamp Thing finally heads home to these good old United States.

The story begins on a ship which is just off the cost of Maine on which the Swamp Thing has somehow disguised himself as a human being sufficiently to gain passage. But the jig is up and the crew confront the monster in their midst which causes the Swamp Thing to dive into the ocean and eventually end up being tossed around on the dangerous breakers of the rocky coastline. Meanwhile a mob of men chase a beautiful young woman named Rebecca Ravenwood and her brother Timothy. They take refuge in a cave which it turns out is the very place the Swamp Thing emerges from the cold waters. Since they are all on the run, the trio seemed to bond and Rebecca explains that she and her brother are being chased by the townspeople led by a man named Gideon who believe that she is a witch. Swamp Thing falls in with the pair and tries to protect them, but soon they are discovered by the mob and after a battle atop a crag the Swamp Thing loses first an arm and then his balance as he falls once again into the cold Atlantic waters. Rebecca and Timothy are captured by the mob and taken to the town of Divinity where Rebecca is tried as a witch, the evidence against her presented by Gideon is his family's odd deformity of a missing leg which seems to appear in every generation. Rebecca is convicted and taken outside of town to be burned at the stake when the Swamp Thing reappears. His arm has regrown and he is at full strength. Nevertheless the battle turns against him but he is able to free Rebecca from the fire. She then turns on the mob and seems to magically transform them into benign flowers. But it turns out she is not the witch, but merely a medium through whom the power of her brother Timothy can find direction, Timothy who is himself the titular last of the Ravenwind witches. The story ends with an odd scene far away in which seemingly Alec and Linda Holland share a romantic moment on the front porch of their house.

This one has some great scenes in it, some of Swamp Thing's most dramatic moments. I love when Swamp Thing emerges from the water before Rebecca and Timothy, it's truly awesome and downright scary. Later we get to watch for a full page as his weird little arm appears and then grows to replace his cut off limb. New powers for the Swamp Thing revealed and his truly inhuman nature reinforced. The battles against the mob are vintage and evoke the spirit of the old Universal movies where misunderstood monsters often had to defend themselves against unreasoning masses. This is some of Berni's best stuff. 

The twist of the story that Timothy is the true source of power isn't that surprising really, otherwise Timothy's presence in the story makes little sense. But it is handled adroitly by Len and doesn't get overdone. There is no Matt Cable stuff in this issue and that's a nice break as his rants were tedious at best.

The closing panels are really shocking and inexplicable. It must've made readers mad to get the next issue a full two months later. The answer for me will come in just a few days in the next installment.

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