Tag: swamp thing

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    Batman #23: The Brave and the Mold Review

    Batman #23 starts off with a bang – two bangs actually.

    Batman #23 Review

    We see a man reciting the lyrics to “My Wild Irish Rose” as he is being shot in the head twice. The man seemingly continues to recite the words after he’s died.

    The dead man, it turns out, is Swamp Thing’s father. The plant elemental shows up at the crime scene as Batman and Commissioner Gordon are trying to figure out how the killer came in through the 86th floor window. The resulting investigation is a superhero team-up for the ages.
    However, it takes a close second to the other dynamic duo – writer Tom King and artist Mitch Gerads, the pair behind the critically acclaimed “The Sheriff of Babylon.” As with that series, Batman #23 is a tale doesn’t disappoint.

    Batman #23 Is Swamp Thing’s Rebirth

    King spins a tight yarn complete with mystery, drama, revenge and a bit of pathos on the side. With his recent work on the book, King is proving himself to be a worthy successor to longtime Dark Knight scribe Scott Snyder. As compelling as the story is, it’s Gerads’ visuals that bring the story home. His Batman – normally the dominant figure in every panel – is dwarfed by Swamp Thing. It’s appropriate since ultimately, it’s really Swamp Thing’s story.

    Gerads shades each chapter with its own color – green when we first see Swamp Thing rising from a small plant, shades of gray as the man is being shot, browns to match the mahogany walls of stately Wayne Manor. It’s an excellent visual effect which really adds an extra layer of depth to this fantastic tale.

    The surprise ending is every bit as emotional as it is gruesome, leaving nearly every character as a victim. Everyone, that is, except the reader, who will be thrilled with this great story.

    Love Batman? Then be sure to check out Dark Days: The Forge!

    Batman #23, Marvel Comics, Released May 17th, 2017, Written by Tom King, Art By Mitch Gerads, $2.99

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    Remember, Remember

    Few names are more recognizable in comic books than Alan Moore. He has created some of the most iconic and inspiring works in the entire industry. His memorable works include The Killing Joke, From Hell and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. But unlike most other comic writers, Moore has used his comics as a means to criticize injustices.

    alan-mooreThe man behind the comics was often maligned and criticized for alternative worldviews in the early days of his work, Much of his career has been spent fighting against inequality. An anarchist and outspoken supporter of minority sexualities and religion, Moore explored these themes in his decades-long career.

     

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    Many other writers of his time were afraid to include such themes. Moore was not. He included LGBT characters regularly in his writing. He often focused on grappling with social inequality, distributions of power and even touching on the ephemera of consciousness. Even when challenged by the mainstream, Moore held steadfast to his convictions. The result–some of the most powerful comic series ever created.

    The Struggle Against Tyranny

    Perhaps best known for his work in the Image comics title V for Vendetta, Alan Moore used this work as a vehicle for his political views. When he was writing it, an extremely right of center government was in power in his English homeland. Moore used the party as creative fodder, exaggerating their policies to extreme proportions. He took it further by installing the resulting tyrannical government as the leaders of a near future London.

    vendettaV for Vendetta chronicles the struggle against this tyranny. It follows the enigmatic title character V as he drives to inspire a resistance in a country exhausted by their leaders’ brutality. V’s efforts have were inspired by true events and V, has, in turn, inspired others to action.

    V was modeled (highlighted by the mask that he wears) after the infamous rebel Guy Fawkes. He played a key role in the Gunpowder Plot that took place on November 5, 1605, where he was arrested for guarding explosives intended for blowing up the British parliament. Dressed in black and donning a Guy Fawkes mask, V represents the fight for British freedom from a government oppresser.

    V Adopted by Other Groups Fighting Oppression

    Even after the initial fame of the series, V took on an entirely new kind of notoriety. It became something of a totem for activists on several different platforms. Probably most notable, the Guy Fawkes mask made famous by the character has been used by the hacker group Anonymous to conceal its identity as they work to right cyber wrongs. The mask has also become a mantle of sorts for Occupy Wall Street, the Bahraini protesters during Arab Spring, and many others.

    In response to the use of his characters real life manifestation in the political discourse, Moore said in a 2008 Entertainment Weekly interview:

    “I was also quite heartened the other day when watching the news to see that there were demonstrations outside the Scientology headquarters over here, and that they suddenly flashed to a clip showing all these demonstrators wearing V for Vendetta Guy Fawkes masks. That pleased me. That gave me a warm little glow.” – Alan Moore

    That same year, he defended his belief in anarchy in a short video, dispelling any doubt that he was in line with the movement that was taking up his imagery.

    Swamp Thing: Saga Of The Swamp Thing Book 02 HC
    Order Alan Moore’s Epic Swamp Thing Run

    But V does not stand alone in Alan Moore’s arsenal of activist comic book characters. During his run with The Saga of the Swamp Thing, Moore transforms the character into what we know him as now–an eco hero. Swamp Thing went from a has-been monster man to a deeply internalized comic hero. He could critically examine the relationship between man and nature in the way only a sentient plant could. Through him, Moore found a way to challenge such topics as pollution, climate change and the usurpation of natural resources. His position has been so notable that several serious literary critics have discussed Swamp Thing and his role as an insurgent ecological force for change.

    Moore’s Watchmen Takes on Power Imbalance

    And of course, no conversation about Alan Moore would be complete without discussing Watchmen. Considered by some to be the greatest comic book of all time, Watchmen is Moore’s masterwork. Much like he did with V for Vendetta, Moore built a new history for the world of Watchmen that shares deep roots with our own world, but varies in some key ways.

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    Watchmen takes place in an alternate universe where superheroes were introduced much earlier than most modern comics (with a few notable exceptions like Captain America and the X-Men), with the “golden age” of heroes taking place between the 1940s and 60s. The plot takes place in a mirror world that echoes the Reagan administration’s run in the US. This is intended to illustrate the catastrophic power imbalances that have lead the United States to the brink of a third World War.

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    Moore admitted that much of his motivation for Watchmen was to be a criticism for the Reagan administration’s. In a 1987 conversation with Neil Gaiman and Dave Gibbons for The Comics Journal, Moore said, “This is not anti-Americanism, it’s anti-Reaganism…”and “…at the moment a certain part of Reagan’s America isn’t scared. They think they’re invulnerable…”

    The series brings humanity terrifyingly close to complete destruction. This echoes Swamp Thing’s continual assertions of the fragility of human life. it also places the power to end everything into a disturbingly small number of hands, striking harshly against this feeling of invulnerability.

    FIND OUT WHO WATCHES THE WATCHMEN

    Although other comics writers have used their art to further conversations about political and social issues, few have done so as prolifically and expertly as Moore. In so doing, he has also helped to build a comic book legacy that includes political criticism and social change. So, this November, remember, remember that comic books can have much deeper meaning than what meets the eye. Brilliant creators like Alan Moore prove it.

    WANT MORE FROM MOORE? PRE-ORDER A COLLECTION OF 10 SHORT STORIES: BRIGHTER THAN YOU THINK YOU ARE

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    Heroes From Another World

    In the canon of comic book characters there are classic heroes like Superman and Batman, but there are also some off-center heroes that are not exactly the typical tights-wearing dogooders.

    These characters not of this world and ones who have more in common with classic monsters than masked vigilantes. However, their outsider status frequently grants them the ability to comment on humanity differently than their more conventionally human counterparts.

    Let’s start with the tragedy of Dr. Alec Holland, or as he’s better known to readers–Swamp Thing. Holland is a brilliant biologist working on a top-secret bio-restorative formula in the swamps of Louisiana. When a bomb planted in his lab goes off, Holland is splashed with burning chemicals and he runs into the swamp. The muck of the swamp merges with the chemicals and turns Holland into the moss-covered hero he has been ever since.

    Man or Monster?

    swamp-thingOriginally created by comic book legends Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson, the original Swamp Thing stories deal in traditional monster tropes. We see Swamp Thing do battle with the mad scientist Arcane and his mutated UnMen, there are angry villagers, giant robots, and even a werewolf. Wein does manage to weave in a story about Holland trying to reclaim his humanity as an undercurrent in the fairly pulpy horror stories.

    Writer Alan Moore brought this undercurrent of humanity to the surface when he took over the book in 1984. Moore reconceived the character as a part monster that had been imbued with memories of Dr. Alec Holland. By inverting the story of a man made into a monster to monster made into a man, Moore created a metaphysical tale of character dichotomy. This change in creative direction brought a whole new audience to DC’s horror tale.

    Swamp Thing has changed creative hands a number of times in his four decades of history. The likes of Mark Millar, Brian K. Vaughn, Grant Morrison, and Scott Snyder have all added to his character development. With the ongoing struggle between man and monster and the trippy mythology gifted to him by Moore, Swamp Thing presents different creators with the chance to tell deeply human and emotional stories in the world of the macabre and the supernatural.

    Defining Deadman and Redemption

    deadmanSwamp Thing is not DC’s only undead superhero. Five years before Alec Holland fell into that swamp, readers were introduced to the aptly named Deadman. Created by Arnold Drake and Carmine Infantino, Deadman is the ghost of acrobat Boston Brand who was murdered during one of his acts. The Hindu god Rama Kushna gives Brand’s spirit the power to possess any living being. With this power and his new superhero identity as Deadman, he sets out to track down the man who killed him, a mysterious figure known only as “The Hook.”

    Much like Swamp Thing, it would be another comic book luminary not involved with the initial creation of the character who would come to define Deadman. Writer/Artist Neal Adams took over creative duties in the second issue and not only brought his legendary high detail art, but a new depth to Boston Brand’s story. In Swamp Thing, Alec Holland is an altruistic scientist trying to better humanity with his experiment. For all intents and purposes, Holland is a straight ahead good guy. Boston Brand on the other hand is not exactly a bad guy but he has cold streak of selfishness. He’s ruthlessly focused on keeping the circus business alive often at the expense of the feelings of his fellow performers.

    By creating a character that in life was not the greatest person, Deadman became a story of redemption. Brand was always seeking revenge on his killer, but he couldn’t resist using his newfound abilities to help people as well. This aspect of the character was made explicitly clear when he was rebooted for DC’s New 52. The creative team of Paul Jenkins and Bernard Chang added a new wrinkle to Deadman’s mythology. He must use his powers to help people in order to atone for his selfish life or be forced to spend eternity forever in limbo between life and death. The core of Deadman’s character becomes clear, this is a guy who has been given a second chance. The human urge to rectify one’s past behavior is a palpable and very emotional undercurrent to a story about a superhero who can possess people’s bodies.

    Hellboy Seeks Humanity

    Another otherworldly hero with a slightly different streak of humanity thahellboyn those mentioned before is Dark Horse’s Hellboy. The brainchild of writer/artist Mike Mignola, Hellboy is a half demon, half human who was born in hell. Unlike Swamp Thing or Deadman, Hellboy comes from another world and is brought into ours. As opposed to Alec Holland or Boston Brand trying to reclaim their humanity, Hellboy seeks a humanity that he was not born with. Hellboy though monstrous in appearance combats monsters and other supernatural evil for an organization called the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense (or BPRD).

    Hellboy presents a character that rebels against his supposed destiny. He was created by evil to enact evil. His right hand is meant to bring about the end of the world. Hellboy chooses to ignore his destiny and instead lives a blue-collar lifestyle of a cop or a plumber, albeit one who combats demons and monsters for a living.

    Almost everyone has at one point or another in their life wondered about their place in the world or grappled with other people’s intentions for them. Most people probably don’t have apocalyptic prophecies connected to them, but Hellboy is a comic book after all.

    Heroes come in all shapes and sizes. They also come in varying degrees of being alive. However, humanity is at the core of all these stories. Whether it’s the struggle to regain humanity or a quest to understand humanity, it becomes clear that being human is not related to physical features. In fact, the most physically monstrous can often have the most emotionally complex and human of stories.

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    Between the Occult and the Detective

    Between the Occult and the Detective

    There are two comic themes that when combined can make for enthralling reading — detectives/private eyes and magic. This coupling of sleuthing and the supernatural (including religion, the occult, sorcery and more) is pervasive in comics and the noir characteristics just heighten the thrills.

    hellblazerAnd no one fits that bill better than the Hellblazer himself, John Constantine. Created originally in Alan Moore’s Saga of the Swamp Thing in 1985, it wasn’t until 1988 when Hellblazer #1 hit the stands. Ever since, John has been working his magic in comics, on film in the Constantine movie, and in the short-lived and underrated Constantine television show. He’s  also part of pop culture in general (the Supernatural TV series borrows heavily from John Constantine for Castiel’s character).

    With 30-plus years of this character’s history, it can be daunting to know where to start. A good entry point is a graphic novel. Surprisingly, it’s not the  first volume — John Constantine, Hellblazer: Original Sins, but the fifth volume: Hellblazer: Dangerous Habits. Written by longtime Hellblazer writer Garth Ennis, this volume actually inspired parts of the 2005 Constantine movie.

    The story is pretty simple — John’s dying. All those cigarettes have caused an advanced terminal lung cancer. Knowing that his soul is damned and Hell is ready for him, John moves to cure his disease and save himself. What happens after he sets down this course is truly amazing.

    Another must read Hellblazer arc was created by celebrated crime novelist, Ian Rankin, for Vertigo’s crime imprint called Dark Entries in 2009. This was the first Original Graphic Novel (also called an OGN), meaning it was never released as single issues. The plot involves John trying to figure out why a house on a reality TV program is haunted. Of course, he can’t stop production, so he joins the series and starts to unravel the mystery.

    One of the big draws is the inclusion of religion within the series. It’s not just focused on Christianity. Voodoo magic is used regularly not only by Constantine, but his frenemy Papa Midnight. Although Catholicism is most prominent, the series never ignores the idea of other religions in the world.

    Look Overseas for Great Horror Comics

    Hellblazer isn’t the only series to blend magic and religion. Around the same time, Italian writer Tiziano Sclavi was introducing the world to Dylan Dog. A self-proclaimed Nightmare Investigator, Dylan, unlike John Constantine, was likeable. By 2011, Dylan Dog reached 300 issues, but only a handful made it to the United States.

    Dylan’s occult interactions mainly revolve around the classic monsters like vampires, werewolves, and zombies. Although, demons have crossed paths with him a few times.

    Many were first introduced to this character in the Dylan Dog Case Files from Dark Horse Comics. This graphic novel featured selected stories that were translated and released just prior to the Dylan Dog: Dead of Night film that starred Brandon Routh. The Dylan Dog Case Files is a great compilation of stories from the Italian series, but up until September 2016 it was the only source of Dylan Dog stories available in the U.S. Now, new stories are starting to come out from Epicenter Comics. Reportedly, there will also be reprints of past stories.

    How to Steal a Ghost

    ghostedAnother series that blends crime and the occult is Joshua Williamson’s Ghosted. Williamson is currently heading up The Flash series in DC’s Rebirth, and it’s been great.

    Ghosted, published by Image Comics, is further evidence that Williamson is the real deal. The series follows one of the world’s greatest thieves as he’s pulled into the world of the occult. He’s broken out of prison and offered the chance to steal something no one else has — a ghost.

    Think equal parts Ocean’s 11 and The Shining. Things are never as they seem, and our hero has to rely on more than his wits to get out of this situation. Pulling together a team of experts to help him steal this ghost, he assembles a psychic, an occult historian, a tech guy to record the ghost, and a skeptic. Overall, if you want to add a little heist into your horror, Ghosted is for you.

    Don’t Fear, The Slayer is Here

    buffyWho could really forget about the hit television show Buffy the Vampire Slayer? Buffy hunts vampires, but her adventures go WAY further than that including her best friend going into full-witch mode on her!

    Buffy the Vampire Slayer is Buffy Summers, the chosen one in a long line of young women destined to battle evil forces. She becomes “The Slayer” giving her increased physical strength, endurance, agility, accelerated healing, intuition, and a limited degree of clairvoyance. Buffy receives guidance from her Watcher, Giles, whose job is to train and assist the Slayers. Then it gets more complicated.

    But when the TV show ended, the fun didn’t. After the official comic book continuation of the series in Buffy Season 8, 9, and 10, we’re poised to jump into Buffy Season 11 in November 2016. Unencumbered by network television show budgets, this comic has gone to some great heights in recent years.

    The World’s Greatest Paranormal Investigator

    hellboyHellboy is one of the longest running, most widely celebrated horror series. With hundreds of issues and dozens of spinoffs, Mike Mignola has done something really amazing with this series by creating a new universe.

    Aside from DC and Marvel, there really aren’t a lot of big universes in comics, especially ones that walk that horror/mystery line so well. Hellboy or the “Mignola-verse” is a rich tapestry that features a variety of complex characters set a world that draws on centuries of folk-tales, yarns, and fables.

    Hellboy remains one of the few series that begs you to re-read the stories regularly. It’s great for curling up with during inclement weather or when you find yourself with an extended weekend.

    There are plenty of other occult and horror comics that split their genre with detective and noir storytelling. What are some of your favorites? Let us know below.

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    Post-Killing Joke: DC’s Next Animated Film – Justice League Dark

    If you’re any sort of fan of DC Comics, then you’ve heard of the Justice League, but did you know that there’s another league in the DC universe? One that handles weird and supernatural situations that the more visible Justice League can’t? Of course I’m talking about Justice League Dark, or JLD, featuring John Constantine, Madame Xanadu, Deadman, The Changing Man, Shade, Swamp Thing and Zatanna. First introduced in Justice League Dark #1 back in November 2011, JLD brings a much needed sense of the eerie and mysterious to the DC world.

    With the recent release of the animated Batman: The Killing Joke on DVD/Bluray, Warner Bros. animation announced that its next project would be none other than Justice League Dark, releasing a dynamite eight minute sneak peak at San Diego Comic Con 2016:

    If you haven’t heard of Justice League Dark or its individual members that’s ok, because I’m going to take this opportunity to introduce some of the team.

    John Constantine:
    A Magician originally appearing in Allan Moore’s Saga of the Swamp Thing, he grew out into his own Vertigo series Hellblazer. Lasting for 300 issues from 1988 to 2013. Then John joined the DC universe with the New 52 and has been there ever since.

    Sorcerer, con-man, stage act, asshole. John is a lot of things, but what has kept him around for so long is his mischievous, manipulating ways. Reading his stories, you feel for him when he’s in danger, but know this: He ALWAYS has a way out.

    Swamp Thing:
    Debuting in House of Secrets 1979. It has had various incantations, such as (the original) Alex Olsen, Allan Hallman, and Aaron Hayley. The most well known and longest lasting person to take on the mantle is Alec Holland.

    Swamp Thing has the ability to control any plant life, native or extraterrestrial. Along with controlling it, he can also travel by the plants getting from one spot on earth to another in a matter of seconds. If wounded he is able to regrow parts to heal.

    Zatanna

    Zatanna:
    A stage illusionist, and magician. Zatanna first appearing in 1964’s Hawkman series, over the years has appared in several DC books including Detective Comics, Seven Soldiers Of Victory, Vertigo’s Hellblazer series and even Neil Gaiman’s The Books of Magic.

    Being one of the most gifted Sorcoress’ in the DCU. Zatanna has the ability to control elements, conduct energy based attacks. Even heal. Most of the time she has been limited to conducting spells if she cannot speak them. In some cases she has been able to write a spell down to cast it, or in rarer occasions cast with doing either.

    Deadman:
    AKA Boston Brand, first appearing in Strange Adventures in 1967. Brand was a trapeze artist kill during a performance by The Hook. His powers were granted to him by the Hindu Goddess “Rama Kushna” in order for him to obtain justice.

    Deadman is in all context dead, he is a ghost. What he can do is posses living creatures but is limited by their physical limitations. So say he possessed you or I, he couldn’t fly, but if he possessed Superman, he could. Deadman also has the ability to pass through any object, and has the ability to travel to both the land of the living and the dead.

    Ready to rock ‘n roll with Justice League Dark?

    After the success of Batman: The Killing Joke, I’m definitely eager to see what Warner Bros. does with the colorful cast of Justice League Dark. If thi animated feature does well on the small screen, along with Doctor Strange in the theater, perhaps we’ll see that live action Justice League Dark Guillermo del Toro spoke of years ago?

    Catch up on the entire Justice League Dark story here at TFAW.

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    The New 52 Reviews: Action Comics, Batgirl, Detective Comics & More

    We Review Every #1 Issue of The New 52!

    It’s time once again for our comics reviews of The New 52, DC Comics’ ambitious re-imagining of its entire superhero universe. This week, we review all of the September 7 titles, including Detective Comics #1, Action Comics #1, Green Arrow #1, Justice League International #1, Animal Man #1, Batgirl #1, Batwing #1, Hawk and Dove #1, Swamp Thing #1, Men of War #1, OMAC #1, Static Shock #1, and Stormwatch #1.

    Whew! It was so many comics, we actually split it up into three videos, which you can view below. MILD SPOILER ALERT! We’ll avoid any big spoilers, but we will give out a few details as we go. So were these comics Box-Worthy, Fence-Worthy, or NOT Worthy? Listen to our opinions and then post your own below.

    DC's The New 52 #1 Issues

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    Have you read any of DC’s The New 52 #1 issues yet? What did you think? Post your comments below! You can also pre-order The New 52 #2 and #3 issues now, too.

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    H.P. Lovecraft Film Fest 2009: Dark Horse Horror Part 2

    Watch Video Coverage of the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival!

    Prepare to sit back and watch more goodness from this year’s H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival and Cthulhucon! Here’s part two of the Dark Horse Comic panel, featuring Editor Shawna Gore and Senior Managing Editor Scott Allie. Here, they discuss Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing and how it revitalized horror comics, and also how Dark Horse chooses its horror titles, including Hellboy and the relaunch of Creepy.

    Again: there was very low lighting at the gorgeous Hollywood Theatre, but the sound is excellent. Here we go:

    Swamp Thing TPB Vol. 6 Reunion

    Creepy EC Comics

    Stay tuned all month, as we’ll be posting panels, interviews, and other fun Lovecraftian stuff!

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    Questions? Comments? Post them below!

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    Geek Chick: Retro Review of Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing Comics

    When I first got into comics as a teenager, Swamp Thing was exactly the type of comic book I would have avoided like the plague. A giant, mobile vegetable? Too gimmicky. Didn’t they make a campy movie of this with Heather Locklear? (Why, yes they did!) Isn’t this . . . a guy comic? Bring me my Uncanny X-Men and leave me in peace!

    However, after a good friend mentioned that Alan Moore’s run on Swamp Thing taught him everything he knew about love and comics, I decided to give it a try. And promptly fell in love. It is a romance, after all–a romance filled with supernatural creatures, classic elements of horror, interspecies sexuality, and space travel, of course.

    In the original origin story of Swamp Thing, scientist Alec Holland, while working to develop a formula that could grow vegetation in even the most inhospitable or devastated environments, was sabotaged and blown up by a bomb. After throwing himself into the swamp in agony, he emerged as Swamp Thing, a sentient plant with supernatural strength and intriguing powers. Almost the first thing Moore does is blow that origin to bits, which frees up the character and expands his potential immeasurably.

    The six trade paperbacks that make up Alan Moore, Stephen Bissette, and John Tottleben’s Swamp Thing run are amazing in their depth of character development, storylines, and artwork. Swamp Thing could easily become a bystander in his own series while fighting the monster of the week, but instead, we’re taken on a journey as Swamp Thing falls in love with Abigail Arcane, wrestles with his inner demons, “dies,” is reborn, and ultimately finds his place in the universe (literally). It’s a gorgeous story, perfect if you’ve just tackled Watchmen and want to continue your Alan Moore odyssey. But it’s also just a plain good comic for anyone who appreciates a captivating tale.

    So, who’s already read Swamp Thing and wants to school us on the finer points of this award-winning comic book series? And . . . is the movie worth watching? I want to know! Post your comments below!

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