Swamp Thing 23 (June-July 1976)

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Who could predicate this turn of events… Alec Holland’s got a brother no one has ever mentioned before and he cures Swamp Thing….

Maybe the lame Ernie Chan cover sets it up. Or maybe Conway bringing in some obscure character from ten issues previous—I remember the name, but not the character—to turn into this idiotic villain with a sword for a hand.

It’s incredibly lame.

Most of it, anyway. Actually, the stuff Conway does with the smarter Dr. Holland’s female assistant—it turns out Alec is the dumb brother—is quite good. Conway brings some humanity to the comic, even as he slowly returns the physical manifestation of it to Swamp Thing.

Conway fills pages like mad too—pointlessly retelling Swamp Thing’s origin.

Redondo does okay, but more in his panel composition than in the actual art. The other Dr. Holland, for example, never gets a consistent face.

CREDITS

Rebirth and Nightmare; writer, Gerry Conway; artist, Nestor Redondo; colorist, Carl Gafford; editors, Paul Levitz and Joe Orlando; publisher, DC Comics.

Swamp Thing 22 (April-May 1976)

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It’s another decent issue from Michelinie and, big shock, it’s not a Swamp Thing comic so much as a “Twilight Zone” episode.

Here it’s about some government nuclear test causing a virus and the government secretly quarantining the infected… including the lead scientist’s family. He’s the main character of the issue. Swamp Thing just sort of walks around a bit. Michelinie doesn’t even bother with a lot of thought balloons for Swamp Thing anymore, which is good since he always wrote terrible ones.

Redondo again has a lot of opportunity for varied subjects. Not just the desert vistas or the underground prison. Redondo gets to draw a lot of people, sick and not, in various states of emotional turmoil. The issue would be better halved, without Swamp Thing showing up.

As for Michelinie’s pointless soft cliffhanger? It’s necessary to make it a Swamp Thing comic, but the ship’s clearly sailed.

CREDITS

The Solomon Plague; writer, David Michelinie; artist, Nestor Redondo; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, Marcos; editors, Paul Levitz and Joe Orlando; publisher, DC Comics.

Swamp Thing 21 (February-March 1976)

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Michelinie returns to do a Swamp Thing meets aliens issue. Swampy gets whisked to an intergalactic zoo where he takes part in the conveniently timed uprising of the prisoners.

Swamp Thing is completely passive in the issue—Michelinie spends a lot more time on the jailer and his favorite female companion and he turns in a decent little sci-fi story. It’s not really a Swamp Thing story, but it’s not terrible (like most of Michelinie’s Swamp Thing writing).

Also of note is the Redondo art. He gets to do a lot of different stuff; not just the different creatures imprisoned alongside Swamp Thing, but also the intergalactic platform itself. Redondo’s sci-fi art is very grounded—though Michelinie’s “science” is sometimes mind-numbing. It makes one wonder if he believes in gravity.

Not surprisingly, when Michelinie has to make it about Swamp Thing at the end… the issue collapses.

CREDITS

Requiem; writer, David Michelinie; artist, Nestor Redondo; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, Marcos; editors, Paul Levitz and Joe Orlando; publisher, DC Comics.</

Swamp Thing 20 (December 1975-January 1976)

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Conway gives Bolt a first name (or, at least, uses it), which is nice. In fact, Conway gives Bolt a whole reflective moment here, a lot more than any writer has done before. Abby and Matt, however, are incredibly distant. It doesn’t much matter, because the ending of this issue suggests Swamp Thing is done with its supporting cast for a while.

There are a lot of plot threads this issue and it’s unfortunate they didn’t publish it as a deluxe issue as planned. It would have been somewhat more impressive. Conway’s not as concerned with the Swamp Thing parts of the story—the Alec Holland parts—as putting together the rest of his narrative. It makes for a better comic book, but not really a Swamp Thing one… It’s hard to explain.

Redondo does a great job.

The finish is a little weak though; Conway doesn’t have enough space.

CREDITS

The Mirror Monster; writer, David Michelinie; artist, Nestor Redondo; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, Marcos; editors, Paul Levitz and Joe Orlando; publisher, DC Comics.

Swamp Thing 19 (October-November 1975)

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You’ve got to love a comic book with an apology in leu of a cliffhanger. This issue of Swamp Thing—Gerry Conway’s first—was supposed to be double-sized. Instead, they split it in two… and this one ends uneventfully. Stops might be the better term.

Still, it’s a decent issue. Conway’s execution is stronger than the comic has had in a while and Redondo comes up with some great layouts.

There’s a rogue Swamp Thing—grown from the original’s arm (which almost foreshadows the character’s future under Moore)—and a possibly evil Indian befriends it. There’s a cute little Bride of Frankenstein feel to it.

But Abby, Matt and Bolt are around too. Abby’s clairvoyance is mutedly implied again, but it’s getting old, regardless of Conway being better at the narration than his predecessor on the book. Bolt’s still a lame character… Conway can’t magic all the problems away.

CREDITS

A Second Time to Die; writer, Gerry Conway; artist, Nestor Redondo; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, Marcos; editors, Paul Levitz and Joe Orlando; publisher, DC Comics.

Swamp Thing 18 (September 1975)

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In what’s easily David Michelinie’s best-written Swamp Thing issue, the gang (consisting of Swamp Thing, Bolt, Matt and Abby) run into a strange little town filled with insane old people. There’s some deception at first, but it’s really an occult thing—the old people want to capture young people and steal their souls to become young again. It feels like a pretty okay episode of “The Twilight Zone.” Well, except for Swamp Thing.

Michelinie still writes Swamp Thing like a bit of a moron and Redondo has lost the enthusiasm to illustrate him well. The people are fine, Swamp Thing is not. Redondo has a particularly bad fight scene where Swamp Thing changes in size and proportion throughout.

Also odd is Michelinie tying Abby to Swamp Thing telepathically here.

No explanations yet, but Cable doesn’t like it.

Minor weaknesses aside, it’s not terrible. Michelinie is starting to near competence.

CREDITS

Village of the Doomed; writer, David Michelinie; artist, Nestor Redondo; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, Marcos; editors, Paul Levitz and Joe Orlando; publisher, DC Comics.

Swamp Thing 17 (July-August 1975)

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The Michelinie curse continues.

It turns out Swamp Thing didn’t just crash land on any Caribbean island last issue, but the one where evil mastermind Nathan Ellery has his secret base. Their new mission—make all the leaders of the world brain dead, so Ellery can take over….

But Michelinie doesn’t stop there. Abby and Matt captured too. Abby’s developing psychic powers, this issue hints, which might explain why she confronts Ellery about his fall off the roof ten issues before. She didn’t actually witness that event, but it’s okay… Batman was there and he doesn’t make the flashback panels.

Michelinie tries to make the series more serious, having Swamp Thing murder Ellery in cold blood. Michelinie’s writing ruins the scene.

Redondo’s designs on all Ellery’s robots are pretty good. The dogs are cool looking.

In terms of quality, the series no longer resembles the one Wein and Wrightson created.

CREDITS

The Destiny Machine; writer, David Michelinie; artist, Nestor Redondo; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, Marcos; editors, Paul Levitz and Joe Orlando; publisher, DC Comics.

Swamp Thing 16 (May-June 1976)

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Some of this issue’s terrible decisions must be editorially mandated and not all Michelinie’s fault. I’m referring specifically to Conclave head honcho Nathan Ellery coming back from the dead at the end. He fell off a roof a while ago and Batman was going to investigate. Apparently, Batman got busy.

Anyway, other stupid parts is the handling of Matt and Abby, who Michelinie reduce to a cute, dimwitted couple, as well as Swamp Thing getting a couple people killed.

The best part is how indifferent Swamp Thing is in his part in it. This girl saves him and Swamp Thing rewards her by leaving her with some thugs. He walks off without realizing she isn’t following him and she’s executed.

This event occurs in the issue where Swamp Thing thinks to himself how much he cares about everyone.

Michelinie’s writing is atrocious. Even Redondo isn’t trying hard illustrating this tripe.

CREDITS

Night of the Warring Dead; writer, David Michelinie; artist, Nestor Redondo; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterer, Marcos; editors, Paul Levitz and Joe Orlando; publisher, DC Comics.

Swamp Thing 15 (March-April 1975)

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Oddly, as Michelinie moves away from the traditional Swamp Thing standards, such as Swamp Thing having a lot of thoughts, he does better. The issue isn’t exactly good, it’s just not as bad as the previous one. It’s bad, but it doesn’t fail at being a Len Wein Swamp Thing.

Michelinie has some really goofy stuff this issue—like Abby acting like she knew Alec Holland. There’s a big continuity snafu and one wonders if the editor was paying any attention when it came to inferred situations. Other goofiness has Abby being a mystic, Matt being able to sway a crazy man’s mind with his logic. The comic’s mildly atheistic (or strongly deist), which is pretty cool for a seventies book.

I think my favorite part might be when Michelinie needlessly refers to Bolt, who’s barely a character anymore, as a “black man” in narration. It’s an eye-roll moment.

CREDITS

The Soul-Spell of Father Bliss; writer, David Michelinie; artist, Nestor Redondo; letterer, Marcos; editors, Paul Levitz and Joe Orlando; publisher, DC Comics.

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