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Absolute Swamp Thing by Alan Moore Vol.1


Writer: Alan Moore

Artists: Stephen R. Bissette, John Totleben, Rick Veitch & Shawn McManus

Colorist: Steve Oliff

Publisher: DC Comics

Before there was WATCHMEN, V FOR VENDETTA and FROM HELL, a relatively new writer, Alan Moore, got carte blanche to reinvent an obscure monster comic called Swamp Thing. In the beginning of the 70s it was made popular with writers like David Michelinie, Gerry Conway and Len Wein who created the character. After that first run it was back to obscurity, until the end of the 70s when DC wanted to revive the character, but they had to wait because of the infamous DC Implosion (short version, almost 20 titles got cancelled because of bad sales). Fast forward to 1982, now called Saga of the Swamp Thing, writer Martin Pasko tried to give the series new momentum, eventually Pasko moved on to work more for television, making room for Alan Moore. He was 30 years old and got his first try at an American comic.

He took over with issue 20, an issue that earlier collected editions took out. It's a weird beginning to Moore's run but he had to finish a lot of loose ends, boldly even naming the story Loose Ends. Swiftly killing most of the supporting cast and also its main character Swamp Thing, making a fresh start for the title and knocking it out of the park from day one. He took a formulaic monster comic, and turned it into a more poetic one, addressing environmental issues and social issues, while also honoring its horror and fantasy roots. He uses some lesser known supernatural characters from DCs massive roster like The Spectre, The Phantom Stranger and Jack Kirby's Etrigan the Demon. But most famous of all, introducing John Constantine.

Another important thing that they did on their classic run was to abandon the Comics Code Authority, something that happened only once before with Stan Lee's Spider-Man. Moore, Bissetre and Totleben were vetted by the Authority Code and decided to not submit the book, and even threatened to quit if they had to change stuff again and again, beginning a trend for more adult comics and paving the way for others. I think that this book made DC great again and led them to make a ballsy imprint like Vertigo Comics shortly after. It also paved the way for a lot of english writers, like Neil Gaiman and Grant Morrison to make the jump to American comics, often referred to as the “British Invasion”.

This classic run is finally collected in a fantastic Absolute Edition for the first time, with an embossed cover giving it a swampy/mossy feel. With a beautiful slipcover, great binding and oversized artwork, this is a must for the graphic novel nuts out there. A thing that I want to mention as well is the recoloring, something a lot of people are not a fan of, but I don't mind one bit in this collection. The original coloring is completely gone and redone by Steve Oliff who recolored great comics like Akira and Walt Simonson's Thor, giving this book a more modern feel to it and also making it a feast for the eye for a new generation. Also included in this Absolute, some sketch work, Moore's original script and an extensive afterword from Stephen R. Bissette. This is just an all round great book, and a big part of the revolutionizing of the graphic novel medium.

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