Tonawanda News


February 19, 2013

BOOK NOOK: "Saga of the Swamp Thing" a collection worth owning

Tonawanda News — Comic book writer and graphic novelist Alan Moore is best known for his work on “V for Vendetta,” Watchmen” and “From Hell,” a graphic novel based on the circumstances surrounding Jack the Ripper’s tortuous murders. “Saga of the Swamp Thing” may be lesser known, but the work, written during the late 1980s, still stands as one of Moore’s crowning accomplishments.

Moore took over for the Swamp Thing series in 1983, after a number of failed attempts to reinvent the character and excite a waning fan base. Moore began writing on issue 20 of the “Saga” series — titling the issue “Loose Ends” — and swiftly wrapped up any ongoing story lines so he could start fresh with issue 21.

The first eight issues of Moore’s work on the title have since been collected and published as “Saga of the Swamp Thing: Book One,” the first in what is planned to be a six-book reissue of the series. Book three was released just this past month. 

The first book in the series packs in two story arcs over its eight issues. After the tying up of loose ends in issue 20, issues 21 through 24 set the tone for how things will be going forward under Moore’s reign. They follow the exploits of Dr. Woodrue, a man whose head is in the right place, but his actions are questionable. In an attempt to save the plants of the world he has spent his life researching, he hatches a plan to destroy mankind with the help of the grass, plants and trees around him.

While the story itself — a villain attempting to wreck havoc, a hero stepping up to stop him — is hardly groundbreaking, the characterization here is. Especially in the world of comics, where the Comics Code Authority had stifled any sort of creative energy with archaic standards of acceptable amounts of violence and horror. Comics had stagnated, and Moore’s work in issues 21 through 24 brought new life to the medium, with a villain too complicated to label strictly evil. Dr. Woodrue was not a cookie-cutter bad guy — much of the time, readers relate to his intentions. 

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