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Swamp Thing # 51 52 - Moore, Veitch Alcalá

Written by Arion and Frank Miller on Sunday, January 19 2014 and posted in Blog
Swamp Thing # 51 52 - Moore, Veitch Alcalá
We have all known the horrors of civilization, the revolting nature of human culture: prejudice, injustice, discrimination. All these elements are as much part of our DNA as our capacity for language. Alan Moore acknowledges that, and in “Home Free” (published in Swamp Thing # 51, August 1986), he reminds us that after the war in hell, after the ultimate supernatural battle, peace is not guaranteed. On the contrary, after saying goodbye to his allies (Deadman, The Phantom Stranger and John Constantine), Swamp Thing will discover what has transpired in his absence.

For months Abigail had been visiting the swamps, without ever realizing that she had been followed by an amateur photographer who takes a few compromising snapshots. He takes those pics to the local newspapers, and the images that show intimacy between this white-haired woman and this creature of the swamp enrage the public. Quickly, Abby is accused of having carnal knowledge with a monster, and she’s brought to court under charges of bestiality and crimes against nature.

Humiliated and harassed by every man and woman in Houma, Abby decides to escape. To flee to the big city. But she makes one mistake: she goes to Gotham City. Trying to find solace, she falls into an urban sewer, filled with human putrefaction. Crime runs rampant, moral and physical decay seem to prey upon her, and when she’s captured by the police –mistaken as a hooker– an extradition order is announced. 

Swamp Thing was able to control his anger in the past. Peace is the way of the wood. He had learned as much from the Parliament of Trees. But this time, he cannot contain his fury. “And out in the swamp the monster raged, and trampled… and roared his lover’s name… and promised war”.

A war against civilization and a confrontation against Gotham’s authorities are “Natural Consequences” (Swamp Thing # 52) of Abby’s unfair apprehension. In Arkham Asylum, Swamp Thing meets Batman’s greatest foes but only one of them captures his attention. Jason Woodrue –the Floronic Man– has been incarcerated along the criminally insane, losing whatever was left of his feeble mind to the demented hollering of the Joker, Two Face and the others. Finally, Swamp Thing forgives Woodrue’s trespasses against nature and tells him that no one else in Gotham deserves his forgiveness.

And so Swamp Thing gives the city an ultimatum. He will recover Abby or the gothic metropolis will succumb to nature. “All over town, from sudden cracks and fissures, the sidewalks begin to bleed emerald […] Eden comes to the city”. Concrete and steel cannot resist the unstoppable power of life. Plants, trees and flowers invade Gotham’s monotonous landscape. Artificial structures are replaced by vibrant botanical designs. 

But Swamp Thing has strayed far from the bogs of Louisiana. Gotham isn’t his turf. Gotham is Batman’s city. And the inevitable confrontation between the Dark Knight and the creature of the swamps will only be the preamble of Lex Luthor’s sinister intervention. 

Swamp Thing # 51 52 - Moore, Veitch Alcalá
Swamp Thing, Deadman & Phantom Stranger 

Although Stephen Bissette quit as the main artist of the series, he was still drawing the covers. They look slightly more rasping than previous covers, mainly because Totleben is no longer inking them. The artistic team of the title has also suffered an important modification. The penciler is now Rick Veitch and Alfredo Alcalá, the inker. Together, they bring about a much needed sense of emotional weight and earthly anguish to Abby’s conundrum.   

Swamp Thing # 51 52 - Moore, Veitch Alcalá
Gotham's urban misery / la miseria urbana de Gotham

Todos hemos conocido los horrores de la civilización, la repugnante naturaleza de la cultura humana: prejuicio, injusticia, discriminación. Todos estos elementos son tan parte de nuestro ADN como nuestra capacidad para el lenguaje. Así lo reconoce Alan Moore y en “Hogar libre” (publicado en Swamp Thing # 51, agosto de 1986), nos recuerda que después de la guerra en el infierno, después de la batalla sobrenatural definitiva, la paz no está garantizada. Por el contrario, luego de decirle adiós a sus aliados (Deadman, Phantom Stranger y John Constantine), Swamp Thing descubrirá lo que ha sucedido en su ausencia.

Durante meses, Abigail había estado visitando los pantanos, sin darse cuenta que había sido seguida por un fotógrafo amateur que obtiene algunas instantáneas comprometedoras. Él lleva estas fotos a los periódicos locales, y estas imágenes que muestran intimidad entre la mujer de pelo blanco y la criatura del pantano enfurecen al público. Rápidamente, Abby es acusada de tener conocimiento carnal con un monstruo, y es llevada a juicio bajo cargos de bestialismo y crímenes contra la naturaleza. 

Humillada y acosada por todos los hombres y mujeres de Houma, Abby decide escapar. Huir a la gran ciudad. Pero comete un error: ella va a Gotham City. Intentando encontrar algo de calma, cae en este desagüe urbano, lleno de putrefacción humana. El crimen impera, la decadencia moral y física la rodean, y cuando es capturada por la policía -la confunden con una prostituta- la orden de extradición es anunciada. 

La Cosa del pantano fue capaz de controlar su ira en el pasado. La paz es la táctica de la madera. Él había aprendido esto con el Parlamento de los Árboles. Pero esta vez, no puede contener la furia. “Y afuera, en el pantano, el monstruo iracundo ataca... y ruje el nombre de su amante... y promete la guerra”.

Swamp Thing # 51 52 - Moore, Veitch Alcalá
Batman's greatest foes / los principales enemigos de Batman

Una guerra contra la civilización y una confrontación contra las autoridades de Gotham son las “Consecuencias naturales” (Swamp Thing # 52) del injusto apresamiento de Abby. En Arkham Asylum, La Cosa del pantano conoce a los principales enemigos de Batman pero sólo uno llama su atención. Jason Woodrue –el hombre florónico– ha estado encarcelado junto con los criminales dementes, perdiendo lo poco que le quedaba de sensatez con los aullidos desquiciados del Joker, Two Face y los demás. Finalmente, La Cosa del pantano perdona las trasgresiones en contra de la naturaleza de Woodrue y le dice que nadie más en Gotham merece su perdón. 

Y la Cosa del pantano le da un ultimátum a la ciudad. Recuperará a Abby o la metrópolis gótica sucumbirá ante la naturaleza. “Por todas partes, a través de repentinas grietas y fisuras, las veredas empiezan a sangrar esmeralda […] El Edén llega a la ciudad”. El concreto y el acero no pueden resistir el imparable poder de la vida. Las plantas, los árboles y las flores invaden el monótono paisaje de Gotham. Las estructuras artificiales son reemplazadas por vibrantes diseños botánicos. 

Pero la Cosa del pantano se ha alejado demasiado de las ciénagas de Luisiana. Gotham no es su territorio. Gotham es la ciudad de Batman. Y la inevitable confrontación entre el Caballero de la Noche y la criatura de los pantanos será sólo un preámbulo para la siniestra intervención de Lex Luthor.

Swamp Thing # 51 52 - Moore, Veitch Alcalá
Lex Luthor

Aunque Stephen Bissette renunció como el artista principal de la serie, todavía seguía dibujando las portadas. Ahora se ven ligeramente más ásperas que antes, sobre todo porque Totleben ya no las entinta. El equipo artístico también ha sufrido una importante modificación. El dibujante ahora es Rick Veitch y Alfredo Alcalá es el entintador. Juntos, aportan una muy necesaria sensación de peso emocional y angustia terrenal al conflicto de Abby.

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About the Author - Arion

Arion, who is either from Chile or New York (it’s not really clear) writes a blog that the Outhouse steals on a regular basis.  Arion is by far the nicest of all the staff writers and the most well behaved only having been banned from one country.  One thing we really appreciate about Aroin is that he writes his reviews in English and Spanish and we hope someday he’ll translate this blurb for us.  We’re not so good at languages, just look at how well we write in English if you need proof.  You should bookmark Arion’s blog - – and actually look at it.  There will be a quiz at the end of every month.


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