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Swamp Thing # 53 - Alan Moore John Totleben

Written by Arion on Sunday, January 26 2014 and posted in Blog
Swamp Thing # 53 - Alan Moore John Totleben
Swamp Thing # 53 - Alan Moore John Totleben
The delicate veil of civilization cannot resist the temptation of nature. As soon as the gardens explode, as the trees break their way into the structural fissures of the urban landscape, as Eden falls upon the land of men, human culture surrenders itself to a primordial and wild calling. The time of man will soon be over, the hour of the Green has just begun.

Swamp Thing’s vengeance is swift, and Gotham City –now transformed into a jungle– seems to be unable to react. “The Garden of Earthly Delights” (published in Swamp Thing # 53, October 1986) marks the confrontation between Swamp Thing and Batman, between chaos and order, between the prevalence of justice and the obedience of law, between the natural world and the artificial creation. Alan Moore describes this fundamental conflict in a rhythmic narrative of poetic heights. 


Simultaneously, the British writer reunites dozens of key figures under the same sky. Batman and his technology are no match against the elemental powers of his rival. But Lex Luthor’s criminal mind is a threat unlike any other. Indeed, Superman’s nemesis charges 1 million dollars for a 10 minute consulting on ‘indestructible creatures’. After years of experience trying to annihilate the Man of Steel, Luthor considers that the swamp freak can be easily destroyed. He just needs to find a way to prevent the monster from relocating his consciousness from one place to the next. 10 minutes and 1 million dollars later, he has it all figured out. 


Now that Gotham is a gigantic garden, hundreds of pilgrims wish to visit this paradise. Amongst them we can find Chester, the well-intentioned hippy that discovered the hallucinogenic properties of Swamp Thing’s fruits, and also Wallace Monroe, a devastated man –still mourning for his wife– who had a catastrophic meeting with Nukeface, back in the swamps of Louisiana. 

Swamp Thing # 53 - Alan Moore John Totleben
Gotham succumbs to nature / Gotham sucumbe ante la naturaleza

“You thought… that it could not… get worse. You imagined… that things… had reached their limits. Do not… delude yourselves... There are… no limits”. Although the Dark Knight is a formidable opponent, he is vanquished by Swamp Thing. Perhaps, his defeat can be a manifestation of the caped crusader’s doubts. After all, what laws did Abby break? Why is the Louisiana police department after her? And why can’t Gotham deliver this woman into the arms of the creature she loves? 

Swamp Thing # 53 - Alan Moore John Totleben
Swamp Thing versus Batman

Batman finally intercedes in the dispute with his keen analytical mind. If Abby’s crime was to be in contact with an inhuman being, then isn’t the entire Justice League guilty of the same charges? And what about the citizens of Metropolis? For all his might and nobility, Superman is still an alien creature. Finally Gotham’s authorities understand that in this instance they must reinterpret the law and grant Abby her freedom. 


“Amidst the fierce joy of victory… something dark flutters across my mind”. And Swamp Thing is right, because before he can hug Abby, the weapon created by Lex Luthor annihilates him. In a burst of flames, Abby’s hopes are all consumed.


John Totleben pencils and inks the entire issue, a 38 page giant-sized spectacular! And his art is so magnificent that I just had to dedicate an entire post about it. Stephen Bissette explains in the prolog the importance of Totleben’s contribution: “John’s exquisite pen and brush work not only delivers on that title’s Boschian promise of delirious visions, but also meshes the artistic sensibilities of Virgil Finlay (one of John’s artist heroes) with the giant monster fever dreams of Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko”. Indeed, Totleben’s evocative images preserve the beauty of nature and at the same time exacerbate the horrifying aspects of the creature of the swamp. And the confrontation with the Dark Knight gives Totleben “the opportunity to delineate one of his favorite comic book characters – his Batman is as much a creature of the night as that drawn by Bernie Wrightson […] John’s sinewy shadow-being captures an essential aspect of the Batman”. Certainly, Totleben’s version of the caped crusader is superior to the poor and unimaginative representations that were so abundant in the 80s. “‘The Garden of Earthly Delights’ represents the ultimate Totleben Swamp Thing […] smelling of earth, rippling with vine and lichen and moss, and moving with the grace of an elemental dancer”. A classic masterwork. 

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Swamp Thing # 53 - Alan Moore John Totleben
Batman: a creature of the night / Batman: una criatura de la noche

El delicado velo de la civilización no puede resistir la tentación de la naturaleza. Apenas brotan los jardines, y los árboles irrumpen entre las fisuras estructurales del paisaje urbano, el edén se precipita sobre la tierra del hombre, y la cultura humana se rinde ante un llamado salvaje y primordial. La hora del hombre está por terminar, la hora de lo Verde acaba de empezar. 


La venganza de la Cosa del pantano es rápida, y Gotham City –ahora transformada en una jungla– parece incapaz de reaccionar. “El jardín de las delicias terrenales” (publicado en Swamp Thing # 53, octubre de 1986) marca la confrontación entre la Cosa del pantano y Batman, entre el caos y el orden, entre la prevalencia de la justicia y la obediencia de la ley, entre el mundo natural y la creación artificial. Alan Moore describe este conflicto fundamental en una rítmica narrativa de vuelo poético.


Simultáneamente, el escritor británico reúne docenas de figuras claves bajo el mismo cielo. Batman y su tecnología no son una amenaza frente a los poderes elementales de su rival. Pero la mente criminal de Lex Luthor sí representa un peligro singular. De hecho, el némesis de Superman cobra 1 millón de dólares por una consultoría de 10 minutos sobre ‘criaturas indestructibles’. Después de años de experiencia intentando aniquilar al Hombre de Acero, Luthor considera que el fenómeno de los pantanos puede ser fácilmente destruido. Lo único que necesita es encontrar la manera de impedir que el monstruo reubique su conciencia de un lugar a otro. 10 minutos y 1 millón de dólares después, ya lo tiene todo resuelto.

Swamp Thing # 53 - Alan Moore John Totleben
A giant threat against the city / una amenaza gigante contra la ciudad

Ahora que Gotham es un gigantesco jardín, cientos de peregrinos desean visitar este paraíso. Entre ellos encontramos a Chester, el hippy bien intencionado que descubrió las propiedades alucinógenas de los frutos de la Cosa del pantano, y también Wallace Monroe, un hombre devastado –de luto por la muerte de su esposa– quien tuvo un catastrófico encuentro con Cara-Nuclear, en los pantanos de Luisiana.

Swamp Thing # 53 - Alan Moore John Totleben
Batman & Abby. Background: Chester, Wallace Monroe,
Commissioner Gordon & Harvey Bullock

“Pensabais... que no podría... empeorar. Imaginabais... que las cosas... habían llegado al límite. No os... engañéis... No hay límites”. Aunque el Señor de la Noche es un oponente formidable, es vencido por la Cosa del pantano. Tal vez su derrota puede ser una manifestación de las dudas del cruzado enmascarado. Después de todo, ¿qué ley infringió Abby? ¿Por qué la policía de Luisiana la persigue? ¿Y por qué Gotham no puede dejar que esta mujer regrese a los brazos de la criatura que ama? 


Batman finalmente intercede en la disputa con su mente lúcida y analítica. Si el crimen de Abby fue estar en contacto con un ser inhumano, entonces ¿no es la Liga de la Justicia culpable de los mismos cargos? ¿Y qué hay de los ciudadanos de Metrópolis? A pesar de todo su poder y nobleza, Superman sigue siendo un extraterrestre. Finalmente, las autoridades de Gotham entienden que en esta instancia deben reinterpretar la ley y concederle a Abby su libertad.


“Entre el fiero goce de la victoria... algo oscuro revolotea en mi mente”. Y la Cosa del pantano tiene razón, porque antes de poder abrazar a Abby, el arma creada por Lex Luthor lo aniquila. En un estallido de llamas, las esperanzas de Abby se consumen.


John Totleben dibuja y entinta todo el número, un gigantesco especial de 38 páginas. Y su arte es tan magnífico que tenía que dedicarle un post completo. Stephen Bissette explica en el prólogo la importancia de la contribución de Totleben: “Las exquisitas tintas de John y su trabajo con los pinceles no sólo otorga al título la promesa de Bosch de visiones delirantes, sino que también fusiona las sensibilidades artísticas de Virgil Finlay (uno de los héroes artistas de John) con la fiebre por los monstruos gigantes de Jack Kirby y Steve Ditko”. De hecho, las evocadoras imágenes de Totleben preservan la belleza de la naturaleza y al mismo tiempo exacerban los aspectos terroríficos de la criatura del pantano. Y la confrontación con el Caballero Oscuro le brinda a Totleben “la oportunidad de delinear uno de sus personajes favoritos de los cómics – su Batman es tanto una criatura de la noche como aquel dibujado por Bernie Wrightson […] El vigoroso ser de sombra de John captura un aspecto esencial de Batman”. Ciertamente, la versión de Totleben del cruzado enmascarado es superior a las pobres y convencionales representaciones que eran tan abundantes en los 80s. “‘El jardín de las delicias terrenales’ representa al Swamp Thing definitivo de Totleben […] oliendo a tierra, ondulando sabia, ramas y musgo, y moviéndose con las gracia de un danzante de los elementos”. Una obra maestra clásica.


Originally Published at http://artbyarion.blogspot.com/2014/01/swamp-thing-53-alan-moore-john-totleben.html


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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 -  http://artbyarion.blogspot.com – and actually look at it.  There will be a quiz at the end of every month.

 


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