The Saga Of The Swamp Thing #6
DC Comics (October, 1982)EDITOR: Len Wein “Sins On The Water” WRITER: A. Martin Pasko ARTIST: Tom Yeates COLORIST: Tatjana Wood LETTERER: John Constanza “SWAMP THING” CREATORS: Len Wein & Berni Wrightson The Phantom Stranger:”…Till Death Do Us Join…” WRITER: Mike W. Barr ARTIST: Dan Spiegle COLORIST: Adrienne Roy LETTERER: Carrie McCarthy
Before we get into the review, I don’t read a lot of horror comics. I probably picked this up because I was a fan of the TV series on USA Network, which is surprising because people who know me might think I was more into the Fox animated series and I was kind of neutral on it. This probably led me to pick up this comic if I saw it somewhere. So I’m not fully aware of what happened before. Apparently Alec (this is before Alan Moore decided to play games with who or what Swamp Thing is) has some disease or something he’s dying from and he and his friends are trying to find some psychic little girl who may or may not be dangerous. Also, demon possession works into this somehow. I don’t know.
As we join our heroes the girl’s mother wants the girl dead. Alec and his friends, a reporter named Elisabeth Tremayne and a doctor named Dennis Barclay (I’d call Star Trek references but TNG is too far away), are trying to find her but so is a group of bad guys, who kidnap Liz. Swamp Thing uses the girl’s medallion, which turns out to be a psychic booster or something, to find the girl, but the bad guys have a telepath that can link is as soon as Alec uses it. Not that it helps much. Alec and Dennis sneak onto the baddies’ boat, but find it’s a trap for Alec…and the some of the people on the boat are Cyclopes.
What they got right: Using the masquerade to hide the Cyclopes was a good idea. There are some interesting ideas that, if I were a horror fan, I may or may not find interesting, and the story does the best it can to keep new readers up on current events without sabotaging the story.
What they got wrong: Is Alec speaking telepathically? Alec’s dialog (except for one balloon) is in thought bubbles and in one panel it doesn’t look like the others can hear them and in another it appears they do. I’m not really following here.
In the Phantom Stranger back-up, the Stranger sees a girl die before her time and goes to Death’s apartment building to investigate. (Because of course the afterlife’s door is in a penthouse.) However, it turns out she willingly passed because she and death (this isn’t the Neil Gaiman version) are in love and wed or something. It turns out Death is kind of cold to the people coming in to pass on, but Maggie’s influence may make him nicer to the newly deceased.
It’s tough to rank this a “right” or “wrong” which is why I’m giving it a separate review from the main story, which I seldom do for back-up stories lately. The idea that Death lives in a penthouse (complete with a deck–the establishing shot even has deck chairs and a table) is kind of odd for the DC Universe, so I wonder if this is supposed to be in continuity even though the Stranger, like Swamp Thing, has interacted with the DC proper characters before and since. Or maybe he hasn’t; I admit I don’t really know. I do like the line Death gives the Stranger when he knocks on Death’s door (and yes I know what I wrote). “It is not your time yet–it may never be.”. I don’t know why I like that line, but it does boost the “Stranger’ aspect of the Phantom Stranger.
What I don’t get is that when Maggie goes to the apartment, Death welcomes her like another soul on his or her way to the afterlife. He’s all formal, using her full name. Just when did Maggie meet Death and when did they fall in love? This isn’t explained and if I wasn’t questioning where this story is relative to the DC Universe I probably wouldn’t have cared as much. It’d be an interesting story that I’m overanalyzing and maybe I still am.
Recommendation: I can’t find anything wrong with the story, but I’m also not the right audience for this book, which is the only reason I’m adding it to the discard pile. It looks like a good enough comic, just not for me.