SWAMP THING #76
L'Adoration de la Terre
Writer : Rick Veitch
Art : Rick Veitch
Art : Alfredo Alcala
Cover Artist : John Totleben
: Tatjana Wood
Letters : John Costanza
: Karen Berger
Previously, on Swamp Thing: Scientist Alec Holland and his wife were burned alive by an explosion in Alec's lab. His wife perished, but Alec managed to stumble out of his little hut and into a deep swamp. He awoke to find his body transformed; his skin replaced with moss, his bones now made of wood; his heart nothing but a tangle of dried up roots. At first, Holland believed that the chemicals in his lab caused the dreadful mutation, and he used his powers to defend the residents of his swamp from various crooks and monsters, all the while slowly falling in love with Abigail Cable, with whom he cannot share a relationship, because she's married and he's a walking lettuce. Even worse, Abby is the neice of Swamp Thing's nemesis, the terrible warlock Anton Arcane.
Swamp Thing's world changed dramatically when a British magician named John Constantine walked onto the scene; Constantine had been following Swamp Thing's movements for some time, and some research into similar transformations across history revealed that Swamp Thing was not quite the creature he thought he was, nor was he the first. It seemed that rather than undergoing a mutation, Alec Holland had died in the Swamp. As his corpse decayed, his memories were absorbed by forces within the swamp and used as the foundations for an elemental god; a being who represented and was connected to all of Earth's plantlife. Constantine put the Swamp Thing through a series of tests to see the limit of his powers, sending him to fight werewolves, vampires and ghouls. He also revealed to Swamp Thing the abilities available to him as a bog god: he was allowed access to The Green, a plane of reality which joins together all plantlife on Earth. By shifting his consciousness from plant to plant, Swampy found that he was able to grow new bodies or even take control of individual trees.
Swamp Thing's private life improved too, although the going was not easy; after Matt Cable, Abby's husband, was critically injured in a car crash, Abby and Swamp Thing found themselves growing closer. However, Anton Arcane possessed Matt's body, tricking Abbie into having sex with him, before eventually "killing" her. Swamp Thing forced Anton down into Hell, and a partially restored Matt used the last of his energy to perform healing magic on Abby. After this, he fell into a deep coma from which he would never awake. With Matt gone, Abby and Swamp Thing finally began their relationship which was to survive numerous crises, both small and Infinite. Over time, the couple began to think about children, so Swamp Thing concocted a plan - he would possess the body of John Constantine, the man who had tricked him into risking his life on so many occasions, and use him as a vessel for the conception. Luckily, Constantine - who had found himself in a tricky situation - was plotting the same thing. Unluckily, he was kicked out of his body before he had chance to explain his plan to Swamp Thing. Now Swampy's in John's shoes (amongst other things) and he must travel from London to Louisiana to meet Abby.
Issue Synopsis :
Big Ben chimes two in the morning as The Phantom Stranger (tall, dark, sort of handsome. Wears a cape and hat. Has a penchant for b-movie melodrama) and Etrigan (rhyming yellow-skinned demon. Stands on the borders of good and evil. Looks stupid) watch a sleeping London. Etrigan tells the Stranger that John's blood has been tainted but nevertheless, Constantine is plotting something to bring about Nergal's downfall. The Phantom Stranger says that Swamp Thing will recognise the demonic taint and change his plans, but Etrigan doubts this, placing his bets on Constantine. The camera swoops down to...
John's flat. Swamp Thing has bound Constantine, inserting his tendrils and roots into John's throat, mouth and nostils. John tries his best to fight off the attack, but fades out of consciousness as Swamp Thing pushes his soul out of his body and begins to take up residence. Swampy marvels at the beat of John's heart and the flood of adrenaline flowing through his veins. However, his enjoyment is cut short by a coughing fit, and the horrible realisation that he now has John's nicotine addiction too. Sadly for him there are no cigarettes in the house, and rather than smoke his own body (for Swampy had manifested himself in John's duty-free tobacco), Swampy elects to gloat over his victory. As he studies himself in the bathroom mirror, he recalls the look of horror on John's face, and his futile attempts to talk him out of the possession. Finally, Swampy grabs John's trenchcoat, passport and money and leaves the flat. As he walks down to the street he sees Mighty Mouse, John's rastafarian neighbour, and Mrs. MacGuire, his landlady. Swampy feels the care and respect John has for his neighbours, and is shocked to realise that Constantine might not be quite the frozen-hearted manipulator he often seems.
Meanwhile, in Louisiana, Swampy's girlfriend Abbie walks up the steps to the house of Chester, last of the hippies. She notes that the doorbell isn't working and that nobody seems to hear her knocks at the door and takes out the housekey. Just as she's about to open the door, however, a naked and flustered Chester appears. He explains that he's a little bit busy right now, having finally gotten together with a mutual friend of theirs - an author named Liz. Before Abbie leaves, Chester hands her a bundle of letters through the door. They're bills for the care of Matt Cable, Abbie's long-comatose husband. Abbie throws them away, knowing that they're already being payed by Matt's former employers, but realises that they might a synchronous reminder to visit Matt. She heads towards the hospital to tell him what she and Swampy are planning.
Heathrow Airport, London: Swampy is booking tickets to Louisiana when a brash chap with the unlikely name of "Funky Flashman" arrives, claiming to be an old partner of Constantine's. Swampy keeps quiet and lets the man prattle on about his latest get-rich scheme: pitting Swamp Thing (whom Flashman mistakenly believes to be under Constantine's control) against a series of superheroes then raking in money from bets and the post-battle reconstruction work. By the time the Concorde has landed in Washington, Swampy has lost all of the respect he had built up for Constantine. Flashman takes his leave and Swampy decides to get a little revenge on John. He can barely supress his grin as he enters a tattoo parlour...
Down in Hell, Abbie's deranged, deformed and deceased uncle Anton Arcane is undergoing various forms of eternal torture. Much to his captor's annoyance Arcane refuses to take the pain seriously, letting out loud peals of laughter instead of the expected agonised groaning. The demon asks him to get into the spirit of things, but Arcane explains that he can't help it - even in the darkest pits of Hell, the knowledge that he has trapped his enemies in utter misery fills him with glee. The demon says that if this is indeed the case, Arcane should be made into a demon rather than undergo further torment. He drains some of Arcane's blood and turns it into a looking pool to observe the world above.
In Houma's Terrebonne Parish General Hospital, Abbie looks down at the withered husk of skin that was her husband. She tries to explain her feelings to him - her love for Swamp Thing, her desire for a baby and the shared hope of creating a new elemental. One thing overshadows all of this, however, and that is the thought of going back on her wedding vows with Matt. She clasps his hand and begs him to understand, and as she does so the wedding ring slips off Matt's finger. Abbie takes this as a sign of Matthew's consent and leaves the hospital.
Finally in the Louisiana swamps, Swamp Thing rents a boat (with a 1000 dollar bill!) and sails off to find the huge tree that he calls home. Although he tries to think of the coming of the new elemental, Swampy finds himself constantly distracted by the thought of sex with Abbie. He's so overcome that he doesn't even question how Constantine was healed after his near-fatal fall from a train. Instead, he rushes inside, where a nervous Abbie awaits. Swampy tries to relax her, but his fumbling attempts at seduction fail utterly. After checking to make sure that Constantine's not carrying any STDs, Alec tries again, but Abbie pulls away. She's worried that this is all some sick ruse by Constantine and, ever the gentle...er, thing, Swampy agrees to find some other way. There is a brief pause, then Abbie offers Matt's wedding ring. Swampy accepts, proving to Abbie that he really is who he says he is, and she delightedly pushes him onto the bed.
Back in Hell, the demon observes Alec and Abbie making love and tells Arcane that his neice is clearly not in torment at all. Arcane's protests are muffled as he's placed in a spiked ball and then tossed into a lava pit.
Over in Louisiana, The Phantom Stranger and Etrigan prove to be the world's creepiest perverts as they watch over the conception of the new elemental. They observe an elemental spirit travelling across the swamp and The Phantom Stranger, still upset that Nergal's blood could help the forces of evil, intends to intervene. Etrigan stops him, however, with a fiery burst of demon's breath that transports them to the North Slope of Heaven. Here, the pair observe two enormous arms locked in an eternal struggle, one representing Good and the other representing Evil. Etrigan points out that the arms are still locked fast, with neither gaining the upper hand (so to speak).
Meanwhile in Louisiana, Swampy stops suddenly. Abbie asks him what the matter is, and he tells her that the conception is complete. They are now parents. They kiss and begin again.
Issue synopsis written by James Wilkinson