Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Ranking Alan Moore's Swamp Thing comics

There are still vast tracts of Alan Moore mindscapes I have yet to explore. I could have knuckled down to his 1,000-plus-page novel, or finally ticked off some of his less appealing ventures like Tom Strong and Promethea, but every few years, something keeps drawing me back to the fetid, squelchy, strangely erotic Louisiana swamps.

Moore's Swamp Thing stint is tediously legendary, but for the purposes of this, I'm going to ignore how revolutionary his psychecological sex scenes and feminist werewolves are and just celebrate how much I like these stories, respectively.

It helps that it's mostly episodic, and the occasional contractual crossovers and awkward Batman cameos make ranking The Top 45 Alan Moore Swamp Thing Stories less intimidating than trying to review something immaculate like Watchmen or From Hell. I wouldn't want to show myself up.

Nostalgic/obsolete TPB key:

Saga of the Swamp Thing
Love and Death
The Curse
A Murder of Crows
Earth to Earth

45. The Jungle Line (DC Comics Presents #85)

Was he glad for the money, or did he jump at the chance to write Superman? The answer can't be found in this story itself. It's not terrible, but neither is it the radical punch to the gut you might expect with Moore's reputation. He's not allowed to break all the toys.

He has his fun briefly stripping Supe of his powers, driving him mad and having him look bedraggled and unshaven, but then he has the mandatory cover fight with Swamp Thing and he gets better. The best thing I can take from this is that having Swampy commune with extraterrestrial fungus might have inspired Moore to send him on his space odyssey later. Otherwise, it's completely disposable.

44. Loose Ends (#20)

It was the right call to leave this weird transitional story out of the old collected editions.

Sticklers would have to seek it out eventually, just to read all the Moore, but unless you've been following the saga for the previous year and a half under various lesser writers, it makes a lot more sense to start at Swamp Thing's triumphant resurrection than his cluttered and confusing slaughter.

It's surprising that Moore didn't build a stronger bridge. Considering all the supporting players survive the attempted continuity holocaust, the slate doesn't even feel any clearer. So what was the point?

43. By Demons Driven! (#27)

Look at that bloody cover. If you're expecting self-parodying superhero shenanigans, you'll be disappointed as Swamp Thing non-ironically fights a caped demon and a monkey monster.

By definition this is classic Alan Moore, but it's not classic Alan Moore. When you've been spoiled by his cheeky boundary-bending, it's disheartening when he stays on brand. There's even a mawkish ending where the creepy autistic kid saves the day. I'd be worried if I didn't already know there's some great stuff coming up.

42. Loose Ends (Reprise) (#63)

Swamp Thing's inevitable return after an extended absence is more a whimper than a triumph. It's not because the status quo returning means Alan Moore's leaving, either. I would have embraced a grand finale.

Instead, we have a disjointed story in which Swamp Thing dishes out rose-tinted revenge like a floral Crow (I know, this was first) while Abby and Chester mope in a soap.

It's not his very last one, at least. Just the reluctant table-clearing prelude.

41. A Time of Running (#26)

Turns out my memory of episodic demon-battling adventures wasn't entirely accurate. This one's still going on, and gets over-complicated when a DC demon shows up uninvited to help our hero. Moore previously plucked the Floronic Man out of obscurity as a fitting nemesis for Swamp Thing, but it feels like he's dusting off action figures for the sake of it now he has access to the toy box.

Elsewhere in the story, significant continuity is happening before our very eyes as Matt Cable does his first unselfish act since Alan took over and is promptly punished with a car crash. I wonder what proportion of Sandman fans go back and read these? If not for the character origins, at least to count how many books it took for Gaiman to escape Moore's shadow (about four?)

40. The Brimstone Ballet (#31)

It hasn't been too long (seven months in comic time) since we last had a madman cackling over humanity's destruction before being promptly foiled, so I wasn't especially taken with this one. It doesn't help that Moore's also contractually bound to include pointless scenes with the Monitor for the sake of crossover continuity that's only going to get worse now we've hit Crisis year.

On the plus side, Moore ties up his own deliberate loose ends by recontextualising everything that's happened so far as one big Arcane long game. So at least we can move onto new pastures now. As soon as we deal with the trifling matter of the dead not-girlfriend.

39. Earth to Earth (#55)

We're post-Watchmen now, so if Alan Moore wants to give over an entire issue of his comic to slow, reflective eulogies, you let him. The kids looking for their action fix will just have to go without this month. Same for the horror junkies. Deal with it, nothing happens in this one except people talking and remembering things, and it's...

Kind of boring. I'd praise the symmetry of the opening and closing scenes, but like I said, we're post-Watchmen now. Be clever harder.

38. Revelations (#46)

It's DC Comics' 50th anniversary and all titles are invited to the party. Attendance is not optional. But I'm only reading Swamp Thing, not any of the others, so will it make sense? Or be a jarring spanner coming out of bloody nowhere?

Alan Moore had a plan. He sowed the seeds of apocalyptic doom a while back, and now Swamp Thing finally learns the purpose of that wild gothic goose chase that was so delightful. The explanation doesn't make much sense, and the time-warping Crisis itself is a confusing mess littered with unwelcome cameos, but it could have been worse.

This is Alan Moore we're talking about though, it could have been a lot better.

37. Abandoned Houses (#33)

The second filler issue in a row, I might have been annoyed if I was buying these every month in 1985, but these reflective distractions work much better when you're binging.

I assume this stalling tactic was a consequence of the bumper-size annual and Moore getting other DC work, because you don't do a clip show without excuses. Still, there are only eight pages of reprinted material (two fifths of the comic), and it's of historical significance to fans as Len Wein and Berni Wrightson's original 'Swamp Thing' story from '71. Even the framing sequences will be adored by Sandman fans, as Moore resurrects Cain and Abel ready for their second coming under Neil Gaiman.

The shrewd character that he is, Moore even presents this shameless reprint as foreshadowing by tying it into the upcoming Crisis that comic fans were pretty excited about at the time. The vintage story itself? It's kind of crap and sexist, but in an enjoyable way. Interesting to compare how far comics had come in the intervening 14 years, then the less dramatic differences after another 32. They're coloured digitally now, granddad.

36. Another Green World (#23)

Swamp Thing comes to terms with what he is, and gets it together in time to halt Woodrue's eco terrorism. Except he takes most of the issue to wake up, so their confrontation has to wait for next time.

Moore found a fitting arch nemesis for Swampy in the Floronic Man (after he did his reinventing thing, anyway). But even with the New Age spiritual layer and cutting jibes about screaming meat, the hero/villain paradigm is still much too traditional. He'll have to go.

35. All Flesh Is Grass (#61)

Out of his elements, Swamp Thing leaps from one calamity to another, this time threatening an entire sentient ecosystem because he didn't do his research. Bloody tourists.

Making nature's champion the accidental destroyer of paradise is a great premise, but it's the Planet of the Vegetables itself that puts me off. Is this another existing DC universe thing, like the irritating Green Lantern stuff, or did Moore just choose to go cutesy to rub in the horror? No one even dies, what a swizz.

34. The Flowers of Romance (#54)

Surprisingly, Swamp Thing's still AWOL by the end of this issue (and the next). It probably pissed off some readers that they had to read about some chicks in the meantime, but all readers after 1986 can enjoy the change of focus for a couple of chapters.

The retro fest continues as two of Swamp Thing's former sidekicks show up for the first time since 'Loose Ends,' when new writer Alan Moore decided he didn't want to use them in his comic, but didn't want to kill them either. Instead, in his mercy, he made Liz a housebound hostage for two years under the tyrannical protection of Dennis, who presumably didn't used to be this psychotic.

One for the old school fans. If there are many of those left after '86.

33. Pog (#32)

It was obvious this was a thing. I just didn't know which thing Alan Moore was paying tribute to this time (admittedly, that's a more familiar experience than comprehension).

This time around, I bothered to do the extensive research to find out. It's spoiled the mystery of the second strangest Swamp Thing story (see number 7), but at least I can properly appreciate it as a tribute now, from its idiosyncratic dialogue to its forgivably heavy-handed veggie moral. And the cartoony style of backup artist Shawn McManus actually works to its credit this time.

The problem with 'Pog' is that it lasts the entire issue. These heartfelt pastiches are usually restricted to stories within the stories or supplementary pages at the end, and while this does make for some welcome light relief in the trade paperback amidst all the love and death, that Stanley Unwin-esque dialogue does trybold the patientling.

32. Mysteries in Space (#57)

He only wrote this comic for a few years, but he doesn't half like to go through the genres. In case you hadn't noticed, we're doing sci-fi now, complete with jet packs, zeta beams and ray guns going "tzu tzu tzu." Makes collecting them in themed paperbacks easier, I suppose. And more excuses for Moore to bring back obscure characters from his childhood, who novices have to look up on our wikis.

I'd enjoy the Silver Age silliness of this one a lot more if it wasn't stretched to two parts. Save that for the stories that deserve it, you're going soon.

31. Exiles (#58)

He just can't help himself. Readers used to accept Adam Strange's random journeys twixt Earth and Rann as a fluke of fortune, but Alan Moore has to go and add seedy sexual context for the '80s. As this is the '80s, it's too early to be self-parody yet.

When I first read these a decade ago, I think I ran out patience for Swamp Thing's space odyssey by this point, but that's a good thing. The longer we can postpone his inevitable return to the swamp, the more satisfying it's going to be. Alan obviously doesn't want to write that any more.

Anyway, you're on the last book, it's called Reunion and you can skip the ones Moore was away for, so just try to enjoy the endless possibilities while you can. Where will the TARDIS randomiser take us next...?

30. A Halo of Flies (#30)

The brutality doesn't let up as a dark shadow spreads its malevolent influence across America. You know, like happened in real life.

This is another sagging middle part that's mainly concerned about establishing the hopeless situation before it's inevitably resolved next time. That means it's an excuse for some continuity masturbation, if that's the sort of thing you're into, bringing back recent adversaries and giving famous DC villains gratuitous cameos.

This can't have been the first time a DC superhero failed to save the day and felt bad about it. But I doubt The New Teen Titans went quite this dark.

29. Strange Fruit (#42)

After a whole issue of build-up, we finally get to the voodoo zombies... and it's not as good as the build-up.

History thematically reenacts, and as soon as revenge is satisfied, the horde's free to settle down to thankless jobs. Not exactly the kick in racism's knackers I was hoping for.

Still, Swamp Thing and Abby learn that... actually, I'm not sure what any of us were supposed to take from this. Where's Constantine gone?

28. The Burial (#28)

I complained when Alan gave us traditional superhero fights, so I shouldn't begrudge him this low-key sentimental interlude. Even if it does seem pointless to dig up the old identity crisis only to bury it again. Come on, we're on book 2 now.

I haven't talked about the artists much, because I really just focus on the stories. It took the absence of Stephen Bissette, and his temporary replacement by someone who doesn't get it, for me to remember how important a good combo is. How am I supposed to appreciate the changing of the seasons being reflected in Swamp Thing's foliage when the art isn't consistent?

27. The Summoning (#49)

"You call that a crisis?" Alan Moore implies. "I'll give you a crisis."

Hot on the heels of a disappointing compulsory crossover, Moore gives us his own take, free from contractual cameos. That means more obscure appearances from the supernatural strata of DC characters – look, there's Dr. Fate and the house from Night Force. Finally, references I can appreciate.

What's stopping me from loving this is that it's largely a retread of the events and interactions of the Swamp Thing Annual #2 from a year and a half earlier, and it sort of cheapens that.

26. The Nuke-Face Papers, Part 1 (#35)

We're on an experimental streak right now, which is always good, even if this time that just means incorporating newspaper clippings about the dangers of nuclear power that are only occasionally legible.

The story itself is one of the most conventional of Moore's whole run, as Swamp Thing encounters his own Kryptonite: toxic waste! It's like a gory Captain Planet, which is the lowest expectation I could have had about the series going in. There was nothing for Abby to do in this one, so she conveniently sleeps through it.

25. The Nuke-Face Papers, Part 2 (#36)

Swamp Thing succumbs to a slow radioactive death and we're forced to watch. It's pretty gross.

Not especially upsetting though, since it's not like he hasn't died before. Save your tears for all the less invulnerable human victims and unborn innocents unlucky enough to cross paths with toxic waste personified, unless previous issues have convinced you that the screaming meat gets what it deserves.

This is one of the more brutal installments, but it feels justified in a heavy-handed, eco-warrior way. It still doesn't treat the women fairly, but at least Abby woke up for this one.

24. Ghost Dance (#45)

There's time for one more gothic outing before DC Comics celebrates its 50th birthday and we grudgingly have to join in. Swamp Thing only shows up to conveniently resolve the story and apply some flimsy context, but it would have been perfectly serviceable without him.

It's not a classic horror tale, but it's big on atmosphere, set in the impossible labyrinth of a creaky mansion haunted by cowboys and injuns. Make me jealous as I sit reading in my normally-angled house, why don't you?

23. Swamped (#22)

In the first "regular" issue of Moore's run (I may need more inverted commas), "Alec Holland" goes back to his roots and comes to terms with his new identity in a puntastic dream-quest. It's not Moore's finest comedy outing, but it does help to lighten the existential anguish and vomit-inducing natural processes surrounding it.

I have no idea how well the Cables' marriage was getting on before Alan Moore threw his spanner in, but he's already sowing his filthy seeds. More substantially, we're introduced to the Green, the Final Fantasy-esque life-force of our planet that's going to face more than its fair share of educational ecological crises before this run is through.

22. Southern Change (#41)

Having historically brought an end to sexism in the last issue, Alan Moore sorts out racism once and for all, with some bonus swipes at haughty celebrities for good measure.

Swamp Thing's gothic road trip returns home to Louisiana to unflinchingly confront the south's own troubled past. Meanwhile, Swampy's own behaviour is getting more bizarre, by narrow human standards, as he becomes ever more a force of nature.

Was anyone else doing shit this weird back then? In mainstream comics, no less. He has his off days like anyone, but it might not be possible to overestimate Moore's importance.

21. Home Free (#51)

Now that armageddon's been averted, and the volume's presumably been turned down on the horror for a while, we can switch channels back to romance. There's just the small snag of Abby being locked up for her "crimes against nature" (you don't need to point out the irony, this is Alan Moore).

Swamp Thing as vengeful lover might work, I'll have to see next time. He's been quite boring since he came to terms with himself, so it's nice to see some of that regressive humanity erupting back to the surface.

20. Roots (#24)

When you've weaned yourself on stand-alone graphic novels, it's an unsettling experience when you pick up a long-running series from one of the powerhouses and slam into the wider continuity for the first time. But when you're aware of Alan Moore's reputation, the possibilities are exciting.

Moore's only allowed to make fleeting use of these icons; he doesn't have permission to fuck them all over like he did the Swamp Thing. But he makes his mark in more subtle ways.

Alan Moore's Justice League is presented as fallible Olympian gods, misunderstanding and impotently observing the Earth's "revenge" as someone else takes care of it. They're allowed to apprehend the villain once Swamp Thing's rendered him inert and he becomes just another raving madman. That's the sort of thing these city boys can handle, not this weird experimental shit.

19. Bogeymen (#44)

He only had to keep the comic going. He didn't have to be so damn smart about it. You should be able to pick up a comic about a swamp monster dispensing vigilante justice to a serial killer, and surprising his girlfriend by manifesting through the bathroom sink, and enjoy it on a superficial level. You shouldn't be left with the niggling feeling that you're supposed to read between the lines, actually use your brain and think, "that's all well and good... but what if Swamp Thing were evil?"

Over half-way through this smart-arse run now. About time it was passed on to more relaxing writers, the quality's giving me a headache.

18. The End (#50)

When it's the boss' 50th birthday, just throw something together that toes the party line and doesn't alienate your own readers too much.

When it's your own 50th issue, really go to town and threaten the end of everything. I know that sort of thing probably happens at least once a month across the various DC titles, but it feels serious this time.

Still, this doesn't feel like the stone cold classic it wants to be. Maybe it's that ambivalent ending, those slightly daft demons that look like they belong in The Real Ghostbusters, the fact that it's more of a John Constantine story than a Swamp Thing story and Abby isn't even in it. Maybe I just miss the swamp.

17. The Parliament of Trees (#47)

Swamp Thing's journey of self-discovery continues as he explores new looks in Brazil and unravels his mythology. Just try revising that, successors.

Meanwhile, back at the swamp, Abby's about to be dragged through the mud, and not in the kinky way she likes. Moore is unrelenting in his quest to bring escapist comics down into the filth of the real world, where cavorting with a vegetable doesn't look good for a child care worker.

Superman's right there on the stand if this is getting too heavy for you.

16. A Murder of Crows (#48)

The Crisis may be over for the everyday superheroes, but not for the weirdos. It's back to business as usual as Swamp Thing faces off against doom-spouting villains, except it all feels a lot more sinister this time. The backwards-headed boy and sculpting of human heads into crows make the likes of Woodrue and Arcane look like Doctor Robotnik.

This is a much better crossover than that DC anniversary rubbish. It doesn't technically count, since Hellblazer won't spin off for another couple of years, but I enjoyed it all the same.

15. Still Waters (#38)

A crossover crisis is looming (at least, I think that's the end of days being portented). So before these stories get overrun with unwelcome superheroes, we're taking a well-earned break from that side of things and working through the gothic horror tropes, each with a distinctive Alan Moore spin.

Vampires this time. Aquatic punk vampires spawning in a sunken town. Why hasn't he been writing this stuff all along?

14. Fish Story (#39)

The creature from the swamp vs. the underwater vampires and their cannibal fish spawn.

He doesn't last long. But that defeat teaches him to stop thinking like a limited human, and he fast-tracks the learning curve to turn himself into a mountain. At this rate, he'll be an invulnerable god before long, so where's the jeopardy?

Good thing there's an apocalypse due.

13. The Sleep of Reason (#25)

Swamp Thing's defeated his first supervillain and Alan Moore's proven he can write that American stuff in his own way, so now the reigns are slackened and he's free to open up the occult puzzle box. Postmodern superheroes, black magic, unconventional eroticism; Swamp Thing's all the best of Alan Moore in one mossy package.

For retrospective readers coming to this run after Sandman, Hellblazer and the like, this is very familiar, very influential territory. The Vertigo label might have its origin in this tale of a disturbed autistic orphan, morbid prophecies and deadly spelling.

12. Love and Death (#29)

Now that Swamp Thing's comfortable in his own slime, it's time to put Abigail through the wringer. If you found Moore's treatment of Barbara Gordon in The Killing Joke a tad distasteful, you probably won't be delighted by this tale of spousal abduction, incestuous rape and self-harm. And now I've made myself feel like a dick for placing it so highly.

But I admire the bold ones, and this is a turning point for the character on her path to becoming the bride of swampy Frankenstein. By making her a damsel he needs to rescue. Hang on, have I been defining her entirely in relation to the men? Oh dear.

11. Return of the Good Gumbo (#64)

Alan Moore takes one last splash in the swamp and gazes into its rippling surface for a calm and reflective epilogue.

The Earth god finally voices the moral quandary that's been on our minds since he greenified Gotham and ended famine on a barren alien world, and his resolution is the one we expected (which also helps the DC Comics Earth not to be too utopially dissimilar to our own). We have to clean up our own mess. But what about the children? It's a bit uncomfortably close to Mother Teresa territory.

Swamp Thing's adventures would continue under other writers, so Moore leaves all the doors wide open for them. But he's canny enough to realise that it's really only his stories that future generations are going to be interested in checking out, so he gives us an ending we can be happy with. Lovely cover too.

10. Windfall (#43)

Swamp Thing's more prominent on the cover than inside the actual issue, as we follow one of his carelessly discarded spuds as it wreaks havoc and epiphanies over town.

The series is at its best when Moore explores the ramifications of Swamp Thing's existence, rather than just having him fight stuff. What it means to be a Swamp Thing, how his negligence can affect others, and how people feel about that. Shit's about to hit the fan.

9. The Curse (#40)

"I am woman. Stand not between me and my wrath."

We've had vampires=AIDS, but was this really the first time someone equated the monthly wolf cycle what that other monthly cycle? Even if there's an Angela Carter story or something, kudos to Moore for getting it through the legendarily prudish American comics system.

He's slipped up in the equality stakes occasionally, from The Killing Joke to Neonomicon and even elsewhere in Swamp Thing, but this paean to womankind makes up for all that. Well, maybe not Neonomicon. The damage control is still ongoing there.

8. Natural Consequences (#52)

It's been noted a couple of times in this run that Swamp Thing guards the backwaters that the more cosmopolitan heroes arrogantly overlook. If he had to visit a city, there's no finer fit than post-Miller Gotham, and Moore can't resist putting his own green stamp on the place in the most iconic sequence this side of psychedelic yam sex.

Now that the American Gothic arc's over, we've gone a bit retro with villains and references from back in the early #20s. Swampy's forgiveness of the incarcerated Woodrue is a good barometer of how much he's changed, and how our own notions of good and evil have been influenced along the journey too. Especially in light of who he's fighting next.

7. Loving the Alien (#60)

It looks like Alan Moore's done with Swamp Thing. This isn't Swamp Thing. But if he's sticking around to tell us some final, insane stories and do whatever he likes regardless, I won't argue with that.

This is one of the strangest comics in any series ever, though it's really more of an abstract picture book. That experimental stuff didn't start with Gaiman & McKean, though admittedly, the latter would have rendered the cryptic cyborg orgitechture more satisfyingly. I assume John Totleben was following Moore's famously precise instructions and that this thing was supposed to be made out of Casio calculators and digital watches?

If you're invested enough to untangle the poetic alien perspective and coalesce the abstract, this is also one of the most horrific stories of the whole run, in which Swamp Thing is savagely raped, harvested and spat out by one of countless such colossal black widows lurking out there in the Great-Black-Outside-That-Is-Everything. You wanted the horror back, right? So why are you shaking?

6. The Anatomy Lesson (#21)

Let's pretend issue 20 didn't happen and celebrate the birth of the modern comic (at least west of the Atlantic; Alan had been doing his thing back home for a while).

His Marvelman might have been the first postmodern superhero reinvention (or not; it's not like I'm that well-versed in superhero comics beyond Alan Moore), but this is the installment that kicked off that other trend of drafting in ridiculously obscure DC irregulars to fill out the cast, continued by Neil Gaiman in early Sandman before that work became less derivative and consequently less great.

Even beyond its legacy, it's a damned fine horror comic debut (well, it might as well be) that transforms Swampy from another boring mutated hero into a deluded plant going on an existential rampage. Anything could happen. This is going to be great.

5. Rite of Spring (#34)

Let's take a moment to appreciate Alan Moore planning his Swamp Thing arcs around the real-time changing of the seasons, then plunge into the most iconic issue of them all. One in which horror is entirely absent, and where sex and mind-altering drugs have to be concealed in metaphor because that's much worse than the graphic deaths and disgorged organs on display every other week.

First he strips the hero of his humanity, now he's turned DC's flagship horror comic into a weird romance. Is this guy insane? I wonder how the kids felt when they picked up their favourite gore mag and were confronted instead with relentless psychedelic double-page spreads and vaginal allusions. Won't someone think of the children?

4. Down Amongst the Dead Men (Annual #2)

Now that Matt Cable's out of the picture, Swamp Thing's free to become the unlikely romantic hero. But first, there's the small matter of retrieving his beloved's soul from Hell.

You don't have to know much about Golden Age continuity to enjoy this tour of the DC afterlife, but a wiki certainly helps. Moore brings back further obscure and forgotten characters to be Swamp Thing's Virgils on his quest, and after writing epic scenes in which ethereal characters make high and mighty proclamations while wearing nothing but a cape and tight underwear, Watchmen becomes even more of an inevitability.

I always forget to mention the art, but that's only because it's such a seamless fit. Bissette does a masterful job of rendering Moore's supernatural realms in all their whacked-out, awe-inspiring, horrifying glory. The grazing poltergeists, Jesus.

3. The Garden of Earthly Delights (#53)

After Swamp Thing v. Superman didn't light my fire (see bottom place), I was surprised I enjoyed Swamp Thing v. Batman this much. Probably because the ludicrously uneven fight only lasts a couple of pages, so the rest is free to concentrate on story.

Swamp Thing's come so far and got so big (literally in one scene), you start to wonder how there can really be any jeopardy any more, and where Alan Moore can possibly take things from here. By the climax, you've got the how. The where will have to wait.

I don't know why this was an XL issue, especially so soon after the last one, but that gives us some extra pages to explore extraneous things like how this is affecting the little people. The little things matter.

2. Growth Patterns (#37)

Another literal rebirth, which means it's time to shake things up again. It's been good so far, but with the introduction of the enigmatic John Constantine, this is the era I remember most fondly. I've missed that Scouse sod. I never did finish Hellblazer.

Foreboding armageddon prophecies aside, this is most notable as the issue where Swamp Thing learns he can grow himself anew in perpetuity. At his current stage of enlightenment, the process is bloody slow and bloody adorable.

Abby tries her best to help with the gardening, but bless, she isn't a natural. Weirdest rom-com ever.

1. My Blue Heaven (#56)

Yes, it's basically a second go at Doctor Manhattan's self-imposed Martian exile (published the previous month), but starring a different blue posthuman god. Choosing my favourite of the two would require reading Watchmen again, but I'll do that in private where my wrong opinions won't be judged.

Apart from the repetition, this is the pinnacle of Alan Moore's Swamp Thing. Which is strange, because I like Alan Moore's Swamp Thing and this is so different from what it's usually like. It only uses one colour, for a start (and it's not even green), and Swamp Thing's poetic musings don't sound as much like Swamp Thing as they do Alan Moore (to be fair, he did have weeks of solitude to compose them).

Apart from the repetition and the inconsistencies, it's a powerful exploration of the loneliness of a god across 21 illustrated pages, as our melancholy hero recreates flawed friends, lovers and environs before finally admitting he's not fooling himself.

TL;DR: Swamp Thing has an elaborate wank.

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