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"It's the secret! The secret you came to learn! Alec Holland was not the first thing to walk the swamps!"
- "Imperfect Hosts", Alan Moore


Distant Cousins of
?

Besides SWAMP THING, there have been other comic book swamp creatures, mostly inspired by the classic 1940 horror story entitled "It" by sci-fi author Theodore Sturgeon. Sturgeon's tale of a corpse which returns to life as swamp creature was also adapted in comic book form in Marvel Comics' SUPERNATURAL THRILLERS #1 (1972).


THE HEAP

THE HEAP appeared in Hillman Periodicals' AIR FIGHTERS COMICS #3 (1942) and was popular enough to get his own strip beginning in AIRBOY COMICS issue #9. He was briefly revived in 1971 by Skywald Comics.The mostly mindless Heap was originally a World War I German pilot, Baron Eric von Emmelman, who crashed in the swamp and refused to die. (The Time Bullet Blog has a good synopsis.) In the pages of in SWAMP THING he is the basis of the Albert Höllorer character. Eclipse comics bought the rights and revived the character in the new AIRBOY series (1986). Although Todd (SPAWN) McFarlane now owns the rights to the Heap, his version bears little resemblance.



"THINGS OLD, THINGS FORGOTTEN"

was the title of a Bernie Wrightson-drawn story about elemental "Moss Beings" in HOUSE OF MYSTERY #195, even before he introduced Swamp Thing in HOUSE OF SECRETS #92.

MAN-THING

Marvel Comics' MAN-THING first appeared in a story in SAVAGE TALES magazine May, 1971. He was created by Roy Thomas, Gerry Conway, and artist Gray Morrow. The following year, Man-Thing was given a regular series beginning with ADVENTURES INTO FEAR #9. This was at the same time that SWAMP THING premiered. Monsters were becoming very popular in comics at that time.

Like Alec Holland in SWAMP THING, scientist Ted Sallis was working on a secret formula. (This formula was an attempted recreation of the "super-soldier" serum which created Captain America.) As in ST's origin, evil spies caused Sallis' death in the swamp, which combined with the secret formula, resulting in his re-animation as a muck creature. Unlike ST, Man-Thing cannot really think, but only reacts to the emotions of those around it, and "whatever knows fear, burns at the Man-Thing's touch."

The Man-Thing has been involved in a number of cosmic/magic adventures and it is believed that magic had some influence in its origin as well.

An elemental resembling Man-Thing first appears in ST #47.

SOLOMON GRUNDY

Cyrus Gold died in the swamps of Gotham City and came back to life as the pale-skinned, simple-minded brute who battled the Golden Age Green Lantern in All American Comics #61 (October 1944). Calling himself Solomon Grundy after the nursery rhyme character who was born on Monday, it is now believed that he's a botched earth elemental. Supposedly he should have become the mid-20th century Swamp Thing (replacing Albert Höllorer from WWI), although I've never understood why he became (and survived as) a monstrosity instead.

In Grant Morrison's 2006 KLARION mini-series, it is revealed that "Grundies" are corpses that get reanimated and used for labor by a subterranean community of witch-people. How this relates to Solomon Grundy is yet to be explained.

He fought Swamp Thing and Superman in DC PRESENTS #8 (1979) and soundly pummelled the Swamp Thing in SWAMP THING #67. Grundy impersonated Swamp Thing in STARMAN #48 (1998).

THE GLOB

The Glob was yet another Sturgeon rip-off which first appeared in Marvel's INCREDIBLE HULK #121 (1969), also written by Roy Thomas. It was actually rather tongue-in-cheek, as a character is heard to say "Quit flopping around like a blasted Sturgeon!"

SUMP-THING VS. THE MIGHTY MITES

MIGHTY MITES issue 2, volume 2 ("Sump Thing") from Eclipse Comics (1987) features a parody of Swamp Thing. The heroes, stuck inside a swamp monster, try to explain its purpose to it, like the heroes did with the giant Evil Thing in ST #50. This Sump Thing is not related to the character in CEREBUS, although Cerebus is parodied in this issue.

MAN-THANG Vs. SWAMP THANG

Below are scenes from an 8-page satire from Marvel's WHAT THE - -?! #6 (1990). By Peter Gillis, Doug Rice and Hilary Barta.


And here's a drawing by Simpsons artist Paul Wee.

SWAMP THING: ROOTS

The 1998 graphic novel, written and painted by Jon J. Muth, tells of WWII pilot Aaron Hayley's transformation into the Swamp Thing of the late 1940's. I'm not sure if that story is an official part of DC Comics continuity, especially since Albert Höllorer was still the Swamp Thing during that era.

SWAMP GOD

The cover story of HOUSE OF MYSTERY #217 (1973) features an ancient unnamed plant elemental who is rooted in the swamp, resembling a member of the Parliament of Trees. Written by John Jacobson and Steve Skeates, it was illustrated by future SWAMP THING artist Alfredo Alcala, with the cover by SWAMP THING creator Bernie Wrightson. Read it at the Grantbridge Street and Other Misadventures blog!
In the short tale, three cute woodland animals fight back against humanity's pollution by leading a boy to his death, in hopes of pleasing their Swamp God. The elemental finally speaks at the end and, displeased, sentences them to death by birds.

MORLOCK 2001 was a short-lived series from Atlas Comics circa 1975. It followed the adventures of a blue man who could turn into a savage plant monster to fight against a futuristic totalitarian regime. The first two issues were written by Mike Fleisher with art by Al Milgrom/Jack Abel. The third, and final issue (retitled MORLOCK 2001 AND THE MIDNIGHT MEN) was drawn by two all-time greats: Steve Ditko and Swamp Thing co-creator Bernie Wrightson!SUB-MARINER #72 featured a muck creature who is called the Slime-Thing on the cover. This final issue of early 1970s Sub-Mariner series from Marvel Comics is actually the conclusion to the story in the final issue of the Aquaman series from DC Comics, which was published three years earlier! Read about it at the Aquaman Shrine.

COMMENT: Man-Thing fan Darren Schroeder has a good webpage about muck monsters.



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