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SAGA OF THE SWAMP THING
#20
"Loose Ends"

(23 pages)
Writer: Alan Moore
Artists: Steve Bissette, Dan Day, John Totleben
Colorist: Tatjana Wood
Letterer: John Costanza
Editor: Len Wein
Swamp Thing Created by Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson

Cover: Tom Yeates


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FACTOID
FROM THE BOG

Although this is Alan Moore's first issue as the series' writer, it was mostly overlooked until 2009 and was not included in the earlier trade paperback collection. Fan Joćo Paulo Cursino has pointed out to me that the first reprint of issue 20 was in a Brazilian edition in 2007.
Issue #63, Moore's penultimate issue, has a similar title to this story.

1:1 In the original printing, the artwork surrounds the indicia (the legal/copyright statement at the bottom of the page). I've never seen that done in a comic book before. Neat!
Liz and Dennis in issue #19
Art by Bissette & Totleben, Script by Marty Pasko

2:4 The eyeglasses on the tree in the lower right corner of this panel belonged to scientist Helmut Kripttman (a.k.a. Harry Kay), a supporting character whose self-sacrifice helped to defeat Anton Arcane in last issue. He first appeared at the beginning of the 1982 SAGA OF THE SWAMP THING series and was eventually revealed to be a Jewish Holocaust survivor who had collaborated with the Nazis, now working for Sunderland.

2:5 The robotic arm seen at the bottom of this panel came from Anton Arcane's cyborg body.

4:1 Link from last panel of page 3 = "what are you going to do now?"

4:2 This is General Avery Sunderland, head of the Sunderland Corporation. He first appeared in issue #5 of the SAGA OF THE SWAMP THING series. The Sunderland Corporation was employed by the DDI to conceal Swamp Thing's existence.

4:3 Dwight Wicker of the shadowy government agency known as the DDI last appeared in issue #17 and next appears in #53. He meets his demise in #63 and burns in Hell in later issues. In issue #17 it was mentioned that General Sunderland was his mentor in the military service.

4:4 "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" was a hit Steven Spielberg movie in 1977 in which the government tries to conceal extraterrestrial contact on the Earth.
The hanging metallic spheres
seen again in issue #53.

5:1 In this issue we see the "metallic spheres" motif, which shows up again in issue #21 page 2:2, 6:2, 13:2, 20:4, etc. More significantly, it is used when ST is shot again at the end of #53. The swinging balls are marketed as an office toy called "Newton's Cradle", which is what Moore calls it in his original script. They are also visually referred to in some scenes in later issues when Arcane is being tortured in Hell. (BALLS VIDEO)

6:1 As Sunderland says, they are awakening. Supporting characters Liz Tremayne and Dennis Barclay sought comfort in an intimate encounter in last issue.

8:1 The "moon" Swampy refers to is the "Full Moon Motel" where Liz and Dennis have been staying.

9:1 The Mighty Moose bottle says "Knock yourself out! Bottled by T. Bertone". Tim Bertone is an old high school friend of artist John Totleben. A Mighty Moose bottle was previously shown in issue 17 (page 7). "Mighty Moose" was the superhero identity of a character from Archie Comics.

10:6 Matt is telling what happened in last issue.

13:6 Hec "Dallas" Brandon is an oil mogul who made unwelcome advances to Liz in his only previous appearance in issue #16. The name "Dallas" is probably a (painfully contrived) reference to the name of one of the most popular TV series of that time. The characters of the "Dallas" series were a family of oil moguls. [WATCH VIDEO] I suspect that someone named Hec Brandon was a friend of the writer or artists.

Donald
Sutherland in
"Don't Look Now"

13:7 "Don't Look Now" was a creepy 1974 film. Artist Steve Bissette wrote in Alan Moore: Portrait of an Extraordinary Gentleman that the director, Nicholas Roeg, is a favorite of his and Moore's. [WATCH VIDEO] The "Chaos" episode of Simon Pegg's comedy TV series SPACED includes a scene referring to Roeg's film, wherein a little figure in a red coat scurries through the background.

15:2 Dennis is having a flashback; not unusual for veterans of the VietNam war.

15:3 Dennis' thoughts will have ominous implications when he and Liz next appear in issue #54 and she becomes a supporting character again.

COMMENT: Steve Bisette gave an exclusive account of the tremendous effort which went into creating this issue in his March 30th and 31st and April 1st, 3rd, 5th and 7th 2009 entries at his website. It's an interesting tale of deadlines, transitions and alliances. Check out the original page pencils there, and excerpts from Moore's script. Many of the letters sent between the creative team are archived at the Bissette Collection at HUIE Library at Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas.

COMMENT: A number of minor characters appear for the only time in this issue and are called by name: Otis, Roy, Andy and Giuseppe. I was wondering if they could be named after friends of the writer/artists, but Moore's original script seems to indicate that the names of the soldiers who "killed" Swampy are random. Paul Evans of the Alan Moore Transcription Project wonders if one name was inspired by Giuseppe Arcimbaldo, whose art is referenced in issue #23.

COMMENT: Liz Tremayne and her boyfriend Dennis Barclay (a former Sunderland employee) were scientists, supporting characters and friends of ST during Martin Pasko's tenure as writer.

COMMENT: In 2009, DC Comics collected/reprinted issues 20-27 in a hardcover book titled (again) "Saga of the Swamp Thing". This was the first time that issue 20 was reprinted in the United States, but the caption on the final page of issue #24 was left out!



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