1:1 The quote is from the final book in the Bible, Revelations (same as the title of this issue) which is also known as the Apocalypse, prophesying the end of the world. (Obviously, the title "Revelations" also refers to the fact that the big confrontation which Constantine has been preparing Swamp Thing for is starting to be "revealed".) The verse is also referred to in the final issue of the 4-part KINGDOM COME comic mini-series, written by Mark Waid (and painted by Alex Ross). The plot of KINGDOM COME bears some resemblance to a previously rejected mini-series proposal to DC by Alan Moore, called TWILIGHT. While legalities prevent it from being published, Moore's proposal for TWILIGHT is worth searching for on the internet.
1:3 Note the street signs: "Teddy Hanes" is a real-life promoter of comic book conventions in the New York - Toronto area.
2:2 The 1997 Ford Basilisk is a fictional futuristic car (this was published in 1985) Moore dreamed up for this story. A Basilisk is a mythical serpent.
Contributor David Branson notes that Moore seems to have some affinity for the year 1997, since that is the year that his other stories V FOR VENDETTA and WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE MAN OF TOMORROW are set in.
2:3 "The best of times - the worst of times" is a quote from the opening of Charles Dickens' classic novel "A Tale of Two Cities." The long-haired bearded fellow in the lower left is Alan Moore.
4:1 "Th-th-th-that's all, folks!" is the signature line of Porky Pig, the Warner Bros. Loony Toons cartoon character. Porky was mentioned in the previous issue (page 12) but apparently this is just a concidence.
4:3 "Penguin" is a slang term for a nun, because of the black robe.
4:4 "Cheryl" is Cheryl Constantine Masters, John's older sister.
6:3 The image of multiple, overlapping Earths was a prominent symbol in the CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS maxi-series.
7:1 The Monitor was a powerful pan-dimensional being who secretly observed and studied events in the DC comic universe for several months prior to the CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS series. He briefly appeared with his assistant Lyla (a.k.a. Harbinger) in almost every DC title during that time. The Monitor and Lyla appeared five months before this issue in ST #30, page 12, (a scene that was not included in the original trade paperback reprint, although it is included in the more recent hardcover reprints.) In the CRISIS maxi-series it was finally explained that he planned to save all the parallel universes by combining them into one universe. The universes were threatened by the evil Anti-Monitor.
8:1 CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS was to be the final appearance of many DC characters as well as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see all of them interact in one big story, thus indulging the fantasies of comics creators and readers alike. This scene also takes place in CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS #5, page 7. ST also appears in that issue on 10:13.
In the upper half of this panel we see the Elongated Man and Alex Luthor (a character created for CRISIS). The soldier with feathers on his helmet is Little Sure Shot who served with SGT. ROCK (whom ST meets in issue #82.) Next to him is BATMAN, of course. On the other side of Constantine we see DR. FATE in the gold helmet (who will appear again in issue #50) and above him, far in the distance is the cowboy JONAH HEX (who co-stars in issue #85). To the right of Fate are SUPERMAN and AQUAMAN. In the right corner is the Ragdoll, an enemy of the golden age FLASH.
8:2 The name Luthor will be very significant to ST when Lex Luthor is responsible for ejecting him from this planet in issue #53 for which ST seeks revenge in #79. This ALEX Luthor, on the other hand, is the son of the Lex Luthor from a parallel universe. Unlike the Lex Luthor of the "normal" DC universe (Superman's nemesis), Alex's father was a good guy. Alex Luthor is really unimportant to this run of Swamp Thing story, aside from this issue. If you must know more, Alex plays an important role in CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS and more so in the later INFINITE CRISIS mini-series.
8:3 To ST's left is the villain Eclipso. To ST's right is the hero RAGMAN.
8:4 In the top corner we see the Mist, a golden age villain. The "feral child" is KAMANDI, from a post-apocalyptic future that was retroactively removed from DC Comics continuity by the Crisis.
8:5 At the top is the humorous "hero" AMBUSH BUG. In front of ST we see the Negative Man (Larry Trainor of the DOOM PATROL) and his shadow. In the lower left is the hero HAWKMAN. ST meets others from HAWKMAN's planet in issues #57-58. In those same issues ST befriends the man with the fin on his head, ADAM STRANGE. The fellow in the green pilot's cap is Hans von Hammer the "ENEMY ACE" (who appeared in STAR_SPANGLED WAR STORIES), the deadliest German fighter pilot of WWI who will meet ST in issue #83. To his right is BLACKHAWK (Janos Prohaska), a WWII hero of the Allied forces. In the bottom right is the Protector?
8:6 The Phantom Stranger appeared in backup stories in issues #1-15 of SAGA OF THE SWAMP THING. He last met Swampy in
SWAMP THING ANNUAL #2. The Phantom Stranger has made guest appearances in a great number of DC Comics titles, usually foretelling some supernatural danger, and has even had his own series from time to time.
The red furry back seen at the right side of this panel belongs to a hero called the Creeper.
In the same month that this issue was published, NEW TEEN TITANS Vol.2 #18 showed Steve Dayton (a.k.a. Mento) babbling prophetically about the mess Constantine will drag him into SWAMP THING #50. (Cyborg says: "John Constantine? I heard about him during the Crisis. Into the occult, I think. What's his connection to Dayton?" Caption says:"See Swamp Thing for the answers. -Marv")
Dayton had been becoming dangerously mentally disturbed in recent issues of NTT.
Words: M.Wolfman, Art: E.Barreto & R.Tanghal
9:4 Newcastle is a city where Constantine tried (with disastrous results) to perform an exorcism with Benjamin Cox, Frank North, Judith and Anne-Marie. This is how Anne-Marie's face & body were scarred and Ben developed his speech impediment. (See HELLBLAZER #11 for the whole story.) Newcastle is also the home city of real-life singer Sting who was the visual inspiration for Constantine.
In the background here we see Ambush Bug and TEEN TITANS member Cyborg. To the right of Constantine is Sargon, who will guest-star in ST#49-50.
11:3 These creatures, along with those appearing on the next two pages, have not been previously seen in the DC universe.
12:2 Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker were a notorious pair of criminals based in Texas during the Great Depression. They were popularly known as Bonnie & Clyde, and the subjects of a successful 1967 film of the same name, starring Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway.
13:4 The opposable thumbs of the monkeys would suggest that they are a "missing link" in the theorized evolutionary chain between humans and apes.
14:6 "Brujería" means "witchcraft" in Spanish.
15:2 Gonzalo Fonseca (from Chile) has written to me that "Chiloé" should not be confused with the country of Chile. It is a Patagonian island located towards the south of Chile.
Fonseca says it has "all kinds of climates. From the desert to the south pole. The south of Chile is very similar to New Zealand. If you remember the Middle Earth of the Lord of the Rings movies, you can make an idea of these places.
Moore was right about the Chilote mythology. It's a very rich culture and its inhabitants are isolated from the other Chilean cultures ."
When I look at the online photos which Fonseca directed me to, I think the artists made a mistake portraying Chiloé like a tropical place with a tucan and tropical trees. (Or
was using some artistic license. "Not equatorial enough")
15:4 "Traiguén" is the name of a town and a river, not far from Fonseca's home.
See next issue for more info on Tefé and the Amazon Rain Forest.
20:1 That looks like Alan Moore again, in the black shirt. Who's with him?
21:2 London resident Rob Pocock sent me this comment:
Alan Moore has strangely got the sequence of tube stations
incorrect for Sister Anne-Marie's journey back to Belsize Park. As she
gets on at Leicester Square and travels north on the Northern Line,
the Mornington Crescent station where she gets off the train actually
comes one stop before Camden Town station. Whereas panel 2 on this
page shows the train stopping at Camden Town (and then presumably
moving on) and the next panels then show the train stopping for a
points-change at Mornington Crescent.
See map below.
View Leicester Sq to Camden Tn in a larger map
22:bottom In Patagonia (1977) is a real book by Bruce Chatwin, detailing his fascinating experiences during his travels through Argentina and Chile in search of a giant sloth. I don't know yet if this quote actually appears in the book.
Comments: Although the plot element of the "CRISIS" was "forced" into the story by the DC Comics company, it is to Moore's credit how smoothly he blends it in with this long and otherwise unrelated "American Gothic" ST storyline. Most DC books had their characters and settings drastically changed (if not completely eliminated) to create a more unified, consistent and accessible "universe" of characters through the "Crisis".
The necessity and effectiveness of this overhaul is still the subject of debate amongst comics fans. Many favorite classic characters were erased from continuity (such as the original Supergirl) or limited (Superman was no longer old enough to be around during World War II.) The wide-open creative canvas was limited by the removal of parallel/alternate universes. While these changes did bring in new readers like myself, who had always preferred Marvel Comics because they were more "realistic", Moore's writing would suggest that a less disruptive solution could have worked.
In Moore's later work on the SUPREME and TOM STRONG series, he demonstrated the possibility of updating comics characters with modern sensibilities while acknowledging and respecting their creative history. Rather than declaring that the older, more absurd stories never took place, Moore used their old charm while simultaneously making the current stories relavent to present-day society.
In a two-part final Superman pre-Crisis story, "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?", Moore advised continuity-obsessed fans to keep a sense of humor about how "real" their comics were, writing "This is an imaginary story. Aren't they all?"
Fortunately, unlike the more famous superhero books, no elements of ST required changing during the "Crisis" so the book came through essentially unscathed.
The Monitor character from CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS appeared prior to the CRISIS maxi-series itself, back in SAGA OF THE SWAMP THING #30 and 31.
For more on the CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS see http://www.io.com/~woodward/chroma/crisis.html
COMMENT: This issue's letters page includes a rare response from Alan Moore regarding controversy over the "menstruation story" in issue #40.
COMMENT: In 2001, DC Comics collected/reprinted issues 43-50 in a trade book titled "Swamp Thing: A Murder of Crows"