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SWAMP THING
#88
Published August, 1989
"Survival of the Fittest"

(24 pages)
Writer: Doug Wheeler
Artist(s): Tom Yeates
Colorist: Tatjana Wood
Letterer: John Costanza
Editor: Karen Berger
Asst. Editor: Art Young
Swamp Thing Created by Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson

Cover:John Totleben (painted, signed)


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FACTOID
FROM THE BOG

This issue's letter column contains a statement from editor Karen Berger about Rick Veitch leaving the company. It does not give any details of the situation.

3:3 Abby left Constantine stranded in the swamp in issue #84.

4:2 Constantine is the surrogate father to Abby's baby.

4:4 Liz found the 1872 photo in the book in #85. Swamp Thing travelled to 1800 in #86
The Shining Knight appeared in last issue.

5:3 The smiling face in the upper left is a Guy Fawkes mask, as seen in Swamp Thing writer Alan Moore's classic series V FOR VENDETTA.

6:1 Anyone know how to translate their language?

In the same month that this issue was published, SECRET ORIGINS SPECIAL #1 (by Neil Gaiman), featured a cameo appearance by John Constantine.

7:2 King Arthur, Merlin and the Shining Knight appeared in last issue.

7:3 Grey Elk, Moon Fawn and Tomahawk appeared in #86.

7:4 Enemy Ace and young Anton Arcane appeared in #83.

8:1 Evolutionary theory holds that humankind developed from the species called the Cro-Magnon, while an earlier species, Neanderthal, died out.

9:1 Labo says "I do not understand you"

9:2 The cop says "I speak French very well, understand?"

9:3 "Good gumbo man" is the Cajun name for the Swamp Thing.

9:4 Abby's husband Matt removed his own life support in issue #84.

15:3 The interpretation of the mythological World Tree as put forth in this issue is based on the writings of Joseph Campbell, specifically his 4 part series The Masks of God (hence the masks seen in 5:3.) In Vol. 4: "Primitive Mythology", he quotes Tungus shaman Semyonov Semyon from a 1925 interview about shaman souls in the World Tree:

"Up above there is a certain tree where the souls of the shamans are reared, before they attain their powers. And on the boughs of this tree are nests in which the souls lie and are attended. The name of the tree is Tuuru. The higher the nest in this tree, the stronger will the shaman be who is raised in it, the more he will know, and the farther he will see. The rim of the shaman's drum is cut from a living larch. The larch is left alive and standing in recollection and honour of the tree Turuu, where the soul of the shaman was raised. Furthermore, in memory of the great tree Tuuru, at each sťance the shaman plants a tree with one or more cross-sticks in the tent where the ceremony takes place, and this tree too is called Tuuru. According to our belief, the soul of the shaman climbs up this tree to God when he shamanises. For the tree grows during the rite and invisibly reaches the summit of heaven. "

Campbell also wrote about the resemblance he saw between Arthurian legend and Native American lore (the themes of last issue and this issue, respectively.)

17:3 Abby, Liz and Chester were taken to Tampa, Florida in Annual #5.
The hospital was harvesting organs from Matt's comatose body in issue #84.

17:4 "Merci, et tu?" = "Thanks. And you?"
"Tres bonne"="Very well"

17:5 "Aussi"="also"
"Mais"="However"

18:3 Constantine consulted this cave-painter last in issue #74, in which he had appeared to be dead.

20:1 These seeds are put to use in next issue.

24:3 This supposedly explains how the amber piece wound up in the Grail last issue.

24:4 This story is inconsistant with the history of the Holy Grail as shown in the TIME MASTERS series (1990).

COMMENT: The depiction of social conflict between the Neanderthals and Cro-magnons may be partly based on the 1955 novel The Inheritors by William Golding (who also wrote Lord of the Flies). While the Cro-Magnon tribe in this SWAMP THING story resemble white-skinned Caucasions and the Neanderthals resemble the Negroid, there is a popular conception that the opposite was true (as seen in Bjorn Kurten's novel Dance of the Tiger). Of course, DC Comics has a history of white early-Cro-Magnon characters, such as Anthro and Vandal Savage.

COMMENT: After this series was on hold for two months, this issue would have explained how the amber fragment ended up in the Grail, but the story was axed because DC Comics felt it would offend people with it's depiction of Jesus Christ. Sadly, Rick Veitch quit after this issue and the time travel saga didn't end as neatly as he'd planned. Doug Wheeler was brought in as writer, and for the sake of completeness, I'll continue these annotations to the end of the storyline. I have however written annotations to the unpublished "Swamp Thing Meets Jesus" story. The next issue of SWAMP THING was delayed by one month.

Comment: Issues #82 and beyond have not yet been reprinted in a trade paperback.



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