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"Down Amongst the Dead Men"

(40 pages)
Writer: Alan Moore
Artist(s): Steve Bissette and John Totleben
Colorist: Tatjana Wood
Letterer: John Costanza
Editor: Karen Berger
Swamp Thing Created by Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson

Cover: Bissette (signed)
Pictured: (clockwise from left) Phantom Stranger, Deadman, Swamp Thing, the Spectre, the Demon


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The title of this issue is taken from a song about the Titanic, from Flash & the Pan's self-titled record album. Such musical references are common in 1980s SWAMP THING, but there was also a 1954 sci-fi story titled "Down Among the Dead Men" by William Tenn, and a traditional song, attributed to John Dyer (17001758.)

COMMENT: This story continues from SAGA OF THE SWAMP THING #31.

3:3 Abby's monstrous uncle Anton Arcane sent her soul to hell in issue #30, but after Anton died (again) in issue #31 Matt Cable was able to revive her body before Matt himself fell into a coma.

4:3 Swamp Thing lets Abby experience the afterlife using this same method in issue #66 .

8:1 Deadman is the spirit of murdered acrobat Boston Brand. He can possess the bodies of the living. He appears again in #50 and #51. Deadman also attends ST's funeral in #55.

8:3 Deadman teamed up with ST and the Challengers in 1978's Challengers of the Unknown #84-87 (cover at left by Buckler & Rubenstein).

11:6 The Phantom Stranger used to have a backup feature in the old ST series.
The phrase "Friends and Other Strangers" is used in a 1965 Bob Dylan song called "Gates of Eden".

12:1 Constantine makes a similar comment about buses at the end of #39.

14: "Stranger in Paradise" was a hugely popular song from the musical "Kismet". Six versions of the song became hits in the UK in 1955.

15:3 Alec Holland was a murdered bio-chemist whose body Swamp Thing was formed from (as seen in issue #28). Linda Holland is seen with her husband in Heaven in issue #66 and gets reincarnated in #78.

23:4 Jim Corrigan was a murdered police detective who became the mortal host of The Spectre, created by Jerry Siegel in MORE FUN COMICS #52 (1940). The Spectre plays a major role in issue #50. We saw a glimpse of the Spectre on the Monitor's screen on page 12 (the "missing page") of issue #30.

26:4 Etrigan the Demon fought alongside Swampy in #27.

27:3 It's obvious how the Demon's rhyme was to end. Author Alan Moore hints at the Stranger's possible origin in SECRET ORIGINS #10, 1987.

28:2 Paul Evans pointed out to me that the phrase "dark satanic mill" comes from Willaim Blake's 1804 poem "And did those feet in ancient time". The poem was set to music in 1916 as the anthem "Jerusalem", from which most people know it today.

30:4 A long-time adversary of Swamp Thing, General Avery Sunderland engineered ST's assassination only to be killed by ST in the following issue. He is seen again in Hell in issue ?????.

31:3 Some creatures shown in this issue (such as those seen at the top of panels 2 and 3 on this page) are based on the painting "The Last Judgment" by Bosch. (See illustration with two figures enlarged, at right.) Bosch's painting "The Garden of Earthly Delights" is the title of issue #53. That painting was also seen in 2:2 of issue #25.

33:4 "Gob" is British slang for "mouth" (as in "gobstopper")

35:1 "neb" - an old word meaning "nose"

37:3 The flaming symbol appears to be the symbol of the title character in Moore's "V FOR VENDETTA" mini-series and is also on the chainsaw in issue #24. The symbol is seen again on a shirt in 20:1 of issue #46.

COMMENT: This issue won the 1985 Jack Kirby Award for Best Single Issue of a comic book. Issues #32 and #34 were also nominated. Alan Moore also won for Best Writer and SAGA OF THE SWAMP THING won for Best Continuing Series. #34 won for Best Cover (Bissette and Totleben).

COMMENT: SAGA OF THE SWAMP THING #32 is the next story in continuity.

COMMENT: This issue is reprinted in black and white and in two parts as ESSENTIAL VERTIGO: SWAMP THING #12 and 13., July-August 1997.

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