Great Pages: SWAMP THING #21

From Swamp Thing (Vol. 2) #21 (1984)

Alec Holland had been sure of one thing for years: He had been transformed by a chemical process from a man into a shaggy collection of moss and other plants. As he was being brought back from the brink of death, a study concluded that the opposite was true. Swamp Thing had been transformed by a chemical process from being a shaggy collection of moss and other plants into a creature who thought he was Alec Holland. The moment of this revelation left him stunned and very, very angry.

This was the second issue of Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing. In that short a time, Moore had turned the Swamp Thing concept on its head and gave readers a terrifying reexamination of the Swamp Thing’s core. Stephen Bissette and John Totleben brought this concept to life. Their work on this page, where the rage and inhumanity of the main character is at its peak, is stunning. The level of detail that they added to Swamp Thing’s look made the creature even more alien than before and the page’s final panel where Swamp Thing snaps is tremendous.


  1. Such an amazing issues. I think you could write a piece like this about every single page of The Anatomy Lesson.

  2. Brings back great memories of the great comics of the 1980s!

  3. This issue, along with the rest of Moore’s run, is mandatory reading. I only really started reading comics about 3 years ago or so, but after reading Moore’s Swamp Thing, I realized how special the medium could be. Needless to say, this shit is important to me.

  4. Probably my favorite thing about this issue (and something that’s highlighted perfectly in this page) is how much it looks and feels like an old EC horror comic. Couldn’t you just see this being adapted for Creepshow or the Tales From The Crypt tv series, with all that jarring colored lighting and screechy music? Moore did a great job great job taking Swamp Thing back to his House of Secrets roots. (Heh. Roots.)

  5. Swamp Thing’s depiction in contrast with that of Sunderland. Going back and forth from panel to panel. The growth around Swampy’s teeth and eyes: Masterful.

  6. Greatest run ever. Though I enjoy a lot of “sophisticated suspense” that came in its wake, including a handful of New 52 series that seem to mimic the mood of Moore constantly, there’s just nothing like the original, groundbreaking work. Individual issues of Moore’s Swamp Thing have more innovation, creativity, and ambition in them than other writers’ entire runs. And that’s not a knock at those certain other writers–I like them, too–but, wow, Moore’s Swamp Thing is just unmatchable.