I think the Swamp Opera era of Swamp Thing gets a bad rap.

That term itself was often used by fandom to mock the run, as family drama became a central thread in the book as Swamp Thing and Abby tried to make a life for themselves raising Tefé in the swamp. The reaction to it seemed a bit odd to me since family was always an important part of the book. Sure there was horror, but even starting with Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson’s introduction of Abby in Swamp Thing #3, family was an integral part of the story.

And that grew immensely through the run from Alan Moore, Stephen Bissette, John Totleben, Rick Veitch, & co. Exploration of the human condition through family, including the conception of Tefé, expanded there. Those threads continued through the Doug Wheeler, Tom Yeates, Pat Broderick, Alfredo Alcala period up until bloom during the Swamp Opera.

The themes of identity in relation to legacy and family continued as the book became part of the cornerstone for early Vertigo.


Swamp Thing #129 by Nancy A. Collins, Scot Eaton, Kim DeMulder, Tatjana Wood, and John Costanza was a bit of a breather issue going into the final third of this run. It wasn’t wholly a recap, but it’s the kind of story that comics used to regularly do as a jumping on point. Perfect for the start of the new imprint.

It highlights the recent events of a toxic creature infecting Swamp Thing, a question of his identity, a role call of the other important players in the story, and the set up for one of the major conflicts going forward. This latter bit being the direct conflict between Swamp Thing’s two families: The Parliament of the Green and Abby & Tefé.

Scot Eaton’s art on Swamp Thing is unlike the more rounded, highly muscled style that he’d develop later on Sigil and refine further in X-Men: Legacy. Early Eaton reminds me much more of the art lineage through Swamp Thing with elements of Yeates, Bissette, and Ron Randall. Part of that is definitely Kim DeMulder’s inks, whose hatching, especially in the details of the faces, keeps a look reminiscent of Totleben through multiple artists on the book. Right from when he started with Tom Mandrake through Eaton to Phil Hester.

Also helping maintain consistency on Swamp Thing are Tatjana Wood and John Costanza. Wood’s colours still define what I think of when I think of Swamp Thing and they look gorgeous here. There’s a very nice callback to Swamp Thing #56 here as Abby appears in blue. It works simply as a dream, if you’re not familiar with the earlier issue, but it has a double meaning about the horrible unreality for long time readers. And Costanza’s lettering really set the standard for what Swamp Thing’s dialogue looks like as much as Gaspar Saladino.

Swamp Thing #129

How long must we tolerate…your pretense of humanity…?”

Swamp Thing #129 by Collins, Eaton, DeMulder, Wood, and Costanza was the beginning of the end. It signalled the turn in the third act that would lead to the conclusion of that run and period in Swamp Thing’s life in #138. It put him in opposition to the Parliament of Trees, put him in conflict with long term antagonists in the Sunderland Corporation, and brought back a familiar villain. All while making Swamp Thing choose between his responsibilities to both the Green and his family.

And then he woke up.

Swamp Thing #129

Classic Comic Compendium: SWAMP THING #129

Swamp Thing #129
Writer: Nancy A. Collins
Penciller: Scot Eaton
Inker: Kim DeMulder
Colourist: Tatjana Wood
Letterer: John Costanza
Publisher: DC Comics – Vertigo
Release Date: January 28, 1993
Available collected in the Swamp Thing by Nancy A. Collins Omnibus

Read past entries in the Classic Comic Compendium!