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Swamp Thing, Vol. 4: A Murder of Crows

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This fourth volume in the saga of the Swamp Thing finds the man-monster interacting with Deadman, the Phantom Stranger, the Spectre, and the Demon as he continues on his journey of self-discovery. Traveling through the horrors of a haunted house, the improbabilities of the afterlife, the depths of hell and the heights of heaven, the Swamp Thing continues his evolution from This fourth volume in the saga of the Swamp Thing finds the man-monster interacting with Deadman, the Phantom Stranger, the Spectre, and the Demon as he continues on his journey of self-discovery. Traveling through the horrors of a haunted house, the improbabilities of the afterlife, the depths of hell and the heights of heaven, the Swamp Thing continues his evolution from a simple monster into a powerful elemental being with a potential to exceed the bonds of the Earth itself. Collects issues #43–#50.


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This fourth volume in the saga of the Swamp Thing finds the man-monster interacting with Deadman, the Phantom Stranger, the Spectre, and the Demon as he continues on his journey of self-discovery. Traveling through the horrors of a haunted house, the improbabilities of the afterlife, the depths of hell and the heights of heaven, the Swamp Thing continues his evolution from This fourth volume in the saga of the Swamp Thing finds the man-monster interacting with Deadman, the Phantom Stranger, the Spectre, and the Demon as he continues on his journey of self-discovery. Traveling through the horrors of a haunted house, the improbabilities of the afterlife, the depths of hell and the heights of heaven, the Swamp Thing continues his evolution from a simple monster into a powerful elemental being with a potential to exceed the bonds of the Earth itself. Collects issues #43–#50.

30 review for Swamp Thing, Vol. 4: A Murder of Crows

  1. 5 out of 5

    Alejandro

    A truly masterpiece! This Hardcover edition collects "Swamp Thing" #43-50. Creative Team: Writer: Alan Moore Illustrators: Stephen Bissette, John Totleben & Stan Woch THE WRITING FLOURISHES In this fourth hardcover edition you will find easily many of the best stories of the amazing run by Alan Moore on Swamp Thing. The famous story like "The Parliament of the Trees" which is one of the treasures in the history of comic books. Also, you will have here "The End" where a whole cast of guest charac A truly masterpiece! This Hardcover edition collects "Swamp Thing" #43-50. Creative Team: Writer: Alan Moore Illustrators: Stephen Bissette, John Totleben & Stan Woch THE WRITING FLOURISHES In this fourth hardcover edition you will find easily many of the best stories of the amazing run by Alan Moore on Swamp Thing. The famous story like "The Parliament of the Trees" which is one of the treasures in the history of comic books. Also, you will have here "The End" where a whole cast of guest characters will help Swamp Thing against a threat of colossal proportions. You will be delighted too by such wonderful self-contained tales like "Windfall" that proves that Swamp Thing, under the creative writing of Alan Moore is a character so great that even a fragment of his can make a priceless story that it can be as scary as lovely at the same time. "Ghost Dance" is also other awesome ghost story where character development and plot exploit met in the middle of their own paths merging in a perfect way. And my favorite story of this fourth hardcover volume is "Bogeymen", maybe it's not the most known of the bunch that you'd find in this edition, and certainly while it's a totally scary tale, you may think that it isn't that good story, BUT what really impressed me about it was that it's the base (it was written first) for another excellent scary story that you can find in a whole different saga, The Sandman, in the tale "Collectors" by Neil Gaiman (close friend of Alan Moore), right in the middle of the "Hell's House" storyline. A real tribute of a writer to another, that only you'd realize if you have read both stories on each sagas. Definitely, the seed of the saga of Swamp Thing flourished and you can enjoy the fruit of it.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Dan Schwent

    Saga of the Swamp Thing: Book Four collects Saga of the Swamp Thing #43-50. In this volume, we finally find out what Constantine was grooming Swamp Thing for and it's a big hairy deal. A secret society is bent on summoning an ancient force to destroy heaven. There's also a junkie that finds one of Swamp Thing's tubers, a serial killer, the sprawling mansion of a firearms heiress, and Swamp Thing learns more of his heritage. Alan Moore gets some serious mileage out of the Swamp Thing in every outin Saga of the Swamp Thing: Book Four collects Saga of the Swamp Thing #43-50. In this volume, we finally find out what Constantine was grooming Swamp Thing for and it's a big hairy deal. A secret society is bent on summoning an ancient force to destroy heaven. There's also a junkie that finds one of Swamp Thing's tubers, a serial killer, the sprawling mansion of a firearms heiress, and Swamp Thing learns more of his heritage. Alan Moore gets some serious mileage out of the Swamp Thing in every outing and this volume is no different. The Parliament of Trees is introduced, Crisis is touched upon, and even Mento gets his time in the sun as all of DC's occult characters unite to fight a menace older than time. I'm impressed that with all the shifting artists in Moore's run that the series manages to maintain a unified feel. In this volume, art is handled by Stephen Bissette, John Totleben, Stan Woch, Rick Veitch, Alfredo Alcala, Ron Randall, and Tom Mandrake. Alan Moore delivers the goods as far as big confrontations go. At times, the final battle reminded me of one of the Doctor Who specials where multiple Doctors team up to face some universe-threatening villain. I'm running out of ways to praise Alan Moore's run. Aside from Abbie Cable not doing much, the only thing I can gripe about is how out of place Batman was in the Bogey Man issue, although Batman not remembering being at Elasti-Girl and Mento's wedding was kind of funny. I'm both excited to read the next volume and sad that I only have two volumes left. Alan Moore created a generational work with Swamp Thing. I can't recommend it enough.

  3. 4 out of 5

    David Schaafsma

    Worth waiting for. This one contains some of the best stories in the series, with maybe one award-winning story in particular to highlight. A lot of stuff is happening in this volume, but the resolution of the John Constantine trip across Amerika--Moore called it "American Gothic," and talked about it as "a kind of Ramsey Campbell version of Easy Rider," a real horror show--is "Ghost Dance," inspired by a story he had heard of the horrific existence of Sarah Winchester--yes, that Winchester, of Worth waiting for. This one contains some of the best stories in the series, with maybe one award-winning story in particular to highlight. A lot of stuff is happening in this volume, but the resolution of the John Constantine trip across Amerika--Moore called it "American Gothic," and talked about it as "a kind of Ramsey Campbell version of Easy Rider," a real horror show--is "Ghost Dance," inspired by a story he had heard of the horrific existence of Sarah Winchester--yes, that Winchester, of the rifle family fame--who was haunted by the ghosts of all the millions of people killed by her family's guns. Moore, never one to shy away from a conflict, takes on the NRA and America's love affair with gun violence. Imagine, this is a story told in 1986, thirty years ago! Before the weekly American school/public place killings. The backlash was huge then, and would be huger now for his stand against guns. Because there's a constitutional right, Alan, don't ya know, the right to bear arms, even in kindergarten. Amazing story. Moore has in mind social horror, to help us think about the nature of horror and "man's inhumanity to man". What are monsters--werewolves, zombies, chthulu, ghosts? How are creatures of the imagination scarier than the horrors we have created for ourselves--serial killing, killing the environment, slavery? In a pulpy story of a swamp creature, there's terrible things, but then we have The Swamp Thing, who looks scary, but is associated with magic and sex and love and the regenerative power of green. Like Glynda, the white witch of the North, the folk healer.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Bradley

    Fascinating battle and a crossover event that didn't suck. Or did it? I mean the final meeting with the Parliament of Trees was cool for happening, but it wasn't really satisfying. The gathering storm of Crisis, pulling together all the magical types and all of heaven and hell and space and time, culminated in... what? What did I just read here? There were tragic deaths and a conflict that even laid the Spectre low. And it was freaking resolved with a (view spoiler)[Handshake???? (hide spoiler)] Fascinating battle and a crossover event that didn't suck. Or did it? I mean the final meeting with the Parliament of Trees was cool for happening, but it wasn't really satisfying. The gathering storm of Crisis, pulling together all the magical types and all of heaven and hell and space and time, culminated in... what? What did I just read here? There were tragic deaths and a conflict that even laid the Spectre low. And it was freaking resolved with a (view spoiler)[Handshake???? (hide spoiler)] Please. And yet with that freaking ending, I'm still of two minds. The resolution is satisfying on a deep level, but for my more visceral feels, I feel damn cheated. Good Job saving the day, Greenie. Way to use your indecision WISELY. lol I sound as if I'm unhappy about this comic, but I'm not. Not really. I was fully invested even when I was horrified by what happened to Abs. What the hell, people. We need to lock away Lois for her thing with that freaking alien, too. Consorting with *unnatural* types and all. Eeek. What freaking horrible laws. If a girl wants to get it on with a vegetable, why can't she? Sheesh.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Sesana

    Mostly outstanding, with what may be some of the best issues yet. The overarching story that was begun in the last collection is (mostly) resolved here. It does sort of tie into Crisis on Infinite Earths, but in a very roundabout way. (view spoiler)[Swamp Thing's unease around Alexander Luthor is hilarious in hindsight, though there's no way Moore could have known what would eventually happen with him. (hide spoiler)] Instead, Swamp Thing, Constantine, and a host of DC's magically oriented chara Mostly outstanding, with what may be some of the best issues yet. The overarching story that was begun in the last collection is (mostly) resolved here. It does sort of tie into Crisis on Infinite Earths, but in a very roundabout way. (view spoiler)[Swamp Thing's unease around Alexander Luthor is hilarious in hindsight, though there's no way Moore could have known what would eventually happen with him. (hide spoiler)] Instead, Swamp Thing, Constantine, and a host of DC's magically oriented characters band together to stop an ancient evil force. Unfortunately, it was this part that started to drag. The stand alone stories that took up most of the first half were far better, and intensely creepy. Boogeyman and Ghost Dance were more than worth the price of admission, and good enough by far to overcome the underwhelming and sometimes overcrowded Big Event.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Antonomasia

    [3.5? 3.75?] This was all fine and interesting, but not as wow as the previous volume. I have always suspected that mainstream superhero comics weren't for me, and this was confirmed here: high-stakes action scenes, which I'd have found at least moderately exciting in a film, seemed merely routine. I need there to be movement for the adrenaline to happen. Meanwhile, what I do like in these comics are interactions between characters in different places, with complicated motives and backstories th [3.5? 3.75?] This was all fine and interesting, but not as wow as the previous volume. I have always suspected that mainstream superhero comics weren't for me, and this was confirmed here: high-stakes action scenes, which I'd have found at least moderately exciting in a film, seemed merely routine. I need there to be movement for the adrenaline to happen. Meanwhile, what I do like in these comics are interactions between characters in different places, with complicated motives and backstories that only emerge gradually, and slower physical experiences which benefit from description as well as visuals. Whilst Swamp Thing is instrumental in resolving the 'Crisis on Infinite Earths' (I'm not yet sure how similar this is to the event of the same name in recent TV shows I haven't watched), he isn't really the major feature in the story arc of these issues (#43-50). Instead the main themes are a) John Constantine's character development, fleshed out as he inveigles other DC mystics and heroes into getting together to fight a cosmic-scale Big Bad, and b) underlying philosophies. I'm not sure how conscious Alan Moore was at the time of the ironies of his writing this plot, in which galactic doom is to be brought about by a black-magic cult in South America (and what's more indigenous South America), during a decade when US interference in Latin America was particularly visible. It does, at this distance, seem odd for an anti-establishment rebel like Moore to have been its writer (albeit at a stage when he was still trying to make a career in big brand comics, which he would soon abandon) and using a wily former punk, lefty anti-hero - a character quite capable of spotting insidious political symbolism in-universe - to resolve it. A version of this storyline was used in the 2014-15 Constantine TV series, without the other DC heroes; I should have realised that, as with many storylines in comicbook adaptations that now seem odd choices, it was because it was based on something written decades ago. The type of intense description I am realising I like in comics was only very occasional in these issues. The battles, as I'd have said, I'd have enjoyed more as film. Whereas a relatively still scene like this, the combination of words and still pictures is great for me. (The Swamp Thing gets lots of ellipses to signify slow speech.) "Hummingbirds hang ... in the warm blur of the groundfog... like bullets ... frozen in flight... In their perfumed garden ... the rooted giants maintain... a gigantic silence... High above... the vivid red shriek of a parrot... splashes out over the green ... of the treetops" Superhero characters who make mistakes, and who have angst-filled pasts and presents, are now normal - very much because of Alan Moore's influence. Yet the characters' reactions to Constantine in these Swamp Thing stories, and the way he contrasts with their two-dimensional temperaments, shrouded in clichéd, often aristocratic, mystique, give a sense of how much of a departure this was in the 1980s (in a way that isn't as obvious where they are absent, in the Hellblazer comics, at least for me as I've never read pre-1980s comics). Then *on top of that* there is the addition of places in regional Britain and rough working-class origins Phantom Stranger (a character I initially had to disentangle from my vague awareness of The Shadow and Phantom): I heard that you had perished during the exorcism in Newcastle last winter... JC: Nah the kiddie died and I was in a loony bin for a few weeks, but other than that it went really well (The timing and duration of these events, would then be retconned by Delano in the early Hellblazer comics, making it longer ago and even more serious.) Regardless of this, Constantine gets to be generally highly competent and cool in a crisis (as do most contemporary superhero characters who have some psychological trauma). Even if there are remarkably modern-sounding falterings here like, after speaking about various horrors with icy detachment: "No no that's alright, I can talk about it …Look, I'm sorry, I'll tell you some other time, okay? I've not been sleeping much lately. I'm a bit wobbly." As I've not read a huge quantity of comics and my knowledge of pre-Marvel superhero TV shows and films is very patchy, this to me sounds remarkably ahead of its time, like something from the Iron Man films. Which owe plenty to Moore. Baron Winter: I heard about the mess you made in Newcastle… For a jumped up London street thug your nerve is extraordinary. 'Nerve' is his thing here, as repeated by once-and-future lover Zatanna: "Goodbye John, you haven't changed. You've still got a hell of a nerve." Or as he says to Mento: "Pressured? How could a working class lad like me pressure the world's fifth richest man?" (Did working class mods in the 1980s ever wear light-coloured Englishman abroad / safari type gear? It was odd seeing the character in that yet asserting these origins, but it seems plausible I missed something culturally. Though I know middle class lefties who've worn that stuff from a stance of ironic yet aesthetically pleasing.) The schemes for getting characters to work together are so dependent on pre-internet thinking: the underlying assumption is that they are not regularly in touch with each other, and won't find out quickly through their networks that many of them have been played. (Though they all seem to agree it's for a good cause in the end.) Among longtime fans of Hellblazer there seem to be mixed opinions about how good the character's actual magic powers are, and how much he operates on the basis of mythmaking and reputation. Here he says to Zatanna in #49: "Probably why I never got too far as a magician: too concerned with the delights of the physical world.", so one might think that his magical powers must have been augmented at least a bit by subsequent Hellblazer writers of that series. The character was always intended as a contrast to a slew of serious, austere, well-off mystics (along the lines of Doctor Strange), and it made sense to break down that dichotomy. Yet, in Swamp Thing #50 Constantine easily withstands a magical onslaught that SPOILER fries more experienced DC wizards Sargon the Sorceror and Zatara, and both issues are close together and by the same writer, so that suggests he might have been underplaying his abilities. (Zatanna is somewhat lacking in complexity here IMO. She is appallingly under the thumb of her father, at an age I'd guess must be 25 or more. (She went to a tantric workshop with Constantine long enough ago to have forgotten - also a spooky reference, as although Constantine's appearance was based on Sting, it wasn't until years later that Sting himself first mentioned tantric sex in an interview.) Yet apparently Zatanna has no mixed feelings when the old tyrant dies. Or perhaps that was explored in another comic somewhere.) There are occasional hints, here and in the early Hellblazer issues, that to a litfic reader like me, suggest that Constantine might be an unreliable narrator not only to other characters, but also to readers, though this seems more likely to be a side-effect of the chapter-by-chapter writing of comics. Those I've noticed in Hellblazer up to #22 have mostly been resolved. But here in Swamp Thing, Abby at one point was sort-of blackmailed by him that her employers (a special school) might find out about her life with Swamp Thing; then in issue #47-48 they do. Apparently this is unrelated to Constantine, but given that he's a character with synchronicity powers, it looks ambiguous. (Whether he detected something, or set something in train - or if it was as simple as the writers had a storyline on that theme they wanted to use sooner or later, so they had her surprised by a mercenary photographer.) On comic-book philosophies of good and evil, it was really interesting to notice, reading this 35 years after publication, how historically-bound they are. In particular, seeing a new-to-me version of values I grew up with and which remain ingrained, and that make it hard to accept a lot of the current polarisation even if one must acknowledge changing norms. In the Parliament of Trees, the gathering of plant elemental superpowered beings who were once humans, the second one mentioned had his human life as a WWII German pilot. (And to the contemporary younger reader. this - presumably a Nazi - mentioned among a string of names who are all male and nearly all North American or European, can make the whole set of choices look right-wing.) But the post-war peace project of reconciliation and the liberal acceptance underpinning it was still a massive, implicit backdrop to culture in the 80s. That German is, culturally, a decades-old equivalent of the contemporary diversity character in a similar roll-call. And might even have been bold to bring into in a comics context, where various old Nazi-based villains never quite died off. (Like the Hydra organisation in the Marvel Avengers films.) There's a tension here between two apparently contradictory outlooks here: it seems reasonable to assume that Moore had sympathy with both and was trying to reconcile them. Overarching is a hippie / cosmic / postmodern outlook (with similarities to some older mystical and religious traditions) where 'good' and 'evil' are merely two sides of the same coin, and where allying, blending and understanding both is suggested as the answer. This is advocated by the Parliament of Trees ("Aphid eats leaf, ladybug eats aphid, soil absorbs dead ladybug, plant feeds upon soil. Is aphid evil? Is ladybug evil? Is soil evil?") and by Sargon the Sorceror ("In my life I have embraced good and evil, that my knowledge of each should be complete") - and ultimately proves to be the answer that stops the villainous dark force threatening to consume the universe. Heaven and Hell flow together and various characters' utterances about this strongly suggest there's a subtext about the end of the cold war: "The light and shade are still everywhere about us. Only the conflict between them is altered."; "Right and wrong, black and white, good and evil...all my existence I have looked from one to the other, fully embracing neither one...never before have I understood how much they depend on each other." (Phantom Stranger). And especially the dilemma it presents for writers of comics, thrillers &c: "All our stories revolve around good against evil … darkness against light … What will become of the stories? Without that ancient conflict to fall back on, what will they be about?" (Cain, the same version featured in Sandman.) Yet this resolution came about because of a character (Constantine) who had a more humanistic, us-and-them outlook (which could be related to being working class, lefty/anarchist and/or punk, like character and creator), saying in response to the Parliament of Trees' lessons to Swamp Thing: "Bloody hell, I've read better horoscopes in the Daily Mirror! …"Where is the evil in all the wood?" Pfuh, they should have asked me... I could have said, Well as it happens chief, it's where we're meeting our chums tomorrow" (i.e. the cult that brewed up this universe annihilating plot). Moore seems to be suggesting that it may be matter of scale and context, and that these two outlooks aren't necessarily incompatible. (read & reviewed August 2020)

  7. 5 out of 5

    Printable Tire

    This started out great like the others ones but I gotta say I got nervous when it entered "Crisis of Multiple Crossovers" territory... however it's the mark of a great comic book writer to handle obnoxious marketing schemes with charm (re: Morrison in Animal Man) and Moore goes even further by adding his own impressive potions to the big party. I'm also not too too much of a fan of cataclysmic happenings (easy heightened suspense, but where's the story going to go afterwards?) and my interest an This started out great like the others ones but I gotta say I got nervous when it entered "Crisis of Multiple Crossovers" territory... however it's the mark of a great comic book writer to handle obnoxious marketing schemes with charm (re: Morrison in Animal Man) and Moore goes even further by adding his own impressive potions to the big party. I'm also not too too much of a fan of cataclysmic happenings (easy heightened suspense, but where's the story going to go afterwards?) and my interest and admiration was tested occasionally within the exposition issues, though honestly a lot of the urgency building up with the past score of issues was lost on me because I read the last volume so long ago, and have forgotten past events or they're all muddled with the Constantine comic book in my head... nonetheless, I enjoyed the concluding chapter of this volume, where Moore evokes I think Arthurian elements and Children's Book language to great effect. So much effect I was practically misting up by the end, though any work of art (movie, book or otherwise) seems to have that effect on me if I commit to it early in the day. At any rate, a bang-up job again, though I am interested in where this story will go from here. Also good use of the Winchester Mystery House in one story: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winchest... (Oh yeah, and the art is awesome as always. This book wouldn't be half as good if the art sucked, as it probably would if it came out now).

  8. 5 out of 5

    Allie

    Swamp Thing is a badass. I can't believe everybody isn't talking about him. He's kind of like a zen Hulk. Kind of. I always love graphic novel cameos. This one had plenty. Very very cool.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    I just can't get enough of Alan Moore. I've never read anything of his that hasn't changed my world. From Hell is still probably my favorite, but Watchmen, V for Vendetta, and now Swamp Thing... the man is flawless. I'm pretty sure this is my first five-star book in a long while, and I'm glad I haven't given anything else five stars because of how it would cheapen the ranking of this books. Looking over the last few volumes, you'll see that I gave it 3s and 4s, and that's largely because Alan Mo I just can't get enough of Alan Moore. I've never read anything of his that hasn't changed my world. From Hell is still probably my favorite, but Watchmen, V for Vendetta, and now Swamp Thing... the man is flawless. I'm pretty sure this is my first five-star book in a long while, and I'm glad I haven't given anything else five stars because of how it would cheapen the ranking of this books. Looking over the last few volumes, you'll see that I gave it 3s and 4s, and that's largely because Alan Moore should really not be reviewed on an episodic basis. The man is a master at tying it all together at the end, and that makes the previous work in the series appear better in retrospect. I feel like I don't want to reveal any more about it, except to say that this comic book about a swamp monster can change the way you see the world. Fucking read it.

  10. 5 out of 5

    John Burns

    I prefer the small, self-contained, unconventional little stories in this saga. The big, horror-drenched epic battle of good and evil that dominates most of this volume is typical of the kind of swamp thing stories that i find the least compelling. Hopefully the next volume will invest more into invention and feeling rather than just sheer scale like this one did.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Brandt

    My friend John has a concept of someone called "The Topper." It goes a little something like this: At a party or get-together, someone will entertain the crowd with some yarn from their personal experience. If "The Topper" is in attendance then that person will tell the same story, but with elements super-charged to "top" the original storyteller. In practice it's pretty fucking annoying, and "the Topper" pretty much gets a reputation for being an asshole. In some circles, Alan Moore already has a My friend John has a concept of someone called "The Topper." It goes a little something like this: At a party or get-together, someone will entertain the crowd with some yarn from their personal experience. If "The Topper" is in attendance then that person will tell the same story, but with elements super-charged to "top" the original storyteller. In practice it's pretty fucking annoying, and "the Topper" pretty much gets a reputation for being an asshole. In some circles, Alan Moore already has a reputation for being an asshole, dependent on how you view his feuding with the big publishers, Hollywood and pretty much anyone who pisses him off. But is it an assholish thing to do when your title's internal story arc is "the Topper" to a publisher's attempt to set the continuity straight? This is the driving force of Saga of the Swamp Thing: Book Four--for the last two volumes, Alan Moore has acknowledged that the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths is happening, but there isn't a direct crossover until this volume, where in issue #46, Moore's loosely connected "American Gothic" arc intersects with the events of Crisis #5--the oddity here is that when issue #46 was published in March of 1986, DC was publishing Crisis #12. Hence, the actions of some of the Who's Who of sorcerers that show up in the denouement of "American Gothic" seem to contradict the events of Crisis itself, as The Spectre has his "final" showdown with The Anti-Monitor in Crisis #10. Why am I bringing this up? Because at one point in the volume, John Constantine tells the Swamp Thing that the Brujeria (who serve as the catalyst for what happens in this volume) are merely using the Crisis to do stuff that is infinitely more horrifying than the fact that the Anti-Monitor is attempting to consume the entirety of the the DC Multiverse. Really? Alan Moore's "American Gothic" has officially become "The Topper." This is not a bad thing. Effectively in 1984, DC tasked Marv Wolfman to fix the seemingly contradictory DC continuity with Crisis and in 1986 Alan Moore effectively became the first writer for DC to not give a shit. While Grant Morrison would be more overt about it in his run on Animal Man when taking the Crisis into account, Moore simply wasn't going to let a little thing like retconning the entire continuity get in the way of him telling a good story. At the point that "American Gothic" comes to an end, Swamp Thing was effectively going down the path toward creating the Vertigo line of DC books and so the choice to ignore the Crisis is a good idea on Moore's part here. Besides, Moore is faithful to the Swamp Thing's continuity here--the story "The Parliament of Trees" finally tying down a plot thread introduced in a standalone story in Book Two that tried to reconcile the fact that Len Wein and Berni Wrightson had effectively created two mutually exclusive Swamp Thing origins. Moore's solution to this problem is very clever and leaves much more fertile ground to be explored--this is not the last time we will see the Parliament of Trees. Another good reason to ultimately ignore Crisis on Infinite Earths if you are Moore--Crisis, like most superhero tales before the anti-heroes of the nineties showed up, there is a binary mode of good versus evil--Monitor (good) vs. Anti-Monitor (evil). Even when it is revealed that the Monitor has engaged with some of the shadier characters of the DC Universe, it is always for the greater good--after all, these "evil" villains would like to have a place to live should they survive their encounter with the evil Anti-Monitor, no? Of course, Moore is smart enough to know that such binaries are complete and utter bullshit, and life exists in shades of gray. When the "shadow" that ends up being the big bad of "American Gothic" makes its appearance, the battle between "good" and "evil" becomes more metaphysical. This, of course, has been par for the course for Moore's run on Swamp Thing and the book's existence as a "horror" comic. Sure, the horrors can be physical (see the Invunche avatar the Brujeria create to do their bidding) but more often than not, Moore relies on more existential horrors to drive his stories--after all, this is the sort of thing that leaves a pit in your stomach when you are up at 3am in the morning, trying to desperately get your shit together because you have to be up at 6am to resume your role as a cog in the machine. However, Moore amps this up even more in the "American Gothic" story arc--I mean show me the writer whose existential horrors have existential horrors. When the ultimate evil has things that keep it up at night--well that should terrify us all. Because one can't easily see the endgame of "American Gothic" in Book Three perhaps DC should have released a volume of the entire story arc because as a whole it works. The jerking of Swamp Thing's chain by Constantine in the earlier volume makes much more sense with the climax of both Crisis and "American Gothic" and so I am tempted to revise my earlier review. But ultimately DC decided to split this arc into two volumes and thus they must stand on their own, even though everything in Book Four is informed by my earlier reading, of both Crisis and Book Three. That's how it goes. In the end, Alan Moore is always going to be "The Topper," simply based on the fact that some of his work is considered the gold standard of the comic genre. Given that he was on Swamp Thing for five years, there were going to be missteps--there was no way this would be as tightly wound as something like Watchmen but when this book is on, it's on. If "The Topper" simply tells a better story, then that should be the one we go with.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Morgan

    Giving this four stars still, but this volume was as great...I think. I like the last two issues a lot though. DC does magic/occult stuff well.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    "It's horror. It's all horror..." Alan Moore's Saga of the Swamp Thing series is the best. Although Book 4 was not my favorite, it was still an enjoyable read. I kind of tune out when DC books get into the Crises stuff, and part of this book had to do with Crisis on Infinite Earths. This is a pretty Constantine-heavy book, which isn't a bad thing; I just wanted more Swamp Thing. However, I did really enjoy the issues that were just about Swamp Thing-related stories. Abby was also barely in this b "It's horror. It's all horror..." Alan Moore's Saga of the Swamp Thing series is the best. Although Book 4 was not my favorite, it was still an enjoyable read. I kind of tune out when DC books get into the Crises stuff, and part of this book had to do with Crisis on Infinite Earths. This is a pretty Constantine-heavy book, which isn't a bad thing; I just wanted more Swamp Thing. However, I did really enjoy the issues that were just about Swamp Thing-related stories. Abby was also barely in this book, and I wish she would have been around more. Swamp Thing is always a great read. These books are grim and always make me think. On to Book 5!

  14. 5 out of 5

    J.G. Keely

    Here Moore laid down a marker in the history of comics, ominous and unlikely as Archduke Ferdinand's tomb. Reading through the new wave of British authors who helped to reconceptialize the genre for us poor Americans, one understands more and more why it had to be this man. There is a flair amongst them all for a certain madness and depth of psychology, but Moore was the only one who didn't think it made him special. Our curiosity is always piqued by the mysterious stranger, and Moore will alway Here Moore laid down a marker in the history of comics, ominous and unlikely as Archduke Ferdinand's tomb. Reading through the new wave of British authors who helped to reconceptialize the genre for us poor Americans, one understands more and more why it had to be this man. There is a flair amongst them all for a certain madness and depth of psychology, but Moore was the only one who didn't think it made him special. Our curiosity is always piqued by the mysterious stranger, and Moore will always be that. There is a quote of Emerson's which helps elucidate men of mystery: "to be great is to be misunderstood". Most Zeppelin fans don't see the band in terms of their roots in early blues, just as most Tolkien fans (and followers) don't have the education to recognize the Welsh and Norse folktales he was emulating. It seems the kernel of an author's inspiration is often so specific and poorly-understood by their audience that they it becomes an endless and entrancing mystery. There was an undeniable and immediate difference in the comic authors of the early eighties, but many of them sinned by way of dadaism, indulging difference for its own sake. After recognizing this brazen and laughably naive rebellion, one begins to understand why most of these writers couldn't keep from breaking the fourth wall and injecting themselves into the text; Morrison has never stopped doing it. The difference between them and Moore was one of reason; and like Milton's Lucifer, their reason was flawed; and like him still: it was pride. As a young and budding author, I saw in Morrison's 'Invisibles' and, to a lesser extent, in Ennis's 'Preacher', what a silly thing it is to believe your own stories. Gaiman we may reprieve: unlike the others, he has never imagined himself mad. His penchant for myth and psychology stays rather trimly in the realm of the curious academic, though becomes quite laughable when he attempts to portray chaos. Gaiman's is the most predictable chaos you will ever meet this side of a fourteen-year-old girl who likes penguins. Moore, however, has loomed over us in a state of questionable sanity for his entire career. Bearded, wild-eyed, long-winded, and obsessed with little things we don't even think about, and yet completely generous and unselfish with his pen. There is something we do not trust about the man who avoids the spotlight; who spurns money; who believes in the power of names enough to remove his from this or that film. The man who stands over and over a proven genius and who plods on into stranger and wider territory is almost an unknowable commodity. That Alan Moore cares about things we cannot see, and cares nothing about that which we expect him to becomes his strength. In his unpredictability, we come to find new and inspiring sides of ourselves, and of comics, and of others. If Morrison has lived his entire career as the incorrigible teenager of comics, inspiring in his gusto but disappointing in his ego, then Moore has always been the old man of comics, a crafty wizard who knows things we don't want to know, who leads us patiently through our wide-eyed bumbling and self-absorption, past the explosions and gun battles, and into our own back yard to show us something beautiful that was there the whole time. We'll wonder why he doesn't want our thanks. Or our praise. We'll wonder why he seems tired and haggard. We'll try to catch his red-rimmed eyes, as if he'll betray by some gesture or expression just what it is he gets out of the deal. As if sudden curiosity makes us worthy to know. My Suggested Reading In Comics

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jesse

    Not my favorite volume of Moore's Swamp Thing run. I have always thought he is at his best when he is unfettered by mainstream comic-book style continuity, and the Crisis on Infinite Earths is the polar opposite of that. The final issue, when he trots out a dozen or so obscure occult-based superheroes for a final battle with evil, was entertaining for what it was, but I had to keep wikipedia open on my laptop to have any hope of keeping my head above water, comprehension-wise. If I understood Za Not my favorite volume of Moore's Swamp Thing run. I have always thought he is at his best when he is unfettered by mainstream comic-book style continuity, and the Crisis on Infinite Earths is the polar opposite of that. The final issue, when he trots out a dozen or so obscure occult-based superheroes for a final battle with evil, was entertaining for what it was, but I had to keep wikipedia open on my laptop to have any hope of keeping my head above water, comprehension-wise. If I understood Zatanna, Dr. Fate, Deadman, Dr. Occult, Mento, or the Spectre as well as I understand Swamp Thing, John Constantine, or the Phantom Stranger, I may have enjoyed this a lot more. (This is why I won't read a League of Extraordinary Gentlemen title without exhaustively researching the sources first. ) The cool thing about all this occult content is that one begins to see in this early work the blueprint for Promethia. And when it comes down to it, that is why I enjoy Moore's early work so much: it allows greater appreciation for where he was coming from when he wrote his best stuff.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Orrin Grey

    Everyone's got their favorite Alan Moore comic, and I love Watchmen as much as the next guy, but for me his very best work might be his acclaimed run on Swamp Thing, which is finally being re-released in classy hardcover formats. And so I am, of course, picking them all up. I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that these stories changed comics, any more than I think it's an exaggeration to say that they're some of the best horror writing that's ever been done. Top notch stuff. Everyone's got their favorite Alan Moore comic, and I love Watchmen as much as the next guy, but for me his very best work might be his acclaimed run on Swamp Thing, which is finally being re-released in classy hardcover formats. And so I am, of course, picking them all up. I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that these stories changed comics, any more than I think it's an exaggeration to say that they're some of the best horror writing that's ever been done. Top notch stuff.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Nick

    (4.5 stars). When I first started this volume, I had that feeling where I wasn't really sure why I liked Swamp Thing. The only thing I knew for sure was that the art was great. The first couple issues in this volume are almost stand-alone in their story. They lean heavily on the southern gothic genre, which is expected for Swamp Thing. After a couple of issues, John Constantine comes back and things start ramping up. There's a Parliament of Trees (it's as great as the name suggests), a battle for (4.5 stars). When I first started this volume, I had that feeling where I wasn't really sure why I liked Swamp Thing. The only thing I knew for sure was that the art was great. The first couple issues in this volume are almost stand-alone in their story. They lean heavily on the southern gothic genre, which is expected for Swamp Thing. After a couple of issues, John Constantine comes back and things start ramping up. There's a Parliament of Trees (it's as great as the name suggests), a battle for Heaven (sort of), Batman and Superman make cameos, and then Dr. Fate and the Stranger become keys to the story. By the end, I remembered exactly why I liked Swamp Thing. He's really great and even though he's basically invulnerable, it feels like an acceptable trait with him, when it doesn't always with other characters. I'll also note that this volume is much, much darker than I remember the others being. He encounters some villains that are much more twisted than in the other volumes. Some are a fairly standard but effectively creepy super-serial killer. Some wear human skins as vests. Then the ultimate baddy is a sort of manifestation of evil. It's really dark but really well told.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jamie Manley

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This is my favorite volume in the series so this top 5 was a little difficult. Here they are in order of appearance: 1. The first appearance of Chester, the neighborhood aging hippie. He’s my favorite supporting character besides John Constantine. 2. Issue #44: almost an entire issue done in the point of view of a serial killer. Needless to say it creeped me out. I’m also a horror nut who loves stuff like this. 3. Swamp thing finds the parliament of trees. It is of course, breathtaking. 4. Swamp thi This is my favorite volume in the series so this top 5 was a little difficult. Here they are in order of appearance: 1. The first appearance of Chester, the neighborhood aging hippie. He’s my favorite supporting character besides John Constantine. 2. Issue #44: almost an entire issue done in the point of view of a serial killer. Needless to say it creeped me out. I’m also a horror nut who loves stuff like this. 3. Swamp thing finds the parliament of trees. It is of course, breathtaking. 4. Swamp thing’s “battle armor” in issue #48. The giant leaf on his head makes it look like he’s got a mohawk. 5. Spoiler: also in issue #48, Judith turning into a bird. Please don’t judge me. I know it’s gross, but it fits right into a horror movie. There’s so many more I’ve could’ve put on here, but I’m stopping at five for my sanity’s sake.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Phil

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Enjoyed this volume more than any of the others. So many of the previous arcs now make sense in how they lead to the climax. What amazed me was that this plot had the potential to be so hokey, and yet Moore somehow pulls off the big confrontation in a way that leaves you going “mmmm...ok....I can get behind that”. What an imagination he has and I now see how this series was a game changer. No idea where it’s going from here!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Joshua

    What is virtue, consciousness, the foundation of reality, and the ability to see past our own mortal limits. Swamp Thing seems offer, if not the answers, at least an attempt to understand these questions and the implications it has on our real life. It also has a wonderful story about the problems with ingesting hallucinatory substances without checking on children and the elderly first, but that's for a later essay.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Anders

    I was honestly expecting a little bit more buttttt it was good. Good ol' Swampy is good. And there's a real arc that builds up. It has all the stuff you want in Swamp Thing and adds some nice depth to characters/elements already introduced. Excited to finish the Moore run. Constantine is a jerk. Don't get shirty with me about it!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jamie Connolly

    Keeps getting better and better. And continuously impressed me bc of how good it is. This is not the swamp thing most people think of when they hear his name. Not the one from the movies. This swamp thing is very existential and thought-provoking. 5 stars.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Roman Colombo

    Swamp Thing saves the world! God this book is delightfully strange. I mean, there's a war in Hell with a team that needs to exist now. Phantom Stranger, Constantine, Deadman, Etrigan the Demon, Spectre, Zatanna, Doctor Fate, and Swamp Thing. Why isn't this the Justice League Dark team????

  24. 4 out of 5

    Ankit

    This one had so many philosophical lessons in it and in the end it was the age old concept of duality providing a closure to this arc of swamp thing. Some brilliant writing and an even more praiseworthy art.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Shell Hunt

    Here's the big show down, what Constantine was prepping the Swamp Thing. It's a pretty sweet setup and the way the story is told is so awesome. I felt like it lost a little if the fun during the big fight. The additional characters were recognizable from previous volumes, but I didn't really care enough about them to make the end worth it. It's still amazing and I love this series.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jason Bootle

    The longer this series has developed the better it has got. Wonderful scenes with the Parliament of Trees and the epic finalé. Glad I persisted after volume 1.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    Moore, Bissette and Totleben continue to broaden the epic scope of the Swamp Thing title by incorporating the DC Crisis, bringing the apocalypse to a head. While Moore is at the height of his powers with such grand sweeping plots, Swamp Thing begins to be hindered by the rest of the DC Universe's concerns. I'd much prefer a straight Swamp Thing graphic novel, where Moore is given free reign with all of his characters. 43. This issue includes a great way to make Swamp Thing himself a mind-altering Moore, Bissette and Totleben continue to broaden the epic scope of the Swamp Thing title by incorporating the DC Crisis, bringing the apocalypse to a head. While Moore is at the height of his powers with such grand sweeping plots, Swamp Thing begins to be hindered by the rest of the DC Universe's concerns. I'd much prefer a straight Swamp Thing graphic novel, where Moore is given free reign with all of his characters. 43. This issue includes a great way to make Swamp Thing himself a mind-altering drug, a hot controversial topic of the 80s. 44. Swamp Thing continues to subvert the idea of what is monstrous, and what we as a society should fear. 45. Moore explores the relationship between guns and guilt and the unending tide of American violence through a Winchester mansion tale. 46. In certain ways, Moore and Swamp Thing are too good for the sensationalism of the DC Crisis and Constantine, though the Invunche seems like a perfect enemy. 47. The Parliament of Trees is straight out of Tolkien, but has a much more emotionally resonant core as Swamp Thing is deeply related to these ancient ones. 48. The Brujeria storyline ends up a bit implausibly and turns into a bad Indiana Jones plot full of cosmic, vague secret apocalypses. 49. Moore has a way with imagery, so the black pearl becomes a black hole, an earth/galaxy smasher, the harbinger of the end. 50. The epic, final fight between good and evil is more of a philosophical questioning o the very existence of these values.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Robert Wright

    Back before Alan Moore took himself way too seriously, he did this thing called writing comic books. In a field that generally didn't set the bar for that too high, he went so far beyond that that he ended up setting an entirely new standard for what to expect out of a comic book. Perhaps this is a touch of hyperbole. Moore certainly didn't single-handedly transform comics, despite what he may think. Still, his work in the 80s was part of a great time in comics that seriously changed the industry Back before Alan Moore took himself way too seriously, he did this thing called writing comic books. In a field that generally didn't set the bar for that too high, he went so far beyond that that he ended up setting an entirely new standard for what to expect out of a comic book. Perhaps this is a touch of hyperbole. Moore certainly didn't single-handedly transform comics, despite what he may think. Still, his work in the 80s was part of a great time in comics that seriously changed the industry. And Swamp Thing was ground zero for his American influence. Sure, he had V for Vendetta and Marvelman over in the UK (both later being reprinted in the US), and Watchmen was on the horizon. But it was Swamp Thing that put Moore on the radar for most US fans. This volume wraps up one heck of a storyline. Not particularly well, after what has gone before. Still Moore's "not particularly well" is still better than 80% of writers' "really good". Kudos have to go out to his Crisis on Infinite Earths tie-in. This obligatory/mandatory tie-in with the big crossover event could have been phoned in or done as a one-off. Somehow Moore manages to incorporate it seamlessly into the ongoing storyline. If it weren't for the banner on that issue's cover or knowing a bit of DC history/continuity, you'd hardly know that it wasn't just part of what was already planned. I don't recommend picking this up by itself, but certainly get the whole lot: volumes 1-4, and beyond! It'll tide you over till Marvel finally reprints what is, IMO, Moore's masterpiece: Marvelman/Miracleman.

  29. 4 out of 5

    David Leslie

    If I could wish a book into existance it would be a collected DC ABSOLUTE or omnibus version of Alan Moores six trade paper/hardback run on Swamp Thing.Especially when there's so many books that get but don't warrent the ABSOLUTE treatment,I know in my gut it won't happen but what a book that would be!It would beat any current ABSOLUTE edition(Sandman would be the only equivalent in writing quality)IMO,even Alan Moores ABSOLUTE TOP 10 which consists of 4(the 2main vol's,SMAX & The 49ers) of some If I could wish a book into existance it would be a collected DC ABSOLUTE or omnibus version of Alan Moores six trade paper/hardback run on Swamp Thing.Especially when there's so many books that get but don't warrent the ABSOLUTE treatment,I know in my gut it won't happen but what a book that would be!It would beat any current ABSOLUTE edition(Sandman would be the only equivalent in writing quality)IMO,even Alan Moores ABSOLUTE TOP 10 which consists of 4(the 2main vol's,SMAX & The 49ers) of some of my favourite 'Moore TPBs,plus the short 'Deadfellas' by Moore.I can live in hope,even if it did happen it would be 2 absolutes(maybe 1 if done in a omnibus)which would seriously hurt the wallet.But I would be sold without hesitation so I can only live in hope/fantasy land???

  30. 5 out of 5

    Eric Mikols

    I'm glad I decided to pick these volumes up. I don't know why I doubted if I would like it, especially with Moore involved, but it's turning out to be one that I look most forward to in getting. This volume is dark as it takes place in the spiritual realm. The battle to stop an all-destroying force in the land of the dead is fought and only Swamp Thing can stop it. There's great cameos, the Spectre, the Demon Etrigan, the Stranger, Deadman, and others. It all reads like a precursor the Sandman, I'm glad I decided to pick these volumes up. I don't know why I doubted if I would like it, especially with Moore involved, but it's turning out to be one that I look most forward to in getting. This volume is dark as it takes place in the spiritual realm. The battle to stop an all-destroying force in the land of the dead is fought and only Swamp Thing can stop it. There's great cameos, the Spectre, the Demon Etrigan, the Stranger, Deadman, and others. It all reads like a precursor the Sandman, but has it's own strength and story. Good stuff.

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