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Recap / Swamp Thing Volume 2 - Issue 22: "Swamped"

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"If there's one thing that I despise, it's the sound of steak sobbing."
Jason Woodrue

Immediately upon their return to Houma, Louisiana, Abby, dragging a reluctant Matt along, heads for the swamp to look for "Alec." To their horror, they find him rooted and unresponsive. Abby fears the worst, whereupon Woodrue, spraying on his artificial human skin, emerges from the bushes to explain what happened to their friend at Sunderland's lab. He tells them that the Swamp Thing has given up on being human and embraced his plant nature, growing flowers and even yam-like, possibly edible tumours. Abby throws up and Matt takes her home, leaving Woodrue glad to be rid of the human company he detests as a Plant Person, and wondering what the Swamp Thing must be thinking.


There follows, interspersed with the main narrative, a series of comedy-horror scenes depicting the Swamp Thing's dreams, as the realization that he's not human after all sinks in. He lets go of his attachment to Linda, as he finds holding on to both her memory and his human identity too much to bear. Then he lets go of the latter as well.

At home, Abby overhears the voice of a woman talking seductively to her husband (presumably one of his erotic fantasies he's brought to life), but when she opens the door she finds him drinking all alone. This triggers a childhood memory in which she'd perceive a monstrous presence watching her in her bedroom, but found no one there when she'd open her eyes. As a result, she grows scared of Matt. Nonetheless, this doesn't stop her from returning to the swamp in a desperate, tearful attempt to rouse her friend, as she refuses to believe Woodrue's story.


Woodrue continues his observation of the Swamp Thing because although, as the Floronic Man, he can communicate with and control plant life, he doesn't know what it's like to be a plant. Finding that the Swamp Thing's bioelectrical readings are now identical with those of the surrounding vegetation, he seizes his opportunity and uses the creature's body to make contact with "the Green," the collective consciousness of the plant kingdom. First, Woodrue tries eating one of his tubers. Later, he takes a flower clipping from the Swamp Thing's body and connects it via EEG device to his own brain. However, Woodrue's mind can't take the sudden, simultaneous awareness of all vegetation on Earth, and he goes insane, shedding his clothes and artificial skin and running in a frenzy for the swamp. "What would you have me do?" he asks the Green.



  • Call a Human a "Meatbag": Woodrue, although part-human himself, does this in his inner monologues, with reference to the Cables, whose presence he considers a hindrance to his work. He thinks of them as "creatures made of meat" and "annoying, stinking cattle," and the human community as the "meatworld." See also the page quote.
  • Continuity Cavalcade: Swamp Thing's dreams are full of callbacks to monsters he'd met in previous stories, some of whom haven't been seen since the origin Len Wein run.
  • Converse with the Unconscious: Abby embraces the Swamp Thing's inert body and pleads with him to "come back." It doesn't work.
  • Foreshadowing: In the first dream sequence, Abby says, "I see my uncle over there, talking to my husband. They're inseparable insects, you know." This foreshadows the events of Issues 27 through 31, in which Anton Arcane, whose presence attracts flies, possesses Matt and exploits his reality-warping power.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: According to inker John Totleben, Woodrue's dilated pupils, in the close-up panel after he tastes the Swamp Thing's tuber, are a deliberate if covert indication of drug use, still forbidden under the then-current version of the Comics Code unless depicted as a "vicious habit." (Totleben states further that Woodrue's subsequent use of an EEG device was a smokescreen for the real method by which he tapped into the Green.) When DC began releasing the title without the Code's seal of approval, it freed the creative team to make the tubers' psychedelic properties more explicit and give them a recurring role in the series.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: Woodrue, expecting a limited, small-scale communion with the Swamp Thing's plant-mind, instead finds himself overwhelmed with an entire planet's worth of vegetable consciousness, and loses his mind.
  • Heroic BSoD: The title character, overwhelmed by the realization he was never human, goes into a vegetative state, unresponsive to Abby's attempts at communication.
  • Hive Mind: The Green, which is the collective consciousness of Earth's plant life, receives its first mention here. Moore, and subsequent writers for Swamp Thing and other titles, would subsequently expand on the Green's nature and role, turning the realm into a major part of the mythos in various DC continuities, alongside such corresponding realms as the Red (the collective animal kingdom mind/force), the Grey (fungus) and the Rot, AKA the Black (decay and death).
  • Hurricane of Puns: The Swamp Thing's dream sequences feature this throughout. For example, he comes across some human-sized planarian worms who invite him to join their feasting on Alec Holland's body (served with Hollandaise sauce).
    Worm: the way, you're not Jewish?
    Swamp Thing: Uh... no... I come... from Holland.
    Worm: Good. That's good. We're all just plain Aryan worms here, you understand.
  • Lightmare Fuel: The dream sequences are a balance of horror (the Swamp Thing losing Linda and his own humanity, fighting monsters he's faced in previous issues) and comedy (the Hurricane of Puns throughout, and the scene in which his humanity, in the form of a wisecracking skull, badgers him to keep running).
  • Nothing Is Scarier: Abby hears (in garbled form) but can't see the seductress with her husband. This reminds her in turn of the night monster, from her childhood, that she could hear but not see. In both cases, their unseen nature heightens her fear.
  • Sanity Slippage: Woodrue's reaction upon tapping into the Green.
    • Swamp Thing's slippage that began with the previous issue - finding out he's just a ghost in weeds - completes its arc here when he stops running in his nightmare and lets his "humanity" - Alec's annoying skull - get swamped by the enveloping Green.
  • Small, Annoying Creature: The Swamp Thing's humanity, in the form of a skull, nags him to keep running in the "human race." Before long, the swamp creature tires of this and, seizing upon the skull's claim that "without me, there'd be no point in running," lies down and lets his body smother it.


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