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Recap / Swamp Thing Volume 2 Issue 56 My Blue Heaven

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"We stand and gaze at each other...and for a moment I am tempted to laugh...to dismiss this puppet show...for the madness it surely is...But, oh, she is beautiful...and I am lost."
— The Swamp Thing

His electromagnetic link to Earth severed, the Swamp Thing has traveled bodiless through interstellar space in search of a world which both has plant life and is compatible with his new frequency. And now he's found one: a planet where everything is shades of blue. Although the planet is rich in vegetation, insects and fish, there is no trace of sapient life. After roughly three weeks, the Swamp Thing has resigned himself to spending eternity here, never to see Abby again. In order to distract himself from thinking of her, he experiments with different body shapes and appendages which allow him to glide through the air. Soon, however, he grows bored.

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Then he remembers his ability to inhabit and control multiple bodies simultaneously, and fashions a double of himself as a companion. Silently they construct a chessboard and begin playing. After five games, all of which have ended in stalemate, the Swamp Thing tires of this and abandons his second body. Later that day, however, on a sudden impulse, he creates and brings to "life" a nude surrogate Abby. Although he knows deep down she isn't real, and although it repeatedly occurs to him that he's gotten her smile wrong, the Swamp Thing is so overcome with longing that he chooses to believe he has his lover back, even to the extent of making her speak and, that evening, making love to her.

The following day, the Swamp Thing notices "Abby" is running out of things to say, so in order to give her context, he creates a replica of Houma and populates it with vegetable people, giving them the appearance of the Hollands, Matt Cable, and others he remembers. All is well until the Swamp Thing and "Abby" encounter a Constantine replica he doesn't recall having intentionally created. "Constantine," true to the swamp creature's memories of him, insists on reminding him that he and everyone in this ersatz Houma are mere extensions of his own mind: "I only speak the words...that you put in my mouth," says the Constantine replica, "and I only speak the truth."

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Angry and troubled, the Swamp Thing walks away, "Abby" tagging along and trying to console and seduce him. But he can no longer ignore the illusions he's constructed around himself, down to "Abby's" inaccurately-reconstructed smile. Meanwhile, it's begun to rain, accelerating the growth of his constructs and causing them to warp beyond recognition. Finally, in a blind rage, he punches "Abby's" head off her body. Instantly recoiling at what he's done, he briefly considers restoring her to "life" but, realizing that would only perpetuate his self-deception, he runs madly through the replica town which, his mind no longer holding it together, begins to fall apart, along with its "inhabitants."

Eventually, the Swamp Thing comes back to his senses and realizes that if he's to retain his sanity, he must find a planet with sapient life that can offer him genuine companionship. After giving "Abby's" severed head a final kiss, he abandons his body and takes off into space once more.

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Tropes

  • Call-Back: The first line (subsequently repeated) of Swamp Thing's inner monologue, "Everything is blue," recalls Diagonal Bob's last words as he dies from nuclear waste poisoning in The Nukeface Papers Part One. This association gives the issue an ominous note from the very beginning.
  • Color Motif: In addition to the issue's title and colour scheme, the protagonist's inner monologue makes frequent, punning references to blue. For example, his recollection of the veins under Abby's skin makes him think "of loneliness...of melancholy. The blues." He refers to his lovemaking with the ersatz Abby as "a blue movie." He calls his destruction of the illusory Houma "blue murder".note  See also under Funny Background Event.
  • Continuity Nod: As the Swamp Thing greets the ersatz Alec and Linda Holland, he feels a sense of nostalgia while inhabiting the former's body, and sadness at how faintly he remembers the latter. This is a reference to his earlier decision, while rooted in the swamp and transitioning out of his human identity, to let go of his attachment to a woman who was never his wife after all.
  • Double Entendre: Inverted when the illusory Abby tries to seduce the Swamp Thing as he falls into madness. "Come," she says, "lie with me." The archaic, King James Version diction here for "have sex with me" is deliberate: "Abby" is also inviting him to "lie" with her in the sense of "knowingly engaging in falsehood."
  • Funny Background Event: In keeping with the issue's Color Motif, many background signs within the replica Houma reference "blue" in some way: "Now showing The Blue Lagoon," "We give blue stamps,"note  and a "Blue Cross/Blue Shield" insurance company poster.
  • Genre Shift: This issue marks the transition, in Moore's run on the title, from horror to science fantasy.
  • Go Mad from the Isolation: The Swamp Thing, out of loneliness, loses himself in a make-believe world of his own creation, but a part of his mind refuses to accept the illusion, and the inner conflict drives him temporarily insane.
  • Love Makes You Crazy: As the Swamp Thing realizes he's losing his grip on reality, he turns on the surrogate Abby, who lampshades this trope:
    Swamp Thing: How dare you speak...of love....when it is lost love...that is destroying me...? I...I...Oh, great Mother Earth...who...am I talking to...? What madness...is upon me...?
    "Abby": All love...is madness, Alec...and only you...can decide...what is reality here...
  • Pun: In addition to the "blue" examples noted under Color Motif, there's the ersatz Constantine greeting the Swamp Thing in the "Houma" diner: "Evening, squire...I didn't know...they served vegetables...in here..."
  • Sanity Slippage: The Swamp Thing gets so caught up in his attempt to create a substitute Abby, and a substitute world for her to inhabit, that he fails to distinguish fantasy from reality. When the ersatz Constantine, embodying a part of his consciousness he'd tried to suppress, forces this self-deception out in the open, the Swamp Thing reacts with violent rage, a panicked run amongst his warped, decomposing creations, and a Heroic BSoD, before regaining his wits. This, however, will be merely the first time his extraterrestrial experiences drive him temporarily mad.
  • Shout-Out
    • "My Blue Heaven" is a popular music standard best known in its 1927 version by Gene Austin and the Victor Orchestra.
    • The surrogate Abby's pose, when the Swamp Thing first creates her, resembles that of Botticelli's The Birth of Venus.
    • The Swamp Thing leaves "Abby's" head behind as a "blue valentine." This refers to the 1978 Tom Waits song "Blue Valentines."
  • Single-Palette Town: The planet, and every living thing on it, has a blue colour scheme.
  • Thinking Out Loud: The Constantine replica lampshades the Swamp Thing's engaging in this:
    Swamp Thing: Constantine...? What are you...doing here...?
    "Constantine": I...could ask you...the same question...but then I've never been fond...of talking to myself...
  • Unnaturally Blue Lighting: Tatjana Wood coloured this issue entirely in shades of blue, with the occasional white, purple or (for the Swamp Thing's, "Abby's" and "Constantine's" speech balloons) green.
  • Voices Are Mental: The ersatz Abby and Constantine speak at the same slow rate as the Swamp Thing, and their speech balloons are of the same colour as his, given that it's he who's inhabiting and controlling them.
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