From the Dungeon: “Swamp Thing” edition

Since it’s Earth Day I thought I would spotlight the ultimate environmental crusader, Swamp Thing.

Swamp Thing has been one of my favorite characters since I was a little kid. “Swamp Thing” the movie, (directed by Wes Craven and starring the Adrienne “Barbeu-bot” Barbeu), like Star Wars, Goonies, & Ghostbuters, was one of the many movies I grew up on. The sequel, “The Return of Swamp Thing” starring Heather Locklear, later became a childhood favorite as well.

As I grew older I learned that Swamp Thing originated in DC Comics, and was a friend of Batman, which made me love him even more!

My love of Swamp Thing compelled me to collect all things Swamp Thing, and I’ve amassed a good amount so far. In 1991 there was a short lived animated series. There were only five episodes but plenty of licensed merchandise to go with it.

Swamp Thing: Battle for the Bayou board game (RoseArt 1991)

They don’t make board games like this anymore. It seems a little over-complicated for a kids game. I had to read the instructions a few times, and I’m still not sure I understand how to play. But it was the bright, colorful artwork that really caught my eye.

Swamp Thing action figures (Kenner Toys 1990)

In the 80s and 90s Kenner was the king of action figures, producing some the most iconic toy lines like Star Wars, Super Powers, Ghostbusters, and numerous Batman lines. Swamp Thing got the typical action figure treatment; multiple variations of the main character with specialized accessories and/or appearance to handle any situation imaginable. “Bio-Glow Swamp Thing” is my favorite.

Swamp Thing's human buddies. The Native American fellow on the right is named Tomahawk. I don't think you can get away with that today.

Swamp Thing and the Unmen, San Diego Comic-Con exclusive (Mattel 2011)

To me the bane of the toy collecting world is the convention exclusive. The last thing I want to do at Comic-Con is wait in a line for an overpriced toy that I may or may not be able to purchase once I get to the front of the line. Luckily in recent years Mattel has made exclusives available for pre-order before the convention, which eliminates the waiting in line for the toy and ensures that you’ll get one. Unfortunately the high price tag still applies. But I was happy to pay the high price for last year’s exclusive, Swamp Thing!

DC Comics Library: Roots of Swamp Thing (DC Comics 2009)

This year at C2E2 I had the honor of meeting one of the creators of Swamp Thing, Len Wein. He was kind enough to sign my “Roots of Swamp Thing” collection which includes Swamp Thing’s first appearance and adventures. I hope to meet artist Bernie Wrightson some day.

I like…bats.

I’ve been loving DC Comics’ New 52 since they started in September. By starting over with all their books DC Comics have made them really exciting to read with new surprises every month. Whether they really are accessible to new readers or not can be debated, but it’s a refreshing change.

The creative teams behind these books are delivering top notch work across almost the whole line. The writing is strong and many of the artists are producing the best work of their careers. The following are just a few of my favorite covers from books in the Bat-family.

With Bane being the featured villain in the upcoming The Dark Knight Rises, it only makes sense that DC Comics would put the spotlight on him in the comics. This cover by David Finch is a great homage to Kelley Jones’ cover from the classic Knightfall epic.

Batman: The Dark Knight #6 cover by David Finch

Batman #497 cover by Kelley Jones

When I heard that former Spawn artist, Greg Capullo, was the new artist on Batman I didn’t know what to expect. I hadn’t picked up a Spawn comic since the 90s and wasn’t really familiar with Capullo’s work. But he brings a great sense of movement and energy to Batman. Paired with Scott Snyder, one of the best writers in the business, Batman is arguably the best book of the New 52.

Batman #3 cover by Greg Capullo

Batman #6 cover by Greg Capullo

Hands down one of the best illustrators working in comics today, J.H. Williams III never disappoints. His work on Batwoman is definitely a highlight of DC Comics’ entire line. With varying styles and a uniquely strong sense of design, Williams creates works of fine art that you could spend hours staring at.

Batwoman #1 cover by J.H. Williams III

Batwoman #2 cover by J.H. Williams III