Miracleman 16 (December 1988)

Moore bites off a lot for this final issue to the arc. It isn’t enough Miracleman and company will turn the world into a utopia, Moore has to sell it. He uses great detail–like the Warpsmiths liking the Inuit language the most–to make things process. He also throws in a lot of personality. Heavy metal gangs turning Kid Miracleman into a sensation; it’s unnecessary but perfect. And Liz. How Moore deals with Liz is crazy good. Winter comes back, but she’s kind of comic relief. Liz figures in differently. One has to wonder if Moore always had this plan for … Continue reading Miracleman 16 (December 1988)

Miracleman 15 (November 1988)

What’s incredible–and possibly singular–about how Moore approaches Miracleman is his distance. There are moments this issue where another writer might wink at superhero comics. Moore doesn’t. Even in those moments, he’s only writing this one. More so, he’s only writing this moment, even though it’s technically a flashback. London is destroyed, decimated. There is no happiness. Moore pulls Miracleman away from humanity even more; tellingly, Totleben doesn’t do any of his “beauty of Miracleman” panels. The visual poetry is violence and blood. Even in the small panels. Moore caps it off with Miracleman’s final shedding of his human self, possibly … Continue reading Miracleman 15 (November 1988)

Miracleman 14 (April 1988)

As far as the art goes, it’s near perfect. Moore’s script (presumably with panel arrangement), Totleben’s art, it’s outstanding. And most of the issue is excellent too. The stuff with the Moran family, the stuff with Miracleman and the other super-powered beings setting up their club… well, actually that decision is Moore’s second most questionable this issue. Miracleman, Miraclewoman, the other aliens, they set up a superhero club, something apparently all worlds with superheroes do. It feels too obvious. The real problem is with how much abuse Moore throws at Billy Bates. He’s been being tortured by other kids for … Continue reading Miracleman 14 (April 1988)

Miracleman 13 (November 1987)

It’s an awesome issue. Not just in the flashback plotting and reveals, but with how Moore structures Miracleman’s narration from the present. Even though the present day stuff is all static and all summary, Moore manages to get in an amazing finish for this issue. Moore doesn’t try to frustrate the reader with foreshadowing, he instead overwhelms. Miracleman and Miraclewoman go to the galactic council or whatever it’s called and there’s a bunch of political stuff set to Totleben’s trippy alien designs. Miracleman often has smaller panels, so it’s impressive how much Totleben’s designs resonate even if they don’t get … Continue reading Miracleman 13 (November 1987)

Miracleman 12 (September 1987)

More hints at what’s to come–both in the bookends and in the present action. Moore’s pretty slick with one of the reveals–so quiet maybe it’s a typo–but the other, revealed on the last page but suggested much earlier… Well, things might just get really dramatic here in a bit. This issue reveals Miraclewoman’s back story. It involves the evil scientist, of course, which sadly reminds one of Chuck Austen’s terrible conclusion to that story arc. This issue continues with Totleben, who does quite well. He’s really getting the idea of Miracleman as an Adonis, not just a regular superhero. There … Continue reading Miracleman 12 (September 1987)

Miracleman 11 (May 1987)

Wow. Even with Moore’s overcooked prose–it’s from Miracleman’s memoirs–wow. It opens five years later, with Miracleman somewhere above the Earth in a floating castle. I think (about the location, not the time). Moore opens with these grandiose images and then brings things down again. New–and lovely–artist John Tolteben can do both fantastical and mundane with ease. The story Miracleman is telling is the continuation from the previous issue. This issue he has a run-in with the space aliens and Moore has a big reveal of a new character. Except these are relatively small. The battle with the aliens is just … Continue reading Miracleman 11 (May 1987)

Ultimatum: Spider-Man Requiem 2 (September 2009)

Eh. Dang it, Bendis. He structures the whole thing around Jonah’s obituary for Spider-Man, flashing back to Spidey’s first meeting with the Hulk. Oddly enough, back when Peter ran into the Hulk at the end of the original series, he didn’t seem like he remembered this incident. Bendis rips off the school bus scene from Superman pretty well. It’s not the problem. The problem is when Jonah’s article becomes the cake instead of the icing. The art is then a bunch of pin-ups, mostly by Bagley, which seems inappropriate given how much work Immonen’s done. Scott Hanna’s inks seem a … Continue reading Ultimatum: Spider-Man Requiem 2 (September 2009)

Swamp Thing 60 (May 1987)

Ushering in its new format status (better paper), Moore and Totleben do something quite different for Swamp Thing. Forget the comic deviating away from Swampy’s perspective… Moore’s now just using it to experiment with the (comics, not new) format. It is a prose issue, the story boxes against Totleben’s mixed media prints. DC really should have printed the issue twice, once with story, once without. Moore’s not taking any shortcuts by going full prose. It’s a mother telling her babies a bedtime story. Only here, the mother is a living electronic planetoid who Swamp Thing happens across. It turns out … Continue reading Swamp Thing 60 (May 1987)

Swamp Thing 55 (December 1986)

The issue’s not in the pay-off. The pay-off is great, sure, but the issue is often disconnected from it. Moore’s writing Swamp Thing’s memorial–complete with guest spots from the Phantom Stranger and Constantine and, especially, a slightly mischievous and pervy Boston Brand. But it’s not a recap of the series to date, even though most of the remaining cast members make an appearance of some kind or another, or even a hint of what’s to come. Had this issue been the final Swamp Thing, Moore would have taken it out on a glorious note. One can nearly hear Also Sprach … Continue reading Swamp Thing 55 (December 1986)

Swamp Thing 53 (October 1986)

Sure, Moore’s got an over-sized issue, but he still fits in an amazing amount of content. In this issue, in addition to the Swamp Thing stuff, there’s pretty much an issue of Batman. Moore continues to show how well he writes that character. But there’s also the pacing of it–Gotham is changing and Moore tells that part of the story disconnected from Swamp Thing. Swampy’s worried about Abby, but he’s also a little enthused with his new power. The Totleben art, which still has the horror tinges, is wonderful. It’s green and full of life; he also comes up with … Continue reading Swamp Thing 53 (October 1986)

Swamp Thing 50 (July 1986)

While touted as an anniversary issue, Swamp Thing barely figures into this story. Moore’s upfront about his limited role–the comic opens with Cain and Abel, after all. It again features guest appearances from the DC supernatural set, with a couple deaths involved. Moore eventually does make it all about Swamp Thing, but in a relatively quiet way. His experiences and questions about himself inform the greater story, which is a really big one. It’s an all action issue, but the most important action is very quiet dialogue. What’s strangest about the issue is the lack of intensity. Moore’s done a … Continue reading Swamp Thing 50 (July 1986)

Swamp Thing 48 (May 1986)

For an end of the world comic, this one’s sort of tame. I guess the world itself does not end here–only a serious foreshadowing of it, especially since Swamp Thing unintentionally helps the bad guys towards that end–but it’s still very dreary stuff. Yet, the most awful thing in the comic is the cops dragging Abby out in cuffs. They arrest her for cavorting with a swamp monster. That subplot, which only shows up in the last couple pages, shows the problem… if the world’s going to end, why is Moore spending time on Abby’s problems? Obviously, the DC Universe … Continue reading Swamp Thing 48 (May 1986)

Swamp Thing 46 (March 1986)

While I love this issue–the way Moore tells the reader the ending is going to be awful, then still manages to make it even worse (without a drop of blood), is awesome–the cover does imply something else entirely. The cover implies, between the banner and the superheroes, a Crisis tie-in. And I suppose Moore does deliver to some extent. He does send Constantine and Swamp Thing off into regular DC superhero land where they get a mission for helping save the world. But their mission really has nothing to do with Crisis. It’s too disturbing to be mainstream; Moore thoroughly … Continue reading Swamp Thing 46 (March 1986)

Swamp Thing 44 (January 1986)

I never thought I’d be making this statement–but I can’t tell Randall from Totleben. Randall does some of the inks here and two inkers are seamless at first read. Maybe if I had been concentrating more on the art…. Instead, this issue of Swamp Thing is a big mishmash and, against the odds, it works. I mean, there’s a scene with Batman bumping into Constantine and Mento (from Doom Patrol) on the street. Moore’s integration of Crisis is hilarious. He acknowledges it, but treats it as inconsequential. I guess they already knew Swamp Thing was safe from a relaunch. There’s … Continue reading Swamp Thing 44 (January 1986)

Swamp Thing 42 (November 1985)

In a strange but significant way, Moore cops outs with this issue. He concludes his possessed slave descendants story without examining any other the racial elements he brought up in the previous issue. Instead, he conveniently brings in some zombies, some hallucinations and Swamp Thing… everything ends very nicely. Actually, it ends nicely for zombies too. It’s Alan Moore ending on a joke. It’s a creepy one… but still a joke. What’s so inexplicable is that shift in tone. Moore set this story up to be serious and, instead, it’s a little episode in the life of Swamp Thing and … Continue reading Swamp Thing 42 (November 1985)

Swamp Thing 40 (September 1985)

This issue’s kind of a downer-in-one. Bissette and Totleben are back at full strength and do a great job. The story concerns a housewife whose lycanthropy manifests itself (seemingly for the first time) while Swamp Thing’s in town for a visit. Moore juxtaposes the woman’s problems against the history of a local Native American tribe and the sufferings of that tribe’s women. Bissette and Totleben have the task of mixing both those elements with the visiting Swamp Thing. Strangely, it’s not exactly a visual feast–the art isn’t exuberant as much as measured. They’re carefully telling this story and they do … Continue reading Swamp Thing 40 (September 1985)

Swamp Thing 39 (August 1985)

Something strange happens with the art this issue. It’s Bissette and Totleben, but one or both of them is darned lazy. While there’s some great Swamp Thing art, all the human characters are hurried. And the amazing Swamp Thing as landscape (first time ever) is far less amazing than I’d expect from the artists. That unfortunate condition aside, it’s a good issue. Moore toggles between three narrators–victims, vampires and Swampy–and it all works well. Swamp Thing versus underwater vampires, with Swampy learning how to flex the plant elemental muscles. Moore even makes the vampires sympathetic, though the vampire baby isn’t … Continue reading Swamp Thing 39 (August 1985)

Swamp Thing 38 (July 1985)

This issue is a follow-up to one of the pre-Moore ones, but there’s never an editorial note about it. It’s interesting to see Moore’s approach to something he didn’t create, in this case a town of vampires. Only these vampires are living underwater. Stan Woch is filling in on pencils (it’s unclear who’s the “regular” penciller at this point) and it shows how important Totleben is to the art. Swamp Thing looks the same, basically, thanks to Totleben. Woch does a good Bissette impersonation. Besides Moore looking at the vampire settlement, there’s more Constantine character development and a little time … Continue reading Swamp Thing 38 (July 1985)

Swamp Thing 37 (June 1985)

Veitch brings an unexpected harshness to Swamp Thing. Not to the issue overall, and not even to Swamp Thing when he’s regrowing from a sprout. But when he’s fully grown, Veitch and Totleben’s lines make Swamp Thing stand out. He’s almost more monstrous than ever before. The outline reminds, oddly, of the Karloff Frankenstein monster. In that scene is another turning point–Swamp Thing ignores Abby. His curiosity about himself turns him into a regular guy, the one who ignores what his girlfriend is saying. It’s a one page scene but it’s sort of startling. Moore is finally making Swamp Thing … Continue reading Swamp Thing 37 (June 1985)

Swamp Thing 36 (May 1985)

Not a happy comic, not at all. Moore plays with having multiple points of view, fragmenting the story’s timeline to give everyone a chance at a surprising moment. He opens with Swamp Thing, who doesn’t really have a story this issue. Moore’s showing his mastery; he turns what should be a filler issue into an essential one. He focuses on Abby toward the end, which reveals the most. It’s clear Moore’s real protagonist is Abby at this point, maybe because she has to be. Moore never gives Swamp Thing as good of moments. For example, there’s a short line here … Continue reading Swamp Thing 36 (May 1985)

Swamp Thing 35 (April 1985)

The truly nightmarish quality of Moore’s Swamp Thing shows itself here in his ability to gradually peel back the layers of a small incident. Moore frames this story around a collection of newspaper headlines (about nuclear power and, more importantly, nuclear waste) and a guy addicted to it. To nuclear waste. It’s really gross, but it takes Moore about half the issue before he lets Bissette and Totleben show the full effect. The result is an uncomfortable reading experience. It’s not the worst thing Moore could focus on–he’s touched on worse in previous issues–but when the artists take so long … Continue reading Swamp Thing 35 (April 1985)

Swamp Thing 34 (March 1985)

I should have remembered this issue, but I did not. The story is pretty simple. Alec and Abby start dating. In one of Moore’s rare moments, he forgets Swamp Thing’s acceptance of “Alec” as Abby’s name for him came in a dream sequence, not in scene. Anyway, the issue is a big crazy art fest from Bissette and Totleben. Even before Abby eats the tuber, the art spreads across pages. Bissette and Totleben capture, even without much background to start, the tranquility of Alec and Abby’s time in the swamp. It is infinitely calming. Then the hallucinogenic pages begin. I … Continue reading Swamp Thing 34 (March 1985)

Swamp Thing Annual 2 (January 1985)

I am having a hard time deciding my favorite part of this annual. In terms of ambition and payoff, it’s probably the best annual ever. Moore, Bissette and Totleben don’t just produce a great story, but also a fun one and an emotionally devastating one. All while Swamp Thing goes to Hell. The contestants for favorite moment are the end, which is another great Bissette full page spread emotional finish, the moment when Swamp Thing doesn’t want to meet Linda Holland in Heaven or the scene with Arcane in Hell. The first two are devastating, one quiet, one not, and … Continue reading Swamp Thing Annual 2 (January 1985)

Swamp Thing 31 (December 1984)

Rick Veitch comes on–not sure if he joins here or is just filling in–for a very difficult issue. Moore implies two challenges for Swampy this issue–the returned Arcane and Abby’s death. But it turns out there’s only one actual challenge (to Swamp Thing). So Moore has to balance Swamp Thing knowing something the reader cannot but also make its revelation organic. It can’t be a cheat. Veitch’s style is probably better for the action-orientated nature of the issue; his figures are strong, his Swamp Thing not quite as mucky as Bissette’s has been. And, as is so important in Moore’s … Continue reading Swamp Thing 31 (December 1984)

The Saga of the Swamp Thing 29 (October 1984)

This issue isn’t really a Swamp Thing comic, more an Abby one. Moore frames it in a dream, but a dream where Abby remembers all her latest experiences with her husband. Her possessed, dead husband who’s not really her husband. While the end revelation is incredibly disturbing on a few levels, Moore makes sure the whole issue is uncomfortable. Abby’s investigation into her husband’s condition has a lot of effective uncanny revelations. As usual, the art from Bissette and Totleben ties it all together. They only have one nice moment, when Swamp Thing and Abby meet up. Moore does the … Continue reading The Saga of the Swamp Thing 29 (October 1984)

The Saga of the Swamp Thing 27 (August 1984)

The issue ends on two wildly divergent notes. First, Swamp Thing and this previously scared little boy go for a peaceful walk back to the boy’s school after a monstrous night. It’s calm and gentle. Moore doesn’t give Alec too much dialogue—there’s still something tragic and sad about Swamp Thing, even if he’s at peace. Second, Abby finds out she had something to do with the events leading up to the evening (well, the Demon suggests it and, as Jason Blood points out, even the Demon’s occasionally honest). The issue ends with her getting into a car with Matt. Who, … Continue reading The Saga of the Swamp Thing 27 (August 1984)

The Saga of the Swamp Thing 26 (July 1984)

It’s a fast issue, so fast I don’t even think Alec has any dialogue (Abby reflects on the proper name for him, it’s good to know Moore’s thinking about it too). Instead it’s an Abby issue and Moore layers the whole thing, flipping between flashback and present action. Most of the present action is Abby and Alec wordlessly running to save a bunch of children from a monster. The flashbacks reveal some of Jason Blood’s involvement, Abby’s first day at work (which also ties in to the plot) and more of Abby and Matt’s marital problems. This issue is all … Continue reading The Saga of the Swamp Thing 26 (July 1984)

The Saga of the Swamp Thing 25 (June 1984)

Moore solves the problem of not having a start point (since he previously “closed” the Saga). First, he opens with Jason Blood coming to town. Moore’s Blood is one part hilarious, one part dangerous. It’s a great character (though does it foreshadow Moore too letting the supporting cast outshine the titular protagonist?). Second, this issue is set an indeterminate period of time from the last issue. Not too long, but long enough Abby and Alec are hanging out on a regular basis. Moore’s the implication of the relationship—more about closeness than interaction—is a gentle one. There’s still the villain of … Continue reading The Saga of the Swamp Thing 25 (June 1984)

The Saga of the Swamp Thing 24 (May 1984)

What’s strange about this issue isn’t so much the story or even the Justice League guest appearance (Moore writing the Justice League, with Bissette and Totleben on the art is otherworldly though). It’s the finish. Moore could use this issue for the series finale. In dealing with an insane Jason Woodrue, Alec accepts his reality—he’s Swamp Thing—and he’s happy with it, happy with living in the natural world. It’s a joyous finish; he even, basically, says goodbye to Abby. But it’s not the final issue and the way Moore leaves it, one wonders what can possibly come next and not … Continue reading The Saga of the Swamp Thing 24 (May 1984)

The Saga of the Swamp Thing 23 (April 1984)

So I should start by talking about Moore opening with Alec narrating and basically giving the reader the insight the previous issue’s exploration of his psyche didn’t have. Or I could talk about how he, in his third issue, has cast Abby as the human conduit into the story (and retconned her attachment to Alec a bit). I could even talk about how Alec’s dialogue and thoughts are about his lack of humanity but Bissette and Totleben give him the most human eyes in comic book history. Instead, I’ve got to mention this one really awful page they draw. It’s … Continue reading The Saga of the Swamp Thing 23 (April 1984)