Miracleman 10 (December 1986)

John Ridgway returns to ink Veitch and it works out nicely. Veitch has fine composition, with the Ridgway inks the panels all have a lot of personality. I love how Mike looks so ancient and tired. Most of the issue is spent with two aliens who have come to Earth to check on the miracle-people. Turns out there are more of them than Moore previously revealed (at least one more) and the aliens use the alternate universe in a similar way. The stuff with the baby, while beautifully rendered, gets a little tiresome. Moore amps up the pressure on the characters only…

Miracleman 9 (July 1986)

That is one ugly baby. Sorry, getting ahead of myself. This issue features Moore’s returns after a reprints issue and fresh artists. Rick Veitch pencils, Rick Bryant inks. It’s a major improvement over Austen–the panel compositions are once again ambitious–but it’s not particularly great art. Veitch and Bryant do a little Mick Anglo homage and things of that nature, but it’s too broad. Miracleman thrives on visual realism. The story, which has Liz giving birth to her miracle baby, is pretty good. She goes into labor the first page, then Moore resolves the last of the story arc (more like clean-up) while…

Swamp Thing 87 (June 1989)

This issue has huge vertical double-page spreads from Yeates. Swamp Thing ends up in Camelot and the big pages give Veitch and Yeates a lot of space for their story. It’s not even a particularly big story, just very full of medieval imagery. Veitch lets the art do all the heavy lifting. There’s nothing particularly complex to the plotting, but Veitch does get in some funny stuff. For instance, King Arthur’s a blithering idiot–a head injury has impaired his intelligence and has him searching for the Holy Grail. Swamp Thing spends a good deal of the issue potted, talking to Merlin. I…

Swamp Thing 86 (May 1989)

Veitch and artist Tom Yeates do a lovely job on this issue. Veitch constructs a rather complex narrative, where Swamp Thing’s import isn’t even explained until over halfway through the issue, and then in a layered exposition. He transitions from one kind of story to another and by the time Alec makes a visual appearance… not only has Veitch leapt ahead to the modern day, he’s able to make it devastatingly effective. Great plotting. Just great. The issue’s also rather amusing; most of it involves a British spy, circa 1800, who’s out to spoil the Americans’ new country. He’s got various disguises–and…

Swamp Thing 85 (April 1989)

This issue’s extremely confusing. Veitch writes it assuming people know Hawk is Tomahawk’s son. In other words, a specialized audience at the time of its publication and an even more specialized one as time goes on. There are probably eight characters–all of them DC Western characters (except a couple for a surprise)–and Veitch has to introduce them all and their ground situations. And it gets slippery. For example, the unseen German princes–who hire all the Western heroes–don’t make any sense. In the end, they do, once Veitch reveals everything, but when he’s hinting at it… nope, doesn’t work. He also goes too…

Swamp Thing 84 (March 1989)

Veitch really puts Abby through the wringer this issue. Instead of supervillains, she gets to deal with the American healthcare system. Comatose ex-husband (and government operative) Matt is now ringing up ten thousand a day and the hospital expects Abby to pay up. It’s a distressing issue. Without Swamp Thing, there’s not a lot of fantastic in Abby’s life–when Adam Strange shows up to check on her, he’s in regular clothes even–and the assault from the hospital drains her. Mandrake and Alcala show her cornered in small spaces. All the strengths make up for the lack of resolution in Veitch’s script. He’s…

Swamp Thing 83 (February 1989)

This issue of Swamp Thing continues the time traveling further into the past, with Swamp Thing meeting up with Enemy Ace. Except it’s not Alec’s story, nor is it Enemy Ace’s story… it’s Abby’s grandmother’s story. The issue belongs to Anton Arcane’s mother–she narrates it, she has the biggest story arc–and it’s downright disturbing. She’s a war wife; her husband is off fighting (she assumes) and she’s writing to him about her and their children’s struggles. Veitch does a fantastic job with the little World War I things, especially the scene at the front. He also writes a great Enemy Ace. But…

Swamp Thing 82 (January 1989)

Veitch sends Swamp Thing back to Easy Company, which works out quite well. The pacing is key–Veitch introduces Sgt. Rock, a medic, a bad guy and then a surprise bad guy for the finish. In the meantime, Alec is inhabiting the recently deceased body of an ancestor (or just someone with the same name… it’s unclear). While there are some big Swamp Thing moments, it’s more a war comic and Veitch seems thrilled to be doing it. He and Alcala’s art is outstanding, especially the mundane activities the troops go through. Veitch also makes Alec more unaware of the situation than the…

Swamp Thing 81 (Holiday 1988)

Veitch does a sequel to one of the first Swamp Thing issues–I think back in the Wrightson days–and he captures some of that series’s cynicism. Mind you, he’s doing it with a superhero guest star and part of a big crossover event. I almost wish he hadn’t done it because it’s so downbeat. But it’s good. Most of the issue is spent with Abby and Chester meeting an alien, but there’s a little of Roy Raymond recovering from his ordeal. Veitch doesn’t hint why Raymond gets the attention, but it gives he and Alcala a Louisiana hospital to draw and it looks…

Swamp Thing 80 (Winter 1988)

Poor Veitch. Swamp Thing is about to take part in another big DC crossover–they don’t announce it on the cover or in the text, but it’s Invasion!–and he’s got nothing. He basically sends Alec off into space again, or something like it. The finish, with Swamp Thing forced to escape Earth, looks exactly like the last time he did. What’s different? Well, Abby’s pregnant and the issue opens with a funny scene of them putting together the baby’s room. Then there’s some rather good stuff with the Parliament of Trees. Veitch just can’t organically incorporate the invading aliens (even though he never…

Swamp Thing 79 (December 1988)

There’s something immediately compelling about Veitch’s take on Superman and Lois Lane. His Lex Luthor, fat and mean-spirited, is a little less interesting (if competently done), but his Lois and Clark are positively realistic. But Veitch also loves playing with the Superman standards–Clark changing into his costume while falling off a building, putting back on his suit while running up it–it’s a lot of fun. Of course, it’s a Swamp Thing comic where Alec plays second fiddle to the guest stars. In some ways, even Chester and Liz make more impact than Alec does here. They’re at least moving forward–Alec is just…

Swamp Thing 76 (September 1988)

The issue opens with a couple surprise guest stars, who provide a little commentary on the events. Mostly they inform the reader of things going on in Hellblazer, for those who aren’t reading both series. For such a momental issue, not much happens. Not much in a good way, however. Veitch includes a little scene with a friend of Constantine’s who manipulates fights between superhumans to profit off marketing and land redevelopment. It’s a throwaway scene, texture here, but I’m sure someone at Marvel said they came up with it in the oughts and broke his arm patting himself on the back…

Swamp Thing 75 (August 1988)

Veitch goes on a nutty little tour of the DC Universe–then the universe–with this issue. The art’s fantastic. I love how Veitch, ably assisted by Alcala, manages to be psychedelic while his artwork is still concerned with being grounded in reality. It looks amazing and deserves a bigger size. He beautifully utilizes effect and arrangement. Alec’s observations on the world–and his problems–guide the trip, though I assume Veitch knew what he wanted to touch on. Still, it feels like an organic thought process. It’s a long sequence, with a couple charming Abby and Alec bookends. Veitch’s Swamp Thing, at least when they’re…

Swamp Thing 74 (July 1988)

Veitch’s Swamp Thing run should be called “the convenience of communication problems. Alec discovers, but without context, something Constantine saw in his investigations many issues ago and it’s going to have a big impact. Shame Constantine didn’t just tell him. And, wait, Constantine told Abby something but she didn’t realize the full implication. Why didn’t she? Because Veitch wouldn’t have as many issues filled if he actually had his characters communicate. The issue’s got some really great moments, however, all bitching aside. There’s a couple pages on Mars, there’s a lot with Alec and the Parliament, there’s a bunch for Abby to…

Swamp Thing 73 (June 1988)

Veitch has his pacing problems back, but his creative side also gets the better of him. Alec fights a giant monster in his astral form. Veitch juxtaposes these already boring fight panels alongside the activities of the supporting cast. The Parliament, apparently, has finally got its act together and Chester’s in line to be the next planet elemental. Odd how all these people are in the United States. Veitch must have worried about Constantine’s airfare. The issue plays out pretty well, but this story arc is exhausted. Maybe if Veitch had given the sprout–the soul of the new elemental–a personality, it would…

Swamp Thing 72 (May 1988)

Veitch has two big problems with this “Search for the new Swamp Thing” arc. They’re connected too, so it’s a domino effect. As Constantine observes at the end of the issue, all these prospective Swamp Things are complete asshats. They’re bad guys. This one’s a lousy husband and father and corporate scumbag. It doesn’t make any sense these guys would be in line to be Swamp Thing 2. So Constantine has to keep Alec in the dark, because these guys have to pass his sniff test. The first is a logic problem–Veitch is just doing it to make the issues read better,…

Swamp Thing 71 (April 1988)

All of Veitch’s planning the last few issues comes to fruition. There’s not a lot of payoff, however, because Veitch decides to be a little too creative in his writing. He follows a prospective new Swamp Thing through his day while Constantine is trying to coordinate events neatly. As for Alec and Abby? She gets a page saying goodbye to Alec, while Alec gets all of three scenes. Again, why didn’t they just cross this book over with Hellblazer and actually have some Swamp Thing in Swamp Thing? Even the resolution flops. There are two, but the little one–where Alec hid the…

Swamp Thing 70 (March 1988)

Veitch is still working on his bridge. While Alec heads home for some private time with Abby, Constantine tries to figure out what’s going on with the plants. He meets a bunch of his friends, piecing together various pieces of information. The writing of these scenes is fine. Veitch makes each friend distinct, gives Constantine a strong voice. But it’s all pointless. Veitch is just busying the reader; none of Constantine’s actions here actually have bearing on what’s going to come. The art is rather compelling, with the pencillers doing double pages, split into three strips. Alec and Abby get the center,…

Swamp Thing 69 (February 1988)

Veitch deals with a big thing–the birth of a new Swamp Thing–rather quietly. The issue sails by, most of the pages dedicated to the mindless new Swamp Thing. Veitch used it for comic relief while Alec (eventually) rebels against the Parliament. But these are all bridging actions. Nothing much happens this issue. Abby goes back to the swamp; Chester takes her part of the way, they have a conversation to fill some pages. Nothing happens. The new Swamp Thing trashes a highway in Metropolis. There’s no conflict–Superman never shows up, Veitch doesn’t spend any serious time with the terrified motorists. There’s a…

Swamp Thing 68 (January 1988)

So in twenty-four pages, Veitch manages to track three narrators and four protagonists. Alec gets the least amount of page time, as he’s tied into one of the other narrators (well, sort of). Veitch mostly splits the issue between a fundamentalist terrorist, Abby and Liz and Chester. Alec’s busy consulting the Parliament, where Veitch brings in four other retired earth elementals. Of Veitch’s (few) issues so far, this one is easily the best. It has the DC Universe flavor (a Superman appearance), the logic, but also an expanse of emotion. Veitch gives Abby and Liz’s trip to the post office more dramatic…

Swamp Thing 67 (December 1987)

There’s some more humor with Constantine, some more romance for Alec and Abby and yet another trip to the Parliament of Trees. Well, there’s also the Sprout–that being the soul of the next plant elemental–possessing Solomon Grundy to see if he’s a good fit. Alec then gets into a fight with Grundy, who doesn’t like the uninvited soul. Veitch is really seeped in DC history and setting. Not so much with Alec, but with the guest stars and their little stories. For example, the year annual’s ape-related events are having repercussions here. It makes more a strange comic; Veitch’s Swamp Thing is…

Swamp Thing 66 (November 1987)

Veitch sure does write a lot. This issue is packed–and not just because Veitch has excerpts from a superhero psychology book as narration. Abby goes for an awesome trip when Alec discovers how to free her soul. There’s a process to the procedure and Veitch carefully goes through it. Under Veitch’s pen, Swamp Thing is still lyrical, but it’s a logical lyricism. While Abby’s off on a tour of the afterlife–with the soul of the real Alec Holland–Constantine is getting Jason Woodrue messed up on a tuber so he can get information. It requires Constantine to break into Arkham. The narrating superhero…

Swamp Thing Annual 3 (1987)

This issue, even for an annual, has way too many hands in the art pot. Besides Veitch, who pencils some in addition to writing the script, there’s Shawn McManus, Jim Fern and Stan Woch. Tom Yeates gets the unpleasant task of inking the hodgepodge. He fails at marrying them together. Just guessing, Woch does the worst work. He gets the finish and some of the interior and Abby and Alec just look wrong. The rest of the comic is a bunch of guest stars–DC ape guest stars. There’s Angel and the Ape, there’s Monsieur Mallah and the Brain, there’s B’wana Beast (or,…

Swamp Thing 65 (October 1987)

Rich Veitch takes over writing and the result is fine. It’s a good comic, it’s a Swamp Thing comic. Veitch doesn’t try to mimic Alan Moore, which is good; Abby trips on a tuber while Alec goes for a swim in the Green to check in after his outer space adventure. The art gets, occasionally, psychedelic for Abby’s trip while Alec’s is a little more muted. Maybe it’s the context. Veitch sets up what’s been with Abby–the family problems, the marriage problems, the furry demon problems–and the coming problems for Alec. The issue’s a little repetitive, with Alec repeating his intention to…

Swamp Thing 64 (September 1987)

One could, if so inclined, sit and try to figure out who drew what–Alcala’s such a unifying inker on Swamp Thing, it’s hard to tell Bissette and Veitch apart. Yeates I could easily identify, just because of the startling photorealism. For his last issue, Moore avoids sentimentality. His plotting is gradual, relaxed. Much of the issue is spent with Swamp Thing thinking about the state of the world and his place in it. The big decisions in the issue are rather small. He and Abby decide to retreat from the world for a while. Moore is putting his characters–he owns them in…

Swamp Thing 62 (July 1987)

Veitch fills in as writer for Swamp Thing’s adventure with Metron and all the New Gods stuff. He does fairly well, but it’s an easy issue. Most of it is from Metron’s perspective and writing an egotistical know-it-all probably isn’t too hard. But the issue is easy because it’s a fill-in. Veitch spends most of the issue either exploring the DC cosmic or going through Metron’s 2001-like observations of the universe. It’s a very limited universe, as it turns out. Metron mostly just looks at Earth, which might be fun for the reader, but not likely in the mind of a galactic…

Swamp Thing 61 (June 1987)

Poor Adam Strange… Moore closes the issue making a joke about him. I get the reasoning–it’s a heavy issue–and it does give Strange a momentary spotlight, which he surely desires–but it’s odd. This issue is partially about high sci-fi ideas–a planet where the plant life became sentient instead of the animals and what Swamp Thing’s presence would mean to it. But it’s more about the characters, which Moore brilliantly introduces. Though plants, it’s all human interest. There’s the married couple unexpectedly given insight into each other’s thoughts, there’s the successful artist who’s isolated by success and, finally, there’s the aging Green Lantern.…

Swamp Thing 59 (April 1987)

Stephen R. Bissette comes back to Swamp Thing to script a fill-in. Well, maybe not a fill-in. I mean, I’m sure Moore was busy with something else, but the story itself isn’t disposable. It’s just an Abby issue when the series has become, for a while anyway, about Swamp Thing. The issue serves a couple purposes. First, it shows what Abby’s up to while Swampy’s off having an interstellar adventure. Second, it shows how Arcane’s time in Hell is being spent. It keeps Arcane, even damned, constant in the series. The majority of the issue is split. Half is Abby at her…

Swamp Thing 58 (March 1987)

Moore does eventually make this issue more of the traditional team-up. He also gives Swamp Thing some significant more page time, as he tries to figure out what’s up with the Rann’s ecosystem. It’s actually a somewhat tense scene, as it’s unclear if Swamp Thing can help. The issue opens with a lot of political talk between Adam Strange and one of the Hawk-people. The Hawk-people are not very nice, it turns out, and there’s a great fight sequence for Strange with them. It’s still, for the most part, an Adam Strange comic. And, forgive the phrase, a strange one. Moore keeps…

Swamp Thing 57 (February 1987)

While Moore is taking Swamp Thing on a trip through the post-Crisis DC Universe, he’s also reduced Swampy back to a supporting role. This issue is all about Adam Strange and the troubles on Rann. Swamp Thing’s just stopping over. And though it might be nice to see the titular character be the protagonist of his own book, Moore does a great job with Strange. It’s a fine example–as many of these Swamp Thing issues are–of the importance of excellent writing. Moore, in the first two pages, makes Adam Strange his own. Once on Rann, he continues it, using a lot of…