Swamp Thing has a storied history at DC Comics. Originally created by horror maestros Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson, he was given to Alan Moore, adapted to film by Wes Craven, and has become one of the more unusual superheroes in the DC universe, a noble monster who anchors horror stories that are more often about emotional failure and our broken relationship with nature than blood and guts. Sadly, over the last year, both his creators passed away, Wein as he was preparing a new story with his beloved monster. So Swamp Thing Winter Special is a fond tribute to Wein and Wrightson in two parts.
The first, an original story from Tom King, Jason Fabok, and Brad Anderson, is a tribute to the psychological horror that defines the character. “The Talk Of The Saints” follows Swamp Thing as he tries to protect a child from a monster. It’s ultimately a story about pain, about the fight between logic and your instincts, and how doing what’s right doesn’t feel right, more often than not. The other half features Wein’s final script, without dialogue as he hadn’t written it at the time of his passing, elegantly drawn by Kelley Jones, it’s a tribute to Wein’s skill with visual storytelling.
It’s bittersweet, in part because Jones, whose distorted anatomy and sense of the grotesque is perfect for a horror book, plays off Wein so well, and you learn that this was supposed to be the beginning of a miniseries. It serves instead as a capstone to Wein’s work with his most beloved character and a reminder that comics, even comics starring plant monsters, can do far more than thrill.