|By AL J. Vermette
Five men enter the muck of the swamp looking for a creature said to live there. Well-armed, they track
through the wetlands as the sounds of wild life cry all around them. The beast they seek is said to live far
into the swamp where few men journey and yet they can feel as though eyes were upon them the moment
they entered into the deadly gator and snake infested bog.
The sun shined high overhead but could not beam through the thick dense overhead canopy of the
marsh trees. Soon the men start seeing monsters behind every tree and rock as their minds start to play
tricks on them. As they walked within the knee deep water engulf slough, below their feet suddenly one
man seems to vanish as though by magic.
The others call to him but there is no reply. Then although they are less than ten feet apart from each
other, another man goes missing as though the swamp itself swallowed him whole. The three left start to
panic but two more are then sucked into the marsh leaving only one left.
Firing into the bog trying to kill anything he could, he emptied his rifle until all the shells were spent.
Looking around, he saw nothing but trees but knew something not human was watching him and like his
friends, he would be next. Then from behind, something rose out of the swamp and took hold of him. It was
man like and covered in green vines as if the swamp itself had come to life. Then to the hunter’s shock, the
creature looked him deep in the eyes and spoke.
“Leave my swamp and never return.” the beast said as he released the man and pointed for him to
leave. Shocked and confused, the hunter started to leave as he was told and found his friends shook up
but like he unharmed.
“What the hell was that thing?” one man cries.
“It was the guardian of the swamp.” one man said as they trekked out of the wetlands with their tails
between their legs.
As they returned home, they told of the story of the creature of the bogs….the creature everyone who
has met it called Swamp Thing.
Swamp Thing came to be in the comics of House of Secrets number 92 in July of 1971. He was
dreamed up by writer Len Wein who came up with the creature while on a subway ride in Queens New
York. The then untitled story was only called by him that swamp thing story I am working on until it hit on that
would be the creatures name. With help from artist Bernie Wrightson who gave the creature his distinct
look, the new DC Comic’s superhero monster would be their reply to Marvel’s Hulk where a monster was
the star of the story.
Like with the Hulk, Swamp Thing was once a man but unlike his other green counterpart, he never gets
to return to human form. Doctor Alec Holland while working on a new experiment is turned into the creature
when his body is fused with all the elements of the swamp turning him into a powerful beast. But this
monster is no Mr. Hyde, for he knows who he is and what he has become. Stuck forever more in his
human vegetable form, Holland now is sworn to defend the land he dwells within as a protector of the
swamps. The creature now only known as Swamp Thing lives the rest of his life to keep the marshlands
safe from evil people and the deeds they do.
After the character started to gain a fandom, he was given his own DC comic series of books. But for
nine years, only a hand drawn Swamp Thing could be seen within the pages of his books, but in 1982 he
was to become a movie star. Two years before horror director Wes Craven would unleash Freddy upon
the world, he took on a Swamp Thing feature film. Actor Ray Wise played the doomed doctor who after his
lab is attacked by his antagonist, Anton Arcane played by Louis Jourdan, is turned into the creature when
a fire breaks out in the lab and his experiment is mixed with the water in the swamp transforming the good
doctor into the green powerful plant monster.
Ray Wise would play the doctor but it was a much bigger actor who played the creature himself. Actor
and stunt man Dick Durock was the man in the rubber monster suit in the first of two feature films starting
Swamp Thing. Durock would also slip into the rubber again for Swamp Thing the TV series running three
seasons and 72 episodes. For the second film and the TV series also saw an upgrade in the monster suit
giving it a more organic look and one that was more water proof to work in for the actor.
In an odd twist and somewhat of a connection to that other mean green beast, Durock played a Hulk
like creature on that TV series when the Hulk did battle with a creature like himself in an episode called
“The First.” In the years that past since the end of the TV series, Swamp Thing has been the lead in video
games and as always been in the comics. Although he has yet to return in a live action role, actor Dick
Durock is credited with being the only man to play the monster to date.
|The Swamp Thing