Swamp Thing #60
By Alan Moore and John Totleben
Alan Moore’s brief and passionate DC affair was already soured by the time his Swamp Thing stories shambled to a conclusion, and he was clearly getting a bit bored with it, but there were still little touches of beautiful storytelling at the end.
Swamp Thing #60 – Loving The Alien - is the work of a writer challenging himself to do something different with the snot monster, welded onto the framework of a truly unearthly artist.
It was the first Swamp Thing published in the New Format, back when that actually meant something, which gives the comic some unearthly hues and colours, It’s barely a comic, with nothing but full-page illustrations of a truly alien life form and its encounter with the title character.
Totleben worked with Moore on his final Miracleman stories, and that remains the high point of the creative bond between the two, but Swamp thing #60 is a small piece of vast brilliance.
This is the story: there is an incredibly large and ancient creature that is an organic, mechanic and chemical lifeform that looks like a giant crocodile's head covered in machinery, a massive sea shell and some clocks.
(I swear, I spent five minutes looking at the picture of this thing and trying to think of words to describe it, and THAT’S the best I come up with.)
So a space travelling Swamp Thing, who has now evolved into a non-physical being capable of transmitting its conscious anywhere in the universe or afterlife, runs into this creature, somehow creates a body out of its impossibilities, only to be sliced and dissected and his essence used to create a new life.
Swamp Thing escapes, leaving behind his seed, although it’s something he’s unlikely to mention much now that he’s back in the DC universe. It’s a bit of a traumatic experience for the ex-Mr Holland, even if he’s really not sure really what happened to him.
But Moore always has one terrific idea hidden in his beard, and in this comic it’s the decision to tell the story from the alien entity’s perspective. From a human point of view, it’s monstrous, but it’s just something old and sad and alone that finds a new novelty in this cold and vast universe, and uses it to create new life.
Even as it crushes the last nutrients from Swamp Thing desiccated corpse, it does so with affection and love, happy enough to have found some sort of companionship in the endless void.
Love is everything, even for a creature that is literally beyond our comprehension. I might not even be able too adequately describe what this creature looks like, but I can recognise the craving for love that exists within it, and exists within us all.