Review by Frank Plowright
To this point the Alan Moore written Swamp Thing material redefined horror, but for much of this volume he applies the same approach to science-fiction as Swamp Thing tours distant planets. It’s far more experimental, and not as successful, as the mind-bending elements always a background to the series receive a more prominent airing. As such this book is the least accessible of the Alan Moore run.
The most memorable piece, although not necessarily the best, is Swamp Thing drifting through space to meet a mechanical entity with whom a form of copulation occurs. Or maybe it doesn’t. That’s the problem when you have excessively poetic narrative captions accompanied by collaged art incorporating scrap metal, electrical circuitry, modelling and background painting. John Totleben pushed the boat so far out here the coastguard are still on alert.
That’s preceded by a tale written by former Swamp Thing artist Steve Bissette, with many hands contributing to the plot. Throughout the book Moore returns to Swamp Thing’s lost lover Abigail Arcane, and this entire story is set around her employment in a nursing home, and a wistful longing. Artist Rick Veitch also has a shot at writing a chapter, presaging his run on the title once Moore left. It’s an effective treatment of Jack Kirby’s Metron and his aloof and disdainful attitude to Swamp Thing, despite Metron’s purpose in life being to learn.
Swamp Thing’s tour of the galaxy has him dropping in on assorted other DC alien characters, with Adam Strange well-treated, particularly in a comic moment when he returns to Earth with a message.
Titling the volume Reunion reveals the ending in glowing neon, not that it was really going to be anything other than that. Moore signs off with an uncharacteristically pastoral view of the Louisiana swamp, a sly dig at the hand that fed, and a charming reunion.
When asked to sum up his run on Swamp Thing as he was in the process of concluding it, Moore noted “I think the artists and myself have managed to keep the strip experimental and interesting. I feel we’ve developed an eclectic horror, and by playing up other aspects, when the horror was used it came through to good effect. I’d like to think we’ve used horror in a more constructive manner than has been seen in the past.” He also notes that some stories haven’t worked, but without the courage to permit a few failures it’s unlikely Moore would have generated the successes.
Although possibly not presented to its best effect in this collection, what Moore and his artistic collaborators laid down in Swamp Thing has been gnawed over and recycled by lesser creative minds ever since, sustaining some to this day. Over thirty years since they originally saw print, Moore’s Swamp Thing tales remain the character’s high water mark, which is both achievement and shame.