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CSBG Archive

A Year of Cool Comic Book Moments – Day 191

Here is the latest cool comic book moment in our year-long look at one cool comic book moment a day (in no particular order whatsoever)! Here‘s the archive of the moments posted so far!

Today, we take a look at a neat sort of double intro of two characters into Swamp Thing.

Enjoy!

In Swamp Thing #25, by Alan Moore, Stephen Bissette and John Totleben, a mysterious stranger has come to town (he was a lot more mysterious back then, as he did not show up constantly like he seems to nowadays) and makes the acquaintance of some folks throughout the issue…

Things come together…

Then, he makes his GRAND entrance, on the same page that John Constantine (sorta) also makes his first appearance.

What an intro, huh?

“The” moment for me is the intro, but I suppose the swordfish death is up there, too (heck, you could say “Constantine sort of kind of appearing” is a notable moment!)

23 Comments

I loved Moore’s version of Jason blood and Etrigan. Too bad I’ve never seen the character live up this story arc.

Where is John Constantine? The guy in the second panel?

The Crazed Spruce

July 11, 2009 at 4:35 am

Yeah, I was wondering who Constantine was supposed to be on that page, too. I’m guessing the guy looking over Abby’s shoulder in the second panel, but that’s just a guess.

Still, that was definitely a cool moment. Makes me wish I’d gotten more than just a couple of issues of that run (and those were second-hand). Although I did have a copy of #50, which has at least a couple of moments which definitely belong on this list…..

Yes, that’s supposed to be John Constantine in the second panel of page 21. I’m not clear whether Constantine was a fully conceived character at that point or whether Moore and Bissette simply wanted to include a character who “looked like Sting” (looked more like Sting’s former bandmate, Andy Summers, to me) in a crowd scene and then later decided that Constantine happened to be visiting Louisiana at that point.

Just read these for the first time this past spring– really wonderful stuff even though I had been completely unfamiliar with the characters at that point. The one quibble I do have about this excerpt (and indeed, this first volume of Moore and Bissette’s runn) is that Abby’s accent is only defined as “not from Louisiana.” Only after looking at the wikipedia entry did I learn that she was from Transylvania.

Amazing intro for Jason Blood. He was totally unknown to me at the time.

Tom Fitzpatrick

July 11, 2009 at 6:13 am

Alan Moore had always this way of (re)-introducing new or long-forgotten characters and using them to the fullest.

That was creepy sequence was one of my favorites over the years.

This must be the version of Jason Blood that inspired his depiction on Batman TAS and Justice League.

I think Kevin smith did a little play on this in his Green Arrow run also, if i recall correctly.

Excellent moment though with all the payoffs.

Feels more like Satan himself than Jason Blood.

The impalement page is brilliant.

Alan Moore stated in an interview — sorry I don’t have the link; Moore has done a lot of interviews — that the character on the last page here is not necessarily John Constantine.

See, artist John Totleben had become interested in drawing a character that “looked like Sting”. (It’s not clear if he was a fan, or just thought that Sting was visually interesting.) So he made a first stab with this panel, putting “Sting” in the background to see how it worked out. (I don’t know why he couldn’t have just done a bunch of sketches, but then I’m not an artist. Maybe putting it in actual page pencils lent verisimilitude, or something?)

So anyhow, the character here is Sting, or A Bystander Who Looks Like Sting — but not John Constantine, who didn’t exist yet. Notice that he’s wearing a striped t-shirt — not something we would ever see on Moore’s Constantine — and is missing the trademark trenchcoat and cigarette? So, think of him as a very preliminary sketch or rough draft for Constantine.

Doug M.

If you’re paying /really/ close attention, Totleben does the same thing another time in this issue. There’s a page (not shown here) where Blood is in a head shop. A poster on the shop wall — very small in the background — shows a creepy-looking monster, sort of like a penis with teeth.

This was an image from a Francis Bacon painting. And Totleben would later turn it into one of the two demons (“Muttlecraunch and Flutch”) that Etrigan and Swamp Thing would meet in Hell, in Swamp Thing Annual #1 in 1984.

So, same thing — Totleben using a backgrounds to sketch an idea ahat would later be fleshed out more fully.

Doug M.

Wow, thanks for this, Brian! I don’t remember when I first read this story. I remember getting a used trade of Moore’s early ST stories. I can’t say that these issues haunted me, exactly. Because they weren’t so much scary as thrilling and awesome. I fell in love with Bissette’s art immediately, and I eventually understood just how much Totleben’s art/inking style informed the final product. I think Bissette/Totleben are one of the best pairings ever in comics. Definitely in the top 10 in horror.

This was the first time I saw The Demon in action. I knew of him through Who’s Who and internet bio pages. And what an introduction. The artwork on these pages are so powerful, they just jump off the page. The page with the swordfish being unwrapped is great on so many levels, artistically speaking. Reading that page I can hear the car screech as I view the page and the swordfish, while the actual event of flying off the car and impaling that guy would have taken an instant, in my mind’s eye it’s in slow motion in that way that you can only fully appreciate in the moment of a terrible/shocking event.

Great pick for today. :)

“Feels more like Satan himself than Jason Blood.”

Jason says near the end of this arc that he and Etrigan made a compromise of sorts about their different natures: “I have become more like Etrigan… and he, too, has become more like Etrigan.”

Doug M is right. I’ve read the same or a similar interview with Moore.

While Moore has disavowed that the character in that panel was John Constantine, the source of the idea that it is John Constantine come from Karen Berger in a letter column where a sharp eyed letter writer, aware that Constantine was based on Sting, recalled the panel in this issue. Berger congratulates the reader for spotting Constatine’s 1st appearance. It could be a tongue in cheek response from Berger, that she wasn’t totally serious. I don’t know if she ever backed off or supported that letter column statement anywhere else. And I suppose that, when in doubt, go with the writer’s take.

i remember how i felt chills they way Jason would reveal what is to come. and at the end of the story Jason is smiling like any minute he will switch into Etrigan. shows Alan knew how to handle mystic characters and bring out their dark nature.

That’s not John Constantine. That’s Sting.

Yes, that’s my explanation. Sting happened to be visiting.

Anyway, I bet that this issue is one of the top reasons that Etrigan shows up as much as he does these days.

Brian,
I bet you could do an entire year of Alan Moore moments. Was wondering when you were going to his Swamp Thing era…recommendations: Swamp Thing w/ Batman, Superman, Luthor, the scenes when Abby “eats” a tuber of Swampy…the last panel of THAT issue is a moment…. an amazing writer….then there’s his Miracleman series…hoo boy!

The tuber issue was going to be in place of this one, Harry, but it’s REALLY hard limiting that to five or six pages.

I might have to just go with the intro page, one sample page of the sex and then the finale page, with, I guess, the finale page being “the” moment, but that would require leaving out pages and pages of awesome stuff.

EDITED TO ADD: By the by, Alan Moore probably has the most moments on the list so far, so it’s not like we’ve been without Moore moments up until now! :)

I figured it was Sting also, as the last word baloon before the panel is “Okay, police, break this thing up…”

Could be a double inside joke, as I seem to recall Constantine was based on Sting. I know that was covered in Legends revealed, but I can’t begin to think of where.

David Hackett

July 13, 2009 at 7:20 am

Now this is what I’m talkin’ about! You could do weeks and weeks of Swamp Thing moments from this run, there was so much going on in it (Hell, the JLA appearance, The Monkey King, Batman/Luthor, Constantine, Pog, House of Secrets, the entirety of issue #50, etc,).

This was my first introduction to Etrigan/Blood and I was totally hooked. It’s a shame that the character really hasn’t been back to these heights yet.

David Hackett

July 13, 2009 at 7:23 am

Also, the part that always stuck out for me was when he gave the priest collecting for his parish thirteen dollars and then “laughed for a minute straight”. Just came across as really creepy.

I love this moment. Whenever there’s a “favourite quotes” thread on the CBR boards I trot out Jason Blood’s dialogue from the first page here.

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