Born on a Bayou: The origins of the Swamp Thing
Eric S Brown
Created by Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson, the Swamp Thing first appeared issue 92 of the House of Mystery series. This original origin was a very simple story of love and betrayal set in an undetermined but early part of the 20th century. A gifted scientist named Alex Olsen is murdered by his lab assistant who is secretly in love with his wife. Alex’s body is dumped in the swamp and eventually reanimates as a plant monster. This monster returns home to find Linda now married to his assistant. Alex claims his vengeance, killing the man who murdered him and took his wife. Linda doesn’t recognize Alex however and he is unable to tell her who he is. He flees into the swamp to wander there alone forever.
In 1982, the Swamp Thing returned in his own series. This is the origin that most fans know and also the one that his cinematic origin is based on. Alex Holland, a brilliant biochemist and botanist, is working on a formula to enhance plant growth and fight world hunger. An evil corporation known as the Conclave want his work. They dispatch two thugs who beat up Alex and tie him up in his lab, planting a bomb there. When the bomb detonates, the thugs are long gone, Linda too. Alex is doused with his own bio-restorative formula but continues to burn, fleeing into the waters of the swamp where he is presumed to die. Alex doesn’t die however instead he is transformed into the Swamp Thing. As to Linda’s fate, in this version, she is murdered in the bedroom of her home by an agent of the Conclave who is tying up loose ends.
The next major reboot of the Swamp Thing’s origin by Alan Moore would reveal that the monster wasn’t Alex Holland at all. The Swamp Thing was actually an elemental being in service to “the Green”, one of the three driving forces of the DC Universe, that aqquired Holland’s memories during its birth/rebirth.
Currently, the Swamp Thing remains an elemental, god like force, protecting the plant life of the DC Universe but the company has a new series slated for sometime in 2021 which will likely once again change who and what the creature is.