It's clear from House of Secrets that there were no plans to make the shumbling green muck-monster a star; the story is a straight-forward horror tale of murder and revenge set at the turn of the last century (many horror stories in these books had historical contexts for their ghosts and monsters). Written by Len Wein and drawn by Berni Wrightson, however, it's definitely got something special ( Wein and Wrightson must have loved the concept enough to successfully lobby for DC to make the leap from historical horror short story to modern-era starring title).
It didn't happen right away, but in November of 1972, the series was born.
This time around Alec and his wife Linda are doing bio-restorative experiments in the swamp and being watched by the mysterious Mister E. who plants a spy among them: a dog (henceforth called Mutt) who is bugged. Anyone the least bit familiar with the Swamp Thing mythos (through comics or TV or those really bad movies) knows that what happens next is a fight over the formula, a terrible explosion, and Alec Holland goes wailing into the swamp engulfed in flames. Contrary to the original story, this time Linda also dies in a second confrontation with the killers.
The other character we meet for the first time in issue No. 1 is Lieutenant Matthew Cable. He comes off like one of those fed-type black suits at first; a bit smarmy and not to be trusted. But even though he's convinced that the Swamp Thing killed the Hollands, he turns out to be a pretty good guy. While misguided, he's determined to avenge Alec and Linda.
For Plate No. 1 we introduce Swamp Thing and Mutt. I had originally drawn Swamp Thing last summer in the style of John Totleben, an artist who contributed to Vol. 2 (and one of my favorite Swamp Thing artists), but I realized that if I was focusing on Vol. 1, it was only fair to do a Berni Wrightson-styled character. Went a little crazy with the details (Wrightson is a master cross-hatcher), but am pleased with the results, even if he doesn't quite match everything else going on,.
p.s. Don't be surprised when you download the file to find the character plated horizontally. He's actually too tall to fit upright. He's supposed to be nine feet tall but I've drawn him about 7 feet if you scale him with the other characters ~ just so he'd fit on a single sheet.
Coming up next:the other main characters of the series, Matthew Cable and Abigail Arcane.