What Swamp Thing Really Wants
Superman glides over the city of Metropolis, protecting its people and working as a journalist Clark Kent at the Daily Planet. Batman perches above Gotham City in the cover of night, only to return to Wayne Enterprises as Bruce Wayne by day.
These are their domains. They are powerful forces never to be reckoned with. Both of them could be a global threat in an instant. Superman has power and Batman has influence, and the world of man relies on them both. Ultimately, Batman and Superman want to uphold peace and ensure justice in their world, although their methods may differ.
But what of Swamp Thing, this shadow of a man? What is his domain? Who relies on him? And most importantly, what does he truly want?
Alec Holland was a biological engineer working on an incredibly complex compound with the potential to save the world. He was working with plant life so that he could end world hunger. The specifics of his formula were top secret, because they were naturally coveted. Spies and assassins tried to take the formula from him.
While fleeing the assassins, he was doused in a mixture of chemical compounds, including the one he created. He caught flame and ran burning into the swamp to quench the fires. Deep inside the swamp, his strange science combined with strange magics to create the Swamp Thing — a plant elemental lifeform meant to protect both humanity and environment – usually from each other.
But Swamp Thing didn’t know this. All he seemed to remember was entering the swamp as Alec Holland, and emerging as someone different — something different. In time, Swamp Thing learned three incredibly important things: how to understand himself, how to protect nature, and how to fight for the ones he loves.
To Understand Himself
First, he learned that he was not Alec Holland.
Alec Holland didn’t exist anymore. This struggle of identity left him absolutely devastated. Despite his monstrous form, Swamp Thing felt he was tied to humanity. His form didn’t define him, but rather his mind did. He felt that he was simply Alec Holland transformed into a being a greater power and purpose, but that couldn’t have been further from the truth.
Instead, Swamp Thing learned of the sympathetic nature of Nature itself. It built on top of Alec Holland’s mind to create Swamp Thing. It gave him the man’s memories. And ultimately, it still connected him to humanity, just not in the way he expected.
This discovery and paradigm shift truly was earth-shattering for Swamp Thing. He felt that as a human it was his job to protect humans from danger. It wouldn’t be long before he learned that that wasn’t his job at all.
To Protect Nature
Second, with the help of John Constantine, Swamp Thing learned that he was the Avatar of The Green. We’ve already gone into depth about Swamp Thing’s Three Roles as an Avatar for The Green, but we’ll quickly summarize here.
The Green is the energy that binds all botanical life together, not just on Earth, but in each and every universe. Swamp Thing is innately, constantly, and endlessly connected to every single molecule of plant life throughout the multiverse. Not only that, but Swamp Thing is connected to The Parliament of Trees, a powerful group of Trees with roots in all worlds.
It is his job to fight against opposing primordial forces, such as The Rot and The Grey, the elements of decay and fungus, who each want to consume the world and everything in it.
In order to fight against these primordial forces, Swamp Thing is equipped with the ability to manipulate plants in every imaginable way. He is strong enough to knock out Etrigan the Demon with only one punch. He can regrow his body from any plant, in this universe or another, and he can transfer his consciousness so long as there is another single living plant cell.
His power is immense. He has transformed Gotham into a jungle. He can send out any sort of plant hallucinogen, altering human psychology and physiology as he deems necessary. He is a force of final balance, and is effectively immortal.
Moreover, his powers make him undefeatable. But what is it all for?
To Fight for the Ones He Loves
Finally, Swamp Thing learned what he was really fighting for. It may have been one of his earliest lessons, but it is his most important.
Swamp Thing has always and will always be fighting for love. He is deeply in love with his wife, Abby Arcane Holland. She is a scientist who has helped him in many of his greatest adventures.
Their love has pushed him to the edge of his limits and beyond. Their love is his reason. Their love is his connection to humanity. And even under the stresses of a normal relationship, he realizes what he is fighting for. His power is great and his task is massive. He has to protect all plant life in the multiverse, and guard humanity from the environment’s retaliation. And still, Abby grounds him. She brings him down and gives him the perspective and hope he needs to fight.
She also gave him a child. Their daughter Tefé is an incredibly powerful being in her own right. It seems that she might be the next Avatar for both The Green and The Red. But that’s a story for another day.
For now, Swamp Thing fights for her too, and all of humanity that hopes to grow, improve, and thrive in a balanced world.
It’s easy to say that all heroes want to save the world. And frankly, what hero doesn’t want to save the world? Superman and Batman do it all the time!
But Swamp Thing doesn’t want to save the world. He is the world. He’s connected to everything around us. And all he wants, more than anything, is balance.