UPDATE: The Lady Weeds release hit on DC’s website, so I’ve added some information about her (and images) below. If you’re here for the first time today (or ever), then read on!
The Swamp Thing Annual hits in October. Annuals are double-sized issues that come out once a year (more or less). They’re a lot of fun, because they often allow the creators to dive into some story element a bit more deeply than they would otherwise be able to in a 20- or 22-page regular issue.
In the Swamp Thing Annual, I decided to delve into the history of the Green (which refers to a sort of shared consciousness of all plant life on Earth) and the Parliament of Trees, specifically with respect to how it affects the life and ongoing tenure as the champion of the Green of Dr. Alec Holland, aka Swamp Thing, aka the main character of the book.
The Parliament of Trees is sort of an advisory body made up of previous champions (also known as Avatars), who hang around and give the current Avatar tips and tricks as needed based on their millennia-long collective memory. One of the fun things about that concept is that it means you can tell stories from many different eras in history and still have them fit into the main thread. I’m doing that in the Annual in spades. At last count, eleven different Swamp Things make an appearance.
DC Comics is previewing the designs for a few of them on their “What’s New in the New 52″ feature on their blog – we had one yesterday, the Burgher Thing, and another should debut today – Lady Weeds. I thought it might be fun to give a bit of additional context to these images here, in case anyone’s curious. First, Burgher Thing:
How about that design, eh? The work is from the spectacular Jesus Saiz, who drew Swamp Thing 21 as well as the Villains Month issue with Anton Arcane, out in September. Thankfully, he’ll be doing much more work on the series going forward. This fellow isn’t actually named Burgher Thing – that’s just a name I put into the script that sort of stuck around the office. His actual name is something else that you’ll discover in the Annual. I gave him the Burgher Thing title in the script because the character’s identity as a human was a burgher – a member of the German middle class in the 1600s. They were mostly prosperous merchants – not nobility, but doing pretty well for themselves nonetheless. There’s an even more specific reference – this dude is based on a particular figure from history – but I’ll let that come out via the book in October. (And, honestly, calling him Burgher Thing made me laugh. I do that sort of thing a lot in my scripts – I called the Franciscan monk character from 21 the Monk Thing, for obvious reasons, and the Annual is packed with many more placeholder script names that may or may not ever see the light of day.)
This gentleman is Swamp Thing’s patron – he takes him under his wing to offer some very specific guidance in light of some challenges Swampy’s facing (of which you will hear more in Issue 24.) He’s a bit self-serving and fairly pompous, but he’s very cool, and I think you’ll like him a lot once you see how he works in the story.
The second character to get a design from Jesus Saiz is the batshit Lady Weeds. Check her out:
Lady Weeds is a Swamp Thing from the 1800s. She’s named not so much for the fact that she’s made of plants (although that’s certainly a factor), but because she’s wearing what were known as “widow’s weeds,” clothes worn by women in mourning in those days. Here’s a historically accurate version:
Poor, sad Mrs. Kintner wore a variant on widow’s weeds after her boy Alex was chomped to death by a certain titular shark, too (such a bummer – the kid just wanted to splash around on a raft on a hot day – why won’t Sheriff Brody DO SOMETHING???):
Anyway, so that’s the deal with widow’s weeds. Why Lady Weeds wears them? Well, it seems like EVERYONE died back then. I don’t think a single person from those days is still alive today. Lady Weeds undoubtedly has plenty of people to mourn… not least because she killed MANY, MANY of them. Lady Weeds did horrible things. Her character came out of an idea that not every Swamp Thing was necessarily heroic. As long as they do their “job” of protecting plants, the Green doesn’t care how they use their powers, and Lady Weeds took that license to an extreme. You’ll learn much more about who she is and what she did in the Annual, out this October.
Cool stuff coming up in Swamp Thing! It’s the era-spanning weird epic I’ve always dreamed of writing, and I’m so glad you guys are along for the ride.