composed of a form of vegetation, imbued with the consciousness of Alec Holland. From this, a psychological struggle emerges, with realization that the Swamp Thing’s search to reclaim his humanity has been futile. He is not human and never was. Moore consequently refocuses the premise of the narrative; The Saga of the Swamp Thing now explores the relationship between the forces of Earth/nature and the forces of humanity. With the motivations for the character broadened, Moore extends its “shelf life.” It becomes necessary here to note the importance of continuity in comics. Some stories, like Superman , have persisted for nearly 70 years and have necessarily had many authors in charge at various points. However, readers demand that these stories always connect with the previous history. No narrative can contradict the past. There are a few exceptions to this rule; new narratives are usually given some leeway in order to figure out the character’s back-story and motivations. Superman, for example, did not originally have the ability to fly nor was he raised by the Kents. These significant elements only appeared later. Another exception is the notion of aging. A 28-year-old Batman remains 28, whether he lives in 1939 or 2009. Readers do not desire a continuity regarding age: although he’s been a
33 superhero for decades, Superman does not age. 4 Otherwise, character narratives must agree with what has already occurred. This can become difficult, especially when a new writer wants to revise the narrative to a new direction. In regards to his desire to redefine Swamp Thing , Moore explains: I began to sort of think of ways in which I could alter the character completely without doing anything which would contradict previously established continuity, because I tend to think of that as cheating. If you contradict previously established continuity to some degree you’re destroying the reader’s accumulated trust in the narrative… And it struck me that what I was looking for was a kind of re-definition, rather than a re-vamping. (Khoury 86) By revising the past notions of his readers without contradicting them, Moore is able to invent new meanings for a character that had a firmly established but limited motivation. Moore used the Swamp Thing to experiment with ways of representing comics characters and stories. He wrote two issues in a completely invented alien language that readers had to translate from contextual clues. He created one character whose dialogue, when combined through an entire issue, formed Shakespearean sonnets. “Pogo,” the comic strip 4 An exception to this exception is the one-off story that exists outside of the current storyline but remains part of overall continuity. Moore’s “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?” tells the tale of a retired Superman.
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