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Elizabeth Sandifer

Elizabeth Sandifer created Eruditorum Press. She’s not really sure why she did that, and she apologizes for the inconvenience. She currently writes Last War in Albion, a history of the magical war between Alan Moore and Grant Morrison. She used to write TARDIS Eruditorum, a history of Britain told through the lens of a ropey sci-fi series. She also wrote Neoreaction a Basilisk, writes comics these days, and has ADHD so will probably just randomly write some other shit sooner or later.Support Elizabeth on Patreon.

8 Comments

  1. Doctor Memory
    October 29, 2014 @ 5:12 am

    Now that is how you do a cliffhanger, ladies and gents.

    Reply

  2. Ice
    October 29, 2014 @ 5:13 am

    Now THAT's a cliffhanger!

    In a forum post I found a couple years ago, a fan says Constantine's seance in this story is an important part of the history behind Morrison's Seven Soldiers Of Victory.

    "Seven Soldiers Explained!" http://hellblazer.ipbhost.com/index.php?showtopic=4387

    Reply

  3. Sean Daugherty
    October 29, 2014 @ 5:49 am

    As a meaningless aside, I'm still trying to figure out how this all fits into current DC continuity, post-Flashpoint / New 52. Constantine's seance, and Zatara's death, are an important part of the back story in Justice League Dark (and we see an explicit flashback to it). But in Charles Soule's Swamp Thing run (which is easily the best take on the character since Moore's departure, IMO), we see the first meeting between Swamp Thing and Constantine in the present day. For the former, this can be justified (it's not the quite the same Swamp Thing, though he is supposed to share his predecessor's memories), but it makes very little sense from Constantine's perspective. The only workable conclusion is that the events of Moore's story happened, but someone or something else took Swamp Thing's place in events. Which, considering that he was the star and pivotal figure, seems slightly odd.

    Other than that, I think you sell the lasting change of this arc on shared DC continuity a little short. There are some limits, of course, for the reasons stated, but the "trick" Moore plays here is that he's in mostly uncharted territory. For all of the guest appearances made by DC's mystical characters here, there really wasn't a very strongly defined mythology of the DCU. At best, there were several competing and contradictory ideas, from the Greek pantheon of Wonder Woman to the quasi-Buddhist mysticism of Deadman to the Spectre's Judeo-Christian lore. What Moore is doing here isn't changing established lore, but establishing it for the first time. It's a direct follow up to his work in Down Among the Dead Men, and it absolutely does have lasting impact. The entire Vertigo line (or at least the parts still nominally connected to the DCU) emerge from it, as do many mainstream superhero stories over the years. The ambiguous and connected nature of good and evil doesn't really show up before this story, but is a recurring theme from this point on.

    It's subtle, sure, but it's definitely there. And the subtlety likely has as much to do with the fact that Swamp Thing is set in a recognizable analog of the "real world" as with the conservatism of writing for a shared universe. It's the same reason why Doctor Who tends to remain in sync with real world technology, despite having five decades of examples of humans coming into direct contact with advanced alien technology. That prerogative alone would likely have precluded anything much more radical than the stalemate described by Constantine.

    Reply

  4. jane
    October 29, 2014 @ 6:40 am

    The dark is not evil. Nor the light good.

    Reply

  5. Tom
    October 29, 2014 @ 1:29 pm

    Swamp Thing #49 was my first issue, perhaps my first DC comic – I think I'd tried, and quickly dropped, an impenetrable issue of the Legion Of Super-Heroes. I bought it because of Alan Moore's name, which I recognised from 2000AD. I can't speak for anyone else's experience, but #49, on its own, is as magical and strange an introduction to a new fictional cosmos as you'd want: stuffed full of images and characters I wanted to see more of. It set in my mind a sensation I've carried ever since, of the DC Universe as weirder and more fantastic than the Marvel one – as you've pointed out, this impression is very much a Moore paint job on a rather unpromising chassis.

    #50 was a bit disappointing, though, even at the time. I don't know what I was expecting. Perhaps part of the disappointment is that the wisdom that seems to impress the darkness isn't even something Swamp Thing comes to as a product of all his encounters – it's what the Parliament of Trees tell him he should have concluded, and he doesn't really believe. It means American Gothic, despite a few brilliant issues, feels like the weakest chunk of the run.

    Reply

  6. quislibet
    October 30, 2014 @ 8:15 am

    In the western tradition, for what it's worth, "evil as absence of good" and the doctrine of "contraries" are in fact very different answers to the problem of evil. St. Augustine, for example, in a repudiation of his own previous Manichean dualism, decides that evil is not an active contrary opposed to good, but just its absence.

    I actually don't immediately see into which definition of evil Swamp Thing's humus analogy fits, as it seems a sort of hybrid.

    Reply

  7. Daru
    February 19, 2015 @ 3:50 am

    At the time of first reading I was really drawn into the philosophies and debates within the climax. On reflection I think I'd still enjoy it, especially in the context of the Crisis, which I entirely ignored and was only peripherally aware of after the fact – so I read this for the first time on its own merits really and had never met any of the old DC characters before. Now I think that it is kind making a joke of the big Crisis climax, with Constantine, the heros and Brujeria all expecting a big showdown, which is not what it was about. As Jane says, the dark is not evil and the light is not good.

    Massive merits to Bissette and Totleben's art through the series together, like you said before Phil some of it could even be likened to woodcuts or engravings – nice echos of Blake's work.

    Reply

  8. Whipoorwill
    March 23, 2018 @ 11:08 pm

    Good luck Alex Holland

    Reply

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