The Montagues and the Capulets got nothing on Abby Arcane and Swamp Thing. Few romances in the big two have been so thoroughly explored and fleshed out. Abby and the dream of Alex Holland are two crazy kids caught on the wrong side of an insane monster, or on opposing sides of two of the great forces behind all life on earth, depending on who’s writing. During Alan Moore’s fantastic run, their relationship transformed into a thoughtful fairy tale, transcending the difficulties of intimacy between a female human and a super vegetable.
Under Moore’s pen, Swamp Thing evolved into a modern fairy tale about what it means to be human, and to love. Swamp Thing became a monster that once dreamed he was the man, Dr. Alex Holland. With that poetic first step, Moore’s Swamp Thing takes his new origin to its logical and creative end, an infinite being along the lines of the OSes in Her, and a romance just as touching. When Swamp Thing feeds Abby a psychotropic fruit so that they can do it, an entirely original concept of love blossoms on the page.
The New 52 sees Dr. Alex Holland transformed into a monster, and Abby as the chosen avatar of the Black/Rot, one of three natural powers constantly fighting for domination. As the avatar of the Green, Swamp Thing is Abby’s natural enemy, a conflict still waiting to be fully explored. New 52 Swamp Thing offers Abigail Arcane an agency and parity with her floral beaux that she’s never had before. While not as poetic as falling in love with a dream of a man, it’s much more serviceable to an action-packed serial.
As the swamp itself represents both death and life, so does Abby and Swamp Thing’s romance. During Moore’s run, the book ruminated on both the function love plays in making us human, how at its core, true love is all about connecting with the other completely. For Swamp Thing and Abby, that meant overcoming both the limitations of the human mind and a plant body. The current run of Swamp Thing has the titular hero redefining himself and his roll in the world, taking control of his destiny, thereby literally changing the world. When Abby makes her return to the comics, she’ll follow a the trajectory of self-determination, the vanguard of modern love.
At its core, Swamp Thing‘s constant is transformation. The book has gone from pulp monster tales to fantasy romance to epic fantasy adventure. Abigail Arcane is the other constant, and her latest transformation promises another exciting stage for Swamp Thing. Someday soon, these elemental lovers will be kicking ass, together, and isn’t that what true love is all about?