On Alan Moore
So here's the thing about Alan Moore: I think he's an incredibly overrated writer of comics. I know that that opinion is simultaneously unpopular and popular. It's an unpopular opinion among the great multitude of people who think that Watchmen is the best comic ever, that Killing Joke is the best Batman story, and that everything else Alan Moore touches turns to gold.
It's also a popular opinion in that there are inevitably contrarians who will talk badly about the works of Alan Moore solely because the majority of fans and reviewers like what he does.
I don't fit into either of those camps. I don't think Alan Moore is great and nor do I think he's terrible. Watchmen is okay, but it's a bit too pessimistic for my tastes. League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (at least what I've read) is excellent, but Moore's Green Lantern and Batman stuff mostly leave me cold.
But the thing we really need to be talking about (based on the events of the past few weeks) is Alan Moore's work on Swamp Thing. No doubt there are those screaming that DC has destroyed Moore's work on the character.
For those of you unfamiliar with Swamp Thing and Who He Is and How He Came To Be, I'll lay out the basic facts. The modern version of Swamp Thing was created by Len Wein and Berni Wrightson in 1972. A scientist named Alec Holland is at work in the swamps of Louisiana when agents of a mysterious figure attempt to murder him with a bomb. He catches on fire and rushes into the swamp. Presumed dead, he is actually transformed into a hideous swamp monster and from thereon out must deal with the loss of his humanity.
It's a concept we've seen before, and one that works well. How does such a being deal with the loss of his humanity? How does he interact with those who will inevitably hate and fear him? We've returned to this concept with Aaron Lopresti's recent Garbage Man story in the Weird Worlds anthology.
But then Alan Moore comes along and completely changes the concept. Alan Moore seems to enjoy doing this; he likes to take things and graft his own ideas onto them without really caring about what may have come before. Alan Moore reinterprets Swamp Thing as a plant elemental who only believes that he's Alec Holland.
Now, admittedly I haven't read Alan Moore's Swamp Thing. But I have a hard time seeing how you could continue with the original concept after that. If he was never a human being then there's really "dealing with the loss of one's humanity." There are a slew of other issues, sure. But we lose the original, key concept of the character of Swamp Thing.
Which brings us back to Brightest Day. As I noted, some people are annoyed that Alan Moore's Swamp Thing has basically been undone. In Brightest Day Alec Holland actually becomes Swamp Thing. While others may disagree, I think this is a good thing. They are basically undoing what I see as a mistake made by Alan Moore.
When you work in a shared super-hero universe it's important to try and respect and stay true to the core concepts of the characters that are shared. Geoff Johns adds a lot of stuff to characters and concepts, but he always builds off the core. Alan Moore never seemed to care about that. Who cares about the writers that come next when you can just change a characters origin completely or shoot her in the spine?
Personally, I'm glad Alan Moore is no longer writing for DC. And I'm also glad that Swamp Thing is back... And back the way he should be.