After Young Justice: Outsiders, Titans, and Doom Patrol, we're exploring the scary side of the DC Universe with the original series premiere of Swamp Thing. The first episode establishes a body horror story with a burgeoning romance at its center. As we take our first steps into the bayou, here are the five most important things we learned from the series premiere...
There's Something Rotten in the Swamp
Swamp Thing centers on CDC scientist Abby Arcane who, after leaving Louisiana to fight deadly diseases all over the world, must head back to her hometown of Marais following the breakout of a mysterious mutagen. Seemingly born out of the swamps, the illness is causing the children of the local school to cough up a strange green bile and go into convulsions. In the comics, there are two sides to the swamps: the Green, which is the elemental force that creates Swamp Thing, and the Black/the Rot, which is a force of essentially pure evil. As the vines crawl out of the depths and break their way through anything that they come across -- including boats, buildings, and, more often than not, human sternums -- it's hard not to wonder if the Rot is coming into play. But don't make any quick assumptions, because, as viewers quickly learn, not everything is as it seems in the world of Swamp Thing.
Swamp Thing is a Full-On Horror Show
With horror filmmaker James Wan as executive producer, it's not surprising that Swamp Thing is pretty scary. From the outset, the audience is treated to atmospheric, spooky scenery. But the real horror comes from the ever-encroaching vines that creep across the screen at super speed, tearing apart anyone foolish enough to head into Skeeter's Cove, the most dangerous part of the swamp. As Abby tries to discover what's going on, the episode ramps up the horror by introducing cadavers taken over by the diseased vines, held up only by the rotten evil within them. Even scarier is the fact that these cadavers don't seem to want to stay dead, with the creeping plant life breaking out of their hosts and trying to find new people to terrorize. Seeing as this is just the first episode in the series, we're expecting things to get even scarier, especially as the Rot has yet to find a true human host to do its bidding.
Louisiana is Dark and Full of Secrets
One of the first things viewers learn in this episode is that everyone in Marais is hiding something, whether it's Abby's dark past in which she "killed" her best friend Shawna or strange scientist Dr. Alec Holland's own mistake of faking scientific results that saw him banished from academia. The rich, controlling patriarch Avery Sunderland is certainly hiding something, not least the fact that he fired Alec after the scandal-ridden scientist made a connection between the swamp he was studying and the new disease that's affecting the town.
There Are Plenty of Classic Comics Characters
If you're a hardcore DC Comics fan and love to decipher easter eggs, hints, and homages then you're going to die for Swamp Thing, which is -- just like the comics -- filled with DC characters, and we're not just talking about Abby and Alec. During a trip to Marais' local watering hole, Abby introduces Alec to an imposing figure known as Xanadu, whom fans know better as Madame Xanadu, a powerful mystic. There's also Abby's comic book husband, Matt Cable, who here seems to be an old friend holding a candle for her. Other interesting additions include Abby's best friend Liz Tremayne, a keen journalist first introduced in The Saga of the Swamp Thing #3. And keep an eye out for the show's potential Big Bad -- Avery Sunderland and his nefarious Sunderland Corporation, both fearsome figures in Swamp Thing comics canon.
Swamp Thing Has Risen
While Alec is out on the swamp trying to collect the boxes of man-made accelerant poisoning the natural landscape and creating the sickness infecting the town, he's shot and killed by a mysterious assailant, falling into a watery grave. Of course, he won't stay that way for long, as the Green -- the magic that protects the swamp -- is looking for a protector. In the sharp-minded biologist, they've found one, so the vines wrap themselves around Holland's body and penetrate his mind. In a moment DC fans have been anticipating for decades, the Swamp Thing rises, ready to protect the Earth... Once he works out just what has happened to him, of course.
It's an exhilarating end to an action-packed first episode, and it'll be intriguing to see whether the show follows the title character's classic '70s origin, in which Alec Holland himself is the Swamp Thing, or hews closer to writer Alan Moore's '80s retrofit, which saw Swamp Thing as an inhuman creature who only adopted Alec's memories. Tune in next week, when we may get more clues as to who the Swamp Thing is, and maybe more comic characters to sate your DC appetite.