The murky waters of Marais continue to berth unspeakable horrors on this week’s episode of DC Universe’s ‘Swamp Thing.’ The Sunderlands' dead daughter returned with a vengeance, Daniel Cassidy’s journey took a puzzling turn, and Swamp Thing was visited by a mysterious stranger (albeit one familar to longtime DC Comics fans). Yes, this week’s episode had it all, and the showrunners have continued to build upon Swamp Thing’s rich comic history. Let’s break down the comic-book characters and concepts that inspired and appeared in this week's episode, “Drive All Night.”
The Phantom Stranger
This week, Swampy was given an education on his abilities from a mysterious traveler. The figure never gave Swamp Thing his real name, and when asked of his identity he replied, “A passing stranger, maybe a phantom from a dream.” This cryptic man was none other than the Phantom Stranger, and his comic counterpart is just as mysterious. The Stranger is neither alive nor dead, and has seemingly omnipotent mystic powers, but his true origins are unknown. His ties to Swamp Thing are strong, since the Phantom Stranger had a backup feature in the early issues of ‘The Saga of Swamp Thing.’ He finally met Swampy in ‘The Saga of Swamp Thing’ (1982) #14 (written by Dan Mishkin and penciled by Bo Hampton); and like in this episode, he demonstrated he knew more about Swamp Thing’s current crisis than the muck man did himself. Their paths have crossed many times, since they both deal with supernatural catastrophes, but the Stranger has always kept his cards close to his chest. This week he helped Swamp Thing learn more about his connection to the Green, a role that was filled by the sorceror John Constantine in the comics. Constantine, however, is currently watching his legend unfold on another DC television series, which opened up the door for the Phantom Stranger to make his first live-action screen appearance.
The Phantom Stranger’s visit to Marais helped Swampy learn to listen to the voices that had been calling out to him. It turned out that Swamp Thing wasn’t going crazy, the trees were just trying to speak with him through the Green. The Green is an elemental force that powers all plant life on Earth. If it grows from the ground, then it’s a part of the Green. Swamp Thing first communed with the Green in ‘The Saga of Swamp Thing’ #22 (written by Alan Moore and penciled by Steve Bissette). He'd only recently discovered he had never been a human, and with the mental illusions of his humanity behind him, Swampy was finally able to open himself up and discover the Green. Once Swamp Thing began drawing more power from the Green, he found that his abilities were enhanced, and he discovered a set of new talents. Next time you go for a hike in the woods, follow Swamp Thing’s example and listen to the trees. You never know what they might tell you.
Dr. Woodrue’s obsessive curiosity grew this week, as he learned that Swamp Thing’s cells have regenerative powers. Even Swampy is unaware of that at this point, since he’s still learning the limits of his new biology. Swampy first discovered his regenerative abilities in ‘Swamp Thing’ (1972) #5 (written by Len Wein and penciled by Bernie Wrightson). A group of angry villagers had cut off Swamp Thing’s arm, and the creature’s horror soon turned to surprise as it began to regrow. Months later, the severed arm grew into a mindless clone of Swamp Thing that he was forced to battle. At first, he thought the regeneration was due to his exposure to the Bio-Restorative formula, but he later learned it was an ability given to him by the Green. Swamp Thing practiced his ability to regenerate, and once his control of the Green grew, he was able to build new bodies for himself (sometimes in distant locations, which allowed him to travel great distances quickly). While the screen version of Dr. Woodrue is now aware of this, Swamp Thing is not. Let’s hope he isn’t forced to learn the hard way.
Cassidy’s Devilish Costume
Poor Dan Cassidy had a bad week in this episode. First he learned he was still bound to Marais, then he burned his hand, and the episode ended with him taking a crowbar to the head. Can you blame the guy for being in a bad mood? In his frustration, he gazed at his Blue Devil costume, saying he would sell the famous suit the first chance he got. It'd be a shame if it sold it though, because in the comics the Blue Devil suit was an impressive feat of engineering. Cassidy built the suit himself and first showed it off in ‘Fury of Firestorm’ (1982) #24 (written by Dan Mishkin and Gary Cohn, penciled by Paris Cullins). The exoskeleton gives its wearer super strength and enhanced agility, in addition to a wide range of other abilities. A full breakdown of the suit’s features was shown in ‘Blue Devil’ Annual #1 (written by Dan Mishkin and Gary Cohn, penciled by Paris Cullins). With all the cool things it could do, Cassidy should be able to get top dollar for it. He just has to recover from that nasty crowbar injury first...
Honorable Mention: This episode featured Liz’s father, Delroy Tremayne. Although Delroy is an original character to the show, comic book readers did briefly meet Liz’s dad in ‘The Saga of Swamp Thing’ (1982) #10 (written by Martin Pasko and Joey Cavalieri, penciled by Tom Yeates and Fred Carrillo). His name was Lyle, and he lived in New York with his wife Margaret. Coincidentally, Liz’s screen counterpart spent her post college years in New York as well.