Swamp Thing is one of the weirdest and most powerful superheroes in the DC universe. Created by writer Len Wein and artist Bernie Wrightson, Swamp Thing first appeared in 1971's House of Secrets #92 in a horror story about a scientist in the early 20th century who was killed but brought back to life as a humanoid creature made of plants. The story's popularity led to his own series set in the modern day. As a monster who fought to protect his swamp home and struggled to maintain his humanity, the character was popular enough but was taken to a whole new level in the 1980s when he became a god-like elemental who protected the Earth and explored the supernatural threats against it.
While Swamp Thing has fought alongside legendary heroes like Batman and Superman, he doesn't rely on fancy gadgets or costumes. That's because, in a way, his whole body is his superpower. He can rebuild and destroy it in any way he wants, reshape it and expand it with new materials and connect it to other plants around the universe. That's why we're going to explore the secrets and mysteries of his amazing body, including how he got it, what it's made of and what he can do with it. With the news that DC is getting ready to release a new Swamp Thing TV series on its streaming platform DC Universe, it's a good time to explore the physical form of the Green Man. Get ready to journey into a truly underground world.
20 IT'S NOT ALEC HOLLAND
Since Swamp Thing's creation, the story of his origin has been relatively simple. Alec Holland was a scientist who created a restorative growth formula. When corporate thugs tried to stop him, he was doused in the chemical, set on fire and jumped into the swamp, which recreated his body in vegetative form. With 1984's Saga of the Swamp Thing #20, by Alan Moore and Dan Day, that story was turned upside down.
After supposedly being killed, the Floronic Man studied Swamp Thing's remains, only to discover the creature wasn't Holland at all. The creature had only taken Holland's thoughts and memories. Swamp Thing wasn't Holland put into a swamp monster's body but a swamp monster that thought it was Alec Holland's body.
19 HIS BODY HAS FAKE ORGANS
For years, Swamp Thing thought his body was just a plant-based version of his human body. He had a head, arms, legs, and internal organs. Then in one issue, he was killed and the scientist Dr. Woodrue did an autopsy to find his internal organs made of vegetables didn't work. After all, why would they? He's a plant.
Swamp Thing has lungs, a heart, a brain, and a stomach, but he doesn't need any of them. He functions perfectly well without them. They only exist as leftovers from his human form, and he's gone on to take on new and different shapes without worrying about internal organs.
18 HIS BODY IS EDIBLE
You could choose a lot of words to describe Swamp Thing, but "appetizing" is probably not one of them. You wouldn't think it to look at him, but his slimy, muck-encrusted body is actually edible, and several people have taken a bite of him.
One of the first was Dr. Woodrue who already had plant-based powers but wanted to gain Swamp Thing's power over the Green. He took a piece of Swamp Thing's body, cooked it, and ate it. He gained the power and became a threat to the world. Swamp Thing also gave a piece of himself to Abby so she could share his ability to see the world as it was interconnected.
17 HIS BODY CAN CHANGE SIZE
Swamp Thing's powerful body is a little larger than a normal human, but not by much. That's despite the fact that, since he's made of plants, he can be any size he wants.
In 2005's Swamp Thing #20 (Joshua Dysart, Richard Corben), Swamp Thing tried to escape from the troubles of the normal universe by shrinking himself below the subatomic level to enter the Microverse. On the other end of the scale, in 1990's Firestorm, the Nuclear Man #93 (John Ostrander, Tom Mandrake), he grew his body larger than the city of Tokyo. When you see that, you realize his staying human size is just a courtesy.
16 HIS TRUE BODY ISN'T PHYSICAL
When you think of Swamp Thing's body, you might tend to think of the hulking green monster, but that's not true. In reality, Swamp Thing doesn't have a body at all. The true essence of the hero is a disembodied mind that exists outside our universe in the astral plane.
Swamp Thing is connected to the Green, a plane of existence that connects all plant life. When Swamp Thing is outside of his body, he finds himself drifting in the Green where he encounters other plants and plant-connected individuals. He can even travel to other universes, and when he returns, he's back to his old body.
15 HIS BODY IS IMMORTAL
Swamp Thing has gone through a lot and kept going. That's because he's connected to the Green, an energy field connecting all plant life, and can take over plants to build himself a new body whenever one is destroyed. As a result, he's basically immortal.
As long as there are plants, his disembodied consciousness can take control of them wherever they are to form a new body. With plants everywhere on Earth and throughout the universe, that gives him a lot of raw material, and since plants aren't going anywhere anytime soon, he's probably going to be around for a long time. Maybe forever.
14 HE CAN CONTROL OTHER PLANTS
One of Swamp Thing's most useful powers is his ability to control other plants. Since Swamp Thing has a direct connection to all plant life throughout the Earth, that allows him to control them like an extension of his own body.
He can make plants grow almost instantly or cause them to die just as quickly. He can also command them to move or change shape as he sees fit. Reading almost any issue of Swamp Thing will show him growing vines to tie people up or make walls to block movement. Sometimes he uses his power for more gentle purposes, like growing flowers to give to his love, Abby.
13 HIS BODY CAN CHANGE SHAPE
His humanoid body is a form he chooses but it's not the only one. It just seems to be one that's easiest for him. Since his body is just a collection of plants assembled into a shape, he can take on other forms whenever he wants.
For example, he's taken on the shape of other people. In 1982's Swamp Thing #56 (Alan Moore, Rick Veitch), he traveled to an alien world where his loneliness led him to create a body that took on the shape of his wife Abby. In Swamp Thing #159 (Mark Millar, Jill Thompson), he took on the shape of a large dog.
12 HE CAN USE ALIEN PLANTS
Swamp Thing's power is based on the Green, which is interconnected with Earth, but he's not limited to our planet's vegetation. Swamp Thing can use plants to build himself a new body and they don't even need to be on Earth.
In 1982, Swamp Thing #56 (Alan Moore, Rick Veitch) had the titular hero cast off to another planet with blue vegetation instead of green. He managed to make himself a new body there just fine. In Swamp Thing #57 (Alan Moore, Rick Veitch) his consciousness was accidentally transported to the alien planet of Rann. There, he formed himself a new body out of the alien cactus as well.
11 HE CAN FORM FROM SENTIENT PLANTS
Usually, Swamp Thing forms new bodies out of plants that have no mind so they don't have much of an objection to it. Still, if the plants he's using are already sentient, he can still merge himself with them and that can have devastating consequences.
In 1987's Swamp Thing #61 (Alan Moore, Steve Bissette, Rick Veitch), the hero's disembodied consciousness arrived on a world of sentient plant life. He accidentally took control of the creatures and fused them together. Only with the help of the Green Lantern Medphyll was he able to separate himself. He learned to build a new body without the aliens and move on, all while learning a valuable lesson.
10 HIS BODY CAN TELEPORT
One way his body is unique is in the area of transportation. Swamp Thing doesn't have a Batmobile to get around, and though he can grow wings, he doesn't always try to fly places. When he needs to get somewhere far away, he kills himself.
He can destroy and abandon his body at will, leaving it so he can build himself a new body with plant matter anywhere in the world. That means if he wants to go from Boston to China, he just kills his body in Boston and makes himself out of plants on the Great Wall. It sure beats a transporter beam.
9 HIS BODY SHARES CONSCIOUSNESS
One of the problems that Swamp Thing faces is trying to connect to humanity in a monstrous and powerful body. In Swamp Thing #34 (Alan Moore, Steve Bissette), Abby expresses her love for him but also reservation about how they could be together. In response, he created and gave her a piece of himself for her to eat.
Abby is given a part of his consciousness, allowing her to see the world as he sees it. She sees the world and how plants and animals are interconnected. She also saw how she and Swamp Thing are a part of it, giving her an amazing and intimate experience that brought the two together.
8 HIS BODY GROWS FROM DEATH
Swamp Thing's power to build himself a form out of plants has almost no limits. Even plants that are dead can be used to recreate himself. He even once grew a physical form out of John Constantine's stash of tobacco.
In 1998's Hellblazer #9 (Jamie Delano, John Ridgway), Constantine was angry over his birthday and Swamp Thing had to grow a body out of John's tobacco to get to him. Considering the tobacco had been cut, dried and crushed, it's significant that Swamp Thing was able to bring it to life. Constantine wasn't happy about losing his duty-free cigs, so he smoked some of Swamp Thing instead.
7 SWAMP THING BURIED HIS OWN BODY
When Alan Moore took over the Swamp Thing comic, he turned the superhero's life upside down, establishing that Swamp Thing wasn't really the scientist Alec Holland. The green monster was not his body at all, but a simulation created by the swamp.
After facing the reality of his creation, that left the question of what happened to his real body. In a later issue, the ghost of Alec Holland led Swamp Thing to his resting place in the swamp. Swamp Thing found and buried Holland's skeleton, bringing the former scientist peace. In a surreal way, Swamp Thing buried his own body, a fitting end for that part of his life.
6 HIS BODY CAN BE CUT OFF FROM THE GREEN
The collective energy of all plant life is called the Green, and it's key to Swamp Thing's power, but it's not the source of his life. In 1986, Swamp Thing #53 (Alan Moore, John Totleben) had the monster on a rampage in Gotham City over the arrest of his wife.
To stop him, Lex Luthor offered a device that would scramble Swamp Thing's frequency, keeping him from leaving his body, cutting him off from the Green. The scrambler worked, leaving him helpless as they dropped napalm onto him. However, he didn't die. Instead, for several issues, he was forced to wander the universe, traveling through the astral plane to try to create a new body from alien plants.
5 HE TAKES HUMAN BODIES
Swamp Thing doesn't just take plant bodies. He can also take over human bodies. The process is different than when he takes over plants but the effect is the same. In 1987's Swamp Thing #66 (Rick Veitch), he entered Abby through the flora in her intestines to take over her body to show her the world as he saw it.
One of the other noteworthy moments came in 1988's Hellblazer #10 (Jamie Delano, Richard Piers Rayner) when he decided to have a child by taking over the body of John Constantine and using it to impregnate his wife, Abby. It worked but had grave consequences from his infected soul.
4 HE CAN GROW A BIGGER BRAIN
In some cases, Swamp Thing has a serious problem to solve and his regular brain isn't cutting it. Of course, Swamp Thing doesn't need a literal brain because his consciousness isn't restricted to a physical body, but his connection to Holland limits him. That's why in Swamp Thing #75 (Rick Veitch), he grew himself a bigger brain.
In that issue, the Parliament of Trees that rules the Green tried to create a replacement for him called the Sprout. He struggled with what to do about the Sprout so he grew an enormous brain that allowed him to contemplate the structure of the universe itself. It almost cost him his humanity but he found the answer.
3 HE GROWS MULTIPLE BODIES
Swamp Thing is capable of creating a body for himself anytime and anywhere, and he can also make multiple bodies for himself at will. He can control his other bodies directly and simultaneously or send them out to act on their own.
Sometimes, the other bodies are brainless or have only limited thought, and he uses them for distraction or just because it's easier than going somewhere himself. Other bodies he's made are just as smart as he is, and he once even played chess with one. He uses his copies for companionship but also to fight when one Swamp Thing just isn't enough.
2 HE CAN GROW ANYTHING BACK
One of the benefits of being a giant plant like Swamp Thing is the ability to regenerate. When plants get a branch or flower or root cut off, they just grow a new one. Swamp Thing has the same thing happening with his body.
One of the first things he ever did after being transformed was to lose an arm and grow the severed arm back. He's gone on to grow back other limbs as needed, but he really doesn't need any body parts to fight evil. When he faced Adam Strange, the hero blew off his head and Swamp Thing kept on fighting.
1 HE CAN SEE THROUGH OTHER PLANTS
Swamp Thing has a mystical connection to all other plants, thanks to his bond through the energy field known as the Green. That has an advantage in that he can tap into plants anywhere on Earth.
He sometimes uses the connection to move to that space, but other times he uses other plants like the world's largest surveillance system, because he can hear and see what's around them instantly. He can do the same thing with dead plants, and can even experience things that happened to the plants in the past. For instance, in Swamp Thing #164, he went to a library and the books told him what happened to the city.