Alec Holland (Swamp Thing)

swampthingfilmAnother superhero coming from casualgamer‘s list, and another vaguely mystic one: Swamp Thing, a pretty rather popular anti-hero (especially after Alan Moore‘s run). Our beloved monster first appeared in Wes Craven‘s Swamp Thing movie: he was portrayed by Ray Wise in his human form, and by Dick Durock in his monstrous one. In the movie, he was a peaceful scientist who was killed by a terrorist colleague, Anton Arcane, and who was resurrected as a human-plant monster, bent on revenge against Arcane and on protection for his love interest Alice Cable. Durock returns in the sequel The Return of Swamp Thing, where the monster once again fights against a resurrected Arcane and even seduces his daughter Abby. Durock came back for a third time for the role in the tv series, with Swamp Thing once again fighting against Arcane, accompanied this time by his personal mutants, the Un-Men. The movie version is slightly different from the comics’ one, starting from the fact that (at least originally, now things have changed again) Swamp Thing is not exactly Alec Holland, even if he has his memories and conscience. Let’s see together.

Alec Holland was born in HoumaLouisiana, the son of Larry and Alice Holland. He grew up with his brother Edward, and since his childhood he developed quite a keen intellect and scientific curiosity, that led him to study biochemistry at college. During his studies he also met Linda, the girl who would have soon become his life-long colleague…as well as his wife, of course. Alec and Linda found a common passion both in the discipline they had chosen to study, and in their social and political commitment. After graduation, they decided to work together on a project aimed to solve the problem of food shortage. They moved to the Louisiana’s bayou, where they built a lab and dedicated to their research for years. At the end of their effort, the Hollands managed to create what they called a Bio-Restorative Formula, able to stimulate any plant on a genetical and hormonal level to evolve rapidly, so that anything could survive in any place of the planet (enabling tomatoes, for example, to grow in the Sahara Desert or in the Arctic). For all these years, Alex had been financed by what he believed to be the federal swampthingcomics1government…but it was not, as he soon realised. When Holland communicated to the mysterious Mr. E that he had indeed accomplished his life-work, the man, who was actually Nathan Ellery, the leader of the terrorist organization The Conclave, sent two of his goons, Bruno and Ferret, to steal the research and to dispose of the scientists. Linda was killed on the spot, while Alec was knocked out by Ferret and left in his lab, while Bruno planted a bomb in it. Alec Holland woke up just a few seconds before the bomb exploded, and he was unable to evade the lab as quick as he was trying to: aflame, drenched into his own Bio-Restorative Formula, he ran into the swamp, where he died. This would have been the end for the scientist, if not for two factors: the burning Formula that affected the nearby vegetation, and The Green (the elemental force formed of all plant life on Earth), who was in need of a new protector. The Parliament of Trees, the Green’s collective mind, chose Holland, or rather what remained of him, as their new champion, and they “burrowed” his memories and conscience.

The dying scientist’s mind, memories, personality were absorbed by the nearby vegetation, and the plants, dragged together by both the Bio-Restorative Formula and the Parliament of Trees’ will, united to form a humanoid body, a plant creature who believed himself to be a transformed Alec Holland. Confused on both his own nature and condition, the creature who now referred to himself as “Swamp Thing” started to hunt the men who had killed Linda, as well as to look for a “cure” to his state, believing he could revert to human form. Swamp Thing managed to track down The Conclave and to confront its leader, Nathan Ellery, but the businessman and terrorist always managed to elude him, and kept sending his men to him to extract from his body the secrets of the lost Formula. Ellery was not the only one who kept hunting down the monster in the swamps, and The Green was continuously under attack from many sources. The Swamp Thing found a formidable foe in Anton Arcane, a mad scientist obsessed with
immortality, who believed that he could learn the secret of eternal life from the creature. The fight with Anton ended up involving, in a form or another, all members of the Arcane family: Abby Arcane, his niece, became a close friend swampthingcomics2and ally to the Swamp Thing, and eventually a strong feeling rose between the two, to the point that Abby became the lover of the monster; even Anton’s brother, Gregori Arcane, joined in the hunt for the monster, and when he accidentally stepped on a landmine, Anton transformed him into the Patchwork Man, a monster similar to the Frankenstein’s Monster who became a formidable adversary for Swamp Thing. Arcane used the little knowledge he had gathered on his rival to create an army of Un-Men, mutant monsters that were able to physically challenge the seemingly indestructible plant monster…and eventually Arcane turned himself into an Un-Man, becoming even more dangerous. Quite ironically, Swamp Thing ended up being hunted down also by a former friend, Matthew Cable, a federal agent who believed the monster to be responsible for the Hollands’ death. With so many enemies to protect himself and the swamp from, the creature kept steadily looking for a way to become a human again…without knowing that he had never actually been a human to begin with.

Alec Holland is a brilliant and idealistic man, truly convinced to be able to make the world a better place thanks to his science; an accomplished biochemist, he firmly believes that the genius of a few must be used at the service of the wellbeing of many. As the Swamp Thing, he is a being composed of sentient plants, and he can control and communicate with any other kind of vegetable life; he’s pretty much impervious to any kind of damage, and he possesses vast levels of superhuman strength; he can generate non-sentient copies of himself, regenerate lost limbs, and he can even be reborn by “reincarnating” in other masses of plants, being de facto immortal; all his powers can be augmented by the Green, while pollution can weaken him. A fierce and dedicated protector of the Earth and of the Green in particular, Swamp Thing is an elemental champion, an indestructible avatar who lives between a life of memories that does not belong to him and a nearly sacred mission he still has to fully understand.

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6 Comments

  1. […] Alec Holland (Swamp Thing) […]

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  5. […] dog-monster portrayed by Ben Bates), as a rich man obsessed with immortality who tries to steal Alec Holland‘s researches, thus unwillingly triggering his transformation into the Swamp Thing. Despite […]

  6. […] would have been pivotal in the future of The Green, the embodiment of all plant life on Earth: Alec and Linda Holland, Pamela Isley and Philip Sylvian. While teaching his most gifted students some […]


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