Anton Arcane

antonarcanefilmAnother very mean villain comes from Lucy W.‘s request, and this time the guy we’re speaking about is truly evil, not your average criminal: Anton Arcane, the genius scientist and sorcerer. He first appeared in the Swamp Thing movie portrayed by Louis Jourdan (even if by the end he transforms into an ugly sword-wielding 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 his apparent death, Arcane comes back in The Return of the Swamp Thing, this time to try and stop his aging with genetic manipulation, mixing humans with animals and creating the Un-Men. Mark Lindsay Chapman portrayed Arcane in the following tv series, starting as a “simple” crime boss who runs a number of activities (including a South American child stealing ring) who tries to steal Holland’s research, evolving into a dangerous madman who taps into mysterious dark forces. In the comics, Arcane is indeed a scary and evil madman, and he also turns into some kind of monster (actually, many kinds), but not as ugly as the movie’s one. Let’s see together.

Something was wrong with Anton Arcane from his very childhood: born in Transylvania at the end of the XIX Century from Josip and Anaïs Arcane, he was the older of three siblings, and since he was a child he terrified his younger brother Gregori and his younger sister Aniela with his cruelty (as he became a teenager, he even started to sexually abuse Aniela). A genius born, he became interested in biology, and enlisted in the Hamburg School of Medicine…but even there his behavior was incredibly disturbing: obsessed with finding the key to immortality, Arcane started experimenting on corpses illegally, but he also performed unorthodox surgical experiments on unwilling patients, he started using drugs, and he was even caught in acts of sadism and necrophilia. Needless to say, he was expelled from the school…but his growing, insane attraction for death was about to receive a antonarcanecomics1boost, as World War I was engulfing Europe, and he was enlisted as a field doctor for Germany. The opportunity to have at disposal so many dead and dying bodies allowed him to expand his knowledge…and even to tap into fields different from pure medical science, discovering the truth behind some beliefs such as dark magic. He was called back from the front by his mother, Anaïs, whose cousin, the war hero Hans Von Hammer, had found a strange man apparently made of plants. Intrigued, Arcane reached his mother and his uncle in the latter’s mansion, finding exactly what he had been told, a plant-man (actually a time-drifted Swamp Thing) apparently impervious to any damage. Believing the monster’s regenerative abilities to be the key to immortality, Arcane started studying him…but when science failed him, he tortured his “patient” with a magical artifact he had recently obtained, the Claw of Aelkhünd. Anaïs was shocked by her son’s cruelty, and disowned him…thus an enraged Anton tried to kill her to make her a blood sacrifice for his dark rituals. Von Hammer prevented his sister’s death by shooting his nephew, albeit not killing him. Wounded, Arcane came back to Germany, where he resumed his work in the military…and where he met a young and ambitious man, Adolf Hitler, whom he befriended.

Sensing a great potential in the young Hitler, Arcane started mentoring him, telling him that he was destined to rule the world…hoping that his protege would have ignited yet another war. So it happened, and World War II provided Arcane with new guinea pigs for his experiments. Arcane manipulated Hitler so that he gathered for him a number of mystical artifacts, which he collected and studied; he finally understood what the secret of immortality was, but by then his body had grown old and frail, unfit for eternity: he started creating new bodies mixing human and animal ones, trying to obtain a perfect new vessel to transfer his conscience into, but all he could achieve were deformed monsters he named the Un-Men. When the war was about to be lost, Arcane abandoned Hitler and disappeared, coming back to Transylvania, where he resumed his research, becoming the boogeyman of the local population. Here, he fell for a local girl, Anise…who married his brother Grigori, and had a antonarcanecomics2daughter with him, Abigail. Enraged for not being able to have the woman he wanted, Arcane convinced the superstitious locals that Anise was a witch, and watched as they burnt her on the stake; a lonely parent with a lot of work travels to do, Grigori was unable to take care of Abigail, and Anton intervened even in this occasion, obtaining the custody of the girl; at last, when a tragic accident with an unexploded landmine nearly killed Grigori, Anton “rescued” him…making him his new subject, and transforming him into a gruesome monster, the Patchwork Man, later locking him up in a basement for years. In the meanwhile, his research for a suitable body able to contain his immortal essence continued, and he had come to think that the monster he had met during World War I would have been a perfect host. His search of the monster, however, was unsuccesful…but just because the creature hadn’t been born yet. When Alec Holland finally transformed into the Swamp Thing, Arcane witnessed it through a magic mirror, and sent his Un-Men to capture his long-awaited prey. The creature was brought to his castle, but when Arcane offered him to become human again in exchange of his indestructible body, he saw through the old man’s deceit, and he apparently killed him. Miraculously survived, Arcane transferred his mind in the body of one of his Un-Men, now matching in appearance the ugliness and deformity of his evil soul.

Anton Arcane is a man of pure evil, with a soul as black as night and a sharp intellect that makes him extremely dangerous. A scientific genius specialised in medicine and biology, he knows everything there is to know about the human body, and he combines this knowledge with an expertise in dark magic (especially necromancy) that makes him one of the most dangerous men alive (or undead): virtually immortal, yet not invulnerable, Arcane is able to resurrect and control the dead, he disposes of an army of humanoid monsters created by himself, possesses a variety of mystical artifacts with the most different effects, and he’s able to transfer his soul into other bodies. In the years, he’s inhabited the bodies of other humans, of some of his Un-Men and, eventually, the one of a demon (a reward from Hell itself), thus changing his powers and abilities obtaining flight, superhuman strength and durability, poisonous saliva, sharp claws and fangs and something else, depending on his current vessel. Sadistic and cruel, Arcane is an evil the world will never get rid of, a champion of death and decay that will constantly haunt life itself.

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2 Comments

  1. […] Anton Arcane […]

  2. […] Albeit he’s been mentioned in a couple of tv series (in Swamp Thing as a rival of Anton Arcane, and in The Flash as the owner of the greenhouse Sand Demon brings Patty Spivot to), he only […]


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