After the events of Convergence, DC is giving legendary writer Len Wein the chance to take the character "back to square 2" as he describes it, in a new six-issue Swamp Thing series that kicks off this week. Wein wrote the Convergence: Swamp Thing mini-series, returning to the character he co-created with illustrator Bernie Wrightson back in 1971.
For the new Swamp Thing mini-series, Wein says he's bringing back the horror influence that made the original character so popular (working this time with artist Kelley Jones), but he's also incorporating supernatural DC characters like Phantom Stranger and Zatanna.
Newsarama talked to Wein about his plans for a "creepy" Swamp Thing, the character's movie potential, and why he thinks this mini-series is one of the best things he's written in years.
Newsarama: Len, you're getting back to a character you created. But obviously, this is a new universe, since 2011, and I know you're aware of what Scott Snyder did with the character because you wrote an introduction to the collection of that series.
Len Wein: I did.
Nrama: Yeah. And the series continued a little after Scott left. Is this mini-series going to pick up where that series left off?
Wein: No. It actually isn't. I'm sort of, I guess, going back to "square 2," not square 1. I mean there's been so much that's gone on with the character, so much with the Parliament of Trees and all the other colors of the rainbow — the Rot and the Red and the Gray and the polka dot — that I wanted to sort of clear the air, at least initially for these six issues.
So I'm going places that I have not been before. I don't disavow any of what they did. I simply don't play off of it.
I go off on my own direction.
Nrama: OK, and we know this is Alec Holland. Can you describe the type of Swamp Thing he is? Would you say he's more like the Swamp Thing you wrote originally?
Wein: No, like, with some of the stuff Alan [Moore] put in, I love him being part of the Green and, you know, changing bodies and all of the coolness you do. And I do some of that with the first new issues, in — hopefully — very creepy ways.
Nrama: Very creepy? Because that's part of what made your run with Bernie so cool — the horror influence. Is that a big part of this mini-series?
Wein: You betcha. It is a horror comic.
Nrama: Yet as monstrous as Swamp Thing is, the most compelling thing about these stories is the exploration of Alec's humanity.
Wein: Yes, oh God, yes. That's kind of what this is about. In many ways, this is about Alec Holland finally coming to terms with who and what he is in the DCU. That's the backbone of the entire six issues.
There are some surprise players. I sure hope they're surprise players.
As we start, one story sets everything up — it's basically just a classic story of Swamp Thing versus the archetypal monster. And that leads into the bigger story, which covers the last four issues, which I don't want to talk too much about, because I hate to give away the surprises. And if I did it right, there are a bunch of surprises.
Nrama: It's interesting you talk about his place within the DCU. Judging from solicitations, this is taking place very much within the supernatural and magic corner of DC. Right? And we see characters within that part of the DCU?
Wein: Yes. There are a lot of guest stars.
One of the things [DC Co-Publisher] Dan [DiDio] asked me to do was, if I could, let the audience know where many of the supernatural characters of the DCU are at the moment. So I touch on various characters.
The Phantom Stranger shows up in the first issue, and Zatanna — you've seen the cover with her already — so she's not a surprise. But there are a number of others too.
Nrama: Did you want to put Zatanna up against Swamp Thing?
Wein: Yeah. She's needed for the story, but she's a fun character and I really like her attitude. So she was just great to work with.
Nrama: You're working with Kelley Jones on this, which supports that horror feel. Can you describe the type of work he's bringing to Swamp Thing?
Wein: Kelley is as close to Bernie as you can get without being Bernie, yet he's uniquely his own, which I love. He's got the same kind of ink line that Bernie has — warm and vivid, flowing. I don't know anybody — and I mean anybody — currently working in the business who can better master black and white space. I mean, there's a lot of black, and I think that's astonishing. Other guys rely a lot on color. And you almost don't color on Kelley's work.
Nrama: I've seen some of the inks for this mini-series and they were just beautiful. Like, you could frame them.
Wein: Yeah, stunning. Just stunning.
Nrama: Do you think there could be a modern Swamp Thing film? You worked on one awhile ago, didn't you?
Wein: Yeah. I actually wrote a Swamp Thing movie about 12 or 13 years ago for Joel Silver, which didn't end up going anywhere. But yes, I would love to see him in a new movie. I've been wanting to see a new Swamp Thing movie for 30 years!
I know that Guillermo del Toro has been adamantly pushing to do Swamp Thing for years [and he reportedly included him in the Justice League Dark script he turned in to Warner Bros. last year]. So we'll see what happens.
Nrama: Is there anything else you want to tell potential readers about your Swamp Thing mini-series?
Wein: I have not been as proud of anything I have done in quite a long while, and I've been very proud of a lot of my work. But I think this Swamp Thing is maybe the best thing I've done in ages. So I'm very excited.