This week, I bring to your attention, D. C. Comics’ Swamp Thing # 7, cover dated December 1973. It features a moody cover of the Swamp Thing clinging to a side of a building with the Batman swinging through the air, toward him, on his bat-rope. The cover is both penciled and inked by Bernie Wrightson. The story behind the cover is entitled; “Night Of The Bat” and is written by Len Wein and illustrated by the aforementioned, Bernie Wrightson, again responsible for both pencils and inks!
The story opens with words from the poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, “Rime Of The Ancient Mariner” and the Swamp Thing leaving the shadows of an alley in Gotham City. He is carrying a small orange dog and realizes that he needs clothes to better blend in while walking the streets of Gotham! So he breaks into a Salvation Army store and encounters the local Police, who attach him.
Len Wein tosses in a nice “nod and wink” moment to the old Batman television show by having the policeman, who first encounters the Swamp Thing, call into and to report to “O’Hara”, Commissioner Gordon’s right hand man on the old TV show. While the cops and Swamp Thing battle it out, the scene shifts to a boardroom where Bruce Wayne is conducting a late board meeting. We also “meet” a board member by the name of Nathan Ellery, before Bruce ends the meeting to change into his Batman togs for his night patrol.
Batman turns up on the docks and disrupts a smuggling operation before being summoned by the Bat-signal to meet with Commissioner Gordon. The scene shifts again to Nathan Ellery and another dockside location, where he is holding captive two of Swamp Things friends, Matt Cable and Abigail Arcane, which has brought the Swamp Thing to the city to begin with. Ellery is having them tortured to provide him information.
Meanwhile, Commissioner Gordon has enlisted The Batman’s help in tracking down the monster loose in Gotham! The Swamp Thing and Batman’s investigations lead them to the same place, where the captives are being held. The dog plays a large part in bringing our two protagonists together at this point, with the Swamp Thing freeing his friends and then Batman and Swamp Thing battle it out, not realizing that they are “on the same side”!
If I might be allowed one aside, one of my all time favorite Batman poses is drawn by Wrightson on page 12 of this story. It shows The Batman standing on two separate, yet close building corners, with the wind blowing his cape between his legs. Wrightson has drawn this scene so well, that you can see Batman straining backwards, as his cape is pulling him forward!
The bad guy gets his “comeuppance” through a neat twist of fate and while Batman is distracted by Ellery’s demise, the Swamp Thing quickly disappears. leaving Batman to wonder if perhaps he should hunt him down, but decides to save it for another day, surmising that the Swamp Thing’s business within his city is likely completed.
I give this comic four (4) out of five (5) Legion Flight Rings. A pretty common place “team-up” story where the good guys “fight” each other, but the villain’s end is nicely done and the art is truly a joy to behold. I definitely recommend that you add this book to your collection!