This was the first issue of Rima we ever read. We scored it in a 50-cent or 25-cent bin in our first year as comic bloggers. It made us want to read more about this white-haired woman who befriended all animals and feared nothing.
DC Comics published seven issues of Rima the Jungle Girl from 1974-1975. The artwork by Nestor Redondo brings the story to life in a jungle which seems to include just about any species of animal that might make for a dramatic scene. As with Jack Kirby’s dinosaur stories, biological accuracy defers to entertainment value. Like Tarzan, Rima plays out an urban white male fantasy about jungles. But the hippie vibe is stronger in Rima than in Tarzan. The animals earn both Rima’s and the reader’s sympathy, and the idea of living in harmony with nature plays a central role.
Rima is a good female lead, morally superior to the other characters, with a deeper understanding of her world. The author, who is definitely Robert Kanigher for the later stories though uncredited in the early ones, shows us both her strength and her sensitivity. Rima is neither a conqueror of nature nor a helpless damsel in distress. She is a mortal woman, but one can easily understand why the lead male romanticizes her into something supernatural.
Rima has not been reprinted anywhere, to the best of our knowledge, but you can still buy original copies of Rima The Jungle Girl at reasonable prices. The series contained sci-fi backup stories which we have in our archive of Space Voyagers.
Many before us have sung the praises of the Len Wein and Berni Wrightson stories that kick off the first volume of Swamp Thing stories. Have you seen the first issue of Swamp Thing? We might be in the minority, but the first chunk of issues where Swamp Thing takes on some pretty generic monsters seem like merelyt a warm-up for further greatness.
Even the Batman crossover in #7 fails to get our engines revved. But then: issue #8 comes along. Swamp Thing encounters a demon in a cave on the outskirts of a small town, giving us a dark visual feast that brings the series to life for us. The Lurker in Tunnel 13 may be the first of the early tales that hints at what Swamp Thing would later become in the 1980s –the first appearance of Arcane notwithstanding. It’s cosmic, satanic, horrific, and sports one of our favorite Wrightson covers.
Wein and Wrightson also present a great story about a stranded alien trying to repair his ship and return to the stars. Making this freakish beast sympathetic and compassionate reminds us that monsters and heroes come in many forms.
Before leaving the book, Wein & Wrightson deliver the consummately creepy Man Who Would Not Die, the first return of Arcane from the hell where he deserves to stay. The confrontation between Arcane and Swampy in a graveyard may be our favorite artistic moment of Wrightson’s legendary contributions.
Nestor Redondo steps into Wrightson’s shoes without missing a beat, working with Len Wein on three issues before David Michelinie takes the reins. We have some other images of Nestor Redondo’s Swamp Thing art if you’d like to check them out.
Michelinie and Redondo seem to lose steam towards the end of their contribution, and what happens next is a bit of a disappointment. The creative team changes, and the book loses much of its horror appeal quickly. Readers must have felt the same way at the time, as Swamp Thing would soon be cancelled. Swamp Thing’s gambit to revert to a normal Alec Holland once again just doesn’t work for us, and it’s been more or less ignored in subsequent Swampy stories.
The end of the volume is a bit of a mess, but the early stories have definite high points. We sold our collection of VG+/FN issues — almost a complete run — on eBay. But a few of them we would be happy to collect and read again. You can get many of the early Wein/Wrightson issues in Roots of the Swamp Thing reprints.
Having owned both the reprints and the originals, we prefer the originals. Though the printing and color is more crisp and clean and bright in the reprints, the vintage horror vibe feels much more authentic with a well-worn copy from the early 1970s, the smell of tanned comic book paper, and the distinctive original covers.
You know we love the Moore/Bissette/Totleben/Veitch Swamp Thing as much as we’ve loved any comic-book story. And hats off to the original Wein/Wrightson Swamp Thing. But Nestor Redondo doesn’t get enough credit for his artwork on issues #11-23 of the first volume of Swamp Thing. To celebrate Nestor Redondo, we present for your viewing pleasure three awe-inspiring splash panels from his Swamp Thing days: mutant swamp worms, giant frogs and snakes, and even a giant ant. Yes!
Collector’s Guide: From Swamp Thing volume 1. Scripts by Len Wein and David Michelinie, art by Nestor Redondo.