In a secret facility located in the Louisiana swamplands, scientist Alec Holland and his wife Linda invented a Bio-Restorative Formula that would solve any nations' food shortage problems. Ferrett and Bruno - thugs working for Nathan Ellery - barged into Alec's lab, knocked him out, and planted a bomb in the facility. Alec woke up just as the bomb exploded, and in flames, he ran into the swamp. His body had been drenched in the bio-restorative formula, and this affected the plant life of the swamp, imbuing it with Alec's consciousness and memories. The newly conscious plant life formed a semblance of a human form and rose up from the bog as the Swamp Thing, the latest in a long line of Earth elementals created when The Green was in need of protection.
The Swamp Thing originally thought that he had been Alec Holland, transformed by the freak accident into a monster. He sought to regain his human body, but often met opposition in the form of Anton Arcane, and his ever growing legion of Un-Men.
After finally defeating Arcane, Swamp Thing was set upon by General Sunderland's men, in a covert military operation. The resulting attacks blasted a hole in Swamp Thing's head and destroyed the lives of many of his friends. Sunderland brought the Swamp Thing's body back to Sunderland Corp to study and unlock the secret of the Bio-Restorative Formula.
Sunderland hired the Jason Woodrue to study Swamp Thing's body, which he had stored in a cryochest. Over the course of his research, the Floronic Man deduced the truth about Swamp Thing, that he was a plant that thought it was Alec Holland - the real Alec Holland had died in the explosion. Sunderland and Woodrue parted on bad terms, so the scientist used Sunderland's automated computer systems to raise the thermostat in Swamp Thing's cryochest. This allowed Swamp Thing's body to regenerate, and in his search for Sunderland, he stumbled across the Floronic Man's report, which sent him into a mindless rage. He killed Sunderland, and set off for the swamps.
Swamp Thing went into shock from learning his true origins. He rooted himself into the swamp and spent three weeks dreaming; his mind eventually traveling into The Green. Woodrue returned to the swamp and discovered Swamp Thing's connection to The Green, but the experience drove him mad. When Swamp Thing realized the presence of Woodrue's corrupting influence there, he wrenched himself back into reality. He caught up with Woodrue and convinced the villain that his war against animal life was pointless, reminding him that plant life and animal life needed each other to survive.
A budding friendship grew between Swamp Thing and his dead nemesis Anton Arcane's niece Abby Cable. Her husband Matthew grew resentful of her disinterest in sex, and turned to drink, further pushing her toward the Swamp Thing. She asks for his help when her autistic students at Elysium Lawns were being tormented by Kamara, the Monkey-King. Swamp Thing destroyed the demon with the help of Etrigan.
On the same night that the demon attacked, Matthew decided to go out and help Abby. Unfortunately, his alcoholism caused him to crash his car, mortally wounding him. In order to stay alive, he made a pact with the spirit of Anton Arcane, who possessed his body.
Later, Swamp Thing was visited by the ghost of Alec Holland, and eventually learned that Alec's skeleton was still lying at the bottom of the bayou. Diving down, Swamp Thing retrieved the body and gave it a proper burial. This allowed the Alec's spirit to free itself from the earthly plane and ascend into Heaven.
One day, Abigail finally realized that the man she had thought was her husband for weeks had actually been her uncle Anton. Her feeling of disgust sent her into a horrible shock. Swamp Thing confronted the possessed Matthew, and with the guidance of the monster, he discovered Abby's body. Unfortunately, Arcane had sent the "soul" of his niece to Hell. In a rage, Swamp Thing beat Arcane to a pulp, allowing Matthew's trapped spirit to cast the soul of the sorcerer out of his body and back to the nether world. The effort returned Matthew to control of his body, but left him comatose.
To set things right, Swamp Thing travelled into The Green and beyond; to the Spirit World and on into Hell, all to reclaim Abby's soul. He was forced to fight off a legion of the damned, including Anton Arcane, but he prevailed again with the help of Etrigan.
After Abby was returned to life, Swamp Thing and Abby confessed their love for each other. To celebrate the beginning of their relationship Swamp Thing grew hallucinogenic tubers for Abby to eat, enabling her to see the world as he did.
Finding the Truth
Swamp Thing's body was destroyed after an encounter with a man saturated by dangerous levels of radiation. He sent his mind into the Green to attempt to form another body, and with Abby's help and weeks of effort, Swamp Thing reformed most of his new body. In the meantime, occultist John Constantine had heard news of a coming danger, and found his way to the swamp. Upon meeting the Swamp Thing, he informed the creature that it was a plant elemental. Constantine hinted at knowing much more about the nature of the Swamp Thing than he was saying, and promised to discuss the matters further if Swamp Thing met him in Rosewood, Illinois in a week's time.
Constantine informed Swamp Thing that he had not completely destroyed the vampire population of Rosewood during his last encounter with them, and a number of them adapted to live within an aquatic settlement. Swamp Thing remembered that running water could destroy the vampires - they could only live underwater because the body of water covering Rosewood was stagnant. In order to deal with them, Swamp Thing extended his abilities further than ever before, forming a new body from a mountain and letting its river merge with Rosewood's, thereby wiping the vampires out. Rather than provide any new information, Constantine told Swamp Thing to meet him in Maine in two weeks' time.
In Kennescook, Maine; Swamp Thing encountered Phoebe, a werewolf filled with outrage on behalf of abused and oppressed women throughout history. He prevented her from killing her husband, but was forced to watch on helplessly as she committed suicide. Constantine arrived soon after, and told Swamp Thing to go back home to Louisiana.
Abby found work on the set of a soap opera being filmed on the old Robertaland Plantation. Things went awry when the lead actors became possessed by the spirits of the murderous landowners. Dead slaves that worked on the plantation rose from the grave as zombies. Sensing the evil there, Swamp Thing burned Robertaland to the ground after realizing that it was the source of their power.
Eventually, Swamp Thing began to see a pattern emerging in all the monstrosities he had been confronting across America, but admitted he would need Constantine to explain it to him. Constantine instructed him to travel to San Miguel, California, promising that this would be the last leg of their mission before he revealed everything he knew.
Crisis on Infinite Earths
In San Miguel, Swamp Thing visited the abandoned Cambridge mansion, haunted by every person ever to have been killed by the Cambridge repeater firearm. A group of thrill seekers were menaced by the ghosts. Swamp Thing managed to exorcise the ghosts from the mansion by making the sound of a hammer on a big table within. Afterward, Constantine appeared and explained that he wanted the Swamp Thing to see first-hand the effects that the coming Crisis was having on Earth.
Swamp Thing and Constantine witnessed the effects of the Crisis: blood red skies, and people and beasts from many different time periods, displaced into the present day. The pair were suddenly teleported to the Monitor�s Satellite by Alexander Luthor. Constantine introduced Swamp Thing to Alexander, who had formed a plan to ensure that reality survived the Crisis. Constantine promised that the Swamp Thing would likewise ensure that the spiritual realms survived the after-effects of the Crisis.
Constantine revealed that after the Crisis ended, reality would be unstable and vulnerable for a time. Meanwhile, the ancient cult of the Brujeria were taking advantage of this situation in order to summon the Shadow Creature which would destroy Heaven. To do so the Brujeria needed to encourage a worldwide belief in monsters and the darker things in life. They were the ones responsible for the rash of nightmarish incidents that Swamp Thing had contained over the past few weeks.
He planned for he and the Swamp Thing to travel to South America and battle the cult - but first he wanted Swamp Thing to visit the Parliament of Trees in Brazil, where he promised that he would finally learn the truth about his nature as a plant elemental.
The Great Darkness
Swamp Thing bid farewell to Abby for a while, and as they kissed, they were unaware that amateur photojournalist, Howard Fleck, was taking pictures of them.
Swamp Thing travelled to Brazil, where he met the Parliament of Trees. There, he encountered one of the previous plant elementals, Alex Olsen. Olsen explained that the Swamp Thing was the latest in a long line of plant elementals, who had all since joined the Parliament in their retirement. Communing with the others, Swamp Thing was able to learn the histories of his predecessors.
Joining up with Constantine, Swamp Thing managed to destroy the Brujeria by flooding their underground caves with dirt and crushing them with tree-roots. Unfortunately, his decision to save Constantine's life provided the Brujeria with enough time to send their messenger to awaken the Shadow Creature. Constantine and Swamp Thing scrambled to come up with a plan to deal with the Great Darkness, and then split up.
Swamp Thing travelled through The Green to the afterlife, recruiting the help of Deadman, Phantom Stranger, The Spectre and Etrigan. Together, they prepared to make a stand against the Great Darkness in Hell. One by one, Swamp Thing's allies fell to the Darkness, failing to answer its questions - that is until the Swamp Thing tried entering it of his own free will, with peaceful intent.
Reflecting on what the Parliament taught him about nature, he offered insights to the Great Darkness that its place in the universe was necessary; that good would grow stronger by its opposition to evil. His talk sparked something in the Great Darkness. When it finally reached Heaven, the Great Darkness and The Presence joined in an alliance of balance, changing the nature of good and evil for the entire universe.
Back in Louisiana, Swamp Thing met with John Constantine again. Swamp Thing was distressed to learn that in his absence, Howard Fleck had released the photos of he and Abby, causing such a scandal that she ran away to Gotham City. The Louisiana police had charged her with obscenity and crimes against nature, and it became Gotham's job to hold her trial, and extradite her.
Swamp Thing sped to Gotham in order to free Abby from jail. He burst into the Gotham courthouse and demanded Abby�s release. When his demand was refused, he tapped into the Green, using his immense elemental power to cause Gotham to become overgrown with plant-life. In this way, he kept the city hostage until his wife was released.
In the meantime, Batman asked Swamp Thing to turn Gotham back to normal, and the refusal of the creature led to a fight in which the much outmatched Batman was defeated. Finally, Batman convinced the mayor that Abby had not committed any crime, and that it would be in the best interest of everyone if charges against her were dropped. In response, Swamp Thing removed the overgrowth from Gotham.
As Swamp Thing was about to be reunited with Abby, he was attacked by Dwight Wicker and the D.D.I., who wanted to avenge the death of General Sunderland. They cut him off from the Green using a communications scrambler provided by Lex Luthor. Then, they set him aflame with napalm.
Locked out of The Green's frequency, Swamp Thing survived the attempted assassination by tuning into a different, alien one. He managed to grow a new body on a planet populated by only blue vegetation, unconnected to The Green. He stayed on the planet for a time, exploring it and even creating plant-replicas of people he knew from Earth to keep him company. Finding this to be ultimately pointless he destroyed his creations and gathered up the courage to try and grow a new plant-body elsewhere in the universe.
He finds his way to the planet Rann, where he meets and befriends Adam Strange. The planet was going through a devastating drought, and there were arrangements made to find a solution with Thanagarians. Swamp Thing reached down under the surface of the planet and brought its plant life back.
He attempted to grow a body from vegetation on a planet which seemed to be techno-organic. However, unbeknownst to him, the planet was sentient, and sought to mate with him. The entity forced Swamp Thing to mate with her, and afterwards Swamp Thing swiftly fled across the universe to find a new place to grow a body.
Finally, Swamp Thing found his way to the planet J586, where all plant life is sentient. With the help of Green Lantern Medphyll, Swamp Thing learned to shift his frequency, so that he could return to Earth and The Green.
Before reuniting with Abby at last, Swamp Thing murdered the men responsible for the assassination attempt.
After settling down again with Abby in the swamp, Swamp Thing travelled to the Parliament of Trees, but was greeted with surprised horror. The Parliament had assumed him dead, and had therefore begun to grow a sprout which would grow into a new elemental, once bound with a human spirit. The upshot of which being that having two elementals active at one time would set the balance of nature awry and cause calamity. The Parliament gave him the choice to either take root in the Parliament, and leave Abby forever, or to kill the Sprout. Swamp Thing refused to do either, whatever the consequences.
Eventually, Swamp Thing and John Constantine concocted a plan by which they would bind the Sprout to a human host so that he could retire to be with Abby until it was time to join the Parliament.
The Sprout attempted to bind with Solomon Grundy in Slaughter Swamp, but the monster resisted, eventually bathing in toxic chemicals in order to force the Sprout out. However, during his encounter with Grundy, Swamp Thing realized that the Parliament was trying to kill him in order to restore balance, given that he would not kill the Sprout.
He returned to the Parliament, and demanded to speak with a Committee, to find a solution for the Sprout problem. In communing with the members, he discovered that across time, there have been hundreds of elementals, all of whom were once humans that were killed by fire. The meeting was a trap, however, and as he experienced pasts of the committee members, he began to take root.
However, at the same time, the Sprout attempted to bind with an insane, evil man named Alan Bolland who had just died in the midst of a terrorist attack. The Parliament sensed the evil within Bolland, and it shocked the Swamp Thing out of his hypnosis. He used his frequency shifting abilities to force the committee members out into space, and the resulting chaos forced the Sprout from Bolland's body.
John Constantine's contacts seemed to indicate that the Parliament's predictions were right. Something was wrong with the balance of nature. Using his contacts, he arranged to find out where and when the next candidate for binding with the Sprout would be ready. Constantine arranged to help reconcile an average man named Gary Holland with the idea of becoming the next Swamp Thing as his plane was destined to crash with no survivors. Meanwhile, Swamp Thing had hidden the Sprout on the moon. Upon his return through The Green, he encountered the lost souls of those on the crashed plane, and guided them all to heaven - including his intended replacement. There would have to be another plan.
The pair went through several other failed attempts, going so far as to try to bond the Sprout with Swamp Thing's friend Chester Williams. Fortunately, that was not required. Swamp Thing decided, at Abby's urging, to grow himself a more powerful brain in order to solve the dilemma. After one and a half months of deliberation, he managed to find a solution.
Swamp Thing used his abilities to take control of a somewhat unwilling Constantine's body, displacing Constantine into the astral plane. Then, in that human form, Swamp Thing and Abby finally consummated their relationship, conceiving a child for the sprout to bond to. In the body of a child, the Sprout would be given the chance to learn at a slower rate.
Lost in Time
Despite seemingly having found happiness with his wife, Swamp Thing was soon set upon by the Dominators. Given that their weaponry was of a plant-based nature, they knew they had to eliminate the one being on the planet Earth who could easily render them toothless in their intended invasion. In order to dispose of him, the Dominators used a device to displace the Swamp Thing in time.
Swamp Thing found himself within the body of a soldier during the Second World War in 1945. There, he encountered a young Anton Arcane, using an abattoir as his lab for the creation of his Un-Men. Arcane used an artifact known as the Claw of Aelkh�nd to send Swamp Thing further back in time.
Swamp Thing was then occupying the body of a downed French pilot during the Great War. There, he met Abby's grandmother Ana�s Arcane, who called on her young doctor son, Anton, to treat his wounds. Naturally, Anton's interest in Swamp Thing's biology was less than medical, and the result of their encounter faced Swamp Thing with the Claw again, sending him further back.
He next awoke in the old west in 1872, where he was trapped within a large chunk of amber. Eventually, a team of heroes including Bat-Lash and Hawk Haukins managed to free him. Hopefully, Swamp Thing arranged to have his photo taken with them, thinking that his pregnant wife might see him, and know he was okay. Knowing he had to go back further, he willingly faced the Claw again.
Swamp Thing became trapped again in a piece of amber, falling into the hands of Tomahawk, the old west hero. Another exposure to the Claw sent him back to medieval times when he encountered Merlin and Shining Knight, and an item believed to be the Holy Grail.
Further back, Swamp Thing encountered a tribe of early men, who lived in harmony with The Green. However, the time for their kind was at an end, and with the ice age, they were killed by a younger, more violent race of men. Before dying, a shaman that Swamp Thing befriended gave to him three seeds, and stored the spirits of his people away within a piece of amber - which sent Swamp Thing back further still.
Swamp Thing arrived at a time when man had not yet been born. He encountered three of his predecessors, Yggdrasil - the tree of life, Tuuru - the tree of knowledge, and Eyam. They explained that they were the three founders of the Parliament of Trees, and sent him back once more into the past.
In a world desolate and devoid of life, Swamp Thing grew his brain large once more, and realized that it is he who created the Parliament, and began the succession of earth elementals. He planted one of the three seeds he was given, which later grew into Yggdrasil, imbuing it with a map of all his knowledge. Then, he allowed a flow of lava to overtake him, converting the sap within his enlarged brain to amber.
Finally, Swamp Thing realized that the reason he was sent back in time by the Claw was that the chunk of amber within it was a future version of himself. He waited millennia for the day when John Constantine would find his way to the present day location of the Claw, and release him.
Freed, finally, Swamp Thing arrived home just in time to witness the birth of his daughter Tef�.
The Demon's Taint
Swamp Thing was unaware when he chose Constantine as the surrogate for the conception of his daughter, that he had received a blood transfusion from the demon Nergal. Likewise, he was unprepared for the fact that the powers of his daughter extend to both The Green and The Red. One day, when she witnessed him disappearing into The Green, she tried to do the same, and in the process, she destroyed her human body.
Tef�'s astral form travelled the Spirit World until it ended up on the outskirts of Hell. There, she caught the attention of the demon Beelzebub, not to mention Anton Arcane who managed to gain lowly demon status by way of his evil ways. Arcane was assigned to Nergal, who recognized his own taint within Tef�. Through this taint, the demons hoped to gain control of her. However, the child became the centre of a political struggle in Hell between the Spider Guild, Beelzebub and Azazel.
Swamp Thing entered the Spirit World, where he encountered a number of alien spirits who were stuck in the human afterlife after the Dominators' attack. Together, they travelled to Hell. There, Etrigan explained the truth about Tef�'s demon taint. Confronting Nergal, it seemed as though Swamp Thing was no match for him. However, Arcane's machinations had connected Tef� to the irrigation system of the whole city, and when she opened a window back to earth, it caused the destruction of the city and all those demons within.
The Rise of Matango
The destruction of Nergal's garden released a particular spirit on Earth. It was Matango, a fungus-based lifeform. Meanwhile, Swamp Thing and his wife searched for a way to get Tef� back into a physical body. With Constantine's help, they determined that she must be the one to recreate the body herself, but without any knowledge of anatomy, she would not be able to do so properly.
A Shaman clued Swamp Thing in to the existence of a fountain in the Garden of Eden which can allow any being the ability to understand all languages. With this, Tef� could understand how to rebuild her own body with instruction. Swamp Thing met with the Parliament of Trees to find out the location of the fountain. There, he reunited with Yggdrasil, Eyam, and Tuuru, who explained that much of what he had been taught in the past was a ruse in order to bring about the birth of a plant-human hybrid: Tef�.
Yggdrasil explained that by planting the first of the three seeds, Swamp Thing brought about the birth of the Parliament. The second became his vessel forward through time. The Third was consumed by Tef� - and that is what woke Matango. The seed represented the ways of the old race of man, who were in communion with nature. The newer, more violent race of men served Matango's needs better.
The Parliament had once resided in the Garden of Eden, but a war with Matango and the fungus-based life force known as The Grey forced them out. The fountain was still to be found in the ruins of Eden, which lied in what became known as Antarctica. Swamp Thing travelled there, rescuing Eyam's trapped soul, collecting a frozen shard of the waters of the fountain, and narrowly escaping destruction by the Angels who protected the ruins.
As a hurricane threatened all of Louisiana Swamp Thing returned, giving Tef� the water from the fountain. With the help of Constantine's friend Brenda and the Shaman of Sarga, Tef� was able to rebuild most of her body. Unfortunately, Matango had assembled an army of servants of The Grey to capture the infant. The new body she grew became corrupted with mould and fungus, prompting Swamp Thing to destroy it, as the hurricane swept over the swamp, and destroyed everything in sight.
The next morning, Swamp Thing and his family decided to take Tef� to the Parliament of Trees for her protection.
The Quest for the Elementals
Main article: The Quest for the Elementals
Upon their arrival at the Parliament of Trees, Yggdrasil helped recreate Tef�'s body for them. The Parliament then explained to Swamp Thing that Matango was once the thirteenth in the line of plant elementals, and the last to share in the secret knowledge of the Parliament's creation via time-loop. When Matango was protector of The Green, a meteor formed by the destruction of a planet that was home to The Grey landed on Earth. Matango volunteered to host the new life-form in order to learn more about it. Unfortunately, his own ambition was corrupted by The Grey's drive to consume, and he became its agent.
A war broke out between The Green and The Grey which forced the elementals to leave Eden. In order to have a compromise, the Parliament caused an ice age that allowed the new race of man to conquer the old race, so that in time, if man caused the downfall of The Green, The Grey could take its place. By giving a seed of the old race to his daughter, Swamp Thing caused the balance to be offset. The Parliament decided that in order to save The Green, they needed to confront Matango.
Swamp Thing began to amass an army of those elementals trapped by The Grey during the war. Unfortunately, Matango anticipated this, and all of the efforts were in vain, leading to Swamp Thing's capture and imprisonment, deep in the Pacific Ocean. Swamp Thing risked the death of all those imprisoned by attempting to form a body there, but was fortunately successful, with the help of others.
They returned to the Parliament, where they learned that Matango had ensnared Abby and Tef�. Climbing the rotting trunk of Yggdrasil, he reached them and set them free before heading onward to Matango's lair. Discovering that Matango's weakness was his old Green form, Swamp Thing used his own skin against him, and severed his connection to The Grey.
The Grey finds a new, more neutral vessel, who promises that he will wait until The Green's time has passed before allowing The Grey to inherit the earth.
Old Enemies Return
After a time of being able to live happily with his family, Swamp Thing became aware of the resurgence of Sunderland Corporation as a threat to the environment. Now run by General Sunderland's daughter Constance, Sunderland Corporation took on a personal vendetta against the Swamp Thing while pursuing its greedy, destructive interests.
Meanwhile, Tef�'s power over both plants and flesh became a matter of concern for her parents when she showed a tendency to horribly mangle and kill those who angered her. When she killed the family cat in anger, it was decided that Swamp Thing would consult the Parliament of Trees for help. The Parliament sent Lady Jane to act as Tef�'s governess, allowsing Swamp Thing to focus his attention on protecting The Green.
Eventually, in Hell, the devil abdicated his rule, allowing many of the demons trapped there to escape - including Anton Arcane. Arcane returned to the land of the living with intent to possess the Tef�'s body, and cause pain to his niece Abigail. However, Arcane's attempted coup was thwarted by the appearance of Agony and Ecstacy, but he vowed to return.
When Constance Sunderland had an occultist named Doctor Polygon resurrect her father from death, it provided Anton Arcane with a body to host his spirit. Using Sunderland's influence and his own power, Arcane managed to terrorize his niece once again.
Father or Protector?
With the threat of Anton Arcane's return, Abigail made Swamp Thing promise to stay with her and their daughter in order to protect them and be a husband and father. Reluctantly, he agreed - but the Parliament of Trees was displeased with the decision. When a great threat to the environment and The Green appeared, Swamp Thing was forced to choose between breaking his promise to Abby or allowing the Green to suffer. Ultimately, he chose neither, and created a double of himself to look after his family while he protected The Green. He had intended to return to his family once the threat was taken care of, but the Parliament prevented it - leaving his double to become firmly entrenched as the family man he could not be.
After being away for two weeks, Swamp Thing's body was restored, but with an altered appearance. The toxins gone, he returned to Louisiana to reunite with his family. Unfortunately, the double he created believed that he was more worthy to be with Abby and Tef� than Swamp Thing, and they fought. When Swamp Thing realized that the double was not merely a copy, but a part of him, Swamp Thing absorbed it back into his body.
Unfortunately, Abby was disgusted when she realized his deceit, and decided to leave him and move to New Orleans with Chester Williams.
Swamp Thing was among the heroes who attended a memorial service for Green Lantern Hal Jordan. As a tribute to Hal and the destroyed Coast City Swamp Thing turned the barren Coast into a lush garden.
It is revealed that he is the Earth's Ultimate Savior and the Entity's Champion.
Unlike the previous incarnation, a mass of humanoid plant life with all of Holland's absorbed memories, this new renewed Swamp Thing was generated directly from the body of Alec Holland himself. Holland rising from the ground as a seemingly semi-sentient corpse until fully given human flesh again as the once formerly brilliant biologist. Holland stating that his last conscious memory was of hurling himself into the swamp to extinguish the flames engulfing him, having no memory of ever being Swamp Thing previously. The Life Entity stating essentially that Holland was a missing "vital component" to the being itself. Leaving us to ponder if the being Dark Avatar assaulting the city may have actually been the former Swamp Thing. Notably also bearing a very close physical resemblance.
The Entity imbued upon Holland all of the powers of The Green that the former had wielded. Including now additional elemental abilities, i.e. governance over fire, being now shown capable of breathing fire naturally. Swamp Thing then immediately growing to enormous height to battle the Corrupted Being. Immediately upon defeating it, acting to restore the Green to natural order.