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Anton Arcane is the archnemesis of the Swamp Thing.

Early Life

Anton Arcane was born to Josip and Anaïs Arcane. At a young age, Arcane showed signs of depravity and hostility, causing his younger siblings Aniela and Gregori to fear him. Particularly, Arcane sexually abused Aniela secretly without their parents' knowledge. Anton developed a deep interest in biological science and enrolled in the Hamburg School of Medicine until he was expelled for unethical surgical experiments, sadism, drug addiction, necrophilia, moral turpitude, depravity, debasement, decadence and attempting to re-animate dead flesh.[2] Following his expulsion, Arcane enlisted in the German military during World War I and became a field doctor at the Western Front, where he dementedly experimented on the mortally wounded.[2]

Arcane was found by his mother, who pleaded for him to see a strange man whose wounds had grown stitched to plant material. Interested, Anton travelled to the estate of Hans von Hammer, where the pilot was treated and discovered to be the time-lost Swamp Thing, who easily recognized Anton as his future arch-nemesis.[2]

Anton studied the creature and believed that the restorative properties of the Swamp Thing were the key to true immortality. Mixing science with sorcery, he embarked upon a bizarre black magic ritual to glean the secrets of the Swamp Thing's powers by torturing the creature with the aid of an occult artifact known as the Claw of Aelkhünd. Arcane's actions were discovered by Anaïs, who disavowed him as an evil man. Furious, Arcane tried to make his mother a blood sacrifice, only to be shot down by Hans von Hammer. Despite his near-fatal injuries, Arcane survived his wounds.[2]

Arcane later resumed his military career and eventually served alongside Adolf Hitler for three years. It was then that Arcane convinced Hitler of his destiny to rule the world - not out of any loyalty to the man, of course, but rather from a desire to start a second land-war in Europe. Arcane had begun creating an army of deformed man-creatures he called the Un-Men, but when World War I ended, corpses were not as readily available. With Hitler in control, he knew the body count would be staggering. Several years later, Hitler turned his attention to the creation of the Nazi Party, in which Arcane served, but only to further his work.

By the near-end of the war in Europe, Arcane had practically attained immortality and had holed up in an abattoir, creating his Un-Men, and amassing a cache of occult artifacts. When his facility was destroyed by Allied bombers, Arcane re-encountered the Swamp Thing, but was prepared for it, using the Claw of Aelkhünd recovered from the ruins of Hans von Hammer's castle. The object caused the Swamp Thing to disappear, and Arcane later vowed to hunt the elemental down and learn the secret of his immortality ― a vow that would take the next several decades to fulfill.[3]

Family Reunion

Arcane later returned to his place of birth, where he continued his experiments and was widely feared by the local villagers. He grew infatuated to a woman named Anise, although she was married to his brother Gregori. Jealous and angered, Arcane considered this a betrayal and punished Gregori for marrying the woman he loved by convincing villagers to burn Anise at the stake as a witch.[4] In spite of his misgiving towards Gregori, who was not aware of Anton's malice, Arcane financially supported him and his niece Abigail. When the government wanted to take custody of Abigail due to Gregori's business trips making him an unfit father, Arcane offered to help his brother secure a lawyer. After Gregori returned to the country, tragically he stepped on a land mine near Anton's castle left over from World War II and was terribly injured. Arcane used his surgical skills in repairing his brother's body by grafting various rotting and ill-fitting body parts onto his basic human shell. Gregori awakened to find that Anton had made him into a misshapen monster: a Patchwork Man. Furious, Gregori thrashed about in fury until Anton sedated him and locked him away in a dungeon, where he remained for years.[5]

Obsession and Immortality

Despite his immortality, Anton Arcane's body became too old and feeble, and no longer a suitable vessel to carry him through eternity. In response to this, Arcane began conducting experiments to make a new body, but the results were deemed as failures. Still bearing a grudge over the Swamp Thing, Anton Arcane realized that the Earth elemental to be a suitable host. Observing from an ancient mystic mirror from his castle in Transylvania, Arcane witnessed Alec Holland's transformation into the Swamp Thing and dispatched his Un-Men to capture him. After capturing the Earth elemental, Arcane tricked him by offering the chance to become Alec Holland again in exchange for the Swamp Thing's body. However, the Swamp Thing discovered Arcane's sinister hidden agenda, and in the ensuing battle, Arcane was thrown out of a window to his apparent death.[6]

Miraculously, Arcane managed to hold onto life, though his injuries were such that he had to have some of his Un-Men transplant his brain into a misshapen Un-Man body.[7] In this form, he attacked the Swamp Thing several more times before truly dying; his soul then went to Hell. His soul later escaped from Hell, where it took over the body of Matthew Cable, who was married to Abigail Arcane.[8][9] Arcane combined his own magic with Cable's inherent psychic powers to battle the Swamp Thing, but he was exorcised directly to Hell.[10]


Arcane next appeared as a demon, having been promoted to this status by the Lords of Hell in recognition of his evil.[11] When the Swamp Thing and Abigail's daughter Tefé was captured and brought to Hell, Arcane attempted to use her powers to create a window to reach Earth, but in his greed he allowed her to escape.[12]

He later repented of his evil ways and his spirit returned to Earth, where he became an ally of the Swamp Thing.

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This history is continued in The New 52 at Anton Arcane (Prime Earth).
The DC Universe was rebooted in 2011 as part of the Flashpoint event. This was an attempt to simplify continuity, and make DC Comics more accessible to new readers. Prior to this, mainstream comics took place in New Earth continuity since the Crisis on Infinite Earths in 1985. The continuity established following Flashpoint is Prime Earth.



  • Although this character was originally introduced during DC's Earth-One era of publication, their existence following the events of the 1985–86 limited series Crisis on Infinite Earths remains intact. However, some elements of the character's Pre-Crisis history may have been altered or removed for Post-Crisis New Earth continuity, and should be considered apocryphal.



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This character specifically relates to the Swamp Thing and is predominantly seen in the Swamp Thing family of titles. This character may be part of the Swamp Thing's supporting cast, a minor acquaintance, or one of his adversaries. This template will automatically categorize articles that include it into the Swamp Thing Characters category.

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