"The Curse": This story is reprinted from Swamp Thing (Volume 2) #40.

Essential Vertigo: Swamp Thing #21 is an issue of the series Essential Vertigo: Swamp Thing (Volume 1) with a cover date of July, 1998.

Appearing in "The Curse"

Featured Characters:

Supporting Characters:


  • Phoebe (Dies)

Other Characters:

  • Roy
  • Joannie




Synopsis for "The Curse"

This story is reprinted from Swamp Thing (Volume 2) #40.

In Kennescook, Maine, a woman named Phoebe lives in a house that was built over the former location of a lodge in which menstruating Pennamaquot Indian women were forced to stay, because their menstruation was considered unclean. She has much sympathy for the women who were forced to stay there, sensing their accumulated anger with being confined.

In the Louisiana swamp, Abby Holland is happy to have Swamp Thing back, after his trip to Illinois. His new-found ability to regenerate his body anywhere in the world has made it easier to travel, and to be just a step away from Abby. She comments that, due to his strange nature, he is much like the man she dreamed of marrying - except green and covered in fungus.

Back in Maine, Phoebe has some guests over for coffee, and quietly allows her husband Roy's backhanded remarks to go unquestioned as the accumulated anger of the Pennamaquot women builds further within her. After the guests have gone, her husband makes further insensitive remarks, and the rage becomes uncontrollable.

At John Constantine's urging, Swamp Thing arrives in Kennescook, immediately sensing an old, primal power there. Meanwhile, a full moon glows in the sky, and Phoebe stares out into the night. Her husband makes one final remark that sends her over the edge. The rage becomes so powerful that a huge wolf escapes from her mouth, leaving an empty husk of her skin on the ground. The wolf chases Roy around the house, and in his frantic run, he bumps into the Swamp Thing - the sight of whom causes him to faint. What appears to be some kind of telepathic link allows the two to communicate. Swamp Thing reaches out to the wolf, stating that he is of the earth, and asks what she is. The wolf responds that she is woman, and that he should not stand between her and her wrath. After staring at each other for a time, Swamp Thing realizes that he hasn't got the right or the authority to stop her - just the necessity. Unfortunately, he is not strong enough.

Even as she nearly kills her husband, Phoebe, the wolf, cannot bring herself to do it. In frustration, she goes on a rampage, and destroys anything that – to her – reflects the conservative gender role constraints society has placed upon women. She destroys an adult book store, and encounters Swamp Thing again. He begs her to let him help her. She responds that unless he can release her from the world that has made women subservient, he should kill her. With no response or resistance, the wolf runs into a supermarket, and destroys much of its stock. Finally, she sees a knife display, advertising "Here's good news for housewives!", and throws herself onto the exposed blades. Impaled there, her form reverts to that of Phoebe's human body. She asks that Swamp Thing take her to die outdoors, and he complies. She asks whether her husband is alright, and when Swamp Thing confirms that he is alive, she is thankful, and dies.

Afterwards, Swamp Thing encounters Constantine in the woods. The Englishman gives him a small sheet of paper with new travel instructions, and angrily Swamp Thing refuses to carry on, stating that he will be returning to Louisiana rather than follow Constantine on a wild goose-chase. Constantine seems unconcerned and walks away. When Swamp Thing looks at the paper in his hand, he realizes that his next destination is Louisiana.



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