"Brothers in Arms (Part I)": July 12th, 1914
- It's the other flyer -- he still lives! What a magnificent opponent!
Synopsis for "Brothers in Arms (Part I)"
July 12th, 1914
Somewhere in Germany, Anaïs Arcane writes to her husband Josip of recent events that occurred in her life. With the invasion by the Austrians into Transylvania during World War I, she and her children have been forced to move to the Barony of her cousin Hans von Hammer, also known as the Enemy Ace. On her first encounter with him, Hans spies twin enemy fighter planes over her shoulder, and shoots them both out of the sky from the ground.
One plane explodes in flames and the second lands in the marsh. Despite having just shot the planes down, the Baron has respect for his enemies' tenacity, and checks for signs of life in the wreckage. As he and Anaïs investigate the first crashed plane, the electromagnetic astral form of the Swamp Thing travel backwards in time. This time, taking up residence in the burned body of the French fighter pilot that landed in the marsh.
Although the pilot's body is dead and disfigured, the power of the Swamp Thing is able to partially heal him, and he mends the man's injuries out of plant matter. As he works on beginning to speak, he recognizes the uncanny resemblance between Anaïs Arcane and his wife Abby, who happens to be the woman's granddaughter. Both Anaïs and Hans are startled by the Swamp Thing's half-man, half-plant visage, but they ultimately decide to bring the wounded pilot into the Baron's castle for treatment.
Anaïs pays a visit to the Hamburg School of Medicine to see how her eldest son Anton is doing, but she is informed that he has been expelled because of charges of sadism, drug addiction, necrophilia, moral turpitude, depravity, debasement, and decadence. He has since moved to the Western Front as a medical officer, and his mother has the Baron provide her with the documentation she needs to see him.
Anton is surprised to see his mother, as she catches him in the middle of performing a sinister, experimental surgery on a seriously injured soldier. He hides his work long enough to hear his mother's plea to have him return home and examine the pilot. Despite reluctance, when he hears that his survival seems to be a miracle, he agrees to return. Anaïs does not yet realize how demented her ambitious young son truly is, and that his only interest in studying the pilot is so that he can further his own grotesque experiments.
With Anton's homecoming, his siblings react negatively. It seems as though his younger sister Aniela has been sexually abused by him in the past, and his younger brother Gregori runs off in a screaming fit upon sight.
As Anton analyses the pilot, the Swamp Thing recognizes his nemesis and hisses his name as he tries to rise from the medical table. Unfortunately, he has been strapped down, owing to his apparent superhuman strength. Anton keeps the Swamp Thing strapped down and moves him to a lower dungeon in the keep. In order to continue his research undisturbed, he provides Hans with a drug that will help him sleep at night, insuring that his cousin will be in top fighting form, and by extension, away flying sorties while Anton studies the creature.
Arcane believes that the restorative properties of the Swamp Thing are the key to true immortality. Mixing science with sorcery, he embarks upon a bizarre black magic ritual to glean the secrets of the Swamp Thing's powers. He tortures the creature by employing an occult artifact known as the Claw of Aelkhünd. For reasons that the Swamp Thing cannot understand, being in close proximity to the Claw sets his body aflame.
After having a disturbing dream portending Anton's evil nature, Anaïs creeps down to the cellar to find her son partially naked and covered with mystic sigils standing over the monster. She realizes now that it is her son who is the true monster and that there is no humanity to be found within him at all. Anton flies into a rage when his mother steps into the room, and he grabs her by the throat preparing to kill her as part of a blood sacrifice. The Baron von Hammer appears in the chamber and blasts Arcane in the chest with a rifle, apparently killing him.
After being freed, Swamp Thing finally manages to speak. He absolves Anaïs of any fault in her son's evil deeds, and requests that he be allowed to look upon the Claw one more time, as he knows it will help him continue his journey. When he is exposed to the artifact, his body burns away, and he is sent back into the Timestream. The Baron decides that the Claw should be hidden there along with the pilot's body, and the room bricked shut. When they turn to deal with Anton, they find his body missing.
Later, Anaïs Arcane and her children move to her uncle's estate in Krakow. She receives a missive indicating that her husband Josdip has been killed in action, and having seen what she's seen, she feels nothing.
Back in the present, the Phantom Stranger visits Abigail Holland in the Louisiana swamp to inform her that he has searched the afterlife in the hopes of finding any trace of the Swamp Thing, but has found nothing in Heaven or Hell. Abby still refuses to believe that her husband is dead. Her friend Chester Williams decides to take her back to Houma for some human interaction, and notifies her that the checks she's been receiving as compensation for Matt Cable's disability have been stopped.
Appearing in "Brothers in Arms (Part I)"
- Gregori Arcane
- Aniela Arcane
- Josip Arcane (Behind the scenes)
- Phantom Stranger
- Black Wolf
- The Hangman (Count Andre de Sevigne)
- Earliest chronological appearances of Gregori Arcane. Gregori will one day father Abigail Arcane and ultimately become the creature known as the Patchwork Man.
- On the Western Front, Anton Arcane is seen stitching an injured man's face onto his stomach. This bizarre scientific experimentation will ultimately yield a race of creatures known as the Un-Men.
- Abigail has been receiving government checks on behalf of her late husband Matthew Cable since Swamp Thing Vol 2 68. Having no desire to benefit from her ex-husband's "blood money", she began signing them over to Chester Williams.
- The Necronomicon is arguably the most famous, fictional tome of occult lore ever. It was conceived by gothic horror writer Howard Phillips Lovecraft and featured promimently in many of his short stories. The Necronomicon plays a pivotal role in the Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash limited series by WildStorm Productions.
- Swamp Thing Recommended Reading