Swamp Thing (Volume 2) #88 is an unpublished issue of the series Swamp Thing (Volume 2). The issue was never published because DC backtracked on controversial imagery and published a replacement by Doug Wheeler instead.
Solicitation for "Morning of the Magician"
Swamp Thing journeys back to the beginnings of mankind and the biggest surprise awaits!
Despite having planned the story out in advance, and having had it approved by his editors, Rick Veitch's epic story about Swamp Thing journeying backwards through time was a source of concern for DC Editorial, because one of its final issues ended with Swamp Thing meeting Jesus Christ himself. (Veitch's run was expected to end with #92, to be followed by Jamie Delano).
Most of the issue's artwork had already been drawn by Michael Zulli, in what was his first work for DC, and the story was to include both Etrigan and the more obscure Golden Gladiator - following the story arc's trend of highlighting a relatively forgotten era-specific character with each issue's time-period setting. The character of Christ was simply called "Nazarene", referring to his birthplace of Nazareth. The story would have revealed how the three wise men were actually assassins and that the Nazarene was a hedge wizard.
Both editors Karen Berger and Dick Giordano read and tentatively OK'd the script, with the knowledge impressed upon Veitch that changes to the script might be necessary. However, upon her review of the script and artwork, DC President and Editor-in-Chief Jenette Kahn deemed the story too great a risk for publication. Given decreasing sales of comic books and major projects on the horizon for the company, a boycott or protest could hurt the company, and Kahn ordered that the story go unpublished. Though Veitch reportedly made efforts to change the script and argue the opposing side, editorial was determined, and he and Zulli resigned from the title. Karen Berger approached both Jamie Delano and Neil Gaiman to take the writer's position, but both declined out of respect for Veitch.
Eventually, Doug Wheeler was selected as replacement, and continued the time-travel story in a two-month-delayed Swamp Thing (Volume 2) #88, but took the story in a different direction that laid roots for his own contributions to the Swamp Thing mythology.
While Rick Veitch attempted to get his story published with a rewritten script in when he finally returned to the company in 2004, DC declined to publish it.
- Much of the original script and artwork for this planned issue can be found here!
- While this book was solicited to be published in May of 1989, it never saw release. Credits, solicitation text, and artwork are provided for informational purposes. The creators credited may never have completed work on the issue, and the story indicated by the solicitation should not be considered canon.
- The story prominently features Belial (misspelled "Bilial" throughout), the father of Etrigan, in a prominent role. Judging from the script notes and his fly-like appearance in the finished pages, Veitch seems to have confused him with Beelzebub from Neil Gaiman's Sandman.
- There is a brief cameo by Blackbriar Thorn as Swamp Thing passes through various time periods.