Saturday, August 25, 2007

SWAMP THING #25 "The Sky Above: Of Hawks and Hauntings!"

Elemental Universe Presents:

Swamp Thing #25 "The Sky Above: Of Hawks and Hauntings"
(cover date: October-November 1976)

Page 1.





Opening splash panel: The woodlands outside of Quinn, Oregon.

Alec Holland stands holding Barefoot Ruth Monroe by his side.

The couple stare down from the edge of the cliff, as they did last issue.

Caption 3: "Doctor Alec Holland was--for a time--forced by a grim
fate and science gone awry, to spend years trapped in a lumbering inhuman form. That of the powerful creature known only as--

Caption 4: "His existence was a living hell endured only by his determination to prevail. A borderline between the madness of despair and the considerable strength of his determination to do the right thing. Despite this ensuing dynasty of a world trapped in unspeakable terror and chaos, Alec Holland found a reason for being."

Caption 5: "His will to survive."

Caption 6: "Now his time of personal torment is over."

Caption 7: "Or... Has his suffering only just begun?"

ALEC: [thought balloon] "Lord, that...was too close! I may be human again, but I'll never be free of this curse. The nightmares keep on coming. Will this torture ever end? Will I never know any peace at all?"

Page 2.

Panel 1: Alec carries Barefoot Ruth away from the cliff's edge.

Barefoot Ruth's white jacket and pants are in tatters.
Alec is looking up at the sky, while Barefoot Ruth looks at him.

Caption 1: "Alec Holland is human again against all the odds, and beholden to a power greater than his own."

Caption 2: "The power of hope."

Panel 2: Headshot of Alec, with a collage of last issue's events.

Caption 1: "But would even hope be enough? He had to wonder. Alec holds his uncertain young barefoot girlfriend in his arms, a beautiful perpetually barefoot young woman and fellow scientist named Barefoot Ruthanne "Barefoot Ruth" Monroe. They stood together staring down into the chasm where the mysterious creature called Thrudvang had fallen into, perhaps fatally. Some tense moments ago, following a mad and desperate pursuit."- *

Caption 2: "- * See last issue."

Panel 3: Alec still holding onto Barefoot Ruth.

ALEC: [thought balloon] "Sometimes I wonder if my existence is a curse. I thought being restored as a normal man would be the escape I needed from the insanity that seemed to follow me everywhere I went as the Swamp Thing. I'm almost a revenant now, still only a living ghost of a man. The madness and the monsters always follow! Could becoming human again have been the worst mistake I could have possibly made?"

Panel 4: Barefoot Ruth slips out of Alec's grasp. She drops gracefully down to her always bare feet.

Caption: "Tensions: Anxiety stressfully mounted in the wake or the coming of some major event or foreseen dreaded occurance.
For Alec Holland, the suspense of not knowing the difference is emotionally crushing."

Barefoot RUTH: "Alec? Let's go home now. I can walk on my own just fine. It's starting to get dark out here. Let's go!"

Panel 5: Alec with his hand touching Barefoot Ruth's red hair.

ALEC: "Hey, Barefoot Ruth. Let me take a look at you. That was a nasty blow to the head you took in the crash. But it doesn't look too bad."

Barefoot RUTH: "Don't worry about me. I'm fine. It's you that I'm worried about. That seizure you nearly suffered! I'm afraid you may be reverting back!"

ALEC: "No. If that was happening, I'd know it! Wherever that was, I'm over it now. It'll be okay."

Page 3.

Panel 1: Alec follows Barefoot Ruth through the forest.

ALEC: "Look, I'm sorry about this, Barefoot Ruth. You lost your purse, some of your jewelry, the groceries, the car!"

Barefoot RUTH: "Hmmm, well. I don't care about that. Hey,
That's the least of it..."

ALEC: "That's true. Well, pardon my asking. But didn't you have on that nice little pair of shiny pearl barefoot anklets, earlier today?
I remember complementing you on them. I hope you didn't lose them..."

Panel 2: Ground shot. Barefoot Ruth's sexy always bare feet, with healthy wide spread out toes crossing over a puddle of water. Their reflections in the water are upside down, with trees above. Alec's larger image is distorted, green and looks like Swamp Thing.

Barefoot RUTH: [word balloon pointing to her toe-ringed bare feet]
"Well, compared to saving my life, tearing up my clothes and losing my best pair of barefoot anklets is nothing to worry about! Fortunately, I'm very athletic on my always barefoot toes!
I've always been a fast and alert barefoot runner all my life, which sure helped when that crazy giant yellow thing started chasing after us! Just my luck. Ha-ha! All the more incentive for all typical barefoot women in the world to just go without any barefoot feminine fashion jewelry!"

ALEC: [from off-panel] "You're actually joking about that monster we faced? It's not funny, Barefoot Ruth. We're lucky we made it to the bridge in time. No telling what that creature was..."

Barefoot RUTH: "Forget the monster! You took care of it. It's gone... Not much for small talk? Remind me to break you of that. You need a little more self-expression. Self-esteem."

ALEC: "Maybe, someday."

Barefoot RUTH: "Someday soon, I hope. I won't wait around for you forever."

Panel 3: Alec follows Barefoot Ruth toward a hill.

Barefoot RUTH: "Almost there!"

ALEC: "Barefoot Ruth, I think that creature was after me..."

Barefoot RUTH: "Anyway, we've been heading out to the lake all summer, six beautiful months, since we cured you. Besides, doing a little barefoot hiking on a nice cool late autumn evening is so beneficial for you. Feels good. I mean it. Ha! You should get out of those shoes and go barefoot again, just like you were all summer. You look like hell, your posture is slacking, and it can't be good for your health. Doctor's orders!"

ALEC: "Good idea. But not right now, thanks. There's just too much on my mind. I'm more concerned about you, at the moment. Hill's steep, on this end. Should I carry you?"

Barefoot RUTH: "You could just utterly kill feminism, Alec! You're almost like your brother. I can make it back to the house without your help. Even from down here. It's not really too far from here on this end, right? Let's
get to the house, before it gets any darker. We can explain to Edward about the car later."

Panel 4: Alec follows Barefoot Ruth up the hill.

ALEC: "That's it. You know the way."

Barefoot RUTH: "I thought I did!"

ALEC: "Listen, Barefoot Ruth. After that lunatic John Zero attacked us, I think Edward will understand about the loss of the car. Somehow, I think the encounter we just had is the least of all our worries. Are you sure you're okay?"

Panel 5: Alec and Barefoot Ruth nearing the hilltop house.

Barefoot RUTH: "I'm in ship-shape condition. It's your health I'm concerned with. For the last time, I wasn't hurt. I can see and walk fine! It's getting darker. Now come on!
Hurry up! I can still see the house from here."

ALEC: "I grew up in these woods, Barefoot Ruth. Now I sort of feel like a stranger here."

Barefoot RUTH: "Come on! I'll race you!"

ALEC: [thought balloon] "Why am I doing this? WHY..?"

Panel 6: No illustration. Black background. Bright text.

Caption 1: "Barefoot Ruth makes her way, always barefoot and carefree, swiftly up the steep hill to the Holland house. She breathes softly. The chilled deadening grass, autumn leaves, and icy cold mud of the moist ground mildly sting under her freely exposed elegantly ringed toes. Ascending the hill top, she sways both her arms for balance. Her tattered jacket and blouse hangs loosely from her upper body. Her ripped clothes flutter along with her long red hair under the chill evening wind. Alec moves after her, remorseful and depressed, as if her great beauty is knowingly an illusion. His shod feet feel heavy, like lead inside his shoes. His rope-burned bare hands are sore and clenched tightly into fists as he works his way up the final path of the hill. His shirt is a mass of cold sweat. His jeans are now like sandpaper. His back arched to support his body weight, there is now little difference, as though he were still the Swamp Thing. This loathsome feeling has to stop, or he is going to lose his mind. Perhaps it may be that he already has."

Caption 2: "Alec's older brother Doctor Edward Holland will answer the doorbell any second now. Barefoot Ruth Munroe, his graduated college student and live-in lab assistant has clearly seen better days. Alec dreads what he has to do next, but this must be done. He can't continue to endanger the lives of the people he loves.
It's settled then, he thinks..."

Caption 3: "The time has come... for Alec to leave!"

Page 4.

Panel 1: Alec and Barefoot Ruth are met by Edward inside. He is wearing a labcoat, sweater, brown slacks and loafers. He smokes a pipe.

EDWARD: "Alec, Barefoot Ruth! What happened? Did you have an accident?"

Barefoot RUTH: "Edward, give me a second to explain this. Some kind of monster attacked Alec and me. It chased us all the way out to the gorge. Alec cut the rope bridge, and sent the thing down. We're safe for now, so don't worry about us too much."

EDWARD: "Don't worry? But look at your clothes!"

Panel 2: Close-up of Barefoot Ruth staring down, grinning.

Barefoot RUTH: "Hey, it's the newest fashion! It's really no problem. I have a closet full of stuff to wear. I'll miss my favorite set of barefoot anklets, though! I've had those since college. Should have taken my ruby ones. There's no place like home."

EDWARD: [from off-panel] "Barefoot Ruth, this is no time for jokes! If we're still in danger, we must take steps--Now where's the car?"

Barefoot RUTH: "Don't even ask."

Panel 3: Alec looking grim with Barefoot Ruth and Edward in the background. Barefoot Ruth removes her tattered jacket.

Caption: "Alec walks into the house after lingering outside.

The solemn look on his face alone tells Edward the full story."

ALEC: "Barefoot Ruth, you're in denial. We're still in danger."

Barefoot RUTH: "We are not! It's over. Just relax..."

ALEC: "Yes. We are, Barefoot Ruth. I won't put you in danger any longer. Edward, I won't be a problem to you much longer. It's become clear that my staying here poses too much of a risk, both to you and to Barefoot Ruth. I will be leaving here soon. Tonight."

Panel 4: Edward puts his hands on Alec shoulders. Barefoot Ruth removes her ripped blouse. She now wears only her white bikini top and white tattered pants.

EDWARD: "I'm afraid I have to agree, Alec. We can't let anything like this happen again. Barefoot Ruth's safety and happiness is even more important to us than your treatments. I'm sorry we couldn't help you more than we already have."

ALEC: "I knew you'd understand! Well, I guess this is good-bye."

EDWARD: "I'll give you more than enough money to get you out of the state. Where do you plan to go?"

ALEC: "I don't know yet. California sounds nice. I can take a bus."

Panel 5: Barefoot Ruth prevents Alec from leaving at the door.

Barefoot RUTH: "No, Alec! You can't just leave! We should go together.

If there's something wrong with you, we have to find out--"

Panel 6: Alec holds Barefoot Ruth in his arms.

ALEC: "I have to go, barefoot baby. Don't worry about me. I'm perfectly fine now. Your safety's all I can think about. You'll be safer once I'm gone. If everything works out, I'll still be there and you can come join me in a few weeks, once you start your winter-long vacation. Trust me, Barefoot Ruth."

Page 5.

Panel 1: Barefoot Ruth sits watching Alec put on a backpack.

Caption: "Quiet minutes pass. Edward helps Alec with a small backpack, having provided him with cash and directions. Coming downstairs again, the two men now find Barefoot Ruth weeping and upset.
Alec Holland has never felt more torn than he is now."

Barefoot RUTH: [hugs Alec, in tears] "Don't go, Alec. Let us take care of you!"

ALEC: [grins, hugging her] "You've done enough already. You've saved me from my worst nightmare. I have no choice. When I know it's safe, maybe someday I will return. Just remember, I will always love you, Ruth. I lost my dear barefoot wife, Barefoot Linda, but I will never lose you! I'll miss you terribly. But believe me. It's for the best this way. Good-bye."

Panel 2: Alec walks out, leaving Barefoot Ruth crying in Edward's arms.

Panel 3: Alec walks alone in the forest, close to the river.

Caption 1: "Alec steps out the front door and runs determinedly down the safe trail leading from the house on the hill. Barefoot Ruth screams out his name in the darkness, pleading for his return. But he knows now in his heart he knew he is doing the right thing.

Caption 2: That's when he sees something in the dusk sky, illuminated in the light of the moon...

Panel 4: Alec looks up at two winged dark figures in the night sky, against the moon.

ALEC: [thought balloon] "Looks like a couple of hawks. Eagles, maybe. Hard to tell. Whatever they are, I hope they are having a better night than I am."

Panel 5: Close-up of the shadowed winged figures.

Caption 1: "But these hawks were a very special kind of bird of prey."

Caption 2: "Glance closer, gentle reader... and maybe you'll catch sight of them...

Panel 6: The Hawkman and Barefoot Hawkgirl appear in the dark sky.

Caption 1: "Yes, they are human! Hailing from the faraway planet Thanagar-- a world beyond our knowledge."

Caption 2: "These winged warriors... are the Hawkman and Barefoot Hawkgirl."

Caption 3: "Winged predators of this domain. Their prey of choice is evil and aggression. Of which these bird-people know there is plenty to be found in our world! Lord Katar Hol and his barefoot wife, Barefoot Lady Shayera Thal fly aloft together under the light of a romantic moon in the night sky."

Page 6.

Panel 1: Close-up of a brass eagle atop an American Flag.

Caption 1: "Despite the growing uncertainties of this increasingly complex world, justice can however sometimes be served exactly where it is intended to be served."

Caption 2: "In a court of law."

JUDGE: [from off-panel] "Court is now in session. Please read the verdict."

Panel 2: Jury foreman reads the verdict to the judge.

FOREMAN: "The defendent, Burton Sloan is found guilty of manslaughter by means of assault, your honor."

JUDGE: "The sentence is fifteen years imprisonment at the State Penitentiary. Court is now adjourned."

Panel 3: Sloan in a business suit, struggling with guards.

SLOAN: "I'm not ashamed of what I done! That crazy Injun was goin' ta kill us all... Thar's no body! He was blown up along with his monster!- * I demand a re-trial, I ain't goin' down fer this! Do ya all hear me?"

Caption: "- * Issue #20."

Panel 4: Matt Cable, Barefoot Abby Arcane, Junior Sloan, and Jefferson Bolt sitting together in the court.

BOLT: "It took over a year to convict him. Who else thinks he's gonna get off?"

MATT: "He won't. Not with the connections I have."

Barefoot ABBY: "I'm glad it's finally over. Now we can get on with our lives again."

MATT: "This would never have happened at all without your testimony, Abby. Or without Junior's."

Panel 5: Barefoot Abby walking outside, leading Matt, Bolt, and Junior.

BOLT: "Call him Burt, Cable. The kid's earned it."

JUNIOR: "Pa killed my friend Ho'Taw. I ain't got no regrets about him goin' ta jail none at all."

BOLT: "I'm gonna stay and look after the kid for a while. Make sure he ends up with a good foster family. You better be headin' back to Washington now, Cable."

MATT: "In that case--take care, Bolt."

Barefoot ABBY: "Good-bye, Bolt. We'll miss you."

BOLT: "I'm sure you will."

Panel 6: Matt and Barefoot Abby sit together in a car. Barefoot Abby clearly enjoys the sun in her face. She wears a summer dress, with her bare slim arms crossed, her uncovered sexy legs are leaned up visibly,
with her beautiful, ankleted and toe ringed, dirty-soled, always bare feet resting atop the dashboard on the passenger side. Matt, sweating and looking uncomfortable in his business suit, fumbles through his keys on the driver side.

Caption: "But sometimes, even when justice is served, life continues to be complicated and frustrating..."

MATT: "That man Bolt! Always getting on my case."

Barefoot ABBY: "You seem worried, Matthew. You don't want to return to Fenwick. Why is that?"

MATT: "The less said about my boss, Dwight Wicker--the better!

I'm almost glad we were held up with the trial for so damned long.
I'll bet my former boss John Zero is still missing after all this time.
Just where the hell could he have run off to?"

Barefoot ABBY: "You don't trust Wicker, do you?"

MATT: "At this point, Barefoot Abigail, I don't trust anyone."

Page 7.

Panel 1: Fenwick, same as it was seen in previous issues.

Caption 1: "Fenwick Military Academy. A hot bed of top-secret government intelligence and intrigue."

Caption 2: "And no more so ever, than today!"

Panel 2: Sabre slips out of a secret passage into a hallway.

SABRE: [thought balloon] "It's a good thing that I myself designed most of the security measures here, otherwise I would never have been able to infiltrate."

Panel 3: Sabre slices into and kicks down the door to Dwight Wicker's office.

SABRE: "Too easy!"

Panel 4: Sabre faces Wicker, who is standing behind his desk.

WICKER: "I don't know who the hell you think you are, but I'm calling security!"

Panel 5: Sabre slashes the emergency phone in half, as Wicker jumps back.

SABRE: "No! Don't you recognize me, Wicker? I may be badly burned, wearing a mask, and missing a hand... But surely, you remember my voice?"

Panel 6: Wicker makes fists at Sabre, shouting.

WICKER: "Zero! You have a lot of nerve returning here! But you're not going to escape me this time!"

SABRE: "That's Commander Zero to you, Mr. Director! Now, shut up!"

Panel 7: Wicker's face, bloodily gashed across the right side down across the eye by Sabre's blade.

WICKER: [screaming] "Ghaaah! My face! You goddamn crazy bastard!"

Page 8.

Panel 1: Sabre holds his blade to Wicker's throat, while blood runs down Wicker's face.

WICKER: "My eye! You put it out. You'll pay for this!"

SABRE: "No, you'll keep the eye, and just never see out of it again. But then, men without vision deserve to be blind. Poetic justice, don't you think?"

WICKER: "What do you want, you maniac?"

SABRE: "I want you to suffer as you have hurt me! Think back..."

Panel 2: Flashback sequence. John Zero in a suit, trenchcoat and hat, waiting on foot to walk across a city pedestrian intersection in a small crowd.

Caption 1: [Sabre narrarating] "There I was. Just minding my own business. I was going home after a failed attempt to capture the Swamp Thing in Gotham City."- *

Caption 2: "- * The Brave and The Bold #122."

Panel 3: Close-up of Zero's hand on his hat, as seen in a targeting crosshairs.

Caption 3: [Sabre narrarating] "Your hitman was no professional. He was as clumsy as he was stupid. There was a sudden gust of wind. I reached up with my right hand to adjust my hat... The murder attempt took my hand, but not my life."

Panel 4: Wicker pushes a button under his desk, while Sabre shouts at him.

SABRE: "I would have gladly given up my job to you, despite the many hard years of work I've devoted to establishing the D.D.I. and its integrity! But you had to try to kill me! Is that your idea of retirement? Is it?"

WICKER: "No, that wasn't my idea. You see, I don't merely attempt a project as you did. I succeed at it."

Panel 5: Sabre and Wicker both look up. Sirens blare.

SABRE: "This isn't over. You'll pay for this!"

WICKER: "You'll never live to see that day, old man. But do have an excruciatingly painful death, won't you? Good-bye."

Panel 6: Sabre leaps out the window with a loud crash.

Panel 7: Sabre bounces off the tarp of a military vehicle and runs toward a large truck. Bullets blaze around him.

Panel 8: Wicker stands at the window, with soldiers at his side firing at Sabre.

WICKER: "Shoot him! Kill the intruder! Don't let him escape!

I want that man dead!"

Page 9.

Panel 1: A car speeds out of the back of the truck, as Sabre bounds into it. Solomon Smith is driving.

SABRE: "Get us the hell out of here!"

Panel 2: The car crashes through the front gate. Bullets fired by the soldiers bounce off it.

Panel 3: Sabre and Smith in the car.

SMITH: "I trust you see the error in your ways now, Sabre? You should have killed Wicker when you had the chance! Now you'll never gain another opportunity. You should always listen to Solomon Smith."

SABRE: "Tell me something I don't know. Who are you, Smith?

Why are we even allies to begin with?"

SMITH: "It's really quite simple. There are there are the hunters and there are prey. And then there is me."

Panel 4: Smith rips off his false face. Sabre watches on in shock.

SABRE: "What-who are you...?"

Panel 5: Close-up of the Manhunter's masked face.


Caption: "- * Last seen in the recent Secret Society of Super-Villains #3."

SABRE: "The Manhunter. The Bureau kept files on you before Wicker's corruption set in. You're a replicant of dead mercenary Paul Kirk, aren't you? You're a clone..."

Panel 6: Manhunter and Sabre race from the car as it explodes, running toward a super-sonic aircraft.

MANHUNTER: "My status is no longer your concern. What matters is you understand the Colossus Council can no longer be allowed to thrive. The D.D.I. will have to wait."

Panel 7: Manhunter and Sabre in the speeding aircraft.

SABRE: "Genetic duplication. Cloning of an army of Manhunters... and Swamp Things! Now all of it fits. I'm not the only one out for revenge here..."

MANHUNTER: "Vendettas are no longer important. You will meet with the Secret Society of Super-Villains in San Francisco, w
hile I carry out the mission you so desperately failed at..."

SABRE: "Dealing with Alec Holland? Well, I say..."

Panel 8: Their ship speeds off into the distance.

SABRE: "...good luck with that!"

SABRE: [thought balloon] "Because you'll need it!"

Page 10.

Panel 1: Barefoot Zatanna's mansion in San Francisco. A young blond British punk rocker rings the doorbell, while Sabre and Manhunter's craft zooms by overhead.

Caption: "Interlude. San Francisco, California."

Panel 2: Barefoot
Zatanna appears smiling at the door. She's wearing only a black bikini, with small mystical-looking wrist bracers and disco-style barefoot anklets. Her swept-back dark hair is ponytailed up high, leaving her forehead and ears bare and she's wearing round golden earrings. The drunken punk drops his cigaratte and he looks up.
A bottle of Scotch can be visibly seen in the punk's hand.

PUNK: "Strewth! Bloody Hell. Whaaz'at?"

Panel 3: Barefoot Zatanna hugs the punk, surprising him.

Barefoot ZATANNA: "Oh! It's so good to see you, again..."

Panel 4: Close-up of the punk's smiling face.

Barefoot ZATANNA: [from off-panel] "...John Constantine!"

JOHN: "It's good to be seen today, Barefoot Zatanna. Even better to see you. Busy skies today, eh?"

Panel 5: John and Barefoot Zatanna embrace.

Barefoot ZATANNA: "What is with this crazy punk get-up? Honestly, you look like a Hellblazer or something..."

JOHN: "The Sex Pistols, luv. Stormed the ramparts, last year, they have. A bloke has to pay 'em tribute. Found the book you've been a' shaggin' for. Subliminal suggestion, all that. Dodgy fine mess, that can be."

Barefoot ZATANNA: "Mindwipes. Yes! I have to learn that spell. You've got to show me how to do it."

JOHN: "Very dangerous mind, you have there, barefoot darlin'."

Panel 6: John and Barefoot Zatanna's hands touch a small glass sculpture on a table top resembling the Swamp Thing.

JOHN: "First thing's first, barefoot luv. Spin me a bit of Ye Olde Green Man lore. I want to learn things here, too."

Barefoot ZATANNA: "Green Man? Oh, you mean the Swamp Thing! Well, there's not much to tell. Batman's seen it. Something happened in Florida last year and they blew the damn creature to bits. Case closed, before it was ever opened."

JOHN: "Now there's a damn shame. Big vegetable might have proven useful in ways you could never imagine."

Panel 7: Now shirtless, John follows the smiling, sexy bikini-clad Barefoot Zatanna, as she races swiftly up the staircase.

Barefoot ZATANNA: "So this it then ? Exchanging urban legends with forbidden mind control spells?"

JOHN: "Don't sell me short, barefoot luv! Saw a few good chaps downtown.
The tantric magic studies course is due about to start up tomorrow. We get to poke holes in reality while we shag in the pool. I tell you. There's nothing better."

Barefoot ZATANNA: "I can't. My father would never allow it!"

JOHN: "If Father dearest is going to be so much of a tussle, don't bother saving his damn life next time. Besides, he doesn't have to know about it..."

Panel 8: They kiss passionately in bed.
Barefoot Zatanna is nude, with her hair down.

Barefoot ZATANNA: "Okay then, dammit! We'll go."

JOHN: "Well, now! That's my barefoot girl, luv..."

Barefoot ZATANNA: "Who said I wasn't?"

Page 11.

Panel 1: Alec walks through the busy streets of Portland.

ALEC: [thought balloon] "So much for getting out of the state! Who knew a room and board for one night would cost so much? Can't even afford a bus ticket out of the city. I made a much better swamp creature than I do a drifter, it would seem."

Panel 2: Alec finds himself in a crowd. A beautiful barefoot woman is tapping him on the shoulder.

ALEC: [thought balloon] "Great! There's a mob surrounding the Museum of Natural History! Looks like I'll have to turn back the way I came--Hey, what does that pretty barefoot girl behind me want?"

Panel 3: Barefoot Liz Tremayne, a beautiful redheaded feisty-looking young barefoot woman, holds a microphone to Alec's face. Barefoot Liz is wearing a long-sleeved white blouse with a plunging neckline showing sexy cleavage, and black bellbottom slacks that come up well above the ankles of her healthy bare feet. Barefoot Liz wears no jewelry, so she's commonly barefoot; no anklets or toe rings on her dirty-soled always bare feet. Barefoot Liz's cameraman, Paul Feldner stands behind her, unable to get his film equipment to work. Paul's wearing a black business suit with scuffed worn black shoes, his dark short curly hair is similar to his short beard, and he isn't much taller than Barefoot Liz. Alec's shadow spread on the pavement behind them all looks like Swamp Thing.

Barefoot LIZ [smiling] : "Hello! My name is Barefoot Liz Tremayne. I'm a journalism student working on a project. What is your interest in the museum's latest find from the Lewis and Clark expedition digs?"

PAUL: "Barefoot Liz, the camera isn't working."

Barefoot LIZ: "Well, hurry up, Paul. I've got a man on the street interview, here."

ALEC: "Sorry, barefoot lady..."

Panel 4: Alec walks away, with Barefoot Liz and Paul staring after him.

ALEC: "I'm just passing through."

Barefoot LIZ: "Hmmph! Well, that was rude."

PAUL: "Barefoot Liz, I told you this was a waste of time. People out here won't talk to us. And there's no way we can get past this crowd to get in the museum and meet the Hall couple before they leave. I told you before, I'm working to be a producer, not a camera guy."

Panel 5: Barefoot Liz and Paul stop to argue, as Alec walks off.

Barefoot LIZ: "Producing starts with the camera, Paul. I'll wrap an interview with visiting curators Carter and Barefoot Shiera Hall, even if I have to use my pocket tape recorder. Then, I'll get back to my thesis about the Swamp-Men. It's going to make a great book."

PAUL: "Swamp Thing, not Swamp-Men, Barefoot Liz! The creature's dead, so what's the point of pursuing it?"

Barefoot LIZ: "Because it's going to be my big break into becoming a reporter! Forget Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster. The Swamp-Men are the next big news scoop. They can't all be dead."

PAUL: "We came out here to to a museum piece for your class. Let's just do that, okay? Enough about your monsters, and Barefoot Barbara Walters telling you that smart, ambitious beautiful barefoot women like you are going to break into primetime. It's never going to happen."

Barefoot LIZ: "Yes, it will. In-Depth Magazine is going to be a reality, trust me. If you want to be my producer, I suggest you start being more cooperative."

PAUL: "Fine. I still owe you for helping me to get that grant, so okay. I say tabloid sensationalism isn't the way to go."

Barefoot LIZ: "We'll see."

Panel 6: Alec walks on, looking back over his shoulder.

ALEC: [thought balloon] "I can't believe they just discussed the Swamp Thing! No matter what I do, there just seems to be no escaping it. Like I was somehow predestined for all of this."

Panel 7: Alec passes by a dark alley, where the Manhunter spies on him.

MANHUNTER: [thought balloon] "There he is! Soon there shall be a reckoning. For no man escapes the Manhunter!"

Page 12.

Panel 1: Inside the museum. Carter and Barefoot Shiera Hall enter an empty room. Carter has on a full business suit and tie with shiny shoes, and he's carrying their bags. Barefoot Shiera wears a plunging strapless long evening dress, with luxurious diamond bracelets, diamond-studded barefoot anklets, and silver toe rings that decorate her always-bare feet, as she strides barefoot ahead of Carter. Barefoot Shiera grasps a sword-like machete in her lovely diamond-ringed fingers, staring down at it.

Barefoot SHIERA: "Why must we waste time studying such a mundane artifact, when we can now return to our native Thanagar, Katar? We have fulfilled our obligations here on Earth, I feel it is time to return home."

CARTER: "In time, Barefoot Shayera. Until the Justice League can discover more about the gathering of super-villains that Green Lantern has encountered in San Francisco, we'll keep to our Earth identities.

Barefoot SHIERA: "Very well. We'll remain here on Earth. For now. But clearly, this antique blade was hardly used for any trailblazing."

CARTER: "Still, the museum wants it to be verified, so the task falls to us."

Panel 2: Back of Alec's head and jacketed shoulders in dark alley.
Red eyes appear above him in the darkness: Swamp Thing's eyes!

ALEC: "Good Lord!"

ALEC: [shouts] "NOT AGAIN!"

Panel 3: Alec runs, Swamp Thing doppleganger chases after him.

ALEC: [thought balloon] "This can't possibly be happening again. That mindless Swamp Thing double was destroyed back in Florida last year. Where did this one come from? And how did it find me now that I'm human?"

Panel 4: Carter and Barefoot Shiera watch the pursuit from a balcony.

Barefoot SHIERA: " Katar! What is that creature chasing after that man?"

CARTER: "It's the Swamp Thing! The Batman is familiar with it, but there's no time to contact him now. That citizen is in danger, Barefoot Shayera."

Panel 5: Barefoot Shayera perches, her spread-out ringed toes of her always bare feet curled down on the edge of the balcony railing. She's in her Barefoot Hawkgirl costume, her dress that concealed it now crumpled on the floor below. Katar is still fully dressed as Carter, working to attach the Barefoot Hawkgirl's wings with one hand, while lowering her helmet onto her unmasked head with the other.

Barefoot HAWKGIRL: "Hurry, Katar! I must get after them, now!"

CARTER: "I'll excuse our absence here and join you as swiftly as possible."

Panel 6: Close-up: Both of Barefoot Hawkgirl's bare feet soaring, with anklets and toe rings shining, and the tip feathers of one of her wings behind them. Carter leaning on the balcony railing, below in the background.

CARTER: "Be careful, Barefoot Shayera."

Panel 7: Barefoot Hawkgirl flying and smiling as she holds the machete in both of her bare hands. Carter on the balcony with his hands in his pockets in the background.

CARTER: "And do try to bring the artifact back in one piece this time. won't you?"

Barefoot HAWKGIRL: "No promises, husband. But I will try."

Page 13.

Panel 1: Alec is trapped in a dark alley by the Swamp Thing double, as the Manhunter watches unseen from the background.

ALEC: [thought balloon] "No place left to run. Too concerned about keeping the creature away from other people, I didn't even consider my own escape!"

MANHUNTER: [thought ballon] "Everything is going according to plan. Once I have Holland, together with this Swamp Thing replicant, I will have all the leverage I need to bring down the Council once and for all... What is he doing?

Panel 2: Alec clings to a fire escape and kicks the Swamp Thing to the pavement. Muck and moss cling heavily under his shoes.

ALEC: [thought balloon] "No, I'm still not going down without a fight! I spent years living as the Swamp Thing. I know all of the creature's weaknesses, such as how to knock it down. Like this!"

Panel 3: The Barefoot Hawkgirl lands on the Swamp Thing's mossy shoulders, crouching down and she begins savagely hacking away at him with the blade she holds firmly in her bare hands, with her wings still spread out, casting a shadow on the wall behind them.

Barefoot HAWKGIRL: [thought balloon] "The machete was never intended for this sort of trailblazing, but my slicing effort seems to stun the creature with pain. Have to keep him distracted, until Katar arrives to help finish this battle. The creature's husk feels so cold and strangely desolate beneath my naturally barefoot toes. But it's so unusually cold underfoot, as if this monster I fight was truly meant to be dead..."

Murky Caption 1: "But danger lurks on the creature's verdant mossy flesh.,,"

Panel 4: Close-up of Barefoot Shayera's always bare feet on Swamp Thing's back. The roots wrap around her ringed bare toes and reach for her diamonded barefoot anklets. This view of her jeweled and supple bare feet is not obscured by the following caption, nor by her word balloon.

Murky Caption 2: "As the alert, angelic winged barefoot woman warrior is swiftly and alertly aware!"

Barefoot HAWKGIRL: "I feel something strange beneath my bare feet... Moons of Thanagar! The creature now has hold of my bejeweled bare feet! The roots covering its cold wet mossy body seem to have a life of their own. I must free myself, before the creature seizes me completely!"

Panel 5: Close-up of the BarefootHawkgirl's left hand, her ringed bare fingers spread out, trapped in a root on Swamp Thing's head.

Barefoot HAWKGIRL: "Now only my sword-hand remains free. I must act quickly!"

Panels 6-7: Panel split into rectangles. Panel 6 has Barefoot Hawkgirl swing her blade into the roots to free her bare feet, as she pulls her hand free. In Panel 7, Swamp Thing grabs her by her neck and slams her head into the nearby wall, knocking her out.

Barefoot HAWKGIRL: [thought balloon] "No! Wasn't fast enough! Ugghh!"

Panel 8: Alec cradles the unconscious Barefoot Hawkgirl, as the shadow of Hawkman's wings falls over the Swamp Thing clone.

Page 14.

Splash page. Hawkman slams his mace into the Swamp Thing clone, sending the monster flying. The surprised Alec, Barefoot Hawkgirl, and Manhunter watch in the dark alley background. There's a lot of action and energy in this scene. This is the money shot!

Page 15.

Panel 1: Swamp Thing slams into the hood of a parked car on the street.

Caption: "The Thanagarian Winged Warrior has seen many battles in his time, but even he has never faced an adversary such as this."

Panel 2: Car explodes. Hawkman uses his wings to protect himself from the blast.

HAWKMAN: "Great Thanagar!"

Panel 3: Swamp Thing emerges from the flames.

Murky Caption: "But real or not.. The Swamp Thing yet lives, and he cannot be stopped!"

Panel 4: Swamp Thing wrestles with Hawkman, while the Manhunter uses his remote control on the Swamp Thing clone in the background.

MANHUNTER: [thought balloon] "What a grand opportunity! To eliminate Hawkman and the Swamp Thing replicant in a battle! They will seem to destroy each other, and none will be the wiser."

Panel 5: Close-up of Manhunter's face, speaking into the remote.

MANHUNTER: "Swamp Thing. Kill Hawkman!"

MANHUNTER: [thought balloon] "Now to attend to Dr. Holland. I won't have to turn him over to the Council after all. My agenda is my own right, as it should be."

Panel 6: Hawkman flies away with Swamp Thing still trying to crush him. The metal talons ejected from Hawkman's boots are lodged into the Swamp Thing's mossy knees. Barefoot Hawkgirl screams from the ground below.

Barefoot HAWKGIRL: "Katar!"

Panel 7: Hawkman manages to throw Swamp Thing into the air above him.

Panel 8: Manhunter has Alec backed into a corner of the alley with his energy weapon burning a hole in Alec's jacket, while Manhunter looks up and pushes a button on his remote.

MANHUNTER: "Now, this battle ends!"

Page 16.

Panel 1: The Swamp Thing clone explodes in the sky, the explosion hurts the flying Hawkman.

HAWKMAN: "Arghhhh!"

Panel 2: Barefoot Liz and Paul look up at the explosion from the street.

PAUL: "What the hell was that?"

Barefoot LIZ: "A story! Come on!"

Panel 3: Barefoot Hawkgirl rescues the falling Hawkman.

Barefoot HAWKGIRL: "Are you well, my love? What has occurred here?"

HAWKMAN: "I do not know for certain. I could sense the creature was being remote-controlled, then I felt the deadly vibrations of a detonation device within it, using the Nth Metal in my belt. Now the monster is destroyed. We have no concept of what it wanted!"

Barefoot HAWKGIRL: "Yes, we do! That man that the creature was chasing after. He must know something. We must find him!"

MORE STORY TO COME.... Now log in and comment!