Regular readers may recall a post from
several months back that asked the question:
If you're a new reader, or don't recall the post, click here for the details. To summarize, rival publishers DC Comics and Marvel Comics came out with their own spooky swamp creature character at virtually the same time:
Marvel's "Man-Thing": First appeared in the black-and-white magazine Savage Tales #1, cover dated May of 1971.
DC's "Swamp-Thing": First appeared in House of Secrets #92, cover dated June-July of 1971 (meaning it hits the stands in June).
Since comic books typically took about three or four months to create from start to finish, it's highly unlikely that DC Comics could have turned around a knockoff in only two months. It wasn't impossible, especially since Swamp Thing's debut was only an eight page story within a larger anthology title, but...as I said...highly unlikely.
Okay, now for the new wrinkle I just came across. As the original post went on to explain, the two swamp men wouldn't begin appearing regularly until the following year (Man-Thing: June of '72; Swamp Thing: October of '72). However (and here's the twist), during that intervening year, DC published The Phantom Stranger #14, cover dated July-August of 1971. Note how the cover date is a mere one month past the June-July debut of Swamp Thing, which makes it clear that DC had not one, but two swamp-men stories in the pipeline during the spring of 1971.
Making the appearance of this cover even stranger (no pun intended) is the look of the monster itself. Illustrated by Neal Adams, the "Spectre of the Stalking Swamp" is astonishingly similar to Marvel's Man-Thing. In fact, as you can see from the comparison below, all you need to do is add the tell-tale "carrot nose" and some dangling "carrots" to the existing brow ridge and you've got yourself a twin of the Man-Thing!
So...what was going on here? It was odd enough that DC came out with their Swamp Thing so close to the debut of Marvel's Man-Thing...but there they were...a month after their own swamp-man with a near-duplicate of the Man-Thing....who himself wouldn't appear in a color comic book until the following spring! Moreover, the cover date was still a bit too close to Savage Tales #1 for Adams to have (A) seen the Man-Thing artwork or (B) copy the look in time for the Phantom Stranger cover.
Of course, isn't it somehow fitting that the origins of comics' most famous swamp men would be bogged down in a mystery as murky as the swamp itself?