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Swamp Thing: Twin Branches

“Maybe the biggest difference between humans and plants isn’t whether plants think… But what they think about” – Alec Holland, Swamp Thing: Twin Branches

Creator(s) Maggie Stiefvater (writer), Morgan Beem (illustrator), Jeremy Lawson (colors), Ariana Maher (letters)
PublisherDC Comics
Publication Date2020
Environmental Issues and ThemesHabitat Destruction, Mutated Organisms, Plants
Protagonist’s Identity
  • Main character is Alec Holland, a white male teenager with type 1 diabetes

  • The cast also includes several prominent Black characters, including Abby Arcane and the biology teacher who lets Alec use his lab
  • Protagonist’s Level of Environmental AgencyLevel 3: Moderate, Plot-Driven Environmental Agency
    Target Audience Young Adult
    Setting(s) Rappahannock County, Virginia
    Cover of Swamp Thing: Twin Branches.

    Environmental Themes

    Originally created by Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson in 1972, the Swamp Thing–aka Alec Holland–has received several different origin stories over the decades. In Swamp Thing: Twin Branches, writer Maggie Stiefvater reimagines Alec as a lonely teenager with Type 1 diabetes and an obsessive passion for botany. After he and his twin brother Walker catch his dad having an affair, they are sent to rural Virginia to stay with their aunt and cousins for the summer. There, Alec continues his research experiment by capturing and transferring memories through a series of plants named Boris. However, his experiment soon takes on a life of its own when the plant infects local fauna, including his cousins’ dogs, transforming the animals into frightening mutations.

    The Boris plant mutates dogs owned by Alec Holland’s cousins in Swamp Thing: Twin Branches.

    Twin Branches serves as a troubling meditation on adolescence and identity as Alec struggles to fit into his new community. Plants fill the panels and even the gutters, constantly surrounding Alec as he distances himself from other human beings. His problems escalate when other teenagers destroy a famous oak tree during a party. Walker reports the perpetrators to the police, and they seek revenge on the twins. In an act of self-defense, Alec consumes the Boris plant solution and transforms into a horrifying, yet powerful, new form: The Swamp Thing, a towering figure made of bones and vines.

    Plants crowd the gutters as the party takes an environmentally-destructive turn in Swamp Thing: Twin Branches.

    Additional Resources

    Beineke, Colin. ““Her Guardiner”: Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing as the Green Man.” ImageTexT: Interdisciplinary Studies in Comics, vol. 5, issue 4, 2010,

    Dodge, John. “Swamp Thing: Twin Branches Introduces a Horrifying New Origin.”, 22 October 2020,

    Posted in Fantasy, Fiction

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