- Anton Arcane
Anton Arcane Publication information Publisher DC Comics First appearance Swamp Thing #1
(November 1972) (cameo)
Swamp Thing #2
(Dec. 1972/Jan. 1973) (full)
Created by Len Wein (writer)
Berni Wrightson (artist)
In-story information Species Demon Place of origin Hell Abilities brilliant sorcerer and scientist, able to animate and possess dead flesh, telepathy, control of insects, undead and cyborg characteristics
Fictional character biography
Arcane is a scientist whose obsession with gaining immortality has led him to create monstrous creatures known as "Un-Men" as well as other monstrous biogenetic experimentations involving the dead. He was able to resurrect his deceased brother Gregori as the Patchwork Man. He is also a skilled magician, which he is able to channel through his horrific experiments.
Living in the mountains of Europe with his niece Abigail, Arcane was introduced in Swamp Thing Volume 1 #2 after luring the plant based hero to his castle home. Arcane sought to use his scientific and magic abilities to transplant his mind into Swamp Thing's body. His attempt failed, however, and Arcane fell to his death, only to be resurrected by his minions in a new body. He then attacked Swamp Thing twice more before truly dying, the first time as a hulking corpse-like beast and later as a spider-like cyborg piloting a massive dragonfly-like vehicle. It is after his second death that his soul was consigned to Hell.
Arcane's soul later escaped from Hell, and ultimately helped to summon the Monkey King into the world.
After a fight with Abigail that culminated in her leaving on foot to find Swamp Thing, Matt Cable (Abigail's husband) had an attack of conscience and drove after her. He'd been drinking heavily and wound up crashing his car, leaving him mortally wounded. Ultimately Arcane managed to possess Cable's body, and with it gained access to Cable's godlike power.
In his body, he masquerades as Cable, claiming a new job called Blackriver Recorporations and buying a mansion for them to live. Arcane combined his own magic with Cable's inherent psychic powers to alter reality and the employees of Recorporations were the resurrected souls of deceased serial killers returned from Hell. He finally revealed himself, tormenting his niece and causing havoc and insanity by altering reality on a massive scale. For miles around natural and unnatural disasters occurred, people succumb to homicidal instincts and the resurrected serial killers returned to killing.
He once again battled Swamp Thing, accompanied by monstrous forms resembling Un-men, after killing Abigail and condemning her soul to Hell, all the while declaring the earth as his now.
It was during this battle that Arcane found that the Swamp Thing was an elemental and thus possessed semi-magical abilities allowing the Swamp Thing to combat him on a more even ground. The battle was enough for Matthew Cable to regain control of his body, and Arcane was exorcised directly back to Hell. Cable later becomes comatose and dies, whereupon he becomes Matthew, a raven living within The Dreaming.
Arcane next appears as a demon, having been promoted to this status by the Lords of Hell. He attacks Swamp Thing yet again, only to be defeated. In a later episode, Arcane temporarily repents his evil ways after having briefly found God, who eventually banishes him back to Hell. Arcane is tortured by the demon Josephine, whom he seduces into helping him escape. Swamp Thing defeats the two demons, causing their forms to morph together, and when last seen, it is revealed that the Arcane/Josephine being is pregnant.
In other media
Louis Jourdan portrayed Arcane in the 1982 film adaptation of Swamp Thing directed by Wes Craven. He also appeared in the 1989 sequel The Return of Swamp Thing. In the Swamp Thing television series, Mark Lindsay Chapman played Arcane, and Don Francks voiced the character in the short-lived Swamp Thing animated series.
Swamp Thing Creators TV series Films Other mediaSwamp Thing comics · Swamp Thing (video game) · Swamp Thing sets Characters
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