- The truth is, there is no getting back to my old life. Because I didn't come back as Alec Holland from before. I came back as someone else.
- -- Alec Holland
Appearing in "Raise Dem Bones"
- Sethe (First appearance)
Synopsis for "Raise Dem Bones"
Across the United States, strange occurrences are happening. In Metropolis, Clark Kent notices that birds are spontaneously dying in mid-air. In the Batcave, Batman notices bats dying. And Aquaman finds the corpses of several fish floating in the ocean. The three of them contact each other, via their JLA communicators.
Meanwhile in Louisiana, a disgruntled Alec Holland is trying to lay low as a construction worker; trying hard to forget how obvious it has become to him that the wood he is cutting was once alive. Despite his efforts to hide his past as a botanist, he can't help but give drop hints to his coworker Paul, who he gives a plant-based home remedy for a sore knee.
Somewhere in Northwestern Arizona, an excavation site has unearthed the full skeletal remains of a mammoth. Suddenly, a strong wind gusts up, and carries the bones away in a crashing tornado.
Alec recalls his life as a botanical scientist. His life's work was the Bio-Restorative Formula, a chemical compound which could encourage plant growth in even the most desolate climates. That life, however, had ended abruptly with his death. That is, until six weeks ago, when he woke up alive in a Louisiana swamp. In addition to returning to life, Alec retains memories that are not his; memories of being the Swamp Thing.
Superman surprises Alec with a visit, and draws the man's attention to the recent natural disturbances. Alec is already well aware of the situation, and suggests that they are nothing to be concerned about. Superman indicates that as the Swamp Thing, Alec would have been more in tune than others with the earth's problems. Alec tells Superman that he was never the Swamp Thing - he was merely the template. He demands to know why Superman is really there.
Superman admits that he has come to check on Alec, because he himself knows what it's like to die and come back to life; how hard it is to go back to one's old life. Alec states that he really tried to go back to his old life, and even resumed work on the Bio-Restorative Formula, but ultimately, he didn't come back as his old self. He came back with the Swamp Thing's memories, including puzzling feelings he has for a "white-haired woman." After completing a batch of the formula, he had a vision of a world covered in green, and destroyed the forumula, throwing it into the swamp behind his hotel. Alec appreciates the concern, and does feel a little lost, but he frankly does not want to be found.
Meanwhile, in Arizona, three paleontologists discover that their find has disappeared. Their leader Gil believes that the bones have been stolen, until he hears a thump over a nearby hillock and climbs up to investigate. They encounter the missing bones, reanimated and surrounded by flies. A fly gets in Gil's ear and twists his head around on his neck until it points back the other way. The possessed corpse pulls a knife and pursues the two other men, who attempt to escape in their jeep, but flies get into their ears as well and they too are possessed.
Alec Holland is plagued by nightmares of his death, where he was caught in a dynamite blast, and covered in his own formula. He stumbled out into the swamp, and when his body died, a new creature emerged in his stead: The Swamp Thing. He wakes from his dream to find his bed covered in plants. Annoyed by the harassment of vegetable life, he grabs a canister of the Bio-Restorative Formula, and motions as if to toss it into the swamp, figuring that it is what the plants want from him. He is prevented from doing so by the Swamp Thing.
- A glowing woman wearing a purple cloak is shown watching Alec Holland. This character first appeared in Flashpoint #5 and makes similar cameos in all #1s of the New 52. The identity of this character is currently unknown.
- The Totleben's Motel where Alec Holland is staying is a reference to artist John Totleben, who worked on numerous Swamp Thing covers and issues.
- The combination to Alec Holland's safe is 1971 - the year in which Alex Olsen appeared as the first Swamp Thing in House of Secrets #92.
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