|"The Whiskey Tree, Part 1 of 2"|
|First Published:||July 3, 2013|
|Previous Issue:||Swamp Thing #21|
|Next Issue:||Swamp Thing #23|
"The Whiskey Tree, Part 1 of 2"Edit
Just outside of Fretters Mill, Scotland,a mysterious hooded stranger approaches. He enters the town and encounters Rory and Agnes, two local residents sitting on a bench. When asked by the stranger if the Town had a wish, what would it be, Rory answers that opening the old whiskey distillery would be the greatest thing to happen to the town as it's closure has caused the town to die a slow death. The stranger shows his empathy by stating what a terrible thing it was for the distillery and the town to die. He reaches in his pocket, pulls out a seed, blows on it, and tosses it in the grass. Rory confused about what he sees asks the man who he is...The man responds that people "these days", call him "Seeder". Rory and Agnes are dumbfounded when they see a large tree where the seed was thrown that is leaking brownish droplets from all over. They at once recognize it to be whiskey.
24 hours after the forming of The Whiskey Tree, Swamp Thing appears just outside of Fretters Mill to investigate the strong depletions that are being felt all over The Green in recent months. He has continued to hear the name "Seeder" in his search and is looking forward to eradicating the problem once and for all. He has no idea as to how "Seeder" is pulling energy from The Green, but compares him to a child that grabs and pulls without regard to how much damage he is doing. Swamp Thing decides to get closer, but resists walking down in his Swamp Thing form musing that Scotland already has "one monster". He enters into a tree not too far away from the Whiskey Tree's location.
As Swamp Thing views the events unfolding by the Tree, he sees people who are happy, enjoying each other's company and being celebratory over the miracle if the Tree. As he thinks out loud, he us interrupted by an acquaintance, but by no means a friend...John Constantine. Swamp Thing has fearful respect for John and his abilities, but he also recognizes one primary fact in dealing with John: he is a liar and should not be trusted.
Swamp Thing and John discuss the curiosity that is The Whiskey Tree, Seeder and how Seeder's actions are destroying The Green. While talking, it occurs to Swamp Thing that Constantine is Seeder. Swamp Thing immediately gets Constantine in a choke hold and lectures John of the trouble he has caused. Swamp Thing ponders ripping Constantine in half with urgings from The Green to do it, when John denies being Seeder outright and commands Swamp Thing to release him with force and conviction. Swamp Thing lets John's neck go, but does not understand why. He speculates that John is using some sort of power on him. He can tell it is powerful as he had no other choice but to let him go. Swamp Thing once again recognizes that caution must be applied when dealing with Constantine.
Constantine reiterates that he is not Seeder and he exposes some of his own weaknesses related to the spell he just cast to let Swamp Thing know that his intentions were not to harm him. Swamp Thing recognizes the logic and believes that John is not Seeder. Swamp Thing still sees John as a "liar", but recognizes that he has much larger issues to worry about than in pondering Constantine's motives.
Swamp Thing asks John for any information that he may have regarding Seeder or The Whiskey Tree, but that he needs to destroy the Tree first. Constantine advises Swamp Thing that destroying the Tree is not a good idea. As Swamp Thing states how it does not matter if it is a good idea or not, John tells of what he has learned for the few hours that he has been there. He speaks of how the town was dead after the distillery closed and that those who were left were there because they had nowhere else to go, a tragic statistic common throughout the country.
John continues to explain how the Whiskey Tree has now come and is a miracle to the village. He speaks about the whiskey itself stating that it is the best that anyone has ever tasted. He further states the intentions of the villagers' plan to bottle it and spread it to the rest of the countryside thereby saving their town and spreading joy once again where misery has been the norm for the past several years.
As John explains the situation to Swamp Thing, over by The Whiskey Tree, a villager named William accuses Rory of selfishly keeping the whiskey to himself. Rory tells him to "bugger off" but the situation escalates to where blows are exchanged. Rory renders a low kick to William causing him to fall. As William yells, Rory begins to ruthlessly kick William continually in the head as a miniacal look enters his eyes. Other villagers watching the slaughter begin to laugh hysterically as the same look begins to show on their eyes as well. Blood from William's head splatters everywhere as all involved seem unfazed by the horrid events. They enjoy it.
After hearing John's speech, Swamp Thing tells John that he does not know what he is talking about and that someone with understanding of the supernatural such as he should recognize that whatever magic or intention that was used to create the Whiskey Tree, it was not a good thing. In response, John accuses Swamp Thing of being more concerned with plants than with people. Swamp Thing adds the fact that whiskey comes from barley and that the Tree or the whiskey in it has nothing to do with barley.
As he turns to demonstrate, Swamp Thing views how the happiness and good feelings from before have been transformed and replaced with a hedonistic and evil decadence. The villagers are fighting, raping, engaging in sexual activities, and forcing whiskey down people's throats. Swamp Thing is appalled to see such evil and destruction being rendered and he turns back to Constantine to add these current events as further proof of point of how the actions of "Seeder", whether good intentioned or not in making the Tree, was destroying rather than helping. Swamp Thing says that Seeder does not understand what he is doing.
Springing into action, Swamp Thing prepares to return The Whiskey Tree to The Green. When he asks Constantine for help with handling the people, John agrees that he could help, but he will not. He then pulls out a test tube with a red substance in it. Swamp Thing asks if the substance in the tube is blood, but Constantine doesn't say. He simply states that the liquid coming from the tree is "delicious" as his eyes become maniacal like the other villagers.
When Swamp Thing stretches out to crush Constantine, John crushes the tube in his hand causing the red substance to pour over the ground. The effect of the crush hits Swamp Thing immediately as he drops to his knees disconnected from The Green. John, unfazed by what is happening states that the villagers are just "blowing off steam" and they are "just getting started".
Unable to utilize The Green, Alec recognizes that he still has individual power and he tries to stretch vines out to Constantine in order to destroy him. The vines recoil and dry as if dead however . Constantine remarks that the Swamp Thing is looking like a dead and dry schrub and that he needs to be placed on the curb for pickup and disposal. Alec still in a helpless state can only scream Constantine's name in anger.
John returns to the Whiskey Tree and grabs a jug. He smashes it and fashions the jagged bottom into a crown that he places on his head. Constantine screams out to the villagers that he is "John the First, The Whiskey King". As his first decree, he commands the people to "play" and directs the villagers to a helpless Swamp Thing. The people begin to thrash and tear Alec apart as "King John" fiendishly watches.
"The Whiskey Tree, Part 1 of 2"Edit
- Fetters Hill