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Created by Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson, Anton Arcane debuted in Swamp Thing vol. 1 #2 (1972–1973). He appears as a spindly scientist and amateur occultist from a Balkan nation who is obsessed by two desires: the achievement of power and eternal life. During World War II, he mistakenly allies himself with the Nazis, including the Führer himself, only to venture deeper into the world of sorcery and debauchery, along the way creating creatures such as the horrific, artificial life forms the Un-Men and the Patchwork Man, assembled from decaying body parts. Although Arcane became immortal, his human body aged. Seeking out the Swamp Thing, Arcane offered him humanity in exchange for using his powerful plant body for himself. Swamp Thing agreed and was magically transformed into Alec Holland. However, when Holland realized that Arcane would use Swamp Thing's monstrous body to make himself ruler of the world, he quickly reverted the process. Arcane fled, seemingly plummeting to his death. The encounter was not the death of Arcane, nor was it the last time Arcane and Swamp Thing would go head to head. Arcane has assumed many forms over the years, including the body of an Un- Men, an insectoid creature, and the body of his niece Abigail's husband, Matthew Cable, during which Arcane developed strong telekinetic powers. Arcane died in one of his last Swamp Thing encounters and was damned to a life in hell. After years of underworld punishment, he was made a minor demon in Beelzebub's ranks and emerged as a 12- feet-tall, 2,000-pound, deformed, gargoyle-like eyesore with amazing strength and quick-footedness (as disclosed in Swamp Thing vol. 2 #96, 1990). Later, Arcane redeemed himself, but he was eventually (perhaps inevitably) cast out of heaven and back into hell. He returned to Louisiana intent on appropriating Swamp Thing's body as a permanent earthly vessel for his soul, but was defeated and returned to hell to suffer eternal torment yet again. A quote from one of his demon lovers who returned to Earth with him put it thusly: “And when they write about Arcane, they should say that he dragged Hell in his wake” (Swamp Thing vol. 4 #11, 2005). Anton Arcane has enjoyed many forays into the media world outside of comics' pages. Portrayed by Louis Jourdan, Arcane can be seen in the Wes Craven–directed feature film Swamp Thing (1982) and the Jim Wynorski–directed sequel Return of the Swamp Thing (1989). He regularly appeared (portrayed by Mark Lindsay Chapman) in FOX's live-action television series Swamp Thing (1990–1993), as well as the FOX animated Swamp Thing television series (1990), voiced by Don Francks. Based on the Swamp Thing toy line by Kenner and inspired by the success of the Swamp Thing comic book and films, the animated show chronicled Swamp Thing's battle with Arcane and the Un-Men. The series, which lasted only five episodes, was produced by DIC.
The Supervillain Book: The Evil Side of Comics and Hollywood © 2006 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.