|First appearance||Swamp Thing #1
(November 1972) (cameo)
Swamp Thing #2
(January 1973) (full)
|Created by||Len Wein (writer)
Berni Wrightson (artist)
|Place of origin||Hell|
|Notable aliases||The Dark Avatar|
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 transform his body into Swamp Thing's form, while changing Swamp Thing back into Alec Holland. At first very grateful to be human again, Alec soon overheard Arcane discussing his evil intentions now that he can carry them out. Alec then succeeds in breaking the spell Arcane cast, and sacrifices his humanity, so Arcane becomes a frail old man again. Pursued by Swamp Thing, 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 (only to be destroyed by vengeful ghosts) 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 uses his awakened power to resurrect Abigail's body, but not having sufficient power to repair himself, becomes comatose and finally 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 the wake of The New 52, Anton Arcane is a regular antagonist in the monthly Swamp Thing comics. Arcane is now the new avatar of The Black (AKA The Rot) trying to take over The Red (colliding with Animal Man as well) and The Green. Anton also has a son named William Arcane and Abigail is his daughter in this timeline.
During Animal Man and Swamp Thing's one year in The Rot, Anton Arcane and the forces of The Rot were able to take over parts of Earth. It was mentioned by Frankenstein that Anton Arcane had imprisoned someone beneath Metropolis. When the forces of The Red and the forces of The Green converge outside of Anton Arcane's castle, Anton Arcane unleashes corrupted versions of Maxine Baker and Abigail Arcane. Anton Arcane and The Rot's conquest of Earth is thwarted and undone when Maxine breaks the hold of the remaining Hunter's Three on her.
Powers and abilities
Anton Arcane possesses genius-level intellect. He also possesses necromancy which enables him to control the dead.
In other media
- Louis Jourdan portrayed Anton Arcane in the 1982 film adaptation of Swamp Thing directed by Wes Craven.
- Louis Jourdan reprised his role of Anton Arcane in the 1989 sequel The Return of Swamp Thing.
- Arcane appears as the main boss in the Swamp Thing video game for the Nintendo Entertainment System.
- Swamp Thing (vol. 5) #9 (July 2012)
- Swamp Thing (vol. 5) #0 (November 2012)
- Swamp Thing (vol. 5) #11 (September 2012)
- Animal Man (vol. 2) #15 (February 2013)
- Animal Man (vol. 2) #17 (April 2013)
- Animal Man (vol. 2) #18 (May 2013)