Note: This is not the Swamp Thing, even though he also goes by the name of Alec Holland, this is the human whose memories formed the basis for Swamp Thing's existence.
Alec Holland was a scientist from Louisiana who was working on a bio restorative formula. During his experiments an explosion in his lab doused him in chemicals. Alec jumped into the swamp and died. Though the Swamp Thing emerged, it only believed itself to be Alec Holland. Alec was brought back to life much later on by the Entity within the White Lantern in order to combat against a possessed Swamp Thing.
Alec Holland first appeared in Swamp Thing #1 by Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson. This was a follow-up to a successful short story featuring a similar character by the name of Alex Olson.
The original incarnation of Swamp Thing had Alec Holland turn into the swamp monster when diving into the swamp upon his lab explosion, subsequently forced to travel the country and hoping to find a cure. When writer Alan Moore came on board, he revealed that Alec was in fact dead, and the Swamp Thing was merely a creature who has absorbed his memories and believed it was Holland.
Major Story Arcs
The Search for Swamp Thing
For more information see: Brightest Day Aftermath: The Search for Swamp Thing
Alec finds himself climbing out of a swamp with no memory of how he got there. He sees his old lab and heads towards it. There he is approached by a scientist, who works for Lex Corps. The scientist takes Alec into Alec's old lab and explains that the lab now belongs to Lex Corps. Alec feels disjointed and somewhat incomplete.
Quickly things get worse for Alec, when the scientist reveals that Lex Corps, has been waiting for him and they created their own Swamp Thing. The scientist then straps Alec to a table and begins scanning his mind. the process appears to be killing Alec when Batman, Superman, and John Constantine show up. The three rescue Alec, and John gives him a choice die and go back to being Swamp Thing or live as just Alec Holland. Holland wants to live and John leaves him in the lab.
For further information: Swamp Thing
After Brightest Day, Alec Holland was brought back to life but is haunted by the memories of the Swamp Thing monster. Alec tries to put those memories behind him and live life as a carpenter in Louisiana yet the Green continues to reach out for him. He is visited at work by Superman who informs him of strange animal deaths across the world. Alec declines further investigating the matter as he explains to Superman his search for a normal life. He tells Superman how he tried returning to his botany work and successfully created a bio-restorative formula, however he also had a vision of a world covered in Green so he destroyed it. Later that night, Alec has nightmares of Swamp Thing and awakes to find his room covered in plants. He runs outside, this time to truly destroy the formula which he kept, but is stopped by the Swamp Thing.
The Swamp Thing reveals himself to be A.H. Rodgers, a WWII pilot who was shot down but transformed by the Green into Swamp Thing. Alec is reluctant to hear his message but allows him to speak. Rodgers tells Alec of the rise of Sethe and the Rot and Alec's importance as the next protector of the Green. Rodgers also confirms that the Swamp Thing of Alec's memories was not him and that Alec is destined to be the greatest protector of the Green, a warrior king. He dies to deliver this message to Alec and with his dying words warns Alec to stay away from the white haired woman. Alec returns to his motel when the entire staff and guests have been turned into minions of the Rot. Alec is almost taken when he is saved by a woman on a motorcycle. She drives them off and pulls over revealing herself to be the woman with white hair, Abigail Arcane.
Abigail pulls over and demands that Alec "do something". She believes him to be Swamp Thing & puts a gun to his head to make him prove it. Alec reacts as vines and roots apprehend Abby. He releases her and explains that he has the creatures memories but is not Swamp Thing. Abby asks for his help in finding her half-brother, William Arcane, at a hospital in Texas. On the way Abby explains that the Rot calls to her the same way the Green calls for Alec, but when she is near it is weaker. They pull over to rest and Alec drifts of and goes into the Green. They warn him that the Rot is coming and will take over his world and that they have fought this war for millions of years and it is now Alec's turn to be the Swamp Thing. Alec claims they are close to stopping William Arcane but the Parliament insists it is Abigail who is the real threat and that he should kill her now. Alec wakes up to find Abby leaving and stops her. He argues to stay close to her and protect her and they continue towards William who has taken over a slaughterhouse in Stocks,TX. While stocking up at a gun shop they are attacked by William and his reanimated monsters. Alec attacks with sharp vines and roots and impales or tears apart each of the monsters and restrains William in a tree. He rushes to Abby's aide and kisses her. William begins to celebrate and claims they are doomed.
Alec immediately feels something wrong within the Green and feels them crying out in fear. Abby is covered in Rot as it forms a cocoon around her. She begs him to run away and leave her as he does so, reluctantly. Alec is chased by flying creatures from the Rot and fends them off with a shot gun. He pulls over at the nearest swamp and calls for the Green to take him. They say it is too late and all is lost as Alec is impaled from behind with a chainsaw by a member of the Rot. As Alec lay dying he begs for the Green to save him. The Green answers his call but only prolongs his death to extend his suffering. Even facing a horrible death Alec continues to defend Abby to the Parliament of Trees. Alec claims that she will be able to refuse the Rot's call just as he was able to resist theirs. He states that it is human restraint that is coveted by the Parliament as they had lost that capacity long ago. Alec sees the Green as being no less violent and wild as the Red and the Rot. He asks that the Parliament use their last bit of power to get the bio-restorative formula from his bag and turn him into Swamp Thing. Alec assures them he is only doing this to save Abby though he knows he will once again be forever changed into the monster. The Parliament agrees to his plan, and breaks open the bio-restorative formula. Alec's human body is destroyed, and replaced with plant matter, as he emerges from the pod as Swamp Thing, impaling all of his attackers with sharp vines and roots before growing wings and flying towards the Rot declaring war.
Alec as this new and improved Swamp Thing flies into the Rot kingdom and confronts Sethe. Alec tells Sethe to release Abigail and he'll "spare him some pain." Sethe laughs and sends his army of the undead after Alec. Alec manages to fight his way through walking corpses towards Sethe but stops to see Abby crawl out of her cocoon in her new form. Alec tries to calm Abby in her monstrous new form down but it doesn't work, Abby now only has one thought on her mind, "Alec needs to die."
Abby impales Alec as Seethe's army cheers on. Alec begs her to stop but she is unable to control herself. Alec turns and commands Abby to stop and begins to reverse her transformation by using vanilla grown from orchid seeds he placed in peaches they shared earlier. He changes Abby back as Seethe unleashes on him. Abby stands and destroys Seethe and takes Alec away to treat his wounds. She takes Alec to a swamp where he has pulled the essence of the Parliament and started new trees. Alec and Abby share a kiss before he returns to sleep and heal in the swamp.
Swamp Thing and Animal Man are tricked into entering the Rot in hopes to stop Arcane. Arcane had set a trap for them for as soon as they enter the Rot, a full year progresses in the world without their presence. This became known as Rot World. Arcane reveals his plan to Alec and Buddy and separates them in Rot World. Alec is found by Poison Ivy and Deadman who take him to the Parliament of Trees, the last living place in the world. Together they fight off an army of Rotlings led by the Rot World Teen Titans. Swamp Thing grows himself into an immense size and crushes the Titans. Deadman and Alec head to Gotham City in search of a weapon to defeat the Rot. Swamp Thing constructs a boat out of vegetation and sail to Gotham. They are attacked by William Arcane armed with Aquaman's trident. He attacks them with Starro under his control. Swamp Thing and Deadman are swallowed alive by Starro until Alec cuts him open from inside. Deadman sacrifices himself by taking control of William which kills them both. Alec arrives in Gotham City only to find Batman already taken over by the Rot. He is being held by Barbara Gordon who has kept alive by ingesting the Man Bat serum.
Barbara leads Alec to Arkham Asylum which is protected by a green dome powered by Mr. Freeze, Killer Croc and Floronic Man. Bruce left Alec a sample of the bio-restorative formula along with a weaponized mech to deliver it.
Swamp Thing (1982)
Ray Wise played Dr. Alec Holland in the 1982 Wes Craven film, where as Dick Durock portrayed the post-transformation Swamp Thing.
Note: In the many Swamp Thing adaptations seen during the 80s and 90s, including film, television and animation, the pre-Alan Moore version of the Swamp Thing mythos was used and so Alec Holland can be argued to have appeared in all of them, however the original 1982 film is the only version having portrayed the human form of Alec Holland.