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Agent Orange

Art by Roger Petersen

Agent Orange is an employee of the United States Department of Agriculture in its risk management department. He’s content to deal with food stamp trafficking and investigating fraudulent livestock auctions, and making jokes. As far as he’s concenred, the dangerous work involving “Jason-Woodrue-slash-Black-Orchid shit” should be left to the DDI agents. His argument fails when fellow agent Kilroy shows him alarming footage of Tefe Holland (the plant/human child of Swamp Thing and Abby Holland) and she persuades him to launch a search for her in the hopes of enlisting her to help the economy and world hunger.

As the search begins, Orange continues to be doubtful and reluctant while Kilroy takes the initiative, such as when she commandeers a government car, an electric hybrid, and comes up with a cover story for their boss. Their first step is to interview a couple who witnessed Tefe’s actions first hand, which leads them to further clues across the country. While getting information in New York City, the reader is shown that the agents are being tracked by Kudzu, another plant/ human hybrid tasked with finding Tefe and killing her for her actions (which I won’t outline here).

Stopped for the night in a motel, the pair overhear a news story involving a presidential candidate’s daughter and Kilroy teases Orange that he thinks Secret Service agents are cuter than the male USDA agents. Their banter continues until Orange is scared to find Kudzu appear behind Kilroy. He reaches for a gun and shoots several rounds at the large figure before he calms them and reveals his quest to bring Tefe to justice. He orders them to stop before disappearing. They’re undeterred by his command, or rather Kilroy is as Orange is still averse to the plan. Kilroy uses a computer at an internet cafe to search a government database while Orange jokes about his teenaged sexual fantasies involving the Fruit of the Loom guys, Mr. Peanut, and the Jolly Green Giant. Orange offers moral support and a shoulder to lean as Kilroy attempts to buy a large quantity of chemical defoliants to use as a weapon against Kudzu. Their paths cross again as a lead takes them to southern California. Kudzu has captured two men who were traveling with Tefe. Kilroy sprays him with the defoliant, but he lashes out in anger and mortally wounds her with his sword. Knowing that the wound is fatal, she convinces Orange to turn the electric car’s ignition, thereby hoping to electrocute the attacker (the sword’s metal piercing her body and the car’s hood acting as conductor). The idea fails though his demise is assured when Tefe appears before them and decapitates Kudzu.

Thanks to witnessing Kilroy’s gruesome death, Orange finally finds the strength to become a hero by honoring Kilroy’s last wish to protect Tefe. Orange comes to rescue Tefe after she was captured by rival DDI agents (who’ve been on her trail the whole time as well). Orange seemingly aims badly, his shots missing DDI Agent Romero, who thinks she can still salvage her mission, until it becomes apparent the wild shots were intended not to kill her, but to free Tefe. Romero does die at Tefe’s hands. Orange (who reveals his first name is Todd) and Tefe begin to deal with the immediate consequences until Swamp Thing arrives to have a heart to heart with his daughter. Orange is visibly perturbed at Tefe’s detachment though they share some last words before he figuratively drives off into the sunset.

Agent Orange’s first appearance is Swamp Thing #6, vol 3. While his and Kilroy’s comments make it clear he’s gay, Orange uses “gay” to describe himself in #16. Todd was give the “Agent Orange” nickname because he can’t keep plants alive. Created by Brian K. Vaughn.

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June 1, 2020
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