Thursday, April 28, 2011

I, Swamp Thing (plus Superman vs. the U.S. and Iran)

I thought it odd that two years' worth of recent DC Comics climaxed (yesterday) with the return of the character Swamp Thing (as satirized in this cartoon noted by Jacob Levy).  Furthermore, I always thought Swamp Thing and Marvel's Man-Thing were a bit too similar (their births, unlike Obama's, remain mysterious -- yet they would make better presidents than Donald Trump, with Man-Thing likely a Republican, Swamp Thing obviously Green).  

But Michael Malice told me neither Swamp Thing nor Man-Thing was a rip-off of the other.  Rather, both were heavily influenced by the earlier character the Heap, who was also a man-shaped pile of villain-fighting vegetation.  

The weirdness doesn't end there: Malice told me this two weeks ago while were on a train bound for the HQ of the Foundation for Economic Education (a.k.a. FEE, which, alas, moves fully to Atlanta in a few months), and FEE may be best known for their periodical The Freeman, which had at one time been produced by the publisher Hillman…who also published, yes: the Heap! 

As meditation-practicing, pencil-contemplating FEE president Leonard Read knew so well, the universe is all connected -- from the most dastardly crimes to the rotting plants of the deepest swamplands.

As for Swamp Thing, his return to DC Comics proper means an end to his two-decade stint at DC's crime/occult/hipness imprint Vertigo (which has no connection to the Hitchcock movie, but I liked the picture above).  So, in a way, the publishing implications of this week's climax are more interesting than the fact that Swamp Thing is back to restore balance to nature and all that other elemental stuff he does.  

(And if he can't bring harmony to nature soon enough to stop the weather's attacks on the South, we're going to have to call in Thor -- but that's next week. )

P.S. In other news: Reid Mihalko tells me Superman renounced his U.S. citizenship in the comics.


Eric Hanneken said...

Somewhere, Tom Tancredo is smiling. At one time, Superman was the ultimate immigrant success story. Now American citizenship is too much of a hassle for him.

When did Superman qua Superman become an American citizen, anyway? Did he have to go through the Byzantine U.S. immigration process? Does he have a passport?

I presume Superman qua Clark Kent is in America illegally, pretending to be native-born. Is he also going to give up citizenship?

Todd Seavey said...

I mentioned on my Twitter feed (linked in my name) here that in some versions of the story, Superman was technically born in Kansas, but in at least one story that worked on the assumption he's Kryptonian, he actually had to defend his right to be here against a suspicious Uncle Sam -- the literal, magical being Uncle Sam.

Greg said...

I don't think Man-Thing would be a Republican either. Whilst Republicans strike me with burning fear, Gerber's Man-Thing stories (edited by Roy Thomas) had a very liberal bent to them. His Man-Thing often clashed with the fascist corporation named FASchist.

Read the Swamp Thing Annotations at

Jacob T. Levy said...

The Superman thing is so dumb-- seems like it hadn't been thought out at all, and I suspect the story was supposed to be a throwaway, not a major change in the status quo. The media reaction has been worse: treating it as "Superman turns pinko and unpatriotic" instead of "Superman aims to promote democracy around the world without complicating US foreign policy, so creates plausible deniability."

Clark, whether he was "born" when he emerged from the matrix in Kansas, or whether (as in the Golden Age) the Kents went to Smallville hospital in the spring and filled out a birth certificate for the baby who was "born" to them during the long winter on the farm, has always been a bona fide citizen. I can't believe that Superman as such has a passport, and we have no idea when the distinct person Superman would have acquired citizenship.

Todd Seavey said...

Your birthday, by contrast, we can celebrate without secrecy, political reservations, or fear of retaliation by Brainiac.