In brightest day….

When I was a kid, I collected comic books. As for many kids my age, Batman was the initial draw. Between the Adam West show (on constant reruns), the Tim Burton movie, and especially the excellent animated series, Batman was the most familiar and appealing character. And hence for me, the battle between Marvel and DC was over before it began: the one with Batman. My dad had been a Marvel fan growing up, but when pressed for DC options, he mentioned that he liked Green Lantern and Flash, especially when they teamed up. So one fine day, I picked up a copy of Green Lantern #4, an early installment in a newly relaunched title. I liked the idea of getting in on the ground floor, but what really grabbed me when I read — and repeatedly reread — this issue was a sense of history. Here was a hero who had seen enough and no longer wanted to be a hero. But despite his efforts to live as a carefree vagabond, he kept getting pulled back in — by his fellow members of the once-great Green Lantern Corps, by the last of the Guardians of the Universe, and specifically by a road trip he took many a year ago….

I was absolutely hooked. I needed to know everything. Continue reading “In brightest day….”

The Political Theology of Swamp Thing

Over Christmas break, I read one of the great literary classics of our time: Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing. Better known for Watchmen, Moore is one of the true comic book auteurs, and I was fascinated that he got his start writing for what has to be one of the most ill-conceived characters in comic history. His origin goes like this: scientist Alec Holland and his wife Linda are working on an advanced bio-restorative formula in a remote lab in the Louisiana bayou. Someone plants a bomb in the lab in order to sabotage the project. Holland notices the dynamite strapped under the table just a second too late and is caught in the explosion. Aflame, he runs into the swamp, where the bio-restorative formula from his lab turns him into a plant-based swamp monster.

From this unpromising, borderline nonsensical starting point, Moore crafted stories of remarkable creativity and emotional depth — they are honestly some of the best comics I have ever read, maybe even better than Watchmen itself. In fact, reading back over my post, I realize I’ve allowed my enthusiasm perhaps too free a rein, resulting in more plot exposition that is strictly necessary. Readers less invested in the details of decades-old comics are therefore encouraged to scroll down to the heading “The Political Theology Part.”

After getting through his entire run, I decided to go back and read the earlier Swamp Thing comics, just to see the straw that Moore had woven into gold. Continue reading “The Political Theology of Swamp Thing”