Comic Book Characters as Deity Figures?

The Swamp Thing Mattel DC Universe SDCC 2011 San Diego Comic Con Exclusive Action Figure in all his multipositional glory

The Swamp Thing Mattel DC Universe SDCC 2011 San Diego Comic Con Exclusive Action Figure in all his multipositional glory

Today is my dear friend Johnathan’s birthday, and because he’s a huge fan of the comic book author Alan Moore and because Moore’s Saga of the Swamp Thing is one of his favorite texts in Moore’s oeuvre, I had decided long ago that I would try to find a Swamp Thing figure for his birthday gift.  I’d conned him into going to a comic book store with me earlier in the year where there were two different Swamp Things for sale.  Johnathan absolutely hated the larger bust of Swampy (which retailed at $95 at the store), but quite liked a tiny lead figurine (a comparatively thrifty $47).  In fact, he almost bought it for himself at that time, but a realistic look at his monthly budget made him put it back on the shelf.  Unfortunately, when I went back a month later, that Swampy had sold and the company had been discontinued that figure.  After the 2012 San Diego Comic Con, though, collectors started to sell the Action Figure released at the 2011 Con.  It took me until just after Christmas to win a Swampy auction I could afford…and once I opened the package, I couldn’t believe how nice the toy was!  It’s a huge, 9-inch tall doll with a rubbery exterior and an articulated skeleton inside, so he’s multipositional.  But the detail in the sculpt is the real showstopper:  This Swampy is freaking gorgeous.

Swampy with my Cernunnos and Gaia

Swampy with my Cernunnos and Gaia

While I gathered together boxes and wrapping supplies, I temporarily popped Johnathan’s Swampy up on my Altar where my only two humanoid sculptures are:  my representations of Cernunnos and Gaia. When I saw him next to my Gods, though, it occurred to me that you really could view the Swamp Thing character as a contemporary deity.  Under Moore’s pen, Swampy starts out as a typical monster, and–like most monsters–escapes from his captors and spends a great deal of time questioning his humanity. Over the course of Moore’s run, though, Swampy progresses through myriad issues and ends up becoming a dominant force of nature, able to transport itself across the globe, through space and even beyond the realm of the living.  Essentially, Swamp Thing becomes a god and his stories become a legitimate mythos.  His struggles could stand as one the rest of humanity could ethically emulate.

I don’t know why I’m so struck by this thought.  After all, on at least one level all our stories of the Gods and Goddess are kind of like the stories of comic book heroes.  I guess I’ve realized that I could actually respect adopting a more contemporary fictional character as a figure in your personal pantheon.  If the shoe fits, you might as well wear it.

But I doubt I’ll be doing any Swampy rituals any time soon.

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