I spent thirty minutes writing a very analytical entry about Swamp Thing and Doom Patrol. References to existentialism and spiritual/philosophical views of Self abounded. Then I realized that I would prefer to write something that both an adult and a child could understand. Something that has more heart and soul. I suppose simply something that is plain spoken and direct.
I like Swamp Thing (Alan Moore’s version) because he looks like a monster but has a beautiful soul. He’s amazing because he feels the pain of everything around him (in nature) but makes choices out of love. I like that he is beautiful but is perceived as grotesque. I like that there is a human who loves him regardless of his appearance. Swamp Thing has every reason to be deeply bitter and angry but he eventually finds peace in realizing that he is quite literally one with the earth. Swamp Thing is described by some as “gothic horror”. Yes, I suppose that’s a part of it. But that isn’t what makes it special. Whereas Frankenstein’s monster decided to exact revenge against humanity, Swamp Thing manages to embrace a world that rejects him. THAT’S what makes him and the comic special. Dark gothic horror cannot keep it from being uplifting to me.
I like Doom Patrol because it is full of incompetent bumbling “superheroes” who have come to hold their powers only due to great trauma. No, not the cute trauma of being bitten by a radioactive spider but by something spiritually, emotionally and/or bodily painful. One of the characters (Jane) essentially has Dissociative Identity Disorder but some of her personas have their own super power. Another (Cliff) dies with his family in a car crash and becomes but a brain housed in a metal body. He longs to feel things physically–to feel the wind, to taste food, even to feel physical pain. He is doomed to be disembodied in a sense. I won’t bore you with descriptions of all the characters (especially given all the iterations over the past fifty years). What I’m saying is I like it because these characters represent different aspects of my disorder: disembodiment and dissociation and trauma. They are sloppy but do their best and find a sort of salvation in one another: freaks who are part of a community. I feel safe in this make-believe community.
All the main figures in these comics are looked at as grotesque and broken by the world at large. But all of them do their best to be good (and lose their way at times). In some ways they aim for their higher selves precisely because of what their traumas took away from them. They find strength in their losses and disabilities as much as they do in their newly given abilities.
These are the fantasy stories that are keeping me somewhat functional right now. Functional enough to eat sometimes and write and do a little bit of my work. Not much more than that but…it’s something.