In a philosophical framework, anthropocentrism is the perspective that humans are the sole or primary holders of moral standing. In simpler words, humans are the only ones capable enough to kick ass. If we consider the likes of Batman and Daredevil, there is no lie in it. Yet, it only took one issue for English writer Alan Moore to completely brush aside this philosophy.
In the mid-80s, just when Swamp Thing was on the verge of cancellation due to low sales, the editorial board of DC comics editorial decided to give Moore complete freedom in revamping the character in any way he saw fit. Little did anybody know, Moore would entirely revolutionize the character in the most poetic way possible. Before Moore took over, the Swamp Thing was the scientist Alec Holland transformed into a green monster. Much like Beast from Beauty & the Beast, only greener and covered with vegetation, a lot of vegetation. Moore despised this idea. So, when he got the chance to revive the character, he had it shot down instead.
With issue #21, titled “The Anatomy Lesson”, published in February 1984, Moore dissected the titular character. It revealed the Swamp Thing that was actually a plant mass that absorbed the consciousness of Alec Holland. In Moore’s narration, the Swamp Thing was merely swamp vegetation that believes itself to be Alec Holland. It desired to be transformed back into a human but unfortunately, it was never human, to begin with.
In Timothy Morton’s book Ecology Without Nature, he calls upon a new comprehension of ecology, that is, a new way to ponder on and communicate with the environment. In the comic book world, nature was used but as a backdrop, a narrative structure prior to Moore taking over the Swamp Thing. With the death of Holland and discarding the idea that he is a transformed green man, Moore brought nature to the center of attention.
So when the readers are relating to the titular character, they are directly communicating with nature and not a human. This genius of Moore shows how he was deeply concerned about the environment. As a matter of fact, Moore was personally with green politics when he illustrated posters for the local Northampton Green Party group, where his partners were also engaged.
Moore’s contribution to the comic book world is unparalleled. His other prominent work includes Watchmen, V for Vendetta, and Killing Joke, etc. But his ecological subjectivity with Swamp Thing is praiseworthy because humans have been harming the environment for decades on end. If we don’t take a stand for our wrongdoings, the world will ultimately be a cold, green swamp. Except there will neither be memories of Alec Holland nor of us.
Aqueb Safwan Jaser
The Martian who’s yet to write his love letter for Earth.