Friday, 3 January 2014

Shaggy God Stories

"Shaggy God Stories," the short story in Neil Gaiman's Swamp Thing Annual, features the DC Comics vegetable villain, the Floronic Man. Almost parenthetically, this unusual viewpoint character summarizes a section of then recent continuity:

"The little blue man [a Guardian of the Universe] made me better and called me Floro. There were six of us. Some got sick. One got dead. And then it turned out we weren't what we thought we were."
- Neil Gaiman, Midnight Days (New York, 1999), p. 62.

In other words, in a long company-wide crossover story line, the Guardians, having retired, boosted six Terrestrials, including Floro, to superhero status and nominated them as the New Guardians of the Universe but this new team's own monthly title lasted only a year so that its outcome had to be changed to something else. (I don't know what.)

However, what Floro mainly does is to list mythological trees variously associated with wisdom, immortality or both:

the tree of life;
the tree of the knowledge of good and evil;
the cross;
the tree on which Judas hanged himself;
the Bo tree;
the sacred grove of Nakhla;
a tamarisk growing from Osiris' sarcophagus;
the shamans' tuuru tree;
Swamp Thing's Parliament of Trees;
trees pulped to tell stories, to make Bibles and Korans!

If Gaiman had continued to write Swamp Thing, all this would have led somewhere. As it happens, the Parliament warns Floro to "Beware...the Forest Lords...And beware...the corruption of...Matango..." (p. 67), although Floro does not understand. I know that Matango later emerged as a Lord of the Grey (?) but I had stopped reading Swamp Thing by then.

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