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Tuesday, April 02, 2024 

When DC backed away from the subject of Christianity in Swamp Thing

Looper gives history of the time when writer Rick Veitch (who, IIRC, is quite a leftist) was going to pen a Swamp Thing story in the 88th issue of the 2nd volume where the plant-based life form would time travel to meet Jesus Christ, and DC editorial got sub-zero below freezing feet, leading to a replacement, and something they surely wouldn't do today:
Religion is always a divisive topic in entertainment. Some folks enjoy seeing biblical figures reimagined in unique ways, while others feel stories of this kind attack their personal beliefs. As such, some companies refuse to release projects featuring religious figures, and that's why Jesus Christ never got to mix it up with Swamp Thing in the pages of DC Comics back in 1989.

Rick Veitch's stint as the writer on "Swamp Thing" saw him pen an ambitious tale about the titular monster traveling through time and bumping into various historical figures along the way. However, "Swamp Thing" #88, aka "Morning of the Magician," was supposed to take DC's iconic plant creature on a quest to Jerusalem at the time of the Crucifixion, where he would have learned that God's son was a wizard called Nazarene and the three wise men were assassins. Despite its subject matter, the story wasn't intended as blasphemous, though it was edgy enough to give DC second thoughts, and, ultimately, it never saw print.

While speaking to The Comics Journal, Veitch said the publisher's higher-ups pulled the plug on the story (which was also going to be acclaimed artist Michael Zulli's debut at DC) before it made it to print, even though they knew what it would entail long before he started writing it. In the end, they feared it would offend religious readers and cause the publisher no end of controversy and trouble. Veitch subsequently left the series, but that wasn't the end of the matter.
Ironically, if a story negative to Judeo-Christianity were produced today, they'd go right ahead with it, no matter what the reactions. Things have changed considerably since the turn of the century, and it doesn't look bright.
It's understandable why DC Comics feared a backlash over Jesus appearing in "Swamp Thing." The religious right's influence grew significantly in the 1980s, as evidenced by the Satanic panic epidemic that "Stranger Things" Season 4 references. That sort of prominence, combined with events like the release of Martin Scorsese's "The Last Temptation of Christ" leading to a religiously motivated terrorist attack on a Paris theater in 1988, basically scuttled Rick Veitch and Michael Zulli's story. The timing arguably wasn't suitable for a Jesus-meets-Swamp Thing tale back then, but DC once again got cold feet about publishing the story over thirty years later in 2019.
Look who's telling us this. A news site that likely wouldn't support an exhibition of the Danish Mohammed cartoons, because offending Islam - in contrast to Judeo-Christianity - is entirely taboo in their leftist mindsets. There've been jihadist attacks in France for many years, and these same news sites won't argue that comics publishers shouldn't be intimidated from telling stories focused on issues like those. That said, of course any religiously motivated attack on theaters screening Last Temptation of Christ led to a serious embarrassment, making it harder than ever to distinguish between Judeo-Christianity and the Religion of Peace. And however Veitch wrote his take on figures like Jesus, one thing is certain: today, there's no way leftists like him would write or accept a story depicting Islam even remotely in the negative. Worst, they've already gone out of their way to depict it positively, as seen in the past 2 decades since September 11, 2001, and effectively abandoned the side of victims of Islamic terrorism like 911 Families.

In fact, what are the chances DC balked at publishing the original Veitch story just so they could look "even-handed"? Well sorry, but based on their kowtowing to Islam in past years, that's why any such defense would fall flat. The Veitch story doesn't sound appealing, no matter what Looper says, and if it were a story depicting Islam even remotely negatively, it's entirely possible they'd be much more critical than are of the story involving Jesus Christ. Thus, what good is their argument when they clearly aren't taking an objective viewpoint?

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Not just DC. A few years ago, in X-Men's current 'Krakoan Age', a character named Exodus said that Jesus was a mutant. Also during this era, fervent Catholic Nightcrawler abandoned his faith. Both casual blasphemy and having characters abandon their faith seems par for the course for these companies.

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