Until ‘The Last of Us’, the zombie variant due to fungal infection (the fungizombi) it was not very popular. There is something about the nature of a virus that scares us more, perhaps because we associate fungi with annoying but not particularly dangerous things, like bathroom mold or athlete’s foot.
For example, in 2016 (3 years after the game) the movie ‘Melanie. The girl with all the gifts’, based on the novel of the same name written by Mike Carey, a well-known comic book writer (the ‘Lucifer’ series? It started as a comic he wrote). There are previous examples in the 20s and 80s, but not very popular and even less in our country. ‘The fungus’, for example, does not seem very remarkable beyond its cover…
That is why this annual of ‘the swamp thing‘ from 1988 (published in our country in 1992 and, as far as I know, it has not been edited again). Here, the enemy to beat is a variant of the blessed Cordyceps. Although of course, it is a swamp thing adventure: It is the ideal header in which to scratch among nature magazines looking for threats related to flora and fauna.
Met at home at Brain Eater Time: The Plague That Ravages Gotham
the script of Steven R. Bissette it begins in Louisiana, with the swamp thing sleeping next to its mate. He is immersed in the green, the connection between all plant organisms, when he encounters a gray atmosphere and whitish fibers that cover him and impel him to climb. Get out of it.
In Gotham, those fibers have reached both an ant and a worker in a harness they hang many meters above the ground, under the watchful eye of Batman. The fungus, which although it is not clearly stated, is Cordyceps (the forensic examiner who analyzes the victim says that it is from the family of the hyphomycetes), causes victims to try to climb as high as possible so they can easily spread out. In the end Batman ends up infected by being exposed up to twice to the dangerous fungus.
And where will the bat go to look for answers? In the previous stage of Allan Moore with the swamp thing, one of the best comics in history without discussionthe protagonist came to threaten Gotham and face Batman to free his partner, so our superhero decides to go to Louisiana to seek the help of the monster.
The explanation and the threat
In the end, the Swamp Thing finds a dying Batman, that he can no longer resist the urge to climb on some high place so that the fungus can spread its spores. And you will wonder, what can an avatar of plants do against a fungal infection?
The thing communicates with the fungus, which explains that it has always been there and that, paradoxically, what has prevented its spread are the conditions of life in the city, with pollution as the main culprit. It must be the only benefit of a problem that kills, in Spain, to more than 10,000 people a year.
In the end, Batman is lucky: the creature uses intestinal flora to surround and expel every cordyceps fiber from his body, but as he acknowledges, the process is so stressful that only the superhero’s excellent physical condition has allowed him to survive. All the infected are doomed and it only remains to isolate them and wait for their death.
The last scene has the swamp thing plunging back into the grey, which is what the connection between all the mushrooms is called, where the presence of a formidable new enemy is suggested to it, but that’s another story.
The bat that only saved his life
This comic belongs to the editorial branch that, in the future, would become the Vertigo line, officially launched five years later. This publishing arm of DC comics aimed at adult readers it featured stories usually outside of the superheroic continuity or where superheroes don’t paint much.
In his time inside the Swamp Thing, Alan Moore portrayed the caped crusaders as alien, sometimes intimidating, yet at the same time unable to solve the problems faced by the protagonist of the collection, like the time Superman was infected by a Krypton plant. Another English screenwriter, Neil Gaimanwrote in ‘Sandman’ that Justice League It only served to tell the protagonist a couple of clues.
Here, Batman only reacts desperately until he is saved. in extremisgiven that the threat completely overwhelms you: There is a moment when you get rid of almost all the infection, but since those affected explode into a lot of spores, you become contaminated again.
And this is an interesting point, because highlights how urgent and dangerous a fungal epidemic would be like the one posed by ‘The Last of Us’. Or to put it another way: the existence of superheroes in the world of videogames and now the HBO series would not have mattered much…
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