So there’s this plot point in Swamp Thing #13 (Nov-Dec 1974), by Len Wein and Nestor Redondo, that I’ve been pondering for years. Briefly: Matt Cable is trying to smuggle Swamp Thing out of Washington D.C., and if you’re wondering why I have this sequence from a funeral for a professional colleague of Cable’s presented below:
…it’s because Cable’s cunning plan is to sneak Swampy out by — well, I’ll let Mr. S. Thing relate the details to you:
And…well, I’ve never been a pallbearer, but I suspect an extra — hold on, lemme check the Swamp Thing entry in my looseleaf Who’s Who in the DC Universe — 350 pounds might have been noticed. I suppose it’s possible that perhaps the pallbearers in question thought it may have been somewhat rude to note how heavy the coffin was, given that the deceased in question, Professor Degrez, was shown to be a bit on the stout side. Or maybe they had a dozen or so pallbearers squeezed around the coffin, dividing up the load and making it a little more manageable. Or maybe they assumed that was some heavy damn wood used to make the coffin. Who knows.
And then there’s the question of Swamp Thing fitting into the “false bottom.” That looks like a relatively normal-sized coffin, maybe just slightly taller than usual. But even so, Swamp Thing is a pretty big dude. Assuming they had an open-coffin funeral (and there’s no reason to suppose not, as Degrez’s death came from being shot in the torso, not in the face), the deceased’s body would probably be, um, riding awfully high inside the box, there, with his nose scraping the inside of the lid once they closed it.
But perhaps there’s an out here, too, giving that Swamp Thing is, after all, a big ol’ mossy plant creature. He’s usually depicted as being pretty solid, but maybe he’s got some measure of give. In other words, maybe Cable an’ pals were able to kinda squish Swampy down a bit to make him a little flatter and take up less room beneath the false bottom.
And then there’s the whole “digging himself out of the grave” business. Swamp Thing could have dug downwards, I suppose, through the bottom of the coffin, then up and around the side to freedom, somehow pushing dirt up behind him to keep Degrez’s body from falling into the hole with him (unless, of course, the false bottom was secure enough to hold the body’s weight without Swamp Thing’s support beneath it).
That seems like a lot of extra work for Swamp Thing, but I’d rather think he did this than simply going straight up, digging past and pushing aside Degrez’s corpse to make his way to the surface. And let’s face it…it’s dark down there, and with dirt and rocks and whatnot falling down into his face, and probably given that Swamp Thing’s body doesn’t seem like it’d be the most tactile-sensitive, and would have difficulty discerning in all the confusion what’s a root, or a slat of wood, or, um, an arm. What I’m saying is that there might not have been much left intact of Degrez if Swamp Thing had opted for the straight-up approach to his escape.
He does say that he dug through “six feet of dirt,” which sort of implies a straight shot from the bottom of the grave to the surface. However, it could simply be a generalization referring to the traditional “six feet under” depth at which people are buried, and not an exact measurement of distance, since the down-and-around escape would add extra footage he’d have to traverse to reach the surface, and oh dear God I’m stopping this post right now.