Comics to Read for Earth Day
Earth Day is one of my favorite holidays as it allows us to reflect on our impact on the world and how we can do more to protect it. Comics over the years have long had characters come to our planet's defense against super villains and extraterrestrials and so much more but from the impacts of humans themselves on the environment? Not quite as much. In this post I wanted to highlight some comic characters and arcs that are a must read for this holiday and every day to inspire us to be our best selves for the planet we live on!
Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind
The Hayao Miyazaki film, Nausicaa is considered to be one of the greatest films ever made but not many people know that this classic film started as a manga originally published in 1982, penned by the now famous filmmaker and its environmental message is still a haunting reminder of a world that could come to pass. Like many of his works, it shows how we as a society must work with nature to move forward, and that war and corruption can only lead to our downfall. The seven volume manga expands so much on the story we see in the film and again shows the reverence and awe that nature even perilous situations must be respected to move forward. It is such a beautiful story that shows the importance of empathy not only towards our fellow man but towards the world we live in and for any Ghibli fan this is a must read!
Captain Planet and the Planeteers
Now for this entry Captain Planet was of course, a mid-nineties cartoon (which I loved growing up!) that showed the importance of unity in the face of global issues like pollution and climate change and even touched on social issues like substance abuse and acknowledging the AIDS epidemic, a first for animation at the time. Now this was also a twelve issue comics series published by Marvel Comics that expanded on the show’s message and again it is still one that rings true. The show is now known for its camp but the show showed young people from all over the world solving huge problems, only summoning the titular hero when they are together and in times of crisis. But one thing I loved about this show is that it showed that you don’t need superpowers or a magic ring or hero to help make the world a better place. “The power is yours!”
Hilda and the Troll
Hilda is a comic about protecting small things and appreciating the world you live in. This comic and show is the definition of comfort to me, and is about a little girl named Hilda who has grown up in the wilderness amongst magic and has to adjust to bustling city life but in turn unites the mystique of nature with her new normal. This title may seem like a strange one to add but it is a beautifully done show and comic about coexisting with magic and nature and how we must better understand the world we live in and to appreciate what the world can offer us. It’s a wonderful story with very fun characters and locales, it is an excellent urban fantasy classic for readers of all ages! Seasons one and two are currently streaming on Netflix as well!
Kay O’Niell has long been one of my favorite illustrators, with Tea Dragon Society and Princess Princess being LGBTQ+ all age staples for many years and Aquicorn Cove is a wonderful addition to that collection. Their work is known for its beautiful colors and light hearted stories and this one features a young girl named Lana who returns to a storm stricken seaside community that her mother grew up in and discovers a world unlike that she has ever known beneath the waves. It deals with climate change and pollution affecting this small town and what this young girl can do to bridge the gap between her loss stricken family and a magical community beneath the shore. I can’t recommend this book enough, be sure to give it a read!!
Namor the Submariner
I have a history of having questionable taste in comic characters and while Namor is known as being an arrogant snob, Marvel’s first mutant will always have a big place in my heart as a defender of our oceans and a keeper of the comic company giant’s history. Namor is a Prince of Atlantis who fought alongside Captain America and the Invaders in the 1940’s and with his winged feat and battled cry (IMPERIOUS REX!) has left a lasting impression in comics mythos. But a bigger hearted part of the character has always been a proponent of oceanic rights and fighting against mankind's pollution. He even went as far as creating his own company to fight pollution through the wheels of bureaucracy and because of this, he will always be one of my favorite characters. He is extremely multifaceted and his titles especially in the eighties and nineties help remind us of what we’re doing and what we could be doing better for our oceans.
This one is another character that may seem like a strange choice for this list but Oliver Queen has always been a proponent of civil and environmental rights and seeking environmental justice for disadvantaged communities. Queen has always been a character that uses his resources to help those around him in unconventional ways, especially in Green Arrow/Green Lantern and in his run where he is thrust into nature and must survive on his own to get a greater appreciation of what he is fighting for in the stunning Mike Grell run of the series. Ollie to me is an oft unappreciated character but has done so much for bringing awareness to social issues and the issues facing our planet is one of those.
Swamp Thing/Man Thing
Comparisons between these two characters have been made since they both appeared in 1971 in DC and Marvel respectively, both being scientists turned swamp monsters bent on revenge against mankind but in their later years they both became staunch proponent of protecting the environment, along with being major players in both comic companies magical mythos. In their way they show mankinds hubris for interfering in things they don’t understand with Man-Thing being created as Ted Sallis tried to recreate the Captain America super hero serum and with Swamp Thing’s plots for revenge after the murder of his wife, but both tragic characters become protectors of man and this world. I highly highly highly recommend Alan Moore’s Saga of the Swamp Thing and Steve Gerber’s early run of Man-Thing! They are crazy psychedelic trailblazers in their comics but they bring out such a unique and distinct impact on both companies and their interpretation of the world’s issues.
Thank you all so much for joining on another eccentric list of mine and I hope you get a chance this Earth Day to spend some time out in nature and appreciating the world we live in and reflecting on what we all can do to make it a better place. These are but a few of many titles devoted to spreading environmental awareness and we’d be more than happy to show you what books we have in stock at any of our six Houston area locations. Be sure to bring in a reusable bag for your books next time you come into the store and keep an eye out on titles like these listed above before our Spring Sale May 7-9th! Imperious Rex!
Written by Bedrock City Contributor: Victoria Flood