Sunday, March 25, 2012

Irrational Geographic

I learned something about myself that I hadn't realized previously while rereading an old comic book.  Until just recently, I had not known that I was a New Englander. 
This revelation comes courtesy of Challengers of the Unknown #83, published by DC in 1977 and written by Gerry Conway.  The story, "Seven Doorways to Destiny!", is a sequel to Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson's "The Lurker in Tunnel 13" from Swamp Thing #8.  This time its the Challengers' turn to face the Lovecraftian horror known as M'Ngala, which holds the small mining town of Perdition in its thrall, with some assistance from Swampy himself. 
In the Swamp Thing story, Wein doesn't  get too specific about Perdition's exact locale, though there is a reference to Swamp Thing shambling through "...a snow swept Appalachian wood."  On the splash page of Challengers #83, on the other hand, one of Conway's captions refers to "...the small New England town of Perdition."  However, subsequent references  to Perdition location throughout the remainder of the issue place it in Pennsylvania, which is more consistent with Wein's description, but seems to indicate that, on Gerry Conway's map at least, Pennsylvania is in New England.
I was born in Pennsylvania and spent the first two and a half decades of my life living in various small towns around the northwest corner of the state, yet in all that time I never knew that the state was part of the New England region.
That would be because it isn't.  I have also occasionally seen Pennsylvania referred to  as being a Midwestern state, which is also wrong.  If I remember my grade school geography correctly, the Keystone State is in what is called the Mid-Atlantic States region, which, I believe, though its been several decades since I've cracked open a geography textbook, runs from New York to the Mason-Dixon Line. 
I've read quite a few letters columns from the Bronze Age wherein the editors encourage their young readers to justify their choice of reading material to their comics disdaining peers and/or parental units by pointing to the things that they can learn from reading comics.  It doesn't exactly bolster that argument if the things that impressionable young kids are learning from comics are just flat out wrong. 
Of course, maybe its not wrong.  Maybe, on Earth-1 prior to the Crisis on Infinite Earths, Pennsylvania was up in New England.  I'm sure that's what the editor of Challengers probably would have said if someone had called him on the point.
On a totally different note, isn't "perdition" another word for "hell"?  You've got to wonder why anybody would give that name to a town.  For that matter, why would anybody name a town "Desolation"? (from Green Lantern #77)  What were the founders of those towns thinking?   Ok, Perdition and Desolation are fictional towns and their names were chosen, I assume, by Len Wein and Dennis O'Neil to reflect the tone and themes of the story at hand.  However, isn't their a real town, I think its in Michigan, called "Hell"?  So, again, what were the founders of that town thinking and why would anyone want to live there?

1 comment:

  1. I like the new logo. And the fact that you're back on a writing hot streak. Keep up the good work!