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Taboo (Monsterbus p.236)

I love the names Kirby uses. For example, in other stories, "Grottu" and "Groot" are probably derivatives of "grotesque", meaning ancient paintings found in grottos (with the implication of being mysterious, damaged, but opening up strange new worlds). Here we have the actual word "taboo". It fits so well!

The word "taboo" comes from the Tongan "tabu man" whose job was to instruct people in the rules of how to behave around sacred things. In general, a "tabu" thing must be left alone and not spoken of except with extreme care. Captain Cook was assigned a local priest, a tabu man, to accompany him when he explored the islands. The whole idea of Cook and Tabu was of an alien visitor (Cook) who might bring ether wonderful knowledge or great danger.

Taboo claimed to have secret or dangerous knowledge - that is, sacred knowledge. He was ready to teach the humans the correct use of that dangerous knowledge. He said this knowledge was so hard for humans to understand that he (the tabu creature) would need to learn all relevant human knowledge first, so he knew the right way to explain the new knowledge.

A further parallel is the last page twist: he was not helping us, he was a danger to us. So the tabu men, the ones handling sensitive information, were really the humans: they preparing the sacred knowledge in such a way that it could not be violated: by placing a bomb in it, to detonate of the sacred trust was abused. This ambiguity - is the visitor god or bad - parallels the ambiguity of Captain Cook.

Was Cook good for the local islanders or bad? Whereas the westerners recall the tabu men as guides, sent to help them, the locals say the tabu men were sent to warn villages wherever Cook went. This might explain why there is no record of them from Cook's first voyage: perhaps when he first arrived the locals didn't know Cook would be dangerous to their way of life, but when he returned they were prepared.

A final parallel is with Cook as an alien invader, and how he died: the local people had tried to take the secret of the aliens' ship (they stole a small European cutter - a fast boat). So Cook retaliated (kidnapping a chief). So they killed him.

Also not the symbolism of a swamp: a place that cannot be trusted, where something that seems innocent or enticing can quickly become deadly.