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The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Character
On the subject of Batman's religious affiliation, there is some disagreement among fans as well as among writers about whether the character is a mostly lapsed Catholic or a mostly lapsed Episcopalian. There is universal agreement that the character is not an active churchgoer in any faith.
Below: Batman in prayer? If so, it probably isn't a common occurrence for the adult Bruce Wayne. See below for more about this scene from Batman: Dark Detective (2005).
Right: As a child after his parents were murdered, Bruce Wayne said his prayers every night. See below for more about this scene from Secret Origins #6 (1986).
Right: The headstone of Bruce Wayne (Batman): a Christian cross. This type of cross, with its flared rounded ends, is known as a "cross bottony." The cross bottony appears on the flag of Maryland. It is an official symbol of the state of Maryland, whose colonial government was formed by Anglicans who had managed to gain dominance in the originally Catholic colony. The cross bottony is often found on Episcopalian churches and associated with Episcopal/Anglican imagery, although it is not an official symbol of the denomination.
This image is from the cover of Teen Titans #18 (2004), written by Geoff Johns, pencilled by Mike McKone and inked by Marlo Alquiza. In this story, titled "Titans Tomorrow: Part Two," the Titans return from a trip to the 31st Century of the Legion of Super-Heroes, but accidentally find themselves ten years into their own future. Bruce Wayne (the original Batman) is dead in this possible near-future, and buried beneath a Christian cross. Tim Drake, the contemporary "Robin" and member of the Titans, confronts his near-future self, who has taken up the mantle and costume of Batman. You can get Batman Costumes online.
Left: When Tim Drake travels ten years into the future, he sees the headstone of Bruce Wayne (Batman): a Christian cross.
Note that most of the headstones in this cemetary are not crosses. The choice of a cross for Bruce Wayne's headstone is not an accident, and was not a default choice. Perhaps the future Bruce Wayne will be more actively religious than the contemporary character. This headstone may have been selected by Bruce Wayne's wife, possibly Selena Kyle. A later panel shows Kyle's headstone, which is not a cross, despite the fact that she has been portrayed as a Catholic in some comics.
Source: Teen Titans #18 (2004), written by Geoff Johns, pencilled by Mike McKone and inked by Marlo Alquiza; pages 16-17; reprinted in Teen Titans: The Future is Now trade paperback, DC Comics: New York City (2005).
||Left: The headstone of Selina Kyle ("Catwoman"), possibly Batman's future wife. Tim Drake ("Robin") visited this cemetary when he accidentally found himself ten years in the future. Catwoman's headstone, as depicted here, is not a cross, but Batman's headstone is.
Source: Teen Titans #18 (2004), written by Geoff Johns, pencilled by Mike McKone and inked by Marlo Alquiza; page 19; reprinted in Teen Titans: The Future is Now trade paperback, DC Comics: New York City (2005).
Above: Batman stands before the grave marker of Jason Todd, the second Robin. After Jason died, Batman chose an Episcopalian-style Christian cross for the grave marker.
[Source: cover of Batman #639, published by DC Comics (2005), written by Judd Winick, cover art by Matt Wagner; reprinted in Batman: Under the Hood trade paperback (2005).]
Given the wealth of support for both major theories about Batman's religious background (Catholic and Episcopalian), it seems most likely that both are correct, and that Bruce Wayne's father (the source of Batman's surname, English heritage, wealth and social standing) was an Episcopalian, while his mother (the key source of Bruce's early religious upbringing and ingrained religious feelings) was a Catholic.
Bruce Wayne's ancestry or ethnic heritage is touched upon in a few sources, including the graphic novel Batman: Scottish Connection. Anthony Pires, a reader of this page, has helpfully clarified some facts relating to this: In this story, Bruce Wayne is specifically asked if he has Scottish heritage. Batman's surname - "Wayne" - is, in fact, of English origin. From Answers.com (http://www.answers.com/topic/wayne-2; viewed 28 May 2007):
From an occupational surname meaning "wagon maker", derived from Old English wægn "wagon".
Despite this textual source refuting Scottish heritage, some fans and commentators have mistakenly referred to Bruce Wayne's "Scottish heritage." This may be due, in part, to their seen the title of Batman: The Scottish Connection without actually reading the book.
As Batman's religious affiliation is listed as "Episcopalian/Catholic (lapsed)" in various places, we have noticed a few people who incorrectly interpret this as an indicator that Batman is a "lapsed Catholic" who has now become an Episcopalian. This is certainly not the case. What is meant is that Batman is an "Episcopalian/Catholic" who is lapsed in the bi-denominational upbringing of his childhood. It is a valid observation that children raised in homes with a split religious identity are more likely to be lapsed or religiously non-observant as adults than children of parents with a united religious identity. Batman is certainly no exception to this trend, although it is possible to think of many reasons other than his parents' inter-faith marriage for his lack of traditional religious observation and identification as an adult.
Batman's religious affiliation was mentioned in Newsweek. (Steven Waldman and Michael Kress, "BeliefWatch: Good Fight", published in Newseek, cover-dated 19 June 2006, page 12):
Many comic book fans regard Batman as an atheist or agnostic, albeit one who has personally witnessed the fact that powerful god-like entities and gods of mythological pantheons actually exist. Batman has appeared in literally thousands of stories, and not all of these are in agreement with regards to the character's theological views. On rare occasions, stories have been published in which Batman has simply identified himself as an atheist or a Christian. It is reasonable to assume that, as with other people, Batman's precise beliefs, spirituality and relationship to God vary over the years, and sometimes shift depending on his experiences. The religious aspects of Batman's character also vary depending on the writer.
Above: During a harrowing experience with time travel Bruce Wayne witnessed once again the murder of his parents at the hands of a mugger. After Batman and Superman have righted the timeline and returned to the proper present, Batman visits the graves of his parents, Thomas and Martha Wayne. The cross on the headstones clearly indicates that Bruce's parents were Christian.
[From: Superman/Batman #18 (released 6 April 2005), "Absolute Power" part 5: "Thy Will Be Done . . .", page 21; written by Jeph Loeb, pencilled by Carlos Pacheco, inked by Jesus Merino; reprinted in Superman/Batman: Absolute Power hardcover collection, DC Comics: New York City (2005).]
Above: The stone Christian cross in the middle marks the grave of Bruce Wayne, a.k.a. Batman, further indicating Batman's Christian religious affiliation. Batman's grave is flanked by those of his mother and father.
Batman is not really dead. He faked his own death using powerful body chemistry-altering chemicals when Superman was ordered to apprehend him. Clark Kent (Superman), believing that Bruce is truly dead, visits the grave. (Clark is the large man wearing glasses.) Commissioner Gordon restrains an angry Selina Kyle. To the left of Clark can be seen Carrie Kelly, the new Robin, who is in on the plan and has come to retrieve Batman's body.
[From: Batman: The Dark Knight Returns #4 (1986), DC Comics: New York City; reprinted in Batman: The Dark Knight Returns hardcover edition, DC Comics: New York City (2002), pages 197-198; written and pencilled by Frank Miller, inked by Klaus Janson, colored by Lynn Varley.]
Source: Superman/Batman #16, "Absolute Power" Part 3: "When Time Goes Asunder", page 20; written by Jeph Loeb, pencilled by Carlos Pacheco, inked by Jesus Merino.
From: Alex Johnson, "At the comics shop, religion goes graphic: Judeo-Christian themes woven into comic books you might not expect", published on MSNBC.com, 25 April 2006 (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12376831/; viewed 2 May 2006); re-posted by Worldwide Religious News (http://wwrn.org/article.php?idd=21302; viewed 2 May 2006):
Superman, for the record, is probably Methodist, while Batman is most likely a lapsed Catholic or Episcopalian.
From: Steven Waldman and Michael Kress, "Beliefwatch: Good Fight", published in Newsweek, 19 June 2006 issue (posted online on 12 June 2006: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/13249146/site/newsweek/; simultaneously posted on BeliefNet.com under headline "Holy Superheroes": http://www.beliefnet.com/story/193/story_19306_1.html; viewed 14 June 2006):
...Adherents.com, has analyzed dozens of comic-book characters [and] says Batman may not be the churchgoing type, but glimpses of the crosses on his parents' gravestones may mean he's a lapsed Roman Catholic or disaffected Episcopalian...
From: Lynn Arave, "Superhero/ Super savior? Religious imagery plentiful; local leaders worry about Superman's morals", published 8 July 2006 in Deseret Morning News (http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,640192870,00.html; viewed 15 May 2007):
The June 19, 2006, issue of Newsweek contained a list of the "suspected" religions of superheroes... Newsweek also listed Spider-Man as a Protestant, The Thing as Jewish, The Hulk as a lapsed Catholic, Daredevil as a Catholic, Batman as a lapsed Catholic or disaffected Episcopalian and Captain America as a Protestant...
The Newsweek article is online at www.msnbc.msn.com/id/13249146/site/newsweek/.
An important part of Batman's religious history which is sometimes forgotten by the general public was that before donning the cape and cowl he travelled in the Orient for many years, studying in various monasteries of Eastern religions. His teachers during this time were for the most part Buddhists, and Bruce Wayne actively studied not only martial arts but also various Eastern religious philosophies, practices, and mysticism. Bruce Wayne's travel and training in the Orient is not simply a creation of the 2005 movie Batman Begins, which made this time period a vividly portrayed major part of the film. This part of Bruce Wayne's history is a long-established part of the character's mythos, and the key element in understanding how a pampered rich boy became one of the world's greatest hand-to-hand combatants.
In addition to his past Buddhist training, even the contemporary Batman of Gotham City can be regarded as a sort of quasi-Buddhist in some ways. Acclaimed comic book writer Grant Morrison referred to Batman as "the super-confident, zen warrior" of his Justice League of America stories. (See Morrison's notes on page 66 of the script for Batman: Arkham Asylum, printed in the 15th Anniversary edition of this graphic novel.)
In Detective Comics #599, part of the 3-part "Blind Justice" story arc that commemorated Batman's 50th anniversary, flashbacks about Batman's training in the Orient show him studying under Chinese and Japanese spiritual/martial arts teachers, both speak in Buddhist language, referring to "the Way" (the Eight-Fold Path), seeking "enlightenment" and "enduring suffering." Bruce Wayne states that during this time he was not just training martial arts, but was studying "Eastern mysticism" and seeking "spiritual discipline." In addition to studies with Japanese and Chinese masters, Bruce also studied in Korea and Thailand. This gave Bruce Wayne exposure to a broad cross-section of world Buddhism, encompassing most of the religion's major branches. Mahayana Buddhism is predominant in China, Japan and Korea, while the older Theravada Buddhism is practiced in Thailand. Other comic book stories as well as the movie Batman Begins (2005) make it clear that Batman studied in Tibetan, where he was exposed to Tibetan Buddhism (or Vajrayana Buddhism), typically regarded as the third most significant branch of contemporary Buddhism (although sometimes classified as a subset of Mahayana Buddhism). Images and further details about Bruce Wayne's Buddhist studies are shown below.
Bruce Wayne studied Buddhism, participated in Buddhist practices such as meditation, and spoke in clearly Buddhist terms during his time in the Orient. Nevertheless, Batman is not known to have ever overtly identified himself as a Buddhist, nor is known to have practiced Buddhism in any religious sense since returning to Gotham and embarking on his career as Batman. Certainly there are those who would regard Batman's overt (and arguably self-serving) use of physical violence as a "solution" to Gotham's crime problem as a rather non-Buddhist approach. This would constitute a reductionist view of the possibility of Buddhist characters and Buddhists in general, as most Buddhist cultures have longstanding traditions of Buddhist warriors and Buddhist vigilantes. This is beside the point, however, as Bruce Wayne is not a Buddhist.
Batman's religious and theological beliefs, including the specific (but by no means all-encompassing) question about whether or not (and how) he believes in God are, of course, a separate matter from the character's religious upbringing and religious affiliation. As the facts about a person's religious history, upbringing and family background do not change, it is possible to reveal these facts about a character without limiting the ability of future writers to take the character in different directions with regards to his current religious beliefs and practices.
See also: "Batman Crucified: Religion and Modern Superhero Comic Books," by Bruce David Forbes (http://wacc.dev.visionwt.com/wacc/publications/media_development/archive/1997_4/batman_crucified_religion_and_modern_superhero_comic_books)
The character of Batman was created in 1939 by Jewish comic book artist Robert Kahn (24 October 1915-3 November 1998), who is better known by his adopted professional and legally-changed name, Bob Kane. Jewish comic book writer Bill Finger was the co-creator of the character, although he was not officially credited. The major, influential early comic book characters at both DC Comics (then known as "National Publications") and later at Marvel were created by predominantly by Jewish writers and artists. Yet Batman was clearly non-Jewish, as were nearly all of the characters produced by this generation of comics professionals. Like nearly all major superhero characters created during the 1930s and 1940s, Batman was based on a sort of "all-American" template, including having a vaguely but not overtly identified Christian background. Batman has, for example, been shown celebrating Christmas many times throughout his long history. Some historians find themes of Jewish assimilation in characters such as Batman, who succeeded in masking his truly unusual heroic self via his successful, normal-seeming and quintessentially American Bruce Wayne identity.
Although Batman's Christian background (as opposed to a non-Christian background) is essentially taken as a given among writers and fans alike, the character's precise denominational affiliation has been a matter of disagreement.
Visually there is so much similarity between Episcopalian churches, cemeteries, graveyard headstones, clerical dress, Christian iconography, etc., that these religious elements as they have been drawn in Batman comics over the years could be interpreted as either Episcopalian or Anglican. We are not aware of any comics in which Batman himself has explicitly been identified as belonging to either denomination.
Chuck Dixon's Batman: The Chalice (2000), which is set within mainstream DC Universe continuity, portrayed Batman as a believing Christian and the latest in a long line of guardians of the Holy Grail. Although it is canonical within DC continuity, this volume has been criticized by some reviewers for presenting Batman out of character. Regardless of whether or not the degree to which Batman expesses Christian belief in this story is in keeping with how he has been portrayed previously, The Chalice does not appear to address whether Batman is Catholic or Episcopalian. The Holy Grail and its defense could be an element in either Catholicism or Episcopalianism (which is the American province of the Anglicanism, which is headed by the Church of England). Clearly this story of the Holy Grail and Batman as its hereditary defender would seem entirely out of place for a purely Reformation Protestant, so while failing to solidly identify Batman as either Catholic or Episcopalian, the story lends credence to the notion that he is one or the other (or both).
Batman has personally witnessed the power of religion and the veracity of various religious beliefs many times. These experiences extend the beyond the beliefs of the religions he has the most experience with personally (Christianity and Buddhism). In Batman #552, a rabbi's knowledge of the Jewish belief that the sound of breaking glass can repel spirits helps him and Batman deal with Ragman's renegade rag-spirits. In the critically acclaimed DC Comics graphic novel Batman/Houdini: The Devil's Workshop (pub. 2003, an Eisner Award nominee), Houdini repelled a vampire with a Star of David necklace.
Influential DC Comics writer Elliot S! Maggin (a self-identified observant Jew) has stated flatly that he thinks of Bruce Wayne/Batman as Episcopalian. Maggin said that he explicitly identified the character as an Episcopalian in his DC Comics novel Kingdom Come (Warner Books, February 1999), which was an adaptation of the near-future DC Universe graphic novel Kingdom Come, by Mark Waid and Alex Ross. Kingdom Come is widely regarded as one of the best, most literate comic book-based novels ever written. (Read our review of this book here.)
On the other hand, Frank Miller has stated that the Bruce Wayne/Batman is Catholic. Miller's writing about Batman has been more widely read and far more influential on how the character is handled anything written by Maggin. (Maggin is known for his important work on Superman, who is focal character in Kingdom Come.) Frank Miller is the author of such character-defining modern Batman stories as Batman: Year One (largely the basis for the movie Batman Returns) and The Dark Knight Returns. Miller has said that Batman and Daredevil were so obviously Catholic that to write them any other way would be completely nonsensical.
DC Comics writer Chuck Dixon and artist Graham Nolan had a memorable collaboration producing Batman comics. On his official website Dixon discussed Christianity in comics (http://www.dixonverse.net/NEWSITE/ARTICLES/christ.html) and describes their view of Batman: "Graham Nolan and I had an ongoing argument about whether Bruce was raised Catholic or Protestant. I recently conceded to Graham than he must be Catholic. No Protestant ever suffered guilt the way Bruce does."
The Dark Knight and Prayer
In a scene from Frank Miller's Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (left), Batman has recently returned to action after a decade of retirement. While diffusing a bomb, Batman considers praying. He observes, "And if I had the time or the right -- I'd say a prayer." [Source: Batman: The Dark Knight Returns #1 (1986), DC Comics: New York City; reprinted in Batman: The Dark Knight Returns hardcover edition, DC Comics: New York City (2002), page 50; written and pencilled by Frank Miller, inked by Klaus Janson, colored by Lynn Varley.
It is clear why Batman doesn't have the time for prayer at this moment: he is facing a bomb which is set to go off any second. But the other limitation that prevents him from praying is interesting. Bruce Wayne appears here to be musing that he doesn't have "the right." This is likely due to a feeling of spiritual unworthiness on his part. There could be a number of reasons for Batman to feel that way, most likely of which are either a feeling that he has committed too much evil and violent acts in his role as a vigilante, or a feeling that because he has not prayed or attended church services for so long during times when his life wasn't in danger, a sudden prayer now would be dishonorable or fall on deaf ears.
Frank Miller has clearly his stated his viewpoint that is a Catholic. The Batman of The Dark Knight Returns is, for the most part, not actively or overtly religious. But nor does he appear to be agnostic or unbeliever, as the character has been portrayed by some other writers.
Batman: The Knight Returns is not a "canonical" story and is thus not considered an official part of mainstream DC Comics continuity. It is, however, one of the most critically acclaimed comics in history, and is considered one of the most important and influential Batman stories ever published.
Further Discussion of Bruce Wayne's Episcopalian Versus Catholic Background
Those who believe that Batman comes from an Episcopalian family generally consider his immensely wealthy and aristocratic social standing, a niche that is certainly associated with Episcopalians more than any other American denomination. Proponents of this theory can also cite an old 1950s comic showing one of Bruce Wayne's ancestor Anthony Wayne (a Revolutionary War hero) buried in St. David's Episcopal Church Cemetery in Radnor, near Philadelphia.
However, a considerable amount of time passed between the Revolutionary War and the birth of Bruce Wayne, and it would certainly have been possible for the character's intervening forebearers to have converted or married into Catholic families. Despite the relative degree of poverty among first- and second-generation Catholic immigrants to America, there have always been wealthy Catholics in the country, going back to the Revolutionary War period, during which time devout Catholic families such as the Carroll family of Maryland and the Fitzsimons family of Pennsylvania controlled vast land holdings and were among the signers of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. Bruce Wayne's wealth and social status may be characteristic of Episcopalianism, but it does not preclude Catholicism. Moreover, if Bruce Wayne's Gotham is (as many believe) an analogue for Chicago, one could point out that Catholicism generally and wealthy Catholic families specifically are far more prevalent than Episcopalians in the Chicago area.
Were there only the character of Bruce Wayne to consider, there might be a larger continent of people who think of him as Episcopalian. However, a number of major and influential writers of the character in recent times (including Frank Miller) clearly believe Batman comes from a Catholic background, and write about the character with that textural detail in mind. This is because, from a psychological perspective, the character seems overwhelmingly Catholic and not at all Episcopalian. "Bruce Wayne," one should remember, is not Batman's true self, as far as the character is concerned, but is a mere front used to turn suspicion away from those who might try to learn his true identity. Batman consciously puts on an act when he appears in public as Bruce Wayne. Bruce Wayne's fun-loving, jovial and relatively narcissistic personality are intentional deceptions on Batman's part.
The brooding, vengeful, purpose driven (or clearly obsessed) Dark Knight is who Batman really is. He is constantly aware that he is not a normal person living a normal life, and he isn't even capable of relating to people who strive for such a life. Batman's mission is driven by the singular fact of having witnessed the murder of his parents when he was a child. Guilt, retribution and a desire for social justice intermingle in the character's psyche to create the peculiar motivations that compel him to dress as a bat and physically confront criminals.
Above: Batman, shocked, exclaims "God in Heaven!" No, this isn't a scene from Towing Jehovah, nor is this necessarily an expression of sincere religious belief. Batman here simply demonstrates his Christian background with a thoroughly Christian-sounding bit of profanity. Had he been Jewish (which he is not), Batman might have exclaimed "Oy vey!" or "Gotenu!"
[Source: Detective Comics #598 (March 1989), DC Comics: New York City, page 5; reprinted in Batman: Blind Justice trade paperback, DC Comics: New York City (1992); written by Sam Hamm (writer of the movies Batman, 1989, and Batman Returns, 1992), pencilled by Denys Cowan, inked by Dick Giordano.]
It is interesting to contrast the origin and character of Batman with that of rival Marvel Comics' most popular character, Spider-Man (Peter Parker). These two super-heroes could hardly be farther apart in disposition. Effervescent Parker is the epitome of everyman humanity compared to the almost inhuman, some would say monstrous, spirit of vengeance the Batman has crafted himself into. Yet the tragic events which launched both characters onto the path of the hero (or vigilante) was remarkable similar: The murder of Peter Parker's parental Uncle Ben and the murder of Bruce Wayne's parents. If anything, Parker's tragedy should have triggered far more guilt and obsession, as he was more directly culpable because he let the killer escape from an earlier crime when he could easily have stopped the man. Traditionally, young Bruce Wayne bears no such burden of guilt (although the movie Batman Begins introduced some small but unjustified childlike feelings of responsibility). In a literary sense, the difference between Parker's homey Protestant upbringing and Batman's Catholic background provides a plausible explanation for why such similar motivations produced such dissimilar results. (Of course, concepts such as Catholic guilt and Protestant commonness are often literary traditions or conventions more than real-world phenomena.)
From a psychological perspective, the traditional literary Catholic psyche provides a ready explanation for who Batman is on the inside. Privileged Episcopalianism, one of America's most liberal denominations, deeply entrenched within and also defined by normative mainstream American culture, seems as wholly at odds with Batman's persona as it is in keeping with Bruce Wayne's.
Above: Using Christian terminology familiar to him from his upbringing, Batman states, "The rain on my chest is a baptism -- I'm born again."
(This scene takes place soon after Batman has returned from 10 years of retirement from crimefighting, in Frank Miller's non-canonical Batman: The Dark Knight Returns.)
[Source: Batman: The Dark Knight Returns #1 (1986), DC Comics: New York City; reprinted in Batman: The Dark Knight Returns hardcover edition, DC Comics: New York City (2002), page 34; written and pencilled by Frank Miller, inked by Klaus Janson, colored by Lynn Varley.]
From: Bruce Bachand, "Interview: Elliot S! Maggin", published in Fanzing (The Independent Online DC Comics Fan Magazine) Issue #9, August 1998 (http://www.fanzing.com/mag/fanzing09/iview.shtml; viewed 6 December 2005):
Elliot S! Maggin was the principal scriptwriter for DC Comics' Superman titles during the 1970's up until the mid-1980's. He has written two Superman novels (Last Son Of Krypton and Miracle Monday, both which are currently out of print) as well as numerous other stories, articles, interviews and projects. One of his most recent publications is the novel KINGDOM COME (which is available through Warner Books) which came out in February 1998. It is based on the very successful DC comic book mini-series KINGDOM COME by Mark Waid and Alex Ross. (It is well worth mentioning that Ross contributes a number of new painted illustrations to the Maggin novel!). Sales have been steady for the Maggin novelization. It is over one hundred thousand words full of action, characterization, and plot sculpting.
BRUCE BACHAND: Do you see Superman as a man who prays and/or worships God regularly? If so, what would the Man of Steel pray about from your perspective?
ELLIOT S! MAGGIN: I give all my characters religions. I think I always have. It's part of the backstory. It's part of the process of getting to know a character well enough to write about him or her. Jimmy Olson is Lutheran. Lois is Catholic. Perry is Baptist. Luthor is Jewish (though non-observant, thank heaven). Bruce [Wayne] and Batman are both Episcopalian and I said so in the text though it was edited out erroneously. Clark - like the Kents - is Methodist...
Chuck Dixon is a popular and influential comic book writer who has written many of the DC Comics' stories about Batman and other Gotham-basesd characters, including Nightwing. On a page posted on his official website, Dixon has reproduced a somewhat lengthy question about Christianity in comics, along with his response to it. From Chuck Dixon, "Christianity in Comics" page on DixonVerse.net website (http://www.dixonverse.net/NEWSITE/ARTICLES/christ.html; viewed 5 May 2007):
Q: Christianity in comics question
— Originally a question asked by VeeGee on January 30, 1999 at the Unofficial Birds of Prey Message Board
I just read a wonderful interview with Scott McDaniel where he let people know he was a Christian, and that you were too. I just recently returned to a relationship with Christ (although He never left). I have been thinking about why past attempts at Christian comics/characters have not been as well received as their secular counterparts. I remember the line Marvel tried to start several years ago... but each book cost $5.00. I would LOVE to see comic adaptions of Frank Perenti (sp?) books and other projects that really intertwine the fantasy of comics and faith in Christ. I kind of enjoyed John Byrne's Wonder Woman novel--I thought it would have made a better comic "event" than "Genesis" did. Are there a lot of Christian creators in comics? Are there any other characters besides,Nightcrawler, who are devout in their faith? What are your thoughts? I guess the bottom line for me is that "with great power..." ya'know, comics reach a lot of people and in a world like the one we live in-messages of hope and faith and turning to Christ are few and far between. I find it ironic that DC would have several mini-series about the devil; "Underworld Unleashed", and the new Vertigo series but wouldn't let Rick Veitch have Christ in a single issue of Swamp thing.
Thanks for your time==I know this may be a touchy subject for some people. I do not want to start a debate..besides God always wins anyway (*wink*)
Chuck Dixon: To paraphrase George Foreman, "I think Christ and comics are a GREAT combination." I've always been disturbed by the portrayal of religious figures in comics. They're usually portrayed just this side of Dr Doom. I was guilty of it a few times in my own career (at least one time, anyway). But I think I've made it right over the past few years with postive religious figures in the comics. I don't go too heavy with it 'cause these characters aren't mine. But a belief in God is certainly evident with many of the folks I write and religion is a part of their world as well as a consistant morality. It's a "dirty little secret" that many folks in comics are devoutly religious. Some of the most devoted people I've met have been in this field. Wrong or right, when I was a kid Batman and Tarzan were role models for me along with Jesus. I don't see any reason why I can't include Him in my work.
Scott McDaniel and I have discussed doing a comic book with a Christian theme. He has some wild ideas for a book that would entertain even those who didn't heed the call.
I think each creator sees the characters in their own lights. Scott McDaniel and I agree that Dick Grayson finds solace in religion. He's never been the cynical brooder that Bruce Wayne can be at times. Even though both went through the same childhood trauma Dick sought answers outside of himself. I think that's the basis of his belief in Christianity.
Graham Nolan and I had an ongoing argument about whether Bruce was raised Catholic or Protestant. I recently conceded to Graham than he must be Catholic. No Protestant ever suffered guilt the way Bruce does.
I find it peculiar that the idea of comic book heroes being Christians is "controversial". How many of our heroes are Buddhists or Druids or some other world religion and never raise an eyebrow? Maybe Christianity is too close to home and we want our heroes to have a more exotic belief system?
When I wrote Moon Knight over at Marvel I wanted to explore the fact that Marc Spector was Jewish. I was uncomfortable with the fact that a Jew wielded a power born of Egyptian myth. I wanted to deal with this in a storyline. My editor told me to ignore that aspect of his personality. And I was told this by an editor who is a Jew. Is there something in the mind of comics fandom and professionals that finds religion repugnant? Or are they simply avoiding the familiar?
From: "At DC Comics, Diversity Is No Laughing Matter", published on AOLTimeWarner.com website, 1 November 2001 (viewed 20 December 2005; http://www.bluecorncomics.com/atdccom.htm):
"The original creators of comics, 60 or 70 years ago, were almost all Jewish and Italian kids from various parts of New York," notes DC Comics Executive Vice President and Publisher Paul Levitz. "And the characters they created were pseudo-whitebread Episcopalian. It was almost de rigueur back then to paint people in this idealized American image. Today we have artists and writers of all ethnicities on four different continents."
From: Paul O'Donnell, "Look! Up in the Air! A Methodist!" posted 28 April 2006 on "Idol Chatter: Religion and Pop Culture Blog" website (http://www.beliefnet.com/blogs/idolchatter/2006/04/look-up-in-air-methodist.html; viewed 12 May 2006):
A Jewish comedian claimed not long ago that he grew up thinking that all the comic-book superheroes were Jewish, because, like, say, Goldman and Federrman, all their names end in "man": Spiderman, Batman, Superman...
From: Julia Baird, "A Sunday sermon from Superman", published 22 June 2006 in The Sydney Morning Herald (http://www.smh.com.au/news/opinion/a-sunday-sermon-from-superman/2006/06/21/1150845241006.html; viewed 21 June 2006):
For the record, with due respect to my Jewish brothers and sisters, Batman was an Episcopalian, and Superman a Methodist, as you can read here [http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/comic_collage.html].
...Superman is not the only superhero thought to be religious... Batman is said to be a lapsed Anglican or Catholic (because of the crosses on his parents' tombstones)...
From: Barry Caine, "If a superhero lands in the forest, does anyone hear it?" (Movie Guy column), published 24 July 2006 in Oakland Tribune (http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4176/is_20060624/ai_n16506776; viewed 12 July 2007):
From: David Waters, "A Methodist can leap tall buildings? Get a grip!", published 4 June 2006 in the Memphis, Tennessee Commercial Appeal (http://www.commercialappeal.com/mca/local_columnists/article/0,2845,MCA_25341_4745647,00.html; viewed 4 June 2006):
..."Superman Returns," which opens at 10 p.m. Tuesday... Superman's pending resurrection is inspiring super conjecture. For instance, Newsweek's "With Beliefnet.com" column has dubbed the Man of Steel a Methodist.
...while we're on the subject, the article uses data gleaned from Adherents.com to imbue other superheroes with their likely religious orientations...
Because of the crosses on his parents' gravestones, Batman is either a lapsed Roman Catholic or a disaffected Episcopalian...
In fact, most superheroes have religious backgrounds, according to adherents.com. Batman is a lapsed Catholic or Episcopalian...
From: "Notable Episcopalians / Anglicans" page in the "Visitors' Center" sub-section of the Episcopal Church section of the "Anglican Union" website, a significant but unofficial website sponsored by the Society of Archbishop Justus (http://www.ecusa.anglican.org/visitors_43635_ENG_HTM.htm; viewed 3 June 2006):
Even superheroes need a superhero, I guess.
The Most Reverend and Right Honourable Rowan Douglas Williams (1950- ) is the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury.
One of Rowan Williams' favorite TV shows is "The Simpsons." Adherents.com has a page of religious affiliations of comic book characters and they say Batman is an Episcopalian. Cowabunga, dude!
From: Hilary Goldstein, "Batman: The Chalice Review", published 9 June 2005 in Comics section of IGN.com Entertainment website (written by veteran Chuck Dixon, is not an Elseworlds tale; viewed 6 December 2005):
Above: "Thank God": Is Batman actually thanking God, or is he simply using an expression? He is probably simply using a expression, without thinking about it very much. His former sidekick, Stephanie Brown (known as "The Spoiler" and briefly as the fourth "Robin") died two pages previous, and even then Batman didn't do or say anything that seemed explicitly religious. Clearly, Batman is glad that the city-wide gang war that Spoiler inadvertently instigated is over, but in this scene he certainly isn't kneeling to say a prayer of thanks in the traditional sense.
[Source: Batman #633 (December 2004): "War Games Act 3, Part 8: No Going Back", DC Comics: New York City, page 30; written by Bill Willingham, pencilled by Kinsun; reprinted in Batman: War Games, Act Three: EndGame trade paperback, DC Comics: New York City (2005).]
Religion is one area comics have always misrepresented. Characters are either agnostic or devout, as if there were no in-between. Batman is, in many respects, a character that could be ripe for religious conflict. However, that's never really been the case with Batman as religion has been almost non-existent in the Batman mythos. That makes a Holy Grail story a tough sell.
From: Brian J. Sullivan, user review of Batman: The Chalice order page on Amazon.com website, posted 21 January 2001 (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/156389632X/002-2535171-5187214?v=glance&n=283155; viewed 6 December 2005):
Bruce Wayne is, apparently, from a long line of Grail guardians. One day he receives a package addressed to his father. The contents, the Holy Grail. Batman is immediately examining the cup for scientific evidence of its spiritual veracity, but at the same time is professing to be a believing in Christ. There's certainly nothing wrong with Batman being a Christian, but it seems totally out of nowhere. Batman believing in a higher power? Who knew? Answer: No one.
The Chalice, written by veteran Chuck Dixon, is not an Elseworlds tale -- this happens in-continuity and features a number of Batman villains all trying to stake a claim on the cup that caught Christ's blood. It seems that the location of the Grail could be kept secret for millennia until it went through the postal service and wound up on Wayne's door.
The majority of baddies, including the non-descript Merivingians (who claim to be blood-descendants of Christ) feel thrown in just to make things interesting. The only foe that works is Ra's Al Ghul, who's obsession with immortality includes a health amount of fervor for the Grail. His vast intelligence, however, is transformed into crude thuggery.
The Chalice poses an interesting idea -- What if Batman were given the Holy Grail? However, the Bat doesn't want to do anything with it, just keep it safe. So what makes this a "Batman" tale? Nothing. This could have been a non-superhero tale and probably would have been better. Though Dixon is trying for something profound, The Chalice is just a bunch of loose ends wrapped around the holiest item known to modern man. It doesn't help that John Van Fleet's art feels muddy and distilled, instead of showing the power of the events surrounding the hunt for the Grail...
This book disappoints on many fronts. The characterization of Batman as a Christian soldier was totally out of character. Batman and Alfred were constantly in utter awe of the Grail, a side of them that did not work for me. I generally think it is best to keep religion out of comics.
From: Brian J. Sullivan, user review of Batman: The Chalice order page on Amazon.com website, posted 9 January 2005 (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/156389632X/002-2535171-5187214?v=glance&n=283155; viewed 6 December 2005):
The Chalice, by Chuck Dixon and illustrated by John Van Fleet is a promising concept, but ultimately fails by having too many cameos of the rogues gallery and not dealing with Batman's existential ponderings.
While one reviewer mistakingly asserts religion should not be in comics (after all, religion is such an important part of peoples lives, it is hard to imagine that these characters should not be developed likewise), I disagree, it is that unlike Miller's Daredevil, where religion is dealt with on a somewhat real level, this comic is more interested in "Indiana Jones" type serial comic action than dealing with real questions with possible answers.
I, however, still found the story enjoyable. Batman learns that he is to protect the Holy Grail (the bloodline obligation story is weak as another reviewer noted) and does his best to do so. The grail heals him when he takes a step in faith after being wounded, and he proposes to Batgirl/Oracle that the grail can restore her as well - she lacks faith and turns down the opprotunity. This should have been fleshed out more and could have been a compelling story - why some take the step toward faith, and others do not.
The artwork is good, but not oustanding or compelling. The story too short, but the ending is outstanding and allows the reader to see Batman for who he is - a man who will never give up, but also one who will submit his ego for the good of all, for he knows his strengths and his limitations.
From: Andrew A. Smith (Scripps Howard News Service), "Comics superheroes of many faiths", published 3 February 2000 in The Houston Chronicle (http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/religion/446482.html; viewed 30 November 2005):
Above: Batman visits and then swing away from the church which is the location of a memorial to his recently killed sidekick, Stephenie Brown, a.k.a. "Spoiler" and (briefly) "Robin."
[Source: Detective Comics #810 (late October 2005): "War Crimes Part 3: A Consequence of Truth", DC Comics: New York City, page 2; written by Andersen Gabrych, pencilled by Pete Woods, inked by Tommy Castillo; reprinted in Batman: War Crimes trade paperback, DC Comics: New York City (2006).]
So, if you were going to dress up like a bat and fight crime, what church would you attend?
From: Ted Olsen, "Weblog: Sure, Superman's Protestant, But What's Batman", published in Christianity Today, 7 February 2000 (http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2000/106/13.0.html; viewed 3 June 2006):
That was the question put to Captain Comics a few weeks ago, and after much thumb-sucking, he decided Batman was probably Catholic. His reasoning was (A) Bruce Wayne's parents were accepted readily in wealthy East Coast social circles; (B) Batman's sense of guilt; (C) Superman, his polar opposite, is likely Protestant; and (D) nuns also dress in black.
OK, just kidding about that last one. But, as you can see, the Captain's other reasons were pretty flimsy. Fortunately, his readers came swinging to the rescue:
"If (Batman's) America has any similarities to ours, there was a lot of anti-Catholic bias in its history," wrote Leah via the Internet. "I have trouble picturing a Catholic Wayne family being fully accepted in high society (in the '40s), money or not. My vote would be high-church Episcopalian/Anglican, which is basically the same as Catholicism as far as beliefs go but would have been more socially acceptable."
Jeff Trexler of Dallas came to much the same conclusion.
"Your column on superhero religion ... jogged my memory back to an old (1950s) Batman time-travel story where he met his ancestor 'Mad' Anthony Wayne, a Revolutionary War hero. (Mad Anthony) was from the British elite families who colonized the area around Philadelphia, and he is buried in the cemetery appropriate to the Wayne family's wealth, status and pedigree: St. David's Episcopal Church Cemetery in Radnor."
So is Gotham's guardian Episcopalian? John McDonagh of Worcester, Mass., found different evidence of more recent vintage:
"The recent Batman: Scottish Connection (1998) seems to point to Batman's being of Scottish descent, making him more likely a Presbyterian." [Actually, Bruce Wayne specifically states that he has no Scottish heritage in this story.] Further, he said, in Final Night No. 4 (1996) former Green Lantern Hal Jordan mentions "the harsh God you believe in ... Batman." Could Batman be a Calvinist?
"I gotta say," Trexler said," (Batman's) obsession with the darker side of human nature makes me wonder if he wouldn't be more at home in hard-core Calvinist Presbyterianism, although there IS an ardent, albeit relatively small group of Calvinists even in the contemporary Episcopal church."
McDonagh agreed -- sort of -- by noting that "there are fundamentalist Protestant denominations and groups that are more extreme than even pre-Vatican II Roman Catholicism was."
Those are pretty strong arguments, and the Captain is forced to concede them. Of course, he could muddy the waters a bit by noting that the Wayne ancestor mentioned in Scottish Connection -- Sir Gaweyne de Weyne -- was a Crusader, and therefore a Catholic. And the Dark Knight DOES hang around in that cathedral-like Batcave...
...where he ought to have a lot of company. Matt (Daredevil) Murdock is a well-established Catholic of Irish descent whose mother is a nun. (A number of terrific stories have emerged from the conflict between his deeply felt beliefs and his secret life as a vigilante.) Other established Catholics in comics include Kyle (Green Lantern) Rayner and Helena (Huntress) Bertinelli in the Justice League, the X-Men's Kurt (Nightcrawler) Wagner, Eve (Nightshade) Eden and even Frank (the Punisher) Castle.
Janos (Blackhawk) Prohaska is a lapsed Catholic who lost his faith when the Nazis (and later, the Soviets) overran Poland and now claims to be an atheist. Perhaps he should join the Justice League, which has a manifest angel (Zauriel) as a member. Or have a chat with the Spectre, who claims to be the actual Wrath of God!
Elsewhere in funnybookland, Clark (Superman) Kent of Smallville, Kan., and Wally (Flash) West of Blue Valley, Neb., are almost certainly Protestants. Dick Grayson, the former Robin now called Nightwing, is a professed Christian of indeterminate denomination.
Which is not to say that comics are a Christians-only playground. Most superheroes haven't had a faith established, but those that have are all over the ecclesiastical map.
Jewish superheroes abound, including the X-Men's Kitty (Shadowcat) Pryde, Al (Atom Smasher) Rothstein, Vance (Justice) Astrovik, Rory (Ragman) Regan, Eric (Dr. Fate II) Strauss, Leonard (Doc) Samson, Sabra of the Israeli Super Agents, Seraph of the Global Guardians and dozens of other characters, major and minor.
There aren't many overt Muslims, but the Arabian Knight is one of them. Connor (Green Arrow) Hawke was raised in a Zen Buddhist monastery and follows the tenets of that belief. Roy Harper, the former Green Arrow sidekick called Arsenal, grew up on a Navajo reservation. Other American Indian characters like Red Wolf, Thunderbird and Wyatt Wingfoot almost certainly follow the beliefs of their tribes. The Japanese mutant, Sunfire, is a Shintoist. And do I really need to explain Brother Voodoo?
Then there are the religions that don't correspond to real-world beliefs. The Greco-Roman gods appear routinely in comic books and were instrumental in the origins of Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel, Donna (formerly Wonder Girl) Troy, Aquaman, Sub-Mariner and, of course, Hercules. Thor, quite naturally, swears by his father, Odin, and the other Norse gods. Jack Kirby's New Gods believe in "The Source." The Martian Manhunter has mentioned Hronmeer and other deities of Mars, while only the priests of Thanagar know what Katar (Hawkman) Hol believes.
Which is as it should be. The world of comics is full of deities, demigods and demons, all part of a rich tapestry of colorful mythology designed to tell exciting, engaging stories. An abiding faith can make a fictional character more interesting and believable, but it can't be a blueprint for the real world. We flesh-and-blood types still have to figure out the Big Questions for ourselves.
Is Batman Catholic, Episcopalian, or Presbyterian? [link to news article in Houston Chronicle: http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/religion/446482.html]
Superman is most assuredly a Protestant, writes Andrew Smith, who pens a "Captain Comics" column for the Scripps Howard News Service. But there's a lot of debate over Batman (I've read enough of his pontificating over man's fallen nature to swear he's some breed of Calvinist). Overall in Smith's rundown of superhero religion, Judaism comes out on top. "Captain Comics" doesn't note that this makes more sense when you consider the "fathers" of the modern comic superhero, Superman's Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, were both Jewish.
Batman has clearly heard Paul's Biblical phrase "Work out your salvation with fear and trembling" (Philippians 2:12). Does Batman believe in salvation? Good question... Many readers probably think Batman is more likely to believe in damnation than salvation.
Above: Batman tells Dr. Leslie Thompkins to "work out her damnation" on her own. Dr. Thompkins is one of Batman's oldest friends. Indeed, she was there for him in his childhood, from the time his parents were murdered. But when Batman learned that Dr. Thompkins had withheld life-saving medical treatment from his former sidekick, Stephanie Brown (a.k.a. "Spoiler" and, briefly, "Robin"), the Dark Knight was not particularly forgiving.
[Source: Batman #644 (late October 2005): "War Crimes Part 4: Judgment at Gotham", DC Comics: New York City, page 22; written by Bill Willingham, pencilled by Guiseppe Camuncoli, inked by Sandra Hope; reprinted in Batman: War Crimes trade paperback, DC Comics: New York City (2006).]
Batman compares the Batcave to a church
In the account of Batman's origin provided in issue #1 of Frank Miller's Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Batman recalls finding the Batcave for the first time, at the age of six. Batman states that the silence of the cave reminded him of a church.(Batman: The Dark Knight Returns hardover compilation, page 19). He recalls thinking that the cave was "silent as a church." This indicates that he had spent some time in church, and that those churches were "silent," which is probably an apt description for whatever Episcopalian church that the wealthy Wayne family might have taken Bruce to. Note that as a child Bruce Wayne did not think the cave was as "silent as a synagogue" or as "silent as a mosque."
PLUS: a mystical element to Batman's origin
On this same page, Miller also introduces a seemingly mystical or totemistic element to Batman's origin. In Batman's recollection, he pictures himself falling into a hole on his estate at the age of six. After being swarmed by bats, young Bruce sees a poweful, ancient bat-like entity. Bruce recalls the entity "claiming me as his own." Later, in Batman: The Dark Knight Returns #2, Batman has been severely injured during a fight with the leader of the "Mutants" street gang. Upon returning the bat cave, Batman seeks healing or a renewal of power and again goes to the place where he encounted the bat-like entity. He again sees this being. Finally, in Batman: The Dark Knight Returns #4, as Bruce prepares to battle Superman, he contemplates of the bat-like entity (page 187). Is he communing with it? Praying to it? Wayne seems to regard this bat-like entity as something very real.
These scenes seem to supplement or fall outside the commonly accepted account of Batman's origins. It is not entirely clear if (or to what extent) Bruce Wayne's encounters with this "ancient" bat-like entity are literal, versus being purely symbolic or spiritual in nature. Given the number of times that the childhood roots of Batman have been recounted without reference to this bat-like being, it seems likely that this is a non-canonical element present only in Miller's The Dark Knight Returns.
Text from: Batman: The Dark Knight Returns #1 (1986), DC Comics: New York City; reprinted in Batman: The Dark Knight Returns hardcover edition, DC Comics: New York City (2002), pages 18-19; written and pencilled by Frank Miller, inked by Klaus Janson, colored by Lynn Varley:
[After chasing a rabbit on his family estate, 6-year-old Bruce Wayne falls into a deep hole hidden in the brush. Hundreds of bats swarm around him, mostly seen rather than heard in the darkness.]
YOUNG BRUCE WAYNE: Oof! OWW!
[Bruce rubs his knee, which hurts from his fall. Bats continue to swarm around him.]
YOUNG BRUCE WAYNE: No! Go way! Go WAY!
[The bats are gone. There is silence. Bruce looks up. A single pair of glowing eyes can be seen peering through the darkness.]
NARRATION/ADULT BRUCE'S RECOLLECTION: Then . . . something shuffles out of sight . . . Something sucks the stale air . . . and hisses.
[The shadow of a mysterious being falls over young Bruce as he sits with his back against a cave wall.]
NARRATION/ADULT BRUCE'S RECOLLECTION: Gliding with ancient grace . . . Unwilling to retreat as his brothers did . . . Eyes gleaming, untouched by love or joy or sorrow . . . Breath hot with the taste of fallen foes . . . the stench of dead things, damned things . . .
[The face of the bat or bat-like entity is seen. It seems to have intelligence behind its eyes, and it seems to have fire in its mouth, almost like a dragon.]
NARRATION/ADULT BRUCE'S RECOLLECTION: Surely the fiercest survivor -- the purest warrior . . . Glaring, hating . . . claiming me as his own.
Dreaming . . . I was only six years old when that happened. When I first saw the cave . . . huge, empty, silent as a church, waiting as the bat was waiting.
And now the cobwebs grow and the dust thickens in here as it does in me -- and he laughs at me, curses me. Calls me a fool. He fills my sleep, he tricks me. Brings me here when the night so long as my will is weak. He struggles relentlessly, hatefully, to be free -- I will not let him. I gave my word. For Jason.
Never. Never again.
[Bruce Wayne/Batman is donning battle armor and preparing for his upcoming fight with Superman.]
Text from: Batman: The Dark Knight Returns #2 (1986), DC Comics: New York City; reprinted in Batman: The Dark Knight Returns hardcover edition, DC Comics: New York City (2002), page 87-88; written and pencilled by Frank Miller, inked by Klaus Janson, colored by Lynn Varley:
[Carrie Kelly, the newly appointed "Robin" has just helped bring a severely injured Batman back to the Batcave after his battle with the leader of the street gang known as the "Mutants." Alfred was attempting to administer first aid to Batman, but the aging crimefighter rose from the hospital bed and now walks deeper into the Batcave.]
BATMAN (thinking): The cave . . . I leave them behind me . . . I leave . . . it all behind me . . . I go . . . to the dark place . . . where I first met you . . . before my parents died . . . before I learned what I am. I'm dying but I can't die . . . I'm not finished yet. ...And you're not finished with me. Then . . . something shuffles out of sight . . . something sucks the stale air . . . and hisses.
[A glowing pair of eyes peers from the darkness.]
BATMAN (thinking): Gliding with ancient grace . . . Eyes gleaming, untouched by love or joy or sorrow . . . Breath hot with the taste of fallen foes . . . the stench of dead things, damned things . . . surely the fiercest survivor . . . the purest warrior . . . glaring, hating . . . claiming me as your own.
[The face of the ancient bat-like entity, its mouth seemingly filled with fire, appears once again, and Bruce Wayne smiles despite his injuries.]
Text from: Batman: The Dark Knight Returns #4 (1986), DC Comics: New York City; reprinted in Batman: The Dark Knight Returns hardcover edition, DC Comics: New York City (2002), page 187; written and pencilled by Frank Miller, inked by Klaus Janson, colored by Lynn Varley:
ALFRED: . . . healing quite poorly, Master Bruce. Shall I prepare another stimulant? Why delay your very first cardiac arrest?
BATMAN (thinking): Oliver -- Maybe Oliver was right . . . all along . . . crazy as it sounds . . .
[Batman here seems to be thinking about what Oliver Queen (a.k.a. Green Arrow) recently said, that the world isn't big enough for both Batman and Superman.]
ALFRED: . . . bloody walking hospital bed . . .
BATMAN: That's enough, Alfred.
[Bruce Wayne/Batman is donning battle armor and preparing for his upcoming fight with Superman.]
BATMAN (thinking): . . . when you came for me . . . in the cave . . . I was just six year old . . . You were ancient . . . nothing . . . nothing could kill you . . . but the war . . . it did not begin then . . . No . . . it was . . . two years later . . . when her necklace caught on his wrist . . . when he shoved his pistol to her jaw and pulled the trigger . . . and everything my mother was struck the pavement as a bloody wad . . .
[Batman's memory of the bat-like entity from the batcave is shown.]
BATMAN (thinking): That night . . . began thirty years of hunting theives and murderers . . . Is that what you intended?
Young Bruce Wayne's prayer to avenge the death of his parents
Above and Left: Young Bruce Wayne witnesses the brutal murder of his parents. He subsequently prays to God every night to ask for help to avenge his parents by waging war on all criminals.
Source: Secret Origins #6 (September 1986), page 3; reprinted in Batman: The Greatest Stories Ever Told, Volume Two, DC Comics (2007), page 5; written by Roy Thomas, pencilled by Marshall Rogers, inked by Terry Austin.
Text from scene above, from Secret Origins #6 (September 1986), pages 2-3; reprinted in Batman: The Greatest Stories Ever Told, Volume Two, DC Comics (2007), page 4-5; written by Roy Thomas, pencilled by Marshall Rogers, inked by Terry Austin:
Thomas Wayne: Enjoy the movie, Martha?
Martha Wayne: I suppose so. That Rudolph Valentino isn't really my type, though.
Mugger: He aint, huh? Well, maybe I am!
Thomas Wayne: Huh? Hey-- What is this??
Mugger: A stick-up, buddy. I'll take that necklace, you're wearing, lady!
Young Bruce Wayne: Father . . . ?
Mugger: Stay back, you! Don't try playin' hero on me!
Thomas Wayne: Leave my wife alone, you filthy--
[Thomas Wayne lunges at the mugger, intent on protecting his family.]
Mugger: You asked for it!
Sound Effect: BLAM BLAM
[The mugger shots Thomas Wayne. Bruce Wayne and his mother watch as Bruce's father falls dead.]
Martha Wayne: No!! Y-You've killed him!
Mugger: Shuddup-- And gimme that sparkler!
[The mugger grabs the necklace around Martha's neck.]
Martha Wayne: Help, police-- HELP!
Mugger: I said shuddup-- If you know what's good for you!
[The mugger tears the necklace from Martha Wayne's neck, shoving her head against a corner on a lamp post. Beneath the street light, Bruce Wayne's mother crumples to the pavement. Bruce Wayne kneels before the fallen bodies of his mother and father. The mugger runs off intot he darkness. Tears drop from Bruce's eyes.]
Young Bruce Wayne: Father . . . M- Mother . . .
Narration: Bruce Wayne is left a wealthy boy by the unsolved murder of his socialite parents. But all the money in the world can't buy back his parents' lives . . . or still the turmoil in his young heart.
New location: We see the inside of Bruce Wayne's bedroom. His uncle peaks through the door. Bruce Wayne is already kneeling beside his bed, folding his hands together and bowing his head in prayer.]
Uncle Philip: Don't forget to say your prayers, Bruce.
Young Bruce Wayne: I never forget them, Uncle Philip.
Uncle Philip: There's a good lad. Good night.
Bruce Wayne (praying silently): --and I swear by the spirits of my parents to avenge their deaths, by spending the rest of my life warring on all criminals! Please, dear God -- Help my keep my promise! I'll do anything--!
Below, this scene is recapitulated in another source: Bruce Wayne recalls the night his parents died, when he said a prayer and swore to avenge his his parents. A bat appears to him, which he sees as an omen, a sign of the symbol he will use in his war on criminals. These memories or images appear to Bruce Wayne after he was exposed to a psychoactive pharmaceutical agent produced by his enemy, the Scarecrow. Later he recalls the same scene, appearing essentially the same, while not under the influence of any chemical agents: "I swear by the spirits of my parents to avenge their deaths by spending the rest of my life warring on all criminals. A Bat! It's an omen! I shall become-- [Batman].
Source of excerpt below: Batman: Dark Detective #2, page 14; reprinted in Batman: Dark Detective trade paperback (DC Comics, 2006), page 40; written by Steve Englehart, pencilled by Marshall Rogers, inked by Terry Austin:
Below: Batman thinks back on the night that he prayed and swore to avenge the death of his parents. Source of excerpt below: Batman: Dark Detective #3, page 16; reprinted in Batman: Dark Detective trade paperback (DC Comics, 2006), page 86; written by Steve Englehart, pencilled by Marshall Rogers, inked by Terry Austin:
Bruce Wayne Talks to His Deceased Father and Receives the Bat Symbol
During his first foray into amateur crime-fighting, Bruce Wayne is severely injured by common street criminals and prostitutes who are clearly unafraid of him, despite his fighting prowess. Bruce Wayne manages to get himself home to his mansion. While he lies dazed and bleeding, he realizes that he needs a way to make criminals afraid of him, so he can more effectively fight crime. Bruce Wayne speaks directly to his deceased father, whose murder has inspired him to embark on this unusual path. As if in answer to Bruce's pleas, a bat crashes through a window. Bruce Wayne now knows the symbol he will use to create fear in criminals: a bat.
This scene can be read as a prayer. Is Bruce Wayne actually speaking to his deceased father? Does his father hear him? Is Bruce Wayne speaking to God, his "Father" in Heaven? On the most literal level, Wayne seems to be addressing his Earthly father, the late Thomas Wayne. Yet even in this scene, it is not clear whether Bruce Wayne has a literal belief that there is an afterlife to which his mother and father have gone. In fact, one could argue that if Bruce Wayne had a normative Christian-type belief in an afterlife, he might have been able to eventually accept the death of his parents enough to begin living a "normal" life. Instead, Bruce Wayne constantly re-lives the murders of his parents and transforms himself into an inhuman engine of vigiliante vengeance.
The three pages below are from: Batman: Year One #1, pages 20-22; republished in Batman: Year One trade paperback, published by DC Comics (2005); written by Frank Miller and illustrated by David Mazzucchelli:
Bruce Wayne's thoughts in this scene:
Father . . . I'm afraid. I may have to die tonight. I've tried to be patient. I've tried to wait. But I have to know. How, father? How do I do it? What do I use . . . to make them afraid? If I ring this bell, Alfred will come. He can stop the bleeding in time. Another of your gifts to me, father. I have wealth. The family manor rests above a huge cave that will be the perfect headquarters . . . even a butler with training in combat medicine . . . yes, father. I have everything but patience. I'd rather die . . . than wait . . . another hour. I have waited . . . eighteen years . . . eighteen years . . . since Zorro. The Mask of Zorro. Since the walk. That night. And the man with frightened, hollow eyes and a voice like glass being crushed.
[In his mind's eye, Bruce Wayne recalls the memory that is never far from his mind: He sits between his parents in a movie theater. He walks away from the theater with his parents. A mugger points a gun at them. The criminal shoots his father and mother, killing them both, before running away into the night. Young Bruce Wayne kneels beside their fallen bodies.]
. . . since all sense left my life. Without warning, it comes . . . crashing through the window of your study . . . and mine . . .
[A bat crashes through the window Bruce is staring at.]
. . . I have seen it before . . . somewhere . . . it frightened me as a boy . . . frightened me . . . yes. Father. I shall become a bat.
Bruce Wayne's Buddhist studies in the Orient
In Detective Comics #598, part 1 of the "Blind Justice" story arc that commemorated Batman's 50th anniversary, Bruce Wayne uncovers a secret illegal research program within his own company. He moves to eject those involved and shut down the program, but those in charge of the program work for a powerful cartel, and they have information about Wayne himself. Bruce Wayne is somewhat surprised when, at the end of issue #598, the cartel springs their trap and reveals what they "know." But instead uncovering the fact that Wayne is actually Batman, the cartel provides evidence to federal investigators insinuating that Batman is a Communist, based largely on his travels in the Orient as a young adult.
In Detective Comics #599, Bruce Wayne is interviewed by his defense attorneys about the time he spent studying martial arts in East Asia. These scenes include both flashbacks of and Bruce Wayne's own explanations of this time period. These scenes make it clear that Bruce Wayne not only studied martial arts during this time, he also actively studied East Asian religion, particularly Buddhism, and endeavored to follow Buddhist paths - at least while under the tutelage of Buddhist trainers. From: Detective Comics #599 (April 1989), "Blind Justice: Part 2", DC Comics: New York City; written by Sam Hamm, pencilled by Denys Cowan, inked by Dick Giordano; page 5-9:
ATTORNEY: We got the disclosure papers. Someone's done some serious digging into your past -- and they've got you in bed with some pretty unsavory types. Have you had a chance to look at that itinerary?
BRUCE WAYNE: It's basically accurate. For East, Europe -- I was there but . . .
ATTORNEY: A lot of the evidence is circumstantial. Still-- We're going to need a convincing explanation of what you were doing all those year you spent overseas.
BRUCE WAYNE: Well, I was traveling.
ATTORNEY: Bruce, we've got to convince a jury. On the basis of what you've told us, I'm not convinced myself. Now, let's start with the first name in that folder . . . Chu Chin Li. Did you know him?
[Bruce recalls martial being trained in extremely physically demanding martial arts by a Chinese master.]
BRUCE WAYNE: He was my teacher.
ATTORNEY: What the hell did he teach you?
[BRUCE WAYNE'S FLASHBACK: He is in a monastery, with a few monks in the background. Bruce, nearly naked except for trunks, is covered with acupuncture needles.]
CHU CHIN LI: The pain. Has it subsided?
BRUCE WAYNE: My lower back -- still aching. I can't move my arm yet . . . I'm sorry, Sensei. I've allowed my body to fail me.
CHU CHIN LI: It is not a failure of the body. It is a failure of understanding. What is to do good? In a word, it is to endure suffering. Your skills are great. But you are unmindful of The Way, and negligence is an extreme thing.
BRUCE WAYNE: Sensei-- I will purge my heart. I want to succeed in The Way.
CHU CHIN LI: To die without gaining one's aim is a dog's death. The time has come that I must ask you . . . are you . . .
[END OF FLASHBACK]
ATTORNEY: Are you holding out on us?
BRUCE WAYNE: What?
ATTORNEY: You heard me, Bruce. Are you holding out on us? A rich American winds up in some God-forsaken monastery with an old Asian martial arts master??
BRUCE WAYNE: You know how it is. College kids, Eastern mysticism . . . People go through silly phases.
[BRUCE WAYNE'S FLASHBACK: He is in the Chinese monastery, in a martial arts training dojo, fighting an opponent.]
BRUCE WAYNE: You wished to speak to me, Master?
CHU CHIN LI: Yes, my son. You are my dearest pupil. Yet I sense a fatal ambivalence in your heart. The Way is no mere discipline, to be studied and sampled. It is a philosophy of life. It requires absolute submission. There is nothing more I can teach you-- until you choose between this world, and the one you left.
BRUCE WAYNE: My task lies elsewhere, Sensei. I suppose I've known it all along. If I've brought you shame, I am heartily sorry.
[We see Bruce Wayne leaving the Buddhist monastery. END OF FLASHBACK]
ATTORNEY: I don't suppose he tried to-- brainwash you?
BRUCE WAYNE: What??
BRUCE WAYNE: His other pupils included sons of diplomats -- Red Army regulars -- not to mention assorted members of the Chinese mafia. Adding you to the team would've been quite a coup. Rought crowd, all right. The old boy should have stuck with aerobics. Says here he got himself beheaded two years back.
BRUCE WAYNE: Then he won't be testifying, will he?
ATTORNEY: Dammit, Bruce. These accusations are no joke. If you're innocent . . . then tell us the truth. It's your only defense!
[Bruce Wayne pictures himself sitting in court, wearing his Batman costume without his mask on, explaining to the judge that he is "not really a foreign agent," that he's really Batman. Bruce realizes that this won't work.]
Later in this issue (after some moving along of the central plot of the "Blind Justice" story arc), Bruce's interview with his two defense attorneys continues. From: Detective Comics #599 (April 1989), "Blind Justice: Part 2", DC Comics: New York City; written by Sam Hamm, pencilled by Denys Cowan, inked by Dick Giordano; page 15-18:
ATTORNEY: Korea. Thailand. The Philippines. Come one, Bruce. They can place you smack in the middle of the Golden Triangle . . . A hotbed of drug runners and global racketeers, and this thing with Tsunetomo, your Yakuza pal . . No, let me guess. More martial arts.
OTHER ATTORNEY: Why this obsession?? Do you have a-- pathological fear of muggers?
BRUCE WAYNE: I've explained that. It's more than just . . . learning to fight. It's a spiritual discipline.
[BRUCE WAYNE'S FLASHBACK: He is in a primitive wooden building, a Japanese dojo. Bruce wears Japanese-style robes and sits with his legs folded before a Japanese teacher.]
TSUNETOMO: I respect you, WAyne-Sn. It is rare for a man to request his own death. It shows deep enlightenment. For a Westerner.
BRUCE WAYNE: Thank you for obliging me.
TSUNETOMO: Before I depart, let me offer my advice. Feel your heartbeat. Feel the blood as it courses through your veins. Know your body, and master it--utterly. When you have mastered your body, you have mastered time. Time is a subjective thing. A year can be live in a single second. Make time your ally.
[Bruce Wayne lies prone. He hears a sound. Four black-clad ninjas burst through the paper walls and attack. Bruce Wayne is instantly standing in a fighting stance. He defeats the ninjas handily.]
TSUNETOMO: An instant is all you will have. In that time you must become your foe. You must enter his mind, anticipate his attack. Make his skill your own. Seek your own death. Become it--and you will thwart it.
TSUNETOMO: Excellent. Four attackers disabled, with no loss of life. You have earned your "diploma" -- by surviving. Allow me to congratulate you . . .
[Tsunetomo reaches to shake Bruce's hand, but actually pulls a knife on Bruce. Bruce deflects his trainer's thrust, catches the dropped knife, and holds it to his trainer's neck.]
TSUNETOMO: Congratulations again. By the way, you appear to have taken a bullet in your leg.
BRUCE WAYNE: What--? [He looks down at his wound.]
TSUNETOMO: Admirable. Your body has learned to stanch he bleeding by instinct. Now have it bandaged . . . and write me a check.
[END OF FLASHBACK]
ATTORNEY: A spiritual discipline, huh? Frankly, Bruce, that's the part that bothers us. You fit the psychological profile perfectly. Your parents were brutally murdered . . . Alone, traumatized, looking for guidance . . . You'd be ripe for plucking by some sinister Eastern cult.
OTHER ATTORNEY: So who's calling the shots? Chu Chin Li, or Tsunetomo, or--
BRUCE WAYNE: That's enough! I'm not some weak-willed dupe. Whatever I did, it was on my own initiative . . . For my own reasons. And I don't want my parents coming into this.
ATTORNEY: Tell it to the prosecution. We're just saying what they'll say.
Dialogue: Is Batman Truly Religious?Regarding Batman's classification as a Catholic, a reader wrote (30 November 2005):
Where was it that Batman even had a religion? In the "Year II" storyline when he was asked if he believed in God, he said "I don't see a reason to" or something of the like. I don't think he'd even be doing what he does [as a costumed vigilante] if he had a religion! In the early issues he killed criminals. In what issues of his comics was his religious affiliation mentioned?!?
Thank you for taking the time to write.
I want to make this page as accurate as possible. Many people have written to us about this page and the information comes from many sources. But I am always happy to receive additional input and frequently modify the page, adding or changing listings as new information becomes available.
Nobody has asked about Batman's classification before. This is a classification based on many other sources and lists compiled by others. I think many people take Batman's Catholic background as a given... but of course you are correct that it is not typically explicitly stated. When time allows, I plan to compile a page specifically for Batman, which can discuss this subject in detail.
Personally, I think of Batman as an exquisitely bad Catholic.
I'm not an expert on Batman, but I've read a considerable amount of Batman comics, and I can't recall ever seeing anything that would indicate that the character is non-Catholic. When the character's home life and upbringing is portrayed, the imagery seems pervasively Catholic, as does the overall subtext of the character. The character has been portrayed praying by his parents' gravestone. Batman's wedding (older version of the character) to Catwoman was shown in a Catholic church in comic that introduced the Huntress (their daughter). One could argue that some of this imagery could be Episcopalian, but I think that would ignore the psychology of the character as well as his Gothic setting.
I appreciate the tip about the Year II statements about God. That's the kind of detail that would be perfect to include in an expanded page about Batman's religious affiliation and beliefs. Whether or not Batman believes in God has nothing to do with his religious background and religious affiliation, but it is indeed an important consideration. There will invariably be some subjectivity to how one views Batman and the character's beliefs, religiosity, and ethics. How best to describe these aspects of the character is probably not an easily settled question given the massive amount of printed material (not to mention film, television, radio, etc.) available about this long-lived character.
- webmaster, adherents.com
Batman struggles with spiritual/religious concepts as he tries to come to terms with the death and resurrection of Jason Todd (the second Robin)
The "Under the Hood" storyline from Batman #s 635-641 (2005) provides an excellent example of how Batman struggles with spiritual and religious concepts, typically refusing to accept such realities even in the face of overwhelming evidence.
This issues of Batman were written by Judd Winick, pencilled by Doug Mahnke and Paul Lee, and inked by Tom Nguyen and Cam Smith.
In this mult-part story, Batman encounters the mysterious "Red Hood," who unmasks to reveal that he is Jason Todd, who was previously Batman's sidekick, the second "Robin." Batman knows that Robin died at the hands of their arch-enemy, the Joker. So Batman wants to get to the bottom of this new mystery: Who is this person who claims to be Jason Todd? The last thing that Batman wants to do is accept the reality that this person is indeed the original Jason Todd, now resurrected and back from the dead. Such a thing flies in the face of Batman's typically materialist/non-religious beliefs.
Batman consults with mystics and asks them about the possibilities of people returning from the dead. To this end, he consults with his fellow Justice League teammate, Zatanna and world-renowned occult specialist Jason Blood (counterpart to Etrigan, the Demon).
Batman next visits his fellow Justice Leager the Green Arrow, who really did die, go to Heaven, and return. Batman knows this happened, and he was there for some of these events, but he seems completely incapable of grasping these facts.
Batman then visits his old friend Superman, who also "died," in a way, although Superman says that what happened to him was only a semblance of death.
In the wake of Jason Todd's return, Batman has begun to wonder if, as much as it doesn't make sense to him, people, including Superman, really were dead and then returned from death. Discounting Superman's explanation about being in a "death-like state," Batman tells his old friend: "It was easier to fall back on that than admit the harder truth... That it has nothing to do with science . . . or logic . . . You were dead, and you came back to life."
Superman doesn't agree with Batman's suggestion that he was truly dead. Still, Superman points out that they both know other people who really have died and returned: the aforementioned Green Arrow, as well as Metamorpho and Hal Jordan (Green Lantern).
Superman points out that this "isn't science."
Batman responds, "It has been for me.
Batman struggles with what to think about these events. He simply must be able to categorize even these extraordinary events in a scientific way. He tells Superman, "I've always had answers. The facts, for every one of them we lost, whether they thought it was about Heaven, or God, or even magic . . . Magic, mysticism . . . is just another realm's science. I know that, but . . . now . . ."
Batman is at a loss for words. Regardless of how he categorizes it, Batman does not want to accept the reality of such an ostensibly "religious" concept as life after death, resurrection, or an eternal spirit or soul. He seems desperate to avoid considering the possibility that "religious doctrines" such as this may have some basis in empirical reality.
Left: Batman stands before the grave marker of Jason Todd, the second Robin. After Jason died, Batman chose an Episcopalian-style Christian cross for the grave marker.
[Source: cover of Batman #639, published by DC Comics (2005), written by Judd Winick, cover art by Matt Wagner; reprinted in Batman: Under the Hood trade paperback (2005).]
Below: Batman cradles the lifeless body of Jason Todd, the second Robin. The Joker murdered Jason. Batman wonders: At the end of his life, was Jason praying that Batman would come save him?
[Source: Batman #641, published by DC Comics (2005), page 1; written by Judd Winick, pencilled by Doug Mahnke and Paul Lee, inked by Tom Nguyen and Cam Smith; reprinted in Batman: Under the Hood trade paperback (2005).]
Right: This panel aptly captures the general differences in the philosophical and religious thinking of Batman and Superman. Encountering a certain mystery, Superman here suggests a mystical explanation. Batman tells him to "not go off the deep end" and insists there must be a "simple answer", by which he means a "scientific" or materialist explanation.
Superman and Batman are the world's best known superheroes. As is the case in this example, Superman is typically portrayed as more religious and Batman is portrayed as more secular. Superman more readily accepts the reality of magic, mysticism and religious concepts. In fact, he is keenly aware that magic is one of his major weaknesses. Batman might view Superman's perspective as more "naive." Batman is more skeptical about things that he can't apply a scientific explanation to. In fact, Batman is sometimes portrayed as skeptical to the point of narrow-mindedness. Batman's inability to accept the reality of things that might be traditionally classified as "religious" or "supernatural" has even been portrayed in some stories as one of his greatest weaknesses. Superman's typically "hopeful" demeanor and Batman's dour "realism" are other manifestations of this dichotomy.
[Source: "The Cape and Cowl Crooks" in World's Finest #159, published by DC Comics (August 1966), page 14; written by Edmond Hamilton, pencilled by Curt Swan, inked by George Klein; reprinted in Superman/Batman: The Greatest Stories trade paperback, DC Comics (2007), page 60.]
Some Religious References in Batman: Arkham Asylum
Batman: Arkham Asylum, written by Grant Morrison with art by Dave McKean, was first published by DC Comics in 1989. This volume still holds the record as the top-selling original graphic novel ever published. By the time the graphic novel was re-published in a special 15th anniversary edition in 2004, it had sold close to a half million copies (in softcover and hardcover editions, in foreign and domestic markets).
As this graphic novel was written by acclaimed comic book master writer Grant Morrison and focuses on the psyche of Batman as well as his rogues gallery, it is not surprising that this book is replete with religious references. Some of Morrison's notes about his use of religious themes and symbols in this graphic novel are excerpted below, taken from the 15th anniversary edition, which included the complete final draft of Morrison's script.
PAGE 15: "SOME SAY GOD IS AN INSECT . . ." - from the film WUSA (starring Anthony Perkins). A number of Anthony Perkins lines are contained within the book...
"I BELIEVE GOD IS IN MAN" - also from WUSA, the continuation of the 'God is an insect . . .' line.
[These lines were spoken by patients at Arkham Asylum after Batman entered there in exchange for hostages.]
PAGE 20: The idea of Joker's "super-sanity" haunted me for years and eventually developed into my theories of multiple personality complexes as the next stage in human consciousness development.
PAGE 27: Clown Fish are represented for the purpose of illustrating the circus clown/Joker imagery. Their ability to change sex being another reference to the shamanistic transvestism theme which appears throughout. The Fish is also representative of Christ (think of the classic Christian Fish symbol which appears on bumber stickers across America, also known as Vescica Pisces).
PAGE 32: Batman pushes the glass into his palm. His face creases with the flare of pain. This act deepens some of the ritual symbolism of the story. The recurring Fish motif - which relates to Pisces, the astrological attribution of the Moon card - also relates to Christ, who in turn can be linked to the Egyptian God Osiris, whose life and descent into the underworld parallels with the story of Amadeus Arkham... so Batman is here inflicting upon himself one of Christ's wounds...
PAGE 35: This was originally a shamanic cannibal sequence, of which only vague hints, suggestions and shadowy threats remain.
PAGE 47: Masonic ideas of the "Widow's Son," Christ, the Celtic figure of Mabon vab Modron and other esoteric mysteries are all alluded to here.
PAGE 50: Batman drags himself up onto the roof of Arkham. More gargoyles brood on the roof ledge. Batman looks towards the object we can see in the foreground - it is the lower part of the statue of St. Michael and Satan... Close up on Batman's reaction to what he's seeing. His face shows a mixture of awe and inspiration - like the face of a saint, visited by the Holy Spirit... Powerful image now of the statue, set against the stressed and churning sky. It is a religious, fearful moment, full of that same mythical intensity I keep talking about. There is an unearthly light source that adds spiritual drama and grandeur to the scene. Just looking at it should make us want to fall to our knees and hide our faces from the terrible holy actuality of it.
PAGE 51: Killer Croc stands in for the Old Dragon of Revelation. The Dragon can be seen to represent primal chaos, the R complex lizard brain. The spear, the weapon of rational intellect, is used to conquer the brute appetites of nature and man. St. Michael thus bound the dragon in Hell, just as Croc is bound in the cellars of Arkham.
In Qabalistic numerology, Christ = Satan = Messiah, which is why Croc appears here in crucifixion pose, taking the place of Christ on this blasphemous cross. In this scene, Batman reunites Christ and Serpent, then confronts and overcomes his own attachment to his Mother in a perverse nightmare of lizards, lace and bridal embroidery.
PAGE 59: The deranged Cavendish [head of Arkham Asylum] has clearly worked an act of bad magic - in a misguided effort to exorcise the spirit of Arkham he has instead invoked the demonic Death Bat in its form as Batman. As we've seen all polarities go into reverse on All Fools Day including those of magical intent.
PAGE 62: The "weak," confused Batman of the earlier parts of the book vanishes here to be replaced by a more familiar character. From a Jungian POV, his anima has vanquished his shadow. He has merged with his own myth - the Death Bat - and become part man, part numinous legend.
PAGE 64: Batman transforms from sacrificial lamb to Redeemer here. More Christian mystery biz.
PAGE 65: The Joker's role as Trickster/Guide through the underworld is no more apparent than here, where he seems happy to let Batman go. The Joker's work is done, he has broken and remade his old enemy. In the reversal reality of the Feast of Fools, it's the arch-villain who dos the most good, while the hero is ineffective and lost until the conclusion. This seemed a much richer, more satisfying and more dynamic way to consider the Batman/Joker dynamic.
PAGE 66: Batman has faces his own personal Abyss, integrated his psychological demons and emerged stronger and more sane from the other side of the looking glass... Having been through the reversal of all his normal valencies, the '80s Batman, purified and purged of negative elements, is returned to Gotham City to become the super-confident, zen warrior of my subsequent JLA stories.
[This script contains many, many more religious references (not excerpted here), to themes and images as varied as Tarot, I-Ching and Aleister Crowley.]
Batman screenwriter Sam Hamm: Batman's Psyche
When life-long Batman fan Sam Hamm (screenwriter for Batman (1989) and Batman Returns (1992), was commissioned to write the Detective Comics commemorating the 50th Anniversary of Batman, he contemplated the character deeply and attempted to write a story which would not change Batman, but which would succinctly describe the character. Hamm's writing for this story is insightful. In the introduction that Hamm wrote to the 1992 trade paperback collection of his 3-part "Blind Justice" story arc, he described some of his thought processes that went into writing the story. From: Sam Hamm, "Introduction", in Batman: Blind Justice trade paperback, DC Comics: New York City (1992), pages 2-3:
So what have we got here? A millionaire who dresses up as a bat to fight crime. Fans continually debate which is the "dominant" personality -- does Bruce pose as Batman, or does Batman pose as Bruce? -- but the question seems dramatically irrelevant to me. After all, he was Bruce first. Something drove him to put on the cowl, and something must drive him to keep on wearing it.
Sam Hamm uses the 3-issue, 142-page "Blind Justice" story published in Detective Comics #s 598-600 to illustrate his understanding of what drives Batman to do what he does, which makes for an excellent story. The final pages of the saga provide an excellent analysis of the character. From Detective Comics #600 (May 1989), "Blind Justice: Part 3", DC Comics: New York City; written by Sam Hamm, pencilled by Denys Cowan, inked by Dick Giordano; pages 59-61:
Most comics writers point, with a relentlessness approaching tedium, to the primal moment that scarred him forever -- the murder of his parents. What does that explain? OK, his parents get killed by a mugger. In any major urban center, worse things happen to poor people every day. Yet the streets are not overrun with well-meaning vigilantes who don gaudy costumes and fight evildoers as a way of dealing with their various childhood traumas. After all, crime breeds criminals more often than crimefighters.
What all this suggested to me was that Bruce had become Batman as a result of being spoiled. He had grown up with sufficient money and leisure to luxuriate in his own tragedy, to wallow in the false sense that it made him somewhow unique. In other words, Bruce had never learned to cut his losses. For good or bad, he'd become addicted to his own pain -- and he relied on the outward nobility of his missoin to conceal the true perversity of his addiction. In this psychological scheme the Batman persona would function both as the symptom of, and justification for, his madness. To keep it alive, he'd have to relive the death of his parents again and again, killing them anew each night.
NARRATION: For a man who cannot sleep, dreams pose a curious threat. Bruce Wayne's dedication is unstinting. His motives -- though some might argue otherwise -- are noble. But still, one dream torments him. And the odd part is . . . he's wide awake.
Awake or asleep -- it scarcely matters anymore. The nightmare never seems to end. It taunts him around the clock -- subverting his resolve as insiduously as any foe he's ever faced. Each time, his parents die before his eyes. Each time, he is the instrument of their doom.
"You could've let it scar your life. But you didn't."
That's what the girl said. She admired him then. If only she'd known.
Suffering is universal. Most people put it aside, look to the future, get on with the business of living. And some of them have surely suffered more than Bruce. Why can't he follow their example?
Night after night he reopens the same bloody wound. Does he crave the pain, the sense of violation? Does he thrive on his own torment? He's rich, handsome, powerful. Why can't he be grateful for what he has? Why, why, and why?
All at once, with lacerating clarity, the answer is upon him: That's how Batman wants it.
The world is full of evil. It needs a Batman -- to help the weak, to mete out justice. And yet, each night, it's Bruce who pays the cost.
If Justice turned its eye on Bruce, Batman would surely set him free. He'd make friends. Fall in love. Live his life -- as normal people do. There'd be no more anguish. No more dreams. No more wracking guilt when he tries to do the right thiing -- and fails. Surely he deserves no less . . .
But justice is blind.
Blind as a bat.
[This narration accompanies a scene in which Bruce watches a television set and sees a waking nightmare: the murder of his parents, with a macabre-looking Batman pulling the trigger and laughing. The adult Bruce Wayne sees his younger self standing helplessly beside the fallen bodies of his parents, and then the Batman figure takes the boy's hand and slowly walks off ito the night, leaving the bleeding bodies of Bruce's parents on the ground.]
The Psyche of Batman's Rogue's Gallery
In addition to the worthwhile analysis of Batman's own psyche in Sam Hamm's 3-issue "Blind Justice" story arc, Hamm also briefly considers Batman's infamous colorful enemies. Through the character of mercenary Henri Ducard (the man who trained Batman in detective skills, introduced in this story arc), Hamm considers the interdependent relationship between Batman and his rogue's gallery. From Detective Comics #600 (May 1989), "Blind Justice: Part 3", DC Comics: New York City; written by Sam Hamm, pencilled by Denys Cowan, inked by Dick Giordano; page 15:
HENRI DUCARD (thinking): Batman. His deductive talents seem highly overrated. It doesn't take great intellect to tackle street crime. Luck and timing are the operative skills. No, what interests me . . . is the fact that he functions as a lightning rod for a certain breed of psychotic. [pictures of the Joker, the Riddler, and Two-Face are shown successively] They specialize in absurdly grandiose schemes, and whatever the ostensible rationale -- greed, revenge, the seizue of power . . . their true agenda is always the same: to cast Batman in the role of nemesis. Hence the puns, the riddles, the flagrant clues in their collective wake -- daring their foe to penetrate the obvious. He always triumphs. If he failed, they'd be bereft. The pas de deux would have no point. Like naughty children, who tempt the wrath of a stern, demanding father . . . They seek only to shock him by the enormity of their transgressions. It's the moment of acknolwedgement they crave.
Thus "good" conquers "evil." True evil seldom announces itself so loudly. The dangerous ones set their subservive goals, and achieve them, bit by bit . . . invisibly, inevitably. They have no taste for theater. While Batman busies himself with petty thieves and gaudy madmen, an abyss of rot yawns ever wider at his feet. He's a band-aid on a cancer patient. I am of course no moralist, but this Batman, I think, has a very poor understanding of the world.
Which brings us back to Bruce. In his way, he too is an innocent: shackled to a defective notion of morality . . . craving power, but blind to the price it exacts of one's soul. Poor strange lad, his energies misdirected as always. The cartel file has clarified a number of things. Fate wronged him once. Cruelly. Incomprehensibly. And so he took the offensive against fate -- determined never again to be caught unawares. Batman must be a similar type. In fact, were it not for Bruce's recent debilitating tragedy . . . I might be inclined to suspect . . .
[In his hotel room, Ducard sees a television broadcast in confirms his suspicions...]
REPORTER: [addressing a non-responsive Commissioner Gordon apparently outside the police station] How about it, Commissioner? Is there some kind of departmental coverup? Word on the street is that Batman's vanished -- for almost two weeks now.
COMMISSIONER GORDON: No comment!
[Ducard knows Bruce Wayne very well, having trained him in Europe. Ducard realizes that Bruce Wayne is Batman, and later confronts him with this knowledge, although he doesn't use this secret against Batman, for now.]
Above: Dr. Bartholemew Wolper, a popular psychologist and social scientist, explains how Batman's existence actually creates the conditions that lead to the emergence of super-villains such as Two-Face (Harvey Dent) and the Joker.
[Source: Batman: The Dark Knight Returns #s 1-2 (1986), DC Comics: New York City; reprinted in Batman: The Dark Knight Returns hardcover edition, DC Comics: New York City (2002), pages 47, 66; written and pencilled by Frank Miller, inked by Klaus Janson, colored by Lynn Varley.]
Text from: Batman: The Dark Knight Returns #1 (1986), DC Comics: New York City; reprinted in Batman: The Dark Knight Returns hardcover edition, DC Comics: New York City (2002), page 47; written and pencilled by Frank Miller, inked by Klaus Janson, colored by Lynn Varley:
DR. BARTHOLEMEW WOLPER: Yes, Merv. I am convinced of Harvey's innocence. Absolutely. However, I won't go so far as to say I'm sure he hasn't returned to crime.
Text from: Batman: The Dark Knight Returns #2 (1986), DC Comics: New York City; reprinted in Batman: The Dark Knight Returns hardcover edition, DC Comics: New York City (2002), pages 65-66; written and pencilled by Frank Miller, inked by Klaus Janson, colored by Lynn Varley:
I know that sounds confusing. These things often do to the layman. But I'll try to explain without getting overly technical. You see, it all gets down to this Batman fellow. Batman's psychotic sublimative/psycho-erotic behavior pattern is like a net. Weak-egoed neurotics, like Harvey, are drawn into corresponding intersticing patterns.
You might say Batman commits the crimes . . . using his so-called villains as narcissistic proxies . . .
MAN ON THE STREET: . . . a ruthless, monstrous vigilante, striking at the foundations of our democracy -- maliciously opposed to the principles that make ours the most noble nation in the world -- and the kindest . . .
Text from: Batman: The Dark Knight Returns #3 (1986), DC Comics: New York City; reprinted in Batman: The Dark Knight Returns hardcover edition, DC Comics: New York City (2002), pages 140-141; written and pencilled by Frank Miller, inked by Klaus Janson, colored by Lynn Varley:
ANOTHER MAN ON THE STREET: . . . Frankly, I'm surprised there aren't a hundred like him out there-- A thousand people are fed up with terror -- with stupid laws and social cowardice. He's only taking back what's ours . . .
TED KOPPEL (NEWS SHOW HOST): These -- and many, many others -- are the reactions to a pheomenon that has struck a nerve center in our society -- the return of the Batman. Tonight, we will examine his impact on our consciousness. From Metroplis -- we have Lana Lang, managing editor of the Daily Planet . . . Joining us from Gotham City -- Dr. Bartholemew Wolper, popular psychologist and social scientist, author of the best-selling Hey -- I'm Okay . . . With us tonight from his office in Washington -- Presidential media advisor Chuck Brick.
Dr. Wolper -- You have claimed that the Batman is himself responsible for the crimes he fights. Still, crime rates have shown a steady drop in the weeks since his return. How do you explain this?
DR. BARTHOLEMEW WOLPER: I'm glad you asked me that question, Ted. It is true that this Batman has terrorized the economically disadvantaged and socially misaligned -- but his effects are far from positive. Picture the public psyche as a vast, moist membrane -- through the media, Batman has struck this membrane a vicious blow, and it has recoiled. Hence, your misleading statistics. But you see, Ted, the membrane is flexible -- and permeable. Here the more significant effects of the blow become calculable, even predictable. To wit -- Every anti-social act can be traced to irresponsible media input. Given this, the presence of such an aberrant, violent force in the media can only lead to anti-social programming. Just as Harvey Dent -- who's recovering steadily, thanks for asking -- assumed the role of ideological doppleganger to the Batman, so a whole new generation, confused and angry -- will be bent to the matrix of Batman's pathological self-delusion. Batman is, in this context -- and pardon the term -- a social disease . . .
LANA LANG: That's the dumbest load of . . .
TED KOPPEL (NEWS SHOW HOST): Lana-- Please-- The Network-- Mr. Brick-- The President has remained silent on this issue. Don't you -- and he -- feel that the national uproar over the batman warrants, if not action, a statement of position?
CHUCK BRICK: Heck, Ted. He'll get around to a press conference sooner or later. But the President's got to keep his eye on the big picture, y'know? And this Batman flaptrap, well . . . It's noisy, all right. That big cape and pointy ears -- It's great show biz. And you know the President [Reagan] knows his show biz. You just keep your shorts on, Ted . . . Pretty soon now the ratings'll drop on this one and it'll blow over. Besides, I think the whole thing' just as likely a hoax. Networks've done worse. I mean, Batboy'd be pushing sixty by now-- if he ever was real. Funny nobody's ever taken a picture of him . . . mighty funny, I say . . .
TED KOPPEL (NEWS SHOW HOST): Miss Lang, you are the Batman's most vocal supporter. How can you condone behavior that's so blatantly illegal? What about due process -- civil rights?
LANA LANG: We live in the shadow of crime, Ted, with the unspoken understanding that we are victims -- of fear, of violence, of social impotence. A man has risen to show us that the power is, and always has been, in our hands. We are under siege -- he's showing us that we can resist.
TED KOPPEL (NEWS SHOW HOST): Lana-- You haven't exactly answered my question . . .
MORRIE: Lana, you astonish me. Fifteen policement hospitalized -- hundreds dead -- and still you cling to this hero worship. Though how anyone can think of a de facto murder as a hero . . .
LANA LANG: Batman hasn't killed anybody, Morrie.
MORRIE: Perhaps he hasn't -- technically. That's why I said de facto, Lana Dear. Still, it's hardly a coincidence that the Joker came out of a ten-year catatonia -- now, of all times . . .
Additional References about Batman's Religious Affiliation
From: Radford, Bill, "Holy Superhero! Comic books increasingly making reference to faith", published in Colorado Springs Gazette, 6 May 2006 (http://www.gazette.com/display.php?secid=20; viewed 8 May 2006):
With or without overt references to religion, superhero stories resonate for people of faith, says Greg Garrett, author of "Holy Superheroes! Exploring Faith & Spirituality in Comic Books."'
From: Heinen, Tom, "God comics: Illustrated fiction spreads word on religious ideas", published in Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, 11 Marcy 2006 (http://www.jsonline.com/story/index.aspx?id=407297; viewed 8 May 2006):
"In the process of telling their stories of human - and superhuman - characters, comics deal with issues near and dear to our hearts: faith, hope, belief, guilt, justice, redemption, ultimate meaning, ultimate evil," he writes in the book's introduction.
Garrett, a professor of English at Baylor University in Texas, is seeking his Master of Divinity degree at Episcopal Theological Seminary of the Southwest.
He says... Batman can be seen as "an avatar of God's justice." Spider-Man teaches lessons about power and responsibility.
"I think when I go to superheroes, I see there is a religious metaphor to begin with," says comic-book writer Steven T. Seagle...
Superman as Methodist? Batman a lapsed Catholic? A Web site, www.adherents.com/lit/comics/comic_book_religion.html, provides a lengthy list of comicbook superheroes and indications of their religious beliefs. Some are firmly established in the comics, such as the X-Men's Nightcrawler as Catholic. Others, such as the belief that Superman was raised as a Methodist, are up for debate.
Delve more deeply into comic book metaphysics, and you can explore the actual or surmised religious affiliations of dozens of superheroes by clicking on the "Comic Book Characters" link at www.adherents.com. Or visit its image-packed companion page, www.ComicBookReligion.com.
From: Rebecca Salek, "Spirituality In Comics", on "Sequential Tart" website (http://www.sequentialtart.com/archive/dec03/tth_1203.shtml; viewed 5 January 2006):
Superman is a Methodist and Jimmy Olsen is Lutheran? The Thing is Jewish? Elektra is Greek Orthodox? The X-Men's Nightcrawler is a devout Catholic who once wanted to be a priest? Batman is either a mostly lapsed Catholic or a mostly lapsed Episcopalian?
Yes . . . or more often, maybe.
There have been reverent comic books about Pope John Paul II and Mother Teresa, but secular publishers - especially the two dominant ones, Marvel Entertainment and DC Comics - have often avoided or only hinted at their superheroes' faith lives.
For many people. December is a month which contains celebrations of religious, spiritual or cultural significance. For many people. December is a month which contains celebrations of religious, spiritual or cultural significance. In recognition of that, this month the Tarts pick out what they consider to be the best representations of spirituality in comic books...
From: Tate, "Bubblegum Tate's 'Two-Fisted Philosophy': the Thrilling Conclusion!", posted 18 November 2005 on "(http://infinitemonkeycrisis.blogspot.com/2005/11/bubblegum-tates-two-fisted-philosophy.html; viewed 10 January 2006):
Rebecca: While there are few comics which are explicitly religious (i.e., the primary focus of the story is religion), there are quite a few titles which incorporate spirituality into the overarching story - and do it well...
At the top of my list is HeroBear and the Kid (Astonish)...
Next would be the long out of print Elseworlds [DC's imprint for non-continuity stories featuring DC Universe characters], Batman: Holy Terror (DC). Imagine a world in which ultra-fanatical Puritans control the United States. After his parents are murdered, Bruce Wayne searches for peace for years, and finally finds it as a minister, doing God's work. But when he discovers the truth behind his parents' murder, he begins to question everything he has ever believed - including his belief in God.
In almost every way, the supermen presented in glorious four color and newsprint are exemplars of Nietzsche's philosophy in pop culture. Let's look at a few examples of how they're the best examples and then I'll share with you the two I consider to be the BEST of the BEST examples.
1. Rise above the Herd and live glorious lives . . .
2. . . . That ultimately end in Tragedy.
Nearly every super hero is in the midst of a mission that cannot be successful... Spider-Man and Batman will never be able to save their lost loved ones no matter how many people they protect each night. Each catastrophe is averted, but a few more lives are lost, a bit more property is destroyed, a few more comrades fall. And when they wake up the next morning, they'll be ready to do it all over again. THAT'S tragic optimism.
3. Become the next step in human evolution.
4. ...[doesn't belong] to any organized religion... in true Nietzsche fashion, the heroes are arrayed against the gods as often as they are the agents of the gods. In a world devoid of religion, a standard for ethics and morality can only come from within... Batman ignores the law in order to serve Justice. If you are living the life of the ubermensch, then mere morality cannot hold you accountable.
Unfortunately, this is also where the parallels fall apart a little. Nietzsche would be horrified how often the ubermensch of comics are tending the needs of the Herd and protecting the status quo... Batman operates outside the law, but refuses to kill even the most deranged dangers to the lives he holds dear. Is he REALLY serving the public good by not ending the Joker's rampages once and for all? According to Nietzsche, the superhero may actually be a bigger failure than the Herd. In every way they live the Dionysian lifestyle, but they can't quite let go of their last vestige of mere humanity...
Up until I sat down to write this post, I believed that Batman exemplified Nietzsche's ideal. After all, here is a man who had everything important in his life taken away from him while he was too young to do anything about it. He did not fall into the quiet misery to which so many of the Herd would have succumbed. He took his sadness, his drive, his ambition and his existing advantages and forged a new destiny for himself through sheer force of Will. When the Herd's laws were shown to be a hindrance, Batman ignored them in the interest of his self imposed definition of Justice. In the face of a hopeless war, he fights on night after night, losing a little bit more of what ties him to humanity with each sunrise. He trains lieutenants despite a loner nature because he knows the work must go on when he inevitably succumbs and his mind or body fails him. Batman has so separated himself from humanity that he barely bothers to maintain the so-called secret identity. Bruce Wayne is merely another tool he uses in service of higher ideals. Batman has had very few love interests, even fewer friends and has even managed to alienate Nightwing, the original Robin, a man he raised, because of devotion to his ideals. Batman even holds himself aloof from the other ubermensch, believing himself to be superior to them because he does what they do without the benefit of special powers even as he's separated from the Herd by the fact that he can keep up with the other super heroes. All these things are true, but I kept coming back to the major failing of all the super heroes from Nietzsche's standpoint. Batman has morals and CARES for the Herd instead of disdaining them.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized that this is a fundamental flaw. Batman couldn't be the truest ubermensch. Then it hit me like a gamma bomb in the desert. Batman isn't the ubermensch, but the Hulk IS.
From: Thomas Tracy, "Spidey's webs have Jewish roots", published 21 May 2007 in Fort Greene/Clinton Hill Courier (http://www.courierlife.net/site/tab10.cfm?newsid=18369761&BRD=2384&PAG=461&dept_id=552856&rfi=6; viewed 21 May 2007):
...Rabbi Simcha Weinstein, author of "Up, Up, And Oy Vey! How Jewish History, Culture and Values Shaped the Comic Book Superhero." ...Weinstein, founder of the Jewish Student Foundation of Downtown Brooklyn and currently a rabbi for both Pratt Institute and Long Island College Hospital...
But Spider-Man is not the only comic book character to be infused with Jewish values.
Superman, Captain America, the Spirit, Batman and the Incredible Hulk (who Weinstein calls a gamma-radiated golem) all have Jewish themes woven into their masks, capes and cowls and - in the Hulk's case - loincloths.
"Up, Up and Oy Vey" is not meant to lay claim to America's favorite heroes as Jewish, but instead wishes to celebrate an open dialogue, Weinstein said.
"Superheroes are a mixture of religious beliefs and pop culture," said Weinstein. "They're a great way to break down boundaries."
From: Matt 'Stars' Morrison, "The Mount: 'I'm Telling You For the Last Time . . .", published in Fanzing #52, January/February 2003 (http://www.fanzing.com/mag/fanzing52/themount.shtml; viewed 22 May 2006):
The other night, some fellow geeks and I got to talking about some political matters in addition to the usual shop talk and this question was raised: what side of the political spectrum do you think most superheroes come down on?
From: Michael Hutchison, "Never Discuss Religion or Politics: A rebuttal to 'The Mount'", published in Fanzing #52, January/February 2003 (http://www.fanzing.com/mag/fanzing52/feature7.shtml; viewed 22 May 2006):
Now, there are a few obvious gimmies... Of course it's easy for second-tier heroes to have a distinct political identity. Many is the time a writer has used a lesser-known character as a mouthpiece for his own opinions...
But the big guns of the DC Universe? The major icons that everyone knows about? Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman? Well, that's a whole other story. Editorial mandate has kept politics out of their books for the most part, for fear of offending the readers who might just stop buying comics if they thought that Superman were a bleeding-heart liberal or Batman was a stone-cold conservative.
Still, occasionally the writer can slip his own opinions into a story... Compare the stories where Batman pimp-slaps the thug who dares to pull a gun on him and talks about the inherit weakness of those who use them to the Chuck Dixon penned story where Batman lectures Robin about the importance of gun safety while giving him a marksmanship lesson.
Well, the debate has gone on from chatroom to chatroom, message board to message board for years and years. And having thought a while about it, I'm ready to give you a very simple thesis.
Superheroism, by its very nature, is a liberal act.
...Batman? Talk about the poster boy for gun control. It's been shown before that Bruce Wayne has a deep, near pathological hatred of guns. Now Bruce Wayne, in terms of the drunken playboy persona Batman uses as a mask, is probably not openly political, what with moving around some very conservative circles. Still, I'd be deeply amazed if any of the Wayne family fortune were going into the campaign war chest of any politician getting money from the NRA. Also, it's been shown that the Wayne Foundation does a LOT of charity work, putting money into the local shelters and offering jobs to the needy. See the excellent Batman: War on Crime by Paul Dini for a very detailed look as to how Batman fights crime without throwing punches...
As for Batman...how could anyone think Batman is a liberal? Pointing to his philanthropy and the fact that he has a personal hangup about guns as evidence of a left-wing stance is naive. There are plenty of right-wingers who aren't gun enthusiasts. It's entirely possible that the Bruce Wayne persona is allegedly a big-time liberal. Batman, however, is something of an exception to my "you never can tell" philosophy: He is most likely a conservative. The whole idea of Batman is a rebellion against the thinking that law enforcement and the justice system will protect the citizenry. Batman won't use guns, but otherwise employs all manner of explosives, lasers, gas, knives, blades, darts, boomerangs, nets, electric weapons and martial arts. Clearly, this isn't a guy with some cohesive philosophy about not using force against another human being. Indeed, Batman unarmed is potentially more deadly than the average joe armed.
From "TS: Liberality For All vs. DMZ" discussion page started 30 November 2005 (http://ilx.wh3rd.net/thread.php?msgid=6419391; viewed 13 June 2006):
I guess I'm getting away from my point about not being able to judge a superhero's personal politics. Aside from Batman and Green Arrow, I think most superhero politics are nebulous.
Huk-L (handsomishbo...), November 30th, 2005
Now I don't think that titles such as "Liberality for all" are the way to go either as its viewpoint is so extreme that it can, based on your perspective, be considered as either fanatical or subtly making fun of consrvative themselves. However I do belive that a center right superhero... would appeal to a large percentage of Americans who may either purchase very few or no comics at all.
Huk-L (handsomishbo...), November 30th, 2005
Aside from his whole anti-gun stance, Batman is archly conservative.
kingfish hobo juckie (jdsalmo...), November 30th, 2005
Yeah, wasn't Green Arrow tailored into being a far more liberal Batman?
And where does Cerebus/Sim fall into this?
Batman isn't Jewish, but an "Elseworlds" story portrayed him as a Jew living in Berlin
From: "Jewish Comics Exhibit Notes" webpage, last updated 5 December 2004 (http://www.geocities.com/hadassahfink/comicexhnotes.htm; viewed 4 July 2007):
Batman Chronicles #11
In this imaginary "Elseworlds" story, Batman is the superhero guise of a Jewish Berlin socialite named Baruch Wane. Wane's parents were murdered in the street by a mob of angry anti-Semites.
From: Steven M. Bergson, "Jewish Comics: A Select Bibliography" last updated 28 June 2005 (http://www.geocities.com/safran-can/JWISHC.HTM; viewed 23 December 2005):
Pope, Paul. "Berlin Batman" The Batman Chronicles #11 (1st story) Winter 1998 (NY: DC)
This story shows what Batman might have been like if he were a Jewish resistance fighter in Nazi Germany, instead of the American playboy Bob kane wrote him as. In this story, Batman is the superhero alter ego of wealthy artist-socialite Baruch Wane. Baruch is a friend of Komissar Garten, who tells him of the recent confiscation of the property of Jewish economist Ludwig Von Mises. Though unable to stop the train carrying Von Mise's belongings, Batman sabotages the railroad tracks. In flashback, the brutal anti-semitic attack on Wane's parents, which made him an orphan is shown.
Jewish rabbi finds inspiration in Batman
From: Randi Sherman, "Batman And Rabbi", published 27 October 2006 in The Jewish Week ("serving the Jewish community of Greater New York"), (http://www.thejewishweek.com/news/newscontent.php3?artid=13162; viewed 24 April 2007):
Both Cary Friedman and Bruce Wayne committed themselves to studying the sciences in college and performing strenuous workout routines.
But while Wayne chose a life of fighting crime to avenge his murdered parents as Batman, Friedman chose a career in the rabbinate, after a brief stint as a military electrical engineer.
"Rav comes from riv, to struggle," explains Rabbi Friedman, 42, who lives in Passaic, N.J. "God fights the battles of his people. More than teaching, it is the rabbi's job to advocate for the weak, to fight injustice."
In the spirit of rabbi as advocate and to cement the connection between his idol and his ideals, Rabbi Friedman has written "Wisdom from the Batcave: How to Live a Super, Heroic Life" (Compass Books), due out Oct. 28.
In it, Friedman argues that Batman instills in his audience some of Judaism's most important moral values, using supporting examples from Torah, Talmud and other rabbinic commentary, and offers insight on how to incorporate those same values into their own lives.
One of Batman's most concretely Jewish values is tikkun olam, repairing the world, and sacrificing for one's ideals.
"In one of the first chapters, 'How to Triumph over Adversity,' Bruce Wayne watches his parents get killed," Friedman said. "He has two choices: wallow in self-indulgence or confront the pain and choose a life of saving others." Wayne ultimately chooses the latter, giving up his playboy life for secrecy and crime fighting, also showing his (Jewish) values of hard work and family.
"As the child of a Holocaust survivor, I'm familiar with the concept of sacrifice," Friedman said. "The Torah has a lot to say about the choices people who are suffering make and how to deal."
Friedman himself followed Batman's model when determining his life path. Beginning at age 3, he watched the 1960s Batman television show starring Adam West with his older brother, Barry.
"I took it pretty seriously, I didn't realize it was satire," Friedman said. "I became obsessed, went to the library to learn facts and emulate my hero. Every other comic book hero couldn't be me but if I did enough sit-ups, push-ups, and studied chemistry, I could be that heroic."
And thus began Friedman's path to the rabbinate, and believe it or not, the FBI.
He earned a black belt in Gung Fu, a bachelor's and master's in electrical engineering, and started a collection of Batman memorabilia that now spans over 30 years and ranges from alarm clocks to cookie jars, bed sheets to neckties.
Friedman had been working in the military electronics sector of General Electric for five years when he decided it was time for a career change.
"The GE motto was, 'We bring good things to life.' In my department, they used to joke 'We bring good things to death.' I just couldn't justify my work as an engineer there," he said. He and his wife, Marsha, were working part time at a local Hebrew school, a job that provided much more satisfaction, and with the support of his family, Friedman applied to Yeshiva University's rabbinical school to obtain semicha.
Fast forward to 1995, when Friedman became the chaplain at Duke University in Durham, N.C. Having surpassed his teen and young adult years, Friedman was looking for common ground to help him relate to his students. He turned to his hero, Batman.
"When I would teach classes with insight from Torah, there was little interest," he said. Once he added copies of Batman comics and props from his collection to motivate discussions, especially those relating to law and justice, student interest peaked. "There was no Aramaic or religious theology in the way. A transition from Batman to Talmud brings out more compelling answers."
Thus, the manuscript from "Wisdom from the Batcave" was born out of the Batman-themed introductions to the Jewish studies classes he taught while at Duke, written down at the suggestions of impressed students. Friedman pairs Batman comics with chasidic stories of Rabbi Zusia to discuss the extent of human potential.
The chapter on willpower is molded by a Talmudic sage's definition of a "strong man," with sidekick Robin's explanation of Batman's success.
The story of Holocaust hero Raoul Wallenberg, quotes from Robert F. Kennedy and Batman's meeting with his childhood hero, the Gray Ghost, all pitch in to teach the value of inspiring others.
Friedman hopes his book will serve as an inspiration to others, hence the "How to" subtitle. "I'm not trying to create superheroes," he said. "I'm advocating being a hero in your own life, a quiet heroism some people are oblivious to in the everyday."
And it already has. In 2000, Friedman was giving a lecture on the pursuit of spirituality in New Jersey. After the lecture, an audience member approached him with an offer to work for the FBI.
The audience member, chief of the FBI's Behavioral Science Unit, wanted to hire Friedman to discuss spirituality in a non-religious manner and serve as a consultant for the FBI Academy's curriculum. He submitted the Batman manuscript and got the job.
"The Almighty has a real sense of humor," Friedman said.
Friedman was consulted for the spirituality section of the Stress Management in Law Enforcement (SMILE) Program, and lectured on spirituality in hopes that what law enforcement personnel learned at the Academy would help lower the otherwise high incidence of suicide and other self-destructive behaviors as well as divorce and stomach cancer.
"Their job is spiritually demanding," Friedman said. "There is a connection between the clergy and the police force. 'To protect and serve,' is a divine calling. Then they are zapped by human wickedness."
The job came with only one condition: he was not to tell anyone that his knowledge of law enforcement came from reading comic books. This didn't subdue his inner comic lover, though. In 2005, he wrote a book for law enforcement personnel called "Spiritual Survival for Law Enforcement," gleaning information from his work with the FBI and as a rabbi. The book was favorably reviewed by various police journals and handed out to members of New Orleans law enforcement after Hurricane Katrina, Friedman said.
One Wednesday after the book was published, Friedman visited his local comic book store to pick up the newest issues of Batman comics and the storeowner had been reading "Spiritual Survival."
"Only a comic book guy could have written this book," the storeowner told Friedman. "The cosmic struggle, the heroics."
One of the greatest lessons Batman teaches us, according to Friedman, is the potential of human beings. "When I think I'm at the end of my capabilities, it's not true," he said. "Neal Adams [a comic book artist who worked on Batman for DC Comics] said to me 'When I think about how many things I can do at one time, I look at the Batman comics and think I can do more, push myself farther.'"
The Torah, too, discusses the "infinite reservoir of greatness" available to a human being, Friedman said. He taps into the greatness in readers by challenging them to take the lessons Batman and the Jewish texts teach in "Wisdom" and apply them to the everyday, by appreciating family, exercising free will, making an oath to core values and committing to as many mitzvahs, large or small, as possible.
From: Leah Finkelshteyn, "Thwak! To Our Enemies", published in Hadassah Magazine, June/July 2003 Vol. 84 No. 10 (http://www.hadassah.org/news/content/per_hadassah/archive/2003/03_JUN/art.htm; viewed 19 June 2007):
...And despite historical evidence, it is this image that is the most unlikely of Jewish creations. Perhaps the problem is the physical violence that is so much a part of comics; after all, Jews are considered cerebral problem-solvers. More likely the dissonance comes from characters like Batman celebrating Christmas but not a bar mitzva. The green-hued Hulk may have visited Israel and battled Sabra while he was there, but it wasn't exactly a Jewish outreach experience. So the question remains: Are comic books - and the characters who inhabit them - truly Jewish?...
Many discussion boards and other sources mention the many times that Batman has been depicted celebrating Christmas. From: http://www.kryptonsite.com/forums/showthread/t-45423.html: "Oh and Batman has celebrated Christmas many times if that helps at all."
From: "What religion do superhero's belong to? [sic]" forum discussion started 18 July 2002 on "Toon Zone" website (http://forums.toonzone.net/showthread.php?t=41332; viewed 21 May 2007):
From: "Is Robin/Nightwing a Christian?" message board, started 10 March 2006 on "Jude 2 Forum" website (http://www.jude2.com/viewtopic.php?p=86717&sid=8e758b76f53c9d87af2afe9b2378054a; viewed 22 June 2006):
07-18-2002, 01:02 PM
What religion do superhero's [sic] belong to?
I'd like to discuss what religious beliefs are favorite costumed hero's belong to. Everyone knows Daredevil is Catholic. But beyond that, what do we know of superhero's beliefs? I'm thinking of mostly the Marvel Universe, but you DC fans feel free to contribute as well...
07-18-2002, 07:52 PM
...Batman, believe it or not, is Christian and several books including the "The Chalace" [sic: The Chalice] and "Heaven's Ladder" has dealt with that.
07-20-2002, 11:39 AM
Batman: recall some JLA book where Batman comments on his "atheistic hand [being hurt]" after Wonder Woman knocks something out of his grasp... though in the 70's comics, do recall some story where he takes Christmas off from crime-fighting (and actually sings a Christmas carol)...
Posted: Fri Mar 10, 2006 4:19 pm
Subject: Is Robin/Nightwing a Christian?
I think this topic may have been discussed here before, but here is an interesting article on the topic for those of us who are comic fans. [Link to this page.]
Posted: Fri Mar 10, 2006 4:32 pm
Yeah I've always heard about this... Odd to read that about Batman being an atheist. I have a comic where he's holding the Holy Grail and says, "Can you believe the Son of God actually held this in His hand?"
From: "Religion in comic books", posted 14 June 2006 on "Get Religion" blog website (http://www.getreligion.org/?p=1679; viewed 14 June 2006):
[Comments section for this page]
Posted by Will at 4:55 pm on June 15, 2006:
On the Catholic Insider podcast with his reactions to Batman Begins, Father Roderick sets forth on Why Batman Is Catholic:
I would have assumed that the Waynes belonged to the "church of presidents" [i.e., Episcopalianism], like the rest of historic Big Money in "Gotham". (The Deanery at St. John the Divine, originally the Episcopal Mansion, was built by J.P. Morgan because "bishops have to live like everyone else.")
From: Fidei Defensor, "Catholic Action Heroes - Saint William Wallace?-Mel Gibson makes a second appearence on this blog", posted 16 November 2005 on "College Catholic" blog website (http://fideidefensor.blogspot.com/2005/11/catholic-action-heroes-saint-william.html; viewed 9 May 2007):
...just for the fun of it I decided to take a look at the religious backgrounds of the other action heroes. It didn't take to much searching on the internet to find out that many people have put a lot of thought into this subject, there have been arguments and competing theories, here is my take...
Batman: Bruce Wayne seems to have WASP written all over it. The silver lining being, due to the eliteness of the Wayne family they were probably Episcopalian. However Batman sees the world in to clear of moral terms, good vs. evil, to really be comfortable with where that church is heading. Hopefully he'll get his hands on some Chesterton and cross the Tiber.
From: "Catholic Clix - Comic info needed!" forum discussion started 3 May 2003 on HCRealms website (http://www.hcrealms.com/forum/archive/index.php/t-40338.html; viewed 24 May 2007):
Ok, so in recent films it's been apparent that Daredevil and Nightcrawler are Catholic...
So, who else out there could be fielded in a "Catholic" Heroclix team?
I think Nightwing is [Catholic] as well. (Although Batman, most assuredly, isn't.)
Oh, hey, Alfred probably belongs to the Church of England, like me. Could he have raised Bruce as an Episcopalian?
Just because someone is "raised" in a certain religion does not mean that they choose to be a member of said religion once they are on their own. I would argue that Spiderman and Batman definitely have no strong religious beliefs at this time...
Bruce is far too jaded about life. He wouldn't believe in God because of the life he's lead. If he does believe in God then I'm sure he would blame God for the death of his parents anyway. Either way, Batman truely seems to be one of the least religious comic characters... much like another Bruce... like Dr. Banner.
Actually, if you read The Chalice, Batman AND Ra's Al Ghul seem to believe that Jesus had some sort of claim to deity, so I think Batman is a believer in Christ to a certain degree. Nightwing definitely is...
Batman is a confirmed atheist, Superman is Protestant (exact denomination unknown), Thor's [religion] is his own dad...
Has anyone read The Chalice? Batman isn't really Christian, but he's not a "confirmed atheist". Same with Ra's Al Ghul.
From: odhz64971, "Batman is a Christian", posted 6 May 2007 on "Whitney" blog website (http://whitney78988.blogspot.com/2007/05/batman-is-christian.html; viewed 9 May 2007):
Throughout my years of reading Batman comics, I had noticed references, either through Bat's dialogue or the imagery on the graphic panels, of Christian themes. But, I also noticed that Batman's relationship with God was strained. He was probably struggling with the "How could a loving God allow such evil and suffering in the world?," question, since he had to fight the worst of humanity on a nightly basis.To my surprise, I have found a site that has gathered clips from comics and news articles detailing many religious affiliations of superheroes. Here is Batman's entry: http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/Batman.html
From: Joe Gordon, "You gotta have faith, faith, faith...", posted 30 January 2007 on "Forbidden Planet International" blog website (http://forbiddenplanet.co.uk/blog/?p=2627; viewed 9 May 2007):
Well, we've had books and TV documentaries about the science of superheroes, now we can check on their theological leanings as well via the Religious Affiliations of Comic Book Characters site [link to: http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/comic_book_religion.html], (found by Kenny at afNews [link to: http://www.afnews.info/]) which not only gives the religious affiliation but also explains how they deduced it from evidence in the comics. Bruce Wayne [http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/Batman.html], for example, comes up as lapsed Catholic/Episcopalian (a hard-nosed Scots Calvinist would more than likely grumble there's no difference in a charming show of brotherly acceptance). Even for those of us with no religious inclinations (does worship of fine single malts count?) it is actually quite interesting since the entries are backed up with inferences and deductions drawn from examples in the comics, with numerous references (I must admit, I'd suspect a bit of the old Flagellist movement in Bruce/Batman somewhere myself).
From: "Christian Superheroes" thread started 30 August 1992 on rec.arts.comics newsgroup (http://groups.google.com/group/rec.arts.comics/browse_thread/thread/d4f9b151adf6039c/bca0d7673c1ff593; viewed 21 June 2006):
Excerpts from: "Atheist superheroes" discussion page, started 2 March 2006, on "Atheist Network" website (http://atheistnetwork.com/viewtopic.php?t=11575&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=40&sid=287322e3478515abd11794436928672f; viewed 26 May 2006):
Date: Sun, Aug 30 1992 5:14 pm
Recently there was an inquirey on r.a.c. about Jewish Superheroes... I have been following many different Marvel titles for a long long time. In this time I have really only encountered two genuine examples of Christian Superheroes, though one may be more technically termed a vigilante.
I submit that there are characters who hold to certain Christian faiths, but none but two who stand out as having their faith as the source of their power...
So given the above examples of La Espirita and The Crusader, are there any other Christian superheroes who actual powers are based on their religious beliefs in any other superhero books (even those outside of Marvel)?
From: John Bickers
Date: Mon, Aug 31 1992 8:01 pm
One of the "alternative" Batman books took this view of Batman, where he was in fact a priest, if I remember rightly. He's not a "powered" superhero, of course.
The recently introduced character Azrael has strong Church associations, coming from an Order that was supposed to be an offshoot of the Templars.
From: Hisham Zubi, "Batman's Religion", posted 2 June 2005 on "The Great Curve" blog website ("A site serving up comic book news, commentary and culture"), (http://www.thegreatcurve.net/2005/06/batmans-religion.html; viewed 6 December 2005):
Posted: Wed Mar 08, 2006 12:25 pm
Is Batman an atheist?
Posted: Wed Mar 08, 2006 1:30 pm
Batman is either an Episcopalian or a Catholic depending on the writer.
CBR [Comic Book Resources] has a discussion of Batman's religious beliefs [link to a message board forum page at http://forums.comicbookresources.com/showthread.php?t=60801, followed by excerpts from posts from that page]...
From: "Religion in the Batman comics" thread began 7 June 2001 in alt.comics.batman newsgroup (http://groups.google.com/group/alt.comics.batman/browse_thread/thread/93368626bdebcd58/4b93b3a1e10210c6; viewed 12 June 2006):
Personally, I'd say that Batman is religious to the extent that he believes in strong distinctions between good and evil. In addition, I would speculate he believes that the good will ultimately be rewarded and the wicked punished. Still, I wouldn't say that he follows a specific tradition. Just a general sense of cosmic justice. What say you?
From: "Religious Beliefs of Marvel Characters" discussion board started 20 October 2004 on Comic-Forum.com website (http://www.comic-forum.com/marvel/Religious_beliefs_of_Marvel_characters_397905.html; viewed 8 June 2006):
Date: Thurs, Jun 7 2001 6:48 pm
We all know Catwoman/Selina Kyle is Catholic (and a bad one at that). The Huntress is probably Catholic too... Any other characters have religious convictions?
From: Brian Doyle
Date: Fri, Jun 8 2001 3:05 am
...Years ago Dick had a discussion with Wally West about religion in which he stated that he believes in God but doesn't attend church regularly. No demonination was mentioned.
Similarly Bruce has stated more than once that he doesn't pray, and considering he worked with an angel in the JLA, I'd say that was a pretty strong brand of atheism he has there!
From: Josh Dull
Date: Fri, Jun 8 2001 11:30 am
Or maybe he's agnostic. That seems more likely then atheism.
Date: Sat, Jun 9 2001 4:29 am
re: "...considering he [Batman] worked with an angel in the JLA, I'd say that was a pretty strong brand of aetheism he has there!"
To paraphrase Terry Pratchett, it'd be a bit silly to believe in Angels when you actually work with them. It'd be like "Believing" in the milkman, it sort of becomes less worship and more... friendship? I mean, from the DCU heroes' PoV, of course there are Gods, but is there much point in praying to them when the Spectre, Dr Fate, the Amazons and countless others are wandering about quite happily co-existing?
From: John Kenneth Fisher
Date: Sat, Jun 9 2001 8:15 am
I think Bruce thinks he IS God from time to time.
Date: 22 Oct 2004 14:06:41
From: "Spidey Question for the Legion" page, started 6 July 2005, on "Captain Comics Round Table" message board/forum website (http://www.captaincomics.us/forums/lofiversion/index.php/t3594.html; viewed 20 December 2005):
Out of interest, are there any comic characters, mainstream or otherwise, that are unbelievers? And if so, how do they tend to be depicted?
Date: 23 Oct 2004 13:55:30
From: The Babaloughesian
The issue doesn't often come up. Here are some things I can remember:
Batman has called himself an atheist in JLA (I think it was one of the early issues of The Obsidian Age)...
From "He's strong! He's powerful! He's fantastic! And he prays!" forum discussion page started 1 October 2002 on ToonZone.net website (http://forums.toonzone.net/archive/index.php/t-50423.html; viewed 11 January 2006):
Jul 7 2004, 05:01 AM
In Batman #247, in a story called "Merry Christmas", Batman's life is saved by a sudden flare of light. He thinks it was caused by a flare, but an amateur astronomer tells him "I've got no idea where it came from... or where it went-- --but that was a star! Believe me!" Batman responds "I... do! It looks like it's going to be a Merry Christmas!"
10-01-2002, 03:29 PM
I don't know that religion is really ignored in comic books. I'd say it turns up at least as much as it would in a regular series of novels or a TV series. Moreso, even...
Batman is Christian, I think. I'll have to double check this, but I THINK I've got one of those "Christmas with Superheroes" comics where he talks about "the birth of the One who brought peace into the world", etc. And it was post-Crisis . . . 1989 or so. (And boy was he cheerful for being post-Crisis Batman! He even sang Christmas carols!) But it could've been the narrator saying that part, too . . . I'll have to check.
From: "What is Batman's Religion?" forum discussion, started 31 May 2005 on the Comic Book Resources website (http://forums.comicbookresources.com/showthread.php?t=60801; http://forums.comicbookresources.com/archive/index.php/t-60801.html; viewed 6 December 2005):
The question of whether Nightwing (Batman's former sidekick Dick Grayson, a.k.a. "Robin") is a Christian is dicussed at length on a message board/forum page titled "Nightwing, Christian?", started 3 March 2004 on the "Comic Book Resources" website (http://forums.comicbookresources.com/archive/index.php/t-45948.html; viewed 7 January 2006). Some excerpts from this discussion which pertain to Batman himself are below:
05-31-2005, 02:45 AM
If you had to guess Bruce's religion from what you know of him, what would you say it is? Have they ever actually straight out said one religion or another for him?
05-31-2005, 02:53 AM
There have been a couple of recent threads on these boards about whether Batman is an atheist.
I don't know if he's full on atheist, but I'm pretty sure he's not got much time for religion.
05-31-2005, 03:08 AM
Yeah, he definitely doesn't seem to be the God-fearing type. Then again, with a childhood as bad as Bruce's was, and the fact that he lives in Gothum City, one of the worst cities in the DC world, that lack of faith is understandable.
05-31-2005, 03:27 AM
Possibly. But a lot of people find faith in the most adverse of conditions. However I doubt Batman has any religious convictions. But it's a funny thing to talk about when you live in a place where you have actually met gods and demons.
05-31-2005, 04:43 AM
Very true, and he is "friendly" with Superman whose powers are "god-like" some would say. But Batman seems to be very skeptical of everything. He is a detective, after all, and a man of science. Somehow I can't see him walking into a church on a Sunday or praying to Allah.
05-31-2005, 04:47 AM
Its possible to be a man of science and a man of faith, but I think you're right with Batman. He would refuse to rely on anything except himself.
05-31-2005, 04:51 AM
Batman has seen too much in the JLA to not believe in God. However, Batman keeps a special file on Jesus in case the son of God should lose control of his powers.
05-31-2005, 04:58 AM
Really? Because that would be kind of cool. He didn't really pray to God after Robin [Jason Todd] died, though. He does talk about hell quite a lot and does refer to God urinating on Gotham when it rains, if that counts as religious.
[posted by "Amphetamine" on 31 May 2005 at 8:25 AM:]
Lack of faith, deep-rooted feelings of guilt? Sounds like a lapsed Catholic to me.
[posted by "1Hellboy" on 31 May 2005 at 2:51 PM:]
Read Batman: Absolution. It covers on something like this idea.
[posted by "The Xenos" on 31 May 2005 at 4:35 PM:]
Yeah. I read that one recently. Batman seemed like a bit too much of an atheist in that one. Plus he was even more of a jerk than he has been lately.
[posted by "Estee" on 31 May 2005 at 5:11 PM:]
Is there a church of 'Driven Obsession brought on by guilt'? Then that's Bruce's religion.
[posted by "Muimi" on 31 May 2005 at 5:48 PM:]
I seem to remember a line from the "Gods of Gotham" storyline with Wonder Woman. Wonder Woman was headed to Gotham and Oracle called up Batman to tell him that. Batman told Oracle to tell Wonder Woman to stay out of Gotham:
Oracle: You tell her that. I don't talk back to gods.
Batman: And I don't believe in them.
Or something like that. Batman's not the religious type. Religion requires faith and I think all Bruce has faith in is for there will always be crime. As for Bruce Wayne, I doubt anyone expects a billionare playboy to be much of a religious man either.
[posted by somebody whose online name is "HartyPotter" on 31 May 2005 at 6:00 PM:]
He probably believes in the existences of gods and demons (in the plural for both), but he doesn't believe in any particular religion. He certainly doesn't operate under the assumption that any God or gods are all-powerful. I'm sure that if he encountered ANY deity and disagreed with what they were doing, he'd do whatever was in his power to stop them. And he'd truly BELIEVE he could outsmart or defeat any god if he had to. For example, Batman wouldn't back down to any of the New Gods on New Genesis or Apokolips, or the Roman gods on Olympus if they got in his way.
As for whether or not he really believes in Jesus of the "miracles" of saints or whatever, he's probably seen way too many "miracles" achieved by aliens (Superman) or magic (Zatanna) to believe that anyone was destined to be mankind's savior or whatever. After all, I'm sure Superman by now has done 100 times more for humanity than anyone claims Jesus or any other savior or religious leader has done.
[posted by somebody named Loren whose online name is "Double Dawg" on 31 May 2005 at 7:11 PM:]
Quote, originally Posted by amphetamine:
"Lack of faith, deep-rooted feelings of guilt? Sounds like a lapsed Catholic to me."
That's closest to my thoughts on the matter, which would be that the Waynes were Episcopalian but Bruce's faith has since lapsed. Nowadays I'd say he's somewhere in the agnostic or deist area: he probably believes in souls and in some kind of heaven (I recall him asking the Spectre a few years ago about his parents), but isn't into churchgoing or any particular tenets of faith.
I'll also go out on a limb and suggest that Bruce might attend a Christmas service each year. Not out of any faith-based feelings, but just because his parents did it and he figures it's appropriate for a public figure like himself.
I don't know if many DC writers have spoken on the subject, but Elliot S! Maggin said that Bruce was Episcopalian.
[posted by "Matt" on 31 May 2005 at 7:47 PM:]
Batman, back when Kelly was drawing the Batman title, had a run-in with the Spectre and they quickly discussed the issue.
It basically boiled down to that Batman believes in a god but doesn't subscribe to one that uses agents of unbridled vengence such as the Spectre.
[posted by "monkeyjunkie" on 31 May 2005 at 10:46 PM:]
I believe in the most recent issue of Batman he makes a comment to the effect of "all mysticism is just another branch of science" which sounds very aetheistic to me. It also seems like the way Bruce tends to act, he assumes everything has a logical explaination.
[posted by "Forefinger" on 1 June 2005 at 2:00 AM:]
In JLA there was a scene where they were facing a "dark God" from the past prior to the Atlantis story where Batman goes to touch a piece of the "God's" armor and Wonder Woman knocks his hand away telling him not to touch it because it was evil. Batman makes a comment/crack about his perfectly aetheistic hand or something.
[posted by "Mia" on 1 June 2005 at 8:40 AM:]
Quote, originally Posted by amphetamine:
"Lack of faith, deep-rooted feelings of guilt? Sounds like a lapsed Catholic to me."
Or maybe it's just part of his Scotish heritage/make up. I heard that 'guilt' and 'brooding' go hand in hand with being a Scot.
The fundamental question is: why does the fact of being a Scot fill us (you, me) with such a sense of guilt? And what is this guilt, imbibed with our mother's milk and to which we're addicts years before the first drop of whisky, the other communion wine, passes our lips?
Then there is the good old Scottish guilt complex - Calvinist or Catholic, it's there
But I agree with many posters. I'm convinced that Batman is an atheist or at least an agnostic. It's also been stated in some of the books.
[posted by "kingpin51" on 1 June 2005 at 12:49 PM:]
Batman doesn't believe in a "god" as we know it. He believes that there are ultra powerful beings in the universe except all their powers and such are derived from science. It has been stated in many Batman comics that he indeed is an atheist.
[posted by "Slam_Bradley" on 1 June 2005 at 1:07 PM:]
Quote, originally Posted by kingpin51:
"Batman doesn't believe in a "god" as we know it. He believes that there are ultra powerful beings in the universe except all their powers and such are derived from science. It has been stated in many Batman comics that he indeed is an atheist."
And this simply shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the DCU and Batman on the part of any writers that have gone this route. Batman has simply had too many encounters with the [divinely created] likes of The Spectre, Deadman, Dr. Fate, Zauriel, Etrigan, etc. for this to make sense. Batman may well not proscribe to any organized religion, but for him to be an Atheist would be irrational.
[posted by "Captain Smith" on 1 June 2005 at 2:36 PM:]
Bats talking to the Spectre was interested in the afterlife as he clearly wanted confirmation that he would meet his parents again. Spectre said he didn't know if that was the way it worked.
He certainly has seen people come back from being really dead. Of course, some of those weren't really really dead. Hal [i.e., Hal Jordan, the Green Lantern] supposedly was in Purgatory though. Supes wandered around in some kind of afterlife.
He's met Deadman.
[posted by "Joker2503" on 1 June 2005 at 8:11 PM:]
I think Batman knows there is a God (the Christian God), he just doesn't like God very much. What kind of a God lets an eight year old boy's parents be shot to death in front of his eyes? What kind of God lets the things that happen in the universe happen over and over?
Batman probably hates God for having the power to make the universe into a utopia, but doesn't. Batman primary concern is to make sure that bad things never happen to good people, but God allows it to happen every day. Batman is disgusted with the other heroes in the DCU, who he feels that, with all their powers, could do so much more. Imagine what he thinks about the creator and controller of the universe.
As for the specific demonination, I'm going to go with a lapsed Catholic. The guilt stereotypically associated with Catholicism has already been talked about. The anger that Batman feels toward God fits Catholicism, as well.
[posted by "IamtheRock3" on 1 June 2005 at 8:26 PM:]
Batman not only believes in an afterlife... but KNOWS there is an afterlife.
But that doesn't mean he is religious.
It a difference between believing and knowing.
He just doesn't like these guys. For instance. he gets magic people help when they need it... but hates the stuff. He just goes to them when it absolutly neccesary.
In fact, there are only a few magical, mystical guys he trusts:
The Ethrigan guy when he ish human.
And Zantana. (And does even he trust her any more?)
[posted by "Gordon Smith" on 1 June 2005 at 10:11 PM:]
Quote, originally Posted by Slam_Bradley:
"And this simply shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the DCU and Batman on the part of any writers that have gone this route. Batman has simply had too many encounters with the likes of The Spectre, Deadman, Dr. Fate, Zauriel, Etrigan, etc. for this to make sense. Batman may well not proscribe to any organized religion, but for him to be an Atheist would be irrational."
I'm with Loren and you on this one. I think it would be far more believable to present Batman as a deist, rather than an outright atheist. Mind you, I'm not that crazy about Dixon's opinion that he's a lapsed Catholic. The textual evidence for that POV seems to be rather thin.
[posted by "Pinnacle" on 1 June 2005 at 10:07 PM:]
I imagine that Bruce is agnostic or a deist. He wouldn't practice any formal religion and he and God are probably not on the best of terms many times. As far as his parental upbringing, I would imagine either Episcopalian or Presbyterian.
[posted by "Mia" on 1 June 2005 at 11:44 PM:]
[Batman's ethnicity is] covered in:
Batman: The Ultimate Guide to the Dark Knight by Scott Beatty.
Tales of the Dark Knight: Batman's First Fifty Years: 1939-1989, by Mark Cotta Vaz.
And there is also the graphic novel Batman: The Scottish Connection.
[posted by "ocelotrevs" on 2 June 2005 at 12:57 PM:]
My gut instinct would be that he does believe in religion. But's he's keeping his options open, after all the gods can be vengeful.
[posted by "Sam" on 2 June 2005 at 12:39 PM:]
I would be shocked if Batman doesn't have a fairly accurate view of the cosmology of the DCU, given his experiences in the Justice League. He knows that the gods of every religion you can shake a stick at actually exist, but he doesn't worship any of them. He may even know that the existence and power of a deity is based on the quantity of belief and worship they receive from mortals, though maybe not.
Honestly, there's no question in my mind that Batman's protocols for dealing with superhuman beings extend into the mystical ones. He's got to have just as many plans and protocols in place for when Asmodel shows up in Gotham and starts tearing the place up as he does for Darkseid.
And if all that stuff from the book of Revelations ever happens, you can bet Batman has a whole plan worked out for the Justice League to prevent it. (After all, the last big DC summer crossover event was about what happens when the being who created the universe decides to end it, and all the superheroes get together to stop him...)
[posted by "Lorendiac" on 1 June 2005 at 3:02 PM:]
Quote, originally Posted by Loren:
"That's closest to my thoughts on the matter, which would be that the Waynes were Episcopalian but Bruce's faith has since lapsed. Nowadays I'd say he's somewhere in the agnostic or deist area... I'll also go out on a limb and suggest that Bruce might attend a Christmas service each year. Not out of any faith-based feelings, but just because his parents did it and he figures it's appropriate for a public figure like himself. I don't know if many DC writers have spoken on the subject, but Elliot S! Maggin said that Bruce was Episcopalian."
I tend to agree with Loren here, and not just because our names are coincidentally similar.
I didn't know Maggin had said that, but I too had been thinking there was an excellent chance that the Wayne family had been Episcopalians. If so, if you met Bruce Wayne socially and asked, I suspect he would just say "My parents raised me Episcopalian until they died" and leave it at that. If you probed and he felt like answering more pointed questions, he might concede that he was in a similar position to that of a fictional character whom novelist Kingsley Amis described in the following terms:
"He was of the faith chiefly in the sense that the church he currently did not attend was Catholic."
[posted by "Cyberman" on 3 June 2005 at 3:46 PM:]
Didn't Batman say that he believed he and God shared the same sense of humor in Batman #620, Part 1 of the Broken City arc.
That's the only example of Batman being religious that I know of.
Excerpts from: "Are Superheroes Religious?" forum page, started 13 May 2004, in "The John Byrne Forum" section of the Byrne Robotics website (http://jb.24-7intouch.com/forum/get_topic.asp?FID=3&TID=558&DIR=P; viewed 9 January 2006):
03-03-2005, 12:25 PM
I remember back in the early issues of Nightwing, there'd be occasional art refrences to Dick [i.e., Dick Grayson, a.k.a. "Nightwing," previously "Robin"] being a Christian. (He had a NIV Bible [New International Version], and some Christian CDs). Nothing was made of it then. I haven't read Nightwing regularly since like, 1999, and am wondering if anything was ever made of this, or does it continue in the background at all, or is Dick Jewish now, or whatever.
03-03-2005, 06:55 PM
McDaniel [i.e., Scott McDaniel, a long-time artist of the Nightwing comic book series] is a Christian, I saw it on his web site. I assumed that was simply stuff that he inserted into the book himself. As a . . . what do you call it? Easter egg? In-joke? But it had no bearing on the character. I've heard some Nightwing fans say they've seen him mention in some past Bat books that he [Batman] prays. But I don't know anything beyond that. Dixon is a Christian but I've never seen him make Nightwing in any way religious. [i.e., Chuck Dixon, who was the writer of the Nightwing series and a major Batman writer as well.] But from issues of the JLA [Justice League of America] that I've read Batman is an atheist.
03-03-2005, 10:19 PM
Dixon and McDaniel (both Christians, as already mentioned) definitely considered Dick to be one as well. I believe Dixon once stated he saw Batman not as an atheist, but as a lapsed Catholic (hence all the pent-up guilt).
The Lucky One
03-03-2005, 10:42 PM
Seems like Bats [i.e.,. Batman] would have to be pretty stupid to be an atheist. In a world where your close, personal friends have actually been to Heaven and chatted with the Big Guy Himself [i.e., God], I feel like a bit of the doubt should maybe be taken out of the equation.
03-04-2005, 08:53 AM
Hasn't batman actully been to heaven?
03-04-2005, 09:27 AM
[QUOTE:] Hasn't batman actully been to heaven?
Yeah, he's been. And people in the Marvel Universe see Thor every day, and pretend he's not the Thunder God. It doesn't matter what people see, if they can reject it, then it doesn't exist to them.
03-04-2005, 09:58 AM
[QUOTE] Seems like Bats would have to be pretty stupid to be an atheist. In a world where your close, personal friends have actually been to heaven and chatted with the Big Guy Himself, I feel like a bit of the doubt should maybe be taken out of the equation.
Why? How can you believe in God if your most trusted partner beat up an archangel. It's hard to believe in a god you've met. There's also a big difference over believing that there's some big cosmic entity in some alternate dimension (where some people's souls go after death) which some people like to think of as "The God" and having faith in your Lord Savior. How many Cosmic Gawd Wannabes has Bats and his JLA buddies seen over the years? Near omnipotent imps from the 5th dimension? What makes "God" any different from them? Doesn't mean Batman doesn't believe Jehovah and his Nine Choirs of Angels exist. He just doesn't see any reason why they should be worshipped/trusted.
03-04-2005, 10:20 AM
Actually I do see it as possible for Batman to be an atheist. If you follow some of the statements I've read from atheists such as Phillip Pullman that if there was a God he wouldn't allow bad things to happen etc. I can see Bruce thinking about God in exactly the same way.
I think of Batman as an atheist the same way I think of the Edmond Dantes character in the Count of Monte Cristo movie. Who after being betrayed and so cruelly treated decides that there isn't a God. And if He does exist he wouldn't care about him.
Edmond:. I don't believe in God Priest.
Abbe Faria: Too bad He believes in you.
03-04-2005, 11:55 AM
I've long been fond of Elliot S! Maggin's (http://www.fanzing.com/mag/fanzing09/iview.shtml) religious IDs, including where he said that Bruce is Episcopalian... Coming from a prestigious, old money family in a major Northeast city, it seems like a good fit.
But I've always thought of him as a lapsed Episcopalian.
03-09-2005, 06:44 PM
When did Batman go up to Heaven?
03-10-2005, 02:46 AM
An Atheist doesn't believe that God exists so if you've met him how can you be an atheist?
03-10-2005, 05:53 AM
[QUOTE] An Atheist doesn't believe that God exists so if you've met him how can you be an atheist?
Actually, no. Atheism is more than just not believing in God or any other religious force. It's putting your faith in science/logic. There's a big difference between knowing something exists and worshipping it as your god. A tribe somewhere might worship the largest tree in the forest as a godly being, but I can see it's just a tree. Jehovah and others of godly essence (Asgard, Olympus, Cthulthu, whatever) are obviously a part of the DCU just as the Guardians, Anti-Monitors and the Endless. There's a lot of cosmic badarses flying around. They obviously fit into the DCU system of physical laws. Why should 'God' be any different? Batman has met the Olympian gods. Doesn't mean he 'believes in' them.
A better question is: How can you be agnostic when you've met God?
From my viewpoint Batman has to believe in God, this does not mean that he has to worship him.
03-13-2005, 09:03 AM
I think that Batman knows there is a God (the Christian God, not Norse, Olympic, etc), he just doesn't like him very much. A loving, just God wouldn't allow the world to be the way it is. Bruce Wayne may have been a Christian growing up, but I think that ended when his parents were killed. Why should he put faith in a merciful, just God that allows things to happen like a no-name punk killing two innocent people in front of their eight-year-old son?
Batman is all about doing whatever you can to make sure that the innocent don't suffer at the hands of the wicked. That's why he looks on Superman and others so condescendingly: In Batman's eyes, they could do so much more. A God that stands off and lets the world destroy itself is no place for Batman to put his faith. That is why he only puts his faith in himself.
Batman believes in God, he knows there is a God, but Batman is not a fan of God. In fact, he may well hate God.
03-13-2005, 10:27 PM
That's what I think too. I think the character is more agnostic than atheist (no matter what Joe Kelly says). However I don't ever think that the character was a Christian. And when I say Christian I mean as a way of life and having a relationship with God. Rather than just a label. The Waynes were probably Christian more as a label than anything else. I can see them attending Church on Christmas and Easter but that's it.
03-14-2005, 12:12 AM
Does Batman have any capacity for faith at all? Judging from the way he treats the people he trusts the most, I don't think so. So I can't imagine him being particularly religious. Whenever a "religious" phenomena occurs, Bruce probably attributes it to superhuman causes: someone who claims to be God is really just a high-level superhuman with a personality disorder, that "heaven" the JLA visited was just some whacked-out alternate dimension.
Beta Ray Bill
03-14-2005, 01:09 AM
I've heard people say that for God to intervene, even if it is for good, would be taking away our free will. That there has to be that balance. Without poverty there would be no great acts of charity. No heroes in a sense.
03-14-2005, 11:45 AM
Despite all the physical suffering we see (and experience) on a daily basis (which is a result of God's justice in punishing sin) He has certainly providing a means by which we might never experience any suffering; namely, the death of His son, Jesus Christ. So while God does indeed punish sin, He has certainly provided a means by which we can escape eternal punishment.
03-14-2005, 09:35 PM
As a Christian (and serious Batman fan) it doesn't bother me that Batman is supposed to be an atheist or agnostic. But it would bother me if some writer had had him making ugly statements (like I've seen on the community boards) towards the Creator.
03-15-2005, 12:39 PM
I don't think that there is an official stance on Batman's religious views (or purported lack thereof), though I do seem to recall Chuck Dixon making a comment to the effect that Batman was Catholic. I don't see much textual evidence for that position, frankly. I think Batman might be a Deist, if only in practice, which is to say he may subscribe to the idea of a Creator who (or First Cause) set the universe into motion, but who takes no further active (or at least discernable) role in the affairs of His creation. Deists typically decline to endorse the claims or beliefs of revealed religion, relying exclusively on the tools of science to guide them in a search for truth. Bruce may not be an announced Deist, but his observable behaviour appears to trend in that direction.
03-15-2005, 06:33 PM
You might want to reference JLA issue 66 or the Obsidian Age trade paperback where Batman says to Wonder Woman:
"And that explains the near severing of my atheistic hand. Perfectly logical."
03-16-2005, 11:04 PM
[QUOTE] "And that explains the near severing of my atheistic hand. Perfectly logical."
You could be a lapsed Catholic, and still say something to this effect.
03-17-2005, 11:58 PM
No. Read the quote carefuly. He's not calling himself an atheist.
The only thing that is conclusive about this quote is that he's using dry bat-humour for levity in the context of having just been confronted with the notion of losing his hand.
03-18-2005, 08:29 PM
As for Batman, I stand by my earlier statements. Batman thinks about God the same way Tyler Durden does [referring to the lead character in the novel and film Fight Club]. He knows God exists, but he hates him.
From: "Who is your religious superhero" discussion board, started 14 March 2006, on "Ship of Fools: The Magazine of Christian Unrest" website (http://forum.ship-of-fools.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=1;t=006489; viewed 24 April 2006):
13 May 2004 at 9:29pm
Bruce Wayne has always seemed like a classic old-money WASP to me. I never thought of him as motivated by guilt, like, say Peter Parker. I know the cliche is that Bruce is motivated by revenge but I would see it more as a deep-seated desire for justice. People of many or no religious affiliations might have similar feelings.
14 May 2004 at 7:26 am
I've always thought that the Batman has a Catholic aura about him.
From: "Religion of Comic Book Characters" discussion board, started 21 March 2006, on "Atomic Think Tank" website (http://atomicthinktank.com/viewtopic.php?t=15563&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=60&sid=6e1a6029528ee4ff56875971156c2732; viewed 25 April 2006):
Posted 21 March, 2006 21:14
Batman is Episcopalian! I always thought so.
Posted 21 March, 2006 22:19
Exactly my feeling. Lapsed Episcopalian, but aren't we all, really?
Posted 21 March, 2006 23:16
I'm sure I don't know what you mean.
Please pass the raisin cakes. [smiley icon, indicating they are joking]
Posted 21 March, 2006 23:39
He [Batman] describes himself as an atheist during Grant Morrison's Justice League run.
From: reader comments to "Godless Sunday" blog post on Pharyngula [subtitled: "Evolution, development, and random biological ejaculations from a godless liberal"] blog (http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2006/03/godless_sunday.php; viewed 26 April 2006):
Posted: Fri Mar 24, 2006 1:10 am
Batman STATED he was an atheist in a JLA story...
Posted: Fri Mar 24, 2006 8:41 am
Someone goofed, because I remember reading a story where Batman was arguing with Hal Jordan about the evil things Jordan did as Parallax, and it was made clear that Batman was Christian, though there was no mention of a particular denomination.
Posted: Fri Mar 24, 2006 9:29 am
Besides, people's beliefs change. Look at Mister Terrific (the new one) He's gone from a confirmed atheist to 'considering'.
Posted by: Dustin | March 20, 2006 12:21 AM
From: "Religion in comic books" discussion forum started on 24 April 2006, on DC Comics official message board website (http://dcboards.warnerbros.com/web/thread.jspa?threadID=2000072787&tstart=0; viewed 1 May 2006):
I don't care what anyone says. Batman is either an atheist or he has some shaolin leanings, and that's the end of it. I also think Lisa, of the Simpsons, is on record as being an atheist -- the list says Buddhist.
Now that I think about it, whenever I try to come up with well-recognized figures in popular culture who are atheists, agnostics, or something of the like, the only images I can conjure up are of some of the Star Trek characters.
We need more atheists on TV, and not just as the token bitter guy in a sitcom.
From: Barry, "For Barry" page, posted 26 March 2006 on "Theo-Dongs" blog website http://theopeckers.blogspot.com/2006/03/for-barry.html; viewed 8 May 2006):
Posted: Apr 24, 2006 10:31 PM
Does anyone know if there are any DC Comics characters who are portrayed as being Christian or Catholic in religion?
Posted: Apr 25, 2006 1:34 AM
It's clear to me Bruce Wayne is more or less an atheist.
Posted: Apr 25, 2006 4:28 AM
I've heard that Bruce Wayne is a lapsed Catholic (i.e. reared that way but lost his faith when his parents died.)
Posted: Apr 27, 2006 4:41 AM
I've had this discussion before. Someone said that Batman was a lapsed Catholic? Possible but not likely. There was a mini series in the '90s where Bruce went back to his ancestoral roots of Scotland. The vast majority of Scots are Protestant.
Posted: Apr 27, 2006 5:00 AM
It's not uncommon, in the span of 200 years, for the descendents of immigrants to be of a different faith then their forefathers. Don't see why it couldn't have happened with the Waynes.
Posted: Apr 27, 2006 5:10 AM
You are totally right. I was just basing this on traditional religious leanings of cultures. Heck, look at Grant Morrison. He's a Scot and a freaky wizard or something. On average though most of 'em are Protestents. As a Catholic it would be cool if Bats and Supes were too, but it's cool...
Posted: Apr 27, 2006 2:40 PM
Does anyone other than me think that Dr Wayne may have been Jewish? And if his wife was a Southern Baptist or maybe from Assembly of God - that would go a long way to explaining why Bruce's background just didn't leave him more balanced.
Posted: Apr 27, 2006 5:24 PM
Regarding the Waynes, I've only seen their gravestones with Christian symbols. Sometimes it's one big tombstone with an Angel and a cross, other times they both have separate tombstones with crosses on them. I've never seen them portrayed as believers in any other religion, but I haven't read every single Batman story ever published, so...
As for Bruce, in DKR [Dark Knight Returns] his gravestone had a cross on it. The story isn't in continuity of course, but it's still something to consider.
Posted: Apr 27, 2006 9:05 PM
A bit different take on the topic. As a follower of Christ (like another poster, "Christian" has some unwelcome baggage for me), I like comics, but have always been a bit uneasy with the idea of beings with god-like powers constantly holding sway over the affairs of mere humans. The whole concept is very much in keeping with the pagan Olympian mythology. Wonder Woman is after all directly tied into that tradition. Now of course I can certainly keep fiction separate from reality, but how else to explain the popularity of super-heroes but as a subconscious desire for a pantheon of god-like figures to right wrongs and solve our problems for us? This topic has been explored in comics, probably most recently in IC. Max Lord justifies himself as a defender of humanity against control by aliens and metahumans. How to reconcile the popularity of a superhero universe with belief in a Supreme Being? Thoughts anyone?
Posted: Apr 27, 2006 9:30 PM
On the other hand, the drumbeat for the last ten years or so has been that Bruce Wayne has made himself into a man who can beat down any of those 'godlike' beings -- with a side order of the JSA's assorted superhumans enthusiastically letting Michael Holt call the shots despite him being (a) merely human, and (b) an atheist who on his best days ranges over to agnosticism. But danged if he can't slap his teammates around likewise.
Put all of that in the context of Ted Knight and Rex Tyler and Ralph Dibny and Ray Palmer each by their own efforts gaining both superhuman powers and a seat at the table, and suddenly it's a very different emphasis regarding those same pagan myths: that of mortals who could aspire to the level of the gods.
Why are all the cool characters [expletive] Episcopalians? What the hell! Like every hero with a descent power is all rich and beautiful. Look at that list. The Invisible Woman and the Human Torch (multi-millionaires), Warren Worthingtion - the Archangel (also a multi-millionaire), Captain Britain (millionaire and ruler of another dimension), Psylocke (Captain Britain's sister, so, yes, a millionaire), Henry McCoy - the Beast (not really a millionaire but a genius geneticist who lives in a mansion with Charles Xavier who is a millionaire), Jean Grey - the Phoenix (also not personally rich, but is a cosmic god who, when she's living, lives in a mansion with millionaires), and of course Bruce Wayne - Batman (who is not a millionaire, but is, in fact, a billionaire). So, yes. There's you're proof. All Episcopalians are lazy rich people.
From: "What Religion is Your Favorite Superhero?" discussion board started 20 April 2006 on official website of DC Comics (http://dcboards.warnerbros.com/web/thread.jspa?threadID=2000072337&tstart=0; viewed 8 May 2006):
From: comments about "Reeding Into Things #22: Comics Q & A", posted 26 February 2004 (http://www.comixfan.com/xfan/forums/archive/index.php/t-26014.html; viewed 12 May 2006):
Posted: Apr 20, 2006 9:30 AM
...What is the religion of the heroes we read about?... Don't get me wrong, not picking on anyone, just wonder what everyone thinks what our heroes believe. ...Other threads touch on the subject in passing, time to discuss it!
Posted: Apr 21, 2006 12:44 PM
I suspect Nightwing is into Zen
But Bruce Wayne:
Mother Evangelical or Fundamentalist
(which would explain a lot)
Posted: Apr 24, 2006 3:31 AM
re: "Wow, if Superman is Methodist, it gives you new respect for the religion"
Er . . . why? He's heroic, sure, but is he more heroic than Batman or Colossus or Mister Terrific or Starman, who don't really believe in any religion? More heroic than Wonder Woman, who venerates the Greek gods? More heroic than Catholics like Doctor Mid-Nite, or Buddhists like Green Arrow?
...Not trying to be argumentative, just scratching my head . . .
[Comment posted by:] Scots Fan
From: "Religious Themes in Comics" forum discussion page, started 21 May 2003 on "Sketchy Origins" website (http://www.sketchyorigins.com/comics/archive/index.php?t-1380.html; viewed 12 May 2006):
Feb 27, 2004, 04:01 am
As a person of the Catholic faith I would say that a number of characters show parts that are Catholic for example Matt Murdock, Peter Parker, Scott Summers, Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson all to me would seem to be Catholic or at least have some of the underlining principles of Catholism.
From: "Religious affiliations of comic characters" message board started 29 January 2006 in "Gotham After Dark" section of EZBoard.com website (http://p073.ezboard.com/fgothampmfrm37.showMessage?topicID=161.topic; viewed 27 May 2006):
05-29-2003, 07:14 AM
I was reading about Alex Ross in Wizard 141 last night and he said that he liked the DC characters so much because each one was like a "god" of his realm. Aquaman of the water, Batman of Gotham, Superman of Metropolis, J'Onn J'Onzz of Mars. Each one has the ultimate power in their given sphere of influence. So, he equated it to like the best of the best.
Well, I bring this up here not only because he mentions that they are gods, but also because it seems to me that they are often set up as saviors as well. Batman is to rid Gotham of crime. Superman protects humanity. Aquaman protects the oceans. J'Onn J'Onzz is the last of his kind from Mars and is supposed to save his civilization. These are all Christ-like attributes.
This doesn't just go for DC characters, but I only mention them because that's what Alex Ross talked about in the article. As I said earlier in this thread, I think that this "Christian" influence on the character development and story creation could be more a reflection of that influence in our society and our popular mythos, more so than a direct allusion.
These are archetypes that we are looking at here. That's why we recognize similar traits among them.
(1/29/06 9:44 am)
[Links to "Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Characters" page:] www.adherents.com/lit/comics/comic_book_religion.html
Interesting idea anyway. Execution is fair but not stellar based on the one character listed who I know best. Bruce is down as Episcopalian / Catholic. Why the slash? A family as old as the Waynes would be so likely to be Episcopalian. It's not that it is IMPOSSIBLE they would be Catholic, it's simply so IMPROBABLE that it calls into question why the option is left there.
1/29/06 2:02 pm
...can you guess who was the only Batman writer who flat-out said that Bruce Wayne was Catholic?
Make of that what you will.
1/29/06 4:19 pm
Oh well if it's Miller that explains it. I wouldn't expect him to know the first thing about the upper social echelons where Bruce resides. Gotta marvel at the consistency though. If it's wrong it must be Frankie. Sh--. [Expletive]
Hitman Tommy Monaghan
1/30/06 5:51 am
Well Catholic guilt could go a long way to explaining his life choices...
Seriously though there are a few heroes out there that have been id'ed [identified] as one religion or another but I kinda fall on the line of "none specified" as best. Not because I'm anti-religion, but because it makes these icons just that, ICONS and universally acceptable regardless of religion.
I understand Sabra at Marvel as a member of Mossad is Jewish and that kinda makes sense but to slap a belief on Bruce or anyone else seems to limit the character more than it broadens it IMO [in my opinion]. Then again I've been wrong before. Just tell me to go sit in the bar if I am Miss Kitty.
1/30/06 8:09 am
I agree with Tommy, though there are those characters whose religion is a part of what defines them and can get away with it (Kitty Pryde and Kurt Wagner for two). But I think by not saying anything, it's left up to the reader to assume who is what and I think that's more or less the best way to approach it.
1/30/06 9:55 am
Let's put it this way: there's an acting no-no called the limping waiter. This waiter has one or two lines at most, but he had this limp whenever he moves. The director brings this to his attention, and the waiter spouts off this whole story he's worked out, how his character had been a promising medical student who dropped out and was drafted, got wounded in the war, and now this is the only job he can get, and so on.
"Fine love, but you're pulling focus from THE PLAY," Director responds. "Everyone would go: 'Look at that Marge, something wrong with that guy on the end.'" He was fired, and I think we can all appreciate why.
Religion is fine and can be interesting if it fits: Renee Montoya is first generation Latino, that family is going to be Catholic, probably very Catholic. If it's NOT, then there has to be a reason for that. Otherwise it's this limping waiter.
Bruce is the top of the tree, in the New York area that is the first waves of immigrants, Dutch and British (I went with Scottish in the family history because it was a better fit in many ways I won't go into). It was the British that called the landgrants MANORSHIPS. Catholic in that first wave of founding families, the family would have to be French or Spanish which doesn't fit the name or the region. If you deviate from this - like the limping waiter - you need to explain why. 1 time in 10,000 that can be interesting. The rest of the time it's a limping waiter.
DC has a similar problem with Gotham City. They made up their "look this isn't New York" map at some point, and there is clearly no logic to it. New York, you can trace out why this neighborhood is industrial, why that one is gentrified, why that is a slum, why (duh) the parkfront is the most expensive real estate in the world outside of Ginza and Hong Kong, etc. because of the way it developed. Commerce starts at the river, the riverfront is developed first, this area was gentrified and Henry James wrote about it in the 1800s, then it became scummy when the elite moved uptown, this area was industrial until the bohemians moved in and then it became gentrified, the park is located right here because it was settled by disenfranchised blacks who could be easily moved elsewhere when they decided to build. Because this is the way the city DID develop, we know it's the way a city CAN develop. If you just thoughtlessly lay down a map - the park is here, the business district is there, the slum is there - because you don't think it matters (or "Quinzel sounds Jewish") you can then fall into these ridiculous logic traps. Anyway, end of ramble. Long story short (too late, kitty!) like so much in comics, it depends on if you take the time to do it right, lay logical foundations, or just throw something out there to be "different", like an adolescent fanficcer, without taking the trouble to see if it makes any logical sense.
Hitman Tommy Monaghan
1/31/06 4:12 am
Um wow kitten. Let me just state for the record that you're one smart dame. As for me I just read Batman because he looks cool and occaisionally "karate chops" that f'ing clown I hate so much. Therefore to start exploring the religious side of Bruce alienates me from the icon. But holy crap if the rest of you are that smart I'll just go back to the bar and peruse a few Hitman and Punisher comics while I watch the Three Stooges and drink brew. That Moe cracks me up. Ya think he's Jewish?
Seriously Miss Kitty wow I'm sure that if the majority of us bothered to fire a neuron every now and again we'd have seen what you did.
2/3/06 12:37 am
Batman ain't Catholic. Where's my evidence? Come on. ALL the old-school Superheroes are WASPs through and through. It was the only thing society would allow at the time. It didn't have to be stated; it was just assumed.
Now, I suppose it's theoreticaly possible that, somewhere along these enlightened times, Batman was changed to be Catholic. Well, we know that's never been deliberately done: Something like that would be fairly major news. Has it indirectly become a possibility, however? No. It's just barely possible that his parents were, but he is certainly not. If he had been a cradle Catholic, his Catholocism would have been a major, major part of his life after their deaths (whether in negative reaction to it, or positive reinforcement, or what have you). If his parents were non-practicing, his English-Butler stepfather is highly unlikely to have introduced him to the religion later on.
Plus, I really just don't see it, lookign at the guy. Catholicism is not just some "go to church on Sunday" type religion (with apologies to any Protesting types out there). There's lots of stuff to it, and it really is the kind of stuff that makes you think (or your blood boil). Sure, there are Catholics of the "just go to mass on Sunday" mold, but they are ignoring major facets of the religion; Practicing it, to put it bluntly, in a half-assed manner. Now tell me, dear GAD-ers ["Gotham After Dark" message board posters]; Have you ever seen Batman do ANYTHING half-assed? No, if Batman ever had any inclination to be Catholic, he dropped it lock, stock, and barrel long ago. We'd see active evidence of it, otherwise.
Just out of curiosity, Chris, have you ever considered that Bruce's Scottish ancestry makes his ancestors much more likely to have been Catholic than your average English settler? Not that I'm saying they were, of course; Had they been, it's much more likely they would have ended up in Maryland.
2/3/06 10:23 am
Believe it or not, Sailor, I sort of considered it in reverse. I based a lot of the Wayne Family History on the Livingstons (If we've any fans of 1776 the musical, that'd be "Robert Livingston of old New York") largely because there was a Livingston Manor, both house and landgrant, right across the river.
Now the original Robert Livingston that first came over seems to have done so strictly as "an adventurer" out to seek his fortune. But I wanted to give him more oomph than that, and I especially liked the idea of a very stubborn bullheaded Wayne (Joseph "the Uncompromising") getting into trouble with the English king. At the period I was looking at, the king had recently married, and the new French queen was very Catholic, and everybody was getting pretty freaked. So I took that particular route, but you could construct an equally solid historical base to go the other way if you wanted to.
Hitman Tommy Monaghan
2/3/06 2:41 pm
Catty, I just realized what's been bothering me about the Bats issue. Wayne was Scottish like me. Scots are about 90% Presbyterian if they practice at all. In fact if I'm not greatly mistaken there was a GN [graphic novel] called "The Scottish Connection" where the Wayne heritage was examined a bit more and there was some burials at the Presbyterian church. None of that is Holy Canon, but it is vaguely surfacing in the alchohol sponge I call a brain. It's a starting place to look to refute the Miller stories though.
2/3/06 2:44 pm
Now there's a coincidence, someone recently sent me The Scottish Connection and I haven't read it yet.
Now really feeling the need to research refuting Miller though. Waste of time and braincells. Miller is wrong like water is wet. But I plan to read TSC [The Scottish Connection] for fun as soon as its number comes up in the stack. Oh look, it somehow found its way to the top too.
2/4/06 7:48 pm
I don't know when it became true, but isn't there Calvinism in Scotland's past?
I know they're Presbyterian nowadays.
Excerpts from: "Superman Wedding -- why a Christian ceremony?" newsgroup discussion started 11 October 1996 in rec.arts.comics.dc.universe (http://groups.google.com/group/rec.arts.comics.dc.universe/browse_thread/thread/4d17a1ff0ee9c715/d141c36005b90ea4; viewed 5 June 2006):
From: Douglas Ethington
Date: Fri, Oct 11 1996 12:00 am
Email: Douglas Ethington
I always thought that Clark was most likely a Christian...
Anyway, this thread got me thinking about the other DC heroes and what their religious beliefs might be, so here are some of my thoughts (most of this MHO [My Humble Opinion]):
Batman is an atheist. He says as much in an UU tie-in...
Date: Mon, Oct 14 1996 12:00 am
Batman... am atheist?
Possible, I guest, but for the Angel displayed above his parents grave. Also he seems to have established some kind of connection with Deadman as seen in the special Green Lantarn/Hal Jordan Memorial comic. If he accepts that D-Man is a "ghost" and therefore a lost soul, then there must be more beyond this life. I see Batman more as being angry at God than not believing in him.
From: Vincent Louie - AERE/F92
Date: Tues, Oct 15 1996 12:00 am
Boston Brand [i.e., Deadman] got his gift/curse from an indeterminate source. From the story in Secret Origins #15, it seemed more like a Hindu God, (although Spectre took a Hindu form in one of his life times, so it could be the same God).
Batman appeared in a great number of Deadman stories. I think Wayne just knows that his power is from "The Voice".
After-life in the DC universe doesn't necessarily translate into Gods exist, although, I'd rather not argue it, because I think it's a silly topic.
From: "Superman is Jewish in origin" message board, started 15 September 2005 on Krypton Site.com website (http://www.kryptonsite.com/forums/showthread.php?s=9e8ba60333b234b4d5508404d4b8f006&threadid=41222&perpage=15&pagenumber=2; viewed 5 June 2006):
09-19-2005 10:14 PM
re: "They adhere to a different sets of morals. CK's are more in line with a slightly conservative background while Lex adheres to the Luthor set"
Er... guess it depends how you define "conservative"...
Usually characters like Superman and Green Arrow would be put into a category of characters with a more liberal philosophy. (Superman refuses to kill anyone, after all.) Conservative characters would be Batman, the Watchmen, etc. That's why Batman and Superman are such good opposites...
From: "Religious Inclinations of heroes" message board, started 1 March 2005 on StarDestroyer.net website (http://bbs.stardestroyer.net/viewtopic.php?t=63632; viewed 8 June 2006):
From: "Batwoman Is Back as a Lesbian" message board started 1 June 2006 on "The Giant in the Playground" website (http://www.giantitp.com/cgi-bin/yabb/YaBB.pl?board=comics;action=print;num=1149174700; viewed 12 June 2006):
Posted: Tue Mar 01, 2005 6:38 pm
Post subject: Religious Inclinations of heroes
I started reading JLA: The Obsidian Age yesterday and in it Batman admits that he is an atheist. Wonder Woman [is] of course a pagan of the Greek pantheon style. Superman's religion has always been left up in the air - Silver Age Supes was a believer in Kryptonian religion but retconned Superman has been left ambigiously religious. Thor is a God himself so religion is a moot point for him.
What about other heroes? I notice religion rarely plays a part in mainstream superhero comics (absent things like the Vertigo line) but have you ever picked up on hints or outright admissions by some heroes as to their religious inclinations?
Seems that atheistic heroes are as rare in comics as in real life. If they are religious it's a sort Judaeo-Christian wishy washy sort of religion.
On the other hand Daredevil, for instance, is a devout Catholic IIRC. Any other examples of guesses?
Posted: Tue Mar 01, 2005 8:00 pm
...how in Valen's name can [Batman] be an atheist? [Batman] knows God exists; [he] worked with his right-hand man.
[Batman] merely [doesn't] believe in him [God]. Shouldn't that make [Batman] a theist?
Posted: Tue Mar 01, 2005 8:10 pm
Er... [Batman has] worked with the Archangel Gabriel?
And as to your question, I'd say that would make [Batman] more simply an... agnostic?
Posted: Tue Mar 01, 2005 8:34 pm
Hal Jordan/The Spectre used to work directly for God.
re: "And as to your question, I'd say that would make you more simply an... agnostic?"
Agnostic believes the (non)existence of God(s) is unprovable.
[Batman] knows God exists. That's pretty hard to do at the same time.
Posted: Tue Mar 01, 2005 9:55 pm
re: "Agnostic believes the (non)existence of God(s) is unprovable. [Batman] knows God exists. That's pretty hard to do at the same time."
Sounds like a Deist.
Posted: Wed Mar 02, 2005 2:45 am
Batman also worked with an angel in the JLA for a while... what was his name?
Posted: Wed Mar 02, 2005 3:45 am
Posted: Sat Mar 05, 2005 9:28 am
...I'd guess that "atheist" as much as it can be applied to knowledgable characters like Batman would apply something like an atheist Jaffa in Stargate, there's all these characters from mythology with magical powers that definitely exist, but they're not really anything more than other people with more power than you. They're still technically godless, I guess, because they don't follow them though they know they exist. Maybe "nontheist" would be a better term.
Post by Ing on Jun 2nd, 2006, 11:17am
From: Alan Donald, "Is Batman Gay?" panel discussion page on "Silver Bullet Comic Books" website (http://www.silverbulletcomicbooks.com/panel/106070953757230,print.htm; viewed 6 December 2005):
Bruce Wayne: non-practicing Catholic or Anglican.
Post by Beleriphon on Jun 6th, 2006, 12:15am
...Batman is generally suggested to be a non-practicing a Catholic...
Mike Collins: "Whether he's gay or not is irrelevant to what he does. A more interesting question would be: Is Batman religious? Is he a Holy Terror? The whole 'criminals are a cowardly and SUPERSTITIOUS lot' suggests a faith based moral code. You could see him as Old Testament - he's judgement personified - but I lean towards the 'Batman is a Catholic' idea. Hey, even in the old loopy 70s 'Super-Sons' stories in Brave & Bold Bob Haney had the imagined son of Bats [Batman] going on how his dad believed in Original Sin...
From: message board on "Defenders of the Catholic Faith" website (http://forums.catholic-convert.com//viewtopic.php?t=38066&view=previous&sid=62efdb7998e4629dbc7edf5090bd1172; viewed circa December 2005:
From: "Religion in Comics" newsgroup thread started 8 November 2000 on rec.arts.comics.dc.universe (http://groups.google.com/group/rec.arts.comics.dc.universe/browse_thread/thread/bf82d29e106e876b/02d87d0cafe5e091?tvc=2&q=religion+comics&hl=en#02d87d0cafe5e091; viewed 12 June 2006):
Frank Miller once said that Batman and Daredevil were so obviously Catholic that to write them any other way would be completely non-sensical.
Of course, that hasn't stopped recent hacks like Joe Kelly from portraying Batman as an avowed atheist. This from a character who was often portrayed praying at his parents' gravesite.
As an aside, there was a great episode of the old X-Men cartoon that featured Wolverine's conversion from atheism.
From: Loren Di Iorio
From: "Banned for using this nic" thread began 4 Apri 1999 in rec.arts.comics.dc.universe newsgroup (http://groups.google.com/group/rec.arts.comics.dc.universe/browse_thread/thread/f38288dc4e56542/8a873a0a53da3d0d; viewed 12 June 2006)
Date: Mon, Nov 13 2000 9:41 pm
...in the GN [graphic novel] Batman: The Chalice, mention is made of Bruce Wayne's ancestor, whose surname was geVain, IIRC, and the elderly gentleman telling him this information went by deWetterling (again, IIRC - I'm more certain of the former).
The Chalice dealt with religion to a point, as it involved the Holy Grail, forcing Bruce to question his beliefs. Great painted art from John Van Fleet, written by Chuck Dixon.
My review of said book can be found at the link below, at the Galactic Bookshelf in the review area.
From: Robert Justus
From: "The religions of comic book characters" thread started 10 February 2001 on rec.arts.comics.marvel.universe newsgroup (http://groups.google.com/group/rec.arts.comics.marvel.universe/browse_thread/thread/13590fda80c5d6e1/e5e0b094ced80f0b; viewed 12 June 2006):
Date: Tues, Apr 6 1999 12:00 am
...the only really religious person that's sane that I recall in DCU is Huntress, and I guess Wonder Woman... Anyone else...? ...I'm just wondering if DCU has many more religious heroes than I can recall.
...What is Batman's religion? Is he an atheist?
Date: Tues, Apr 6 1999 12:00 am
If I had to guess, I'd say probably agnostic with atheistic leanings. He's seen to much weirdness to summarily deny something's existence without proof or first-hand knowledge, but considering his focus on temporal justice, he probably doesn't believe in divine punishment.
From: Terry McCombs
From: Steve Kurian (an Eastern Orthodox Christian), "Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Characters", posted 12 June 2006 on "Steve Kurian: engineer... wandering skeptic... street theologian" blog website (http://stevenkurian.blogspot.com/2006/06/religious-affiliation-of-comic-book.html; viewed 14 June 2006):
Date: Sat, Feb 10 2001 6:35 pm
For the most part you don't get much of an idea as to the private lives of most comic book characters. Marvelish soap opera not withstanding.
What I mean is you don't get much of an idea what their politics or religion might be. This is sensible enough I guess as they don't want to offend any of their customers.
From time to you see things, whenever DC has shown Superman or Batman being married they always seem to have someone in a white collar officiating. Are they saying they are Catholic? or Episcopalian? Or that they just wanted someone religious looking doing it?
...What do you think?
(Because you really needed to know)
I'm not really this into comic books, but as this is the Summer movie season, comic book characters have been coming up over and over again. So apparently Adherents.com has categorized the religious affiliation of a good number of comic book heroes, obscure and otherwise... Superman is a Methodist, Batman is a lapsed Episcopalian or Catholic, and The Thing is Jewish, just to name a few.
From: Joshua, "Superhero Religions", posted 14 June 2006 on "Carpathian Kitten Loss" blog website (http://kittenloss.blogspot.com/2006/06/superhero-religions.html; viewed 14 June 2006):
From: reader comments to "No Sunday School In Smallville", posted 12 June 2006 on "Tales to Mildly Astonish" blog website (http://talestomildlyastonish.blogspot.com/2006/06/no-sunday-school-in-smallville.html; viewed 15 June 2006):
In this week's Newsweek periscope [link to Newsweek article: "Belief Watch: Good Fight", http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/13249146/site/newsweek/], there is an odd piece on the religions and presumed religions of superheroes...
According to the list, which is taken from a website called Beliefnet.com [link to http://www.beliefnet.com/features/comicbookfaith.html] Superman is Methodist/Kryptonian, Spiderman is Protestant and Batman's either Episcoplian or a lapsed Catholic (huh?)
...The irony, if that's the right word, is that most of the early comic heroes were created by Jewish artists. They did Superman, Spiderman, the X-men and apparently Batman.
From: MidnightRanter, "Villains and Votes", posted 15 June 2006 on "Internet Free DC" blog website (http://midnightranter.livejournal.com/64702.html; viewed 16 June 2006):
There's only a few defenses I could give for the obscurity of genuine religious practice in comic books. It's difficult to reconcile the competing claims of say, Thor with those of Christianity (in the comic book world, at least). It's also difficult because each hero is supposed to maintain a broad appeal. Now I'm of the opinion that most of us are reasonable adults and you could make a favorite hero a Muslim, a Buddhist, an atheist, or a Christian without driving away readers as long as it was treated intelligently. But because religious values are so dearly held, I do wonder if it wouldn't alienate a Jewish reader if Superman was a Christian or a Christian reader if he was an atheist. I believe Batman was treated as an atheist, or at least an agnostic, in "Absolution"--but I'm not sure about that...
...The MSNBC article [link to: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/13249146/site/newsweek/] goes into even more detail about other superheroes' religions, including the debate about whether or not Batman is Episcopalian or Roman Catholic (for the record, only a Catholic would feel guilty enough about the death of his parents as a young boy to put it right in the world.)
From: PJM in Sydney, "By the Hoary Hosts of Hoggoth", posted 15 June 2006 on "Pajamas Media" blog website (http://pajamasmedia.com/2006/06/by_the_hoary_hosts_of_hoggoth.php; viewed 16 June 2006):
What's Batman's religion? Episcopalian/Catholic according to this website [link to: http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/comic_book_religion.html], which lists the faiths of many different superheroes including Superman (Methodist), The Thing (Jewish) and Dust (Sunni Muslim). The religions assigned are based on internal evidence from the comicbooks themselves.
From: Wretchard, "My Heart Shall Never Rest...", posted 15 June 2006 on "The Belmont Club" blog website (http://fallbackbelmont.blogspot.com/2006/06/my-heart-shall-never-rest.html; viewed 16 June 2006):
And if that wasn't enough, Pajamas Media [link to: http://pajamasmedia.com/2006/06/by_the_hoary_hosts_of_hoggoth.php] points to a website [link to: http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/comic_book_religion.html] that reveals the religious affiliation of many of the most famous superheroes based on the illustrations in the comics themselves. Batman is Episcopalian/Catholic; Superman is Methodist; The Thing is Jewish; and Dust is of course Sunni Muslim. Don't believe it, huh? Well, neither did I, but it's true.
From: "An argument for why religion should stay out of comics" message board started 17 May 2006 on official DC Comics website (http://dcboards.warnerbros.com/web/thread.jspa?threadID=2000076170&start=120; viewed 16 June 2006):
From: Frank Murphy, "tough cut for the mohel", posted 11 June 2006 on FrankMurphy.com blog website (http://www.frankmurphy.com/fmblog.htm; viewed 16 June 2006):
Posted: Jun 14, 2006 12:01 PM
Wow, so I guess my question would be what comics do you read, because in my mind Spider-Man, Superman, Star Wars, Batman... the list could go on and on, but the point is they use some concept of religion. If you break everything down into the Ten Commandments you pretty much cover all comic book concepts. For example "With great power comes great responsibility" is very much based in religion. How about super-heroes never killing but once Wonder Woman did? We went bonkers. Batman trying to honor his parents by never letting something like that happen to anyone else. I don't know if I think religion has a place in comics but, It's already there.
David Waters... article [link to: http://www.shns.com/shns/g_index2.cfm?action=detail&pk=FAITH-FAITH-06-07-06] in the religion section of yesterday's paper... Waters' article mentioned a website that lists the religious affiliations of all the superheroes [link to: http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/comic_book_religion.html]. I immediately looked up Batman and found out that he is either a lapsed Catholic or a lapsed Episcopalian. That theory is based on a storyline in the comic books that looks into the future and shows Bruce Wayne's Christian gravestone. Of course, I should have guessed that Batman and Robin were fairly religious people by Robin's overuse of the word "holy." [link to: http://www.usfamily.net/web/wpattinson/otr/batman/shoholy.htm]
From: Adam/adamelijah, "Faith of Our Tight-Clad Heroes", posted 19 June 2006 on "Where I Stand" blog website (http://www.whereistand.com/adamelijah/12737; viewed 19 June 2006):
Hat Tip to the Random Yak on this [http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/comic_book_religion.html], a page that lays out the religion of Super Heroes. Its not something I've thought about before, but the fact is that most of the comic writers have given some thought to it. The big ones of interest are that Superman is a Methodist, Batman is probably an Anglican, and Spider-Man comes from a Protestant background of some sort. Of course, in the case of most of these heroes, the religion really has little to no tie in to their character. It is more a background than their actual way of living, so they're really more humanist with a religious background than anything else. I was surprised by the number of LDS super heroes, not so much by the number of Jewish heroes.
From: "Super Religion", posted 15 June 2006 on "Paulie's Posts" blog website (http://pauliesposts.blogspot.com/2006/06/super-religion.html; viewed 23 June 2006):
From: Benjamin Russell, 26 October 2006 posting on "m3lbatoast: Flying in the Face of Leviticus 11:23" blog website (http://184.108.40.206/2006/10/flying-in-face-of-leviticus-1123.html; viewed 24 April 2007):
Here's a neat theory: Your favorite superhero is religious. www.beliefnet.com has created a chart that lists the faith of each superhero... Meanwhile, the Thing is a Jew and Batman is either a lapsed Roman Catholic or Episcopalian. Check out the chart to see what your favorite superhero is.
[Link to: http://www.beliefnet.com/features/comicbookfaith.html]
From: Mark Harris (Episcopal Priest Diocese of Delaware Canon, The Episcopal Church in the Philippines), "This Just In: Batman is one of us, and the parrot is dead." posted 14 February 2007 on "Preludium" (Anglican-oriented) blog website (http://anglicanfuture.blogspot.com/2007/02/this-just-in-batman-is-one-of-us-and.html#4407811040997892560; viewed 24 April 2007):
From Heidi MacDonald [link to: http://pwbeat.publishersweekly.com/blog/2006/10/26/around-the-world-of-comics/, which links to: http://www.thejewishweek.com/news/newscontent.php3?artid=13162] comes the news that Batman, according to one scholar, exemplifies the Jewish ideals of struggle and self-sacrifice. I don't have a lot to say about this, primarily as I am not intimately familiar with the Jewish ideal of struggle. But also because, well, it's not really news; it's angle.
...Regardless, the mere fact of Cary Friedman's writing [direct link to: http://www.thejewishweek.com/news/newscontent.php3?artid=13162] wouldn't have had sufficient oomph to catch the eye of editors and readers without the Batman aspect, the Batman angle. And while the obvious question is, "Yes, but it is news?", I posit two alternate queries: a) Sure, Batman's Jewish. What isn't Batman? He's everything. b) Of course he's Jewish. What superhero isn't representative of some Jewish ideal?
Superheroes representing religion came forefront in the public consciousness when Bryan Singer has Superman crucify himself for the sins of humanity in this summer's Superman Returns. Many people were dissatisfied with the whole Superman = Christ imagery, but it didn't bother me, as I felt it was portrayed with more grace and dignity than the doves and halos that tend to populate every John Woo flick. Also, I had always associated Superman with religion since listening to Michael Shapiro speak on NPR about the 100 most influential Jews of all time, a list that began with Moses and ended with Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, creators of the extraterrestrial boy in blue. And since a great many superhero creators were Jewish [link to: http://reformjudaismmag.net/03winter/comics.shtml], so I naturally associated Superman more with Moses than Jesus, but it's difficult for Americans not to find or make Christ parallels in anything, given enough time, and Superman's had an awful long time to slowly morph from his original intent to the pure American boy scout he is today.
Batman, though? Sure, he might represent the mantle of personal suffering, and maybe he does sacrifice his own happiness to help "repair the world", but I've always associated Batman more with Catholicism than with Judaism. Probably because of the classic jokes, but also because of the pervasive crucifixes used in scenes where Bruce Wayne visits his parents' graves. Adherents.com [link to: http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/Batman.html], a website dedicated to the cataloguing of information about religious beliefs, notes that former Batman writer and editor Elliot S! Maggin always considered Batman to be Episcopalian, and I consider that to be the final word on the matter - particularly since the Episcopalians are more tolerant of homosexuality.
For reasons best left unexplored, I was over at Ship of Fools and from there got redirected to "The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Characters" [link to: http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/Batman.html], where I was delighted to find that Batman is an Episcopalian or perhaps a combo lapsed Catholic and mostly lapsed Episcopalian. From extensive research that would make textual critics green with envy, it has been discovered that almost beyond doubt his mother was Catholic and his father Episcopalian. The whole thing, with great graphics, is well worth the read, particularly as the news from far Dar trickles out.
[Section featuring comments by visitors to this blog, as well as blogger Mark Harris's response:]
Great! The Methodists get a psychologically healthy superhero in Superman, and we have the dark psychotic Batman, who stopped going to the Episcopal church a long time ago anyway. I notice that Lex Luthor is also a lapsed Episcopalian. How nice.
Perhaps someone could slip some money under the table and get Marvel Comics to state that Captain America goes to an Episcopal church every Sunday? Of course, the conservative Captain America would probably end up a reasserter. Never mind.
15/2/07 6:03 AM
Mark Harris said...
rb... Actually I felt OK about Batman. The brooding figure of Batman sometimes feels to me like the Episcopal Church. We make changes, we do superhero things, but we wonder about the meaning of it all, if we were working from right motives, right intent, etc, and don't actually celebrate the good things we do.
15/2/07 7:50 AM
From: Doug Tonks, "A Higher Power", posted 22 October 2006 on "All New! All Different! Howling Curmudgeons: Two-Fisted Comics Commentary and Criticism!" blog website (http://www.whiterose.org/howlingcurmudgeons/archives/009995.html; viewed 25 April 2007):
From: "Religions of super heroes" forum discussion page started 14 August 2006 on "Wizard Universe" website (http://wizarduniverse.invisionzone.com/lofiversion/index.php/t1595.html; viewed 25 April 2007):
The never-identified but usually heeded "they" claim that there are two topics you should never talk about: religion and politics. But since Mike already brought up religion [link to: http://www.whiterose.org/howlingcurmudgeons/archives/009992.html], I'll follow it up with a link to this page [link to: http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/comic_book_religion.html], which lists the religious affiliations of various comic book characters. Many of the religious identifications are backed up with lengthy supporting arguments, but some of the more minor characters get little or nothing in the way of explanation.
Some of them are not too surprising: ...Batman is either Catholic or Episcopalian (although they have a way he could but both), but whichever it is, he's lapsed...
Posted by Doug at October 22, 2006 7:12 PM
[Comments posted by readers of this page:]
...I don't think there's much value in debating the supposed religions of characters. It's a distraction except as a short hand to point out a character's cultural context (chances are the Arabian Knight is a Muslim). While comics can address the spiritual struggle of good vs evil, it will do less well on actual theological matters.
Even the supposed reasons for Batman's Catholicism has more to do with literary cliches ("only a Catholic could feel that much guilt") than the real religion and actual stories.
Posted by: Chris Durnell at October 23, 2006 2:18 PM
I wouldn't have written it if I hadn't read it many times at many different places. As I said, cliche, not reality.
Posted by: Chris Durnell at October 24, 2006 12:28 PM
Aug 14 2006, 06:17 PM
How did they figure this out!?!?
I can't remember an issue of Batman where he says "I'm a Episcopalian, but I've lapsed."
Aug 14 2006, 09:39 PM
There sure are a lot of Catholic superheroes. I love how they got Batman pegged. ...for the most part I could see these at right. Something I never really cared about before was who my heroes prayed to, but I guess its something to think about.
Aug 17 2006, 11:40 PM
Na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na BATJEW!
LOL, my friend and I actually came up with this character, along with SuperJew, who, instead of having an s on his chest, he has the hebrew character for s.
I hope no one is offended by this, especially since the friend who helped me come up with these characters is Jewish.
From: comments to "Comic Book Heroes Faith-by-Faith" post on "Give Me a Pony" blog website, 21 June 2006 (http://givemeapony.blogspot.com/2006/06/comic-book-heroes-faith-by-faith.html; viewed 25 April 2007):
It's an interesting undertaking, but when you really start digging into the complete list (at http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/comic_book_religion.html) and are a supercollossal dork with an entire room devoted to comics, you see lots of flaws... and a few are flat-out wrong or bizarre:
...Bruce Wayne may have been raised in some church or another, but he's an avowed atheist, despite having several friends who died, went to heaven, and came back...
From: "Where are the Christian Superheroes?" forum discussion page started 22 August 2006 on Newsarama website (http://forum.newsarama.com/archive/index.php/t-81451.html; viewed 5 May 2007):
08-22-2006, 10:03 AM
...I pose the question to you, my fellow Talk@Ramanians: If Christianity is the most popular faith in the United States, why aren't there more openly Christian superheroes?
08-22-2006, 11:40 AM
While certainly not canon, [Mark] Waid & [Alex] Ross commented on the religion of the major characters for Kingdom Come. I may be wrong in my recollection, but they claimed that Superman is Lutheran and Batman is Methodist?
I'd like to see more Christian characters, especially non-Catholic ones.
08-22-2006, 11:57 AM
I'm Episcopalian myself, so I remember whenever a hero comes up as one...
I also remember someone saying Bruce Wayne was a "lapsed Episcopalian," but that could have been a childhood hallucination after I finally learned how to spell my denomination.
08-22-2006, 12:00 PM
re: I also remember someone saying Bruce Wayne was a "lapsed Episcopalian"...
He was called that but was also called a lapsed Catholic once or twice too.
08-22-2006, 12:01 PM
re: Outside of the northeast, there's an often huge difference, especially socially, in Christian denominations. I think that would play a significant role in team politics.
But... how are they so different that you can think of Kingdom Come Superman as Lutheran and Kingdom Come Batman as Methodist? I mean, what kind of, i don't know, ideology/theology/customs would influence the way they act or think? Or are they just the same, but belonging to different groups, like a Bloods and Crips thing?
From: Daniel J. Phillips, "Superman... a Methodist? Batman an Episcopalian? Holy WCC!", posted 18 April 2006 on "Biblical Christianity" blog website (http://bibchr.blogspot.com/2006/04/superman-methodist-batman-episcopalian.html; viewed 9 May 2007):
Wow... "holy" and "WCC" so don't go together...
A dear friend (Terry Rose) just sent me a link to a page called The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Characters. It's a quite-serious look at the world of superheroes, super-villains, and the other ink-and-pen creations kids have been devouring for decades.
I was quite the aficionado in the 1960's, but have long-since stopped following comic books, except when they're turned into movies. This page takes a pretty serious approach to identifying and documenting the implicit and explicit religious leanings of the characters in the Marvel, DC and other comic universes.
You'll find out that Superman is a Methodist, Batman is Episcopalian/Roman Catholic, the Fantastic Four's The Thing is Jewish, and that God's religion is described as... God.
You who've kept up on comics will have more intelligent observations on this than I have. I'll say this, though: the page depicts a much better-balanced and "real" world than TV or the movies. From those media, you'd assume that virtually no good person seriously practices any identifiable religion. For instance, I've made this observation about one of the most otherwise creative minds in Hollywood, Joss Whedon:
...Whedon has evidently never known, liked and understood a real-live, practicing, Bible-believing Christian. He shares that with most Hollywood writers, sadly. Whedon can create believable murderers, maniacs, flawed heroes, monsters, in-betweeners, and a hundred other types. But he seems unable or unwilling to create a credible, likable, genuine, openly Christian character -- let alone create one and go anywhere with that character.
Contrast that with history, and the real world inhabited by most of us outside of Hollywood.
Funny, isn't it? Comic books being more real than live-action media?
From: "Religion of comic book characters" forum discussion started 17 March 2006 in "Media & Popular Culture" section on "IIDB General Discussion Forums" website (http://www.iidb.org/vbb/archive/index.php/t-158938.html; viewed 10 May 2007):
March 17, 2006, 09:54 PM
This might be old, but I found it interesting,
Supervillains tend to be atheists, superheroes tend to be theist...
March 18, 2006, 11:48 AM
I remembered a cool quote from Batman in JLA #66. When searching for it, I found there was a thread on this forum containing this quote already. (http://www.iidb.org/vbb/showthread.php?t=29648)
In the latest issue of Justice League of America (#66), Batman is handling an ancient piece of armour. Batman is making an observation when Wonder Woman suddenly slams the object out of his hands. "Put that down!" she yells, "I'm sorry, Batman. That object... it is divinely charged, its aura... I didn't want it touching you."
Batman, looking nonplussed, replies, "Ah. That explains the near severing of my atheistic hand. Perfectly logical."
David Thompson, "Secret Knowledge, Revealed", posted 1 March 2007 on "David Thompson: Culture, Ideas and Comic Books" blog website (http://davidthompson.typepad.com/davidthompson/comic_books/index.html; viewed 15 May 2007):
Zounds! The religious affiliations of your favourite comic book heroes have finally been documented in a disturbingly thorough database. This improbable cataloguing project may well define a whole new stratum of nerdish preoccupation. But, given the effort involved, it's hard not to be impressed and, dare I say it, just a little curious. I was vaguely aware that Spider-Man is sort-of Protestant, that Ben Grimm is Jewish and that Bruce Wayne seems to have that whole lapsed Catholic thing lurking in the background... deities...
From: "The Church of Superman" forum discussion started 19 June 2006 on the "James Randi Educational Foundation" website (http://www.randi.org/forumlive/showthread.php?t=58627; viewed 15 May 2007):
19th June 2006, 06:03 AM
The Church of Superman
Hmmmm... the "religious" affiliations of comic book characters. Huh?
19th June 2006, 11:56 PM
Looking at the two I was most familiar with, I was amused.
Despite the fact that Batman has said several times that he has no time for religion or god, they cite as evidence that Batman was a particular religion the shape of his tombstone. Ummm might have something to do with the fact that comics are a visual medium and the artist thought an ornate cross simply looked better than a plain headstone, ya think?
From: "Whose family attends what church?" forum discussion started 11 March 2007 on ComiCon website (http://www.comicon.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=2;t=009521;p=0; viewed 15 May 2007):
posted 04-12-2007 10:16 AM
A few thoughts...
...And I always figured Batman to be Atheist as well, despite probably coming from an Episcopalian family, since it was likely his faith was shattered (like Mr. Terrific II's) when he witnesses his parents murdered in front of him.
posted 04-12-2007 02:22 PM
I've always figured Bruce Wayne for a non-denominational monotheist. He believes in a supreme being who dispenses justice, but probably has never had time to really belong to any one church...
From: Keiichi, "Religion, politics and super heroes", posted 13 May 2007 on "Minitokyo" blog website (http://forum.minitokyo.net/thread/56752/religion-politics-super-heroes/1/#p1215679; viewed 28 May 2007):
Now with the Spidey hype, I was looking for info about our friendly neighbor and I found an article about the superheroes' religions here: http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/SpiderMan.html
and I also began to wonder about their political afiliation...
About how many Jews are in the super hero comunity? well... I think that many of the wealthy guys that save the world in their spare time probably are Jews... except for Bruce Wayne, who I think is Catholic... and probably Republican...
From: "Is Batman an atheist or is he just not very religious?" forum discussion started 2 April 2007 on "Toon Zone" website (http://forums.toonzone.net/archive/index.php/t-187589.html; viewed 21 May 2007):
04-02-2007, 10:32 PM
Is Batman an atheist or is he just not very religious?
Just curious because it confuses me in each comic I read.
04-02-2007, 11:55 PM
Considering he studied so much with Eastern monks, he's probably pseudo-Buddhist. Karma and whatnot.
04-03-2007, 01:20 AM
Oh really? Is that officially confirmed somewhere?
04-03-2007, 02:05 AM
You might be hard pressed to find it "officially confirmed" somewhere. The Wayne family line seems to be your standard rich WASP ["White Anglo-Saxon Protestant"] family tree (and I believe the Wayne line has roots in Scotland), so you could infer that Bruce was raised as a Christian if you wanted.
It fuzzes from there, though. Did witnessing his parents' murder cause Bruce to forever reject the concept of the monotheistic God? Did his travels throughout the world and contact with more spiritual ways of thinking cause him to adopt a psuedo-Buddhist view of the world, as danreyes1 suggested? Does he reject religion completely? I'm sure that various writers have addressed this in individual stories, but to find a "definitive" answer somewhere would be difficult to impossible.
The Big 2 [Marvel and DC] tend to avoid assigning their most marquee characters a religion out of fear of alienating readers somehow. The Thing's Jewish faith is a notable exception to that, acknowledged and frequently referenced partially out of deference to Jack Kirby, who himself was Jewish (along with a host of other well-known comic people; seriously, the list surprised me when I first saw it. But that's neither here nor there) and included that in the character.
04-03-2007, 02:20 AM
Interesting info man. I do know that Alfred must have had some influence in raising him as a Christian. I mean Alfred is more religious from some of the comics I have seen (eg."The Haunted Knight"). Bruce probably believes in God but never feels like praying since he knows that there will always be evil lurking around the shadows and praying won't help unless you accopany it with the willingness to do what is necessary.
The Guitar Slayer
04-03-2007, 05:06 AM
Given that Bruce is Scottish (or at least bears a Scottish name), one could theorize he was raised Presbyterian. However, looking at some of the depictions of his parents' funeral, not to mention the raging guilt over their death, it could be argued that he's a lapsed Catholic.
04-03-2007, 07:16 AM
Believe it or not, Fr. Roderick of Catholic Insider did a Podcast regarding this subject when Batman Begins premiered (http://digg.com/podcasts/Catholic_Insider/page3). It's an interesting listen to say the least. (Scroll down some to find it.)
That aside, I will say that not being religious doesn't exactly mean Bruce is or is not an atheist -- spirituality and religion are (while generally grouped together) not one in the same. The more interesting question might be whether Bruce is an agnostic.
04-03-2007, 07:39 AM
Would his no-killing philophy have any bearing here?
04-03-2007, 09:39 AM
re: Would his no-killing philophy have any bearing here?
I don't think so. There are lots of people who get behind a no-killing philosophy without religious reasons, just as there are plenty of people who wholeheartedly endorse killing other people for religious reasons.
I'm also not entirely sure how anybody in the DCU could continue to be a non-believer once they become aware of characters like the Spectre and the Demon, but DC has always dodged that by claiming that they never call him "The" God. I find that about as convincing as most politically expedient dodging of the question, but that's their story and they're sticking with it.
I think I'm OK calling Bruce Wayne a theist -- I think he does believe in the Judeo-Christian God -- but all bets are off once you're past that.
04-03-2007, 09:56 AM
Well, he [Batman] is a scientist and tackles life in a very logical way to nearly a fault. So, I would say that while he probably accepts the existence of one, or more higher beings as evident from his personal experience, he wouldn't be one for believing in a God based on scripture and faith alone. Of course there is no right answer and never will be, he can be what ever religion you want him to be.
Colossus and Wolverine are Atheists though...
04-03-2007, 12:42 PM
I've never seen Bruce actually deny the existence of God. Heck, he and the Justice League have fought angels and demons before. But I agree that he might be the kind of guy to question those things if he couldn't see them. I also wonder if seeing evidence of the deities of dozens of other religions from this world and an others makes Bruce question the supremacy of the Judeo Christian God. Rama Kushna? I found a reference to Batman knowing religious information from Nanda Parabat, including a prayer, in Batman #663, a Grant Morrison issue. He also seems to have sort of a Catholic guilt thing going, too.
The problem with nailing down a comic book character's religion is so many writers, artists and editors have guided them over the years. Different ones may have different ideas about how religious they should be. I remember when Dick Grayson suddenly became a more obvious Catholic, and that was because one of the people who was working on him at the time thought he should be. And maybe Morrison thinks Batman would follow an Eastern religion. And J.M. Dematteis own personal Eastern religion seems to influence most of the stuff he's written and he's written Batman...
04-04-2007, 10:23 AM
I always took this one episode of Batman Beyond to have a pretty good explanation about it. He's a skeptic, but when you've seen so many different things that can't be explained by science alone, that has to reinforce your faith that something more powerful is out there that science alone can't explain. At the same time, he doesn't go to church every Sunday and take the Bible at face value.
Lapsed Catholic/theist seems to be the best description.
04-05-2007, 03:02 PM
I think everybody is right on this. There's no wrong or right answer. It's whatever you want it to be, since there seems to be very little evidence or hints as how religious he [Batman] is. Personally I think he's an atheist, since his mentality is take matters into his own hands and bring the crooks to justice. That in itself says a lot about his religious beliefs or lack there of.
04-09-2007, 06:27 PM
re: I'm also not entirely sure how anybody in the DCU could continue to be a non-believer once they become aware of characters like the Spectre and the Demon...
I'm not sure either but there's plenty of them [non-believers]. For instance, there was an arc dealing with Mr. Terrific and the Hal Jordan Spectre (just before Rebirth) and despite all that went on in it (including seeing numerous souls from Hell and all that) he remained atheist at the end of the day. I guess when you live in a world with super-science (yes, a Venture Bros. reference) you can explain away anything...even if you may not be correct.
As far as Batman... Y'know I still don't know. It's not something they talk about that much and when it comes down to it I don't think its that important.
04-10-2007, 07:43 AM
Guess there's also the option of acknowledging they exist, but simply refusing to worship the Judeo-Christian deity, or any other deity, for whatever reason.
Some possible reasons: "They're no different than the Greco-Roman gods of Wonder Woman's, or the Anti-Monitor and other ultra-excessively-powerful types who've altered space and time at will, or Mr. Mxyzptlk, etc. I don't worship Superman or Wonder Woman; why would I worship (x, y, z)? Some remark on how easily people, particularly villains, come back from the dead, suggesting the afterlife is something of a joke, or why there's still massive evil in the universe/etc.")
From: "There Are No Lions Here", posted 15 October 2006 on "Pretty, Fizzy Paradise" blog website (http://kalinara.blogspot.com/2006/10/there-are-no-lions-here.html; viewed 30 May 2007):
At 4:12 PM, Tom Foss said:
Adherents is a good site, but I'm not sure I agree with all their assessments. They have a tendency I've noticed to conflate the religion a character may or may not have been raised in, with their religious affiliation. For instance, whether or not Batman was raised Episcopalian or Catholic, he identifies himself (explicitly) as an atheist. An Atheist isn't "Episcopalian / Catholic (lapsed)," an atheist is an atheist...
At 7:48 PM, david brothers said:
...I've seen the Adherents site, and I think it's a great thing. A lot of it, though, is conjecture, and a lot of that conjecture is telling. Most of the usenet posts tend to start "What religion is X" or "I never really thought that X character had religion..." Most people don't realize that these characters have fleshed out backstories that include religion because it's never mentioned. If you were to suggest that Superman were Methodist or Batman anything but atheist/agnostic (I lean toward the latter more than the former) to the average comics fan, they'd laugh at you. But, for every Wolfsbane or Ben Grimm we have that does show their religion, we've got a Stryker, a crazy Austen nun, or whatever...
At 12:26 AM, kalinara said:
Wow! I'd like to thank everyone for replying! This is a really great discussion.
I've a few things that I'd like to add.
I know the Adherents list does have shaky qualifications sometimes, but I link it because unlike most other sites, it actually lists reasoning and evidence where applicable. Shaky as the evidence is sometimes. :-)
From: "Religion in Comics, or: DCU God hates you!" forum discussion, started 9 April 2007 on "Superdickery" website (http://z8.invisionfree.com/Superdickery_Forum/index.php?showtopic=4252&st=25; viewed 30 May 2007):
Apr 10 2007, 04:44 AM
According to the Pratchett/ Gaiman Rules gods need believers and sacrifices to come into being. JJJ would fill the believer category, as would people who believed the anti-Spider-Man stories (possibly the villains as well) and the sacrifices would technically be the money people pay for the Daily Bugle to read the stories, or in any form of suffering that they may have endured as a result of this "worship".
Technically,, the "Scary Bat God" in Bruce Wayne's head might have been real, because Bruce believed in it by believing in himself, with the belief of those who saw Batman as a "scary urban myth" and those who look to him for help also providing fuel.
On the "sacrifices" side of things, the death of Bruce's parents would act as the initial catalyst for it to come into being, but it would remain shapeless until that night when he sees that bat for the first time. Later, sustaining sacrifices would come in either his victories or failures, like the first death of Jason Todd, Barbara's paralysis etc.
Posted: Apr 10 2007, 04:53 AM
Wow. Then Steph's question on her deathbed "But I will become part of the legend, won't I" gets a whole creepy new meaning...
Posted: Apr 10 2007, 05:03 AM
Well technically her death would have increased Bruce's drive, but after War Crimes he just forgot about her, either meaning that The Scary Bat God didn't derive much "power" from her death, or Bruce's attentions were focussed on the Identity Crisis etc.
I would how it applies to Cass... Her first accidental murder acts as fuel for a new Scary Bat God, but lacking an understanding of gods etc. and a lifetime of repentance and deliberate hardship... meaning that she empowered herself?
From: "Superman is a Methodist..." forum discussion, started 6 Marach 2006 on "Catholic Answers" website (http://220.127.116.11/showthread.php?t=102037; viewed 31 May 2007):
Mar 6, '06, 7:10 pm
I think John Constantine is Catholic, too.
Bruce Wayne might be Zen Catholic, but I'm just guessing here.
Mar 6, '06, 7:50 pm
...Bruce Wayne is either lapsed Catholic, or lapsed Episcopalian. Most comic characters were WASPs at that time, so my guess is Episcopalian.
From: "Jewish Heroes or Villians in Marvel Universe?" forum discussion, started 12 December 2005 on "Comic Book Resources" website (http://www.xmenindex.com/forums/comicbooks/t-97146.html; viewed 31 May 2007):
12-13-2005, 03:50 PM
Huh. That crappy site [http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/comic_book_religion.html] has been updated. It used to list Bruce Wayne as Catholic, when Episcopalian makes much more sense...
From: "Religion of Comic Book Characters" forum discussion, started 29 March 2006 on AllSpark.com website (http://www.allspark.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=4168; viewed 1 June 2007):
post Mar 29 2006, 08:38 AM
I found this great resource entirely by accident:
Alvatron! [a self-described atheist]
post Mar 13 2007, 10:59 AM
I refuse to believe that a character designed by two Jewish men, to represent Jewish ideals of the Messiah, would be a Methodist.
Superman is Jewish, nothing can convince me otherwise.
And Batman is an Atheist, I love the dichotomy, he has fought with gods, and has BATTLED Angels, yet he chooses not to believe.
post Mar 13 2007, 02:01 PM
re: ...Batman is an Atheist, I love the dichotomy, he has fought with gods, and has BATTLED Angels, yet he chooses not to believe.
And hey, Iron Man's worked with Thor for years. Doesn't mean he's gonna convert to... uh, Odinism or whatever.
post Mar 13 2007, 02:29 PM
...And Batman's as Catholic as you can get.
Alvatron! [a self-described atheist]
post Mar 13 2007, 02:58 PM
Meh, I'll give you Superman, but Batman is NOT Catholic.
He may display Catholic tendencies, but he's non-practicing, and is more akin to atheist.
I think it has been mentioned before that he chooses NOT to believe, in spite of all he has seen and done.
I know there's PLENTY to support... "Superman is a Christian"..., but you show me ONE panel where the Bat is attending a church service, or practicing his faith, and I'll eat my copy of the 10 cent adventure, I will LITERALLY eat it, I will take pictures of it, and post them here.
Now, we know the Huntress is a Catholic, and that Nightwing is a non-denominational Born Again Christian, there is plenty of proof for both characters, but I've NEVER seen anything, that can convince me that Batman is religious in any way...
post Mar 13 2007, 06:01 PM
Any panel of Bruce visiting his parents' graves, and depictions of Bruce's grave in the future as sporting a Catholic/Episcopalian-style cross. Not necessarily a show of strong religion, but definitely a show of religious beliefs (even though they are, for the most part, lapsed ones). More on the matter of Batman's religion here [link to: http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/Batman.html].
Don't worry, paper is tasty.
post Mar 13 2007, 07:12 PM
The psychology of Batman is pretty Catholic, as well. He doesn't practice it anymore, I imagine, but all signs point to him being raised in that environment.
Alvatron! [a self-described atheist]
post Mar 13 2007, 08:51 PM
Raised in the environment, and actually BEING one are two different things, you asserted that he was Catholic.
You didn't add any caveats, but to BE a Catholic, one must Practice Catholocism.
I ain't trying to call you on technicalities, but a cross on a tombstone ain't enough to put a Bible in the Bat's hands.
I ain't feelin' a need to up my fiber content just yet.
FURTHER pursuant to that point, I don't think alternate futures, and alternate universes should be held as canon, even when they occur during Canon, so Robin's trip to the future in Titans, and DKR [Dark Knight Returns] aren't any milestones to judge anything by.
post Mar 14 2007, 08:58 AM
OK. Batman: The Chalice. That's in-continuity. Bon appetit.
From: Jeff, "World Religion Statistics... and Batman", posted 1 June 2007 on "ccv_communications team: you need it when?" blog website (http://churchcrosstalk.typepad.com/comteam/2007/06/world_religion_.html; viewed 1 June 2007):
Adherents.com seems to be one of the most in-depth resources I've seen at religious statistical information. Not only does it offer useful information like Major World Religions Ranked by Adherents, but you find 50 Notable Nobel Prize Winners who Believed in God and the Religious Affiliation of Hiro Nakamura. My only criticisms would be It does lack a bit in the design category and I noticed a large portion of the information is somewhat old.
One of the most interesting bits to me was the page on The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Characters. A recent discussion in our team about who would win in a fight between Batman vs Spider-man caused quite a stir. As we all know, Batman (a lapsed Catholic/Episcopalian) would lose to Spider-man (A committed and faithful protestant). You can even take a quiz on beliefnet that will measure your knowledge of super-hero religious affiliation. Oh, and in case you were wondering, the picture included here is of Batman praying to God that Spider-man wouldn't hurt him too badly.
From: "Which superhero would be the best Muslim?" forum discussion, started 17 January 2006 on the "Muslim Student Association: University of South Florida" website (http://www.msausf.org/MSAUSF/forums/467/ShowPost.aspx; viewed 4 June 2007):
01-17-2006, 9:00 AM
Which superhero would be the best Muslim?
Salam. Me and Momodu were speaking to each other over some delicious baklava and coffee about which superhero would most likely be Muslim. I would say Batman is most likely to be a great Muslim because he practices great self-restraint when it comes to alcohol consumption, and fornication mashallah. Also, Batman does not eat pork because it slows him down in his nightly crusades against Joker and other foes. Also, he does not have time to backbite or gossip or engage in other forms of fitna because he is too busy cleaning the Batcave and changing the oil in the Batmobile. Thank You.
Momodu, on the other hand, says the Hulk would make an amazing Muslim because he always keeps his gaze lowered. Also, Momodu says the Hulk's purple pants somehow always manage to cover his a'ura, as in his body from his belly button down to his knees. Please dont be shy about showing your feelings. No one is here to judge you and all your postings are welcome.
DC and Marvel superheroes are both welcome
01-17-2006, 9:07 AM
Cyclops from the X-Men would make a good Muslim. He would be forced to lower his gaze with women. Also Rogue would make a good Muslim because she can't touch anyone.
01-17-2006, 11:41 AM
What? Cyclops has a girlfriend and Rogue was kissing Bobby in the movie. Plus, Hulk has a VERY bad temper which is totally un-Islamic. Batman was hangin out with all those crazy European women in the movie, which was really un-Islamic, and most importantly, all superheroes lie about their true identity, and Muslims never lie... lol. I'm starting to think that I watch too many movies. Ohh, what about the Incredibles? Oh wait, no, he lied to his own wife... hmmm...
From: "The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Characters (website)" forum discussion, started 4 December 2006 on FanHost Networks website (http://forums.fanhost.com/music-cartoons-and-celebrity-info-124/cartoons-and-comics-175/152132-the-religious-affiliation-of-comic-book-characters-website.html; viewed 4 June 2007):
04-12-2006, 11:14 PM
I found this site very informative:
4-12-2006, 11:19 PM
Yeah, I read this. Superman a Methodist... doesn't seem too farfetched, I suppose.
What the hell is an Episcopalian, though?
[Editor: This forum poster's icon is a photo of what the Joker supposedly looks like in the upcoming Dark Knight Batman movie. This poser is apparently referring to Batman's listing as a lapsed Episcopalian/Catholic.]
04-16-2006, 12:46 AM
Believe it or not I have actually seen that site before. I found it really interesting reading about how religion comes across in different characters. Thanks.
From: Clark Goble, "Unpractical Ethics: Superheroes", posted 11 October 2005 on "Millenial Star" website [which comments on topics relating to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints] (http://www.millennialstar.org/index.php/2005/10/11/unpractical_ethics_superheros; viewed 5 June 2007):
Even as comics have sort of become marginalized again, superheroes have experienced a renaissance the last five years or so. It seems every year brings two or three big budgeted superhero films. Admittedly most aren't terribly good. But while I've not read comics for quite some time, I do enjoy the Spiderman, X-Men, and Batman pictures. I have to confess I'm eagerly awaiting the forthcoming rebirth of Superman by X-Men's Bryan Singer. (And dreading Brett Ratner taking over X-Men). Anyway, I thought for a change of pace rather than doing a "practical ethics" I'd do the opposite. The most unpractical ethics of all: analyzing superheroes.
Now I know at least one person is preparing a post on an other blog taking exception to some of my views. And I'll further confess that with a few exceptions while reading graphic novels at Borders, I've really not read comics since the early 80's when I was a kid. Since comics are re-invented a lot, things may have changed. But here's my views.
Batman. He's the ultimate vigilante. Yeah there are competitors with typically less savory moral backbone. (Think the Punisher who is sort of the ultimate revenge fantasy - quite out of step with our theology of forgiveness) How would Batman be viewed by God though? Yeah, he tries to save even the villains and (at least in the comics) as often as not pays for their treatment and perhaps ultimate rehabilitation. Although one can't help but wonder whether this is worth it when they keep escaping and reaping havoc.
But what about that whole vigilante mindset? Can it be reconciled to a "justice is mine, saith the Lord?" What about our recognition of working within the system. Yet, at the same time, the fictional city of Gotham is as often as not portrayed as corrupt and crime ridden. Not unlike the Nephites at the time of Mormon and Moroni. While watching the film this summer which appeared to take cues from Chicago and its crime in the 20's and 30's, I thought the modern equivalent would be a place like Mexico City and not any US city. How does one respond to government when it is corrupt? Do we withdrawal after proclaiming warnings, ala the prophets at the time of Lehi and Jerimiah? Or do we get involved and fix it up. Could Batman's actions be justified? (Ignoring the many practical problems of a successful Batman)
Comment from: DKL
I see Spiderman as the ultimate Mormon. By definition, there can only ever be one Superman (and good call on Astro City, Ivan; I think that Busiek's Samaritan is actually the best Superman story told--Frank Miller's Superman story is a Batman story with Superman as a guest star). Spiderman represents all of us. He's the underdog that is always in over his head. Even if we can't swing from building to building, we can all make a difference the way that Spiderman does. Not only that, but Spiderman sets an example (let's his light so shine...) while Peter Parker remains anonymous (waiting for his reward in the hereafter).
Batman is the most extreme super hero. Being a super hero requires one to be a vigilante in some sense, and therefore to assume a moral authority in one's own right outside of the authority structures of society and culture. Batman, therefore, is Joseph Smith with a family fortune.
As far as the X-Men, I've only read it sporadically. I think that the Danites is a good comparison.
Ivan, I disagree with your reading of Moore's The Watchmen. Superheroes everywhere live out the fantasies of mere mortals. In The Watchmen, Moore just picks fantasies that are more realistic (and less ideal) than comic book writers had hitherto chosen. I believe that your right about League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, where Moore makes mere mortals out of heroes. I believe that this represents the thematic continuity between the The Watchmen and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.
10/11/05 - 19:09
Comment from: Ivan Wolfe - http://inmediasrays.blogspot.com/
re: Batman, therefore, is Joseph Smith with a family fortune.
and the inability to attract or keep any real followers (the man is on his fourth or fifth Robin - they all get sick of him and leave or die. He's on the outs with Comissioner Gordon, Batgirl currently hates his guts, etc. etc.) He's also much more of a loner than JS. The parallels are forced - and the few parallels there are apply to nearly any hero (even the Punisher).
No, the superhero most like Joe Smith is (wait for it....)
Dr. Strange. (just kidding)
really, it's Charles Xavier (Professor X).
Of course, I don't read many X-Men related comics. I don't find them all that interesting. My knowledge of Wolverine comes from his team-ups with Ghost Rider (my favorite character).
10/11/05 - 23:51
Comment from: DKL
Ivan, you chose my one tongue-in-cheek comment as the one to take seriously. But you did forget to mention that Joseph Smith didn't dress up like a bat, and it doesn't take a Fawn Brodie to recognize that this had nothing to do with whether he was raised in an affluent or impoverished family.
I don't disagree with you about Moore's leeriness concerning superheroes. I just believe that it stems from his view of human nature, not his view of super powers. The problem is with the root, not the branches. The one person in The Watchman who is above the infantile fantasies of the other heroes (Dr. Manhatten) is also the one who is increasingly not-human--and he's the only one with real superpowers.
10/12/05 - 00:21
Comment from: Charles - http://job21-3.blogspot.com
It seems to me that Marvel was one of the first to really start portraying its heroes as human with real problems. Spiderman is a great parallel to Mormon culture and responsibility. He knows he has a responsibility to family and still tries to temper his powers with his social responsibilities. I've never read the Fantastic Four, but I'm under the impression that in the comics they have similar problems as everyone knows who each one is, they don't really have hidden identities.
Superman is another great example. I liked the idea about living in the world but not being of it. However, most of the storylines are pretty weak as to why he does what he does. The two best are from Smallville, where he feels responsible for causing so many problems when he crashed on Earth and the second is from the book I mentioned earlier where Superman has a deep sense of wanting to belong in a world where he is different. These are pretty selfish reasons, but because of his ethics and the way he uses his powers he gains a strong following.
Batman is the most real. He has no powers other than a keen intelect and a super bank account. He made a choice to do good and go after those that were above the law. In a way he is taking his cue from the constitution, where it states that we have a moral duty when the government fails to take up our own arms (don't turn this all legal, its just an observation and a way that it fits into the Batman universe).
Batman is my favorite, not because he has any powers, but because he doesn't. He only has his devotion.
Unfortunately not many comics deal with religion. Daredevil is a Catholic, but not a very active practicing one. Spawn deals with redemption but doesn't really look at religion in the traditional sense, it seems to hang on the Dante view of hell and the magical properties of the spirit world, where demons have physical bodies and unique abilities. Its not so much about faith, but redemption - but redemption in who's eyes?
The X-men comparison is interesting.
Its interesting to see that people try to find the values that they themselves hold dear in popular culture. We try to see the Mormon Parallels in characters that are decidely un-Mormon. I think everyone has that same sense of belonging and this is one way we manifest it, to claim someone as our own, or see how they could, if only the writers would put pen to page and tell us the personal faith driven stories that never make it onto the pannels in the comic books.
10/12/05 - 11:00
Comment from: Ivan Wolfe - http://inmediasrays.blogspot.com
it's a lot more than just Tom Strong's "failings." It's in the very fact that the city he's in charge of IS, in fact, a fascist state run by him. I'm all for varied readings, but you seem determined to redeem Moore's heroes, when the texts are more concerned with condeming them.
For example, you say he makes mere mortals out of his heroes in League of Extraordinary Gentlemen - but it just ain't true. The opening quote of the series (which goes something like: "The British public seems unable to distinguish it's heroes from its monsters") shows that. The thesis of the series is not that our heroes have feet of clay, or are mere mortals, its that there is, in the end, no real difference between our heroes and our monsters - (this can also be seen in Moore's Killing Joke which ends with Batman and the Joker sharing a laugh together over a joke).
I'm actually somewhat amazed at your refusal to see what Moore is trying to do. He's been very explicit about this in his prose essays and works of criticism as well.
10/12/05 - 18:09
Comment from: Andres Salazar
Well, this is a great thread today, becasue I'm a HUGE comics geek and its Wednesday and I cant WAIT to read Infinity Crisis!
...I always thought that Spidey was similar to Mormon views in some ways.
Batman, while is my favorite character I cant see him having much of the Mormon ideals.
10/12/05 - 18:50
Comment from: DKL
Ivan, in our disagreement over Moore, I missed your point that Batman is on his fourth or fifth Robin. We've agreed that Joseph isn't actually a whole lot like Batman, but I think that Oliver Cowdery, Sidney Rigdon, William Law, and John C. Bennett are dead ringers for Robin. Joseph's ability to burn through sidekicks was positively Batman-esque.
0/12/05 - 21:49
From: "MSNBC talks religion of superheroes" forum discussion started 15 June 2006 on BKV.TV website (http://www.bkv.tv/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?p=117679&sid=4ea823f1318d399750740ae4287a02f5; viewed 6 June 2007):
Brian K. Vaughan
Posted: Thu Jun 15, 2006 12:22 pm
MSNBC talks religion of superheroes
Also references this page: http://www.beliefnet.com/features/comicbookfaith.html
Posted: Thu Jun 15, 2006 1:43 pm
I heavily dislike defining Superman's religion, because I feel it takes something away from him, limits the character and the whole ideal behind him. My personal image of Superman has always been one of "all faiths," if there is such a thing.
And Batman is a very lapsed Episcopalian/Catholic. First off, the entire idea behind Batman is self-fulfillment through rigourous training and secondly, I honestly don't believe he, if he does believe in a God that isn't just some warped cosmic non-omnipotent deity (he has meet plenty of "Gods" but none of them have been all-powerful or all-knowing), does not resent God for not only what has happened to him, but what has happen to millions and millions of people. I mean, he blames Superman for not helping enough sometimes, so how do you think he'd feel about an omnipotent entity?
...And Adherents.com's section on this topic, as mentioned in the article, is pretty good...
David the Amazin'(Mighty)
Posted: Fri Jun 16, 2006 11:21 am
...Batman, I can see believing in God, just not worshipping him. He's way to confident in his own power to worship someone else's. He's be an atheist if he hadn't met the Spectre, etc...
Just my 2 cents.
From: "Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Characters" forum discussion, started 10 March 2007 on "Brian Michael Bendis" part of "Comic Creator Boards" section of "Jinxworld Forums" website (http://www.606studios.com/bendisboard/archive/index.php/t-106242.html; viewed 6 June 2007):
03-10-2007, 10:46 AM
An ASTONISHINGLY detailed site that delves into the religions of superheroes. Someone has WAY too much time on their hands.
The G---amn Batman
03-10-2007, 12:52 PM
Batman's totally a Lapsed Roman-Catholic.
From: "Religion in Comics" forum discussion, started 17 May 2007 on official DC Comics message board website (http://dcboards.warnerbros.com/web/thread.jspa?messageID=2003785241; viewed 7 June 2007):
Posted: May 17, 2007 8:37 AM
Yesterday, I read Action Comics #849, and the issue had several religious references and implications. Because of this, I decided to discuss it with everyone else here. Does religion have a place in comic books?
Posted: May 17, 2007 9:43 AM
Actually religion can do a lot to inform you of a character's backstory.
What if you found out your fave was into Scientology? Zen? or maybe as a Moslem? Christian Scientist.
Personally, I like to believe that Bruce Wayne's father was a Jew and his mother a born again holy roller - which I think would explain a lot about the psychology that powers the urge to disguise himself and run around all night long.
And ever since another fan suggested that Dick Grayson was a Zen Budhist I have found the character more interesting if I keep that in mind.
Obviously Wonder Woman believe in the ancient gods or the Greek pagans.
And Lobo's conversion to the Church of the Threefold Fish really made that arc work a lot better than if maybe he was being mind controlled.
Katana - gotta be Shinto.
And I can hardly imagine that Hal Jordan or Cris Allen could be agnostic after having been the Spectre - and as for Zauriel...
Plus we have a universe with an entire planet that worships Darksied.
From: "Here, God exists in Four Colors and Two Dimensions", posted 7 March 2006 by grabbingsand on Metafilter website (http://www.metafilter.com/49827/Here-God-exists-in-Four-Colors-and-Two-Dimensions; viewed 11 June 2007):
Jimmy Olsen is a Lutheran. Really. And Clark Kent? Methodist, it seems. Daredevil, Gambit, Huntress and The Punisher? Catholics, all of them, though I have to wonder when Frank Castle last went to Confession. With about half of DC Comic's line-up heading to church in the latest issue of Infinite Crisis and knowing that Civil War is imminent in the House of Marvel, what better time than now to contemplate the particular faiths of our two-dimensional heroes.
Oh, and Batman? Atheist, gotta be.
posted by Amanojaku at 1:49 PM on March 7
Superman is definitely Jewish. He sets my Judar a-beeping.
I also suspect Spiderman and Plastic Man.
But Batman? So goyish! [i.e., "non-Jewish"]
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:34 PM on March 7
From: "Comics and Religion", posted 8 March 2006 on "Savior Machine" blog website ("Personal blog of a Kuwaiti who works on building a community for his peers") (http://www.2by4.org/content/2006/03/08/comics-and-religion/; viewed 19 June 2007):
I've never considered what a super hero's religion was; it was a moot point. It was kinda given that Spiderman, or Superman would be raised under some Judo-Christian values, but it was never evident in the writing or the story. All you knew and cared about was that they were the good guys and were fighting the bad guys.
So when I saw this list of comic book characters religions I was amazed to see the level of research in the writing of these guys. Just look how they figured out that Spiderman is Protestant or Sasquatch is Jewish.
There are about 8 or 9 that are Muslims, but that is more obvious due to the natures of their story.
So this got me thinking, imagine the regular super heroes that we know - like Batman, Spiderman, Hulk, etc. - were actually Muslim. Would it change things much? Would Frank Castle still be the Punisher if he wasn't Catholic? I don't think so, because all these characters have ethical and philosophical ideas that make them do what they do. For Spiderman, it is the classic "with great power comes great responsibility". Even Batman and Punisher share the same views when it comes to criminals, but have different methods of acting on these views...
From: "Denominational Affiliations of Superheroes", posted by Sheridan Voysey on 2 July 2006 on "The Open House (life, faith, culture)" blog website (http://www.theopenhouse.net.au/2006/07/denominational_affiliations_of.html; viewed 19 June 2007):
With all the hoopla this week of the Superman Returns movie, you might be interested to know that almost all our superheroes have some kind of denominational affiliation. Baptist, Anglican, Methodist, Catholic - you'll find connections in the storylines of our best hooded, caped, spandex-covered, super-people...
Batman - Episcopalian/Catholic (lapsed)
On the subject of Batman's religious affiliation, there's some disagreement among fans as well as writers about whether he's a lapsed Catholic or a lapsed Episcopalian (or Anglican in our terminology). Apparently his father was Episcopalian and his mother Catholic, and Bruce Wayne's fake headstone above his grave has a Christian cross above it.
...So, Dr Bruce Banner, The Incredible Hulk, is a lapsed Catholic; Batman is a possible Anglican; Superman is a Methodist, and Spider-Man an unnamed Protestant. I'd like to know what a Presbyterian superhero would look like, or even a Pentecostal!
Superman consults Christian ministers when he needs advice; Supergirl regularly attends church; Superboy asks God what he's doing here; The Hulk believes in an afterlife, and Spiderman prays.
It seems even Superheroes need to bow the knee for some divine help every now and then.
From: Kevin C. Murphy, "Can I get a (super)-witness?", posted 3 April 2006 by (kevincmurphy) on Triptych Cryptic/Ghost in the Machine blog website (http://www.ghostinthemachine.net/003749.html#003749; viewed 21 June 2007):
The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Characters [link to: http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/comic_book_religion.html], with a handy graphic of who's a member of what "legion." The site also includes impressively detailed individual entries on each character -- not only the big guns like Methodist Superman, Episcopal Batman, Catholic Daredevil, and Buddhist Wolverine, but also everyone from Presbyterian Wolfsbane to the Mormon Power Pack.
From: "Does Batman Go to Church?" forum discussion, started 21 March 2006 on AppleGeeks.com website (http://www.applegeeks.com/sm/index.php?action=printpage;topic=6662.0):
Title: Does Batman Go to Church?
Post by: gabrielzero on March 21, 2006, 01:11:16 PM
Well find out here:
and other inqueries on which superhero worships which religion. Its a pretty extensive sight with theories and findings.
Oh yeah: League of Eastern Orthodox Assassins and Heroes FTW ["for the win"].
Post by: Sylver on March 21, 2006, 03:03:43 PM
Interesting, but it lists the Savage Dragon as an atheist. . . even though he went to Heaven and Hell and met both the devil and God...
Batman, lapsed Catholic . . . that's rich.
From: "Doug TenNapel on Black Cherry" forum discussion, started 16 May 2007 on Newsarama website (http://forum.newsarama.com/showthread.php?t=112821; viewed 28 June 2007):
[Excerpt from "Doug TenNapel on Black Cherry", an interview conducted by Newsarama correspondent Michael C. Lorah with acclaimed comic book writer Doug TenNapel about his latest series, Black Cherry:]
NRAMA: Faith and mentors seem to be big themes in much of your work, and it looks like Eddie has both in Father McHugh. [Editor: "Eddie" and "Father McHugh" are two of the central characters in Black Cherry] Why do find these themes continually inspiring?
DT [Doug TenNapel]: Ask any person about what they think about God and you will get an amazing story. It won't just be any old story either, it will likely cut straight to the core of who that person is. It's so bizarre to me that this most personal, dramatic, amazing story device is getting pressure to be removed by story-telling industries... including the supposedly progressive comics industry.
...I laugh so hard at a vocal minority in comics that just freaks out if my characters bring up Jesus Christ. They don't freak out if a character says the word "____" or decides to be gay in a series, but if Spiderman ever converted to Christianity these critics would have a period. I thought we were farther along than that in the discussion and debate department of comics. I'm shocked at the level of groupthink within a medium that should be anything but a monolith of worldview. There should be a robust debate of worldviews within comics... it's why I so look forward to Frank Miller's Batman vs. Islamic terror. That kind of material should be the norm not the controversial rarity that it is.
From: "Doug TenNapel on Black Cherry" forum discussion, started 16 May 2007 on "The Engine" website (http://the-engine.net/forum/lmessages.php?webtag=ENGINE&msg=8767.1; viewed 28 June 2007):
From: Stu West (S_G_WEST)
16 May 16:31
I find myself agreeing with some of that [Doug TenNapel's Newsarama interview with Michael C. Lorah, in which TenNapel criticized comics for shying away from portrayals of religious faith]: I wouldn't like the Miller/Mazzucchelli DAREDEVIL run nearly so much if it didn't have those heavy Catholic overtones. But I'm stumped about what the hell HOLY TERROR, BATMAN has got to do with God.
Anyway, where was the outcry when they did that FANTASTIC FOUR comic which revealed the Thing was Jewish? Apart from the odd positive write-up, I doubt anyone even noticed.
From: Craig McGill
16 May 20:02
I remember years ago after one of the at-that-time Batman writers (Moench maybe?) said Batman was a Catholic due to the whole guilt thing and I wrote it up for the papers and By Jesus did it cause a row and a half in certain parts of our beloved Glasgow. I remember one woman writing in to the Daily Record saying her husband wouldn't let her son have comics anymore with that "papist bastard" and I heard a few other tales like that too.
Comic world never gave a toss but the real world did...
From: Russell Lissau
16 May 20:43
...Personally, I've always wondered about Bruce Wayne. His family's Scottish, and it's been established that he's Catholic... surely the Wayne family (the last generation or previous ones) must've been leaders in the church and religious community. But by the time Bruce would've been old enough to be an altar boy or prepare for confirmation, his parents already were dead and he was on his crusade. There are stories there to mine.
From: Matthew Craig
16 May 21:05
God does not exist for Bruce Wayne...
There's a difference between Survivor's Guilt ("I shouldn't be here") and Catholic Guilt ("Everything's My Fault").
Hasn't six years of "Spider-Man: Addle-brained Prophet Of The Spider-God OMM" taught us ANYTHING?
Isn't it ENOUGH that these characters - and I include Uncle Ben, Pa Kent, Martha Wayne, etcetera etcetera etcetera in this - are great humanitarians? Great believers in the brotherhood of Man?
I mean, surely some of them - and yes, I'm thinking of Spider-Man in particular, and I'm aware of the irony in being evangelical about the character - are ALL THE BETTER for not being tied down to narrow notions of - of - of ANYTHING?
From: Stu West
16 May 22:36
re: I remember years ago after one of the at-that-time Batman writers... said Batman was a Catholic...
I didn't remember that. Huh. Actually, didn't Alan Grant have Batman going to a Rangers game in BATMAN: THE SCOTTISH CONNECTION?
I remember someone saying that for a long time there was a complete ban on talking about politics at the Bat-summits, because there were people in the room who had absolutely no common ground whatsoever. This was back when the books were being written by Grant, Moench, Chuck Dixon, etc...
From: Garrett_Farrelly (GARRETTFARRELLY)
17 May 20:11
Here's the thing about superhuman characters and religion. By their very nature as "more than man" I think they'd develop religious followings. Why pray to some ancient god of the Old Testament when Superman is saving you RIGHT NOW? I know there's occasionally some story about some misguided soul founding a "Church of Superman" or whatever in the comics, but they're always portrayed as complete crazies. There would be a religion devoted to Superman.
And not just him. Look at urban legends, urban mytho-constructs like "Bloody Mary" and the homeless children's religions in Miami. You think there wouldn't be mystical devotion and focus around a character like Batman?
If more superhero stuff dealt with those topics as well as approached religion, and the lack thereof, in mature ways I'd be more inclined to read it.
18 May 3:00
[In the interview being discussed, Doug TenNapel said: "...I laugh so hard at a vocal minority in comics that just freaks out if my characters bring up Jesus Christ. They don't freak out if a character says the word "____" or decides to be gay in a series, but if Spiderman ever converted to Christianity these critics would have a period. I thought we were farther along than that in the discussion and debate department of comics. I'm shocked at the level of groupthink within a medium that should be anything but a monolith of worldview. There should be a robust debate of worldviews within comics... it's why I so look forward to Frank Miller's Batman vs. Islamic terror. That kind of material should be the norm not the controversial rarity that it is."]
I just love the bit [in the interview with Doug TenNapel] about every comic needing to be more like Batman punching Muslims. Right.
From: Ted (TED_BRANDT)
18 May 11:33
Absolutely. Somehow Batman shaping off against EEEEEEVIL Islamic terrorists will be a "robust debate of worldviews"... rather than what most of us were expecting - a 2-dimensional propaganda piece.
From: "Superheroes/villains and their religions" forum discussion, started 16 March 2006 on "Animation Insider" website (http://www.animationinsider.net/forums/archive/index.php?t-17835.html; viewed 28 June 2008):
03-16-2006, 05:16 AM
Someone pointed this out at another forum. I found it to be quite amusing that someone would actually have enough time on their hands to ponder about this.
09-19-2006, 09:25 AM
...Batman believes in Heaven and Hell, I think. He probably pictures himself as a Dark Angel, bringing Judgement on evildoers. He is respectful of religions, and he might be praying or thinking about God when he broods. But he is still lapsed...
From: "Stuart Moore's A Thousand Flowers: O Deadly Night" forum discussion, started 2 December 2003 on Newsarama website (http://forum.newsarama.com/archive/index.php/t-6949.html; viewed 28 June 2007):
12-02-2003, 09:00 AM
...Which brings us to Christmas comics.
On the face of it, Christmas comics are an odd phenomenon. The whole point of the holidays is communal experience -- reunion with loved ones, families gathering together. But comics-reading -- any reading -- is an inherently solitary activity. How does this fit together?... But now we're getting awfully heavy for a column about holiday comics. Pour yourself an eggnog (ecch -- does anybody really drink that stuff?) and let's look back at some of the best, and strangest, examples of the genre from years past.
A couple of notes before we begin. First off, holiday comics stories are almost always Christmas stories, despite the number of influential Jewish creators and editors in the field. This is partly because, in earlier decades, publishers tried to cater to the Christian majority of readers (and distributors). But it's also because of the nature of Christmas itself.
First... there's no holiday like Christmas for silly smiles, treacly sentimentality, and the ability to fool yourself into thinking all's right with the world for just one night. Which, if you think about it, plays right into those teenage tendencies we were talking about up above.
Second: When it comes to sentimental Christmas stories, DC rules. There have been very few Marvel Christmas stories, and they haven't been very good. This is partly because of the serial nature of Marvel's stories, which made holiday-themed tales harder to squeeze in -- they'd tend to call attention to the fact that, for instance, the entire previous year of Avengers took place the week before Christmas...
The duck stories are charming, and in 1940 Superman could get away with helping an old bearded gentleman deliver presents to the world. But by the '70s, comics had "grown up" a little. On-panel appearances by Santa Claus were out, and most comics had embraced gritty realism. The results?
Batman stories like "Silent Night, Deadly Night," by Denny O'Neil and Irv Novick (Batman #239, 1971) and "Wanted: Santa Claus -- Dead or Alive," also by Denny with an early art job by Frank Miller (DC Super-Star Holiday Special, 1979, reprinted frequently). Marvel, as noted above, only dipped their toe in occasionally; "As Those Who Will Not See" by Gerry Conway and Gil Kane (Marvel Team-Up #6, 1972, reprinted in Essential Marvel Team-Up #1) was about as close as they got. This Spider-Man/Thing team-up wasn't strictly a Christmas story, but it was timed for the holidays and similarly sentimental in tone.
These stories, and others from the period, are pretty strictly "realistic" by superhero comics standards -- i.e., death rays are okay, but ghosts aren't. Usually there's a vague hint of Christian mysticism: a shining star, a mysterious sleigh. And, continuing the wheezy Dickens tradition, a bad-guy character usually undergoes a last-minute conversion as a hinge for the plot resolution.
"Silent Night, Deadly Night" also inaugurated a brief but irritating practice: the substitution of "deadly" for "merry" or "happy" in the titles of Christmas stories. "Have Yourself a Deadly Little Christmas," another Batman story, is the only one I remember -- but there were others. Brrr.
Only Eisner made it explicit, but in most of these stories the heroes are pretty powerless. They do their best, but the nature of the stories means that, in the end, things have to work out because of a higher power. Take, for instance, "Silent Night of the Batman," by Mike Friedrich and Neal Adams (Batman #219, 1969; reprinted in Christmas with the Super-Heroes and elsewhere), a short piece wherein, at Commissioner Gordon's urging, Batman reluctantly takes Christmas Eve off to go caroling all night with the Gotham City P.D. While Batman croons, a series of vignettes shows how, on this one night, crimes are thwarted, consciences awakened, and everything just works out all right. On reflection, it seems very consciously inspired by the Spirit stories...
Well, we're all onto our second box of tissues by now and trying not to let anybody see us bawling like babies. But I've saved my favorite Christmas comic story for last...
Here's my vote: "The Loneliest Men in the World," from Batman #15 (1942). I've got a tattered, much-loved reprint of it in Batman #239, but it's also in the latest Batman: The Dark Knight Archives, volume 4.
In this beautifully plotted little story, a privileged Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson reflect that "Dozens of friends send us presents. But some people have no friends." So they pick out three people who might qualify as "the loneliest men in the world" -- the doorman at a swanky club, a lighthouse keeper, and a popular, reclusive radio comedian -- and decide to bring them holiday cheer as Batman and Robin. But hardened criminal Dirk Dagner... follows the Dynamic Duo and proceeds to... to...
'Scuse me... something in my eye...
Dagner uses Batman and Robin's kindness against them several times, pulling off crimes in their wake. But B&R manage to show each of the "lonely men" that people really do care for them after all. After a series of plot machinations, Batman and Robin capture Dagner and... well, here's the heartwarming, yet oddly disturbing, ending:
DICK GRAYSON (opening a package, pulling out what looks like a bowling ball): I'VE BEEN THINKING, BRUCE -- WE NEVER DID FIND THE LONELIEST MAN ON EARTH, DID WE? BOTTS, CHESNEY AND WICK HAD FRIENDS, ONLY THEY DIDN'T KNOW IT!
BRUCE WAYNE (in smoking jacket): NO! WE SENT HIM TO PRISON FOR LIFE... THE LONELIEST MAN IS DIRK DAGNER!
[interspersed: extremely large "BOB KANE/MERRY XMAS" signature]
BRUCE: HE'LL NEVER HAVE A FRIEND BECAUSE HE'S ALL GREED AND HATRED... HE'S COMPLETELY BAD -- A WILD BEAST TO BE KEPT CAGED!
DICK (smiling disconcertingly at the reader): NO ONE WILL EVER SAY TO HIM AS WE SAY TO OUR FRIENDS, MERRY CHRISTMAS!
Note: I presume they're talking about Dirk Dagner in that last panel -- not Bob Kane. But one never knows.
"Loneliest Men in the World" is cleverly plotted and features plenty of twists and turns. I've got to admit that, as a cynical nine-year-old, I liked the lack of a last-minute conversion on the villain's part -- as well as the twist on the heroes' search. Enough so that I overlooked Batman's rather cold (yet in-character) view of human nature on this holiest of days.
So, in that spirit: Happy holidays to all my readers. Unless you're all greed and hatred, completely bad, a wild beast. In that case, stay in your cage!
From: "Superman Was Jewish?" forum discussion, started 6 July 2006 on "Superhero Hype!" website (http://forums.superherohype.com/archive/index.php/t-241110.html):
07-10-2006, 08:42 AM
Nah, I don't think the Man of Steel [Superman] either is or was intended to be Jewish per se. (Full disclosure: I'm a Catholic-practising). Even if there are Jewish themes and allusions to his birth and early life (just as there are arguably Catholic themes to Batman - namely guilt and atonement)...
From: "It's like this webpage was written just for Austin316." forum discussion, started 24 June 2007 by Final_Flanner on "Back Room Almanac" website (http://18.104.22.168/~elkabong/boards/showpost.php?b=backroom;pid=583084;d=all; viewed 10 July 2007):
Comic book characters grouped by religion...
* Click here for link [link to: http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/comic_collage.html]
by Austin316 (06/24/2007 14:16:33)
I've posted it here before.
If you go to the home page (which I've linked below), there are some other interesting tidbits. They actually do a pretty good job. I take exception to the following theories:
1. Batman as atheist. This drivel was a complete novelty introduced by 3rd-rate hack Joe Kelly in his run on JLA. Specifically, it was in the first book of the Age of Obsidian story arc. I remember it well simply because I couldn't believe such an asinine idea was actually allowed by the editors. Batman is one of the most overtly religious characters in all of comicdom. The fact that he has been portrayed praying at his parents' graves is as explicit as it gets. Batman as an Episcopalian is only slightly less insane, and the site gives good reasons why nobody should buy into this...
* Click here for link [link to: http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/comic_book_religion.html]
by captaineclectic (06/24/2007 20:34:55)
Frank Miller says Batman's Catholic
Good enough for me.
by Halman (06/24/2007 22:42:44)
No, Batman is a scientist
by Austin316 (06/24/2007 21:23:10)
It is complete nonsense even to suggest that Batman and Daredevil are anything other than Catholic.
From: Abdullah Zain/islamhd, "Muslim SuperHeroes", posted 11 July 2007 on "Islam|HD: Islam In Crystal Clear Quality" blog website (http://islamhd.wordpress.com/2007/07/11/muslim-superheroes/; viewed 12 July 2007):
The Faith of all the SuperHeroes [link to: http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/comic_collage.html]
Batman is a Episcopalian and Anglican. Inshallah he will become Muslim.
From: "Superheroes and Religion" forum discussion, started 17 May 2006 on HERO Games website (http://www.herogames.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-42820.html; viewed 12 July 2007):
Mar 17th, '06, 10:51 AM
Ever wonder what religion you favorite hero is? Check this out.
Mar 19th, '06, 03:56 PM
Follow the Batman link.
In the "Year II" storyline when he was asked if he believed in God, he said "I don't see a reason to" or something of the like.
[Yet further down on the page, the page states:]
Whether or not Batman believes in God has nothing to do with his religious background and religious affiliation.
I think that's enough to dismiss the site as bogus.
[This poster seems to be unaware of the distinction between separate terms such as "religious background", "religious affiliation" and "religious belief" or "theological position." Like real people, a character's religious background (upbringing and history) and formal affiliation simply are not a function solely of their current position on a single doctrinal position.]
Mar 19th, '06, 04:22 PM
I have to admit, that 'logic' has me thinking they're missing a major point of religion, if not THE major point for many religions.
My own thought is that Bruce is Agnostic on one level, and on a deeper level, rather angry at God for his parents.
Mar 19th, '06, 04:31 PM
Hard to be angry at someone you don't believe in.
Mar 19th, '06, 04:36 PM
In my experience, people who have had a Job-like event either cease to believe in a higher power, or gain an inner peace in the belief that there was a reason for whatever happened, even if they don't understand it.
Batman has never struck me as having inner peace.
Mar 19th, '06, 04:39 PM
re: "Hard to be angry at someone you don't believe in."
Hence the mention of levels...
If there is a part of him that believes in God, that part is rather angry for the injustice of God's set up. That whole "inside Bruce is an angry 8 year old child wanting to make the world right" thing that is often hinted at by writers.
Mar 19th, '06, 04:43 PM
re: "Batman has never struck me as having inner peace."
No argument on that one.
And losing his loved ones would be a good catalyst for losing any faith he previously had.
Mar 22nd, '06, 04:03 AM
As most heroes are American, I do assume a WASP background unless otherwise indicated.
Batman, on the other hand, probably was raised Protestant or Catholic, but I feel confident in saying he no longer believes in a Higher Power. He certainly is not willing to let God take care of Judgement or Justice, but obviously believes that if he does not bring certain criminals to justice no one can or will. He has met godlike beings and those claiming to be gods, and been unimpressed by every last one of them. Batman sees the Universe as a cold and unfeeling place, where Bad Things happen to Good People and random violence can strike the most innocent and undeserving. He has prayed on his knees, and heard no answer. He is an atheist, and if he believed in God would track Him down and make him pay for his injustices.
(And I'm calling him Batman rather than Bruce, at this point Batman is the real identity and Bruce Wayne as much of a tool used in his crimefighting as "Matches" Malone.)
YMMV, but that's how I see him.
From: "Superhero Religious Views?" forum discussion, started 9 June 2007 on Newsarama website (http://forum.newsarama.com/archive/index.php/t-116001.html; viewed 13 July 2007):
06-09-2007, 10:51 PM
I've read mostly about Superman and Batman, and from what I have gathered.. Batman, I feel is a complete atheist.
06-09-2007, 10:54 PM
I would assume most would believe in some higher being seeing as how they are exposed to magic pretty frequently.
06-10-2007, 01:19 AM
With the Spectre running around, Hal's interaction with it, Ollie's resurrection, and the existence of Zauriel, I'm sure a big chunk of the DCU's heroes (except for Mr. Terrific, of course) believe in some form of a deity along the lines of Christianity's god.
06-10-2007, 07:11 AM
In response to the Original Post: I think most of the analytical heroes consider any supernatural phenomenon a science that we don't understand yet. But for the most part, most characters don't have a definite, prescribed religion. I remember reading an old O'Neil Batman story where Batman was almost wistful towards Christianity, and others where he dismisses it outright. And Hal Jordan spent quite a bit of time working for God, but we haven't seen it addressed in his own book. Wasn't Nightwing an overt Christian for a while in his own book?
Personally, I love reading about religion and spirituality, so I would like to see it explored a bit more in comics. At the same time, unless the character's religion is central to that character's personality (like Firebird or Nightcrawler over at Marvel), then I don't have any problem with their beliefs shifting from story to story.
06-10-2007, 04:39 PM
...With both Superman and Batman, they tend to leave religion out of it, probably to avoid discussions like these. Sure you can have Daredevil as a Catholic, but Supes and Bats are very iconic characters and one of their appeals is that they can appeal to anyone. Bats has really lost his faith anyways, whatever it was.
Ollie may believe in something now after being dead but Hal never said they were in Heaven, "an aspect of it" yes. He could have been in Heaven but he also could have been in Elysian Fields (spelling? the Greek myth of where good people go when they die). Connor is Buddhist (yay, my peeps). Mr. Terrific atheist. It really doesn't matter.
06-10-2007, 08:25 PM
...Batman seems to have that guilt thing going on that Jews and Catholics are usually said to have. Even though his creator is Jewish, I'd say he's probably Catholic if anything.
06-10-2007, 08:47 PM
Even if Batman did believe in God, he wouldn't worship the guy. He probably has contingency plans in case all that power goes to God's head. :p
06-10-2007, 11:53 PM
Batman's a part of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
06-13-2007, 01:43 AM
I hate it when people say that Batman is an atheist. The man has encountered the Spectre, the Spirit of Vengeance of the Christian god. Worked with the champion of the Greek Gods. Hawkman and Black Adam are involved with the Egyptian gods. Batman believes in the fact that there are gods, he just most likely doesn't WORSHIP a deity. Big difference...
06-13-2007, 10:59 PM
re: "I hate it when people say that Batman is an athiest. The man has encountered the Spectre, the Spirit of Vengeance of the Christian god..."
And often when encountering Spectre claiming to be the embodiement of God's Vengeance, Batman says something like "So you claim."
And knowing that there are powerful creatures that claim to be gods is a LOT different than those creatures actually *being* divine. Cf. "Stargate" :)
If Wonder Woman or Superman travelled to Earth Prime [a world with no actual super-heroes, representing our own world], would they not seem as gods? Of course they would.
06-14-2007, 01:39 AM
...Batman I can see as being a Deist. He believes in A God; probably doesn't think too much about Jesus though. And he's probably got a healthy skepticism of the Spectre's claims to being God's vengence...
From: "Your Spiritual Thought for the Day", posted 15 July 2007 on "Roman de Renart" blog website (http://foxeddc.livejournal.com/467235.html; viewed 16 July 2007):
One of the reasons why I read comic books is because I like to see how this once-ephemeral genre attempts to absorb and discuss parts of life that are important. This is also why I enjoy this site [link to: http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/comic_book_religion.html] pointed out by one of the blogs that I read [link to: http://whatwouldjaneaustendo.blogspot.com/].
According to the comic book site, Batman is an Episcopalian (as is Lex Luthor). Well, of course he is. Yes, I'm sure there's some credence to the whole analysis of crosses on the Wayne gravesite, but traditionally in the United States, the Episcopal Church is stereotypically the denomination of the higher socioeconomic classes. (Episcopalians may place in their favorite jokes here.) And mind you, I say "stereotypically" as, like any denomination, there are scales of high/traditional to low/charismatic, etc.
When discussing this site with HTWIAM (the raised-Catholic-and-won't-change-his-membership-to-spite-powers-that-be ... which I don't care about, btw), he said, "Of course the Waynes were Episcopalians! They only had one child in ten years!"
Jul. 16th, 2007 12:25 am
I've always thought that Batman was a Calvinist. His intense believe in personal justice and judgement for intentions would lead me to think that way.
Superman is a lapsed Methodist. I think it's specified that he stopped going to church when he was about 11 years old.
Huntress and Catwoman are both Catholics. Wonder Woman is a believer in the Greek pantheon (well, more than a believer, she's the champion of Pallas).
I can't think of any actively atheist superheroes, but any of them who have dealt with cosmic stuff couldn't be atheists for long. The DC universe is very much a creationist universe.
Jul. 16th, 2007 01:37 am
The Punisher would be a another example of a Calvinist, IMHO. Batman must have had some hope in redemption. Otherwise, he would not have turned criminals over to the authorities.
From: "Superheroes by Religion" forum discussion, started 11 January 2007 on "Political Crossfire" website (http://www.politicalcrossfire.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=73989; viewed 16 July 2007):
Posted: Thu Jan 11, 2007 7:20 pm
I wasn't sure whether to put this here or the Lounge, but this place rarely has anything light-hearted, so I suppose it needs it. So, here it is. I thought this was fascinating and should be expanded:
Yes, the Thing is a Jew.
I never expected that, lol.
Quote: Born on Yancy Street in New York City's Lower East Side, to a Jewish family, Benjamin Jacob Grimm...
Perhaps modelled after the Golem, no doubt?
Superman and Batman are, of course... Christian. ["Rolling Eyes" emoticon] (Superman is a Methodist, Batman is an Anglican.)
Let's see... Green Lantern is a bad Jew ("Jewish Catholic").
And ooh, Wolverine is a Buddhist! ["Very Happy" emoticon]
Posted: Thu Jan 11, 2007 8:38 pm
Batman is a Jew and I will hear nothing else of the matter.
Posted: Thu Jan 11, 2007 8:45 pm
Quote: "Bruce Wayne (the original Batman) is dead in this possible near-future, and buried beneath a Christian cross."
Posted: Thu Jan 11, 2007 8:48 pm
[Batman is a Jew because] he's got a ton of money.
He gets all the ladies.
What other proof do I need to give you?
The Central Scrutinizer
Posted: Fri Jan 12, 2007 2:38 am
No, the atheists drafted Wolverine in the second round. This is bulls**t.
Nightstalker [sic: This poster means "Nightcrawler."] is Eastern Orthodox, not Catholic.
What on Earth is "Jewish Catholic?" Seriously.
How is it that the Episcopalians and the CoE bunch get more big-name superheroes than any other group?
This site clearly has an Anglo-Saxon bias.
Posted: Fri Jan 12, 2007 3:13 am
re: "Batman is a Jew and I will hear nothing else of the matter."
Dude, come on! Wayne? You can't get much WASPier then that... You guys [meaning "Jews"] have Thing and Magneto. You can't hog 'em all!
Besides Batman is soooooooo the ultimate Protestant... His dim view of humanity, work ethic, drinking habit, love of big dogs, etc.
Also Superman is still Ethnically Jewish, it's just he was raised by Mid-Western Methodists. Good people btw, those Mid-Western Methodists. ["Thumbs up" emoticon].
From: "Superheroes by Religion" forum discussion, started 11 January 2007 on "Political Crossfire" website (http://www.politicalcrossfire.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=73989; viewed 16 July 2007):
Posted: Thu Jan 11, 2007 7:20 pm
I wasn't sure whether to put this here or the Lounge, but this place rarely has anything light-hearted, so I suppose it needs it. So, here it is. I thought this was fascinating and should be expanded:
Yes, the Thing is a Jew.
I never expected that, lol.
Quote: Born on Yancy Street in New York City's Lower East Side, to a Jewish family, Benjamin Jacob Grimm...
Perhaps modelled after the Golem, no doubt?
Superman and Batman are, of course... Christian. ["Rolling Eyes" emoticon] (Superman is a Methodist, Batman is an Anglican.)
Let's see... Green Lantern is a bad Jew ("Jewish Catholic").
And ooh, Wolverine is a Buddhist! ["Very Happy" emoticon]
Posted: Thu Jan 11, 2007 8:38 pm
Batman is a Jew and I will hear nothing else of the matter.
Posted: Thu Jan 11, 2007 8:45 pm
Quote: "Bruce Wayne (the original Batman) is dead in this possible near-future, and buried beneath a Christian cross."
Posted: Thu Jan 11, 2007 8:48 pm
[Batman is a Jew because] he's got a ton of money.
He gets all the ladies.
What other proof do I need to give you?
The Central Scrutinizer
Posted: Fri Jan 12, 2007 2:38 am
No, the atheists drafted Wolverine in the second round. This is bulls**t.
Nightstalker [sic: This poster means "Nightcrawler."] is Eastern Orthodox, not Catholic.
What on Earth is "Jewish Catholic?" Seriously.
How is it that the Episcopalians and the CoE bunch get more big-name superheroes than any other group?
This site clearly has an Anglo-Saxon bias.
Posted: Fri Jan 12, 2007 3:13 am
re: "Batman is a Jew and I will hear nothing else of the matter."
Dude, come on! Wayne? You can't get much WASPier then that... You guys [meaning "Jews"] have Thing and Magneto. You can't hog 'em all!
Besides Batman is soooooooo the ultimate Protestant... His dim view of humanity, work ethic, drinking habit, love of big dogs, etc.
Also Superman is still Ethnically Jewish, it's just he was raised by Mid-Western Methodists. Good people btw, those Mid-Western Methodists. ["Thumbs up" emoticon].
Posted: Fri Jan 12, 2007 7:44 am
re: "...you guys have Thing and Magneto, you can't hog 'em all!"
Yeah, but Magneto and Thing suck.
Batman is awesome.
And the proof I've provided proves it all.
Posted: Fri Jan 12, 2007 10:01 pm
Chicks and money? that's a WASP thing too.
Posted: Sat Jan 13, 2007 12:09 am
Yeah, but Batman is Jew rich.
Posted: Sat Jan 13, 2007 2:39 am
Not like Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, or the Walton family rich?
From: "Superman, Batman, Hulk, Spiderman = Jewish???" forum discussion, started 19 June 2006 on SOHH website (http://forums.sohh.com/archive/index.php/t-725387.html; viewed 17 July 2007):
06-19-06, 03:28 PM
June 19, 2006 -- HE'S the ultimate American icon - tall, built, brave. And hot. But now, as Superman is set to fly onto the big screen next week, bringing truth, justice and rippling muscles to a new generation of moviegoers, there comes word that the Man of Steel has a secret.
The man behind the red cape is a Yeshiva boy.
Superman - Jewish?
"Only a Jew would think of a name like Clark Kent," says Brooklyn Rabbi Simcha Weinstein.
"He's the bumbling, nebbish, Jewish stereotype. He's Woody Allen. Can't get the girl. Can't get the job - at the same time, he has this tremendous heritage he can't express."
Weinstein has just published "Up, Up, and Oy Vey!" (Leviathan Press), a work that concludes, with scholarly authority and voluminous footnotes, that beneath Supe's form-fitting tights, there lurks a circumcision.
In the book, and on his Web site, www.rabbisimcha.com, he outs the Jewish roots of other superheroes who conceal their true identities - an undoubtedly Jewish trait - such as Batman, the Hulk and Spider-Man. Weinstein grew up in England as Simon, a boy who worshipped the pop-culture gods of Indiana Jones and James Bond...
06-19-06, 06:11 PM
I can't be bothered to read that article. Batman annd Superman are not Jewish.
06-19-06, 07:09 PM
Alright. Seriously though, Batman is Catholic. I do know the Thing is Jewish, though.
06-19-06, 07:22 PM
lol [laugh out loud]. Jews compare themselves to everything and try to claim it as theirs :rolleyes:
Stupid... That story could be attributed to any immigrant :rolleyes:
Those cats are always reaching.
From: "Question about Magneto" forum discussion, started 12 May 2006 on "Giant in the Playground" website (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-15296.html; viewed 17 July 2007):
The Vorpal Tribble
05-12-2006, 11:31 PM
What's funny is there's a site somewhere that lists the majority of comic book characters by religion, because apparently they each had one.
Just found it:
05-12-2006, 11:44 PM
...why, out of all of them, are there maybe, like 2 agnostics?
05-13-2006, 09:33 AM
I think the reason so few are listed as agnostic is because they would be listed under the religion they had been raised in. For example, Batman is listed as Episcopalian/Catholic (lapsed), because he is from an Episcopalian and Catholic background, even though he doesn't believe or practice it. Only ones who were always agnostic would be listed as such. I think.
05-15-2006, 02:38 PM
Well one reason might be that in the major comic worlds (Marvel and DC) the various heroes have, quite literally, fought gods. There's probably little room for true agnostacism or atheism.
From: "Sacreligious amd anti-Christian Comic characters" forum discussion, started 28 February 2007 on official DC Comics website (http://dcboards.warnerbros.com/web/thread.jspa?threadID=2000107545&start=15&tstart=15; viewed 19 July 2007):
Posted: Feb 28, 2007 5:26 PM
Technically, ALL the DC Characters are sacriligeous, because they do not thank God for their abilities, as they should. The probable exceptions to this are Captain Pope, Priestgirl and Altarboy, who do voice their thanks fairly frequently. And I guess the 3 or 4 Batman-Jesus team-ups in Brave and Bold in the late 60s and 70s might get Batman off the hook, although it's been a while and probably out of continuity now... What was the Brave and the Bold issue number with "Batman, Jesus and 2 Mystery Guest Stars?" Does anyone remember who the guest stars were??? :) Man, I loved that issue! [EDITOR: This poster is responding sarcastically to the original poster's contention that many overtly religious super-heroes are sacreligious.]
From: "Religion in the DCU?" forum discussion, started 25 October 2006 on "Comic Bloc" website (http://www.comicbloc.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-37480.html; viewed 20 July 2007):
October 25th, 2006, 05:35 PM
...DC does have a multi-religious idea that works perfectly. It even fits into the Hindu idea of multiple gods being aspects of one large divine spirit. I mean, the Spectre is God's spirit of Vengeance. That's in the character discription. While I personally think they've made a mistake by saying divine characters are simply magical (or explaining it by science... Mr. Terrific... ick), I guess I can't stop them.
Besides, ever see the Waynes' gravestones? Cross. Bruce is either an Episcopalian or Catholic. And there is that great church scene in IC [Infinite Crisis] #5.
From: "Possible writers' cliche/prejudice: No well-adjusted athiests/agnostics in the DCU?" forum discussion, started 26 May 2005 on "Comic Bloc" website (http://www.comicbloc.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-5064.html; viewed 20 July 2007):
May 26th, 2005, 01:42 PM
...I've noticed a small, but persistent... subtext in the DCU, reinforced by many of my favorite writers...
It seems to me that anyone in the DCU who is identified as not being religious is either painted as emotionally crippled, cold and unspiritual, or just angry at a God that they do, in fact, believe in, deep down. There's also the implication that if they could just undo their twisted thinking - or, in the case of Ray Palmer in Identity Crisis, if they get desperate enough - they'll "revert to their senses and believe what they've always known to be true"...
Or even more simply and subtly, as someone pointed out on the other thread, Batman once mentioned that the death of his family caused him to lose faith ("driven away" from faith) and although he hasn't dropped to his knees in any book I've seen yet (though I could've missed it), his portrayal still feeds into the cliche of the non-believer as emotionally twisted, begrudging, and cold.
This is important to note... Someone mentioned on the other thread that these characters were ones that began with faith and lost it, which means they are more naturally inclined to revert. Well, fine, but it seems like the only positively-identified atheists and agnostics in the DCU are all ones who have turned away from religion (mostly) out of spite...
May 26th, 2005, 01:58 PM
The thing is, it doesn't usually serve the story to present a character as an atheist without some sort of emotional backstory to it. I'm sure lots and lots of characters in the DCU are atheists or agnostics, but it never becomes an issue within their storylines.
You should check out the new issue of Batman, however. Well it doesn't deal with faith in a strictly religious sense, it has Batman talking to Superman about the frequent resurrections of super-people. Batman's really reluctant to just accept the explanation of "oh, it was magic."
"Magic is still science in some realm," he says (or words to that effect, I don't have the issue in front of me).
May 31st, 2005, 05:02 PM
I remember an issue of... something. I forget what it was in, but I remember a page where Batman told Nightwing that he didn't beleive in ghosts. Dick replyed with a "word association game": "Deadman. The Spectre. Ragman."
The fact is, every major DC character has encountered divine forces. Zauriel, an angel, was seen on national news at least once, and every person on Earth flew into space to battle Maggeddon alognside an army of angels in JLA #41. If that kind of evidence existed in the real world, which, despite holding strong religious convictions of my own, I am of course aware that there is not, only the insane would be atheist around here, too.
As for the concept that multiple pantheons invalidate the existence of a higher power, Jeffery Neary is correct: it's been shown, though somewhat indirectly, that the supreme power of the DCU is, in fact, "The Presence," who is similar to the Judeo-Christian conception God in singularity, supremacy, and in a general "hands off approach."
June 1st, 2005, 06:33 AM
My favorite Batman line: "Knowing something's there is not the same thing as believing in it."
That didn't really have much to do with what I have to say here, but anyway... I'm an atheist myself, a well adjusted one with no emotionally crippling things in my past, so I can see some of the frustration here. It IS impossible to be an atheist in the DCU, thanks to Zauriel and the angels taking on Mageddon. Day of Judgement with the heroes going to Heaven. Peter David's Supergirl series. But you know what? It's fiction. I still enjoyed all thosed stories, I'm always saying that they need to bring back Zauriel (so much potential!), and I really didn't mind Mr. Terrific finding faith either...
June 1st, 2005, 02:11 PM
If you look at a character like Batman, you kind of get the idea that he would maybe have have gone to church when he was little because he came from a well-off family who probably did it out of tradition more than anything. Azzarello's Broken City showed you he's not an atheist when he makes the comment about "if there is a God he cries on Gotham" or something to that effect. I'm a born-again believer, so when I read something like Superman: For All Seasons where in the very beginning Clark talks to a local priest about his powers or something it kind of gives you an idea that his family goes to church. I even think Jerry Siegel, being Jewish, knew that if he made his character a Midwestern farmboy the religion he would most be identified with would be Christianity. This was given to the characters to make them more interesting instead of Batman being like "I hate God waaaahhhhh!" every time something goes bad. Batman now doesn't have that mentality anymore because he may have a little religious base, instead of just being an atheist because he's never been to church.
June 1st, 2005, 03:21 PM
Okay... how do we spot a DCU atheist?
Simple: one who sees an angel in the JLA, Ares fighting Wonder Woman, Darkseid threatening Earth... perhaps even "The Presence" or "The Source"... and believes that while - yes - these beings certainly are unimaginably powerful, there is no proof that they are "gods", as opposed to high-level super-beings or practicioners of a form of meta-science, light years beyond our own. Just because a superior life form or someone unfathomably powerful claims to be a "god" doesn't make it so. Heck, we could go back in time and convince cavemen that we're "gods". That could be all that those beings are doing to DCU residents.
A DCU skeptic, while clearly able to see these beings that claim to be "gods" as existing, doesn't have to believe that any of these "gods" are responsible for creation or are the end-all be-all lords of the after-life, or are truly omniscient and know everything.
Superman could claim to be a god and back it up with some pretty compelling proof, but if he did make such a claim, I bet there would be several DCU residents who wouldn't believe in his "divinity". Same with Ares, Darkseid, Spectre, The Source, etc.
Super-beings? Sure. Advanced life forms? Sure. Divine, omniscient, omnipotent beings that created all and are the beginning and the end of everything? ...Even - perhaps especially - in the DCU, that still requires a lot of faith to "pick a horse" and say "One of these beings is telling the truth, and I believe it's that one!"
To deny that these beings exist is a "flat-earther" scenario; to deny that they are "gods" is quite easy. Hence, your DCU atheist (or agnostic).
June 1st, 2005, 04:37 PM
Exactly. So let's put my confusion to bed once and for all.
Given that definition, on what basis do you exclude Hal or Bruce or Oliver or any number of characters who, as far as I can tell, share those exact beliefs from the list of healthy DCU skeptics?
(Well, Bruce isn't exactly healthy but that's another matter.)
See where you're losing me? Could it just be that we see those characters differently?
June 1st, 2005, 04:58 PM
I see where you're coming from, Clear, but you'd have to reference where it is that Hal or Ollie state that they are, in fact, atheist or agnostic, before I could go along with that. But, even so, Bruce feeds directly into the cold, emotionally scarred/weird/twisted stereotype, while cases could also be made for Hal and Ollie, since neither seem to be entirely comfortable expressing or healthily in-touch with feelings toward loved ones, be they familial or romantic.
From: "Barry Allen is Jewish?" forum discussion, started 13 May 2005 on "Comic Bloc" website (http://www.comicbloc.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-4308.html; viewed 20 July 2007):
Heatwave the Rogue
May 15th, 2005, 07:44 AM
...I would rather comic companies take a "don't ask, don't tell" policy about religion.
May 15th, 2005, 10:59 AM
I think don't ask don't tell is for the birds. I mean, no, I don't want some kind of sermon every time I pick up a comic, but if you were a writer trying to flesh out a character sooner or later you'd have to come up against his or her spiritual beliefs. They can make for great stories.
I mean, for example, what does Superman believe? He was clearly raised by a typical midwest, Christian family. Yet as an adult, he learned about his hertiage and from time to time (when writer who cannot handle good dialogue get their claws on him, like Bryne) he spouts stuff like "By Rao!" - a religious invocation if I ever read one. Batman has said more than once, ususaly when talking to Lesile Tompkins, that he "lost" whatever faith he might have had the night his parents died. Yet we also know he has extensive Zen training during his travels as a young man.
If you are going to write stories that are beyond mere kiddy stories about men in tights, religion will enter it at some point...
May 15th, 2005, 11:59 AM
In Batman's case...it's hard to think of anything that would make him pray for anything. He has watched his friends and allies die more than once. At no time did he pray for help, even in his most desperate moments. If some writer imposed some kind of faith in God on Batman then I would see your point. I trying was pointing out that in Batman's case "don't ask don't tell" has never applied. We know he doesn't believe in God. He is not angry at god, but his experience simply leads him to believe that God doesn't exist.
Yet, at the same time, there is likely some kind of deep spirtual element to Batman that he doesn't share, just by viritue of his training. You don't study Zen and the Asian martial arts as intensely as he did and not come away with some kind of spirtual belief... even if that belief competely denies the existence of the divine...
May 15th, 2005, 12:08 PM
I see your point, CapeandCowl, but I still think that the depiction of Batman the atheist as a cold and emotionally-twisted individual feeds into the cliche. Just once I'd like to see them portray someone like that as well-adjusted, warm, and without nursing the urge to drop to his knees whenever desperate moments arise.
May 15th, 2005, 12:23 PM
...While I agree with crawfordcrow's thoughts and very well though out posts, I do have to add something. My father is a Baptist preacher and living in East Tennessee, I've seen lots of "atheists" and "agnostics" who are just like the sterotypes that you mentioned. Cold, emotonally stunted or "angry with God". Now mind you, I'm not trying to cheapen your thoughts/posts or beliefs, but while it may be a sterotype, it does exist. I can only speak for the places I've been and grown up, but I've seen it over and over. Almost Christmas Carol-like where Scrooge finally opens his heart/realizes his mistake or whatever and they join in and drop to their knees when the time comes.
Just to point out that does happen. No offense intended.
May 15th, 2005, 03:35 PM
In Brave and Bold #196: "The Two Faces Of Midnight" by Robert Kanigher, Jim Aparo, and Adrienne Roy, Batman and Ragman are at the hospital bedside of a shooting victim.
At one point, Ragman asks the Caped Crusader if he's too proud to pray for the girl's health.
We see Batman facing away from them, looking out the window, and a single tear running down one eye.
The girl's heart stops, then Ragman starts CPR, with the Masked Manhunter offering the breath of life.
She recovers and smiles at her saviors.
Outside, the two part ways, but not before Ragman thanks Batman for showing him that there is more than one way to pray.
May 15th, 2005, 04:35 PM
Okay, I read that story and I like it a lot. The only problem was Bats crying and the implication that he prayed silently or so much. True, Batman takes every person that suffers on his watch very deeply and personaly, but the dude doesn't cry. Maybe he should, it might be heathier for him. But he doesn't.
And it is always worth noting that from Batman's point of view, God isn't really even a question anymore. Bats isn't "mad" at God. He just doesn't believe God exists. From his point of view, life has never provided a single shred of evidence of the existence of an all powerful, loving deity.
From: "NY Times outs Batwoman. DUH SPOILERS!!!!!" forum discussion, started 27 May 2006 on "Comic Bloc" website (http://www.comicbloc.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-27770.html; viewed 23 July 2007):
May 28th, 2006, 09:11 AM
I feel like DC is tying to be an advocate... Is DC just wanting quick media attention? If this were truly about diversity where is the devote Christian hero? What about a Pro-Life Republican? A priest that takes a vow of poverty to fight poverty?
For years people have praised or criticize liberal Hollywood. Are we now looking at a Liberal DC comics?
May 28th, 2006, 10:20 AM
Christian hero? I'm sorry but aren't a good majority of heroes Christian?
May 28th, 2006, 06:04 PM
But the point is that there are a majority of Christian characters in DC comics that already exist, so there's no "diversity" in creating more of the same...
May 28th, 2006, 06:36 PM
Really? One might make a case for a general "good works ethical monotheism", but how many have made on page confessional statments of Christ being their personal Lord and Savior? To assume that these characters are Christian is akin to assuming that any male character without a girlfriend is gay. Is that good enough?
May 28th, 2006, 06:49 PM
Did you click that link in my last post? It uses evidence from the various appearances the characters have made to determine what denomination they belong to.
May 28th, 2006, 07:05 PM
I've seen it, and I'll reiterate that I believe that the number of confessional Christians in mainstream comics is equal to, or less than the number of openly homosexual characters.
May 28th, 2006, 07:12 PM
Thanks for the link. It is interesting. But religion is not shown in their everyday life. We see the gay lifestyle, but when was the last time we saw Dick Grayson (Christian) at a Baptism, Batman (Catholic) attend mass, Hal Jordan go to confession, or Superman darken the doorway of a church?
May 28th, 2006, 07:48 PM
You're right that it wouldn't hurt to see things like that more often (except Batman going to church, I get the sense that he's lapsed). I still don't think we see more of the "gay lifestyle" than Christianity overall though.
May 28th, 2006, 08:16 PM
I've long thought of Batman (Bruce at least) as Anglican (Episcopalian for people in the USA). Blame it on [the graphic novel] Holy Terror.
I know: some people will see me as committing the "error" of seeing Christianity as a collection of tradition/groups embracing a wide spectrum of philosophies sharing common history. That Catholicism (Fire, Capt. Atom, Huntress II, etc.), Anglicanism (Richard Craemer), Methodist (Amanda Waller), etc. traditions all jointly constitute Christianity.
I don't see that as an error.
May 28th, 2006, 08:35 PM
...I wasn't aware that Batman had been specifically identified as Catholic too. It's starting to seem that Roman Catholics are significantly OVER-represented in the DC superhero set.
May 28th, 2006, 08:49 PM
I'm sure that if Dick Grayson and Batman are Christian, they are lapsed. If we are going to see religion portrayed, it should be realistically. I'm sure that Batman and Nightwing are as conflicted about religion as most humans are--it would be an oversimplification to just show them at a baptism or attending mass.
From: "Question for other atheists" forum discussion, started 6 March 2006 on "Comic Boards" website (http://www.comicboards.com/dcb/view.php?trd=060306051129; viewed 23 July 2007):
Posted by Corn Stone on Monday, March 06 2006 at 05:11:29 GMT
Question for other atheists. Are there any? :-)
How do you relate to the characters in comics, DC especially, who are characterised as atheistic/agnostic?
And a sort of put-yourself-in-the-shoes - Would you still be an atheist if you'd had the experiences Mr Terrific and co have had? (Not counting Green Arrow, Barry Allen and folk who have been to Heaven, if their experiences are to be believed. And they are - this is the DCU cosmology.)
I doubt very much I would call myself an atheist, if, say, I was a member of the JLA or JSA and had some of these experiences.
Posted by JesusFan on Monday, March 06 2006 at 17:41:35 GMT
Well, I will try to divorce myself from answering if it was me, as I am a born again believer in Jesus Christ. But your point is well taken, as it appears that you are asking if any of us were in the DCU, and saw things from the DCU perspective on God, angels, aliens, mystics, etc... Could we actually in that particular frame of reference stay an atheist?
My take is that the DC DOES have God in the picture, the Presense, and that there ARE Angels/Devils on assignment, Micheal/Morningstar etc, so probably Mr. Terrific Knows that such DO really exist, but his mental grid simple will not allow him to experience it as his truth.
Just as Batman KNOWS Spectre is real, and could go to seek out his Father in heaven/Hell, his mental grids will not allow him to support that truth, as he is "rational/scientific" mindset.
While WW [Wonder Woman] also KNOWS that there must be the Presense/God in the DCU, her mindset refuses to acknowledge that ANY being could be greater than her "gods" that created/empowered her, so she is like Bats in that regard, it's just that he refuses to believe based upon "rational/scientific" framework of reality, while Diana refuses due to her "spiritual" understandings.
Superman of the big 3 probably comes closest to being what would be considered a "true" believer in existence of Presense/God/Angels etc, as he has been raised undoubtably by his parents in some way to foster that belief, but he walks the line between Bruce/Diana, as he appreciates Science, abhors/reluctant to try to understand Magic, so he does probably have faith that God is real, it's just that he would not probably get into the finer details of... Is there a real Jesus? is Heaven/Hell real? Do I need to find the will of God for my own life? etc...
Posted by Hellstone on Monday, March 06 2006 at 14:20:26 GMT
re: "As noted in other discussions over the years they seem to bend over backwards to NOT assign denominations or faith statements to characters..."
Well, I think that goes for the "big 3" [Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman], for example. But many denizens of the DCU have expressed their religion explicitly, and I'm not just talking Wonder Woman and Kobra and Zauriel here... many more, have all stated their explicit beliefs...
From: "Make your own new religious movement/sect/cult" forum discussion, started 20 July 2006 on "GovTeen Forums" website (http://forums.govteen.com/archive/index.php/t-175444.html; viewed 27 July 2007):
Jul-23-2006, 11:02 PM
I've spent some time considering what Batman's core values are spiritually. And the only conclusive thing I can come up with is that Batman's probably a deist, which is why he feels compelled to take so much upon himself.
Jul-23-2006, 11:07 PM
He does good in the world... Takes out bad guys and helps the underdog. Not too bad an idol.
Jul-24-2006, 01:18 AM
Believe it or not, there is a webpage dedicated to researching the faith of superheroes/villians to a sick degree. Here's (http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/Batman.html) the Batman page. They say he's Episcopalian or Catholic.
Jul-24-2006, 02:10 AM
Yeah, I've seen that before, but thanks for bringing it to the forefront of my mind. "Lapsed Catholic" is a term that comes up a lot when talking about super heroes. I guess the whole "Catholic guilt" is something that readers can easily pick up on and entertain themselves with.
Now what a tanget we're on now: For a comic character that has noteworthy religious struggles, the first one that pops to mind is Daredevil, and that site you were nice enough to share goes into some details about it: http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/Daredevil.html
Jul-24-2006, 02:22 AM
And also I'm going to have to disagree with Batman being lapsed Catholic. I'm just going to say that Batman's parents died when he was very young and I think that ascribing him any certain religion makes him a less universal characater.
One of the neater things about Batman is that no matter what you want him to be, you can probably find evidence to support your claim. Batman is all things to all people and putting him in any certain religion or denomination takes away from that.
From: "Is Bruce Wayne A Religious Person?" forum discussion, started 20 April 2006 on "Killer Movies" website (http://www.killermovies.com/forums/f50/t400582.html; viewed 27 July 2007):
20 April 2006
Is Bruce Wayne a religious person? I always thought he was Catholic.
20 April 2006
As far as I know, he isn't, but I haven't read everything.
20 April 2006
If you read Batman: Year 2, a key conversation touches upon that issue:
Lesley Thompkins: "Do you ever pray, Bruce?"
Bruce: "No, not since that night."
As far as we know, Bruce Wayne has never attended church and I think i've read somewhere a bit of him being fairly critical of religion... I really would not think of Bruce Wayne as a religious man...
20 April 2006
Bruce is basically like me: neutral. He is neither a religious person nor an atheist. Which I think is pretty cool that they keep those out of the storyline. Of course, Batman uses science to fight crime. He also has encountered Supernatural beings like The Demon, Spectre, and Shazam. You can basically assume he's split on both science and religion.
20 April 2006
Yeah, that's what I would think. I think he's in the same ballpark as I am. He believes there's most likely something out there that is beyond us, but he doesn't dwell on a religion or focus his thoughts on the Bible or anything like that. He's more into logic, and by seeing all the stuff that goes on in the universe, logically not everything can be explained by science, but blind faith isn't his way to go. Of course, even though I think he's kind of like me in that attitude, that had no affect on me liking Batman. I hate it when people do that lol.
20 April 2006
I think he knows they exist, sure. But he's not per se Christian or whatever. As you said: neutral!
5 June 2006
Batman doesn't care about religion.
14 June 2006
But he's the world's greatest detective. Why wouldn't he be interested in the biggest mystery of all time?
14 June 2006
There is a difference between interest and belief.
4 July 2006
AHAH! I knew he wasn't athiest/agnostic.
5 July 2006
Hmm... I believe he was raised a Catholic, yeah... and honestly I don't believe he believes himself... or not actively...
7 July 2006
Well I know he KNOWS there's a God. He was on the Justice League (not sure about anymore, have been busy with things other than reading comics) with Zauriel, who's an Angel. Haven't they come into contact with The Spectre, who is God's Wrath? Too many supernatural things, and things that have to do with a higher being have taken place for him to just ignore those things. I think he's too smart to remain ignorant on that.
BUT there is a difference in KNOWING and BELIEVING in it. I think he knows but chooses not to believe in it. Chooses not to think that Him being there will change any thing of have any effect in his life. Wasn't that the case with Constantine? He knew but didn't believe? Something like that.
8 July 2006
I agree there...
8 July 2006
If he knows, how can't he believe? How can someone not believe in aliens if they actually meet them?
9 July 2006
Just because you have proof of something doesn't mean you'll BELIEVE IN IT. He knows it exists but probably chooses to not have faith in it. To not believe that it has any effect in his life whatsoever.
9 July 2006
Agreed. He likely puts that encounter in the same category as aliens, demons, ghosts, etc. No religion, though.
10 July 2006
I think he believes in God but just doesn't worship him.
10 July 2006
I believe he's really grown apart from religion after being raised as a good Catholic boy... heh... go Anglican Church!!!!!!!!!!
11 July 2006
I read a similar discussion about Batman's religious beliefs once. The best suggestion went something like this: Batman knows there is a God, and has several plans on how to stop Him if He ever goes rogue.
11 July 2006
Batman vs God. Go Batman.
12 July 2006
Indeed! I'm not sure about the whole plans to stop him though.
13 July 2006
He's the world's finest detective. That's his job to find out. Maybe proving that Jesus never existed or that the Bible is just bs. But he does not need to get involved into religion.
14 July 2006
Jesus DID exist. That's pretty much definite fact.
17 July 2006
re: "Batman vs God. Go Batman."
I love Batman, I really do, but come on now.
re: "He's the world's finest detective. That's his job to find out. Maybe proving that Jesus never existed..."
Not that this is THE religion thread BUT - whether or not Jesus existed is not a question. Even people who don't believe in Christianity admit that he existed and did the things he did. They just believe he was just another prophet. And about the Bible - anyone who reads it would realize it's not BS as it has, and continues to prove itself as it predicted many of the things that has happened since its publication.
Batman would not have any control or anything that he could do to fight against God or anyone else near his level. I don't doubt that he could figure out what's going on, or why things occur, but he'd be helpless.
26 July 2006
re: "Is Bruce Wayne a religious person? I always thought he was Catholic."
I always thought he was a made-up comic book character.
26 July 2006
Batman clearly does not believe in a religion and probably God as well.
Parents getting killed forced him to believe in himself and his skills only.
He doesn't pray, ever. He is into science and logic, not faith.
27 July 2006
Maybe he is the leader of a secret sect. Batmanology or Batmanism.
The Yautja King
In Kingdom Come, WW asks Bruce to be her child's god-father. Does that mean he's Catholic?
From: "Comic book character religions" forum discussion, started 29 November 2005 on "Comic Book Resources" website (http://forums.comicbookresources.com/archive/index.php/t-94945.html; viewed 27 July 2007):
11-29-2005, 01:46 PM
I found this site via The Beat. It lists comic book characters and their religions.
11-29-2005, 02:18 PM
Yeah, but some of those aren't 100% accurate. Like Batman Catholic? I'm assuming maybe because of the parent's grave, but something tells me the only time Bruce has seen the inside of a church is when he followed somebody in to beat the crap out of them. And the Christian paraphenalia in Nightwing's room that McDaniel drew in were acknowledged to be more of an in-joke with McDaniel than anything reflecting the character himself.
11-29-2005, 02:19 PM
Batman is totally Catholic. Having troubles emotionally relating to his family, huge guilt issues, penchant for litt...okay won't go there.
11-29-2005, 02:22 PM
I figure he would be Episcopolian given how the Waynes are old money.
11-29-2005, 02:31 PM
re: "I figure he would be Episcopolian given how the Waynes are old money."
That's what I figure. Relatively easy to confuse the two...
11-29-2005, 08:22 PM
Not that it's Canon, but Bats is pretty irreligious in "Absolution"...
Apparently an issue of Comic Book Marketplace inadvertently indicated that the Hulk had been revealed as Jewish when in fact the writer was trying to note that Ben Grimm ("The Thing") had been revealed as Jewish. This misprint prompted the following discussion. From: "What issue was the Hulk revealed as Jewish?" forum discussion, started 12 November 2004 on IMWAN website (http://www.imwan.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=999; viewed 31 July 2007):
Posted: Sat Jul 21, 2007 8:01 am
It's rare for superheroes to appear in church, unless their religion plays heavily into their characterization (Wonder Woman, Daredevil). I don't see Batman or the Atom or Green Lantern going to church, but I don't assume they're athiest or agnostic. I work with dozens of people on a daily basis, have no idea if they attend mass unless they work it into a conversation (and very few do that).
Posted: Sat Jul 21, 2007 8:04 am
True, but be honest... You know more about Bruce Wayne than you do these people you work with. We know Bruce Wayne is not religious because we get to hear his thoughts in captions and see his private moments. He doesn't go to church, he doesn't get on his knees and pray before bed. If he were religious, we'd know about it by now.
The one exception is the Batman from the Holy Terror Elseworlds story.
Posted: Sat Jul 21, 2007 9:02 am
Darin Wagner['s opinion about the] Hulk [is] speculation...
...you assume that Batman doesn't pray because we haven't seen him do so? Then he also doesn't brush his teeth, or use a toilet, or have a snack before bed, or enjoy specific TV shows, or theater, or movies. Because we haven't seen that either.
Posted: Sat Jul 21, 2007 3:05 pm
True, but we've gotten inside his heart and mind through inner monologues and if he were a particularly religious person, we'd know it by now... which was the whole point I was making earlier.
Posted: Sat Jul 21, 2007 3:54 pm
Batman seemed vaguely religious in Azarello/Risso's "Broken City." It was an excellent story which began with Batman wondering if he and God have the same sense of humor.
Posted: Sat Jul 21, 2007 4:34 pm
Sure, some writers do tend to insert some of their own faith (or just a faith) into superheroes not known to have a designated faith. During the Jim Lee/Azarello run on Superman, they had him talking to a Catholic priest for guidance. I wouldn't assume Superman is Catholic because of this, however.
Posted: Sat Jul 21, 2007 8:23 pm
So these characters aren't religious because we don't see them acting religious.... but when they do act religious it's because the writer is inserting their own faith?
Quite a win-win debate you've set up for yourself.
Posted: Sun Jul 22, 2007 9:12 am
Why does it upset you so to see comic book characters associated with religious faiths? It stands to reason that a percentage of them would be extremely religious.. some would attend services... some would consider themselves part of a religion even if they don't participate.. just as in the real world.
Yet you seem to be offended by writers who build on characters by including religion... something that is a part of most folks' lives and has greatly affected politics over the past few decades. Not exactly a topic that should be shoved under a rug.
It seems ridiculous to keep characters stagnant, stuck in the vaccum built by their creators.
Posted: Sun Jul 22, 2007 10:56 am
I reject the premise on which your question is based. [Darin later makes it clear what he means by this: He rejects the assumption in Kurt's question. Darin does not actually object to comic book characters expressing religious faith.]
From: "Religion in Comics" forum discussion, started 3 August 2007 on official DC Comics website (http://dcboards.warnerbros.com/web/thread.jspa?threadID=2000125054&tstart=0; viewed 6 August 2007):
Posted: Aug 2, 2007 3:18 PM
I think the chances of such [religious] debates [within DC Universe comics] are pretty slim. I'm not saying that they wouldn't be interesting (they would), but you don't often see much religion or politics in comic books, unless it's some nutcase pseudo-religion (Superman as a Christ figure or Lobo in some fish religion).
And would religion really work as an issue? Let's say, for the sake of argument, that Batman was raised Catholic. Because of his current actions, does that mean that he has turned his back on the church, or does it mean that he has reconciled the two, at least in his own mind? There are a lot of pro-choice people out there claiming to be Catholic. Sometimes your religion doesn't always define your actions, much as it should.
Posted: Aug 2, 2007 3:52 PM
in real life, most people don't fight over religion unless you live in a place where you'd get killed for your religion. Personally, I'm an atheist although I was brought up Catholic. I'm still intrested in other people's religions and different beliefs or cultures, so I enjoy seeing superheroes' religions.
Apparently, Superman is either Methodist or some Krytonian religion. Batman was raised Catholic, but he doesn't practise. Spider-Man is Protestant, Wonder Woman believes in that ancient Greek Stuff. Deadman is obviously Hindu and the Thing is also obviously Jewish. I noticed in comics it seems as if all religions are correct.
From: "Need Help With A Research Project" forum discussion, started 9 December 2005 on the "Comic Bloc" website (http://www.comicbloc.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-16070.html; viewed 6 August 2007):
December 9th, 2005, 02:29 PM
I'm a Teaching Assistant at a major college and I am doing some research for a book being written by the professor I work for with the working title Modern Morality Plays: The Religion of Comics.
Essentially, the book will discuss how comics have become the primary form or morality storytelling much in the way that Bible studies were in the past.
One of my students suggested I come here and ask a few questions, as this forum is reportedly quite active.
If you wish to participate, please provide the following:
And answer the following questions:
1. Do you feel that comics reflect your moral values?
2. What are the primary moral values reflected in comics?
3. Do you feel that comics reflect any religious philosophy in particular?
I'll probably have more questions later, but this should get us started.
December 9th, 2005, 04:50 PM
1. Do you feel that comics reflect your moral values?
Yes. Take for example Batman. He was wronged, and sorely traumatized for all of his life. Yet, he never resorted to killing (with the exception of the awful Dark Knight Returns stories, thankfully they're out of continuity). He was going to get revenge, but not stoop to their levels. People like that are a great reflection of my views. Kate Spencer on the other hand, not so much.
2. What are the primary moral values reflected in comics?
Dealing with life in general. Look at every comic out there. Batman has to deal with the all too human tragedies he's experienced, Spiderman has to try to deal with life and school, and Superman has to deal with wooing the love of his life. Comics, for all their whacky stuff, are human at heart, and therefore quite wonderful.
3. Do you feel that comics reflect any religious philosophy in particular?
I believe that comics reflect all religions. DC has an obvious Christian-Jewish-Islamic God, yet has managed to incorporate gods. There's no bashing of any religious, merely an acceptance of all spirituallities (which is taken from Hinduism; everyone else is conceited in their views). That's part of why I love comics, they are open to all religions.
Of course, my views on religion come mostly from Kevin Smith's epic movie Dogma, but you've got to admit the views presented were quite wonderful.
December 13th, 2005, 09:09 PM
re: "Additionally, we could also use some opinions on what characters/storylines best illustrate the following moral concepts:"
A. Redemption -- Green Lantern: Rebirth, characters--Spectre, Batman, Spider-Man
B. Faith -- Nightcrawler: Icons, character--Nightcrawler
C. Humility -- Green Lantern: The Road Back (even though it's not a favorite story), character--Kyle Rayner, Tim Drake
D. Hospitality -- the Excalibur storyline where Kurt mentored the crazy gang (I can pull my old issues if needed); character--Aunt May
E. Mercy -- characters--Dove
Thanks a lot! I might edit later if I think of more.
December 13th, 2005, 09:58 PM
Comics do have a Judeo-Christian aspect as indicated before. Superman - the Moses of the DCU - given powers to free his adopted people from tyranny. One who is seen as an equal in his day to day guise yet is truly the savior of his people.
Spiderman burdened with the responsibility set forth by the words of his father figure. "Great power/Great responsibility". A tale of sacrifice and burden filled with miracles.
Batman: a character given rise from the death of others who sees value in all life. The only hope for a crime filled city. He honers his parents. He shall not kill. He keeps holy the sabbath (day of his parents passing) etc.
One could argue that all modern fiction has ties to the Bible in some sense. Older tales being retold in a modern setting . . . but then in lieu of being overt . . . the creators might have been influenced on a unconscious level.
December 13th, 2005, 10:18 PM
...E. Mercy - Others might disagree, but I say Batman. Hush is just one storyline where the Bat had a gun to the head of the Joker, a villain who killed his ward, Gordon's wife, paralyzed Batgirl, as well as numerous people across the globe, and even though every bone in his body wanted to pull the trigger, Gordon's words, and his own sense of right and wrong kept him from taking this villain's life. Perhaps some might say its dumb, but it's the epitome of Mercy. Most characters have been in a position to take out their arch enemy for good and held back... but this to me was the most perfect depiction of Mercy.
December 13th, 2005, 11:00 PM
Religious Affiliation: None. I consider myself a spiritual person though.
...D. Hospitality - I used to think Batman taking in Dick Grayson was a good example but lately it's been portrayed more as a planned recruitment. The Kents adopting baby Clark after he falls from the sky is another great example...
From: Tom R., "It's Kabbalah-in' Time!", posted 24 July 2006 on "Father McKenzie" website (http://fathermckenzie.blogspot.com/2006/07/its-kabbalah-in-time.html; viewed 10 August 2007):
...Superman is not the only superhero thought to be religious - Wonder Woman fancied ancient Egyptian religions, Batman is said to be a lapsed Anglican or Catholic (because of the crosses on his parents' tombstones), as is the Hulk. Rogue from the X-Men was raised as a Baptist, and Spider-Man prays to what is assumed to be a Protestant God...
From: Kelly Fryer, "Share Your Faith Like A...Superhero?", posted 31 July 2007 on "Reclaiming The F Word [Faith]" blog website (http://reclaimingthefword.typepad.com/reclaiming_the_f_word/2007/07/so-how-come-rel.html; viewed 12 August 2007):
So, how come religion is such a big deal in politics today?? Because it's a big deal everywhere. Even in comics...no longer the secret passion of nerds (I was a BIG comic fan as a kid)...not with Hollywood kicking out one superhero blockbuster after another. It used to be religion was taboo in the comics, regulated by a "Comics Code" that was still in effect as recently as 1989. But lately the characters many of us have known and secretly wanted to be are, if you will, coming out of the closet about their faith commitments. Stan Lee, the godfather of comics [link to: http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/comic_book_religion.html], says its because back in the 1930's everybody was trying to assimilate into the American melting pot. Today people are interested in their roots. They're not afraid of being alienated because of their religious identity. Ever wonder what religion Superman is? Methodist. Batman? Lapsed Episcopalian. The Thing? Jewish. Want to find out about your favorite character? Click here [link to: http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/comic_book_religion.html].
From: "Comics and Faith/Religion" forum discussion, started 12 August 2007 on Jinxworld website (http://www.606studios.com/bendisboard/showthread.php?t=122876; viewed 18 August 2007):
08-12-2007, 08:30 PM
I am looking for some new comics, or old ones I've missed, dealing with faith and religion. So far I have... I am looking more for mini-series. It need not be pro- or anti- religion, I am open to both. Suggestions?
08-12-2007, 11:11 PM
Doug TenNapel, the animator who created Earthworm Jim, incorporates Faith into most of his graphic novels. Creature Tech, Tommysaurus Rex and his new one, Black Cherry, come to mind. I've only read the first two and his Tim-Burton-meets-Jesus sensibilities don't do much for me, but the cartooning's great and his approach is interesting.
Much more recommended is P. Craig Russell's adaptation of Oscar Wilde's Christian allegory, The Selfish Giant. I still get chills.
Batman: Holy Terror is another good one, an Elsworlds imagining Bruce Wayne as a priest who resorts to extreme tactics living in an oppressive theocracy. DC will probably never reprint it, but it's my all-time favorite Elseworlds...
From: "The Official Unofficial Gail Simone Q&A (Until She Gets Tired of Us)" forum discussion, started 13 August 2007 on "Something Awful" forum website (http://forums.somethingawful.com/showthread.php?threadid=2590858&pagenumber=2; viewed 20 August 2007):
Aug 14, 2007 03:10
...in one of our threads we've been talking about Grant's Batman run, and about how he seems to be playing with religious themes. Because of this, I found this website that had a [massive amount] of discussion about superheroes' religion. Batman's page must've been like, 200 pages long...
From: "Batman's Serious Shoptalk" forum discussion, started 26 July 2007 on "Something Awful" forum website (http://forums.somethingawful.com/showthread.php?threadid=2571078; viewed 20 August 2007):
Jul 26, 2007 05:29
I finished reading Batman [#666] a while ago and hermanos and I were discussing a bunch of stuff contained therein. I assume everyone's read it, so I'll just toss out the main points we were talking about:
* Is Damian the antichrist, or was it the other (evil) Batman?
* What's with the Batman/Satan comparison?
* Doesn't Damian look exactly like Professor X?
* Why doesn't Batman die at the end?
I think it's other evil Batman was the antichrist, but since Damian apparrently has the power to un-cancel the apocalypse, hermanos thinks it could be Damian. I really don't understand why Morrison harps on the Batman=Satan thing more than once, hopefully someone has a theory on that. The running theory on why Damian doesn't die at the end is cause now he's empowered to protect Gotham forever, and also because the bat is the symbol of protection for Gotham.
Hermanos is furiously researching these issues and I'm lazy so I'll just eagerly away his post.
Jul 26, 2007 05:31
The Second Coming
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
Written by Grant Morrison; Art by Andy Kubert and Jesse Delperdang; Cover by Andy Kubert
Meet Damian Wayne, the Batman of Tomorrow in this special issue set 15 years from now in a nightmarish future Gotham! In a world torn apart by terrorism, plagues, rogue weather and bizarre super-crime, only 24 hours are left before the climactic battle of Armageddon - and only one man who might be able to stop it.
But will he?
The Son of the Bat meets the Prince of Darkness and the stage is set for the ultimate battle between evil and moral ambiguity. Can Damian make peace with his heritage to save the world? Find out in BATMAN #666, "Numbers of the Beast."
Jul 26, 2007 05:33
Yeah, see, you're dead wrong here. When you said that guy wanted to unleash anarchy and not bring about Armageddon, you were right. In the Christian religion/mythology, the anti-Christ doesn't bring around Armageddon, he just gets the world "ready" for its coming by making everyone evil and go crazy, while good people can't do anything to stop it. Damian sold his soul to the devil, and Armageddon means the end of Gotham too, so Satan sort of backed himself into a corner here.
Maybe that ties into everything, somehow?
Jul 26, 2007 05:55
I assumed [that in Batman #666], the other Batman that Damien kills is Azrael, with the reference to replacing his father and stuff like that. The religious stuff fits too.
Jul 26, 2007 06:03
Why would Satan want Armageddon? That's like the one of Norse Pantheon pining for Ragnarok. The point of Armageddon is that God finally gets off his rear end and fixes that whole evil problem, after all it is Angels loosing seals and deamons getting as much destruction in during their brief period of free reign as possible.
Setting up a situation where someone can prevent Armageddon is in Lucifer's best interest.
Jul 26, 2007 06:10
At first I was thinking that Tim was the Red-Eyed Batman, what with the total lack of his mention and his claim that they're both the son of Batman. Then I started thinking that maybe the issue is a misdirection and Tim is Good Batman while Damien is the Red-Eyed Batman. Turns out a lot of that thinking came from a couple misread panels.
But yeah, your idea does fit in with several quotes.
Jul 26, 2007 06:28
Azrael is a good guy, though (the angel, not the character) if you want to go by the religious subtexts. He was the angel of death, but under command of God, who probably wouldn't want death and anarchy running rampant over Gotham. And does the DC character have any reason to turn bad or go crazy? I don't think it'd come out of nowhere like that, unless we get some backstory this next arc.
Jul 26, 2007 07:25
I'm pretty sure Tim isn't the Anti-Christ Batman. For all the talk of being a son of Batman and suffering for the right to wear the suit, Damian recognizes him as one of the three replacements Batman is fighting in our present. So unless Tim goes [incredibly] insane on us real fast, it doesn't seem likely.
"I assumed the other Batman that Damien kills is Azrael, with the reference to replacing his father and stuff like that. The religious stuff fits too."
I could see this, though. With one of the others being a Bane kind of deal, people coming out of Batman's past to haunt him makes some sense. I don't have my 665, who were the three Batmen? Damian, Anti-Christ guy, and Bane guy? You know, I'd say the Anti-Christ one was Jason Todd if they weren't busy loving that character so hard.
...I also have to add that I really, really liked this issue, and would totally read an ongoing along the same lines. Oh Morrison.
Jul 26, 2007 07:43
"I don't have my 665, who were the three Batmen?"
Batman with a gun from Morrison's first issue, Bane Batman, and the final Batman would appear to be Damian.
Bruce says that one Batman sold his soul to the devil and destroyed Gotham. We know that Damian sold his soul, but will he destroy Gotham?
Jul 26, 2007 07:46
From [Batman] #665, the descriptions of the three Batmen are "A killer Batman with a gun", "a bestial Batman on strength-enhancing drugs", and "The third sold his soul to the devil and destroyed Gotham." The first one is the cop dressed up as Batman who shot the Joker in the face in Morrison's first issue. The second is Bane-Batman from the last few issues. The third, well, that sounds like Damian to me.
Jul 26, 2007 07:51
Maybe Batman doesn't take into account that Damien also sold his soul to keep Batman safe?
Also, what do you think the three replacement Batmen have to do with the overall feel or theme of this run so far? I don't really get what Morrison's trying to say with them.
Jul 26, 2007 08:36
"Bruce says that one Batman sold his soul to the devil and destroyed Gotham. We know that Damian sold his soul, but will he destroy Gotham?"
Well, he has the whole town wired to explode to help him in fights, that could be pretty significant. Then again, maybe it could be destruction of Gotham on a more spiritual/metaphorical level. Either in that it's an awful poo poo hole with a protector who sold his soul to the devil, or some kind of upcoming destruction and rebirth that Damian has a part in ("The Apocalypse is canceled, until I say so.")...
Jul 26, 2007 18:27
Let's do this page by page. Note that I'm not too familiar with the Catholic religion, so some of these things may be lost on me.
PAGE 1: Do bloody footsteps into a cathedral mean anything?
Pages 2 and 3: The first three panels have already happened in Morrison's initial run. Now in the third panel, where it says he rebelled against the league of assassins, we see Damian poisoning some rats. Then the fourth has him in his robin costume with a dead Batman, saying he's driven by guilt and haunted by legacy. Did he kill Batman, and if he didn't, then what is he guilty about.
Pages 4,5,6: Damian is much more brutal than his father. The first two Evil Batmen have been killers as well. Barbara is drawn as a full-on lesbian. Also note that Damian's wound is emitting smoke in all 5 panels it's in. And I'm assuming that Bethlehem is supposed to be where the final battle of good and evil takes place?
Page 7: WHOOO! Two-foot tall Bat....hover..bike..thing. Are Professor Pyg and his Dolltrons based on anyone?
Page 8: Professor Pyg is crucified upside down on a cross, although with legs apart instead of together. Damian lives in a Wayne Tower. His Batcave is hidden behind a fireplace. What symbolism!
Page 9: Big one here. First, Damian's wound is still smoking.
Now, look at the left display, with the two Batmen and Damian-Robin. The middle Batman, with the huge bat symbol and large pockets, is the same one shown lying dead on the third page. The other Batman, with the smaller symbol and smaller pockets, is the red eyed one that will show up later. I thought that the huge bat symbol drawn on Bruce on the third page was just Kubert being lazy, but it looks like it was actually a deliberate design decision. So if the middle one is indeed Bruce, then who is the other? I think it's either Dick or Tim, and that for a time, there were two Batmen running around, with Damian acting as the Robin for Bruce. Somehow Bruce gets killed, and the Dick/Tim Batman goes and becomes the Red Eye Batman we see later. According to the display, the Bat-Team is facing off against the Joker.
The dialog suggests that the Evil Batman will fight present-day Batman, as his appearance now is a return. Also, the evil Batman resurfaced nine days ago...
Page 10:...and temperatures have rose to record levels for the eighth day. Damian says he made a bargain with the devil when Bruce died.
Page 11: Isn't the bad pentagram supposed to be pointing downward? The one shown here is pointing upward, which makes it the original pagan/occult symbol, with the spirit point projecting over the elements. And with this orientation, there are no two upright points as he's saying, only one. Is this deliberate or actually a mistake on Kubert's part? Of course, the pentagram is tilted a bit, so it could technically be sideways. Barbara's dialog suggests that Damian is responsible for Dick's death.
Pages 12, 13: We see Red Eye Batman, with the 2nd costume shown in the display earlier. He has a flamethrower, and is talking about bringing about Hell on Earth. He wants Batman's eyes.
Pages 14, 15: Yep, Damian is one brutal badass.
Pages 16, 17: "Drop him or I put you in a wheel-chair!" Note that the holes on Evil Batman's mouthpiece make an upside down cross. You'll see it better later on. It's implied that Red Eye is Dick or Tim here. Setting Damian on fire doesn't do anything to him. Damian has booby trapped every single prominent building in Gotham, and Red Eye just happens to be standing on one of those traps.
Page 18: Damian isn't an honorable man, but he gets the job done. Red Eye walks on water. Again, it says that Bruce will one day fight this Red Eye, and fail to kill him. I can't see Dick or Tim getting into this situation, so could it be Azrael? It would fit with the theme of the three X-TREME BATMEN, as he was the first one to go all Punisher on villains. The way his costume is drawn here with the spiked shoulders is reminiscent of the KnightQuest days. The Old Man Dragon is the devil I suppose. His cross position here represents his Anti-Christ status.
Page 19: We can see that Red Eye has been horribly scarred underneath the armor. He's surprised to see his own blood. You can also see his upside-down cross on the mouthpiece better on this page. The Son of Satan doesn't remember what they did to the Son of God? Humans killed the Son of God, so why wouldn't they kill the Son of Satan as well? Damian says he sold his soul when he was fourteen, and wasn't he about six or so when he was introduced?
Page 20: He kills Red Eye, mentioning that he should tell his father if he wants what's owed to him. It's meaning is obvious if you assume that Red Eye is the son of the devil. But if you're in the Damian is the Anti-Christ crowd, then it makes to sense, so far. Note that the second he snaps his neck, flames that were not there before appear behind him.
Page 21: Barbara shoots him for no reason at all. Red Eye is now an burning, impaled corpse on a pole, with the pole going right through his mouth. I want to say that his pose there looks like something.
Page 22: His bullethole wounds are smoking again. "The apocalypse is cancelled. Until I say so." That line is it's own can of worms.
Jul 26, 2007 19:13
I thought his wounds were smoking because he had acid spit on him.
The way that Anti-Christ Batman is surprised by the fact that he bleeds and Damian's references to something that might as well be the Devil leads me to believe that AC Batman only thinks he sold his soul to the Devil. My guess is that both Batmen struck some kind of deal with Ra's over the fate of Gotham.
Jul 26, 2007 19:36
"Let's do this page by page. Note that I'm not too familiar with the Catholic religion, so some of these things may be lost on me."
There wasn't really anything I could see that was specifically Catholic about the whole thing, just generally Christian.
"And I'm assuming that Bethlehem is supposed to be where the final battle of good and evil takes place?"
Nah, it's not even mentioned in the Revelation, but it is of course where Jesus was born.
Also, considering Batman's recent ladyfriend, this must be significant:
quote: I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. 21 I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling. 22 So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways. 23 I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds. 24Now I say to the rest of you in Thyatira, to you who do not hold to her teaching and have not learned Satan's so-called deep secrets (I will not impose any other burden on you): 25 Only hold on to what you have until I come. 26 To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations-
27 'He will rule them with an iron scepter; he will dash them to pieces like pottery'[b]- just as I have received authority from my Father. 28 I will also give him the morning star. 29 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
Jul 26, 2007 22:33
re: "Page 11: Isn't the bad pentagram supposed to be pointing downward? The one shown here is pointing upward, which makes it the original pagan/occult symbol, with the spirit point projecting over the elements."
It's tilted and a little uneven but that's definitely an inverted pentagram.
Jul 27, 2007 03:00
"...the Antichrist, inspired by Satan, will attempt to win supporters with great works, and will silence anyone or make enemies of any country that refuses their allegiance..."
The Anti-Christ`s gimmick is that he presents himself as the Second Coming of Christ and tries to win over followers to his side. Anti-Batman is obviously presenting himself as the return of Batman, which establishes Bruce as a Christ stand-in. Apparently Anti-Batman is killing Gotham's most notorious crime lords to appeal to the people and gain their trust in his deception (great works). Gordon and the GCPD (and possibly Gotham City) do not trust or believe in the true Batman anymore, holding him responsible for murders and crimes.
Damien's claim that he gets to decide when the Apocalypse happens makes him a Christ-figure too--Jesus' Second Coming signals the beginning of the battle of Armageddon. It's not the Anti-Christ's role to declare Armageddon, it is Christ's. If Damien is the Second Coming of Christ/Batman then that means that the mantle of The Batman is the actual savior of Gotham City. This jibes well with the Anti-Batman perverting the mantle, not the person of Bruce Wayne.
THE BATMAN AS CHRIST
Jesus Christ/The Batman spend their lives trying to save humanity/Gotham City from their own corruption and vice. When he dies, Christ/The Batman becomes a sacrificial lamb to guarantee the salvation of humanity/Gotham City forever, or at least as long as people have faith in Christ/The Batman. Eventually, the Beast, the Anti-Christ/Anti-Batman rises and claims to be Christ/The Batman returned. The Second Coming of Christ/The Batman topples the Anti-Christ/Anti-Batman forever at Armageddon.
-When Batman (Bruce) dies, he dies in the position of the HANGED MAN from Tarot. From http://www.aeclectic.net/tarot/basics/hangedman.shtml
"The Hanged Man, in similar fashion, is a card about suspension, not life or death. This is a time of trial or meditation, selflessness, sacrifice, prophecy."
The Batman's mantle is suspended until its Second Coming as Damien. Upon Batman's death, Damien meditates on what to do to prepare for the future and sacrifices his soul.
-The Anti-Christ in Revelations is actually a Satanic Trinity made up of the First Beast (the classical Anti-Christ), The Second Beast (The False Prophet) and the Dragon (Satan). The three Ghosts of Batman correspond to these somehow but we won't know until we learn more about them.
-The sacrifice Jesus makes is his own life and noble soul in exchange for the everlasting salvation of humanity. The Batman's sacrifice is the life of Bruce Wayne and the soul of Damien in exchange for the salvation of Gotham.
-Damien was incubated in an artificial womb, thus he was not born of woman.
-The impression Damien gives when he kills the Anti-Batman is that the devil only gets Damien's soul once he kills Damien. Damien gets injured throughout the issue, so he is certainly mortal, though getting shot up by the GCPD like that could go either way: incredible stamina or supernatural power.
-The Devil is not a supernatural entity according to Damien. He's likely either a new supervillain or Ra's al Ghul, a man who certainly has the resources to defend Gotham forever and can bestow immortality. A deal with The Demon's Head for something as enormous as the permanent defense of Gotham would definitely be Faustian. Damien's guilt over his assassin heritage would help him think of Ra's as the devil.
-It's possible the Club of Heroes is an allegory for the Apostles, based on:
There are 6 other Batmen and therefore six other sidekicks, twelve in all (thirteen counting Robin, but 13 is also acceptable).
-The Black Casebook would make a fun Bible of Batman, wouldn't it?
Jul 27, 2007 04:37
This is very interesting... especially since there were obvious Christ parallels during 52 where batman was reborn after three days in the cave.
Jul 27, 2007 04:45
This is confusing. I thought Superman was DC's resident Jesus. Why is it Batman now?
Jul 27, 2007 04:51
The story of Jesus conforms to the heroic archetype, so naturally he and every comic book super hero share a common bond of labour and self-sacrifice for the common good. For a good while now, Batman's been claiming Gotham as his city, that only he can defend it. He's made himself Gotham's only hero, its only saviour. This is just an awesome progression of that.
Jul 27, 2007 11:42
I think [Hoatzin is] dead on with both points.
Throughout the run so far Morrison hasn't just been drawing comparisons between the extreme batmans, he's been exploring the age old line separating him from the people he hunts. The no killing thing has been a huge part of it so far and having Damion save the world by killing his enemy seems to contradict both that what Batman mentioned about the dream. Fear as an ineffective weapon has been shown plenty too. Many times Batman tries to scare information or discipline out of people but fails while an attempt involving persuasion succeeds. Damion still continues the technique and even tries to ensure peace by threating a crowd just held hostage. This also brings in the religious symbolism for Batman again, the Old Testament involves god using fear and punishment to bring order while the New Testament shows benevolence, Morrison is writing the Gospels for Batman here. He's showing the transformation away from the fear and uber-violence, so having Damion win with these seems against the rest of the run. The future-media sure seemed to figure that out and stopped scaring people into watching the news, Damion remarks how they only play good news now. Plus, when has a deal with the devil ever come without surprises? Supernatural or not, there's no way Damion bested the Devil. It's more likely irony is involved and by selling his soul Damion ensured Gotham's destruction, most likely by his own hand.
We also see a bright purple/green Luthor industries advertisement as Batman broods in issue 664. Philanthropy definitely seem to be a part of this story. There's a discussion over the distribution of wealth in the first issue and Bruce is constantly mentioning charities or using the Wayne name to help people. Morrison mentioned wanting to increase Bruce Wayne's role in Batman comics. He could be doing the financial stuff to make the Bruce Wayne persona important to Batman as a character.
The Morrison similarities to adult Damion (looks, the cat, the trenchcoat, the drugs) are certainly interesting as well. Drugs themselves have played a big part in this run too. I believe there's been at least one mention in every issue; both the manbats and bane-batman used drugs to transform themselves, batman uses painkillers and tranquilizers often. Another interesting reference is when Tim dismisses Bruce's dream as a result of all the drugs. Given the many other lines about interpreting art so far, I'm sure this is a reference to how people have dismissed Grant's work and creativity as only inspired by his drug usage.
Jul 28, 2007 10:22
In 52, Batman seeks out the Ten-Eyed Men of the Empty Quarter, whom he fights and wins the right to have his personal demons exorcised. He then goes to Nanda Parbat and meditates, before emerging after some time (I think seven days).
If Morrison's intent with Batman is to return him to the days of high adventure over brooding depression, I wonder if he might make this a literal as well as allegorical representation. Batman has himself purged of all the negative poo poo that's been building up, then goes to Nanda Parbat and looks inward to reassert his desire for justice. Perhaps what was removed was his hatred and desire for vengeance, which coalesced into or possibly just "infected" Damian. Other errant aspects of Batman's released psyche result in the other false Batmen, and the Black Dossier's prophecy begins to come true.
Of course, there's also the aspect of idolatry that's been prevalent. The false Batmen idolize him to the point of wishing to supplant him; Damian begrudgingly idolizes him and is forced to become him; the Club of Heroes idolize him and seek to be to their homes as he is to Gotham. Even Joker idolizes Batman to some degree, viewing him as his only equal and opposite.
Jul 28, 2007 14:41
The whole story seems to be a parable for Batman's enlightment, he sees all facets of himself seemingly purges himself of them and then overcomes them one by one.
I have to go back and reread alot of these issues, but it really does seem that Morrison is gettting rid of all the bullshit depression and although still maintaining fear and protection as part of Batman's schtick he is moving him away from a enjoyment of it and really does seem to be moving him toward a more sensible freer being I don't know how to describe it.
Either way these are really loving good, we have seen a new birth of Joker and we will probably be seeing a new birth of Batman which will be great, you can only do dark and brooding for so long.
Also, the Batman on the left is how Batman originally looked like in the comic books anyone else notice this, "the third Batman" that's just him. It's what he was originally drawn like.
Aug 04, 2007 00:46
I was wondering about the importance of Bruce's new Bat-Symbol, and I think that it's a combination of a holy cross and a bat. So if Bruce is the Christ figure, and Damian kills him, letting evil win in Gotham, and since Damian's meeting with the devil happened first, it actually makes him the Anti-Christ. It also explains his Apocalypse line. Since he's the true Anti-Christ, he really does have the final say in when the Apocalypse begins.
Red Eye is just some guy that also made a deal with the devil to get revenge on Damian. This is why Damian never gets wounded, while Red Eye does. Getting burned with a flamethrower and shot with dozens of bullets doesn't do a drat thing to Damian, whose wounds heal while emitting smoke, yet Red Eye dies as a burning, beaten up corpse. Damian begins to feel guilty for killing Bruce, and refuses to follow through on his deal with the devil and give up his soul, so he takes up Bruce's place.
Alternately, Red Eye could be the Christ figure, as he's the only one in the story to actually have a cross on them, and even takes up a cross position and walks on water.
Aug 07, 2007 03:45
I came across this article about Batman and his religion.
It's... very, very... VERY long and in-depth.
Alright, this is a little off the current topic, but we're doing serious Batman discussion and Morrison's run seems to be talking religion, so...
DC Comics writer Gail Simone, a self-described atheist, has revealed a detailed story arc she pitched for the Batgirl character. In her pitch, Cassandra became a devout Christian after encountering a Protestant minister.
"From then on, she is truly devout, truly converted. She wears a white bat outfit and starts looking out for the most vulnerable of Gotham's residents, runaways, immigrants, homeless people, mentally ill people, etc, because that's what she understands the minister would do. She still issues righteous beatings because she's a little bit Old Testament, but she talks scripture with both the minister and the gang members. She believes.
And after a while, she gets a new nickname... many people don't call her Batgirl anymore, she becomes to them, the Angel of the Bat. And for the first time, she's genuinely happy.
Well, it's better than what DC went with.
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