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The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Character
|Left: This Catholic crucifix, depicting Jesus hanging on the cross, hangs on the wall in the family room in Blue Beetle's home. [Source: Blue Beetle #3 (July 2006), written by Keith Giffen and John Rogers, pencilled by Cynthia Martin, inked by Phil Moy; page 6.]|
Above: "The Perfect Son": A Catholic crucifix, which depicts Jesus hanging on the cross at Calvary, hangs on the wall in the family room of Blue Beetle's home. In this scene, note how the cross with Jesus is shown in the same scene in which Blue Beetle's father refers to him as a "perfect son." This is an appelation often applied to Jesus.
In this scene, Blue Beetle (Jaime Reyes) has just returned to his home after an absence of a year. He did not realize until moments ago that he had been gone for a year, and he has no idea where that time went. His family, however, has lived with the loss of their son for the past year. Jaime, as his father points out, was already a nearly "perfect" son before he disappeared. In his absence, his mother elevated him in her mind the rest of the way to perfection.
The fact that this crucifx is still on the wall a year after the family last saw their son (see the panel from Blue Beetle #1 showing the same crucifix) suggests that they have retained their Catholic faith during that time. Indeed, what Jaime's father tells him suggests that Jaime's mother may have in some unspoken ways interpolated the disappearance of her son with the story of Jesus, making Jaime, in her mind, a sort of sanctified figure.
[Source: Blue Beetle #3, New York City: DC Comics (July 2006); written by Keith Giffen and John Rogers, pencilled by Cynthia Martin, inked by Phil Moy; page 6.]
The Blue Beetle character was originally published by Fox Feature Syndicate, and was later published by Charlton comics, before being purchased by DC Comics. Jaime Reyes is the third major super-hero character to be known as the "Blue Beetle." Dan Garrett was the first major super-hero known as the "Blue Beetle." Originally Garrett had no super-powers, but relied on a lightweight, skin-tight bullet proof armor of his own invention. When acquired by Charlton, Garrett was re-imagined as an archaeologist who obtained a number of superhuman powers from a mystical scarab he found during an excavation in Egypt. The magical scarab had been used to imprison an evil mummified Pharaoh. Dan Garrett later became a supporting character in Charlton and DC Comics stories about his successor, industrialist adventurer Ted Kord. Kord did not possess the scarab and had no actual super-powers, but relied on his athletic abilities and inventions. Jaime Reyes is the direct successor to the Ted Kord "Blue Beetle", but is also a successor to Dan Garrett, as Reyes' powers are derived from the same scarab that made Garrett into the Blue Beetle.
Jaime Reyes inadvertently became the new Blue Beetle in 2006, during the company-wide DC Comics crossover event known as "Infinite Crisis." Reyes' assumption of this mantle came soon after the previous Blue Beetle (Kord) was murdered by Maxwell Lord. The two characters - Kord and Reyes - never knew each other and are, in fact, quite different.
Reyes is a Mexican-American teenager who lives in his native El Paso, Texas. Like the majority of Mexican-Americans in El Paso, Reyes is a member of the Catholic Church. The extent of his religiosity and nature of his personal religious beliefs are yet to be revealed. It is possible that Reyes is only nominally Catholic. It is possible that he is a devout churchgoer and sincere believer. Most likely, he is somewhere in between. The character has not, as yet, seemed overtly religious, but then, title characters in super-hero comics rarely do, even if they are actively religious "off-panel."
John Rogers, the first writer of the new Blue Beetle series that first regularly chronicled Jaime Reyes' adventures, revealed in an interview he gave prior to the start of the series that Reyes is Catholic (and thus different from the majority of super-heroes, who are Protestant). From: Jennifer M. Contino, "John Rogers' Comic Bug, Blue Beetle", interview with Jon Rogers, published in The Pulse, April 2006, posted on Comicon.com website 17 April 2006 (http://www.comicon.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=36;t=005013; viewed 21 May 2006):
THE PULSE: Why set this in El Paso Texas? It's not exactly the Mecca of the DCU? What was it about this place that made it seem key to the new Blue Beetle series?
ROGERS: Fresh start, is a big thing. You start in Metropolis, you have to deal with a LOT of stuff. Being the only guy in town actually frees you up. To tell you the truth -- gahh, I don't want to make a big political statement here, but God, why does every superhero have to be a Protestant White Guy? Is it still 1959? At the same time, we're selling making The Very Special Lesson -- it's just not a big deal that Jaime's Mexican-American. You want to make a more believable setting for your stories, use the real world. The real world's changed. You reflect that in your setting.
On a more story-based tack, we've never really done a smaller border city in a DCU book -- it's Gotham or Pleasantville, with very little in between. We get to explore, also, how some of the mid-level infrastructure works in a super-powered world...
THE PULSE: Who is Jaime Reyes, who has become the new Blue Beetle? Who was he before the scarab and what's he forced to become after?
ROGERS: Jaime was The Good Kid. B+ student, worked hard, obeyed his parents -- not perfect, he mouthed off a little, stretched curfew when he could -- but you knew he was going to be all right, probalby do a little better than his folks, live the American Dream. The Scarab .. the Scarab ruins pretty much all that.
That's not to say the book is a depressing book. The book is HOPEFUL -- because we want to show a young man who picks himself up, dusts himself off, and beats all this super-hero crap through sheer force of will and hard work.
THE PULSE: Is this scarab the same one that Dan Garrett had? If so, why does it seem to have such a different effect on this teen? Why did it bind itself to his spine?
ROGERS: Yep, it's Dan Garrett's Scarab. And why it's treating Jaime differently is one of the mysteries of the book.