The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Superhero Team
Crossbreed is a team of Evangelical Protestant Christian superheroes featured in the critically acclaimed comic book series Kurt Busiek's Astro City.
From: Jeffrey Weiss, "Comic-book heroes seldom reveal their faith: Recent revelation of the Thing's religion was a rare moment for pop culture", published in Dallas Morning News, 24 August 2002 (http://www.bluecorncomics.com/thingjew.htm; viewed 21 December 2005):
Over the years, the writers told readers all kinds of things about the habits and foibles of the characters. We knew about their taste in clothing, their troubles with relationships, their sense of humor. But we rarely discovered whether they followed any particular religion.
That seems odd in one way. Back in the dawn of the modern comic book, more than 90 percent of Americans self-identified with a particular religion, mostly some kind of Christianity. Why wouldn't reality-linked superheroes have a particular religion?
Explicitly Religious Comics Characters [list of 20 characters features six individual characters and one team under the "Christian" subheading, including:]
Crossbreed is an evangelical Christian team of superheroes who live in Astro City.
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?
Cool clix they could make that might fit the bill could come from Astro City: The Confessor and Altar Boy would certainly apply. The Crossbreed might, although, I picture those guys more as non-denominational Christians.
From: "New Christian JLA member" message board, started 5 May 2005 on official DC Comics website (http://dcboards.warnerbros.com/web/thread.jspa?threadID=2000023085&start=15&tstart=0; viewed 15 May 2006):
Posted: May 6, 2005 9:11 AM
I, too, would like to see Christianity depicted in a hero but done well. That seems to be one of the final challenges left to writers today. But how does the writer portray a theme as diverse as the Christian faith so that it sticks? There is more to Christians than intolerant fundamentalists. But how interesting are moderates? Nightcrawler and Daredevil seeking Christ for sanctuary, and Zaurial's exploration of the Christian epic myth are character designs that meet the Christian core I identify with. (Anyone remember the street-corner evangelists in Astro City?) I appreciate any writer willing to take up the challenge.
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):
Posted: Tue Mar 01, 2005 6:38 pm
Post subject: Religious Inclinations of heroes
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... Any other examples of guesses?
Posted: Tue Mar 01, 2005 7:57 pm
Perhaps I should make a thread only about the comic or religious comics in general, but has anyone read Astro City: Confession? The main character is Altar Boy, the sidekick of the Confessor, who's Catholic. There's also a born-again bunch named the Crossbreed.
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)
From: Robert Justus
Date: Mon, Apr 5 1999 12:00 am
To keep this on topic (sorta), why are most heroes not as religious as they could be? I'm not into promoting religion (far from it), but it seems that most of the religious people in comics are the VILLAINS, and are presented as nut-cases (which Mary here seems to prove, unfortunately). However, the only really religious person that's sane that I recall in DCU is Huntress, and I guess Wonder Woman (she worships the Greek gods. Does this count?). Anyone else (and I'm not talking about made-up/alien religions like Brother Blood's or Martian Manhuter's)? Astro City has a group that is made up entirely of religious types, and this seems consistent with what the real world would probably spawn. I'm just wondering if DCU has many more religious heroes than I can recall.
From: "Any Christian Superheroes?" thread began 22 April 2004 on rec.arts.comics.dc.universe newsgroup (http://groups.google.com/group/rec.arts.comics.dc.universe/browse_thread/thread/4e5839f075fecf76/394c4ad930a0e68c; viewed 20 June 2006):
I can't think of any major superheroes that strongly believe in any real faith, and that surprises me. Certainly not in the DC Universe. I think there are more minority superheroes than religious ones...
From: WRH Bill
Date: Fri, Apr 23 2004 5:08 pm
Kurt Busiek's ASTRO CITY series has a superhero team called the "Crossbreed" which is explicitly Christian, though they've only appeared in the background and not (so far at least) been the major focus of a storyline. In the one significant appearance by them that I recall, where they helped Altar Boy, the kid sidekick of the vampire-hero Confessor, the Crossbreed were portrayed positively, not as religious fanatics as Christians tend to be stereotyped.
Come to think of it,, the Confessor himself was originally a Catholic priest who is bitten by a vampire but tries to continue doing good despite his "undead" status. You might want to look up the TPB of that Astro City storyline (I think the title is "Confession").
From: Mark J. Reed
Date: Fri, Apr 23 2004 5:35 pm
re: "...the Crossbreed were portrayed positively, not as religious fanatics as Christians tend to be stereotyped."
Good. But the origin of the stereotype isn't hard to spot - the non-fanatic Christians don't tend to be very visible in the media. Squeaky wheels and all that. So most non-Christians probably have a very slanted view of Christianity, imagining that the Fallwells and Robertsons are typical.
Date: Fri, Apr 23 2004 6:41 pm
Actually that was the point of their characterisation, they were portrayed as fanatics - handing out pamphlets on a street corner and unliked by a population that saw them as pushy, but later appeared as good people.
In the Artemis: Requiem miniseries, there was a temporary group of temporary heroes who called themselves the Hellenders, IIRC. They seemed to be on some kind of religious mission to fight demons. I seem to remember that at some point in the story they had to duck into a church and fetch some holy water. Not sure if this constitutes "motivated by the Christian faith," but it seemed something.
There was a nicely done Christian supergroup in "Astro City" in the Confessor storyline. For that matter, the original Confessor was a Christian vampire who mortified his flesh with Christian symbols to keep his evil urges at bay. He ended up staked in the story but his sidekick carried on his legacy.
From: "The religion of comic book characters" forum discussion, started 3 December 2006 on RPG.net website (http://forum.rpg.net/showthread.php?t=299781&page=5; viewed 25 April 2007):
2-04-2006, 09:34 PM
Arbane the Terrible
Quote: Originally Posted by Thranduil: While I know of the Greek/Norse/other pantheon gods empowering people in comic universes, I haven't heard of people being exalted by the biblical god to superhero-ness (except Catholics, apparently ) . Does this happen in any mainstream comics?
The only well-known character I can think of like that would be The Spectre.
In Astro City, there's a team called "The Crossbreed", who believe their powers are a gift from God. (Refreshing, in that they're devoutly religious AND unquestionably good guys. As much as I dislike organized religion, I will confess the "Evil Religious Nuts" trope has a bit overused since "God Loves, Man Kills".)
Thor once fought a guy who called himself The Crusader, but I dunno what happened to him after he lost.
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 12 July 2007):
10-01-2002, 09:57 AM
There was a thread about this here a while ago, concerning the confirmed religions of the various comic-book characters along with speculations on the unknowns. Was pleasantly civilized throughout.
I'm impressed that the writer clearly did his homework for the story. He pulled in a BUNCH of really obscure characters, including some from well outside the normal DC/Marvel continuity. Kind of miffed that he included the Crossbreed from Astro City, but left out the Confessor from the same story arc, though...
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):
Supervillains tend to be atheists, superheroes tend to be theist...
March 21, 2006, 04:17 PM
They've got Noah listed as a Protestant Evangelical Christian. If they're referring to OT Noah (and judging by the fact that he is grouped with Daniel, David, Peter, Mary and Joshua, I think they are) how is someone a Christian 2,400 years before Christ? Were they even Jews at that point?
March 21, 2006, 08:30 PM
When I read that, my first thought was that the Biblical figures must have appeared in a comic book produced by Protestant Evangelical Christians. Some fundies [i.e., "fundamentalist Protestants"] actually think that the OT [Old Testament] patriarchs held beliefs identical to their own -- they couldn't countenance holding them in such high regard otherwise. A lot of the characters on the list are clearly the stars of indie comics produced for a devout religious niche market.
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):
Not From Around Here
posted 04-12-2007 04:22 PM
...I was pleasantly surprised at the respectful portrayal of the Crossbreeds in "Astro City"...
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.
I'm not seeing any Astro City [on the list]. Probably the best take on religious superheroes I've seen.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:51 PM on March 7
Astro City is there. The Crossbreeds are all listed as "Protestant Evangelical Christian".
posted by kyrademon at 5:02 PM on March 7
From: "Gods and Champions" forum discussion, started 11 September 2004 on "HERO Games" website (http://www.herogames.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-21728.html; viewed 12 July 2007):
Sep 11th, '04, 04:46 AM
Doesn't it seem that religious based Superheroes get a sort of lopsided treatment? Characters like Thor, Hercules and others never seem to catch much flak for claiming to be pagan gods and such, but Christian based supers are either unheard of or portrayed as over zealous wack jobs. I'm not a particularly religious person so please don't take this a some sort of rant, just something I've noticed...
Sep 13th, '04, 02:23 AM
There was a great team in Astro City of religious superheroes. They're called the Crossbreed.
Here's a link. (http://www.astrocity.us/cgi-bin/index.cgi?page=features/visitorsguide/teams.html)
Sep 13th, '04, 10:10 AM
Ah yes, the Crossbreed. I have several Fundie [Fundamentalist Protestant Christian] (non-crazy) and Evangelical friends who love that group and AC's depiction of them. Confessor (ex-Catholic priest turned vigilante vampire) was amazing too.
And I personally think that CONFESSIONS is the best plot line to use religion I've ever seen in any comic book anywhere.
Sep 13th, '04, 06:07 PM
Yes, Astro City's CONFESSION is probably the best attempt so far of mixing superheroes and religion in a positive (but not rosy-colored) light. The Confessor was a devout Christian super-character that was both admirable and complex...
From: "Comics Industry is a Secular Ghetto" forum discussion, started 20 February 2007 on ComicCon website (http://www.comicon.com/ubb/ultimatebb.php/ubb/get_topic/f/2/t/009378/p/3.html; viewed 11 August 2007):
posted 03-02-2007 02:50 AM
re: I don't agree that comics are particularly secular. Read most Vertigo and you'll see a line that deals quite a bit with religious themes, maybe not how you'd like them to deal with them (some are, in fact, downright abrasive to conservative Christian values), but they're not "secular."
Anti-Christian bigotry that comes from a non-religious place? That's is most ASSUREDLY secular.
Listen, I'm just talkin' numbers, man.
Look at it this way. Roughly 2% of Americans are Jews. Roughly 2% of Americans are homosexuals... Okay, how many times in comics has a character's homosexuality been tossed up at you? Now, how many times has a character's Jewishness been tossed up at you?...
Now, roughly 85% of Americans are Christians. How often has a character's Christian-ness been tossed up at you?
I mean, Daredevil is Catholic. Nightcrawler is Catholic. Outside of that Astro City TP [trade paperback], where are the Evangelical Protestants? Catholics are the minority. Where are the Lutherans, fer cryin' out loud?! I'm Lutheran. (Yeah, that's right. Missouri Synod Lutherans and Wisconsin Synod Lutherans are conservative, Biblicist, Evangelical Protestants.)
Movies? Michael J. Fox played a Lutheran soldier of conscience on Casualties of War.
You JUST don't GET it, do you?
92 percent of Americans profess a belief in God and 84 percent call themselves Christians. Where ARE they in the world of mainstream comics? VILLAINS?! That just PROVES my point! That's ANTI-CHRISTIAN bias coming from bigoted comics writers. Sheesh! Are you totally CLUEless?
"Modern comics are more realistic." No they're NOT. They exist in a fantasy world where 84 percent of Americans embrace villainy (portrayed as YOU describe).
So, you would say that laws outlawing religion would not be "secular," because they deal with religion? What fantasy world are you IN, man?
Webpage created 21 December 2005. Last modified 15 August 2007.
We are always striving to increase the accuracy and usefulness of our website. We are happy to hear from you. Please submit questions, suggestions, comments, corrections, etc. to: firstname.lastname@example.org.