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The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Character
After Boston Brand was murdered, he became Deadman when the Hindu goddess Rama Kushna spirit granted Brand's spirit (or ghost) the power to tarry on Earth and possess any living being power. After solving the mystery of his own murder, Deadman continued to help other people and in some ways serve as an agent of this Hindu goddess.
Brand is not known to have been a Hindu during his mortal life. Clearly Deadman's super powers were granted by a Hindu goddess. But the degree to which Deadman should be considered a "Hindu" in terms of religious belief and practice may be debatable. We are, however, unaware of any other religious affiliation for this character. Deadman may, indeed, have some belief in Hinduism, given this religion's manifest power in his own life (or "afterlife," to be precise).
Above: Deadman calls on Vashnu, his Hindu religious leader. [Source: "Deadman in 'Good Girls Go to Heaven, Bad Girls Go Everywhere'" in Bizarro World, published by DC Comics (2005), page 295-296; written by Paul Di Filippo, art by Derek Kirk Kim.]
From: "Deadman" article on Wikipedia website (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deadman; viewed 26 May 2006):
Deadman is a DC Comics superhero created by Arnold Drake and Carmine Infantino in the comic book series, Strange Adventures, specifically in issue #205 (October 1967)...
Deadman is a ghost, formerly a circus acrobat named Boston Brand, who was murdered during a trapeze performance by a mysterious assailant known only as Hook. His spirit was granted the power to possess any living being by a Hindu goddess named Rama Kushna, in order to search for his murderer and obtain justice. However, Brand found himself obliged to help others while on his search, using his power to intervene and control living persons to help the innocent...
Ultimately, the character eventually found out the truth about his murder and came to accept his role as an intervenor in mortals' lives. The road Deadman has walked has been one fraught with death however, as his brother Cleveland was killed while possessed by Boston, and his 'benefactor' Rama Kushna was killed in order to defeat Jonah, a spirit similar to Deadman.
Appearances in other media
- Deadman was in issue #6 of the comic book Batman: Gotham Adventures (based on Batman: The Animated Series) where his origin was very much alike to his mainstream comic except... Rama Kushna was male...
- Deadman appeared as the champion of the now Buddhist Goddess Rama Kushna in the season three Justice League Unlimited episode, "Dead Reckoning". He resides in a temple in Nanga Parbat...
- Deadman appeared briefly in Mark Waid and Alex Ross' Kingdom Come, where he offered some words of encouragement to [Dutch Reformed minister] Norman McCay...
Excerpts from: "Atheist superheroes" discussion page, started 2 March 2006, on "Atheist Network" website (http://atheistnetwork.com/viewtopic.php?p=209834&sid=5ca5d2a99f2714e2f90fcee608eb4ac4; viewed 26 May 2006):
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=15; viewed 30 May 2006):
Posted: Fri Mar 03, 2006 3:42 am
It's good to see that Mr. Terrific is still an atheist...
Of course if I were in the DC Universe I would be a believer in the supernatural if not an outright theist [i.e., believer in God]. After all, the heroes of that universe have been to Hell. They've stood before the hosts of heaven. Not only does Spectre exist but so does Deadman, Zatanna, Swamp Thing, Ragman, Raven and Dawn Manitou, Shazam, and on into near infinity. ...even the original Green Lantern got his power from magic. And Hal Jordan/Green Lantern was the freakin' Spectre for awhile. Add to that the number of characters that come back from the dead and really in that reality there would be no real reason to doubt.
...not surprisingly more villains are revealed to be atheists than heroes...
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):
Posted: May 22, 2006 9:47 AM
No religion in comics?
Here are some of the things that may be missed or have to be adjusted.
From: Douglas Ethington
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/4e5839f075fecf76/8821b5db671e7ce1; viewed 20 June 2006):
Date: Fri, Oct 11 1996 12:00 am
Email: Douglas Ethington
...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: Gustavo Wombat
Date: Thurs, Apr 22 2004 12:03 pm
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: Brian Doyle
Date: Thurs, Apr 22 2004 12:36 pm
...Deadman believes in a deity called Rama Kushna (Whom he has had conversations with)...
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:
...I don't know why Deadman is identified as Hindu...
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 9 2007, 04:25 PM
Anyway. Is Boston Brand technically a Hindu, since he works in the service of a Hindu goddess?
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
...One might want to know though that Deadman, Boston Brand, has actually meet the Hindu goddess Rama Kushna, so I always assumed that all the Gods, no matter the religion, existed in the DC universe, which is why there aren't a lot of religious discussion or attempted convertion between the characters, I mean, why try to convince someone that one religion is more valid than the other, when all the Gods have been proven to exist? That's not to say characters haven't converted, just that converting is more about finding a relgion that suits that characters' sensibilities.
And Adherents.com's section on this topic, as mentioned in the article, is pretty good...
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=0&tstart=15; viewed 19 July 2007):
Posted: Feb 28, 2007 12:49 PM
Any character that uses magic, sorcery
Posted: Feb 28, 2007 1:57 PM
As a devout follower of the Judeo-Christian God and his Son, Jesus Christ, here is my reaction to this topic...
These are fictional characters in a world that is fictional. The behaviors of these characters really have no bearing on how I live my life or worship God. I can see how some characters can be used as parables or metaphors for Christ. Or how many heroes exemplify the best things that God put in us. Every once in a while, a book will cause me to reflect on my own goals and ideals, but I've never had a writer or character change the way I see faith and worship. Kingdom Come was very unveiled in its representation of the Christian God, with several passages of scripture cited throughout, especially from the book of Revelation. But all of the prophesies didn't come true in that story. The world didn't end. Now, I believe that the bible is true, and that the things that are written about in Revelation will come to pass, but that dosen't keep me from enjoying that particular story.
I drink beer. I listen to hard music. I enjoy comics. I talk with other sinners openly about life, love, faith, and trying to figure out what it is that we are put here on earth to do. Life is too short to worry about whether or not comic book heroes are sacreligious or not.
Posted: Mar 1, 2007 7:42 AM
re: "Theses are fictional characters in a world that is fictional. The behaviors of these characters really have no bearing on how I live my life or worship God. I can see how some characters can be used as parables or metaphors for Christ. Or how many heroes exemplify the best things that God put in us. Every once in a while, a book will cause me to or reflect on my own goals and ideals, but I've never had a writer or character change the way I see faith and worship."
Oh! Good point!
DC and Marvel comics never say sorcery and Rama Kushna and angel superheroes exist in the real world -- so it's not sacreligious. They don't opine on the nature of God in the real world.
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, 02:12 PM
It is hard to be a "well adjusted" Atheist when the Spectre is around or Etrigan or Neron or Deadman or the entire cast of Sandman. It is hard to be an Atheist when Zeus and Athena show up on your doorstep and people who have died come back later with tales of an afterlife. When you have Lords of Order and Chaos.
You most certainly cannot be a Skeptic in the DCU - Aliens, Magic, and psychic powers Do exist there. Superman is saving the world again. Chances are good if you lived in the DCU you'd have a chance to shake his hand.
Being an Atheist in the DCU is like being a Flat-Earther in our reality.
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."
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 Einheri on Tuesday, March 07 2006 at 03:53:00 GMT
I hold out hope.
As for Mr Terrific, if he is an atheist - from what I've seen - he's very polite about it. Atheists who try to "evangelize" me to their beliefs (or lack of beliefs) tend to iritate me more than religious people trying to evangelize me to their faith. But not much more.
Let me work it out for myself. And I'll try not to bother you. But I make no promises. ;-)
There, that's about as preachy as I get, Corn. But, to better answer some of what you're driving at, I think it could be very easy to be an atheist in the presence of Superman. I daresay that the presence of entities like Darkseid, Spectre, Dr. Fate, Deadman, Wonder Woman, Clark Kent, and even "things" like Bat-Mite sort of make the supernatural common-place. If we have comic book logical explanations of these folk, it wouldn't be too hard to reason that there could be other, more powerful creatures, even a "supreme being." But I don't think someone like Mr. Terrific would call this entity "GOD." Well, maybe he might if he thought it could get IT to stop making him eat playground dirt.
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 3:52 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.
Webpage created 26 May 2006. Last modified 6 August 2007.
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