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The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Character
Charles McNider, later Pieter Cross
of the Justice Society of America
Pieter Cross, the contemporary superhero known as "Doctor Mid-Nite," is regularly portrayed in the comics as a devout Catholic. Doctor Mid-Nite's religious devotion is a central aspect of his character and has been used as a plot point in many Justice Society of America stories.
Pieter Cross is the second man to take up the "Doctor Mid-Nite" mantle. The first "Doctor Mid-Nite" was the World War II-era hero Charles McNider, who was also a Catholic, but less devout.
Above: A headstone in the shape of a cross marks the Catholic grave of Charles "Chaz" McNider, also known as the first Doctor Mid-Nite (or "Owl" in this Elseworlds story).
[Source: JSA: The Unholy Three issue #2, DC Comics: New York City (2003), page 64; written by Dan Jolley and Tony Harris, pencilled by Tony Harris, inked by Ray Snyder; reprinted in: JSA: The Liberty Files trade paperback, DC Comics: New York City (2004), page 261.]
From: "Let's make OUR OWN new JLA (and other teams)" forum webpage on DC Comics forum discussion section of official Warner Brothers website (http://dcboards.warnerbros.com/web/thread.jspa?threadID=2000044548&messageID=2001467913; viewed 7 January 2006):
Dr. Mid-Nite [Pieter Cross] - (Justice Society of America) Brilliant medical doctor with the ability to see all parts of the spectrum. Devout Catholic. Has a pet owl Charlie he uses for surveillance (camera around neck). Good field doctor for other heroes. Infrared vision which allows him to see through walls, etc. Has had weapon which could control others' nervous system or fire bursts of heat and cold.
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):
From: (http://www.hcrealms.com/forum/showthread.php?t=123637&page=2&pp=15; viewed 7 January 2006):
May 16th, 2005, 09:53 AM
...As for other superheroes, Charles McNider (Dr. Midnite I) had a crucifix on his mantel in a recent JSA issue.
May 21st, 2005, 08:05 AM
You know, I don't like too much overly obvious religious references in my comics nor do I like political ones because I read comics as an escape. But I do appreciate appropriate mentions. For example, I think the talk Dr. MidNite and Mr. Terrific had during the Spectre arc was very appropriate without being overblown. Now in other comics I just see religion used as a way to stereotype a character "him, he's the Catholic guy" or "He's the Jewish guy" or something like that. I think that's just a sign of an unimaginative writer.
Dr. Mid-Nite (Pieter Cross) has really had his Catholicism played up over the last year. Interestingly in the latest storyline there are indications - based upon things in McNider's home - that the original Dr. Mid-Nite was Catholic as well.
From: (http://www.captaincomics.us/forums/lofiversion/index.php/t3594.html; viewed 7 January 2006):
Dr. Mid-Nite pauses to pray at a church in the current JSA storyline dealing with Hal Jordan.
From "Nightwing, Christian?" forum page, started 3 March 2004 on the "Comic Book Resources" website (http://forums.comicbookresources.com/archive/index.php/t-45948.html; viewed 7 January 2006):
03-04-2005, 05:52 AM
Geoff Johns has done some great work with Dr. Midnite and Mr. Terrific, re: faith and atheism, over in the JSA [Justice Society of America] title.
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):
14 May 2004 at 5:28 am
I enjoy it when a character's faith (or lack of it) is explored. Done properly, it can enrich characterization and be a powerful dramatic tool... Geoff Johns has written some good scenes using this aspect of character as well, such as the scene with Mister Terrific and the Flash in JSA [Justice Society of America] #25, and more recently with Mister Terrific and Doctor Mid-Nite in JSA #60.
From: "List of Superhero Religions" discussion board, started 14 March 2006 (http://s8.invisionfree.com/Superdickery_Forum/ar/t2607_0.htm; viewed 24 April 2006):
EspanolBot - March 14, 2006 04:19 PM (GMT)
...the current Dr. Midnite [Dr. Mid-Nite] and Mr. Terrific are both shown to go to church frequently.
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):
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 9:01 PM
Doc Mid-Nite is Catholic. Kevin Smith turned Connor Hawk into a sorda kinda Catholic... Somebody has prob already mentioned Nightcrawler's Christian creed (think he's Catholic)...
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&start=15&tstart=0; viewed 8 May 2006):
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... 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 . . .
From: comments section on "The Beast is an Episcopalian" page on "IFanBoy.com" blog website, posted 1 February 2006 (http://www.ifanboy.com/archives/000675.html; viewed 10 May 2006):
Posted by: Michael at February 6, 2006 09:51 PM
My two favorite religiously themed stories come from Geoff Johns and Peter Tomasi. In Johns' JSA arc that appears in JSA #59-62, we are told about Mr. Terrific's tragic past with his wife's death. There are also some interesting dealings with the Spectre in there as well (which leads directly into Rebirth), but I really enjoyed the interactions between Mr. Terrific and Dr. Mid-Nite. It deals with how Mid-Nite uses religion to understand and support some of the heroic things he does, while also relying on it for support when tragedy strikes. Terrific has problems with that. The end result I feel is one of the more moving sub-stories I've read.
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; viewed 15 May 2006):
Posted: May 6, 2005 3:09 AM
I am a Christian... There is a reason there is no Christian superhero. Same reason as there is no real Jewish [superhero]... that flaunt their religion or fight for religious belief specific notions. It's because they would be offensive to many, if not most, of the readership.
Besides -- Zauriel, Bloodwynd, Wonder Woman, the Spectre, the Quintet, etc., etc., are all based on or are slaves to religious beliefs, but none actively flaunt it, or debate which is correct, so a hard-line Christian super hero would probably not sit too well.
Posted: May 6, 2005 3:50 AM
Well, I'm gonna hit you. Nightcrawler, Daredevil, Nightwing, Huntress, Doctor Mid-Nite, and the Flash are all Christians... Many of them have debated their beliefs in the comics - as you say, not the hardline way, but that is definitely not the same as saying that they are not Christian superheroes, or that they are not devoted.
As far as I know, none of them are fundamentalists, against other religions or...
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):
Posted: Fri Mar 03, 2006 3:42 am
It's good to see that Mr. Terrific is still an atheist. Some months back there was an issue of JSA [Justice Society of America] where he was convinced to go to church by Dr. Midnight and was really on the verge of becoming a theist again [i.e., a believer in God]. It was disgusting...
Posted: Sat Mar 04, 2006 11:48 pm
Okay, I've only been reading JSA for a few months now, so I'm no expert, but if Dr. Midnight is a theist then why does he say the following in the latest issue?
Doctor Mid-Nite: For all I have experienced with the Justice Society, I still believe we have only this life to live -- and whatever phantoms from my past you claim to be, you lie -- and I want you gone!
Ghost: You've been to too many movies for a blind man, doctor -- we're not special effects, to be blurred by a brighter light. We are vengeance, debts past due! And we are collecting you!
Seriously. Clue me in. I'm lost.
Posted: Sun Mar 05, 2006 4:09 am
Buy the next issue.
Posted: Sun Mar 05, 2006 4:49 pm
It's a doubly stupid thing to say, since it is quite common in the DC universe to come back from the dead. So even if one were an atheist there, it is obviously untrue that this is the only life we get.
But maybe Mr. Terrific deconverted Dr. Midnight?
Posted: Sun Mar 05, 2006 5:32 pm
Actually, maybe it's not so stupid, if what comes after life can't really be called "life."
Posted: Tue Mar 07, 2006 4:58 am
Because DC's writers wouldn't know consistency if it bit them in the a--. Paul Levitz wrote the story you are alluding to, while Geoff Johns wrote the one that established that Dr. Midnight is a churchgoer.
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):
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...
Date: Fri, Apr 23 2004 4:01 pm
In the latest JSA Dr. Mid-Nite goes into a church (looks very Catholic) and prays, then has a discussion with Mr. Terrific about Faith and God...
On a related side note: I'm amazed at how few characters/heroes have been motivated by their faith especially a Christian faith. One of the main tenents of the Christian faith is loving and helping others. Since heroes do that (help others) I would think more would have the "why do they do what they do" being part their faith. Also, as a Christian, one of the things we are taught is we all have "talents" or gifts from God, and what we do with those talents is our gift back to God. I would think some "heroes" would use their super powered gifts as gifts back to God.
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, 12:33 PM
Dr Midnite #1 is Catholic
From: "Who's Catholic in the Marvel Universe" forum discussion started 5 February 2005 on "HCRealms" website (http://www.hcrealms.com/forum/showthread.php?t=123637; viewed 10 May 2007):
I know a lot of characters are Jewish, so I was wondering who is officially Catholic?
I know Daredevil is. It's a major part of his personality and often occurs in storylines.
I also believe Firebird from the West Coast Avengers... After that, I'm pretty much stumped.
Anyone have any others?
re: Catholics in the DCU...
- Dr. Mid-Nite (Pieter Cross) has really had his Catholicism played up over the last year. Interestingly in the latest storyline there are indications - based upon things in McNider's home - that the original Dr. Mid-Nite was Catholic as well.
- Huntress is, of course, Catholic...
- Wes Dodds... admits that he was raised Catholic (father's side)...
From: "Increasing comic circulation through different perspectives" forum discussion, started 30 November 2005 on "Comic Bloc" website (http://www.comicbloc.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-15542.html; viewed 20 July 2007):
Heatwave the Rogue
November 30th, 2005, 09:09 AM
I think that the "heroes" of comic book literature should be showed respecting ALL religious practice. The heroes we read about should be above us in this regard. I would also never expect to see Superman look down on someone who doesn't believe in God. I feel more strongly about this with the more iconic Superheroes (Superman, Spiderman, Batman, Flash, Green Lantern, etc..), but I am very open to relgious declarations from lesser characters like Nightcrawler, Nova, Ragman, Catman, or Animal Man.
November 30th, 2005, 09:18 AM
I agree that the superheroes shouldn't look down on some one because they believe differently, Heatwave, but I don't see how them having beliefs of their own would lead to that. If anything, Geoff's recent issue of JSA in which Mr Terific, and Dr Midnite, discuss Mr Terrific's atheism, is a near perfect example of how I would want hereoes' beliefs portrayed. Dr Midnite began the discussion with Mr Terrific out of compassion, and Mr Terrific recogonized it as such, and neither judged the other.
I also disagree that people would feel that simply because their favorite hero belives a certain way they would feel they have to as well.
I guess I just don't think the average person is that weak-minded.
I agree that belief in God is essentially a personal thing, but at the same time, if you believe, and feel another is suffering, or that sharing that belief, or helping to guide them torwards your belief is something they would benefit from, how can you not do so, or at least attempt to do so, and still call yourself a friend? Dr Midnite opened the discussion with Mr Terrific because they were friends IMO [in my opinion] and as a friend he could do no less.
Heatwave the Rogue
November 30th, 2005, 09:22 AM
The Mr Terrific character story was a very good one in my opinion, and an excellent example to support your case...
November 30th, 2005, 10:34 AM
I liked this JSA issue you are talking about (Dr. Mid-nite, Mr. Terrific talking about faith). And I agree with the idea of to expose all the points of view.
There have to be all kind of characters. Liberals, conservatives, independents. Heroes or Villains. The Punisheer, for example. I like the character, but if he was a real person I would think he is a criminal who has to be jailed. Why? Because I think that killing people never could be a solution.
I can understand there is a difference between the stories I can read in comic books than in the newspapers. Between what happens in a movie than in the news. My ideas, my opinions, are ruling my life for every decision I do, but also let me enjoy a good story, even if the hero is a killer.
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, 12:06 PM
Weird, I thought there used to be an ANGEL of GOD on the JLA...
May 28th, 2006, 12:31 PM
Well here's some of the heroes I know with obvious religious ties:
The Spectre (Christianity/Catholicism)
Here are a couple I'm not sure about...
I know Atom Smasher is Jewish and Doc. Mid-Nite is Christian, but I'm not sure about anybody else and don't want to label anyone wrongly. Anyway, religion seems pretty well represented, IMO...
May 28th, 2006, 08:10 PM
re: "Christian hero? I'm sorry but aren't a good majority of heroes Christian?"
Honestly? Good question. The only one I know for sure is Dr. Mid-Nite.
May 28th, 2006, 08:35 PM
re: "...Hal Jordan go to confession..."
For that... see JSA #62 (?) - the start of the "Redemption Lost" arc. The same arc "outed" Dr. Mid-Nite (Pieter Cross) as Roman Catholic - which means he was a minority in his homeland, as the majority denomination in Norway (and Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Germany) is Lutheran...
...It's starting to seem that Roman Catholics are significantly OVER-represented in the DC superhero set...
May 28th, 2006, 11:00 PM
re: "...JSA #62(?) - the start of the "Redemption Lost" arc. The same arc "outed" Dr. Mid-Nite (Pieter Cross) as Roman Catholic..."
I don't remember anywhere it identified Cross as a Catholic.
The differences between Catholic and Lutheran are in Theology (specifically the Aprocopha and Saints/Mother Mary) and not in Sacraments.
Cross went into a House Of Worship to pray showing the importance of Faith to him but didn't necessarily denote denomination. If it has been said somewhere that Cross is specifically Catholic, I stand corrected, but he could very well be Lutheran. The necessity of that characterization was to show the importance of Faith to Cross.
As someone who tries to be a man of Faith, that was nice to see someone like myself represented in a Comic Book Character.
I think with that DC isn't afraid to have an abundance of diverse people inhabit their universe. I appreciate Dan and his Editors and Writers (Thank You Geoff Johns and Matt Wagner for Pieter Cross) because they aren't afraid to give a nod to many diversities in their books.
June 1st, 2006, 08:54 PM
re: "But I do know know that those who self identify as Christians, for the most part, share certain behaviors, chief among them regular worship."
Just to point this out:
Dr. Mid-Nite was shown to attend Worship in JSA.
This is why I'd never call foul on DC.
They have done a fair job of representing all diversities in their comics.
DC having Mid-Nite (a Christian) and Terrific (an Atheist) interact in a fair and balanced way and their (DC's) fearlessness (see Obsidian and now Batwoman) to show all the beauty of individuality in the world.
I think DC is also doing well at letting these diversities be PART of the character and not the totality of the character (like in real life) and not being afraid to show all sides of a character.
Just my impressions, though.
June 2nd, 2006, 06:53 PM
Absolutley, If anything I think Geoff's treatment of the issue in JSA is the way it should be handled, both characters stayed true to their beliefs without denigrating either. Mr T didn't refer to Doc Midnite as a "gullible fool who believes in fictional books and imaginary men in the sky" and Doc didn't call Mr. T a "godless heathen secular humanist hellbent on dragging humanity into a cesspool of immorality."
I wish more religious-themed conversations could go that way in the real world.
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 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. Huntress (Catholic Christian), Nightwing (Christian, don't know what kind), Flash (Christian), Doctor Mid-Nite (Catholic), Ragman (Jewish), Janissary (Muslim), Seraph (Jewish), Maya (Hindu), Judomaster (Buddhist), Father Craemer (Catholic) and many more, have all stated their explicit beliefs...
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, 03:53 PM
...3. Yes. With the presence of the Spectre and Zauriel it reflects the Christian, Jewish, or Muslim beliefs of heaven, hell, angels, demons, etc (though I can't recall if those related characters ever actually state specifically Christianity). Plus we've seen characters go to church (the one that currently springs to mind is Mr. Terrific and Doc Midnight at the end of the Hal/Spectre story in JSA)...
December 13th, 2005, 10:40 PM
Religon: Reform/Conservative Jewish (somewhere in between the two)
...5d. Dr. Mid-Nite represents hospitality. As the DCU's medical professional, he treats superheroes and their spouses, as well as those who are too poor to afford their own medical care. He's the most hospitable people ever...
Webpage created 7 January 2006. Last modified 6 August 2007.
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