The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Character
Father Richard Craemer
ally and spiritual advisor of the Spectre and the Suicide Squad
From: "Religion in God Loves, Man Kills: Using the clergy as a bad guy" forum discussion page, started 2 September 2003, on "Captain Comics" website (http://www.captaincomics.us/forums/index.php?showtopic=754):
Sep 2 2003, 11:04 PM
Another positive religious role model that pops to mind -- because I just mentioned it a couple of days ago -- was the rabbi "sidekick" in the Ostrander/Mandrake Spectre. He played Socrates to Corrigan's Plato, asking theological questions that forced Spec to think his way through his preconceptions, anger and emotional turmoil to find redemption. He was in all ways a positive character.
Sep 3 2003, 06:20 AM
Cap, you're probably referring to Father Richard Craemer. He was only a rabbi in the sense Parabbi is. He was actually a Roman Catholic priest. He was eventually defrocked because he couldn't strictly adhere to Catholic tenets, but even that scene was handled judiciously and without malice towards the Roman Catholic Church. Both sides demonstrated a high regard for the other, but both decided it was time for Richard to leave the priesthood. I thought this was appropriate because there really was no way to show Craemer dealing with the things he did in Spectre and still remain true to strict Roman Catholic priestly ways. In fact the only one who came off as a total jack**s was Amanda Waller [government-appointed head of the Suicide Squad], who came storming in to defend Craemer... whether he wanted her to or not.
I agree wholeheartedly with what Cap says though. Craemer was THE best example of a spiritual advisor in comics I have ever seen.
Have I ever mentioned how much admiration I have for the writing of John Ostrander?
The Culture Vulture
Sep 3 2003, 06:35 AM
I love Craemer - and have done ever since Ostrander introduced him as the Pastor at Belle Reeve in Suicide Squad. He has always struck me as the most humane religious leader I have ever seen in comics.
At the opposite extreme, of course, is the reverend sir who was the villain in the early issues of O'Neill's The Question, and Bishop Lillimann in V.
Sep 5 2003, 09:53 AM
...I'd say the criticism of corruption in the church can be traced back (at least in British Lit) to Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, in which Chaucer clearly expresses his distaste for the Monk and the Prioress who have grown rich and fat and the Pardoner who sells papal indulgences with all the skill of a snake oil salesman.
I would be worried about any group that doesn't get lambasted in literature every once and a while. Like a free press, literature serves the purpose of keeping groups honest for fear of being exposed as corrupt. The problem lies in when the opposite side is rarely or never addressed. Of course, that is often attributed to the notion that good religious leaders aren't interesting enough to make for a good story. Ostrander put the lie to that idea, though.
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... John Ostrander also did this quite well, especially in his use of the character of Father Richard Craemer in Suicide Squad and The Spectre.
From: archive of "Should Hal Jordan be a Christian" message board, started 15 April 2005 on Comic Book Resources website (http://forums.comicbookresources.com/archive/index.php/t-53171.html; viewed 22 May 2006):
04-19-2005, 10:57 AM
Hal Jordan's time as Spectre seems to have involved little contact with the Christian aspects of Heaven. Since it was written by DeMatteis, his religious experience was a synthesis of various religious movement, including New Age-y stuff. If one were to make this point about Jim Corrigan, I could see it, except for the fact that Jim's driving forces towards religion were his abusive minister father and the very questioning Father Craemer (still one of the greatest supporting characters ever).
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, 10:32 AM
They're out there. But, once again, as with your examples, they tend to be supporting characters. The Spectre is probably the best example of an overtly relgious hero that DC has ever had. Jim Corrigan's talks with Father Cramer and his worldview are clearly deeply (and sometimes disturbingly) religious...
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.
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...
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