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The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Character
Green Arrow (Oliver Queen) is one of DC Comics' longest-established and most well known superhero characters. The superhero, who has no actual super powers but is an amazingly skilled master archer armed with a collection of trick arrows, was created by Mort Weisinger and George Papp and first appeared in More Fun Comics #73 (1941).
With regards to questions specifically about theology (which is, of course, only one segment of religion overall), the Green Arrow is most commonly regarded as an agnostic. However, he is not at all outspoken or evangelical about his agnosticism, and agnosticism can not be considered his "core" religion, i.e., a descriptor of his primary motivational philosophy.
Although Green Arrow was not overtly political or religious when he was first introduced, he has over the years evolved into an outspoken and devout Liberal Marxist Communist. Regardless of how the Green Arrow identifies himself politically, his deeply held liberal political beliefs constitute his religion in the truest sociological (not necessarily "theological") sense of the word.
In recent years, the Green Arrow died, went to Heaven, and subsequently returned to life. We are unaware if these experiences have had any effect on his theological views. Since returning to life, Oliver Queen resumed his previous vocal espousal of "left-wing" political views. He has apparently had little to say on expressly theological topics.
It might strike some readers as peculiar that Oliver Queen's experiences did little to change is worldview, but this is in keeping with his character. As subjects such as the afterlife and theology apparently were of relatively little interest to Oliver Queen before his death, he may simply have returned to being his old self. If Queen is indeed agnostic or indifferent to religion, this is best understood as his personal belief and an aspect of his character, and not a result of reasoned thought or a consideration of his personal experiences. Queen clearly expends considerable thought on political and social topics, rather than religious, metaphysical or pure philosophical topics. That's simply who he is.
In a very real sense, this aspect of Green Arrow's heroic identity was present from the beginning, as he modelled himself after the legendary hero Robin Hood, who stole from the rich and gave to the poor. By actively declaring his beliefs and seeking to persuade others around him about the correctness of his ideals, Green Arrow has become one of the most consistently evangelical superheroes in the DC Universe. ("Evangelical" is used here not with the Protestant meaning of the word, but according to the Webster's Dictionary definition, "marked by ardent or zealous enthusiasm for a cause.") Oliver Queen has a vision of heroism that encompasses societal change and concern for the most overlooked members of society, rather than just derring-do and super-heroic fisticuffs.
Green Arrow is explicitly referred to as a "Commie" and a "Marxist" in Frank Miller's critically acclaimed limited series Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again. This work is influential, but it is "non-canonical." In other words, it is not considered an official part of mainstream DC Comics. Oliver Queen as presented in Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again (and previously in Batman: The Dark Knight Returns) may be Frank Miller's extrapolation of Queen's character into the near future. Or it may simply be that the Green Arrow's colleagues in the Justice League and the broader super-hero community regard him as a Marxist and a Communist, although he himself does not use these words to describe himself.
From: Peter Sanderson, "Comics in Context #30: Knight After Knight", published 13 February 2004 on IGN Entertainment website (http://comics.ign.com/articles/595/595592p3.html; viewed 16 June 2006):
...Like Ross and Dini too, Miller uses the bearded, politicized version of Green Arrow as Denny O'Neil and Neal Adams reworked the character at the time of transition from the Silver Age to whatever we may call the period that followed. (O'Neil and Adams made Green Arrow into a 1960s liberal activist; in DK2 Miller pushes Green Arrow to a leftist extreme, making him a Communist. Well, Green Arrow is supposed to be a modern-day Robin Hood, so that arguably would make him interested in the redistribution of wealth.)
Whether the mainstream DC Universe Green Arrow is properly regarded as an actual Communist or Marxist, or whether he is simply an extremely politically-minded ultra-left-wing Liberal or progressive or Socialist or something is a matter of disagreement. Clearly at least some of the Green Arrow's more politically conservative colleagues regard the Green Arrow's politics as dubious at best. Some readers and fans of the Green Arrow regard identification of the character as a Marxist or Communist as inaccurate and inappropriate. However, there is no indication within the comics themselves that the Green Arrow regards the descriptors "Marxist" and "Communist" as being in any way slanderous or a slur.
The Green Arrow has frequently used epithets from the other political extreme, such as "fascist", to label individual and institutions he strongly disagrees with. The Green Arrow has used the word "fascist" against both Superman and the American "military industrial complex" in comics such as Batman: The Dark Knight Returns and in the "Absolute Power" storyline in Superman/Batman #s 14-18 (in which an alternative history Green Arrow fought against a benign Superman and Batman who jointly ruled the planet).
Because Marxist Communism is officially atheistic with regards to its theological views, and the majority of devout Communists have historically been atheists, some readers have concluded that the Green Arrow is an atheist as well. This may be jumping to conclusions, as the Green Arrow's identification as an actual Communist is tenuous in mainstream DC continuity and, moreover, the Green Arrow has never been portrayed as somebody who has embraced all tenets of Marxism.
Although many of Green Arrow's ideas may seem radical and unpopular, among his colleagues, among comic book readers, and among Americans in general, the Green Arrow is properly regarded as a hero in the truest sense of the word. In a very real sense, Oliver Queen is a man who exhibits more bravery than nearly any other widely known superhero. While most superheroes have innate super-powers which give them a significant advantage over normal people and most of the criminals they face, the Green Arrow has no powers whatsoever. He simply has his incredible archery skill and his bow and trick arrows. He isn't even larger than average physically.
Many other so-called super-heroes lack true super-powers. The Green Arrow's lack of super-powers isn't what makes him so unique. The Green Arrow's real mark of bravery is his willingness to take unpopular stances for the politics and moral ideals that he believes in. He has often stood alone, not just among typical citizens, but among the heroes who are regarded as the most powerful, most admirable, and most intelligent people on the planet. Batman, for example, also lacks real super-powers but manages to hold his own alongside the world's mightiest super-heroes. Yet Batman's alter ego Bruce Wayne is an icon of the capitalist system which is supported almost unquestionably by nearly all Americans, particularly Wayne's wealthy peers and business associates. Queen can be considered brave not simply because he puts his life in danger fighting costumed villains, but even moreso because he constantly risks criticism and peer disapproval by openly declaring his opposition to many of America's most cherished and widely supported institutions and beliefs.
True, many of the stances that Oliver Queen has taken over the years have been regarded by most as marks of stupidity in addition to being marks of courage. But however unpopular some of Queen's positions have been, they are nevertheless viewpoints that he has come to as a result of reasoned consideration, and not simply because he is towing somebody's party line. For this reason, some people believe that Queen is in many ways the opposite of most American Republicans as well as most American Democrats. Oliver Queen believes that Republicans and Democrats (whether they are political leaders, wealthy contributors, super-heroes or celebrities) who invariably align themselves with party platforms can be found everywhere. Such people do not represent Queen's ideals of citizenship, politics, service and philosophy. As "Liberal" as Queen may seem, some of his actual positions and practices, if examined, would actually outrage Democratic Party loyalists and most mainstream American Liberals. Queen takes the positions he does not to fit in, not to curry favor with any group of people, but because he believes in them.
Walking the Talk
It is important to point out that Oliver Queen does not just espouse his beliefs. He "puts his money where his mouth is" and actively tries to live according to his beliefs (whether one classifies his beliefs system as "Communist," "Socialist" or something else). Much of Queen's heroic career has diverged radically from the paths taken by his super-heroic peers, and this has usually been because he has interpreted his role as a hero differently in light of his beliefs. One of the most vivid examples of Queen's attempt to devoutly live according to his beliefs (and not just preach them) is his abandonment of the millionaire playboy lifestyle he was born into, in favor of relative ascetisim or life as an economic commoner. Whether or not Queen did this in a conscious attempt to follow Marxism, lifestyle choices such as these have moved him closer to Marxist Communist ideals. Queen rejects the bourgeois lifestyle that Bruce Wayne and other heroes embrace, in favor of positioning himself with the workers or the proletariat.
From: Masked Bookwyrm, review of Green Arrow four-issue miniseries published in 1983 by DC Comics and written by Mike W. Barr, on "Reviews of Comic Book Mini-Series" website (http://www.geocities.com/SoHo/Study/4273/ms/m_garrow.html; viewed 8 December 2005):
This mini-series was the Emerald Archer's first self-titled comic... despite having been around since the 1940s. He'd starred in back up features, and shared co-starring credit with Green Lantern for a while, but that was all...
From: "Green Arrow" article on Wikipedia website (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_Arrow; viewed 8 December 2005):
The story has Oliver Queen, long since deprived of his former fortune, being invited to the reading of the will of a wealthy widow he was once close friends with but hasn't seen in a while...only to find that he's her principal beneficiary, willed controlling stocks in her chemical company. It doesn't sit well with her kin folk, and pretty soon people are trying to kill him, leading him to suspect there's corruption within the company tied to some sort of international conspiracy... by this point GA [Green Arrow] had become a slightly watered down version of his Bronze Aged self, lacking some of the political fire that Denny O'Neil introduced into the character in the late 1960s, early 1970s (modern writers have described him as a Communist, but I think Anarchist is more accurate -- Anarchy in its true, political sense).
Throughout his first twenty-five years, Green Arrow was not a significant hero. But in the late 1960s, after he lost his fortune, writers gave him the unique role of streetwise crusader for the working class and the underprivileged. In 1970, he was paired with the more law-and-order-oriented hero Green Lantern in a groundbreaking, socially conscious comic book series. Since then, he has been popular among comic book fans and most writers have taken an urban, gritty approach to the character...
From: "Hal Jordan" article on Wikipedia website (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hal_Jordan; viewed 6 June 2006):
In 1969 artist Neal Adams decided to update the character's visual appearance by giving him a goatee beard and costume of his own design. Inspired by Adams' redesign, writer Dennis O'Neil followed up on Green Arrow's new appearance by completely remaking the character's attitude in the pages of Justice League of America #79 (cover-dated November 1969), giving his personality a rougher edge... This revision was explained by having Oliver Queen lose his fortune and become an outspoken and strident advocate of the underprivileged in society and the political left wing. For instance, he once saved a child's dog playing in a railyard, but instead of satisfaction, he brooded on the larger problem of how the poor child apparently had nowhere else in the city to play safely. In short, he became a kind of superheroic hybrid between Robin Hood and Abbie Hoffman... As a member of the Justice League, he became an argumentative figure who often acted as the team's political conscience.
In the early 1970s, he became a co-feature with Green Lantern in the latter's series in an acclaimed, but shortlived series of stories by O'Neil and Adams that dealt with various social and political issues in which Green Arrow spoke for the liberal argument (thus a voice for O'Neil himself) while Green Lantern was an establishment figure, half-heartedly serving the conservative viewpoint. Oliver Queen convinced Hal Jordan to see beyond his strict obedience to the Green Lantern Corps, to help those who were neglected or discriminated against. The duo embarked on a quest to find America, witnessing the corruption, racism, pollution, and overpopulation confronting the nation. Denny O'Neil even took on current events, such as the Manson Family cult murders, in issues #78-79 ("A Kind of Loving") where Black Canary falls briefly under the spell of a false prophet who advocates violence.
Later in the series, Oliver Queen would land a job as a newspaper columnist, which allowed him to articulate his political beliefs in a more public field...
During the Green Lantern/Green Arrow series, Oliver Queen once fled to a meditational retreat after killing a criminal in Star City. Evidently, Green Arrow fathered yet another child after conveniently having yet another undisclosed affair.
...2002 handed the title [Green Arrow] over to Judd Winick... One of Winick's most-publicized innovations was to reveal that Mia Dearden, a former prostitute unofficially adopted by Green Arrow during Kevin Smith's run, had tested positive for HIV. Winick had published a graphic novel (Pedro and Me) about a gay friend who died of HIV/AIDS, and subsequently wrote a Green Lantern storyline about homophobia, so some critics have pigeonholed him as a writer of social-commentary storylines, or for being overly didactic. Winick argues that his writing range is wider than simple liberal propaganda...
...in the animated television series, Justice League Unlimited... version, [Green Arrow's] strong political convictions (and his sometimes irreverent advocacy of them) are key reasons the Justice League insists on recruiting him as a populist voice of the team, although it took an alluring encounter with the Black Canary to finally persuade him. That decision proved a wise one with Queen providing a valuable perspective for the team during the "Project Cadmus" story arc. In addition, Queen is still a billionaire, having sold his company to devote to his volunteer and activist activities exclusively...
Green Arrow was a character originally created by DC in 1941 (then known as National Comics). He was a wealthy businessman named Oliver Queen who wore a green Errol Flynn-esque Robin Hood costume and shot "trick" arrows in his efforts to fight crime. His characterization was fairly basic (borrowing heavily from Batman but lacking the depth and tragedy of that character) and as such remained a second or third string hero throughout the Golden Age. However, the character managed to survive the fifties... In 1961, DC added Green Arrow to the roster of the Justice League of America, but he still remained in the background and fairly uninteresting.
This changed in 1968 with Justice League of America #66. Written by Denny O'Neil, Green Arrow started to show resentment toward his fellow superheroes who wield great power, but did little to help the ordinary people with ordinary problems. O'Neil continued to push Green Arrow's tolerance for his peers and a little less than a year later, Neal Adams... redesigned Arrow, giving him a goatee and more dynamic and fierce outfit. Justice League of America #74 (still being written by O'Neil) introduced Black Canary as Arrow's love interest and issue 75 left him broke, his company and fortune stolen from him. O'Neil wanted to recreate Green Arrow to better represent a modern Robin Hood, but felt a rich man would be a poor champion of the undertrodden.
Some time after, [DC Comics editor] Schwartz invited O'Neil to take over Green Lantern. Wanting to represent his own political beliefs in comics and take on social issues of the late sixties and early seventies, O'Neil came up with the idea of pitting Hal Jordan, who as an intergalactic cop stood for not only Law and Order but The Establishment, against Oliver Queen, who O'Neil had characterized as a profoundly outspoken liberal and stood for the Counter-Culture Movement...
Green Arrow in Frank Miller's Batman: The Dark Knight Returns
Frank Miller's influential limited series 4-issue Batman: The Dark Knight Returns is one of the most critically acclaimed and well-known comics in history. Green Arrow plays a minor supporting role in this series, appearing in issue #4.
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns depicts Oliver Queen as an "anti-fascist" terrorist who organizes damaging strikes the U.S. military. When President Ronald Reagan sends Superman to arrest Batman, Queen teams up with the Dark Knight against Superman. The Green Arrow appears to be a man full of anger at the United States government in general and at Superman in particular, who he blames for the loss of his left arm. Green Arrow appears to try to kill Superman with a Kryptonite arrow, although it is possible that the bowman knew that he would be unable to defeat Superman this way. The Green Arrow may have been in on Batman's plan to fake his own death during his battle with Superman. After Bruce Wayne is revived from his faked death, the Green Arrow joins him in forming a new organization of underground freedom fighters (a group that will soon be branded "terrorists" by the government).
Text from: Batman: The Dark Knight Returns #4 (1986), DC Comics: New York City; reprinted in Batman: The Dark Knight Returns hardcover edition, DC Comics: New York City (2002), pages 185-186; written and pencilled by Frank Miller, inked by Klaus Janson, colored by Lynn Varley:
BRUCE WAYNE (BATMAN), thinking: I'm surprised he took the chance of coming to America -- with Clark [a.k.a. Superman] in the country -- but Oliver has always lived by his impulses. This particular impulse I can understand . . .
Text from: Batman: The Dark Knight Returns #4 (1986), DC Comics: New York City; reprinted in Batman: The Dark Knight Returns hardcover edition, DC Comics: New York City (2002), pages 192-194; written and pencilled by Frank Miller, inked by Klaus Janson, colored by Lynn Varley:
OLIVER QUEEN (formerly known as GREEN ARROW): You've always had it wrong, Bruce . . . giving them such a big target. Sure, you play it mysterious -- but it's a loud kind of mysterious, man. Especially lately. You got to learn how to make those sons of bitches work for it. Look -- It's been five years since I blew out of prison -- and you know I've kept busy --
ANCHORMAN (Walter Cronkite look-alike): . . . computer failure was responsible for the sikning of the U.S. nuclear submarine Valiant, Pentagon sources disclosed today . . . No hands were lost . . .
[The juxtaposition of this news report, shown in only this single panel, with Queen's dialogue implies that since escaping from prison, the hero known previously as the Green Arrow has been very busily engaged in terrorist activities, his targets including at least, but probably not limited to, the U.S. military. However, the fact that "no hands were lost" implies that Queen has continued to act out of a benign sense of heroism. He sees himself as hero of the people rather than as a terrorist.]
OLIVER QUEEN: --and they've been covering for me. Just like they covered up my escape. [Queen is here referring to the U.S. government when he speaks of "they."] Sure, they'd love to frost me . . . long as they can do it without admitting I exist. But you, Bruce -- Man, they have to kill you.
BRUCE WAYNE (BATMAN): Oliver-- What do you want?
OLIVER QUEEN: I always knew it'd get down to you and the big blue schoolboy. Planet's too big for the two of you. When it all comes down . . . I want a piece of him. A small piece will do. For old times sake. You know . . . It still hurts when it's cold.
[Oliver Queen looks at the empty sleeve and shoulder where his left arm used to be. Queen obviously blames Superman for the loss of his arm.]
[Batman (Bruce Wayne) is in the middle of a pitched battle with Superman, at the time and place that Batman invited Superman to meet him at: Crime Alley in Gotham. Superman has been sent by President Ronald Reagan to apprehend Batman for the suspected murder of the Joker and other crimes, including resisting arrest and assault on police officers.]
From: Matt 'Stars' Morrison, "The Mount: 'I'm Telling You For the Last Time . . .", published in Fanzing #52, January/February 2003 (http://www.fanzing.com/mag/fanzing52/themount.shtml; viewed 22 May 2006):
BATMAN (BRUCE WAYNE), thinking: Wrist . . . crushed . . . ribs . . . moving with a lif of their own . . . and Clark just broke . . . a sweat . . . Now . . . if Oliver doesn't screw up . . . oh no-- Oliver . . . you clown . . .
[Batman looks up to where Oliver Queen was stationed, as part of their pre-arranged plan. He is dismayed to see Oliver taking out some rate by assaulting some of the federal troops that surround the battle scene. Batman is worried that this distraction will hinder Queen's ability to carry out his part of their attack on Superman.]
OLIVER QUEEN (formerly known as GREEN ARROW): God damn running dog-- --wha--
[Oliver Queen kicks a U.S. soldier off of a roof.]
BATMAN (thinking): --You promised you'd keep you hands off the soldiers . . .
SOLDIER IN A NEARBY HELICOPTER (speaking on two-way radio): Sir-- It's a man with a bow--
OFFICER IN HELICOPTER FURTHER BACK: Fire at will.
BATMAN (thinking): . . . . Clark . . . If Clark figures out why you're here . . . a little acid to distract him . . .
[Batman shoots acid from his armored glove into Superman's eyes. Above him, helicopters fire round at Oliver Queen, who dodges and jumbs to a fire escape.]
BATMAN (thinking): Oliver . . . get yourself killed on your own time . . .
OLIVER QUEEN: OWW God damn it--
[Superman throws a punch at Batman, but with his eyes still smarting from acid he can't see, and he misses, punching a lightpost instead. Batman pulls out an explosive device and puts it on Superman. It explodes, sending Batman himself reeling backwards. Oliver Queen hangs upside-down from the ladder of a fire escape and prepares to shoot an arrow. A military helicopter shoots at him. Batman sees the angry look in Superman's eyes, having been assaulted at close range with acid and an explosive.]
BATMAN (thinking): Oliver-- I've finally gotten him angry-- It's now or never--
[Oliver Queen uses his teeth to draw back the arrow. He shoots it with the bow. The arrow sails toward Superman with a loud "KTANNGGGG" sound. The arrow appears to be blunt and bright green. Superman, hearing the arrow, turns and catches it with a "FAPP" sound. The arrow explodes, apparently releasing a green gas. Apparently this is some form of kryptonite or other poison designed by Batman to incapacitate Superman.]
BATMAN (thinking): It wasn't easy to synthesize, Clark . . . took years . . . and it cost a fortune . . . Luckily I had both . . .
[Oliver Queen is still hanging upside down. He is yelling at the soldiers.]
OLIVER QUEEN: Come and get me you sons of-- wha--
[Queen notices Robin (Carrie Kelly) directly below him. She is driving the tank-like Batmobile.]
ROBIN (CARRIE KELLY): Eyes downside, Spud. Figure we got all week . . .
OLIVER QUEEN: Hiyo God damn Silver.
[His task of firing the specially-prepared arrow at Superman now complete, Oliver Queen jumps into the Batmobile and escapes from the scene with Robin. With renewed strength and an impressive suit of battle armor, Batman defeats a weakened Superman in single combat. Then, right on schedule, Batman "dies." Except, he is not really dead. His body has simply gone into a death-like state as a result of a chemical pill he ingested before his battle with Superman. Superman begins to recover from the beating he received at Batman's hands. Saddened at the apparent death of his friend, he cradles Batman in his arms and weeps.]
The other night, some fellow geeks and I got to talking about some political matters in addition to the usual shop talk and this question was raised: what side of the political spectrum do you think most superheroes come down on?
From: Michael Hutchison, "Never Discuss Religion or Politics: A rebuttal to 'The Mount'", published in Fanzing #52, January/February 2003 (http://www.fanzing.com/mag/fanzing52/feature7.shtml; viewed 22 May 2006):
Now, there are a few obvious gimmies. Hawkman is an old-fashioned conservative... Green Arrow? FDR/Kennedy liberal with no party affiliations...
Of course it's easy for second-tier heroes to have a distinct political identity. Many is the time a writer has used a lesser-known character as a mouthpiece for his own opinions. But honestly, how many readers are going to be seriously offended if Green Arrow calls for Richard Nixon's head on a platter...?
Is superheroing conservative?
Let's just look at some aspects of superheroes first.
Superheroes make pronouncements of good and evil, right and wrong, all the time. Liberals don't. Ronald Reagain did. George W. Bush does. And liberals hate them for doing so. Liberals see varying shades of grey everywhere (although they call Republicans "Nazis" pretty easily).
Superheroes apprehend criminals. They don't try to see things from the villain's point of view, or let the criminals go because it's American society that forced them to turn to crime, or debate whether it's okay for a bank robber to steal because it'll only hurt the people with money. Okay, Green Arrow does all of these things as the exception that proves the rule...
I guess I'm getting away from my point about not being able to judge a superhero's personal politics. Aside from Batman and Green Arrow, I think most superhero politics are nebulous. Yes, even the Silver Age Green Lantern and Hawkman's politics. As I've said before in these pages, these two were chosen as foils for Green Arrow because they both served as members of police forces, which to Denny O'Neill makes them "The Man" against whom the left was rebelling. However, neither seems particularly right-wing beyond a "criminals should be punished" belief system held by most people not in the middle-to-far-left. Hal Jordan's never spoken out against the I.R.S. or the Social Security system, nor has Katar Hol ever said why government-funded daycare is wrong.
Oliver Queen is seen on more time in this issue: on the last page (page 199 in the hardcover compilation). Batman is surrounded by Robin and dozens of former members of the "Mutant" street gang. He is deep in the Batcave, organizing a new cell of freedom fighters or vigilantes (or "terrorists", depending on one's perspective). Green Arrow, with his long white hair and bow, is seen in the foreground, looking on.
Batman asks Green Arrow about his sojourn in Heaven and his subsequent return from the dead
The "Under the Hood" storyline from Batman #s 635-641 (2005) provides an excellent example of how Batman struggles with spiritual and religious concepts, typically refusing to accept such realities even in the face of overwhelming evidence.
This issues of Batman were written by Judd Winick, pencilled by Doug Mahnke and Paul Lee, and inked by Tom Nguyen and Cam Smith.
In this mult-part story, Batman encounters the mysterious "Red Hood," who unmasks to reveal that he is Jason Todd, who was previously Batman's sidekick, the second "Robin." Batman knows that Robin died at the hands of their arch-enemy, the Joker. So Batman wants to get to the bottom of this new mystery: Who is this person who claims to be Jason Todd? The last thing that Batman wants to do is accept the reality that this person is indeed the original Jason Todd, now resurrected and back from the dead. Such a thing flies in the face of Batman's typically materialist/non-religious beliefs.
Batman consults with mystics and asks them about the possibilities of people returning from the dead. To this end, he consults with his fellow Justice League teammate, Zatanna and world-renowned occult specialist Jason Blood (counterpart to Etrigan, the Demon).
Batman next visits his fellow Justice Leager the Green Arrow, who really did die, go to Heaven, and return. Batman knows this happened, and he was there for some of these events, but he seems completely incapable of grasping these facts. Green Arrow accepts the fact that he died, went to Heaven, and returned, but he does not seem to dwell on these facts from his past. He rarely, if ever, voices any thoughts he might have on the theological or spiritual implications of such experiences.
From: "Jewish Comics Exhibit Notes" webpage, last updated 5 December 2004 (http://www.geocities.com/hadassahfink/comicexhnotes.htm; viewed 4 July 2007):
Green Arrow #57
Green Arrow teams up with agents of the Mossad (Israeli Secret Service) to fight terrorists who are trying to poison the local water supply with radioactive material.
In Green Arrow: Year One #1 (August 2007), Oliver Queen's close friend calls him a "champagne anarchist," and Queen certainly acts like it in this story. In this story about Queen before he became the superheroic Green Arrow, we see the future is a wreckless, narcisistic, extremely wreckless wealthy heir to his late parents' fortune. He is totally without direction or purpose in his life, something which his close friend sharply criticizes him for.
In Green Arrow: Year One #2 (September 2007), Oliver Queen is straned on a desert island, dying of thirst. Finally he finds a water pump. "Oh! Thank you sweet baby Jesus" he exclaims, an utterance which hardly indicates piety, but is reflective of his Christian background (page 7). Later Oliver Queen thinks "God bless the Boy Scouts" when he builds a fire for the first time on the island, indicating that he was indeed a Boy Scout while growing up (page 14). In the weeks that follow, Oliver Queen learns to hunt successfully with his self-made bow and arrows. Oliver Queen's references to being "born again" in "Paradise" also reflect his Christian background. From page 16:
Weeks pass. Months. My world shrinks down to this belt of green shadow. Bounded by the shore below, the ridge below . . . and everything becomes very simple.
I hunt. I eat. I sleep. And nothing else matters. I live by the bow. Birds, fish, monkeys. The occasional small deer. Gradually I come to understand I'm good at this. And for the first time in my life, I"m happy. Really happy.
Whatever it was that was missing, I've found it. I don't think I've ever felt this . . . whole. This alive. I was supposed to die here, so either this is Paradise . . . or I'm born again.
As Green Arrow, Oliver Queen became a far more purpose-driven person, and although he remained rather fun-loving compared to many other super-heroes, he became a hero at heart, truly capable of sacrificing for others. In Green Arrow #75 (2007) there is a moving scene in which Green Arrow and Black Canary team up against Slade Wilson, a.k.a. Deathstroke the Terminator. Unfortunately, the two heroes are outmatched by the deadly mercenary-assassin, and Slade manages to get the drop on them. Slade positions himself so that he is holding a sword literally to the Black Canary's throat inside her mouth, ready to kill her with the flick of a wrist, and he also holds a weapon ready to kill the Green Arrow. Oliver Queen humbly begs Slade to kill only him, and to spare his long-time love, the Black Canary. The Green Arrow is sincere in his willingness to lay down his life, and his invoking the name of Jesus in this scene hints at Queen's likely Christian family background. The scene brings to mind John 15:13 from the New Testament: "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."
From "TS: Liberality For All vs. DMZ" discussion page started 30 November 2005 (http://ilx.wh3rd.net/thread.php?msgid=6419391; viewed 13 June 2006):
Huk-L (handsomishbo...), November 30th, 2005
From: comments on "What Religion Is Your Favorite Super Hero?" page posted 11 June 2006 on Digg.com blog website (http://digg.com/science/What_Religion_Is_Your_Favorite_Super_Hero_; viewed 15 June 2006):
Now I don't think that titles such as "Liberality for all" are the way to go either as its viewpoint is so extreme that it can, based on your perspective, be considered as either fanatical or subtly making fun of consrvative themselves. However I do belive that a center right superhero... would appeal to a large percentage of Americans who may either purchase very few or no comics at all.
Huk-L (handsomishbo...), November 30th, 2005
Aside from his whole anti-gun stance, Batman is archly conservative.
kingfish hobo juckie (jdsalmo...), November 30th, 2005
Yeah, wasn't Green Arrow tailored into being a far more liberal Batman?
And where does Cerebus/Sim fall into this?
Huk-L (handsomishbo...), December 1st, 2005
re: "...does the lack of clearly religious characters prevent those to whom their faith is a defining characteristic from finding characters they can identify with?"
And what about when Green Lantern and Green Arrow met Jesus?
by NexusOfNow on 6/10/06
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):
I'm not so sure, but I still can't stop laughing from what they [Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Characters] listed for Ollie Queen "agnostic; Liberal Marxist Communist" He was known to go to Buddhist monastaries, but I wouldn't say he was necessarily Zen (his son obviously was). I'm trying to remember the exact quote, but there's a comic I got where he says "That's it, nobody disrespects MY flag and gets away with it." "Green Arrow, I didn't know you were a patriot!" "Hey, my blood runs red, white and blue, it just runs a different shade of it than the rest of you..." I'm thinking 'fascists', but I'm sure that wasn't it...
Drink - March 14, 2006 04:34 AM (GMT)
From: "Who is your religious superhero" discussion board, started 14 March 2006, on "Ship of Fools: The Magazine of Christian Unrest" website (http://forum.ship-of-fools.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=1;t=006489; viewed 24 April 2006):
Green Arrow is "Liberal Marxist Communist". Does that even count as a religion?
ROBRAM89 - March 14, 2006 04:36 AM (GMT)
...Marxist Communism is associated with atheism, so yes, it kinda is.
Drink - March 14, 2006 04:40 AM (GMT)
Seems kinda odd on Green Arrow's part to be technically atheist, as he died and went to Heaven, as well as came back to life.
Then again, in Infinite Crisis #5, Mr. Terrific seems skeptical regardless of such evidence. I guess seeing isn't believing after all.
From: "Religion of Comic Book Characters - The List" discussion board, started 29 January 2006 on "Millar World" website (http://forums.millarworld.tv/index.php?showtopic=57496; viewed 24 April 2006):
Posted 21 March, 2006 15:14
Nice to see one of my old favourites, the Green Arrow, down as a liberal Marxist Communist!
Posted 22 March, 2006 06:58
I don't read much of the new Green Arrow, but Conner's Buddism also seems authentically written.
Spiffy da WonderSheep
Posted 22 March, 2006 16:59
I spent a lovely weekend... where I finally read the TP [trade paperback] where Ollie [i.e., Oliver Queen, a.k.a. the Green Arrow] had been, erm, away for a while [referring to the time when he was dead]. It predates my getting into comics, so I don't know what the fanboys said about it back in the day, but I was laughing my behind off at him. Every other page practically was him spouting some Marxist rhetoric, and then whomever he was spouting at would basically smile and say, "OMG! Missed yoooou!"
Posted 22 March, 2006 19:44
I don't think anybody took Ollie's Marxism seriously because he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth.
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&tstart=0; viewed 8 May 2006):
Jan 31 2006, 04:26 PM
[Citing the Adherents.com website]
Green Arrow is a Liberal Marxist Communist.
Green Arrow II Zen Buddhist (raised as a monk).
Jan 31 2006, 04:32 PM
Communist? I don't think he's ever been that has he?
Jan 31 2006, 04:34 PM
The whole phrase ["Liberal Marxist Communist"] does seem to be an oxymoron.
And it certainly doesn't apply to the character.
Jan 31 2006, 04:53 PM
It's not got anything to do with religion either.
Jan 31 2006, 08:15 PM
He let speedy run around in that red outfit >:[ lol
[This poster's message, shown above, is followed by an emoticon and the abbreviation "lol", meaning "laugh out loud."]
Posted: Apr 20, 2006 9:30 AM
...What is the religion of the heroes we read about?... Don't get me wrong, not picking on anyone, just wonder what everyone thinks what our heroes believe. ...Other threads touch on the subject in passing, time to discuss it!
Posted: Apr 21, 2006 12:44 PM
Green Arrow: He's liberal - so most likely he worships government and politics is his religion.
Posted: Apr 21, 2006 2:27 PM
Wow, did you think of that one yourself? Or, did you crib it from Rush Limbaugh?
Posted: Apr 21, 2006 5:03 PM
Assuming that Ollie has any particular spiritual belief (and since he was dead and in something like Heaven - not Congress! - it's hard for me to think that he wouldn't) I'd guess him to be Unitarian.
Posted: Apr 21, 2006 6:46 PM
Or, he's liberal - so most likely doesn't care for government, and really hates the stupidity of politics.
I love how "conservatives" always bash on "liberals" for things they do themselves.
Posted: Apr 22, 2006 8:12 AM
I can live with being called a dumbass but implying I'm conservative is really a low blow.
Posted: Apr 23, 2006 3:57 PM
The problem is that, while there is proof of some sort of divinity in the DCU, there's proof of contradictory divinitities. Wonder Woman's Greek gods, who have their own traditions about the creation of the Earth and the rest of the universe, don't jibe well with the pseudo Judeo-Christianity that the Spectre or Ollie Queen's afterlife, or an angel superhero imply. But both are categorically there.
Posted: Apr 23, 2006 8:23 PM
re: "The problem is that, while there is proof of some sort of divinity in the DCU, there's proof of contradictory divinitities.
I did think of this, and it's the only plausible explanation. From the outside, it's obvious that DC means their universe (and the multiverse before it, more clearly) to be one framed (ultimately) on the Christian model. But, what we've seen, and what even someone like Michael Holt has seen aren't the same. I mean, we've seen scenes of Barry Allen and Ollie in heaven...
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: Conor at February 1, 2006 01:18 PM
Green Arrow is in "The God Squad"? How the hell? He's practically a godless commie!
[Webmaster: This person is referring to the "God Squad" sidebar list on the "Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Characters" page on the Adherents.com website. Green Arrow is listed along with other prominent super-heroes who are openly religious. This person is wondering why Green Arrow is listed there. This is a valid question, with a short and simple answer. The list does not specify which Green Arrow is considered part of the "God Squad" (i.e., overtly religious heroes). This could simply refer to Green Arrow II - Connor Hawk, who is openly and vocally a Buddhist.
Furthermore, if one looks at the criteria for inclusion on this list, it could refer to the original Green Arrow, Oliver Queen. The description of this list states: "Which major mainstream superheroes are most consistently portrayed as overtly religious? These are characters who go beyond simply exhibiting positive religious values, charity and heroism, but who openly exhibit religiosity tied to an organized religious affiliation, through... verbally sharing their faith... and other means." If one realizes that the title shown for this list ("God Squad") is not meant to be taken literally, and is simply a catchy, rhyming way of identifying the list of openly religious heroes, then Oliver Queen clearly fits. Of all major superheroes, Green Arrow is one of the people who most frequently "verbally shares" his own particular beliefs, beliefs which few other people share or agree with. Communism is indeed classified as an organized religion (although its own adherents do not always identify it as such). Is Queen actually a Communist? This is a debatable proposition, and one more clearly supportable in some non-canonical appearances than in mainstream continuity. But if one can identify Queen as a Communist, or if one relaxes the "God Squad" requirement that a character's religion be "organized", Green Arrow's frequent evangelizing of his beliefs and his devout attempts to live by this alternative belief system, certainly qualify him for this list.]
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=165&tstart=0; viewed 15 May 2006):
Posted: May 5, 2005 7:53 PM
I propose DC adds a new superhero to the JLA. His name is Shepard [Shepherd] and he fights injustice and evil in a Christian way.
His powers would essentially be a the addition of the powers of Firestorm and Superman.
While the JLA fights to protect earth from alien threats, Shepard's focus would be to protect innocents such as unborn children.
What does everyone think?
Posted: May 16, 2005 12:31 PM
...I think between Green Arrow, the Huntress, the Question, and Guy Gardner they would have given Shepard a nice 'blanket party' just to properly welcome his evangelizing ass to the Watchtower.
[webmaster: This poster seems to be implying that sensorsnake's proposed "anti-abortion" Christian super-hero would be strongly resented by a number of other DC superheroes who are also known for their frequent evanglization of their beliefs, but whose beliefs are different from those espoused by "Shepard."]
From: "Superman is Jewish in origin" message board, started 15 September 2005 on Krypton Site.com website (http://www.kryptonsite.com/forums/showthread.php?s=9e8ba60333b234b4d5508404d4b8f006&threadid=41222&perpage=15&pagenumber=2; viewed 5 June 2006):
09-19-2005 10:14 PM
re: "They adhere to a different sets of morals. CK's are more in line with a slightly conservative background while Lex adheres to the Luthor set"
Er... guess it depends how you define "conservative"...
Usually characters like Superman and Green Arrow would be put into a category of characters with a more liberal philosophy. (Superman refuses to kill anyone, after all.) Conservative characters would be Batman, the Watchmen, etc. That's why Batman and Superman are such good opposites...
09-19-2005 11:19 PM
I was implying socially [conservative]. I don't think any characters outside of Green Arrow care about politics, because all politicians are the same on the inside...
09-20-2005 12:10 AM
I wouldn't necessarily narrow the field of politically-minded heroes to just Green Arrow. I think they all tend to care about the world they live in, politics included, to varying degrees. Green Arrow just expresses it more. The Question is an ultra-conservative, and has even been portrayed as nearly fascist in his outlook.
These labels "conservative" and "liberal" are defined in strange ways, in my opinion. Personally, I'm "conservative" on the issues of abortion and homosexuality, but "liberal" on most other issues, like economics, foreign policy, etc. We always have to be careful when we box people into certain generic molds, because there are always deviations.
09-20-2005 01:28 PM
You would have to be a Conservative in order to be a vigilante. The problem is all comic book writers are Liberals (at least today), so they don't understand this.
Even Green Arrow I doubt was intended to be a Liberal by his creator. It was O'Neil in making the Green Lantern/Green Arrow series who forever labeled him a Liberal...
From: "The religion of comic book characters" forum discussion, started 3 December 2006 on RPG.net website (http://forum.rpg.net/showthread.php?s=9326f642dca06ede764bcd691814750c&t=299781; viewed 25 April 2007):
From: "Religions of super heroes" forum discussion page started 14 August 2006 on "Wizard Universe" website (http://wizarduniverse.invisionzone.com/lofiversion/index.php/t1595.html; viewed 25 April 2007):
12-03-2006, 10:11 PM
Re: The religion of comic book characters
...There are even a number of non-religions listed, and I'm not talking about religions created for the comic book setting... I won't get into the liberal marxists, gypsy/roma ties, pro and con abortion rights activists, Alcoholics Anonymous, or anything else inappropriately listed as a religious affiliation...
Aug 14 2006, 06:17 PM
...Since when is Communist, Liberal Marxist, "fair play", animal rights, mildly feminist, Alcoholics Anonymous, pro-abortion activist, Nazi, obsession with duality, and hates Spider-Man a religion???
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, 01:51 PM
As they say, you don't discuss religion or politics. Except if you are Green Arrow.
I think it would be interesting, if as part of the diversity movement, if some heroes were and some weren't (Mr. Terrific is an atheist I believe) in different ways. I don't mean the book should be preaching, but a couple of characters, it would be interesting.
Myself, I don't get offended by seeing charactrers with different believes-find it intriguing if nothing else.
But some people get very offended. Very offended by the mere mention of it.
And it would be a delicate balance, showing it as part of the guy's life, but not preaching or beating you over the head with it. People don't want an attempt of conversion, religion or politics.
I just think it could be cool, like how Green Arrow is more liberal, and Hawkman more conservative, and yet it doesn't offend me.
08-22-2006, 03:59 PM
re: I don't think there is much internalization that can be helped by a greater display of religious belief.
Frank Miller made leaps and bounds on his run with DD about Faith and religion (which is why I'd admit would make DD Catholic moreso than modern portrayals). Smith's Green Arrow: Quiver also uses internalization to express exploration of Faith.
From: "Comic Book Characters Listed by Religion" forum discussion started 7 March 2006 on "Truth and Beauty Bombs" website (http://www.truthandbeautybombs.com/bb/viewtopic.php?t=5569; viewed 10 May 2007):
Professor Stevie Freezie
Posted: Tue Mar 07, 2006 11:28 am
Posted: Tue Mar 07, 2006 5:39 pm
Ollie's religion is "Liberal Communist Marxist"? And they list him in the top most religiously active heroes? Maybe they mean his kid, the Buddhist monk?
From: "There Are No Lions Here", posted 15 October 2006 on "Pretty, Fizzy Paradise" blog website (http://kalinara.blogspot.com/2006/10/there-are-no-lions-here.html; viewed 30 May 2007):
At 5:40 PM, Matt T. said:
...That Adherents site is nifty, but there's some hinky aspects to it, particularly when it comes to the "atheist/agnostic" section. Especially Green Arrow, who is labeled a "Liberal Marxist atheist", primarily based on what others called Ollie in "The Dark Knight Returns". Unless I've missed something, GA is definitely left-wing and quite probably has socialist leanings, but that isn't the same thing as being a "Marxist" or even a full-on Communist...
From: "Legion of Atheist Super-Heroes" forum discussion, started 17 November 2006 on "Comic Book Resources" website (http://forums.comicbookresources.com/archive/index.php/t-152692.html; viewed 30 May 2007):
11-19-2006, 06:27 AM
Yeah, that's sort of the dorky thing about it. In the DCU, you've got Mr. Terrific hanging with the Spectre - the embodied Wrath of God - and Zauriel, who is literally an angel. Green Arrow, Swamp Thing and others have literally been to Heaven.
Atheism makes much less sense in a world in which gods, and God, are both demonstrably real. I suppose Mr. T argues that all these entities are just extradimensional beings of great power, but not truly divine beings.
From: "Ask an Atheist!" forum discussion, started 9 June 2006 on "Comic Book Resources" website (http://forums.comicbookresources.com/archive/index.php/t-128514-p-5.html; viewed 30 May 2007):
06-21-2006, 10:13 AM
...http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/comic_book_religion.html ["Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Characters" website]...
06-21-2006, 10:28 AM
That page is nuts. Animal rights a religion? "Scientism"? Fundamentalist environmentalist?
06-21-2006, 10:33 AM
Yeah, some of them are really bad. "Communist" is also not a religion, but an ideology and an economic system.
But some of the individual pages are fairly decent in distinct examples of certain characters expressing their beliefs. Sometimes with pictures.
From: "Jewish Heroes or Villians in Marvel Universe?" forum discussion, started 12 December 2005 on "Comic Book Resources" website (http://www.xmenindex.com/forums/comicbooks/t-97146.html; viewed 31 May 2007):
12-13-2005, 03:14 PM
...According to this list, [Spider-Man] a Protestant?
Some of the claims on this list (and subsequent descriptions) are just ridiculous. Still, they do make a good point about May being a Christian.
12-13-2005, 03:44 PM
...that list really, really sucks... And seriously, what religion is Liberal Marxist Communist? Half the crap up there is either conjecture or made up entirely.
From: "Atheist characters in comics" forum discussion, started 27 February 2007 on CGS Forums website (http://www.cgspodcast.com/forum2//lofiversion/index.php?t107540.html; viewed 4 June 2007):
Feb 28 2007, 04:32 AM
How can the Green Arrow be an agnostic?
Feb 28 2007, 04:48 AM
Why wouldnt he?
Seems in character, he can't be bothered with things like religion when there's so many soapboxes here on Earth he can stand on.
Feb 28 2007, 04:51 AM
I think a few years in Heaven could turn any atheist agnostic...
Feb 28 2007, 04:53 AM
Hahah. I completely forgot about that piece of Mr. Queen's past...
Still, Ollie is a stubborn bastard, so he's probably just switched from "no thanks" to "I couldnt say."
From: "Super Hero Religions" forum discussion started 15 June 2006 on "RonFez.net" website, home of the Ron & Fez radio show (http://www.ronfez.net/forums/archive/index.php/t-50765.html; viewed 11 June 2007):
06-15-2006, 02:10 PM
Ron and Fez did an awesome bit on this years ago... Popular Comic Book Heroes Faith-by-Faith...
06-15-2006, 03:10 PM
What about Green Arrow? I would say an atheist, but wasn't he brought back form hell or something? So maybe not.
I would also say Mr. Fantastic is an atheist because of the scientist thing.
Cyclops is a good red-blooded Protestant boy.
Prof X, Buddhist, just because of the hair-do.
Guy Gardner, former Catholic.
Booster Gold, Scientologist.
Yorick Brown, Agnostic.
06-15-2006, 03:20 PM
re: What about Green Arrow. I would say an atheist, but wasn't he brought back form hell or something, so maybe not.
Green Arrow was dead and in Heaven.
From: "Superheroes/villains and their religions" forum discussion, started 16 March 2006 on "Animation Insider" website (http://www.animationinsider.net/forums/archive/index.php?t-17835.html; viewed 28 June 2008):
03-16-2006, 05:16 AM
Someone pointed this out at another forum. I found it to be quite amusing that someone would actually have enough time on their hands to ponder about this.
03-16-2006, 04:56 PM
I wouldn't have thought that Oliver Queen was a Marxist communist atheist, for all his left wing talk, he does love democracy and America.
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 12th, '04, 07:13 AM
The Kevin Smith arcs of both Daredevil and Green Arrow dealt with the christian mythos in a fairly even-handed way: Smith, himself a catholic, seems to be able to handle investigation of religious matters without getting ovely preachy or offensive either.
From: "Superhero Religious Views?" forum discussion, started 9 June 2007 on Newsarama website (http://forum.newsarama.com/archive/index.php/t-116001.html; viewed 13 July 2007):
06-09-2007, 10:54 PM
I would assume most [DC Univese super-heroes] would believe in some higher being seeing as how they are exposed to magic pretty frequently.
06-10-2007, 01:19 AM
With the Spectre running around, Hal's interaction with it, Ollie's resurrection, and the existence of Zauriel, I'm sure a big chunk of the DCU's heroes (except for Mr. Terrific, of course) believe in some form of a deity along the lines of Christianity's god.
06-10-2007, 01:52 AM
I am betting Ollie believes in something. Didn't he go to Heaven in Quiver?
06-10-2007, 02:01 AM
You'd think comic Heaven would give capes [i.e., costumed super-heroes] a free pass.
06-10-2007, 06:20 AM
I find it accurate (for the character I know).
I don't belive Ollie is religious in any way. He's not Atheist, agnostic, Christian... He's not anything. Even though he's been dead, and met Jesus once. :P
06-10-2007, 04:39 PM
...With both Superman and Batman, they tend to leave religion out of it, probably to avoid discussions like these. Sure you can have Daredevil as a Catholic, but Supes and Bats are very iconic characters and one of their appeals is that they can appeal to anyone...
Ollie may believe in something now after being dead but Hal never said they were in Heaven, "an aspect of it" yes. He could have been in Heaven but he also could have been in Elysian Fields (spelling? the Greek myth of where good people go when they die). Connor is Buddhist (yay, my peeps)... It really doesn't matter.
06-13-2007, 01:43 AM
...Green Arrow believes in God since he's been to Heaven literally...
From: Andrew Dabb, "Four Color Innocense" essay for "Under Duress" column, posted 7 May 2001 on "Ninth Art" website (http://www.ninthart.com/display.php?article=2; viewed 16 July 2007):
Why aren't more comic book heroes involved with groups like the NRA, or the NAACP, or ACLU, or PETA, or the KKK, or Nation of Islam? Why isn't a member of the X-Men actively Southern Baptist? Ninety per cent of the people on this planet believe in a Supreme Being. When was the last time you saw Wonder Woman, after defeating some terrorist, spike her lasso and thank Zeus for her powers? Why isn't there a Hindu in the JLA or a Mormon in the WildCATS? Comic book characters usually lack what makes us human; our opinions. Specifically, our unpopular ones... At least that would be different.
Even the most progressive books out there will take almost zero chances. The most controversial that mainstream comics get (and here I'm taking about comics from the larger companies; Marvel, DC, Oni, Dark Horse) is to portray homosexuality and/or drug use. Are people opposed to both? Sure. Do the creators get flack for it? Doubtless. Are these the same two issues comics were exploring a decade ago in books like X-FACTOR and GREEN ARROW? Yes. Are both prominently featured in multiple Network Prime Time sitcoms? You bet - and not only are they featured, they're often played for laughs.
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):
November 30th, 2005, 03:34 AM
In the last few days, since the thread on "Liberality for all" I have been pondering a number of seperate, yet to me, related issues affecting the comic industry in the USA. Among these are the long term trend of declining sales among mainstream comics, the ideologicall monopoly that liberals hold on the comics industry on the creative side, and the severe lack of credible, and more to the point admirable comics characters with a more conservative outlook. While I don't subscribe to the idea of a "vast leftwing conspiracy" in comics it is impossible to deny that most of those involved in the business of comics on the creative side are firmly and proudly liberal, and that while for the most part, politics comes up only tangentially in comics most Superheroes do seem to be of a liberal mindset.
I think that in the interest of honesty, we must at least examine the idea that perhaps the overwhelming presence of more liberal creators, when contrasted with the fact that the majority of Americans fall slightly more to the right of the political spectrum than left may be in some way related to the long term trend of declining sales... So could the creation or emphasis of charcters as conservatives, open the industry to new readers?
November 30th, 2005, 08:17 AM
There are two examples that spring to my mind when I started reading this thread. Green Arrow under Chuck Dixon and Hawkman.
Chuck Dixon is very much a conservative and I think especially his death of Green Arrow (Ollie) was as much the death of the character as it was an attempted slaying of the liberal icon it had become. Dixon's Ollie was a confused weary liberal, who ran away from his problems often times leading him into worse situations. He joined an ecogroup under government action and then because of his libido and general lack of faith in the system comes extremely close to betraying his country, and only when he realizes what he is doing does he try and stop the attack on Metropolis, with a foolish but good intentioned action he sets off the double trigger and is killed by a biobomb.
Chuck then, after Ollie's death, fleshes out Puckett's character of Connor Hawke, who I don't think is a conservative but is at very least a moderate, with strong religious beliefs, and in comparison to his father he could be mistaken for Rush [Limbaugh, the conservative talk show host]. In Connor's run an ongoing theme was saving the Ashram (his church) through his private actions against a faithless former student who wanted to descrate it. He had alot of old school type values, and wasn't having premarital sex like it was going out of style.
But given all of that, I didn't see any conservatives in the letter column or any conservatives fighting for the book. There wasn't any rallying cry and imo [in my opinion], while it wasnt the total focus of the book it was leaning with a conservative writer...
I'm not sure that politics really play a crucial role in comics, occassionally we see politcal debate, but by and large I dont think its a rallying point for either conservatives or liberals. I dont think that it really affects that many people, when they are deciding to buy comics or not. I think costume origin powers writer and artist are much bigger factors and political persuasion is an after thought...
November 30th, 2005, 08:24 AM
Green Arrow is a great example, but the thing is... was GA really a Liberal at that point?
I kinda feel that he stopped being liberal with Long-Bow Hunters. And it made sense, because Mike Grell is definitely a conservative.
In fact, that's one of my problems with Grell's version. A lot of people liked it, but I thought the character became kinda right-wing in fact if not in label. I don't have a problem with that in general, but I really loved the idea of GA being this rabid ultra-liberal.
But liberalism also meant something different when Denny O'Neil gave him that characterization decades ago.
November 30th, 2005, 08:45 AM
I think you hit the nail on the head, Peter, with the last sentence, O'Neil's liberal was before liberal became a dirty word, what it stood for was different then what it is now. I remember Grell's GA one time going after a shipping captain who had crashed an oil tanker in a two part story(great panel in the first issue where we see Ollie kick the door to a cabin where the captain is hiding), so I'd say he had at least some of the old liberalism still kicking in him, but by then the meaning of the word had changed, it was no longer a political pov it was the guy who wants to tax you into the stone age and let the commie's take over.
I think Puckett's run had Ollie as a liberal, but an oldschool liberal and again you have to look at how Ollie died and how he lived just before that. The entire thing was about the evils of modern society, how America was ruining the enviroment, was he a liberal in the old school sense? No, was he a liberal in the dirty word sense under Dixon, I'd say yes.
Grell wrote a man near retirement still kicking but wanting to settle down and love Dinah but could never quite get there. His political fervor had been tempered to a degree but it was still there. Grell's Ollie was a guy with heart who wanted to start a family, his political values took a backseat, so he wasnt rabidly speaking to them anymore but they showed up imo [in my opinion], just not with the fervor of before.
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 26th, 2005, 02:17 PM
Conversely, so is being religious, since every deity seems to exist and none hold primacy over the others (or the Anti-Monitor, for that matter). In a world of super-beings, these "gods" just come off as slightly more super beings. The argument could go both ways.
May 26th, 2005, 02:20 PM
Not really true... as there are higher powered dieties... but the proof of God's existence has been established.
The Spectre is the embodiment of God's Wrath. Zaurel has spoken to God. . . etc. Ollie [Green Arrow] and Hal [Green Lantern] have both been to Heaven and back.
June 1st, 2005, 03:21 PM
Okay... how do we spot a DCU atheist?
Simple: one who sees an angel in the JLA, Ares fighting Wonder Woman, Darkseid threatening Earth... perhaps even "The Presence" or "The Source"... and believes that while - yes - these beings certainly are unimaginably powerful, there is no proof that they are "gods", as opposed to high-level super-beings or practicioners of a form of meta-science, light years beyond our own. Just because a superior life form or someone unfathomably powerful claims to be a "god" doesn't make it so. Heck, we could go back in time and convince cavemen that we're "gods". That could be all that those beings are doing to DCU residents.
A DCU skeptic, while clearly able to see these beings that claim to be "gods" as existing, doesn't have to believe that any of these "gods" are responsible for creation or are the end-all be-all lords of the after-life, or are truly omniscient and know everything.
Superman could claim to be a god and back it up with some pretty compelling proof, but if he did make such a claim, I bet there would be several DCU residents who wouldn't believe in his "divinity". Same with Ares, Darkseid, Spectre, The Source, etc.
Super-beings? Sure. Advanced life forms? Sure. Divine, omniscient, omnipotent beings that created all and are the beginning and the end of everything? ...Even - perhaps especially - in the DCU, that still requires a lot of faith to "pick a horse" and say "One of these beings is telling the truth, and I believe it's that one!"
To deny that these beings exist is a "flat-earther" scenario; to deny that they are "gods" is quite easy. Hence, your DCU atheist (or agnostic).
June 1st, 2005, 04:37 PM
Exactly. So let's put my confusion to bed once and for all.
Given that definition, on what basis do you exclude Hal or Bruce or Oliver or any number of characters who, as far as I can tell, share those exact beliefs from the list of healthy DCU skeptics?
(Well, Bruce isn't exactly healthy but that's another matter.)
See where you're losing me? Could it just be that we see those characters differently?
June 1st, 2005, 04:58 PM
I see where you're coming from, Clear, but you'd have to reference where it is that Hal or Ollie state that they are, in fact, atheist or agnostic, before I could go along with that. But, even so, Bruce feeds directly into the cold, emotionally scarred/weird/twisted stereotype, while cases could also be made for Hal and Ollie, since neither seem to be entirely comfortable expressing or healthily in-touch with feelings toward loved ones, be they familial or romantic.
June 1st, 2005, 07:13 PM
True, but it wouldn't be too hard to make an argument that nobody in the DCU is completely normal. :)
No one is going to call himself an atheist in this universe [i.e., in the DC Universe] because it would just confuse readers (as we've seen in this thread). However, I think several of them exhibit the kinds of beliefs you described as the qualifications for a skeptic and aren't conflicted about it at all. My memory isn't all that hot so the best I'm going to get as far as quotes is Hal's recent comments that which were effectively the same as saying that the being who calls himself God is unworthy of worship. I know Ollie has said similar things, but for the life of me I can't remember in what stories (may have been in JL: Elite - I can look). Can someone help a guy with a shoddy memory?
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):
May 15th, 2005, 10:32 AM
I can understand those concerns somewhat. I have no desire to see Jack Chick writing Superman. :) But I can see that the addition of faith (or the lack there of) could be useful for adding dimension to an otherwise flat character. I'm sure that turning Green Arrow in to a left-wing ideologue alienated a few people, but it succeeded in making the character more than "Batman with a bow". I think that fully fleshed out characters add more to the sense of "realism" in comics than the snuff material that a lot of people attribute as doing so. I'll take positive portrayals of beliefs I don't personally believe in over graphic depictions of rape, murder and mutilation any day.
May 15th, 2005, 11:14 AM
You make a very good point with Green Arrow, but the political overtones tend to get handled more evenly (for instance, Hawkman is Ollie's eternal counterpoint, just as Hawk is Dove's) and most of the disagreements are played out plainly on the page, without a subtextual feeling of condemnation for either side. ...Usually, there are exceptions even there, of course.
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.
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