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The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Character
Hal Jordan
Green Lantern

"Hal Jordan" is best known as "Green Lantern." Although other heroes have held this title, Jordan remains the best-known. Hal Jordan is referred to by comic book historians as "Green Lantern II" in order to distinguish him from the original Green Lantern (Alan Scott) and later characters to wield the green power ring.

Hal Jordan is one of the most famous and one of the most overtly religious major superheroes in the DC Universe. Yet Hal Jordan's religiosity has essentially never been portrayed as participation in traditionally recognized Earth-based religious denominations.

With regards to Hal Jordan's religious affiliation in the traditional sense a very strong case can be made that the character is Catholic. A case can also be made that the character is Jewish, although the evidence for this seems less substantial. For both possibilities, there are readers who believe that Hal Jordan practiced his religious faith at least somewhat as an adult. Based on the available evidence and the nature of Jordan's religious observance as an adult, it is quite possible that Jordan is a Jewish Catholic.

Hal Jordan has been portrayed in published comics going to a Catholic confessional, thinking to himself that he had not been to Confession since he was a child. Hal Jordan died and went to Purgatory. If one accepts the theory that has been published in some DC comic books that people in the DC Universe go to an afterlife that conforms to their own belief system, then this would seem to confirm Catholicism as the faith Jordan was raised in. Purgatory is a commonplace doctrine in Catholicism but essentially unheard of in Protestantism and other Christian traditions that the majority of Americans belong to. In 2005 Green Lantern writer Geoff Johns reportedly stated that Hal Jordan is Catholic (on a Comic Bloc forum discussion board: http://www.comicbloc.com/forums/showthread.php?t=31097). Geoff Johns is one of the most influential writers in Hal Jordan's history by virtue of his being the writer of Green Lantern: Rebirth and the subsequent ongoing Green Lantern monthly series that re-launched Hal Jordan as Green Lantern in the DC Universe.

Evidence for Hal Jordan being Jewish includes a DC Christmas special in which Jordan wishes his colleague Barry Allen (the Flash) a "Happy Chanukah." In an issue of Green Lantern during J.M. DeMatteis's run, a pseudo-Sinestro being wondered at the fact that Hal Jordan lives in a temple, and a god-like entity answered saying, "Of course, didn't you know he was Jewish?" Hal Jordan's Hebrew surname (from יַרְדֵן - Yarden, derived from the word for "descend" or "flow down") and the fact that the character was modelled after Jewish Catholic actor Paul Newman have also been cited as evidence.

But in any meaningful sense, Hal Jordan's religion during most of his career as Green Lantern has been the Guardians of the Galaxy and the Green Lantern Corps itself. The Green Lantern Corps is not usually identified as a "religion." In fact, many Green Lanterns from other worlds have been devout adherents of native religions, even while serving in the Corps. Nevertheless, being a Green Lantern has functioned as a religion for Hal Jordan, forming the basis for his worldview, values, rituals and beliefs.


"By My Sacred Trust!"
Being a member of the Green Lantern Corps isn't just a job or avocation for Hal Jordan. It is a sacred calling - a "sacred trust."

Green Lantern says by my sacred trust, seeing Batman doing evil to a police helicopter
Source: The Brave and the Bold #59, published May 1965 by DC Comics. Written by Bob Haney, pencils by Ramona Fradon, inks by Charles Paris; page 8; republished in Showcase Presents: The Brave and the Bold Presents Batman Team-Ups, volume 1, published by DC Comics (2007), page 13.

The amount of religious content in the early Green Lantern issues, and the religious/mystical/magical nature of Hal Jordan's powers at the time, is surprising to many readers. These elements are also surprising given the fact that DC editor Julius Schwartz was a long-time science fiction fan and science fiction literary agent who specifically asked writer John Broome and artist Gil Kane to re-imagine DC's mystical 1940s "Green Lantern" as a more science fiction-oriented character.

When the "Hal Jordan" Green Lantern was introduced in Showcase #22 (September-October 1959), the character received his powers from an alien and did indeed have a sleek costume that meshed with the science fiction of the time. But within a few months, the newly launched Green Lantern series acquired many religious elements, including monthly references to the Guardians of the Galaxy and the power ring itself as "mystical." This may have been a departure from Schwartz's idea of a purely "science fiction" premise, but such elements were consistent with the original "Green Lantern" Alan Scott, whose powers were explicitly mystical in nature.


"Secret Ritual"
Green Lantern's ring-charging ceremony is a religious ritual.

Green Lantern's ring-charging ritual
Source: The Brave and the Bold #59, published May 1965 by DC Comics. Written by Bob Haney, pencils by Ramona Fradon, inks by Charles Paris; page 5; republished in Showcase Presents: The Brave and the Bold Presents Batman Team-Ups, volume 1, published by DC Comics (2007), page 10.


Green Lanterns's "Sacred Power Ring"
Hal Jordan's power ring was originally referred to as mystical or magical in nature. The power ring's capabilities were tied to Hal Jordan's will and imagination, unfettered by purely material concerns or scientific rationale. The ring was a sacred emblem of his holy calling as a Green Lantern in the service of the Guardians of the Galaxy.

Green Lantern and his sacred power ring
Source: The Brave and the Bold #69, published January 1967 by DC Comics. Written by Bob Haney, art by Win Mortimer; page 4; republished in Showcase Presents: The Brave and the Bold Presents Batman Team-Ups, volume 1, published by DC Comics (2007), page 112.

The Guardians of the Galaxy were depicted as a cross between galactic gods and high priests. The Guardians had clear ideas about what constituted good and evil, and they actively interfered in other cultures and in the lives of individuals in order to promulgate their values and beliefs. Representing the self-appointed "Guardians," the Green Lantern Corps served as both a policing agency and a de facto priesthood.


"By the Eternal Guardians"
Hal Jordan invokes the name of the Guardians of the Galaxy as sacred beings, in the same way that other DC superheroes from this era invoked the deities they worship. Jordan's mild exclamations using name of the Guardians are analogous to Wonder Woman invoking the name of Hera, Aquaman invoking the name of Neptune, and Golden Age Superman invoking the name of Rao.

Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) invokes the Eternal Guardians
Source: The Brave and the Bold #69, published January 1967 by DC Comics. Written by Bob Haney, art by Win Mortimer; page 22; republished in Showcase Presents: The Brave and the Bold Presents Batman Team-Ups, volume 1, published by DC Comics (2007), page 130.

In identifying Hal Jordan's religious affiliation, some fans of the character have suggested that Jordan was born and raised as a Catholic, and was apparently at least moderately observant as an adult. See, for example, evidence of his Catholic religious affiliation in Green Lantern #180 and Justice Society of America #60.

Another strong indicator that Hal Jordan has a Catholic background is the fact that his two brothers, Jack and Jim, were based on the Kennedy brothers. Hal Jordan and two brothers, Jack and Jim, were based in part on John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy and Edward Kennedy. This is perhaps most clear in the early Green Lantern story that introduces Hal's brothers. Not only are they close visual amalgams of the Kennedys, the story that introduced them depicts Hal and his brother Jim assisting in Jack's political campaign for public office.

One of the most significant published comic book scenes cited as evidence that Hal Jordan was Jewish is from the story "One Christmas Eve," published in Christmas With the Super-Heroes #2 (1989), written by William-Messner Loebs and Colleen Doran. In this story, Barry Allen (the Flash) wishes Hal Jordan a Merry Christmas, and Hal wishes him a Happy Channukah.

If Hal Jordan (Green Lantern) is a Catholic character, then one must assume that in this scene he is that he was wishing his friend Barry Allen (the Flash) a season's greeting which was appropriate to Barry's ow religious background.

Alternatively, this scene has been interpreted by other readers to mean that it was Hal Jordan who is Jewish, and that each was uttering a holiday greeting from their own religious perspective. If one accepts this particular scene as definitive, then there would seem to be two possibilities:
1) Hal Jordan (Green Lantern) is Jewish and Barry Allen (Flash) is Christian.
or
2) Hal Jordan (Green Lantern) is Christian and Barry Allen (Flash) is Jewish.

A comic book fan with a particular interest in Jewish superheroes wrote to us and offered the following reasons Hal Jordan might be identified as Jewish (8 June 2006):

I know that later comic writers have shown Hal to be Christian, but, originally, he was subtly Jewish (like many superheroes).

His name is Harold Jordan - Jordan, like the famous river in Israel. His father's name is Martin, his uncle's name is Lawrence, his brother's name is Jack (Jacob). If you met four guys named (alternately) Harry, Martin, Lawrence, and Jacob Jordan, they'd probably be Jewish. (By the by, this would make Air Wave 1, the aforementioned Larry Jordan, and his son, Air Wave 2, most likely Jewish.)

Moreover, his creators were Julius Schwartz and Gil Kane (born Eli Katz). Granted, most Golden and Silver Age comic creators were Jews, but consider that Kane modeled Hal off of Paul Newman, a Jewish actor.

His great love is Carol Ferris, another commonly (but not exclusively) Jewish surname.

Then, there's the DC Christmas special wherein Hal wishes Barry Allen a "Happy Chanukah." Many have taken this to mean that Barry was Jewish, but Barry was a blonde, blue-eyed guy from Iowa. Nope - Hal was indicating his own background after Barry wished him a "Merry Christmas."

One of the most compelling arguments for the theory that Hal Jordan is Jewish is the fact that the character's appearance (and perhaps his personality as well, to some extent) really was based on half-Jewish actor Paul Newman. Newman (whose birth name is Paul Leonard Newman) would soon be even more famous for such roles as "Eddie Felson" in The Hustler (1961) and Mormon outlaw folk hero Butch Cassidy in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969). But in 1959, when John Broome and Gil Kane created the Hal Jordan character as a whole new "Green Lantern," Newman was already regarded as one of America's most popular (and most handsome) movie stars.

Paul Newman is half-Jewish and so, some people have reasoned, Hal Jordan must be Jewish as well. One strike against this reasoning is the fact that Hal Jordan is not a direct Paul Newman analogue. Jordan may have been drawn to look like Newman, but there are also many differences between the two. For example, Paul Newman has never possessed a power ring given to him from a crashlanded alien, while Hal Jordan has never won an Academy Award. Moreover, the "Paul Newman is Jewish, so Hal Jordan must be too" line of reasoning glosses over the fact that Newman is only half-Jewish, and fails to take into account the way that Hal Jordan's family (himself along with his two brothers) were transparently based on the overtly Catholic Kennedy brothers.

The best explanation that harmonizes both sets of evidence is that Hal Jordan is a Jewish Catholic, or in other words, Jordan has one Jewish parent and one Catholic parent. Like most Jewish Catholics, Hal Jordan probably had some limited exposure to Catholicism and Judaism while growing up, but he was raised in a nominally religious home. As an adult, as is common with the children of interfaith marriages, Hal Jordan had very little sense of religious identity, and felt little connection to the religion of either of his parents. It is not surprising that Jordan would develop such a strong connection to the Guardians of the Galaxy and the Green Lantern Corps when his calling as a Green Lantern gave him the opportunity to be part of a cohesive, clearly defined belief and values system.

Hal Jordan clearly had some upbringing with traditional religious training. The evidence that his religious background was specifically Catholic or Jewish is tenuous. Were there more clearcut evidence for either of these positions, there would be a consensus about Jordan's religious background, rather than distinct but contradictory possibilities. Further research on this subject is needed. But more importantly, Hal Jordan's background in any specific Earth-based denomination is essentially irrelevent relative to his tremendously life-altering religious experiences as an adult: becoming a Green Lantern and becoming the Spectre.

Today it is widely, but incorrectly, believed that Hal Jordan was created as a purely "science fiction"-based superhero. It is true that the space-based origins and costume of the Hal Jordan version of Green Lantern were all were based on pulp science fiction trappings. But this is only half of the story.

Eventually the "scientific" aspect of Hal Jordan's character came more and more to the forefront and there came to be fewer references to the "mystical" nature of the Guardians of the Galaxy, the power ring and other Green Lantern concepts.

But the early Hal Jordan stories were explicitly religious in many ways and the plots routinely tackled religious themes in a very direct, overt way. Villains often represented pure evil and even (as with the Qwardians, who were Green Lantern's principle enemies) identified themselves as "evil." Green Lantern's oath specifically referred to his mission to thwart those who "worship evil's might." Early Green Lantern stories also dealt directly with topics such as prayer, faith, God, organized religious worship, and the soul. These themes were often addressed through stories that utilized science fiction-based plots and settings, which made the religious nature of the stories less obvious or off-putting to a pulp fiction audience.

There was no real scientific basis for Green Lantern's power ring, nor was it spoken of in scientific terms in the comics during the first years after the character was introduced. All of the early issues of Green Lantern portray the Green Lantern's lantern and ring as "mystical" and "magical" in nature. These were the words that Green Lantern himself and the narration always used to identify the ring and lantern given to him by the Guardians of the Galaxy. Contemporary readers often think of the power ring as being limited to forming green physical constructs and projecting green energy. When the Green Lantern series began, it was made clear through statements and examples that the ring could do anything, and was limited only by the bearer's will and imagination. Hal Jordan's power ring and his position as a Green Lantern made him, in effect, an agent of the gods.

When Hal Jordan became the Green Lantern of Earth, he did not simply join a "galactic police force," he also adopted a new religion. Hal Jordan regarded the Guardians themselves as mystical in nature. Soon after becoming Green Lantern, Hal Jordan regularly invoked the name of the Guardians as if they were deities. He looked on the Guardians with sacred awe. Even in contemporary DC Universe continuity, it is recognized that the Guardians first attempted to impose their beliefs about good and evil on the galaxy throughout the use of magically-based servants - the Manhunters.

Whenever Hal Jordan re-charged his power ring with the lantern, he swore an oath:
"In brightest day, in blackest night,
no evil shall escape my sight!
Let those who worship evil's might,
beware my power.. Green Lantern's light!"

This was an oath of Hal Jordan's own devising, and it was widely adopted by other Green Lanterns throughout the galaxy. It was not necessary to say an oath in order to re-charge the power ring. Jordan uttered the oath every day when re-charging his ring as a ritual signifying his devotion to his calling as a Green Lantern. The oath served the same function as a rote religious prayer.

Much of this description of religious elements in early Green Lantern stories may seem like heresy or complete nonsense to casual comic book readers, and even to long-time Green Lantern fans. But all of this is easily seen in Showcase Presents: Green Lantern, Vol. 1, published in October 2005 by DC Comics. This volume reprints the first three appearances of Hal Jordan in Showcase #s 22-24, as well as the first 17 issues of his own series. These foundational stories are nearly all written by John Broome, with art by Gil Kane and Joe Giella, along with a few contributions by Gardner Fox and Murphy Anderson.

It is not inaccurate of Green Lantern as a science fictional superhero, but such a concept is simply incomplete. Obviously the character is not principally a "religious" character, along the line so DC superheroes such as Zauriel, Seraph, Ragman or even Wonder Woman.

One problem with thinking of Green Lantern in purely scientific terms is his power: The Green Lantern's power ring functions based on will power and, to varying degrees over the years, is limitless in its capabilities. It is difficult to conceive of scientific rationale for such a ring. Even in recent times, many editors and writers have simply found it more sensible to identify the ring as "magic."

It is also difficult to ascribe purely "scientific" or "materialistic" motives to the Guardians of the Galaxy. This powerful group has apparently always been intent on providing assistance to (or "meddling with", depending on one's perspective) other civilizations throughout the galaxy. The Guardians of the Galaxy seem positively evangelistic compared to most depictions of highly advanced ancient alien races, such as Marvel's "Watchers" who act more in keeping with scientific traditions by observing other civilizations with a vow to not interfere.

After many years as one of Earth's most famous and important superheroes, Hal Jordan died, became the Spectre (the agent of the Wrath of God), and was later resurrected as a mortal. During this oddysey, Hal Jordan had numerous first-hand experiences with an apparently Judeo-Christian God and afterlife. At times, Hal Jordan himself essentially wielded the power of a god. These experiences doubtless influenced his religious perspectives.

From: Jason Berek-Lewis, "Green Lantern Reborn: Ethan Van Sciver" [interview], posted 14 September 2005 in Industrial Revolution on "Broken Frontier" website (http://www.brokenfrontier.com/columns/details.php?id=329; viewed 6 June 2006):

Jason [interviewer]: Stepping back a little, Green Lantern first debuted in 1940. Why do you think the character retains so much appeal 65 years later?

Ethan: Which character? See, that's what guarantees the continued interest in Green Lantern. It's a simple concept that drives the whole thing. A power ring, an oath, a sort of religion of willpower, and the entire vast universe. There are countless stories to be told.

There's no need to repeat yourself as a storyteller. We've got 7200 Green Lanterns from 3600 corners of the universe. That ought to keep fans in Green Lantern stories forever. And within this enormous and simple concept, we've made friends with a handful of characters to guide us through it all. Hal Jordan, Kyle Rayner, John Stewart, Guy Gardner and Kilowog.

From: "Hal Jordan" article on Wikipedia website (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hal_Jordan; viewed 6 June 2006):

After achieving great success in 1956 in reviving the old Golden Age character The Flash, DC editor Julius Schwartz looked toward the old Green Lantern superhero. Like The Flash, Schwartz wanted this new character to have a different secret identity, origin, and personality than his 1940's counterpart. A long time science-fiction fan and literary agent, Schwartz wanted a more sci-fi based Green Lantern, as opposed to the mystical powers of Alan Scott, the forties Green Lantern. He enlisted writer John Broome and artist Gil Kane, who in 1959 would reintroduce Green Lantern to the world in Showcase #22 (September-October 1959).

Like E.E. "Doc" Smith's Lensmen, the new Green Lantern was a member of an intergalactic constabulary made up of many different alien species who were given a device that provided them with great mental and physical abilities; however, both Broome and Schwartz had denied a connection between those pulps and the Green Lantern stories. Gil Kane drew from actor Paul Newman in creating Hal Jordan's likeness and redesigned the Green Lantern uniform into a very sleek form-fitting outfit of green, black, and white - quite the opposite of Alan Scott's red, yellow, green, purple, and black costume with a puffy shirt and cape.

...Schwartz and company also allowed Jordan to have a family, which was another rare thing at this time in superhero comics. While he didn't have a family of his own, he had many interactions with his two brothers, Jack and Jim. The Brothers Jordan were primarily inspired by the Kennedy brothers, who rose to prominence during the sixties...

...The pair [Green Lantern and Green Arrow, as written by Dennis O'Neil in the 1970s] proved to be dynamic and stunning. They tackled a number of social issues including corruption, sexism, cults, consumerism, the environment, racism, poverty, and even (subtly) child molestation...

...[In the late 1970s, Hal had fallen in love with psychic Kari Limbo, whom he met following [Guy] Gardner's presumed death. When Gardner was discovered alive on Hal and Kari's wedding day, Kari left Hal at the altar to care for Gardner, now in a coma. Soon afterwards, Hal dissolved his partnership with Green Arrow and returned to Ferris Aircraft to work as a test pilot once again.

...In the controversial 1994 Emerald Twilight storyline in Green Lantern (vol. 3) #48-50, the villainous alien Mongul came to Earth... Jordan defeated Mongul, but not before Coast City (Jordan's former home) was destroyed. He tried to use his ring to recreate the city, but the Guardians condemned this use of the ring for personal gain and demanded that Jordan come to Oa for trial. Angered at what he saw as the Guardians' ungrateful and callous behavior, Jordan seemingly went insane and attacked Oa to seize the full power of the Central Battery. The Green Lantern Corps attempted to defend Oa, but the enraged Jordan overwhelmed them, destroying his fellow Lanterns and the Guardians. He then renounced his life as Green Lantern, adopting the name Parallax.

As Parallax, he initiated the Zero Hour Crisis in Time, attempting to rewrite history to his own liking, but he was eventually defeated by a gathering of heroes... Many long time fans were outraged by the decision to turn Hal into a homicidal maniac, viewing it as a betrayal of his character and a transparent attempt to cash in on the then-popular trend of re-interpreting iconic super-heroes as morally-dubious anti-heroes.

Redemption
In the 1996 Final Night miniseries and crossover storyline, Jordan returned to his heroic roots, sacrificing his life to reignite the Sun (which had been extinguished by the Sun-Eater). Many super-heroes, including Superman, viewed this sacrifice as Jordan's redemption, one final heroic act. Batman was unconvinced, saying that one act couldn't make up for the evil that Hal had committed.

In the 1999 miniseries Day of Judgment, Jordan became the newest incarnation of The Spectre. Soon after assuming this mantle, Jordan chose to bend his mission from a spirit of vengeance to one of redemption. A new Spectre series then debuted, based on this premise, however, it lasted 27 issues before being cancelled due to poor sales and continued calls amongst comics fandom to return the character to his sci-fi roots as Green Lantern.

Rebirth
DC finally brought back Hal Jordan as the "star" Green Lantern of Earth, and redeemed his image with the 2004/2005 miniseries Green Lantern: Rebirth... in which it was revealed that Parallax was actually an ancient demonic parasitic entity dating back to the dawn of time, that actually was the sentient embodiment of fear... Parallax's control over Jordan exploded with Jordan's grief over the destruction of Coast City, and it was Parallax who was responsible for Jordan's subsequent murderous activity... and Jordan's destruction of the Central Battery, which allowed Parallax to graft itself onto Jordan's soul.

It was because Parallax was now free that Kyle Rayner's own ring did not have any weakness against yellow, and the Spectre explained to Jordan that it drew in Jordan's soul in hopes of eradicating the parasitic Parallax from it. The Spirit of Vengeance eventually removed Parallax from Jordan's soul, and itself from Jordan, departing in order to move onto the next recipient of the Spirit, while Ganthet guided Jordan's soul back to his own body, which had been preserved by the remnants of the energies Jordan had used to reignite the Sun during Final Night.

His soul and thoughts finally clear for the first time in a long time, Jordan was resurrected as a mortal human again, once again taking his place as a Green Lantern...

Hal Jordan's politics

Hal Jordan is widely known as a political conservative. This reputation may stem, in part, from his use as a foil or alternative perspective in stories featuring the overtly liberal Green Arrow.

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):

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.

From: "Hal Jordan" article on Wikipedia website (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hal_Jordan; viewed 6 June 2006):

Some time after [Denny O'Neil's re-invention of Green Arrow in 1968 with Justice League of America #66], [Julius] 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...

From: Leah Finkelshteyn, "Thwak! To Our Enemies", published in Hadassah Magazine, June/July 2003 Vol. 84 No. 10 (http://www.hadassah.org/news/content/per_hadassah/archive/2003/03_JUN/art.htm; viewed 19 June 2007):

..."It wasn't Krypton Superman came from, but the planet Minsk," said acclaimed cartoonist Jules Feiffer about the creation of Cleveland-born sons of immigrants Jerry Seigel and Joe Shuster. And DC Comic's Superman is far from the only icon of American pop mythology sprung straight from the Jewish zeitgeist. The fertile, some say aberrant, imaginations of Jack Kirby (Jacob Kurtzberg), Stan Lee (Stanley Lieber), Bob Kane (Bob Kahn), Joe Simon, Gil Kane (Eli Katz) and more have brought to life Captain America and Spider-Man (both Marvel Comics), Green Lantern and Batman (both DC), as well as Daredevil, the Hulk and X-Men (all Marvel) - characters that in the past months have battled baddies on the big screen...

...Sometimes the Jewish influence is more subtle. According to Jewish educator and comics fan and writer Alan Oirich, artist Gil Kane based his design of the large-headed, balding Guardians of the Universe in DC's Green Lantern on David Ben-Gurion. The President of Earth was also Jewish - and a woman - adds Oirich. Her son, Colossal Boy from DC's Legion of Superheroes, identifies as Jewish, he says, and so does she...

Discussion

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):

Steve Chung
May 14th, 2005, 09:26 PM

In a Christmas With the Super-Heroes #2 story by William-Messner Loebs and Colleen Doran, Barry wishes Hal Jordan a Merry Christmas, and Hal wishes him a Happy Channukah.

Make of this what you will.


Evadne
May 15th, 2005, 07:37 PM

Well, assuming what Steve Chung said about the Christmas special is true, I think the question here is, is there anything in previous canon that points to Barry Allen being raised in a Christian environment? What was the date on the Christmas special where Hal wished him a Happy Chanukah? Is this possibly a retcon of Barry's cultural upbringing or is it just something that was played low for precisely the reasons people are stating here? (Barry may have been raised Jewish, but was an atheist/agnostic, or the writers felt the aspect of religion had no real place in comics?)

I always read [Barry Allen as] more WASPy, so this is an interesting development.


Steve Chung
May 15th, 2005, 09:16 PM

Christmas With the Super-Heroes 1989.

"One Christmas Eve" by William Messner-Loebs, Colleen Doran, Ty Templeton, Glenn Whitmore, and Albert DeGuzman.


Jack Johnson
May 15th, 2005, 10:38 PM

Well, I don't really care about other characters as long as I can show off my fanaticism by pointing to different comics that evidence Hal Jordan being born and raised a Catholic and still keeping up with his religion. Green Lantern #180 and JSA #60. Did I mention what kind of toothpaste Hal uses?

From: "How do you feel about Hal Jordan and the whole rebirth effect?" forum discussion, started 18 July 2006 on "Comic Bloc" website (http://www.comicbloc.com/forums/showthread.php?t=31097; viewed 6 June 2007):

July 24th, 2006
Kris

re: I sort of agree there, and I wouldn't have minded the whole thing nearly as much has Hal been redeemed, rather than absolved. As I've said, my only real problem with Rebirth was the whole "space bug made me do it" part. If he'd EARNED his redemption, rather than having it handed to him on a silver platter, I would have had no problem with his ressurection itself. It's not like he's Barry Allen or anything.

Why don't you see him as redeemed already?

Hal saved the earth from dying in Final Night.

Hal sacrificed his life.

Hal went to Purgatory.

Hal voluntarily became the tortured victim of the Spectre to save the world in Day of Vengeance. Besides being forced to commit horrific acts, it also involved losing his identity as the Spectre took over more and more of his mind.

Hal saved countless people from the Spectre' wrath when he reformed it as the Spirit of Redemption. He gave hope to the heroes themselves.

Hal gave up life and peace when he advocated to the gathered heroes a return to the 'normal' universe in JLA/Avengers.

Hal protected his best friend's nephew Wally West from identity problems, and prevented Wally from doing something terrible, like running into the Speed Force to avoid Linda's hatred in Flash 200.

Hal gave up his peace and redemption to save the JSA in Redemption Lost. He accepted hell for himself to save Alan Scott.

I'd like a more concrete answer on what is immense enough to 'earn' him redemption.


July 24th, 2006
Ohoni

I agree, he did earn some slack thorough those actions, although most of the characters (and readers) know little of his actions as the Spectre. Still, I think he'd need to redeem himself both in his own eyes, and through the eyes of the universe at large, which last encountered him ruining the GLC. I still think it would have made a more interesting story if he really had to fight for his place at the table and earn his reputation back.


July 24th, 2006
KevinTBrown

The thing is, people who are bound and determined to hate Hal will ignore all of that and focus on one or two other events. One being a ret-con, the other being when he was not in control of his actions.

By the way, good list.


July 24th, 2006
TJLamb0518

Sorry, but no. He was made the host of the Spectre. The Wrath of GOD. Now, presumably, God has a little something something to say as to who gets to host His wrath. Ergo, it;s fair to say that God felt Hal was redeemable. Then, Hal was able to get a fairly short tour of duty and, instead of eternal rest for a job well done, was given a second shot at life. Now, I think it's fair to say that, despite what some people will say about Hal undoubtedly having greater willpower than the Spectre and/or God, if God felt Hal was worthy of being redeemed or felt he hadn't redeemed himself, Hal would've still been bonded to the Spectre or never allowed to act as host in the first place. Additionally, if God had not felt that Hal had either been redeemed or had exhausted the avenues being the Spectre afforded towards redemption... Hal would never have been given the opportunity to live again.


July 24th, 2006
Mark MacMillan

The only thing that Hal was able to do through his willpower was will the Spectre's path of vengeance into the path of redemption he was seeking. And that was only because the Spectre was also fighting off the influence of the Parallax entity.

Hal eventually couldn't will the Spectre's path anymore because the Parallax entity was gaining a stronger foothold and because the spirits the Spectre had previously judged during it's path of vengeance, could no longer be contained. The Spectre was the Spirit of Redemption because of Hal and was no longer a worthy judge of the dammed. So all of the Spectre's prior judgements as the Spirit of Vengeance no longer carried any weight to them (as seen in JSA).

So from what I understand, you're right. God let the Spectre bond with Hal's soul because his soul needed to be avenged. We now know that's because of the Parallax influence.

But it was because the Parallax entity only influenced Hal, by turning his own fears and doubts against him, that Hal ended up in purgatory (because even though the Parallax entity influenced him Hal was the one who gave in to the influence and allowed it to influence him into doing what he did in ET)

Hal's soul couldn't go to Hell because there were extenuating circumstances attached to his sins, and Hal's soul couldn't go to Heaven because he was guilty of giving in to the darkness in his heart instead of using his willpower to fight it. This is why his soul ended up in purgatory.

Hal's obviously got a second chance at life because he's redeemed himself in the eyes of the Lord, because of his time as the Spectre, and now is trying to redeem himself in the eyes of the superhero community. First in the eyes of the JLA, then Batman, and now he's trying with the GL's by attempting to bring back the MIA's.


July 24th, 2006
TJLamb0518

See, I think for destroying the GLC, he's earned his free pass. God forgave him. The only one who matters that hasn't totally forgiven himself is Hal himself. As far as the superhero community, I'd say a large number who even KNEW he was suspected of destroying the gLC in the first place (and since I doubt that story made the Daily Planet, the number of heroes who are aware that Jordan "went bad" are less than generally perceived. Same with extraterresatrials outside the GLC itself) would give him a pass because the Corps took him back. That's not even taking into account any heroes who were aware that Jordan hosted the Spectre and was released from service. I doubt 99.9999% of the DCU even know Jordan went "bad", "died" and was redeemed. They probably just know the old Lantern went away for a while and recently came back.

It's very hard to put ourselves in the shoes of the residents of the DCU, what with the omniscience of comic book readers.


July 24th, 2006
mikeptas

Or maybe God just fired him for messing up what the Spirit of Vengence was supposed to be. Maybe coming back to Earth wasn't really meant to be a reward - GA seemed fine in Heaven until he had to come back.

Don't get me wrong. I like Hal. Now. Before he was just boring to me. Now he has flaws and past actions to try and overcome. I like it being addressed in the book - newbies trying to hassle him and Gardner. As if they stood a chance...

Besides - because of Hal, we have GA back. So I'm good with it.


July 24th, 2006
Ohoni

Whoever said that he was irredeemable? The fact that he was in purgatory and not hell (unlike Guy) is a good sign that his actions put him in a moral gray area to start with, but he wasn't quite there yet (like Ollie).

I think it's safe to say that God had little to do with Hal splitting from the Spectre, or rather that it wasn't a "reward" for a job well done, but instead a self defense mechanism to stop Parallax from further tainting the Spirit of Vengence. They simply ouldn't stay together any longer, whether God was done with Hal yet or not. Although I suppose if God HAD considered Hal redeemed by that point he might have just called him up to heaven rather than placing him back in a state of descision.

re: First in the eyes of the JLA, then Batman, and now he's trying with the GL's by attempting to bring back the MIA's.

And hasn't each of those been some incredibly difficult trials to overcome? I mean Batman took almost an entire issue to forgive him, and you know how notiorious Batman is for just letting things like that slide.


July 24th, 2006
Kris

...GA is quite capable of messing up his own life without God, the Spectre, or Hal's help.

If God didn't want the Spectre to be turned into the Spirit of Redemption, than it seems highly unlikely that it could've been done against His will.

And I like Hal having to stand up against the crowd too. It makes my bloodlust rise. But I liked it when everyone loved him too--see 'Tales of the Corps'. The whole freaking Corps LOVED him, said right in the notes most of them adopted his oath in his honor. So I'm good, regardless, though I'd like Hal's friends to stand beside him.

Well, God won't step in to stop the Spirit of Wrath from being corrupted. The previous spirit went bad and became Eclipso. It seemed to be a mutual decision to split on Hal and Spec's part, to lower Parallax' power level to less godlike.

And it looked VERY much like God (or some automatic celestial mechanism) did call Hal up to heaven. It was Ganthet who offered an alternate path (or else he pulled Hal down, I'm not sure which) to life. God doesn't send angels of death to retrieve heart massage patients after they flatline after all--Death is a very patient girl.


July 24th, 2006
Ohoni

re: Well, God won't step in to stop the Spirit of Wrath from being corrupted. The previous spirit went bad and became Eclipso. It seemed to be a mutual decision to split on Hal and Spec's part, to lower Parallax' power level to less godlike.

You don't know God's plans. Maybe he needed him to split from Parallax, but also needed him to do what he did in DoV because both were necessary things. Either way, it appeared to happen more to keep Spectre and Parallax appart than because Hal had "won" the little Spectre game and was ready to claim his prize. If anything, it would appear that he failed the Spectre game miserably (note the JSA issues immediately prior to rebirth).


July 24th, 2006
Mark MacMillan

re: Whoever said that he was irredeemable? The fact that he was in purgatory and not hell (unlike Guy) is a good sign that his actions put him in a moral gray area to start with, but he wasn't quite there yet (like Ollie).

Exactly. Like I said earlier, Hal's soul couldn't go to Hell because there were extenuating circumstances attached to his sins, and Hal's soul couldn't go to Heaven because he was guilty of giving in to the darkness in his heart instead of using his willpower to fight it. This is why his soul ended up in purgatory.

re: I think it's safe to say that God had little to do with Hal splitting from the Spectre, or rather that it wasn't a "reward" for a job well done, but instead a self defense mechanism to stop Parallax from further tainting the Spirit of Vengence. They simply ouldn't stay together any longer, whether God was done with Hal yet or not. Although I suppose if God HAD considered Hal redeemed by that point he might have just called him up to heaven rather than placing him back in a state of descision.

I wouldn't say that. God could have planned this from the beginning. God could've let the Spectre bond with Hal's soul knowing the three would eventually have to split revealing the truth.

re: And hasn't each of those been some incredibly difficult trials to overcome? I mean Batman took almost an entire issue to forgive him, and you know how notiorious Batman is for just letting things like that slide.

Of course. But it's helped keep things interesting. It's also kind of ironic. During the Silver and Bronze ages, Hal was the light hearted one. Hal was always bugging Barry about being too much of a straight arrow, or Ollie for being too paranoid of the "man", or Bruce for being too cynical. Now he has to meet their standards and earn back their trust.


July 24th, 2006
TJLamb0518

re: You don't know God's plans.

Actually, as this is "comic book God" and not "real world if He exists God", we have a better than average chance of knowing His plans, since they're not His plans at all, but those of a writer who speaks though Him.

See, I took it as bonding Hal to the Spectre was to slowly but surely allow Hal to discover that it was Parallax and not Hal who was the instigator behind the events of ET. So, He (God) could've bonded Hal to the Spectre just as easily to allow Hal a chance to go on to REAL redemption as opposed to trying to redeem himself for something that was not truly his fault.

Cripes, I'm defending Jordan...


[http://www.comicbloc.com/forums/showthread.php?t=31097&page=8]

July 24th, 2006
Ohoni

re: Exactly. Like I said earlier, Hal's soul couldn't go to Hell because there were extenuating circumstances attached to his sins, and Hal's soul couldn't go to Heaven because he was guilty of giving in to the darkness in his heart instead of using his willpower to fight it. This is why his soul ended up in purgatory.

Eh. I rather interpret it as that he committed a lot of crimes and sins (bad), but that he did a lot of good as GL, and sacrificed his life to reignite the sun (good), which balanced out to a neutral enough state that he wasn't condemned to either final destination. I doubt the writers of Day of Judgement had any inkling of the Parallax bug.

re: Why would God need a Spectre?

Why does Ganthet need a Lantern? Why does Shazam need a Marvel? Gods are lazy. They dislike actually DOING things themselves, so they delegate.


July 24th, 2006
PeterCool

Day of Judgement was written by Geoff himself and I'm fairly sure that he would admit that he had no inkling of the Parallax entity at that point. However, there is a rumor that Geoff wanted to bring back Hal in DoJ that I've always forgotten to ask him about.

Another point is that, theologically, speaking, Purgatory is not actually a "neutral" destination. It is a way station that would in time lead to the soul moving on to Heaven, not Hell.


July 24th, 2006
Sk8maven

Dante described it best - see his "Purgatorio" section of the "Divine Comedy".

Needless to say, this is a very Catholic idea - Protestants have historically not had any truck with it.


July 24th, 2006
McAster

As for Spectre, who else is going to give us all sorts of ironic judgements?

We need the Spectre, we need him to turn people into living candles and burn them.

If he doesn't do it, who will?


July 25th, 2006
PeterCool

re: Needless to say, this is a very Catholic idea - Protestants have historically not had any truck with it.

Absolutely, it's a Catholic concept.

I was actually much surprised to see that Hal Jordan was/is a Catholic, as I probably wouldn't have thought so. But since he is one, it makes sense (according to DC logic) that he would go someplace that is defined in Catholicism.


July 25th, 2006
Ragnell

re: I was actually much surprised to see that Hal Jordan was/is a Catholic...

I was wondering who established this, so I looked at the religion database [http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/comic_book_religion.html] and they have him listed as Jewish-Catholic.

It would be really neat if they were right, and we had a character from a mixed-religious family running around.


July 25th, 2006
Can1

Wow ... Are we ever overthinking comics now when we have a 'religious affiliation of comic book characters' site.

What's next... an 'over or under toilet paper of comic book characters' site?


July 25th, 2006
McAster

The Guardians demand order, so it's over.


July 25th, 2006
Ragnell

There is NO such thing as overthinking comics.

And Hal's definitely one of those people who doesn't bother with the paper holder, he just sets the new roll on the back of the toilet.


July 25th, 2006
PeterCool

re: I agree with you, and I meant to say that in my initial post... I would have preferred that as well...

But the story of Hal's redemption was told something like 3 or 4 times.

Final Night, Day of Judgement, JLA/Spectre, Legacy, the Spectre series... these are all stories of Hal's redemption. How many redemptions would do the trick?


July 25th, 2006
Kris

re: I was wondering who established this, so I looked at the religion database and they have him listed as Jewish-Catholic.

The 'Jewish' thing is believed to come from DeMatteis' run, when pseudo-Sinestro said something like, "He lives in a temple?" and the godlike entity whose name I forget said, "Of course. Didn't you know he was Jewish?"

However, it's been convincingly argued that the entity was joking, and Hal's had at least one instance of using the Lord's Prayer in comics (vol. 2, ish 180 or 179, I think) that is particular to Christians.

Geoff's use of Purgatory as a place to put Hal isn't conclusive. It's referred to as if it's a permanent part of the metaphysical landscape by the angels, and complicating metaphysics makes it easier to write adventure stories about it. Geoff portrays him using the Catholic device of confession, which recalls Ostrander's use of it in his Spectre series and could be simply because it's an easy way to talk to someone about your deepest and darkest secrets and it's a handy way to build drama, rather than because Hal is Catholic.


[http://www.comicbloc.com/forums/showthread.php?t=31097&page=9]

July 25th, 2006
Ragnell

re: The 'Jewish' thing is believed to come from DeMatteis' run, when pseudo-Sinestro said something like, "He lives in a *temple*?" and the godlike entity whose name I forget said, "Of course. Didn't you know he was Jewish?"

Hehehe, they get a little bit earlier into that on the site. Some Christmas issue with Barry Allen.

re: However, it's been convincingly argued that the entity was joking, and Hal's had at least one instance of using the Lord's Prayer in comics (vol. 2, ish 180 or 179, I think) that is particular to Christians.

Which doesn't preclude having grown up in a mixed household, though. Religion isn't a state of absolutes. I know people from Protestant-Catholic families who wee raised in the Methodist Church but still use Catholic specific methods of prayer (Candles, Saints) because they did have a Catholic parent. I know Pagans who mix their religion with their Christian upbringing. That's the reason I was so intrigued by the site is it offers an option of a hero who might've grown up in a mixed household, and might therefore identify with both religions to some point -- no matter what their official religion is. Everything's so polarized in fiction, when comics touch on religion, it's too narrow for me -- if you're Jewish you're really Jewish, to the point your powers are ethnicized. The Catholics come in "devout" and "lapsed." There's no mixed households.

re: Geoff's use of Purgatory as a place to put Hal isn't conclusive. It's referred to as if it's a permanent part of the metaphysical landscape by the angels, and complicating metaphysics makes it easier to write adventure stories about it. Geoff portrays him using the Catholic device of confession, which recalls Ostrander's use of it in his Spectre series and could be simply because it's an easy way to talk to someone about your deepest and darkest secrets and it's a handy way to build drama, rather than because Hal is Catholic.

I think Purgatory, even if Hal wasn't Catholic, would have been an appropriate place because of his status. In the DCU, it's been established that you choose your own afterlife. You only go to Hell if you believe you deserve it, Heaven's the same way. Hal was indecisive, he believed he deserved Hell for his crimes but a part of him felt that was wrong. He felt he was redeemable, not condemned. So, he goes to Purgatory, a place of punishment that's temporary.


July 26th, 2006
PeterCool

I'm not dismissing this assertion, but I have to admit that I would find it very hard to believe the idea of a non-Catholic actually going to Confession.

In addition, Hal says in that story that he hasn't been to Confession since he was a child. That sounds very much like a Catholic upbringing that he himself didn't follow up on (as is the case with many persons of Catholic upbringing).

It certainly seems unlikely that he would have experienced Confession as a child if he wasn't being specifically raised as a Catholic.


July 26th, 2006
PeterCool

re: I think Purgatory, even if Hal wasn't Catholic, would have been an appropriate place because of his status. In the DCU, it's been established that you choose your own afterlife. You only go to Hell if you believe you deserve it, Heaven's the same way. Hal was indecisive, he believed he deserved Hell for his crimes but a part of him felt that was wrong. He felt he was redeemable, not condemned. So, he goes to Purgatory, a place of punishment that's temporary.

It's a good point, but for the most part non-Catholics don't even believe in Purgatory.

Therefore, how would Hal if he were a non-Catholic pick a place that he didn't believe in to go to?

I agree with some of your points about mixed faith upbringing. Frankly, I never would have picked Hal as Catholic before the JSA story in which he went to Confession, and that started me thinking about the Purgatory thing. My own guess would have been that he was a Protestant -- primarily because Catholics have usually been associated with non Anglo-Saxon ethnic groups such as Italians, Irish and Hispanics, and it seemed to me (at the time) that the name "Jordan" was not really ethnic in that regard.

That link you gave does make a good point about Hal and his brothers being very obviously modelled on the Kennedy's -- who were overtly Catholic.

The Jewish arguments I find a little less convincing, but without some sort of declaration from DC or Johns, I don't think it could be entirely dismissed.


July 26th, 2006
Mark MacMillan

I think we could go on all day about Hal's denomination until someone provides conclusive evidence of the Jordan family's faith from print.

But the Spectre on the other hand, we do know about. The Spectre's mythology is deeply rooted in Catholicism and the Catholic concept of Heaven and Hell, angels and demons, etc. Corrigan itself is an Irish Catholic name. It was a big part of Ostrander's Spectre run.

And to the person that asked, "Why does God need a Spectre?" the answer is he doesn't. The Spectre is a cast aside angel being punished by God.

The angel Aztar, rather than being relegated to Hell, is sentenced to serve as the Wrath of God - the Spectre. (Spectre v3 #60) He's trying to appease God and get back into Heaven.


July 26th, 2006
Hari Seldon

re: Final Night, Day of Judgement, JLA/Spectre, Legacy, the Spectre series... these are all stories of Hal's redemption. How many redemptions would do the trick?

At least one more? With free refills?

You raise a good point though - All those stories about Hal obtaining redemption were ill-defined in their goals:
What could he do to be absolved of his past sins?
Were those sins actually redeemable?
At least enough to become a superhero again?

It's a hazy path to follow, which is why the Spectre series lacked direction. But there was a more important reason to go for exoneration over redemption:

Which version of Hal did DC want to bring back? The one they were messing up so bad in 1992-3? The one that went postal on his former GLs and turned into a tragic villain?

Or did they want the popular character that starred in GL and JLA for 30 years? Because that's the character they brought back. Even then, he doesn't exactly have a clean slate...and he still feels responsible for what he did, influence or no. Which is exactly what the current arc in Green Lantern is about.


July 26th, 2006
TJLamb0518

Maybe NONE of thjose stories are really about redemption, but about Hal's road to self-discovery that allowed him to finally realize that he was not himself when he committed those acts as Parallax. From that realization that something wasn' right, the realization that he was being influenced followed. Now, knowing the real foe was not really himself, but the yellow grasshopper of fear, he was able and prepared to fight it, allowing the Spectre to detach itself from him so that Hal could vanquish the enemy that truly deserved it?


July 26th, 2006
Hari Seldon

Actually, there was some discussion (confusion!) about Hal's religious background on this site over a year ago, and Geoff [i.e., Geoff Johns, the writer of the Green Lantern: Rebirth mini-series and subsequent Green Lantern ongoing title] chimed in to confirm that Hal was indeed Catholic.

Perhaps he got this information from his research for GL, or maybe he established this as canon himself.


July 26th, 2006
Kris

Geoff could say he's a Wiccan of the faerie tradition and it'd be canon.

But this is an important question! Where does the name 'Jordan' come from? Is it, as Maven suggests, from 'Giordano' (making him of Italian origin)? Is it from the river Jordan (would that be a reason to consider him Jewish)--and what does the name 'Jordan' literally mean?


July 26th, 2006
Sk8maven

The literal meaning of "Jordan" is "down-flowing", and it IS Hebrew in origin with specific reference to the river.

Most if not all variations, including "Giordano", trace back to the river-name. Seems a lot of Crusaders who got that far felt it was neat to get (re)baptized in the Jordan and take "Jordan" as a by-name. And eventually by-names turned into family names, and there ya go...

From: "Catholic Clix - Comic info needed!" forum discussion started 3 May 2003 on HCRealms website (http://www.hcrealms.com/forum/archive/index.php/t-40338.html; viewed 24 May 2007):

thornnspear
05/03/2003, 21:04

Ok, so in recent films it's been apparent that Daredevil and Nightcrawler are Catholic...

So, who else out there could be fielded in a "Catholic" Heroclix team?


BigSoph
08/17/2003, 15:10

...Hal Jordan would have been Christian (probably Protestant of some sort) but that fell apart when he became Parallax and decided that, sicne there was no god, the position was open!

Most aliens would probably not have an Earth religion unless they were raised here, including Starfire, most of the Green Lantern Corps and such...

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...), 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?


Cover of Green Lantern #89 co-starring Green Arrow: The super-heroes meet Jesus

Ray (raycu...), December 1st, 2005

Kind of hard to be Jewish after that, isn't it?


Huk-L (handsomishbo...), December 1st, 2005

I think I actually read somewhere that Hal Jordan (and the rest of the Jordan family, I suppose) is Jewish.

From: Christopher J. Priest, "Hal and Jesus", posted 4 January 2006 on "According to Me", the official website of comic book writer Christopher J. Priest (http://phonogram.us/admin/logs/arch242ives/000658.html; viewed 6 June 2006):

One of the more troubling concepts explored in Green Lantern: Sleepers 3 is the dichotomy between spirituality and science. In Chapter 6, The Spectre, investigating some problem with the universe, goes through a process of elimination, taking a tour of time and space, and his interior monologue troubled one of my editors who may have assumed I was pushing my Baptist agenda.

Actually, as I explained to him, I was only trying to be as truthful to the Spectre character as I could. Since World War II, the Spectre has worked for, well, God. I wasn't ever allowed to call the Spectre's boss "God" in the book because it made this editor - a staunch atheist - uncomfortable. But the Spectre has always worked for God and has, as a result, always know there is a God and known God. I told my editor, respectfully, that this is just the fundamental basics of the character, not some agenda of mine.

By merging The Spectre with Hal Jordan/Green Lantern, you now have two diametrically opposing points of view. Hal's scientific process and the Spectre's sorcery/spiritualism. Having Hal Spectre wander the galaxy while marveling at its architecture and pondering basic theological questions (rational inquiry into spiritual thought) seemed right for the character, and was an ongoing theme of the book. Not God, so much, but our purpose in Creation. Of course, simply calling existence "Creation," rubs some people the wrong way.

This back and forth with the editor, which required some deletions, troubled me on a couple of levels. First, it troubled me to think readers might assume a Christian can't write a simple Green Lantern story without dragging everybody to church. Look: I don't tell people what to believe. I tell people what *I* believe. You have to make up your own minds about things. Assuming I can't write a super-hero story without having everybody find Jesus is absurd.

Second, I don't think *I* was pushing an agenda so much as the editor was. Banning God from the book forced us into awkward work-arounds for Spectre, when the fact is, like it or not, The Spectre works for God. He's always worked for God. I didn't make that up. God has been a character in the DCU for decades. I didn't make Hal Jordan a born-again right-winger. To me, forcing God out of the book is just as wrong...

I find it interesting that, as a man of faith, I'm not the least threatened by rational inquiry into that faith. Science in no way disturbs me. But many men of science become openly (and irrationally) hostile to most any spiritual explanation for anything, when, in my view, simply the concept of spirituality is just a marker on the beach: beyond this business we can explain exists the vastness of that which we cannot. Some people may choose to call that God or define it in spiritual terms. This in no way negates science. It's not the Salem witch trials...

Would Spectre wandering around the galaxy admiring the architecture and musing about spirituality versus science ("all this architecture logically demands an architect of some kind") offend you people of science? Or, am I missing the boat, here?


[Reader Comments on Priest's website:]

Posted by: priest [Christopher J. Priest] at January 4, 2006 01:16 PM

Okay - I really like this solution: that, within the creative universe of Spectre, God exists. That, for the purposes of *this story,* God exists. That's a conceit I hope everybody can live with. As for Spectre and Hal being diametrically opposed, I could be wrong about that.

In defense of the editor, however, he wanted us to look *really* hard at the science and to make the Green Lantern trilogy as scientifically, um, feasible (if not accurate) as possible. This is stuff I love to do - take the fantastic comic book stuff and treat it as much like the real world as possible. So I understand his reservations. I just thought, for the purposes of the character and story, Hal's musings about the universe's architecture were in character and appropriate. Hal Spectre also muses, quite a bit, on the human condition, on why we do what we do, about the nature of man and our purpose in existence. This is all contextual as Hal's central conflict, the spine of the story, is Hal's failure to stay in his lane. Historically, Hal's Bruce Willis-type tendency to stick his nose (and power ring) into things and invoke his own sense of morality have been the root cause of many if not most of his problems. I think the larger landscape of man's purpose in creation, which requires at least a tour of creation itself, is appropriate and needful to illustrated Hal's conflict.

Lastly, all of this blah-blah was basically the only way I could think of to communicate the overwhelming grandeur of outer space. I didn't want to simply write, "and then GL flew threw space." Many comic book writers have become too accustomed to Superman bending steel. Bending steel is an awfully big deal, but if you write about it every month, you really start missing the forest for the trees. Flying through space would, I promise you, freak you out by the sheer grandeur of it all. I needed to find a way to communicate that, to paint that canvas. This was the device I chose: Hal Spectre pondering the big questions. And I think it works.


Posted by: Tom at January 4, 2006 04:13 PM

I don't believe in Green Lantern either, so maybe the entire book should be reconfigured.


Posted by: Evan N. at January 5, 2006 01:17 AM

...why hasn't anyone brought up the issue of faith? It's belief in the existence of things unseen, ain't it? Belief of any nature is a choice. It's willful, and as such, laughs at our attempts at applying logic. It seems like this is the dynamic that drives Priest's interpretation of the Hal Jordan of the Spectre.


Posted by: priest [Christopher J. Priest] at January 6, 2006 01:34 PM

Scavenger: "I imagine it comes down that every time the Christian majority flexes its muscles, it's not good for the ones they're flexing them against."

Yes, and I believe this is what my editor was reacting to. That he was concerned about my being a Bible thumper. I have thumped a Bible a time or two, but when I am writing, my agenda is only to be true to the characters and the story. I felt Hal, a science guy, being melded with a Spirit, and then having that immortality slowly leeched from him over ten chapters, would lead to some anxious moments. I think Hal's simply admiring the art and musing about the possibility of there having been an artist was appropriate for the character, who spends the entire novel trying to know his true place and role in the universe.

Scav: The question shouldn't be "Why do science folks have a problem with the speculation that there could be an architect". It's "Why do religious folks have a problem that there might not be." or moreover, why do they insist that there has to be.

Y'know, I've never been afraid to question my beliefs. I'm not at all uncomfortable around atheists or, for that matter, scientists. Denny O'Neil kind of irked me awhile when I first began writing GL because Denny wanted to do away with the "it's a magic ring" approach and get into real science and real philosophy about the power of will and so forth. He converted me to his way of thinking, which was why, after Denny lost the *Office Wars* (TM) and GL was moved to Andy Helfer's office, Andy and I worked together dismally because Andy was all about Killowog and the Beak Nose Bird GL and it was just a magic ring again. EMERALD DAWN #1 and the plot for #2 were written by me, but ED quickly devolved after that into, well, comic books, moving away from the Carl Sagan approach Denny advocated.

This novel is written in Denny Mode. The silliest thing I allowed in was Guy Gardner.

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):
Rick Senger
14 May 2004 at 7:13 am
One of the few DC characters who seems to have an affiliation (and a quasi prayer ritual to support it) was Green Lantern. I always felt his "oath" as he recharged his ring played like a prayer to the Guardians, who were akin to Gods... I suppose that oath wasn't necessarily any more religious than the Boy Scout Pledge but somehow it seemed more sacred and spiritual than the rest of the largely secular DC world in which my superheroes seemed to exist. That supernatural glow the power battery took on as he recited the oath also added a subtle eerie spiritual component. Come to think of it, GL's number one foe (Sinestro) has quite a Satanic appearance to him. Maybe there is a deeper spiritual framework going on with GL; his ring requires "will power" to operate and the operator must be of "pure heart and possessed of no fear." GL is like a disciple to the Guardians, and his power seems to derive from this daily "prayer" to them.

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):

ROBRAM89 - March 14, 2006 11:28 PM (GMT)

I need to start a list of conservative superheroes. We got a few good ones...Hal [i.e., Hal Jordan, a.k.a. Green Lantern II], Question [i.e., Charles Victor Szasz]...

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=30&tstart=0; viewed 8 May 2006):

relmurmot
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!


kpkcomicfan
Posted: May 5, 2006 11:06 PM

The Oans... Unitarian-Universalists... definitely not Amish!

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):

hitokiri_
04-15-2005, 04:37 PM

Should Hal Jordan be a Christian?

Well... technically he knew God first hand. Then he got reincarnated. So, I believe he should be a Christian, but I know that it will never happen.


Forsaken_One
04-15-2005, 04:52 PM

I don't think it should be an issue personally. So long as he isn't a evangelical Christian, or a member of any other religion, it should be a non-issue in the comic. It'd also be a bad idea insofar as if the former Hand of God said "I am this religion" (even a sect of Christianity) that'd be a problem for a lot of readers. I think it'd be easier for him to lose all or most memory of Heaven and Heavenly actions; just say "a mortal mind cannot handle knowledge of the divine" or some crap like that.


protege
04-15-2005, 04:55 PM

I know I wouldn't want to read about Hal Jordan being an Evangelical Christian.


hitokiri_
04-15-2005, 04:57 PM

But why do they accept Muslims? In JLE [Justice League Elite], the boss always quotes Allah.


Gauss
04-15-2005, 05:08 PM

God in the DCU [DC Universe] isn't particularly aligned to any one religion, at least so far as anyone can tell...

I can buy Hal being a generally spiritual person, and I'd kind of expect it after all he's been through, but establishing him as a strong Christian, Buddhist, Jew, or whatever it is that Deadman believes that has him referring to God as Rama Krushna would probably be going a bit too far.

(Sorry if I offend anyone who knows and agrees with what Deadman believes in.)

As for the Muslim guy, it's a bit different in that he presumably has never met God in person. :) There's no problem with a character belonging to a religion, so long as DC leaves room for the possibility that another religion might be right as well; otherwise, well, people tend to get touchy.


Forsaken_One
04-15-2005, 06:12 PM

re: "But why do they accept Muslims? In JLE [Justice League Elite], the boss always quotes Allah."

Because the tactitian in JL: Elite doesn't have and has never had a direct line to God. Makes all the difference in the world.

Also referencing Allah is more flavor to let the readers easily know "He's Muslim!" than referencing religion. It's like Russian characters always saying "da" or Japanese characters saying "hi" for yes or "domo arigato" rather than "thank you."...

So I wouldn't have a problem with Hal referencing God like they reference Allah in JL: Elite; having him yell "Oh my God!" or "Jesus!" when suprised isn't bad. But having him specifically come out and say "I remember being the Spectre and now I'm a Roman Catholic!" isn't the way to go.


Gingold
04-15-2005, 06:33 PM

Since the whole purpose of the 'Rebirth' story is to bring back the classic Hal Jordan, and making the whole Spectre mess a distant memory, I don't think giving him personality traits he's never had before would be a good idea. I want to read about Hal, the fearless test pilot, not Johnny Biblethump. But that's just me.

Anyway, the Spectre's always been connected with a more Old Testament tyle of religion anyway so there's no reason to assume that the experience would make Hal a Christian anyway.


HartyPotter
04-15-2005, 07:02 PM

Why do so many people assume that "God" NECESSARILY means the Judeo-Christian God?

And considering Wonder Woman and Shazam, shouldn't there be more followers of the Greek gods and their counterparts?...


Bat-Mite
04-15-2005, 07:12 PM

re: "Why do so many people assume that 'God' NECESSARILY means the Judeo-Christian God?"

In this particular case, because the Spectre's back story heavily features Jesus. So yeah, it's hard to become the Spectre and them go into the Hare Krishnas or whatever.

Mind you, I wouldn't be thrilled to read the evangelical adventures of Hal Jordan. I am just being pedantic.


Matt
04-15-2005, 07:25 PM

Technically, with actual Angels attacking Earth, Princes of Hell walking about and Hell opening up and unleashing countless demons on innocent people ... the DCU Earth's religious beliefs would be pretty screwed up.


Forsaken_One
04-15-2005, 07:25 PM

re: "Why do so many people assume that 'God' NECESSARILY means the Judeo-Christian God?"

Probably because the Spectre is supposed to be an "angel" of Vengance who can visit "heaven" and has one head omnipotent and omniciant "God" who created all the "angels," including "archangels" and "heaven." And because, you know, Christianity is one of the largest religions on Earth, with the Judeo-Christian-Islamic trinity being the current religion among humans, along with most of the culture the creators, writers, and artists who work on these comics come from being heavily based on Judeo-Christian beliefs. It's a pretty safe assumption overall.


Brian R
04-15-2005, 11:29 PM

As for the topic at hand, I think it [Hal Jordan's religious affiliation] should NEVER ever play a part in the story. Who cares what religion he is? Just let everyone imagine that he is the same as them, that makes it easier for people to relate to him.

For some characters its different, because religion is ingrained in them, its just too much a part of who they are to be ignored (ie: Daredevil), but most of the time I feel it should be checked at the door.


Bored at 3:00AM
04-16-2005, 12:06 PM

It has long been established that Hal Jordan doesn't hold much faith in any one particular religion, so it's doubtful that he'll suddenly be portrayed as a Christian because he was once The Spectre, a being that has manifested itself in guises that fit various different religions.


pureclint
04-16-2005, 06:24 PM

Yeah I agree with this, you can be faithful believe in God as the Higher Power yet not prescribe to any organized religion.


FanboyStranger
04-19-2005, 10:57 AM

Two points:
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 Cramer (still one of the greatest supporting characters ever).

Second, the very idea of the Spectre seems contrary to the evangelical idea of the Bible as the only source of divine revelation. The Ostrander series, for example, expands upon biblical tradition, thereby going beyond the fundamental word of God as seen by most evangelical Christians. Therefore, the revealed knowledge that the host of the Spectre would be privy to -- such as the Hindu Spectre or the role of Eclipso -- would be beyond the scope of the Bible. These things could be worked into a less fundamentialist Christianity such as Catholicism which does hold people who seem to have supernatural abilities (saints) as objects of veneration.


sixstringguild
04-19-2005, 12:57 PM

re: "So I wouldn't have a problem with Hal referencing God like they reference Allah in JL: Elite; having him yell 'Oh my God!' or 'Jesus!' when suprised isn't bad..."

So Hal espousing his religious beliefs by saying the Lord's name in vain is ok? Sheesh, give me a break. Someone who really believes in Christ will do all he can to abstain from doing that (not saying he would be successful 100% of the time, but you get my drift...)

By the way, why did you single out evangelical Christians in one of your earlier posts?

Let me add, I'm not in favor for any comic book character to become a Christian or whatever. As long as ALL religions are treated with respect, I'm cool.


Forsaken_One
04-19-2005, 02:25 PM

1) I was actually referring to it because it's a very Western thing to do, just like referencing "Allah" is seen as a Middle Eastern reference. It's not really promoting a religion, I yell out "Jesus!" when suprised but am not personally Christian. I also know Christians who go to church every sunday but still say "God damn it!" when very upset. It would be a way of referencing his past or current religious views without throwing it in our face. The point being; background if at all, not foreground.

2) I singled out evangelical Christians because they'd be the kind that would focus on spreading faith. Those Christians I know who aren't evangelical simply hold their faith and are content in their knowledge that they chose correctly, and if you didn't they don't really care. The only way religion would come into the foreground of a comic consistantly as I see it is either because the character is evangelical and proclaiming their belief to all who care to listen or because it's intergral to the character, ala Huntress. And since it isn't integral to Hal Jordan's character, that only leaves the evangelical route.

Also, it's been my experience that a disproportionate number of "born again" Christians are evangelical, in actions if not in specific church membership, when compared to people raised Christian.


Ontir
04-19-2005, 04:13 PM

Interesting response, Forsaken. I'm always interested in people's attitudes toward swearing. My Mother, for example considers "the 'F' word" to be particularly low, but says "damn," and "hell," the two words forbidden Biblically, with little compunction. I'm not sure whether or not Hal should or shouldn't be Christian, but theology is bound to have some roll in his new life, considering all he's been through in the last 10 years. I guess we'll have to read and see.


Forsaken_One
04-19-2005, 06:41 PM

We will have to see, but they do have the easy out of just taking away specific knowledge of his actions at that time. Sure he might think about religion or God a bit more but if they pull that card then it's not like he'll be able to give any specific examples and then it'd just be the same as any other questioning religious figure. Though I wouldn't mind him talking to some of the GLC [Green Lantern Corps] or the Guardians about religion, that could be rather interesting.

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):

Aghast
Posted: Fri Mar 03, 2006 3:42 am

It's good to see that Mr. Terrific is still an atheist...

Of course if I were in the DC Universe I would be a believer in the supernatural if not an outright theist [i.e., believer in God]. After all, the heroes of that universe have been to Hell. They've stood before the hosts of heaven. Not only does Spectre exist but so does Deadman, Zatanna, Swamp Thing, Ragman, Raven and Dawn Manitou, Shazam, and on into near infinity. ...even the original Green Lantern got his power from magic. And Hal Jordan/Green Lantern was the freakin' Spectre for awhile. Add to that the number of characters that come back from the dead and really in that reality there would be no real reason to doubt.

...not surprisingly more villains are revealed to be atheists than heroes...

Excerpts from: "Superman Wedding -- why a Christian ceremony?" newsgroup discussion started 11 October 1996 in rec.arts.comics.dc.universe (http://groups.google.com/group/rec.arts.comics.dc.universe/browse_thread/thread/4d17a1ff0ee9c715/d141c36005b90ea4; viewed 5 June 2006):

From: Douglas Ethington
Date: Fri, Oct 11 1996 12:00 am
Email: Douglas Ethington

I always thought that Clark was most likely a Christian...

Anyway, this thread got me thinking about the other DC heroes and what their religious beliefs might be, so here are some of my thoughts (most of this MHO [My Humble Opinion]):

...Most of the supervillains probably believe themselves to be the equals of gods, and Superboy, Bart Allen, and Kyle Rayner probably haven't given much serious thought to religious matters. I'm not sure what Hal Jordan, Guy Gardner, or a lot of other heroes believe, so I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts.

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...


From: David Doty
Date: Thurs, Apr 22 2004 2:51 pm

Of course, the Spectre was Christian, even if there were bits of other faiths mixed in. At least, before J.M. DeMatteis wrote him. Hal Jordan probably became a Hindu...

[This appears to be a semi-humorous reference to J.M. DeMatteis and his stint at writing Green Lantern. The inference here is that openly Hindu writer J.M. DeMatteis typically injects religious themes into his comic book writing, and certain characters he has written have seemed particularly Hindu. In truth, J.M. DeMatteis is an extremely talented writer with great empathy for other religious faiths, and he has expertly written many characters of various religious faiths, portraying them believably and fairly within the context of their own beliefs. Hal Jordan never became a Hind.]


From: Duggy
Date: Thurs, Apr 22 2004 9:51 pm

re: "Hal Jordan probably became a Hindu."

Although, one assumes [Hal Jordan] was Catholic before he died to end up in Purgatory.

From: "Whose family attends what church?" forum discussion started 11 March 2007 on ComiCon website (http://www.comicon.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=2;t=009521;p=0; viewed 15 May 2007):

David Porta
posted 04-11-2007 12:32 AM

quote, Originally posted [link to: http://www.comicon.com/ubb/ultimatebb.php/ubb/get_topic/f/2/t/009466/p/1.html#000004] by Lawson on Lack of Italo-Americans:

Hmm. Now that David mentions it, white super-heroes (which is to say, most super-heroes) are usually devoid of ANY ethnic or religious or national identity other than ... American white guy.

Clark Kent. Bruce Wayne. Hal Jordan. Barry Allen. Oliver Queen. Carter Hall. Ray Palmer. Pretty WASP-y names. Except for the first guy, who arrived here in a space ship, it's hard to guess whose family attends what church...

Unless I'm missing a bunch of other examples, only recently have we seen creative writers fill in the blanks. It was revealed that Ben Grimm (a/k/a The Thing) is Jewish, although Stan Lee apparently said he was intended to be Jewish all along, as he was based on Jack Kirby. Somebody not long ago established that Dick Grayson was, naturally enough, for a circus acrobat, the descendant of Romanian Gypsies.

Not many other examples leap to mind.

David is onto something here.

Our whitebread super-heroes are a bland bunch.

I just stumbled across a website that attempts to address the issue of religious affiliation. Plus it is loaded with links to related sites.
Religion of Comic Book Characters (esp. Super-Heroes)
Religious Super-Teams

Hal Jordan, apparently, is Jewish Catholic.

I dunno if I buy the use of a 1989 comic, and Gil Kane's use of an actor's image as a model, as legitimate foundation from which to draw conclusions, but it's fun. And, as Lawson sez, "white super-heroes (which is to say, most super-heroes) are usually devoid of ANY ethnic or religious or national identity."

From: "Barry Allen - Why?" forum discussion started 26 February 2007 on "Comic Book Resources" website (http://forums.comicbookresources.com/archive/index.php/t-165569.html; viewed 25 May 2007):

PatrickG
02-28-2007, 12:14 PM

...Barry, like Hal [Jordan], was boring to people because of the genre conventions of his day, not because of who he was...

In spite of being a classic, we've never really MET Barry Allen in the modern sense. Compare Johns' Hal to the 70s Hal Jordan. Today's stories are often about character to the exclusion of plot, the opposite of comics from past eras where clever plots were the rule and characters were generally "types" you could sum up in a sentence...

...We really don't know what [Barry Allen is] like. There's been some indication he's Jewish. He's a bit of a square...


Typo Lad
02-28-2007, 12:31 PM

...I read the entire Barry Allan Flash run for my blog and did not once come across this "indication"...


Jack Zodiac
02-28-2007, 02:30 PM

Isn't Hal Jewish, though? Harold Jordan certainly sounds Jewish. Bartholomew Allen sounds like Christian name...


PatrickG
02-28-2007, 03:00 PM

Pretty sure Hal isn't Jewish...

From: "Religion of Comic Book Characters" forum discussion, started 29 March 2006 on AllSpark.com website (http://www.allspark.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=4168; viewed 1 June 2007):

Alvatron!
post Mar 13 2007, 03:19 PM

Then again, if they can redeem Hal in six issues, then anything's possible.

I mean, I know I'd suddenly forgive, and trust the guy who murdered 4000 of his teammates, just because he claims he was posessed by a monster.

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):

torchsong
Feb 28 2007, 04:37 PM

Actually, this is VERY interesting site:
http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/

Pick your hero and find (mostly) about their religious or non-religious faiths. While there's some opinion, for the most part they do their best to back it up with reference and fact.

I find it very interesting that Hal Jordan is considered one of the most religious figures in comics. Then again, they label him as a Jewish Catholic, so figure that one out! It would seem someone like Hal would be at the very least agnostic.


[http://www.cgspodcast.com/forum2//lofiversion/index.php?t107540-50.html]

Mr. Sandman
Feb 28 2007, 04:44 PM

Re: ...for the most part they do their best to back it up with reference and fact. I find it very interesting that Hal Jordan is considered one of the most religious figures in comics. Then again, they label him as a Jewish Catholic...

Reference and fact?

Hardly. Their exploration of Hal is little more than fanfic speculation, interesting and fun but lacking substantive scholarship or any real authority.


torchsong
Feb 28 2007, 04:52 PM

re [quoting Adherents.com]: See, for example, evidence of his [Hal Jordan's] Catholic religious affiliation in Green Lantern #180 and Justice Society of America #60.

Anyone got these issues to check up on it?

From: "Which superhero would be the best Muslim?" forum discussion, started 17 January 2006 on the "Muslim Student Association: University of South Florida" website (http://www.msausf.org/MSAUSF/forums/467/ShowPost.aspx; viewed 4 June 2007):

01-17-2006, 9:00 AM
Kashif

Which superhero would be the best Muslim?

Salam. Me and Momodu were speaking to each other over some delicious baklava and coffee about which superhero would most likely be Muslim. I would say Batman is most likely to be a great Muslim because he practices great self-restraint when it comes to alcohol consumption, and fornication mashallah. Also, Batman does not eat pork because it slows him down in his nightly crusades against Joker and other foes. Also, he does not have time to backbite or gossip or engage in other forms of fitna because he is too busy cleaning the Batcave and changing the oil in the Batmobile. Thank You.

Momodu, on the other hand, says the Hulk would make an amazing Muslim because he always keeps his gaze lowered. Also, Momodu says the Hulk's purple pants somehow always manage to cover his a'ura, as in his body from his belly button down to his knees. Please dont be shy about showing your feelings. No one is here to judge you and all your postings are welcome.

P.S.
DC and Marvel superheroes are both welcome


01-24-2006, 1:11 PM
momodu

I think the Green Lantern would make a great Muslim. His favorite color is green, he wears a ring, and he can fly. If that doesn't scream Muslim, I dont know what does.

From: "Religion in Comics" forum discussion, started 17 May 2007 on official DC Comics message board website (http://dcboards.warnerbros.com/web/thread.jspa?messageID=2003785241; viewed 7 June 2007):

kingaliencracker
Posted: May 17, 2007 8:37 AM

Yesterday, I read Action Comics #849, and the issue had several religious references and implications. Because of this, I decided to discuss it with everyone else here. Does religion have a place in comic books?


Sumo
Posted: May 17, 2007 9:43 AM

Actually religion can do a lot to inform you of a character's backstory.

What if you found out your fave was into Scientology? Zen? or maybe as a Moslem? Christian Scientist.

...Obviously Wonder Woman believe in the ancient gods or the Greek pagans...

And I can hardly imagine that Hal Jordan or Cris Allen could be agnostic after having been the Spectre - and as for Zauriel...

From: "It's like this webpage was written just for Austin316." forum discussion, started 24 June 2007 by Final_Flanner on "Back Room Almanac" website (http://69.16.209.6/~elkabong/boards/showpost.php?b=backroom;pid=583084;d=all; viewed 10 July 2007):

Comic book characters grouped by religion...

* Click here for link [link to: http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/comic_collage.html]


by Austin316 (06/24/2007 14:16:33)

I've posted it here before.

If you go to the home page (which I've linked below), there are some other interesting tidbits. They actually do a pretty good job. I take exception to the following theories:

...Hal Jordan as Jewish. Considering his time as The Spectre, I think we can rule out Judaism as the angelic hosts in the DC Universe mention Jesus a lot...

* Click here for link [link to: http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/comic_book_religion.html]

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):

Bijan S
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.


MuteMath
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.


JAGII
06-10-2007, 07:11 AM

In response to the Original Post: I think most of the analytical heroes consider any supernatural phenomenon a science that we don't understand yet. But for the most part, most characters don't have a definite, prescribed religion. I remember reading an old O'Neil Batman story where Batman was almost wistful towards Christianity, and others where he dismisses it outright. And Hal Jordan spent quite a bit of time working for God, but we haven't seen it addressed in his own book. Wasn't Nightwing an overt Christian for a while in his own book?

Personally, I love reading about religion and spirituality, so I would like to see it explored a bit more in comics. At the same time, unless the character's religion is central to that character's personality (like Firebird or Nightcrawler over at Marvel), then I don't have any problem with their beliefs shifting from story to story.


Shadowarrow
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)... It really doesn't matter.


hippyhunter
06-13-2007, 01:43 AM

...Hal Jordan is a Christian considering that he was an agent of the Christian god when he was the Spectre...


Inactiveman
06-13-2007, 09:47 PM

Does the Spectre really represent Christianity?

I think he'd be more representative of Judaism more Old Testament than New Testament (especially since his creators were Jewish).

I mean, what better describes the spirit of vengeance, the Old testament saying "An eye for an eye", or the New Testament message of forgiveness?

From: "Superheroes by Religion" forum discussion, started 11 January 2007 on "Political Crossfire" website (http://www.politicalcrossfire.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=73989; viewed 16 July 2007):

Nathyn
Posted: Thu Jan 11, 2007 7:20 pm

I wasn't sure whether to put this here or the Lounge, but this place rarely has anything light-hearted, so I suppose it needs it. So, here it is. I thought this was fascinating and should be expanded:
http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/comic_collage.html

Yes, the Thing is a Jew.

I never expected that, lol.

Quote: Born on Yancy Street in New York City's Lower East Side, to a Jewish family, Benjamin Jacob Grimm...

Perhaps modelled after the Golem, no doubt?

Superman and Batman are, of course... Christian. ["Rolling Eyes" emoticon] (Superman is a Methodist, Batman is an Anglican.)

Let's see... Green Lantern is a bad Jew ("Jewish Catholic").

And ooh, Wolverine is a Buddhist! ["Very Happy" emoticon]


The Central Scrutinizer
Posted: Fri Jan 12, 2007 2:38 am

No, the atheists drafted Wolverine in the second round. This is bulls**t.

Nightstalker [sic: This poster means "Nightcrawler."] is Eastern Orthodox, not Catholic.

What on Earth is "Jewish Catholic?" Seriously.

How is it that the Episcopalians and the CoE bunch get more big-name superheroes than any other group?

This site clearly has an Anglo-Saxon bias.

From: "Mary Marvel amd Religion" forum discussion, started 21 May 2005 on "Comic Bloc" website (http://www.comicbloc.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-4767.html; viewed 20 July 2007):

curiouswanderer
May 21st, 2005, 12:59 PM

Thatrealfastdude has it pretty well down. (And while it is tricky to mix religion or faith in any art medium) When you consider the other beings around Mary [Marvel], it would be quite simple to look at [the gods] bestowing her powers to her in a similar fashion to say the Guardians giving a Green Lantern ring. As a Christian, the faith asks that you accept the belief in one God above all...there are no others. As a character who has met other super powered beings and beings from other dimensions and various regions of space, I would look at them as just more powerful beings, not gods.

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):

Argent
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.


crawfordcrow
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.


Jeffrey Neary
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.


Matt Olsen
May 31st, 2005, 11:03 AM

Religion is almost always brought up as a vehicle for some kind of struggle. Otherwise, it's usually left alone. It certainly works both ways. Superman and Father Leonne sat around talking about their dissappearing faith several times during the lengthy "For Tomorrow" arc. There was no turnaround (sudden or otherwise) there. In JLA: Classified, Mary Marvel was constantly shown as naive and dogmatic largely because her faith. Recently, Hal declared that God must be cruel and vindictive as he distanced himself from the Spectre.

Besides, while it is a fact that some sort of belief in the divine is only sensible in the DCU, those convictions almost always show up in the form of "theistic humanism", for lack of a better term. All it really means is that 95% of the heroes stick to universal principles found in nearly all religions and in secular lines of thought, like "love your fellow man".


Kris
May 31st, 2005, 08:27 PM

Did you catch the reference to original Starman, Crawford? I think it was his story about Etrigan where he (only once in all his years of teaming with the Spectre) even considered that religious mythology was more than fairy tales. I believe the slight conflict there was the "shaking of faith in atheism" but was NOT portrayed as "now he believes in God!". It was more of a "there are still mysteries my science does not explain" theme as I read it.

Also, I know it sounds odd, but DeMatteis' religious stories DO go into character's doubt. The whole 'Hal Jordan is Spectre' series had these arguements. The Right Hand of God wasn't sure if what he was serving was truly the god of his childhood beliefs, or some sort of Universal Subconscious created by thought itself. In the JLA/Spectre mini, we're shown the JLA getting heavens tailor made based on their thoughts... nothing truly divine.

Prayer for Hal in the "Redemption Lost" JSA arc seemed to be more about having someone to talk to, and confess his fears. Not about talking to God. The Spectre already had a direct line to heaven.

In "Rebirth," Hal concludes God (in the representation of the Spectre's urges) is not infallible or all-right. If Hal's beliefs follow most peoples, essentially that was a crisis of faith. Many modern people scoff at worshipping a flawed entity. He might accept that there's an all-powerful spirit that created the universe and empowers the Spectre, but he does not BELIEVE in it.

When Hal talks about manifested glory, he's talking about himself. All good comes from within, not from some god. The epitome of arrogance, perhaps, but more forgiveable in a man who's been host to not one, but TWO divine entities, and might've qualified as a god himself at one time under most people's definitions.


Matt Olsen
June 1st, 2005, 12:15 PM

I think our inability to agree on what an atheist is in the context of the DCU makes this whole conversation a tricky thing.

If being an atheist in the DCU means that you don't believe in cosmic beings or the afterlife or unseen forces, than that person's kind of a flat earther.

However, if being an atheist means you acknowledge powerful beings and concepts like the afterlife but don't actually worship a God (as Cestrian is saying), then there's plenty of examples. If that's your definition of atheist in this context, there are plenty of good examples. Hal Jordan springs to mind.

So, if God is known to be capable of helping people out, does Ray's appeal to him really mean an acknowledgement that he's the one true God who is the moral arbitrer of all things? I don't think so.


crawfordcrow
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).


Matt Olsen
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?


crawfordcrow
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.


Matt Olsen
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: "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):

grimston1
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?


Chris Hansbrough
May 28th, 2006, 10:20 AM

Christian hero? I'm sorry but aren't a good majority of heroes Christian?


B_n_L
May 28th, 2006, 06:04 PM

But the point is that there are a majority of Christian characters in DC comics that already exist, so there's no "diversity" in creating more of the same...


Icefan
May 28th, 2006, 06:36 PM

Really? One might make a case for a general "good works ethical monotheism", but how many have made on page confessional statments of Christ being their personal Lord and Savior? To assume that these characters are Christian is akin to assuming that any male character without a girlfriend is gay. Is that good enough?


B_n_L
May 28th, 2006, 06:49 PM

Did you click that link in my last post? It uses evidence from the various appearances the characters have made to determine what denomination they belong to.


Icefan
May 28th, 2006, 07:05 PM

I've seen it, and I'll reiterate that I believe that the number of confessional Christians in mainstream comics is equal to, or less than the number of openly homosexual characters.


grimston1
May 28th, 2006, 07:12 PM

Thanks for the link. It is interesting. But religion is not shown in their everyday life. We see the gay lifestyle, but when was the last time we saw Dick Grayson (Christian) at a Baptism, Batman (Catholic) attend mass, Hal Jordan go to confession, or Superman darken the doorway of a church?


Sk8maven
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...

...It's starting to seem that Roman Catholics are significantly OVER-represented in the DC superhero set...

Apparently an issue of Comic Book Marketplace inadvertently indicated that the Hulk had been revealed as Jewish when in fact the writer was trying to note that Ben Grimm ("The Thing") had been revealed as Jewish. This misprint prompted the following discussion. From: "What issue was the Hulk revealed as Jewish?" forum discussion, started 12 November 2004 on IMWAN website (http://www.imwan.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=999; viewed 31 July 2007):

Posted: Sat Jul 21, 2007 8:01 am
Kurt Anderson

It's rare for superheroes to appear in church, unless their religion plays heavily into their characterization (Wonder Woman, Daredevil). I don't see Batman or the Atom or Green Lantern going to church, but I don't assume they're athiest or agnostic. I work with dozens of people on a daily basis, have no idea if they attend mass unless they work it into a conversation (and very few do that).

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):

Researcher
December 9th, 2005, 02:29 PM

Hello!

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:
Age
Gender
Religious Affiliation

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.


Highball
December 9th, 2005, 03:53 PM

28
Male
Egyptian Orthodox(Christian)

...2. Helping people, using your gifts for the good of humanity. Being honest(requirement for being a GL [Green Lantern])...


Steve Hollis
December 13th, 2005, 09:09 PM

re: "Additionally, we could also use some opinions on what characters/storylines best illustrate the following moral concepts:"

A. Redemption -- Green Lantern: Rebirth, characters--Spectre, Batman, Spider-Man
B. Faith -- Nightcrawler: Icons, character--Nightcrawler
C. Humility -- Green Lantern: The Road Back (even though it's not a favorite story), character--Kyle Rayner, Tim Drake
D. Hospitality -- the Excalibur storyline where Kurt mentored the crazy gang (I can pull my old issues if needed); character--Aunt May
E. Mercy -- characters--Dove

Thanks a lot! I might edit later if I think of more.


Jeffrey Neary
December 13th, 2005, 10:18 PM

A. Redemption - GL Hal Jordan. Before Rebirth he merged with the cast off Wrath of God (Spectre) to become the new Spectre. The entire series was too metaphysical for the genre but it did manage to tell a tale of Hal attempted to redeem himself for the crimes he committed and lives he took as Parallax. Rebirth... his return from the grave to that of a Green Lantern doesn't totally take the burden of the crimes from his brow (as it turns out that "The devil influenced him to do it") but it shows how Hal has sought to make up for his actions...


Brian LaBelle
December 13th, 2005, 11:00 PM

Age: 27
Gender: Male
Religious Affiliation: None. I consider myself a spiritual person though.

5. what characters/storylines best illustrate the following moral concepts:
A. Redemption: Green Lantern: Rebirth. Hal was given the opportunity to serve as God's wrath and as he did, he slowly became his own person again. I don't know if many people would stand up to "the presence" given the opportunity and through the Spectre, Hal became his own person again.


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