The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Character
Helena Rosa Bertinelli
Huntress is a Catholic. At times she is devout. At times, she seems rather lapsed. Huntress has what has been described as a "complicated" relationship with the Catholic Church in which she was raised, but she remains believer. She nearly always wears a cross prominently as a sign of her religious faith.
From: Scott Beatty, Batman: The Ultimate Guide to the Dark Knight, Dorling Kindersley: New York, NY (2001), page 72-73:
As sole surviving member of a leading Gotham City crime family, Helena Bertinelli is no stranger to deadly force. Her childhood was stained with blood when rival Mafia dons conspired to exterminate the Bertinellis. In time, she would repay the Mafia in kind and pursue Gotham's Cosa Nostra with swift and sharp justice from the bolts of a crossbow, favored weapon of the Huntress. Once, seeking the Dark Knight's sanction, the Huntress tempered her violent methods in a vain attempt to win his approval. Those days are over. As the feuding cartels of organized crime re-establish their presence in a rebuilt Gotham, the Huntress searches out new criminal prey to sate her hunger for vengeance.
From: Andrew A. Smith (Scripps Howard News Service), "Comics superheroes of many faiths", published 3 February 2000 in The Houston Chronicle (http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/religion/446482.html; viewed 30 November 2005):
Santo Cassamento loved Helena's mother, Maria, sister of mobster Tomaso Panessa. To win Maria and eliminate the Bertinellis, Santo ordered his assassin to "spare the sister" and avoid a war with the Panessas. In bitter irony, the hitman inadvertently killed Maria, leaving Helena alive!
Sent to live with relatives in Sicily following the deaths of her father, mother, and brother, Helena was tormented by dreams of her family's assassin. In time, Helena's cousin Salvatore taught her the Sicilian way: Omerta. In the years that followed, Helena learned how to hunt and claim her own retribution when blood cried or blood.
For years, Helena has battled to dismantle the Gotham mob, taking some satisfaction in the knowledge that the girl who might have lived as a "Mafia Princess" had instead become the harbinger of its destruction. However, she recently learned a dark truth about her path to hatred. As Gotham Mafioso perished by crossbow bolts aimed to frame her, Helena discovered that Santo Cassamento -- the gangster who commissioned the murders of her family -- was really her natural father!
Real Name: Helena Rosa Bertinelli
Occupation: Former High School Teacher
Base: Gotham City
First Appearance: The Huntress #1 (April, 1989)
Other established Catholics in comics include Kyle (Green Lantern) Rayner and Helena (Huntress) Bertinelli in the Justice League...
From: Savant11, user review posted 21 March 2004 on order page for Nightwing & Huntress trade paperback on Amazon.com website (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/140120127X/104-6197134-3253555?v=glance&n=283155; viewed 9 June 2006):
Nightwing & Huntress paperback
From: Melchior del Darien, "Huntress+Church" article posted 9 March 2006 on "Mortlake on the Schuylkill" blog website (http://mortlakepa.blogspot.com/2006/03/huntresschurch.html; viewed 9 June 2006):
by Devin Grayson
DC Comics (January 1, 2004)
It Should Never Have Happened, March 21, 2004
Reviewer: Savant11 (Canada)
This story involves Nightwing (the former Robin) and Huntress getting together to solve a crime. During the process of the investigation they have a one-night stand.
I really disliked this story immensely primarily because both Nightwing and Huntress are written WAY out of character and do things that neither character would do.
Helena "Huntress" Bertinelli, is an Italian American, who comes from a traditional Italian background. She is a devout Catholic and more to the point she has a great sense of pride and self-respect. She would never stoop to seducing/sleeping with a man to get something. More so what she desires more than anything in the world is Batman's respect and approval. A smart and shrewd woman like Huntress would know that seducing his former pupil in order to get in with him. Would be the fastest way of NOT getting Batman's respect. It would make her nothing more than a prostitute. A reputation that Huntress would run a mile to stay away from.
Dick "Nightwing" Grayson is an old fashioned gentleman. He is not the type of guy who indulges in one-night stands. Especially with a woman he barely knows and whom he really doesn't like. He is a capable leader and is not easily manipulated, he would have seen right up front that Huntress had no genuine interest in him and would have not touched her.
Since this story was written three successive authors at DC comics have tried to 'clean' up the events in this book. By having both characters refer to what happened as a "mistake."
I totally agree. It was a "mistake" that this story ever saw the light of day. As it did a disservice to two great characters.
As a comics reader (or reader of any kind of fiction, I suppose), points of identification with characters are crucial, and one of my ways of identifying with (and understanding) Helena Bertinelli is through her complicated relationship to her Catholicism.
Here are two panels from Birds of Prey #72 that brought this all into focus for me:
(Just to fill you in, Helena and Vixen have infiltrated a [Superhero-venerating] church that has proven greatly attractive to young high schoolers, several of whom, however, have committed suicide while dressed up as their favorite superheroes.)
Now while I'd kill myself if I ever handled a crossbow, I was raised Catholic. Huntress' "I'm not too crazy about churches in general" line was a hook that linked me to the character; the "offends even me" coda subtly signalled that she still wrestles with her relationship to the religion in which she was brought up.
So, when my eye scanned down to the bottom of page two of Infinite Crisis #5 and fixed upon Huntress' "Amen" word balloon (it's the single word she speaks), I kind of lost it. It's not that I'm opposed to Huntress ever going to church, saying "amen," or even being reconciled with the Church. What I do oppose is having something central like this occur off panel--I presumed it had happened in the etherial netherworld between Birds of Prey and Infinite Crisis. The other possible explanation, that the horrific events occurring during the crisis had brought Helena fully back to the faith, just didn't feel right to me, either.
However, when I actually read the page, I inwardly retracted the harsh words that I had directed at Mr. Johns [the writer of this issue]. For what Helena Bertinelli is actually saying "amen" to is not the blessing being intoned, but rather Blue Devil's call to action. ("[L]et's get the hell out of here. There's people that need help.") Contrary to my initial, rushed reading, Huntress' utterance of the word is entirely in character.
The close-up in the page's final panel doesn't capture the Huntress in a moment of religious reverence or devotion. Someone has finally said something that she agrees with whole-heartedly. Her eyes convey readiness and determination.
People, she seems to be saying, it's time.
From: "What religion do superhero's belong to? [sic]" forum discussion started 18 July 2002 on "Toon Zone" website (http://forums.toonzone.net/showthread.php?t=41332; viewed 21 May 2007):
07-18-2002, 01:02 PM
What religion do superhero's [sic] belong to?
I'd like to discuss what religious beliefs are favorite costumed hero's belong to. Everyone knows Daredevil is Catholic. But beyond that, what do we know of superhero's beliefs? I'm thinking of mostly the Marvel Universe, but you DC fans feel free to contribute as well...
07-18-2002, 04:03 PM
...The current Huntress in DC Comics is from an Italian Catholic family, I believe. Her cross is pretty prominently displayed in her costume...
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):
From: "Nightwing, Christian?" forum page, started 3 March 2004 on the "Comic Book Resources" website (http://forums.comicbookresources.com/archive/index.php/t-45948.html; viewed 7 January 2006):
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?
I believe that Huntress is Catholic.
...Huntress may be another [Catholic]; her family was an Italian mafia family, and well, Italian mafia families are often stereotyped as Catholics...
Nightcrawler, Daredevil, Aurora and Huntress definitely [are Catholic]...
[The following are Catholic characters:]
Great characters and although the press has been bad lately - Great Religion.
...I had been wondering about Huntress (due to the cross she wears).
...IIRC [If I recall correctly], here's the Catholic Clix you can play:
Excerpts from: "Huntress: Roman Catholic and Vigilante?" forum page, started 28 August 2003 on the official DC Comics section of the Warner Brothers website (http://dcboards.warnerbros.com/web/thread.jspa?threadID=2000020107&messageID=2000560549; viewed 9 January 2006):
03-04-2005, 10:42 AM
The best handling I have of religion with Christian characters is Daredevil and Huntress (pre Gail Simone). Their relation to Catholocism seemed to be more of a form of support and sustance. Than any sort of preaching. In short you could see what an integral part of the character it was and how it shapped them.
03-14-2005, 09:35 PM
I don't think there's anything wrong with a DC character subscribing to a particular faith (as long as it's handled properly). Personally when it comes to faith I would rather see it in terms of how affects it has on the characters life, than any sermonizing. In the Batman Family mini series there was a whole layout of how Helena "Huntress" Bertinelli spent her time. And one panel had her attending Catholic mass. I think that stuff like that is fine and shines a light into who the character is and some of the things that makes them tick.
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):
Apr 15, 2005 8:56 AM
Alright, I have recently found out that the Huntress is supposed to be Catholic. Is this true? Because in every comic I read with her in it, that doesn't seem to be the truth. Her cussing aside, her "bad girl" attitude with more violence used that's neccessary and openly usage of lethal metheds state that there's no way in heck that she could be Catholic. Perhaps she went to Church as a child, and wears a cross around her neck... but that doesn't mean she's Catholic.
Is there any evidence that she is Catholic? I mean, aside from her saying she is. Has she ever prayed or read The Bible? If so, please let me know so I can check it out.
Apr 15, 2005 9:17 AM
She is a Catholic. Nobody ever claimed she was a good Catholic.
Also, characters not having their own book get considerable less screen time to go to church in.
Nobody complains about that other Catholic, Daredevil, beating up people and living in sin...
Apr 15, 2005 9:34 AM
...My concern with Huntress being "Catholic" is that it brings a bad light to Catholics all over the world. A lot of people who are introduced to organized religion are done so through comics where the "Catholic" hero is a crazy woman who dresses slutty and goes around killing people. It would be more appropriate for DC to say that she used to be Catholic, but she's not anymore. That way, the Catholic Church isn't depicted in such a negative way by her actions.
Apr 15, 2005 10:27 AM
I've never known anyone who was introduced to organized religion thru comics. I'm also blissfully unaware of which crazy hero women who dress slutty and go around killing people are Catholic. Besides the Huntress, what other female heroes fit this description?
Apr 15, 2005 10:50 AM
The Huntress, special as she is, is a mortal woman with mortal problems. And if you've been reading BOP [Birds of Prey] you know she was having doubts about her faith but was finally starting to go to Mass again. She was starting to change her approach to her lifestyle. But eveything went haywire when she figured out Babs [Barbara Gordon, a.k.a. "Oracle"] was treating her more like a pet project than a partner.
Apr 15, 2005 11:51 AM
Carabas and Heroineadict hit the nail on the head.
Helena is a human being with faults and virtues like everyone else. And yes she will fall short once and awhile. Huntress isn't a plaster saint. Just because Helena messes up does not mean her heart is not in the right place.
In the CFB mini [Batman/Huntress: Cry for Blood limited series] she claimed to be like "a nun on quest". I truly believe that she wants to help the helpless. It's the nefarious that she has no tolerance for.
I always saw Helena's and Daredevil's relationship to Catholicism more about spiritual sustenance than out and out piety. At the end of the CFB mini she is seen throwing the cross in the water, because she feels after what she did she is no longer worthy of incorporating it as part of her costume. So obviously it means something to her and she respects her faith enough to do so.
I can see you being put off with Helena's "sl*tty" ways. But I have always felt that has more to do with writters writing her out of character than anything else.
Apr 15, 2005 12:50 PM
I myself was not aware that Catholics never swear, or at least less than other people. I would have assumed it was pretty much the same.
And by the way, Huntress is a heroine, one of the good guys. Something tells me that if she were portrayed as a lapsed Catholic, people would complain about that, saying it implies Catholics can't be heroes, or some such.
You're never going to please everyone.
Apr 16, 2005 4:10 PM
Have you never heard of anyone who calls themself a Catholic or Muslim or Jew, etc. but doesn't practise to the letter?
It's an ideal that Helena tries to live her life by. Being of a religious faith does not make you a good person, it's your behaviour that counts, and I would sincerely hope that people aren't stupid enough to judge someone because of their religion (I know many hypocrites).
Helena is a human who has succumbed to her fears and insecurities just like everyone else, and I don't see her using her Catholicism as part of her vigilante life.
It looks to me like you're saying she can't be a Catholic and be a vigilante at the same time. I find that ridiculous. You think all the other heores are non-religious?
From: "Who is your religious superhero" discussion board, started 14 March 2006, on "Ship of Fools: The Magazine of Christian Unrest" website (http://forum.ship-of-fools.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=1;t=006489; viewed 24 April 2006):
14 May 2004 at 4:19 am
Very little religion in the DCU - there seems to be a pervading non-denominational deist philosophy (Spectre is an agent of God, but let's not be specific about what religion for fear of alienating the others).
Nuklon/Atom Smasher clearly Jewish.
Huntress presumably Catholic by reference to crucifix.
Pre-Crisis Superman presumably nominally a member of the Kryptonian religion (whatever that was) by virtue of his frequent "Great Rao!"s.
A bit tricky to address religion in a universe where there is quite a high preponderance of actual Gods!
From: "Religion in comic books" discussion forum started on 24 April 2006, on DC Comics official message board website (http://dcboards.warnerbros.com/web/thread.jspa?threadID=2000072787&tstart=0; viewed 1 May 2006):
Posted 22 March, 2006 06:58
I fell in love with the Daredevil comics because it was the first one I read that felt like I was reading about a "whole" person. Matt Murdock just felt so much more fleshed out as a character because of his religious beliefs.
When Nightcrawler is well-written, then Kurt is the same. But occasionally his Catholicism feels like a "shtick". (And no, Chastmastr we will never speak of the abomination that was that ret-conned %&$*ing backstory.)
Spiffy da WonderSheep
Posted 22 March, 2006 16:59
I think that's true of any of the characters. Especially when we get a writer with an axe to grind for/against religion. There was a whole subplot to the "No Man's Land" Bat-verse series with Huntress and a couple of priests who were 'just trying to save people' by stockpiling weapons. It was well done, IMO, until the writers took the lazy way out at the end (I won't spoil, you can go look it up yerself).
From: "What Religion is Your Favorite Superhero?" discussion board started 20 April 2006 on official website of DC Comics (http://dcboards.warnerbros.com/web/thread.jspa?threadID=2000072337&tstart=0; viewed 8 May 2006):
Posted: Apr 24, 2006 10:31 PM
Does anyone know if there are any DC Comics characters who are portrayed as being Christian or Catholic in religion?
Posted: Apr 24, 2006 10:50 PM
Isn't Nightwing Christian? Huntress used to be Catholic. Spectre was non-denominational. There were some Muslim and Jewish characters introduced in Suicide Squad a million years ago. They're around. I've usually only seen religion in comics when a character is conflicted and needs advice.
Posted: Apr 25, 2006 4:28 AM
Huntress is Catholic.
From: "New Christian JLA member" message board, started 5 May 2005 on official DC Comics website (http://dcboards.warnerbros.com/web/thread.jspa?threadID=2000023085; viewed 15 May 2006):
Posted: 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... (maybe a moderater can have some imput..?) ... other threads touch on the subject in passing, time to discuss it!
Posted: Apr 20, 2006 9:49 AM
For the vast majority, it is deliberately left unsaid and any distinct belief system is never referred to. Unless otherwise indicated, I pretty much assume most believe in God, but don't attend service very often. Here are the ones I know about.
Huntress - Catholic
Blue Devil - Catholic
Atom Smasher - Jewish
Ragman - Jewish
Mr. Terrific - Atheist
Wonder Woman - Greek Gods
Posted: May 5, 2005 7:53 PM
I propose DC adds a new superhero to the JLA. His name is Shepard [Shepherd] and he fights injustice and evil in a Christian way.
His powers would essentially be a the addition of the powers of Firestorm and Superman.
While the JLA fights to protect earth from alien threats, Shepard's focus would be to protect innocents such as unborn children.
What does everyone think?
Posted: May 6, 2005 3:09 AM
I am a Christian... There is a reason there is no Christian superhero. Same reason as there is no real Jewish [superhero]... that flaunt their religion or fight for religious belief specific notions. It's because they would be offensive to many, if not most, of the readership.
Besides -- Zauriel, Bloodwynd, Wonder Woman, the Spectre, the Quintet, etc., etc., are all based on or are slaves to religious beliefs, but none actively flaunt it, or debate which is correct, so a hard-line Christian super hero would probably not sit too well.
Posted: May 6, 2005 3:50 AM
Well, I'm gonna hit you. Nightcrawler, Daredevil, Nightwing, Huntress, Doctor Mid-Nite, and the Flash are all Christians... Many of them have debated their beliefs in the comics - as you say, not the hardline way, but that is definitely not the same as saying that they are not Christian superheroes, or that they are not devoted.
As far as I know, none of them are fundamentalists, against other religions or...
Posted: May 10, 2005 8:29 AM
I'd vote for an existing character, like Zauriel or Seraph [as a religious character who should be in the JLA]. I've been wanting more exposure for them for a while. We've already had Nightwing in the League and Huntress.
Posted: May 16, 2005 12:31 PM
...I think between Green Arrow, the Huntress, the Question, and Guy Gardner they would have given Shepard a nice 'blanket party' just to properly welcome his evangelizing ass to the Watchtower.
[webmaster: This poster seems to be implying that sensorsnake's proposed "anti-abortion" Christian super-hero would be strongly resented by a number of other DC superheroes who are also known for their frequent evanglization of their beliefs, but whose beliefs are different from those espoused by "Shepard."]
From: "An argument for why religion should stay out of comics" message board started 17 May 2006 on official DC Comics website (http://dcboards.warnerbros.com/web/thread.jspa?threadID=2000076170&start=15; viewed 30 May 2006):
From: "Superman Wedding -- why a Christian ceremony?" newsgroup discussion started 11 October 1996 in rec.arts.comics.dc.universe (http://groups.google.com/group/rec.arts.comics.dc.universe/browse_thread/thread/4d17a1ff0ee9c715/d141c36005b90ea4; viewed 5 June 2006):
Posted: May 22, 2006 10:25 AM
As an atheist, and one who is vehemently opposed to religion of any kind in public life, I'm not as bothered as you might think by comics portraying religion. IF, and that's a big if, they know what the heck they are doing...
For the DCU to seem at least somewhat "grounded", for the New Earth to resemble our Earth at all, religion has to be a component of people's lives. It just does. And there are some great stories to be told there.
But it doesn't bother me that Huntress, for example, is a Catholic. Rucka used that aspect of her character to some degree in "Cry For Blood". The battle going on within Helena is the battle of the mundane vs. the mystical in microcosm...
So, no, religion should not be a taboo subject for comics. I desire to see all subjects investigated in the comics I read. The DCU alone is large enough to comprise any and all issues, ideas, and philosophies.
From: Patrick O'Duffy
Date: Fri, Oct 25 1996 12:00 am
re: "For that matter, what characters have been portrayed as having any definite religion. I believe Obsidian was shown to be Catholic."
Huntress is Catholic, and wears a crucifix in costume.
From: "Religious Inclinations of heroes" message board, started 1 March 2005 on StarDestroyer.net website (http://bbs.stardestroyer.net/viewtopic.php?t=63632; viewed 8 June 2006):
Posted: Tue Mar 01, 2005 6:38 pm
Post subject: Religious Inclinations of heroes
What about other heroes? I notice religion rarely plays a part in mainstream superhero comics (absent things like the Vertigo line) but have you ever picked up on hints or outright admissions by some heroes as to their religious inclinations?
Seems that atheistic heroes are as rare in comics as in real life. If they are religious it's a sort Judaeo-Christian wishy washy sort of religion... Any other examples of guesses?
Posted: Tue Mar 01, 2005 8:00 pm
...Huntress seems to be a devout Catholic (makes sense given her background).
Posted: Sun Mar 20, 2005 12:01 am
...Huntress is Catholic...
From: "Batwoman Is Back as a Lesbian" message board started 1 June 2006 on "The Giant in the Playground" website (http://www.giantitp.com/cgi-bin/yabb/YaBB.pl?board=comics;action=print;num=1149174700; viewed 12 June 2006):
Post by DeathQuaker on Jun 2nd, 2006, 10:12am
re: "For that matter, how about a Catholic superhero?"
The Huntress in DC comics is Catholic. For a long time she wore a cross on her uniform. She did go through a story arc where she "lost her faith" but this was to do with a personal issue, and IIRC she is practicing once again. I remember her telling Black Canary she was planning to attend mass a little while ago.
And I'm sure she's not the only one...
Perhaps before you ask, "Where is such-and-such a kind of character" in comics, you ought to go out and read a few. With the exception of examples of real-life extremists (such as fundamentalists of any religion) you'll probably find a character that represents one group or another.
Post by CelestialStick on Jun 2nd, 2006, 10:42am
So there's one Catholic superhero? Hey, that's great! Was she Catholic in any meaningful sense or just a token Catholic? Did she act in any way in line with serious Catholic theology, or did she just conveniently wear a cross around her neck?
Post by DeathQuaker on Jun 2nd, 2006, 2:12pm
re: "Hey, that's great! Was she Catholic in any meaningful sense or just a token Catholic?"
Yep, and nope. It was just part of her character.
re: "Did she act in any way in line with serious Catholic theology?"
Yes and no, and when she felt she had seriously fallen out of her faith's teachings is when she had her crisis of faith. It was a very good story.
From: "Religion in the Batman comics" thread began 7 June 2001 in alt.comics.batman newsgroup (http://groups.google.com/group/alt.comics.batman/browse_thread/thread/93368626bdebcd58/4b93b3a1e10210c6; viewed 12 June 2006):
Date: Thurs, Jun 7 2001 6:48 pm
We all know Catwoman/Selina Kyle is Catholic (and a bad one at that). The Huntress is probably Catholic too... Any other characters have religious convictions?
From: Brian Doyle
Date: Fri, Jun 8 2001 3:05 am
re: "The Huntress is probably Catholic too."
She definitely is, too many references to priests and Catholic churches in her background for her not to be.
From: Josh Dull
Date: Fri, Jun 8 2001 11:25 am
...I think it was stated somewhere that Helena is Catholic. Whether this is true and still in continuity are not something I know...
From: Chris Small
Date: Fri, Jun 8 2001 5:39 pm
I'm not sure on what your source for Catwoman being Catholic is, so what are you asking, exactly?
Why is she a "bad Catholic" - a Catholic who doesn't practice? I think you'd tread on less shaky ground if you referred to them as "non-practicing Catholics." I'm sure that "bad" Catholics don't see anything "bad" about their behavior, which the former term insinuates.
Or are you asking why they made a "bad" person (a criminal) a Catholic character?
I don't think it's of any attempt to defame the religion - Catwoman is a sympathetic character, and we also have the Huntress - a 'good guy' - for whom Catholicism (or at least, Christianity or religion in some form) plays an intricate part of the character.
Date: Sun, Jun 10 2001 8:18 pm
...And I wouldn't call Huntress a "good" Catholic either. Yeah, she might go 6 times a week, but she's still psycho in my book.
From: "Banned for using this nic" thread began 4 Apri 1999 in rec.arts.comics.dc.universe newsgroup (http://groups.google.com/group/rec.arts.comics.dc.universe/browse_thread/thread/f38288dc4e56542/8a873a0a53da3d0d; viewed 12 June 2006)
From: Robert Justus
Date: Mon, Apr 5 1999 12:00 am
To keep this on topic (sorta), why are most heroes not as religious as they could be? I'm not into promoting religion (far from it), but it seems that most of the religious people in comics are the VILLAINS, and are presented as nut-cases (which Mary here seems to prove, unfortunately). However, the only really religious person that's sane that I recall in DCU is Huntress, and I guess Wonder Woman (she worships the Greek gods. Does this count?). Anyone else (and I'm not talking about made-up/alien religions like Brother Blood's or Martian Manhuter's)? Astro City has a group that is made up entirely of religious types, and this seems consistent with what the real world would probably spawn. I'm just wondering if DCU has many more religious heroes than I can recall.
From: Robert Justus
Date: Tues, Apr 6 1999 12:00 am
...Huntress is Catholic...
Date: Tues, Apr 6 1999 12:00 am
Tough to miss with the cross around her neck!
Excerpts from: "Religion in comic books", posted 14 June 2006 on "Get Religion" blog website (http://www.getreligion.org/?p=1679; viewed 14 June 2006):
[Comments section for this page]
Posted by Katie Q at 11:59 am on June 14, 2006:
As a fairly religious comic reader, this sort of stuff has always been of interest to me. Unfortunately, comic book religion is of a messy and flexible substance, tending to vary from writer to writer in any given series. No hero, even the ones with a noted religion, is devout. Of course, the iconic and universal nature of super heroes precludes any of the major characters being overtly religious (save Wonder Woman, who practices an unorthodox religion, to say the least); most heroes who actually do have a religion at all tend to have ones that are ethnically defined. Thus, Elektra is Greek Orthodox, Italian-American Huntress (from Birds of Prey) is Catholic, and there are a small number of nationalistic Jewish and Muslism heroes.
Posted by Katie Q at 10:18 pm on June 14, 2006:
...I really just appreciate it when writers treat religious characters as religious people; they don't even have to be overwhelmingly devout, just real. And super hero comics by and large aren't about religion; like c.tower noted, they work best in dealing with metaphor. It's just very few heroes have a functional religious life during their off-time, and that's rather unrealistic and alienating. Off hand, I can only think of relasped Catholic Huntress (from Birds of Prey) and Presbyterian Wolfsbane (currently appearing in X-Factor) as super heroes who actually go to church once and a while.
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.
Not that I want to see "The Teen Titans" become "The Christian Crusaders, with their Happy Hindu friend and wacky Orthodox Jew sidekick", but seems unrealistic that there would be none.
...I know that for a large chunk of the population, faith is an important part of their lives.
Huntress has a Christian Prostitute wardrobe, but that's about as far is it goes. She isn't defined or motivated by her faith.
There would seem to be a lot of untapped ground for storytelling. I wonder why it hasn't happened. So, what do you think: Agnostic/Atheist writers trying to force their worldview on impressionable children, or writers shying away from something that could be handled very badly and offensively?
I, for one, would like to see some character get revamped as a Born Again Christian, rather than the usual darker, angrier more violent version. And not a religious zealot either -- tolerent, although perhaps disapproving at times.
From: Brian Doyle
Date: Thurs, Apr 22 2004 12:36 pm
She's [Huntress is] definitely Catholic, as evinced many times in her appearances, and attends Mass too I think.
Date: Fri, Apr 23 2004 4:01 pm
...Huntress wears a cross, and has refered to her Faith in God...
From: Daibhid Ceannaideach
Date: Sat, Apr 24 2004 6:21 am
The impression I get of Superman (most notably in the Kismet story following the Blaze/Satanus War) is that he is motivated at least partly by religious faith (at least inasmuch as that's part of being "raised right" in Kansas), he just doesn't talk about it much.
But yeah, it is odd that out of the three most noticably Christian superheroes (Nightcrawler, Daredevil and Huntress) one is motivated largely by circumstance (being a mutant) and the other two began their careers seeking revenge.
From: "Where are the Christian Superheroes?" forum discussion page started 22 August 2006 on Newsarama website (http://forum.newsarama.com/archive/index.php/t-81451.html; viewed 5 May 2007):
08-22-2006, 10:03 AM
...I pose the question to you, my fellow Talk@Ramanians: If Christianity is the most popular faith in the United States, why aren't there more openly Christian superheroes?
08-22-2006, 10:09 AM
I would say that just like sexuality, unless something else is outright stated it's assumed that most characters one of the Christian denominations.
How exactly does one shoehorn religion into a storyline and make it organic? Have Huntress tell Oracle "Bab's I'd love to go after The Calculator, but I have Mass at 9."?
08-22-2006, 10:42 AM
The only time a Character's religion (If American, like Neito pointed out) is made a point of is when they are either Non-Christian or Catholic.
08-22-2006, 02:41 PM
re: Daredevil's Catholocism is pretty essential to the character.
Isn't Huntress' catholicism pretty important to her too?
08-22-2006, 02:49 PM
re: Isn't Huntress' catholicism pretty important to her too?
Pre or post Crisis one or two?
08-22-2006, 02:52 PM
re: Isn't Huntress' catholicism pretty important to her too?
Only to the point that she's a mafia princess.
Let's look at it this way on the importance/impact of a character's faith/religion (specifically Catholicism):
Does the character truly repent for nearly killing people outside of typical "Catholic Guilt"?
Does the character forgive others for their sins?
Does the character do more than pay lip service to Catholic dogma/Papal doctrine (i.e. does s/he question how papal declarations impact his/her life)?
Does the character have a discussion of Catholic faith besides the cliche of guilt?
How does Catholicism play in their relationships (Pre-marital sex is a big taboo for the Catholic Church as well as Birth Control of any type)?
How does the character view the Sacraments?
Now, the character does not have to believe whole-heartedly with the Catholic belief/propoganda, but if the character is more than just a walking cliche` these elements are very core to the characters interaction with their religion/faith and questioning such would be integral to the nature of a Roman Catholic.
08-22-2006, 03:02 PM
Well, her costume has a cross on it, and she wears a cross necklace. She's probably somewhat religious, if not a hardcore Catholic.
08-22-2006, 03:03 PM
Which I would somewhat attribute to a cliche` or the mafia princess stereotype.
08-22-2006, 03:07 PM
re: Which I would somewhat attribute to a cliche or the mafia princess stereotype.
Pitfall #2 - the use (or perceived use) of stereotype to exhibit religious affiliation.
From: "Who's Catholic in the Marvel Universe" forum discussion started 5 February 2005 on "HCRealms" website (http://www.hcrealms.com/forum/showthread.php?t=123637; viewed 10 May 2007):
I know a lot of characters are Jewish, so I was wondering who is officially Catholic?
I know Daredevil is. It's a major part of his personality and often occurs in storylines.
I also believe Firebird from the West Coast Avengers... After that, I'm pretty much stumped.
Anyone have any others?
Remembered one at 6 a.m. that totally skipped my mind -
Frank Castle, the Punisher.
He even was looking into becoming a priest at one point. Now, I'm sure he pretty much figures God and him are at odds so he may not be a practicing Catholic and I'm also fairly certain part of the reason he's Catholic is because writer's figure that's the default religion of Italian-American characters (e.g.: the Huntress) but, yeah, our favourite gun-wielding maniac is Catholic.
re: Catholics in the DCU...
- Dr. Mid-Nite...
- Huntress is, of course, Catholic. Once again, like Frank, I think it's because Italian-American automatically equates to Catholic. :P
- Wes Dodds (GA Sandman) admits that he was raised Catholic (father's side)...
From: "There Are No Lions Here", posted 15 October 2006 on "Pretty, Fizzy Paradise" blog website (http://kalinara.blogspot.com/2006/10/there-are-no-lions-here.html; viewed 30 May 2007):
At 5:51 PM, Tom Foss said...
mela said: You have to guess (like Adherents does) to find the good pious people, while the bad ones are rendered as larger than life and thus more painfully obvious.
Is there really that much guesswork? Daredevil, Huntress, and Nightdrawler are all outspoken Catholics. Punisher is a semi-lapsed Catholic. Granted, Catholicism is a subset of Christianity, but that's about equal to the number of outspoken Jewish characters I could name off the top of my head. Given the number of Christmas specials and cross-bearing headstones in comics, I think we can come to some pretty clear conclusions about a lot of non-Catholic Christian characters as well.
At 7:48 PM, david brothers said:
...My problem with the treatment of Christianity in comics is that, like another commenter said, the heroes who are Christians, with the exceptions like Daredevil, Huntress, etc, are rarely shown having anything to do with Christianity beyond saying "Oh my God."
The loud "Christians," the obvious ones, they tend to be screaming hellfire and brimstone corrupt bigots. Chuck Austen's kind of hilariously poorly thought-out exploding communion wafer Nightcrawler as anti-pope story comes to mind, as does Ennis's Preacher (which I did enjoy) and William Stryker...
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! [a self-described atheist]
post Mar 13 2007, 02:58 PM
...Now, we know the Huntress is a Catholic, and that Nightwing is a non-denominational Born Again Christian, there is plenty of proof for both characters, but I've NEVER seen anything, that can convince me that Batman is religious in any way...
From: "The Gay Superhero" forum discussion, started 30 August 2005 on "Comic Book Resources" website (http://forums.comicbookresources.com/showthread.php?t=77086; viewed 12 July 2007):
08-30-2005, 11:09 AM
...As for [Catholic] DC characters... you shouldn't say you know of none on this board! Or have you forgotten Huntress? Right now she is a lasped Catholic but I don't think it will stay that way.
From: "Religious Super Heroes PC or otherwise" forum discussion, started 17 September 2003 on "HERO Games" website (http://www.herogames.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-8036.html; viewed 12 July 2007):
Sep 25th, '03, 08:30 AM
I always wanted to see more interaction between Zauriel and the Huntress. I mean, she's a Roman Catholic (although she has slipped a good bit, but she still wore a cross as part of her costume at the time), and he was an honest-to-God (no pun intended) Angel! What does that do to her head? Especially since at the same time both Orion and Barda were on the team, with Orion constantly proclaiming his own godhood. I would have loved to see some deep conversation between the Angel and the Believer concerning the New God.
Sep 26th, '03, 05:01 AM
The closest I ever saw them come to the possible Huntress/Zauriel possibilities occured during the "Foreign Bodies" one-shot (I THINK that was the name). Then again, that writer seemed to be quite fond of Zauriel -- if nothing else the writer had Z's character and power level closer to what I feel they should be than anything else I've seen. The throwaway statement during the "Amazo" issue of JLA that implied Zauriel's armor is tougher than Superman is the only "mainline" reference to this (often, one-shots are considered non-continuity).
From: "Your Spiritual Thought for the Day", posted 15 July 2007 on "Roman de Renart" blog website (http://foxeddc.livejournal.com/467235.html; viewed 16 July 2007):
Jul. 16th, 2007 12:25 am
...Huntress and Catwoman are both Catholics. Wonder Woman is a believer in the Greek pantheon (well, more than a believer, she's the champion of Pallas).
I can't think of any actively atheist superheroes, but any of them who have dealt with cosmic stuff couldn't be atheists for long. The DC universe is very much a creationist universe.
From: "Possible writers' cliche/prejudice: No well-adjusted athiests/agnostics in the DCU?" forum discussion, started 26 May 2005 on "Comic Bloc" website (http://www.comicbloc.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-5064.html; viewed 20 July 2007):
May 26th, 2005, 01:42 PM
...I've noticed a small, but persistent... subtext in the DCU, reinforced by many of my favorite writers...
It seems to me that anyone in the DCU who is identified as not being religious is either painted as emotionally crippled, cold and unspiritual, or just angry at a God that they do, in fact, believe in, deep down. There's also the implication that if they could just undo their twisted thinking - or, in the case of Ray Palmer in Identity Crisis, if they get desperate enough - they'll "revert to their senses and believe what they've always known to be true".
For a couple of examples beyond Ray Palmer in IC [Identity Crisis], there have been two recent stories where two of my favorite writers (gee, who might be familiar :D) have made two atheistic/agnostic characters basically (if not definitively) "see the error of their ways" and "open up" to religious notions. In both cases, the writers seem to cast the characters as "resisting" religion, due to anger/grief/personal issues or what not, rather than as a valid and respectable outlook on life.
In the first case (Geoff's story about Mr. Terrific), it's left open-ended with the pretty clear implication that Mr. T, having faced some of those issues that "kept him away" from religion, has "let down his walls" and is on the road to some form of belief, if not a strict religion. A similar thing happened in the second story (Gail's recent take on the Huntress), where Huntress, because she's become "happier" with her life, is on the cusp of embracing the beliefs that she was raised in and had set aside because of bitterness, only to have a sudden feeling of betrayal make her "turn her back" on them again.
The message? It would seem to be that atheists and agnostics only possess their "skewed" perspective because they're emotionally crippled and angry at God...
This is important to note... Someone mentioned on the other thread that these characters were ones that began with faith and lost it, which means they are more naturally inclined to revert...
From: "Barry Allen is Jewish?" forum discussion, started 13 May 2005 on "Comic Bloc" website (http://www.comicbloc.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-4308.html; viewed 20 July 2007):
May 15th, 2005, 08:58 AM
...I don't think it's bad to have characters of diverse ethnicity, including Jews. However, bringing in questions of religion to mainstream characters also leaves them open for creators to send alienating, belief-oriented messages through them.
...there have been two recent stories where two of my favorite writers (gee, who happen to frequent these boards, no less) have made two atheistic/agnostic characters basically (if not definitively) "see the error of their ways" and "open up" to religious notions.
In both cases, the writers seem to cast the characters as "resisting" religion, due to anger/grief/personal issues or what not... In the first case (Geoff's story about Mr. Terrific), it's left open-ended with the pretty clear implication that Mr. T, having faced some of those issues that "kept him away" from religion, has "let down his walls" and is on the road to some form of belief, if not a strict religion. A similar thing happened in the second story (Gail's recent take on the Huntress), where she's on the cusp of embracing the beliefs that she was raised in and had set aside because she's become "happier" with her life, only to have a sudden feeling of betrayal make her "turn her back" on them again.
The message? It would seem to be that atheists and agnostics only possess their "skewed" perspective because they're emotionally crippled and angry at God...
May 15th, 2005, 11:42 AM
I think you're missing one important fact with these two cases. in both, they turned away from religion as a result of a traumatic event. as a guy who's at the very least agnostic, if not athiest (depends on the day), I think that's an important distinction. if you will, their natural state is a religious person, and as a prolonged result of the trauma in their lives, they lost faith in god. I tend to think that people who are truly atheistic don't hold a grudge against religion, as Mr. Terrific clearly was. Huntress, I can't be as sure about, since I wasn't reading the comic at the time.
May 15th, 2005, 12:23 PM
...While I agree with crawfordcrow's thoughts and very well though out posts, I do have to add something. My father is a Baptist preacher and living in East Tennessee, I've seen lots of "atheists" and "agnostics" who are just like the sterotypes that you mentioned. Cold, emotonally stunted or "angry with God". Now mind you, I'm not trying to cheapen your thoughts/posts or beliefs, but while it may be a sterotype, it does exist. I can only speak for the places I've been and grown up, but I've seen it over and over. Almost Christmas Carol-like where Scrooge finally opens his heart/realizes his mistake or whatever and they join in and drop to their knees when the time comes.
Just to point out that does happen. No offense intended.
From: "NY Times outs Batwoman. DUH SPOILERS!!!!!" forum discussion, started 27 May 2006 on "Comic Bloc" website (http://www.comicbloc.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-27770.html; viewed 23 July 2007):
May 28th, 2006, 08:16 PM
I've long thought of Batman (Bruce at least) as Anglican (Episcopalian for people in the USA). Blame it on [the graphic novel] Holy Terror.
I know: some people will see me as committing the "error" of seeing Christianity as a collection of tradition/groups embracing a wide spectrum of philosophies sharing common history. That Catholicism (Fire, Capt. Atom, Huntress II, etc.), Anglicanism (Richard Craemer), Methodist (Amanda Waller), etc. traditions all jointly constitute Christianity.
I don't see that as an error.
June 1st, 2006, 01:38 AM
B_N_L, If this Batwoman [Kathy Kane] were never to date a woman, never to Kiss a woman, never express attraction for another woman, and were seen to go into a Chippendales with the BOP, would you still feel she was representing Homosexuals?
If in other words she were to claim that she were gay, yet not live or act in a way which was consistent with that statement, would you really consider her gay?
I am not saying I agree with Iceman's statement, as my understanding is that in the DCU some flavor of Christianity is the assumed norm, however If they are never seen acting in accordance with a Christian lifestlye then how do they truly represent Christians?
If the Huntress never actually attends church, then who is to say that the large cross she wears is no more than an indication she is a fan of early Madonna?
I don't really understand Christians... But I do know know that those who self-identify as Christians, for the most part, share certain behaviors, chief among them regular worship. Those who claim to be Christians, but dont actually act in that manner, are always people I associate with a lack of real religious faith. That isn't to say all those who don't go to church don't have faith, but that many seem to identify themselves as Christians only reflexivly. They asssume they are because they were raised that way but give religon no more thought and effort than they do Byzantine Numismatics. Most DC characters seem to fall into this category at best.
Given that minority charcters are becomming somewhat more common, though by no means a large trend in the overall sense, I can understand why some Christians may feel that they are being proportionately more under-represented than homosexuals...
From: "Question for other atheists" forum discussion, started 6 March 2006 on "Comic Boards" website (http://www.comicboards.com/dcb/view.php?trd=060306051129; viewed 23 July 2007):
Posted by Hellstone on Monday, March 06 2006 at 14:20:26 GMT
re: "As noted in other discussions over the years they seem to bend over backwards to NOT assign denominations or faith statements to characters..."
Well, I think that goes for the "big 3" [Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman], for example. But many denizens of the DCU have expressed their religion explicitly, and I'm not just talking Wonder Woman and Kobra and Zauriel here. Huntress (Catholic Christian), Nightwing (Christian, don't know what kind), Flash (Christian), Doctor Mid-Nite (Catholic), Ragman (Jewish), Janissary (Muslim), Seraph (Jewish), Maya (Hindu), Judomaster (Buddhist), Father Craemer (Catholic) and many more, have all stated their explicit beliefs...
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