The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Character
Josiah al hajj Saddiq
Justice (Josiah X)
of the Crew
Josiah al hajj Saddiq (known by the codenames "Josiah X" or "Justice") is a minor superhero in the Marvel Comics universe. Josiah is a black convert to Islam who became a Muslim minister.
The Josiah X/Justice character was based largely on Malcolm X, a famous African-American convert to Islam who was a leader in the Black Muslim community and a leading civil rights activist.
From: Jeff Christiansen, "The Appendix to the Handbook of the Marvel Universe" (http://www.marvunapp.com/master/joojz.htm; viewed 20 April 2006):
JOSIAH X (Josiah al hajj Saddiq) - Crew, son of Faith and Isaiah Bradley via surrogate mother, computer expert, Muslim activist A-39, "Josiah Bradley," Josiah Smith, -- Crew #1 (5(fb1-8), 1, 2, 4, 5-7
From: "Justice (Josiah X)" page on MarvelDatabase.com website (http://www.marveldatabase.com/wiki/index.php/Justice_(Josiah_X); viewed 20 April 2006):
Real Name: Josiah al hajj Saddiq (legally changed, former legal name unrevealed)
Former Aliases: A-39 (designation in top secret Super-Soldier project), Josiah Smith (alias used to enlist in Viet Nam)
Other Current Aliases: Josiah X, Justice
Occupation: Muslim minister
Legal Status: Citizen of the United States (False identity of Josiah Smith has a military criminal record)
Marital Status: Single
Known Relatives: Isaiah Bradley (father), Faith Bradley (mother), Sarah Gail Bradley (sister), Patriot (Elijah Bradley) (nephew), Stephanie Bradley (neice), Letigious Bradley (nephew), unnamed neice, unnamed neice, unnamed brother-in-law
Group Affiliation: The Crew
Base of Operations: Brooklyn, New York
Josiah was born to Faith and Isaiah Bradley via a surrogate mother. Josiah was the result of an illegal, covert experiment conducted by members of the U.S. military. His father was one of the very first test subjects in the United State's covert Super-Soldier program, making his genetic material the perfect source for replicating the Super-Soldier Serum. Through experimentation there was a single success, the 39th attempt at genetically engineering a Super-Soldier baby. Josiah is that success.
First Appearance: The Crew #1 (July, 2003)
Josiah X's story is the story of his father, Isaiah Bradley, an African American soldier who was used as a guinea pig in secret, illegal and immoral U.S. experiments to re-create the Super-Soldier process which created Captain America (see notes). Out of the hundreds of African American men experimented on, only three survived, Isaiah among them. Although the serum left Isaiah and his new wife Faith unable to conceive, they had been blessed with their first child, a daughter named Sarah Gail, already on the way before Isaiah enlisted into the U.S. Army during World War II.
Isaiah and Faith Bradley's second child, the boy who would one day grow into the man called Josiah X, was not actually born to the couple. When Josiah came into this world it was by way of artificial insemination, using both Isaiah's inactive sperm following the effects of the Super-Soldier Serum and a healthy sample from before the Serum was administered. Like her husband before her, Faith's body was violated by men in the U.S. military involved in the dark events that took place at Camp Cathcart, men who helped exploit the African American soldiers who'd been experimented on. The eggs were stolen from Faith's womb when she had her appendix removed, three months before Josiah was conceived. They tried dozens of times to somehow stimulate the Serum-altered sperm and carry a child to term. Josiah's official designation of A-39 implies that there had been 39 attempts to create a Super-Soldier with Josiah's fertilization being the only success.
Carried in the womb of a surrogate, Josiah was saved by the same young girl who had birthed his infant form. She overheard the military men who had paid her to be a part of this experiment discussing the dissection of the young child. So she stole the baby boy from the nursery and the papers from the file, left the hospital and went to the address they had listed for Faith Bradley. Faith publicly told the girl she was stupid, that their house was watched, and with Sarah Gail's doll in the basket she sent the girl out, screaming for her to run. Then, late at night Faith and Sarah Gail snuck out of the house and put the infant on a train, Sarah Gail left a note on her brother's blanket, "My name is Josiah."
Isaiah, who had been wrongfully imprisoned for stealing Captain America's uniform, was finally pardoned in 1960 by an outgoing President Eisenhower. As a result Isaiah and Faith were sworn to secrecy under strict penalty of law. But his story wouldn't end there, as the name of Isaiah Bradley was fast becoming legendary within the African American community, where many are heard to refer to him as the original, Black Captain America.
Josiah grew up in a Catholic orphange outside of Boston during the early years of his life. When lashing out at one of the nuns in his early teens, Josiah's powers revealed themselves. Believing he had accidentally killed the nun called Sister Irenia, he fled. While Josiah was left with great guilt, having believed he had killed her, he was also afraid for his own freedom. The boy lied about his age, and under the assumed name of Josiah Smith he enlisted into the U.S. Army, like his father before him.
Josiah served several tours in Viet Nam, becoming a seasoned and experience veteran. His unit, made up of primarily Black soldiers, was nearly killed on a mission by an inconsiderate and racist officer's order to bomb the area while they were still on patrol. He punched the officer, was court martialed, and sent back to the States to be held in military prison.
While imprisoned, tests suggested Josiah may be the missing Super-Soldier baby. Agreeing to what he was told would be minor tests in exchange for his freedom, Josiah willfully allowed his transfer from detainment in Fort Leavenworth, KA to a secret research facility in Berkeley, CA. It was here that blood tests proved he was the missing child and the only known subject that had survived. His surrogate mother, brought in to confirm a genetic match, again helped him escape and told him what she knew about his past, the first names of his genetic parents.
It was four years later, when Josiah was involved with the radical Black Panther movement that he was able to encounter his parents for the first time. As a Black Panther he was exposed to the legend and truth of the Black Captain America, as well as a list of African American individuals abused by the Super-Soldier project, and used it to find his parents' full names and then their location. Faith told him who he was and to leave promptly, as they were always being watched, so he left, and waited for a signal to return.
For a time Josiah lived as a mercenary and adventurer, eventually leading him to the continent of Africa. It was here that Josiah turned to the Islamic faith to find purpose. Upon returning home after his pilgrimage to Mecca Josiah made his way to Boton to confess the murder of Sister Irenia. To his surprise, she was still alive and healthy, and the two began a deep and meaningful friendship. Upon her retirement, Irenia came to live with Josiah as his housekeeper and mentor.
Josiah became involved with James "Rhodey" Rhodes' "Crew" after they were lead to his location due to a plant. After some debate, Josiah joined the others to fight those who had framed him and turned his neighborhood into a virtual war zone, using the shield and costume of his father from many years ago. No longer would Josiah turn a blind eye to the criminal activities in his community in exchange for generous, anonymous donations to his Mosque. This is where the hero called Justice is born.
Strength Level: Super soldier strength, or Peak Human verging on superhuman
Known Superhuman Powers: Due to his unique genetic makeup, Josiah's aging process is greatly slowed. Though he is well over fifty, Josiah appears to be perpetually 25 years old.
Abilities: Justice is in 'peak human' condition much like his father and Steve Rogers. Like these men he has genetically enhanced strength, speed, agility and mental acuity...
Weapons: Justice carries the scarred battle shield belonging to his father, Isaiah. An unsophisticated concave triangular shield, useful for defense or as an attack weapon. Justice does not typically carry a firearm but has no compunction against using one. He will often turn his enemies' weapons against them.
Equipment: Justice's shirt is a chain mail mesh (similar to that of Captain America), capable of stopping most small arms fire.
Since the series cancellation of The Crew, Josiah has been mentioned only in the pages of Young Avengers. Josiah's nephew Eli Bradley, member of the Young Avengers, has to recently revealed that his uncle has not been seen or heard from in over a year by their families. Eli also revealed that the Vision had been aware of Josiah's existence and status as a Super Soldier, having been on the Vision's Avengers Failsafe Program's list of potential replacement Avengers...
According to Priest, series writer for The Crew, Josiah is based largely on Malcolm X, and somewhat visually inspired by the Denzel Washington character seen in the film, Training Day.
From: "Islamic super heroes: Are there any?" forum discussion, started 23 August 2005 on "Comic Book Resources" website (http://forums.comicbookresources.com/archive/index.php/t-76010.html; viewed 28 May 2007):
08-23-2005, 10:06 PM
Well, anyways, I was thinking of an idea for a UN-sanctioned super hero team with represenatives from different countries, and one of them is a female telepath from Turkey... named Sultana. And I suddenly realized that for the life of me I can't think of a single Muslim super-hero from either Marvel or DC.
So, are there any? And please don't turn this into a political debate.
08-24-2005, 07:17 AM
Josiah X, from Marvel's The Crew (and the son of the black Captain America from The Truth), was Muslim. He was a Muslim preacher, in fact.
And although I don't think it's been confirmed, I'd say there's reason to believe that Patriot from Young Avengers might be Muslim, since Josiah X is his uncle.
From: "Religious Characters In Marvel" forum discussion started 15 September 2006 on "Comic Book Resources" website (http://forums.comicbookresources.com/archive/index.php/t-143850.html; viewed 25 May 2007):
09-17-2006, 12:08 PM
...When you get down to it, for 99% of superheroes, their religion is nothing more than background info. Name me a character who actually practices their religion, other than a couple of characters with fake religions whose powers are intertwined with them. What, Nightcrawler, Daredevil... Josiah X for his three whole appearances, and that's only because he's a Muslim clergyman. Beyond that, I'm pretty much stumped.
From: "Jewish Heroes or Villians in Marvel Universe?" forum discussion, started 12 December 2005 on "Comic Book Resources" website (http://www.xmenindex.com/forums/comicbooks/t-97146.html; viewed 31 May 2007):
12-12-2005, 05:50 AM
Reading the " Black Panther thread" got me thinking. Are there any Jewish heroes or villians in the Marvel Universe?
The Mirrorball Man
12-12-2005, 08:14 AM
I can't think of a single Muslim hero apart from the Arabian Knight.
12-12-2005, 08:18 AM
I think Josiah X is [Muslim].
The Mirrorball Man
12-12-2005, 08:20 AM
re: I think Josiah X is.
Is he? That's good.
From: "Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Characters" forum discussion, started 10 March 2007 on "Brian Michael Bendis" part of "Comic Creator Boards" section of "Jinxworld Forums" website (http://www.606studios.com/bendisboard/archive/index.php/t-106242.html; viewed 6 June 2007):
03-10-2007, 10:46 AM
An ASTONISHINGLY detailed site that delves into the religions of superheroes. Someone has WAY too much time on their hands.
03-10-2007, 12:51 PM
Huh, I never realized Josiah X was a Muslim. The Crew was before I was really into Marvel.
Sasquatch is Jewish? AWESOME! :D
From: "Religion/Spirituality" forum discussion, started 16 August 2005 on Comixfan website (http://www.comixfan.com/xfan/forums/printthread.php?t=35225&page=17&pp=20; viewed 17 July 2007):
Jun 6, 2006 01:53 pm
I found the following quote at Comixfan Forums > Marvel Comics Discussions > Marvel Heroes > Marvelous Suggestions:
Quote (Originally Posted by Chrisday): on the subject of an Islamic super-hero group... Using such a concept would be a difficult one because the conventional notion of a super-hero is one who fights for freedom, democracy, freedom of speech, etc. and against totalitarianism, exploitation, censorship, and oppressive ideologies. How can any Islamic/Middle-Eastern super hero or super hero group function within that framework? To fight for those sorts of ideals, they would almost certainly stand out as a minority (perhaps even seen as Anarchistic) amongst their cultural and social surroundings... That's why a Middle-Eastern Super-Hero group can't work, especially is it is published by an American company with Western writers and our notions of what makes Western Civilization better than all others...
[Zero Mk2 then goes to considerable lengths to explain how he disagrees with Chrisday's opinion on this.]
If the majority of Muslim Arab characters should be seen as bad because of Bin Laden, then (if everyone should be considered equally) shouldn't most characters who are Catholic, or German or Caucasian, or Italian or Japanese (Axis nations) be potrayed as Nazis, Neo-Nazis, human trafickers (trading of illegal immigrants as slaves is still done in some parts of Europe) and white-supremacists?
I'm not an Arab myself. But let's hold out Marvel comics for example. So far the Muslim characters are:
- Sage (not a devout one, and she's from Afghanistan, which isn't an Arab nation)
- Dust (a devout one, she's also from Afghanistan, a non-Arab nation)
- Josiah X (so devout that he's a convert and an minister. But he's pure American and not Arab)
Am I missing something or is every other Middle-Eastern/Arab Muslim character I've seen other that DC's al-Sheikh [i.e., "Naif al-Sheikh," a devout Muslim who is a member of Justice League Elite] a terrorist? Hollywood films have been made for many years before 9/11. but according to Wikipedia, , out of more than 900 film appearances of Arab characters, only a dozen were positive and 50 were balanced. I even remember there being Arab terrorists in one of the movies of "Back to the Future". What's with all the American Anti-Semitism? (look up the list in the definition of Semitic)
It wasn't until 2 - 3 weeks ago that it started making sense to me why Marvel Arabs are always terrorists. I saw Avi Arad say on a CBC interview (which was being repeated at 1 o'clock in the morning), that the comics industry was mainly established by Jewish writers. The question is, is it the Arab-Jew thing that's affecting portrayal of Arabs in comics?
Webpage created 20 April 2006. Last modified 17 July 2007.
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