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The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Character
Curt Connors, better known as "The Lizard," is one of the earliest villains established in Spider-Man's rogue's gallery. Connors is a lapsed Catholic. His Catholic background has usually not been a prominent aspect of the character, but it has been glimpsed from time to time. In a recent issue of an original continuity Spider-Man comic book, when Connors talked to Peter Parker about the death of his wife we clearly see a Catholic priest conducting the funeral. "Curt Connors" is an Irish name; it is a frequently seen shortened version of the very Irish and very Catholic surname "O'Connors."
Curt Conners' theological discussions with Peter Parker in the new Ultimate Spider-Man series also hint at the character's Catholic background. (Oddly enough, the character's surname in Marvel's Ultimate universe is spelled "Conners" instead of "Connors."
Below: Peter Parker's friend Professor Curt Connors (a.k.a. "The Lizard", an enemy of Spider-Man) recalls the Catholic funeral of his late wife. Note the specifically Catholic vestments of the priest officiating at the gravesite funeral service.
Source: Spectacular Spider-Man #11 (Vol. 2), May 2004, written by Paul Jenkins, pencilled by Damion Scott, inked by Rob Campanella.
It is likely that when the character of "Dr. Curt Connors" was originally conceived by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko for Amazing Spider-Man vol. 1 #6, the character was simply intended as a vaguely Irish, fully Americanized character. The character has always been written as a talented scientist. Unlike other more overtly Catholic characters introduced in Spider-Man comic books, such as the Frank Castle (the Punisher) and Eddie Brock (Venom), Curt Connors' religious affiliation was not a part of his primary motivations nor a part of his origin story. But over the years, perhaps inspired by the character's name, artists have portrayed Connors as Catholic when the opportunity arose (such as at his wife's funeral) and writers have written the character as a lapsed Catholic in stories that feature a deeper look into his inner thoughts and spiritual beliefs.
Curt Connors became both a frequent supporting character in the Spider-Man universe, as well as one of Spider-Man's most frequently-faced foes. In his regular human form, Connors was a gifted scientist who, at various times in various incarnations of the Spider-Man character, has even been a college professor and mentor for Peter Parker. Curt Connors (played by actor Dylan Baker, and without Connors' monstrous "Lizard" alter ego) has even appeared in the immensely successful "Spider-Man" movies directed by Sam Raimi.
Spectacular Spider-Man #11 (Vol. 2) is one of the Spider-Man stories featuring the Lizard which explicitly portrays Curt Connors as Catholic. On the second page of this issue, Connors is talking with his therapist. He recalls the funeral of his wife, and we see the Catholic priets officiating at the graveside funeral service. The priest wears specifically Catholic vestments.
The dialogue from this page is presented below. From: Spectacular Spider-Man #11 (Vol. 2), "The Lizard's Tale: Part 1", Marvel Entertainment Group: May 2004 (New York City), page 2; reprinted in The Spectacular Spider-Man: Here There Be Monsters trade paperback, Marvel Entertainment Group: New York (2004); written by Paul Jenkins, pencilled by Damion Scott, inked by Rob Campanella:
Above: Curt Connors ("The Lizard") talks to his therapist. Connors feels guilty about many things, not the least of which is his inability to prevent the death of his wife, Martha Connors. She died of cancer caused by exposure to industrial toxic waste.
therapist: . . . and do you feel you've made any progress since our last discussion, Curt? Doctor Connors? Are you with me?
Look . . . if these sessions are going to make any difference, you'll have to learn to say how you feel instead of just thinking it. I want you to be able to talk about your wife. How long has it been since she passed away?
Curt Connors: I can't remember.
Curt Conners (The Lizard) discusses theology with Peter Parker (Spider-Man)
Dialogue from: Brian Michael Bendis (writer) and Mark Bagley (artist), Ultimate Spider-Man #39, Marvel Comics Group: New York City (published 2 April 2003) [Reprinted in: Ultimate Spider-Man: Venom trade paperback, which reprints issues 33-39; and Ultimate Spider-Man Collection, Vol. 3 (hardcover, which reprints Ultimate Spider-Man issues 28-39), published by Marvel Enterprises, Inc.: New York (2003):
Curt Conners: Honestly, at this point, I think you know a lot more about all this than I do. I came here to my lab to check on things and things are no longer here to check on.
Peter Parker: Just tell me who took the-- how is it [the Venom suit] gone?
Curt Conners: How is it gone? It's gone. The suit, the files, the programs. The samples. All gone. Bye-bye.
Peter Parker: Oh, my God . . .
Curt Conners: I thought maybe you did. But I guess Eddie Brock and I need to have a talk.
Peter Parker: Eddie-- Eddie wore the suit, too. And now-- now I don't know what happened to him. I'm trying to-- I'm trying to make sense of it. I-I-I don't know if he survived it. I don't know.
Curt Conners: Mr. Parker, 'm hardly what you'd call a religious man, but you have to wonder if it isn't a sign from God. There's been somewhat of a rash of genetic tampering by people who are trying to be more than they really are. And every time we try to tamper with the miracle, the biological miracle, that is the human machine . . . What happens? What happens is we get punished. I was certainly punished for my sins. Consider it-- Norman Osborn. And that guy with the octopus arms. Half the Ultimates group seems vaguely out of their mind. Mutantkind is in the middle of an uphill race battle they will never win. Even Captain America had to sit most of the century out. Your father. You. I mean, I don't know you . . . but to look at you-- it certainly looks like your life is no tiptoe through the tulips. We seem dead set on turning ourselves into little monsters, don't we? Wonder why that is? It's all the rage. All of a sudden. And all of us, every one of us, is sooo busy running around, trying to beat each other to the finish line-- that no one notices the big sign from God that says: Stop- messing- with- my- stuff.
Well . . . 'm sorry either way.
Peter Parker: For what?
Curt Conners: Your father was a genius and an admirable man of science. But, now, looking at all the end results of his experiments . . . seeing the doors they opened and where we are now . . . it looks like he might have been the architect, the pioneer, of this horrible decade of genetic nightmares.
Peter Parker: How could you say that?!! My father was trying to cure cancer! You-- you're the one that purposely turned yourself into-- All-- all he wanted to do was to . . .
Curt Conners: Yeah, well . . . Einstein wasn't trying to invent the atomic bomb. Just kind of worked out that way.
[Connors, having drunk himself into a thoroughly inebriated state, then passes out or falls asleep as he mumbles something about Peter needing to wash his clothes.]
The Lizard's Motivations?
Clearly the monstrous Lizard is even less guided by Catholic beliefs than his human form. So what does motivate the Lizard? Revenge against Spider-Man is sometimes one motivator for him, but this is not his primary motivation. The Lizard has stated on multiple occasions that his goal is reptilian domination of the world. This, of course, may seem like an entirely irrational and pointless quest, but one must remember that in his Lizard form Curt Connors is usually best described as simply insane and animalistic. Normal human motivations and religious values are essentially irrelevant to the creature. Perhaps the most frightening aspect of the Curt Connors/Lizard character is the degree to which the human scientist Connors willingly allows himself to become the Lizard as a means of avoiding facing his real-world problems.
Above: The Lizard states his goal of reptilian domination of the planet. [Source: Spider-Man: Blue #3, Marvel Entertainment Group: New York City (September 2002), page 14; written by Jeph Loeb, illustrated by Tim Sale; reprinted in Spider-Man: Blue hardcover collection (2003).]
Text from Spider-Man: Blue #3, pages 14-15, written by Jeph Loeb, illustrated by Tim Sale:
[The Lizard battles Spider-Man in a subway tunnel. A subway train is rapidly approaching.]
Clearly reptilian domination of the planet is a belief that is quite incompatible with Catholic dogma. Could the Lizard's religious beliefs be described as "Reptilianism?" If the Lizard were to form an organized religious congregation, he would need congregational autonomy, so perhaps the Southern Baptist Convention would be a better denomination for him. He could lead the "First Baptist Church, Reptile," where he could preach reptilian domination all he wants, as long as he claimed that his beliefs were based on the Bible.
LIZARD: Do you sssee that train, Ssspider-Man? Think of that train assss evolution. Just assss the dinosaur passssed away sssso man could rule the planet . . . the time has come for reptiles to return to their rightful plae assss--
[Spider-Man leaps into the air to bash the Lizard against the ceiling, so that the subway train passes underneath them.]
SPIDER-MAN: And you think I talk too much? Yeesh!
[Spider-Man and the Lizard land on either sides of the still-passing subway train. A pair of eyes peer out from the darkness, end their owner addresses the Lizard, inviting him to escape before the train is done passing, before Spider-Man can see where they are going. We learn later that this mysterious figure peering out of the darkness is Kraven the Hunter.]
KRAVEN: Come with me. I can lead you to safety.
LIZARD: Why? Why would you help me . . .?
KRAVEN: Because we want the same thing. The death of Spider-Man.
LIZARD: That'sss not what I want. You know nothing of what I want. I will follow you out of here, but if you or Ssspider-Man or anyone interferessss with my plansss . . . then I will kill you all . . .
Webpage created 3 October 2005. Last modified 2 January 2006.
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