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The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Character
Latter-day Saint attorney and co-worker of the She-Hulk
Mallory Book is a Latter-day Saint attorney regarded as the most talented lawyer in the law firm where Jennifer Walters (a.k.a. "She-Hulk") works. As a rival and co-worker to the She-Hulk, Ms. Book is a significant supporting character in the She-Hulk comic book series published by Marvel Comics.
Mallory Book first appeared in the first issue of the third ongoing She-Hulk series, which ran for 12 issues during 2004 and 2005. Mallory Book appeared in all issues of this series except for issues 4, 8 and 10. After that She-Hulk series was cancelled, it was re-launched soon thereafter, with a new She-Hulk (volume 4) #1 appearing in 2005. Mallory Book has already appeared in multiple issues of that series, which is ongoing as of this writing.
From: official "Mallory Book" profile on official Marvel Comics website at Marvel.com (http://marvel.com/universe/Book%2C_Mallory; viewed 22 May 2006):
Universe: Marvel Universe
Real Name: Mallory Book
Place of Birth: Utah
Group Affiliation: employee of GLK&H
Education: Brigham Young University
Mallory Book's legal skills are like her beauty -- impressive and intimidating. As a student at BYU, she managed to win the title of Miss Utah in a beauty contest while graduating at the top of her class, summa cum laude. With the top law firms in the country begging for her services, she chose to join Goodman, Lieber, Kurtzberg, & Holliway, not just because it was the most prestigious law firm on the East Coast, but she was excited about the new field of "superhuman law" and working for the great Holden Holliway. The firm's confidence in Ms. Book was not misplaced as she quickly earned the nickname in legal circles as "the face who never lost a case." She first clashed with Jennifer Walters (She-Hulk) when the latter was working for the New York District Attorney office. Mallory's client was charged with improperly storing Antarctic vibranium, which caused a warehouse collapse. Walters won a huge settlement for the state, but Book successfully overturned the judgement on appeal, arguing that by saving the Earth as an Avenger, She-Hulk had biased the jury in her favor. This loss led to Walters' dismissal from the D.A. office where she was hired by GLK&H, on the condition she work for them in human form rather than as She-Hulk...
From: "The Appendix to the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe" (http://www.marvunapp.com/master/bmboo.htm; viewed 22 May 2006):
BOOK, MALLORY - lawyer, Goodman, Lieber, Kurtzberg, and Holliway, magna cum laude graduate of Brigham Young University, senior editor of BYU law review, former Ms. Utah, injured in Titania's assault on Timely Plaza "The Face who's never lost a Case" - She-Hulk III #1 (2, 3, 5,6, 7, 9, 11, 12), She-Hulk IV #1, 3, 5, 6
It may be noted that Brigham Young University is different from many other well known universities affiliated with specific religious denominations, such as Notre Dame and Georgetown. Not only is Brigham Young University directly owned by and funded by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it also features a student body population that has a far higher proportion that are members of the sponsoring denomination. Latter-day Saints comprise at least 98% of the student population each year.
All students at Brigham Young University are classified as to whether they are or are not members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Because Latter-day Saints pay tithing and such tithing is used to cover the majority of actual costs at the school, Latter-day Saints pay a significantly different tuition than non-members. This is analogous to "in-state" or "resident" tuition rates charged by state colleges and universities. All incoming students, whether Latter-day Saints or otherwise, are required to submit an eclesiastical endorsement form from their bishop or other church leader.
Of the approximately 2% of BYU students who are Latter-day Saints, nearly all (over 85%) come from outside of Utah. Many of these students come from foreign countries, attracted by the affordable tuition relative to the high quality of education, coupled with a traditional cultural atmosphere that may better match their background than what they would find in other American universities. Utah residents who are non-LDS nearly never attend BYU. They receive no tuition discount because they are not Church members, and they can go to in-state schools such as the University of Utah at a significantly lower cost, which also allows them to avoid the overwhemingly LDS culture present at BYU, a culture which they have, until college age, chosen not to join. A high proportion of non-LDS Utah residents to choose to attend BYU are people already interested in joining the Church and become converts while students there.
Are there non-Latter-day Saint students at BYU? Yes. About 2% of BYU students are non-LDS, although many of these (roughly 30 to 55%) eventually become LDS converts.
Are there winners of the Miss Utah pageant who have been non-LDS? We are not aware of any. Latter-day Saints do particularly well in Utah beauty pageants, and are even quite competitive in state pageants outside of Utah, with many state-wide winners in states with only small Latter-day Saint minorities, such as Rhode Island. Latter-day Saints have done well in national and international competition, with winners including Pornthip Nakhirankanok (Miss Universe, 1988) and Charlene Wells (Miss America, 1985).
Is it possible that Mallory Book is not a Latter-day Saint? Actually, no, it is not, not with any reasonable interpretation of the character. As a rule, all characters from Utah in popular literature are intended by the authors as Mormons, unless specifically identified otherwise. This has held true since the earliest days of inclusion of Mormons and Utahns in popular literature, dating back to original Sherlock Holmes story by Oliver Wendel Holmes, the writing of Mark Twain, Jules Verne (Around the World in 80 Days), Jack London (The Star Rover), Zane Grey, etc. In contemporary popular fiction, identifying a character as having come from Utah remains a sort of shorthand meant to indicate both that the character is a Mormon, and also that the character comes from a relatively conservative and traditional background. Even if Mallory Book was not a Utah resident who attended BYU and the winner of the Miss Utah pageant, merely the fact that she is a fictional character from Utah would indicate that she is a Mormon.
Given the clear intentions of writer Dan Slott with regards to the Mallory Book character, any suggestion that Ms. Book is not a Latter-day Saint makes no more sense than suggesting that Magneto is not Jewish.
Additional research databases and literary resources about Latter-day Saint characters in literature can be found at:
- Latter-day Saint Characters in Media
- Mainstream Science Fiction and Fantasy with Latter-day Saint (Mormon) Characters and References
From: message board discussion thread started 8 May 2006 on the "She-Hulk Message Board" section of the BoardHost website (http://members2.boardhost.com/SheHulk/msg/1147084801.html; viewed 22 May 2006):
Posted by Ravin' Ray on 5/8/2006, 6:40 am
OT: Mallory a Latter-Day Saint?
According to the site The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Characters, that's what she is. And the link to Marvel's own index states that she graduated from Brigham Young University in Utah. That definitive in itself?
Posted by Eddie Cunningham on 5/8/2006, 10:59 am
Speaking as the guy who WROTE Mallory's article...
My only reference was the memo about Mallory on the title page to She-Hulk #2 or #3. (Don't bother to thumb through your trades - it's only in the actual comics.) It just says she won the title of Ms. Utah and graduated from BYU. While there is a good chance she IS a Mormon, to assume she necessarily must be one is like saying a graduate of Georgetown or Notre Dame must be Catholic. Until Dan Slott chooses to elaborate on her background, I won't speculate.
The following writer presents a clear and concise explanation about why from a literary perspective, it is not reasonable to think of Mallory Book as a non-Latter-day Saint, regardless of whether the same can be assumed about a real person given the same clues. From: "Religious affiliations of comic characters" message board, started 29 January 2006 (http://p073.ezboard.com/fgothampmfrm37.showMessage?topicID=161.topic; viewed 22 May 2006):
1/30/06 9:55 am
Let's put it this way: there's an acting no-no called the limping waiter. This waiter has one or two lines at most, but he had this limp whenever he moves. The director brings this to his attention, and the waiter spouts off this whole story he's worked out, how his character had been a promising medical student who dropped out and was drafted, got wounded in the war, and now this is the only job he can get, and so on.
"Fine love, but you're pulling focus from THE PLAY," Director responds. "Everyone would go: 'Look at that Marge, something wrong with that guy on the end.'" He was fired, and I think we can all appreciate why.
Religion is fine and can be interesting if it fits: Renee Montoya is first generation Latino, that family is going to be Catholic, probably very Catholic. If [she's] NOT, then there has to be a reason for that. Otherwise it's this limping waiter... If you deviate from this - like the limping waiter - you need to explain why. 1 time in 10,000 that can be interesting. The rest of the time it's a limping waiter.
From: "Superheroes and Religion" forum discussion, started 17 May 2006 on HERO Games website (http://www.herogames.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-42820.html; viewed 12 July 2007):
Mar 19th, '06, 06:38 PM
OK, I have all the Dan Slott She-Hulk, and I can't for the life of me figure out where this guy got the info that makes Mallory Book a LDS [Latter-day Saint].
Mar 19th, '06, 07:21 PM
Probably never actually stated in the comics. Most likely assumed because she went to Brigham Young University. (BYU claims that approximately 99% of their student body is LDS.)
Mar 21st, '06, 04:18 PM
Sounds like a good reason for identification to me, but is that what the site said?
Webpage created 17 January 2006. Last modified 12 July 2007.
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