The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Character
of the Justice League
J'onn J'onnz, who is best known as "the Martian Manhunter," is a major long-standing super-hero in the DC Universe. The character was one of the founding members of the Justice League of America and has long remained a mainstay of the team.
Since his introduction, the Martian Manhunter has been portrayed as a devout adherent of the predominant religious faith of his native Mars. The Martian Manhunter is a prayerful and religiously observant follower of Martian religion, despite the fact that he is the last remaining member of his race, and the only known follower of his religion.
J'onn has an intense fear of fire that comes from the plague that his religious beliefs that all Martians have. Whenever J'onn is attacked by fire, he will lose control over his body, revert back to his natural Martian form, and become powerless. This is very different than a Kryptonian's weakness of Kryptonite. Kryptonians do not fear Kryptonite as Martians fear fire. The sight of fire makes J'onn uncomfortable because J'onn cannot break his fear of fire. He will never enter a fire, no matter what the cause.
Religious: J'onn is very close to his Martian religion. J'onn believes in God very much and prays on a daily basis. There is not a day that goes by that J'onn does not pray.
I just wanted to mention that the Martian goddess C'eridyall is not my creation! She's actually part of the Martian religion that is mentioned in the Martian Manhunter's comic book past, but is never mentioned in JL.
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
...for all we know, Superman has converted to some Kryptonian faith.
Speaking of aliens, J'onn J'onzz of the Justice League has mentioned at least two Martian gods, and the Thanagarian Hawkman and Hawkgirl/woman both believed in gods of Thanagar.
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):
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?
Batman is a confirmed atheist, Superman is Protestant (exact denomination unknown), Thor's [religion] is his own dad. Wonder Woman is Greek Mythology (easy to maintain faith when you can have lunch with your god/gods and they give you presents). Martian Manhunter is Barsoom Orthodox. Tony Stark's is Jack Daniels [i.e., "alcohol"].
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):
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!
Posted: Apr 25, 2006 5:29 AM
O.K... I guess I'm a fan of the Martian Manhunter... and to a certain extent he is infused with Martian religiousity... It defines him... but i have no problems with that... It gives him a unique perspective on human culture and nature... and it generates stories for the writers... I would like to see him and Zauriel combine together... an interdimensional angel and an alien philosopher...
From: "Religious Themes in Comics" forum discussion page, started 21 May 2003 on "Sketchy Origins" website (http://www.sketchyorigins.com/comics/archive/index.php?t-1380.html; viewed 12 May 2006):
05-29-2003, 07:14 AM
I was reading about Alex Ross in Wizard 141 last night and he said that he liked the DC characters so much because each one was like a "god" of his realm. Aquaman of the water, Batman of Gotham, Superman of Metropolis, J'Onn J'Onzz of Mars. Each one has the ultimate power in their given sphere of influence. So, he equated it to like the best of the best.
Well, I bring this up here not only because he mentions that they are gods, but also because it seems to me that they are often set up as saviors as well. Batman is to rid Gotham of crime. Superman protects humanity. Aquaman protects the oceans. J'Onn J'Onzz is the last of his kind from Mars and is supposed to save his civilization. These are all Christ-like attributes.
This doesn't just go for DC characters, but I only mention them because that's what Alex Ross talked about in the article. As I said earlier in this thread, I think that this "christian" influence on the character development and story creation could be more a reflection of that influence in our society and our popular mythos, more so than a direct allusion.
These are archetypes that we are looking at here. That's why we recognize similar traits among them.
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: Jon Ingersoll
Date: Wed, Oct 23 1996 12:00 am
re: "Just out of curiosity, is there any major character in the DC Universe definitely shown as being Jewish?"
For that matter, what characters have been portrayed as having any definite religion?
...Some others are, I would guess not followers of any religion found on our Earth. I'm thinking of any alien who came here after childhood like J'onn J'onzz, the pre-Crisis Hawkman, Starfire, etc. This also would apply to Aquaman depending on what his current continuity says about when he left Atlantis.
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)?
Date: Tues, Apr 6 1999 12:00 am
[Religious affliations of] Others...
Martian Manhunter worships a Martian religion of some sort (presumably)...
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):
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...
Martian Manhunter has been shown to venerate a set of Martian gods--the most prominent of which is H'ronmeer, the Martian god of, I think, death and fire. He also venerates his ancestors...
From: Brian Doyle
Date: Thurs, Apr 22 2004 3:23 pm
There's also a God of Dreams, IIRC, which is how he percieves Morpheus the Sandman (Morpheus was touched by his faith, and granted him a specific dream of a specific place, which J'onn seemed honoured by)
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):
posted 04-12-2007 02:22 PM
...The really interesting question to explore is what the various alien residents of Earth think about our religions. I'd think J'onn J'onzz must consider some of our beliefs incredibly irrational.
From: "Religion in the DCU?" forum discussion, started 25 October 2006 on "Comic Bloc" website (http://www.comicbloc.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-37480.html; viewed 20 July 2007):
October 25th, 2006, 11:41 AM
I think the DCU has the Campbellian ideal:
All Religions Are True.
After all, look at the JLA. We have a pagan Greek, an alien, an agnostic, an Native American Spiritualism follower, and that's all I can think of right now.
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):
Heatwave the Rogue
May 15th, 2005, 07:44 AM
...I would rather comic companies take a "don't ask, don't tell" policy about religion.
May 15th, 2005, 10:59 AM
I think don't ask don't tell is for the birds. I mean, no, I don't want some kind of sermon every time I pick up a comic, but if you were a writer trying to flesh out a character sooner or later you'd have to come up against his or her spiritual beliefs. They can make for great stories...
If you are going to write stories that are beyond mere kiddy stories about men in tights, religion will enter it at some point...
And really, if you think about it, many characters have religious or quasi-religious elements to them, its just that many readers choose to ignore it. Superman is a sort of Christ figure. Capt. Marvel and Black Adam's powers are based on ancient religions in Greece and Eygpt. Dr. Fate and most other mystical characters are rooted in pagan believes. Mantiou Raven loosely represents Native American faith. Wonder Woman, in fact, rests on the assumption that the Greek gods are real. There is Thor, taken right from Norse religion, and J'onn J'onz often prays to his alien gods. And Spectre is inspired by old school wrath of god stuff from the Old Testament...
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, 08:56 PM
re: Superman's religious beliefs
Not to mention, why would an alien believe in the same fables and religions of man? Especially religions that not too long ago refused to believe that there were other universes out there beside our own.
[EDITOR: This poster seems to be using something of a "straw man" argument. There is no evidence that Earth-based religions generally teach that there is no intelligent life aside from people on Earth.]
Do we expect the Martian Manhunter to be a Christian or Jew? It might make humans feel good, but it is altogether unrealistic.
May 28th, 2006, 09:09 PM
True enough as regards J'Onn J'Onzz. As for Superman, he was raised as a human by humans, and presumably learned whatever faith Jonathan and Martha Kent practiced. But learning that he was an alien from a distant planet may well have shaken that faith.
He still believes in the basic goodness of human/humanoid/sapient nature, though, despite all too many experiences to the contrary.
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):
December 13th, 2005, 10:18 PM
...D. Hospitality - Hate to use Superman again, but if the origin of the man of Steel - an alien child adopted by two strangers and raised as their own - doesn't bleed hospitality, I don't know what does. But, one would argue that the Martian Manhunter also shows these aspects...
Webpage created 8 May 2006. Last modified 6 August 2007.
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