The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Character
of Jack Kirby's New Gods and later the Justice League
Scott Free, more commonly known as "Mister Miracle," was one of the principle characters in Jack Kirby's New Gods and Fourth World comic book stories, published by DC Comics. After the monthly comic book series publishing these stories were cancelled, Kirby moved onto other projects. The characters were later incorporated into the mainstream DC universe, and Mister Miracle later became known as a superhero and a member of the Justice League.
Mister Miracle was actually a native of New Genesis, which was ruled benevolently by the Highfather. But New Genesis was at war with Darkseid, the despotic ruler of the planet Apokolips. The destructive war was stopped only after a diplomatic exchange, through which the Highfather's son (Scott Free) was sent to Apokolips to be raised by Darkseid, and Darkseid's son Orion was sent to New Genesis to be raised by the Highfather.
Mister Miracle, like all residents of Apokolips, was raised as part of a personality cult that venerates Darkseid as a god. Those who raised Scott Free (primarily Darkseid's sadistic loyal follower Granny Goodness) tried to bend the boy to Darkseid's will. Despite their efforts, however, Scott Free was born with a natural love of freedom, and as he grew older he asserted himself and exhibited a personality that was contrary to the ways of Darkseid and Apokolips.
Apokolips in many ways represents a prototypical tranformation of despotic national leadership into a national political party and national religion that all residents are forced to take part in. Despotic systems such as these are not uncommon in human history. Darkseid's rule of Apokolips has many parallels to Hitler's domination of Germany through the Nazi party, although many other national personality cults in Asia, Africa and European history are closer parallels. There are also parallels to the Soviet Union under Stalin and Lenin, where the Communist Party was in control, but the result was a darkly twisted version of Communism which departed from pure Marxism. Although officially atheistic and anti-religious, Soviet Communism adopted the major characteristics of traditional organized religions as it became a personality cult centered on national leaders. During the mid-20th Century, Maoism in China was likewise transformed into a personality cult centered on Chairman Mao. The contemporary Chinese government and Chinese Communist Party has repudiated many of the violent, irrational and repressive excesses of Maoism during that period. A contemporary country which closely parallels Darkseid's rule over Apokolips is North Korea, where Kim Jong Il is venerated through the nation's national religion of "Juche." Although officially an atheistic belief system and a native form of Communism, Juche is, in practice, a religion that actively worships the leader of North Korea as a god-like figure. (Kim Jong Il is the successor to his equally despotic and nationally venerated father, Kim Il-sung.) One thing that all of these despotic political systems have in common is that they were harshly antagonistic to both traditional organized religion as well as to the ideals of most contemporary non-Communist atheists and agnostics. On Apokolips (as in these examples from Earth history), deviation from the religion of Darkseid veneration was met with harsh punishments, including imprisonment, torture and death.
The religion of Darkseid himself was an atheistic religion, as Darkseid recognized no God, Supreme Being, deities, etc. (This contrasts somewhat with Darkseid's Marvel Universe counterpart Thanos, who clearly and openly worships Death.) Darkseid actively pronounced that there were no other gods aside from himself, or that all other gods were dead. Darkseid set himself up as a god to the people of Apokolips and he punished or destroyed any of his subjects who were caught worshipping or believing differently. Darkseid in no way thought of himself as being somehow an avatar of a Supreme Being or creator of the universe, or even a prophet who represented a divine being. Darkseid simply desired to rule everyone and rob everybody of free will, and setting himself up as a "god" over them was an expedient part of his program to accomplish his goals. Darkseid is well aware that his rule is not benevolent or beneficial, but he does not care.
As a young adult, Scott Free escaped from Darkseid and joined the New Gods of New Genesis in their opposition to his adoptive father. Although Scott Free was raised to believe in and bow to Darkseid, he has completely rejected that belief system. As "Mister Miracle," Scott Free is famous on Earth as the world's greatest escape artist. His ability to escape from any physical trap is analogous to his escape from the mental subjugation of Darkseid.
Scott Free may have been raised on Apokolips within the cult of personality that worshipped Darkseid, but he is completely lapsed from that twisted "religion." Scott Free now resides on Earth with his wife, Apokolips native "Big Barda." The exact nature of Scott Free's current religious beliefs and religious affiliation is not well known, but as far as we know he has never been shown to have converted to any Earth religion, despite his years living there. As far as is known, Mister Miracle has adopted and retains the religious beliefs and practices of other New Gods of New Genesis, despite the fact that he wasn't raised there.
From: "Darkseid" article on Wikipedia.com (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darkseid; viewed 17 April 2006):
Darkseid is the ruler of the planet Apokolips, a post he obtained after assassinating his mother. He is obsessed with finding the Anti-Life Equation in order to use it to rule the universe. This goal also includes conquering his rival planet, New Genesis, ruled by the Highfather, formerly Izaya the Inheritor. The resulting destructive war is stopped only with a diplomatic exchange of the Highfather's and Darkseid's infant sons. Darkseid's Orion is surrendered to the Highfather while Darkseid receives Scott Free, who will later become the master escape artist Mister Miracle...
Darkseid is a character whose personality can vaguely be described as evil incarnate. Darkseid is not merely content to control but to dominate those individuals under him into totally obedient and morally corrupt caricatures of individuals. Apokolips is a world that resembles Hell because of his need to be worshipped as a god and the need to nurture the most horrible aspects of the human spirit. On Apokolips, his subjects are raised in a personality cult, to venerate him, to sacrifice themselves gladly in his name...
Darkseid's great ambition is to wipe out free will from the universe and reshape it in his own image. To this end, he seeks to unravel the mysterious 'Anti-Life Equation', which will allow him to control completely the thoughts and emotions of living beings. The Anti-Life Equation has often been portrayed as a quasi-mystical power that forces a listener to agree with whatever the wielder says. Other times, it is portrayed as a comprehensive scientific theory on how to dominate any living mind, whatever its nature may be...
Orion possesses significant fragments of the Anti-Life Equation, while Scott Free (Better known as Mister Miracle) is the only being in existence who knows the entire code.
From: "Mister Miracle" page on Wikipedia.com (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mister_Miracle; viewed 17 April 2006):
Scott Free is the most famous Mister Miracle but is actually the second character to hold that name in DC Comics; in Kirby's "New Gods" system, he is the God of Escaping, and can escape from anything. He is based on comic book writer-illustrator Jim Steranko, who had performed as an escape artist in his youth.
Originally, the boy Scott Free was the son of Highfather, the ruler of New Genesis. However, as part of a diplomatic move to stop a destructive war against the planet Apokolips, Highfather agreed to an exchange of children with his enemy Darkseid. In doing so, he surrendered Scott Free to the care of his enemy while he received his enemy's son, Orion.
For years, Scott Free grew up in the care of Granny Goodness, a sadistic minion of Darkseid who oversaw the training of Darkseid's force with inhuman intensity. As he matured, Scott learned that he had a natural talent for escaping and overcoming seemingly impossible traps. His talent and his love for freedom were furthered by Himon, a natural troublemaker and the one god whom Darkseid's forces weren't able to capture. Scott refused to be hardened by the planet's cruel abuse and kept his innocence and hope in the midst of such darkness. He fell in love with Big Barda, a warrior who was leader of an elite squad of woman warriors known as the Female Furies; she in turn was won over by his innocence and goodness, and later married him.
Eventually, Scott Free escaped and fled to Earth. Once there, he became the protege of a circus escape artist, Thaddeus Brown - the original Mister Miracle - who was impressed with Scott's skills (especially as supplemented with various advanced devices he had taken from his previous home). He also befriended Brown's assistant, a dwarf named Oberon. When Thaddeus Brown was murdered, Scott Free took on the identity of Mister Miracle. Barda later followed Scott, and the two used their powers, equipment, and skills in the war against Darkseid, who was still interested in recapturing both of them.
Scott Free later became a member of the Giffen-era JLA (as did Barda and Oberon) and remains a member of Earth's heroic fraternity.
From: reader comments accompanying "Holy Superheroes" article, written by Steven Waldman and Michael Kress, posted 12 June 2006 on BeliefNet.com website; reprint of "Beliefwatch: Good Fight" article published in Newsweek, 19 June 2006 issue (http://www.beliefnet.com/story/193/story_19306_1.html; viewed 14 June 2006):
6/15/2006 11:25:06 AM
I agree, this is a great topic. Jestrfyl, thank you for mentioning Testament, which is a wonderful comic. I would also mention Promethea (paganism), Sandman (its own particular mythology, but it has lots of parallels to other religions), Kirby's New Gods (ditto) and even Hellblazer.
I'm impressed that comics have been so daring in this subject...
From: "Superheroes and religion", posted 14 June 2006 on "On Christopher Street" blog website (http://somacandra.livejournal.com/410090.html; viewed 16 June 2006):
Date: June 16th, 2006 11:44 pm (UTC)
The reason The Thing is Jewish is as a tribute to his co-creator, Jack Kirby (nee Jacob Kurtzman). In 1970, Jack created his "Fourth World" stories for DC Comics, which introduced the New Gods - whose origin is very Jewish (the leader of the New Gods is Highfather, whose real name is Isiah).
I find this an interesting topic because most of the original creators in comics were Jewish...
From: Doug Tonks, "A Higher Power", posted 22 October 2006 on "All New! All Different! Howling Curmudgeons: Two-Fisted Comics Commentary and Criticism!" blog website (http://www.whiterose.org/howlingcurmudgeons/archives/009995.html; viewed 25 April 2007):
The never-identified but usually heeded "they" claim that there are two topics you should never talk about: religion and politics. But since Mike already brought up religion... I'll follow it up with a link to this page [link to: http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/comic_book_religion.html], which lists the religious affiliations of various comic book characters. Many of the religious identifications are backed up with lengthy supporting arguments, but some of the more minor characters get little or nothing in the way of explanation.
Some of them are not too surprising... Others are obvious...
But this being comic books, it's not too long until things start getting a bit less clear... Darkseid is unfortunately not listed, but both Mister Miracle and Big Barda are listed as "Apokolipsian Darkseid worship (lapsed)."...
Posted by Doug at October 22, 2006 7:12 PM
From: "The religion of comic book characters" forum discussion, started 3 December 2006 on RPG.net website (http://forum.rpg.net/showthread.php?s=9326f642dca06ede764bcd691814750c&t=299781; viewed 25 April 2007):
12-03-2006, 09:47 PM
Re: The religion of comic book characters
My favorite is how they listed both Mr. Miracle and Big Barda as "Apokolipsian Darkseid worship(lapsed)."
Lapsed is putting it pretty mildly, methinks.
From: "Religions of super heroes" forum discussion page started 14 August 2006 on "Wizard Universe" website (http://wizarduniverse.invisionzone.com/lofiversion/index.php/t1595.html; viewed 25 April 2007):
Aug 15 2006, 04:32 PM
I like how they put Big Barda, and Miracle Man as having lapsed in Apokolipsian Darkseid worship.
David Thompson, "Secret Knowledge, Revealed", posted 1 March 2007 on "David Thompson: Culture, Ideas and Comic Books" blog website (http://davidthompson.typepad.com/davidthompson/comic_books/index.html; viewed 15 May 2007):
...Naturally, the database also includes extraterrestrial belief systems (e.g. Kryptonian metaphysics and Apokolipsian Darkseid Worship)...
[User comments posted on this page]
Posted by: Matt M | March 01, 2007 at 11:49
I rather like the fact that 'real' religions sit alongside some equally detailed fictional ones. And I had to read the comparison of Communism with Apokolipsian Darkseid Worship...
Webpage created 17 April 2006. Last modified 15 May 2007.
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