The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Character
Nightwing is the current code name used by the non-super-powered "super-hero" Dick Grayson. He was previously well known as Robin, the "Boy Wonder" who was for many years the sidekick for Batman, one of comicdom's most important and popular characters. Since striking out on his own, Grayson began a long career as a member and frequently the leader of the popular superhero team known as the "Titans" or "Teen Titans."
Dick Grayson was born to Gypsy (i.e., Roma or Romany) parents who were travelling circus performers. By some accounts, only one of Grayson's parents was Roma. Roma/Gypsies have their own distinct ethnic/religious culture, but little is known about to what degree young Dick Grayson was brought up with Roma ways. Roma/Gypsies traditionally absorb and incorporate the predominant culture and religion of whatever culture they find themselves in, and use that as an overlay of their own ancient religious culture. It can often be difficult to distinguish between the old and the new systems. While it is true that Gypsy/Roma culture appears to have minimal historical ties to Hinduism, and some Hindu-seeming elements continue to exist within modern Gypsy/Roma culture, these ties have usually over-emphasized by outsider commentators and writers. It is inaccurate to characterize Gypsy/Roma religion as a subset of Hinduism, and it would certainly be inaccurate to suggest that Nightwing is in some way Hindu or even that his religious beliefs or upbringing are Hindu-influenced.
Clearly the major culture of Grayson's early years was circus culture, and this has been portrayed throughout the history of the character as having had more influence on him than Roma/Gypsy culture and beliefs.
Of course, the major fact of Dick Grayson's history was that his trapeeze artist parents died when he was a child, and he was subsequently taken in by Bruce Wayne, who raised him as his ward. Batman's tutelage probably remains the single biggest influence on Grayson's persona. Dick Grayson never became the overwhelmingly dark and brooding type of person that Batman is. Various writers and commentators have speculated about why Dick Grayson's personality is so different from that of his mentor. Some speculate that Grayson's active acceptance of Christian religion has caused him to be more positive than Batman, who has largely lapsed from his Christian background and has generally been agnostic-leaning - and certainly non-devout - as an adult.
Nightwing comics have shown both Catholic and Evangelical Protestant books, music, etc. in his quarters.
Grayson has in recent years become widely regarded by comic as a practicing, professed Christian. Key writers and artists of the Nightwing comic book series have said in interviews that Dick Grayson is a Christian. Yet Dick Grayson's specific denominational affiliation and the degree of his religious devotion are subjects that remain unclear.
A matter of continuing debate is the degree to which Nightwing has actually been portrayed as a practicing, professed Christian, or if his being regarded as such is more a matter of widespread opinion rather than textual support.
Religious affiliation remains something of a taboo in mainstream comic books, and this is certainly the case with major, long-established characters such as Dick Grayson. There remains considerable disagreement about the degree to which Christianity is important to Dick Grayson, and even whether or not should really be regarded as a practicing Christian. Grayson was long shown to be living with and sleeping with his girlfriend and fellow Teen Titan, Starfire, despite the fact they were not married, seemingly without concern about the appropriateness of doing so. Dick Grayson has not been portrayed as an actively religious person participating in activities such as praying, attending confession, attending church, or professing faith to other people, as has been seen in characters such as Wonder Woman, Atom Smasher, Nightcrawler, Daredevil, and Wolfsbane. Grayson's dialogue even lacks the frequent prayers and invocations of deity exhibited by overtly religious characters such as Martian Manhunter, Hawkman, and even Starfire herself, who rarely made it through an issue without calling on the goddess X'Hal. Some people have speculated that the Christian books and music CDs shown in his home represent merely an "in-joke" by the illustrator. Possibly if Nightwing is an active Christian, he is the most "cryptic" of the DC Universe's crypto-Christians, which hardly seems like the mark of an Evangelical (the brand of Christianity that many fans have speculated he is).
This designation of Dick Grayson as a practicing Christian has less textual support than the religious affiliation of many other major superheroes. Nevertheless, the notion that Nightwing is currently a professed Christian undeniably has widespread acceptance.
Chuck Dixon is a popular and influential comic book writer who has written many of the DC Comics' stories about Batman and other Gotham-basesd characters, including Nightwing. Dixon, who for a long time wrote the Nightwing monthly series, said that one thing that distinguished Nightwing from Batman is the way that Nightwing found solace in religion, and that the basis of his belief is Christianity. On a page posted on his official website, Dixon has reproduced a somewhat lengthy question about Christianity in comics, along with his response to it. From Chuck Dixon, "Christianity in Comics" page on DixonVerse.net website (http://www.dixonverse.net/NEWSITE/ARTICLES/christ.html; viewed 5 May 2007):
To paraphrase George Foreman, "I think Christ and comics are a GREAT combination." I've always been disturbed by the portrayal of religious figures in comics. They're usually portrayed just this side of Dr Doom. I was guilty of it a few times in my own career (at least one time, anyway). But I think I've made it right over the past few years with postive religious figures in the comics. I don't go too heavy with it 'cause these characters aren't mine. But a belief in God is certainly evident with many of the folks I write and religion is a part of their world as well as a consistant morality. It's a "dirty little secret" that many folks in comics are devoutly religious. Some of the most devoted people I've met have been in this field. Wrong or right, when I was a kid Batman and Tarzan were role models for me along with Jesus. I don't see any reason why I can't include Him in my work.
Scott McDaniel and I have discussed doing a comic book with a Christian theme. He has some wild ideas for a book that would entertain even those who didn't heed the call.
I think each creator sees the characters in their own lights. Scott McDaniel and I agree that Dick Grayson finds solace in religion. He's never been the cynical brooder that Bruce Wayne can be at times. Even though both went through the same childhood trauma Dick sought answers outside of himself. I think that's the basis of his belief in Christianity.
Graham Nolan and I had an ongoing argument about whether Bruce was raised Catholic or Protestant. I recently conceded to Graham than he must be Catholic. No Protestant ever suffered guilt the way Bruce does.
I find it peculiar that the idea of comic book heroes being Christians is "controversial". How many of our heroes are Buddhists or Druids or some other world religion and never raise an eyebrow? Maybe Christianity is too close to home and we want our heroes to have a more exotic belief system?
When I wrote Moon Knight over at Marvel I wanted to explore the fact that Marc Spector was Jewish. I was uncomfortable with the fact that a Jew wielded a power born of Egyptian myth. I wanted to deal with this in a storyline. My editor told me to ignore that aspect of his personality. And I was told this by an editor who is a Jew. Is there something in the mind of comics fandom and professionals that finds religion repugnant? Or are they simply avoiding the familiar?
From: Shannon Donahoo, "Are there Catholic superheroes?" page on Catholic Youth Ministry of the Archdiocese of Melbourne website (http://www.cymmelb.org/resources/faq/fqother002.shtml; viewed 15 June 2006):
...Did you know that Daredevil was Catholic? ...Are there any other Catholic superheroes?
And how about this guy? He's now called Nightwing, but until 1985 or so he was known as Robin! That's right, Batman's sidekick. While Nightwing/Robin/Dick Grayson has never been identified as a Catholic, former Nightwing artist - and Christian - Scott McDaniel, was quite open that he viewed Nightwing as a Christian. In a few issues, Nightwing was seen to have cds by D.C. Talk and Jars of Clay - Christian bands.
A spokesman from DC Comics (publishers of Nightwing) told a comics magazine that it made sense for a superhero to have a strong moral fibre - and it also made sense for a superhero to have religious convictions...
While this may seem funny at first, it shouldn't be too surprising. After all, Heaven is filled with real superheroes, who were once just like you and me: Every saint is a superhero. And just like how Batman responds to the Bat-Signal, the saints respond to our prayers.
Unlike Batman and the other comic book heroes, the saints are real - and they can give real help. So if you ever find yourself in a difficult situation, do not be afraid to call on the superheroes of heaven to help you!
QUESTION: Given the dark nature of the characters and settings you work with, do you ever find yourself in a situation where you are asked to draw something ( a situation or violent act) that makes you uncomfortable? If so, how do you deal with that?
Yes, I put my faith and trust in God. I love comics for the action/adventure, good v. evil tales... I understand that the world is filled with dark things, and as such they are fair game for the storytellers among us. But, I believe the dark has to be put in its proper context. And I believe that we should all strive for a higher standard, as exemplified by Christ.
From: Andrew A. Smith (Scripps Howard News Service), "Comics superheroes of many faiths", published 3 February 2000 in The Houston Chronicle (http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/religion/446482.html; viewed 30 November 2005):
Dick Grayson, the former Robin now called Nightwing, is a professed Christian of indeterminate denomination.
From: Jeffrey Weiss, "Comic-book heroes seldom reveal their faith: Recent revelation of the Thing's religion was a rare moment for pop culture", published in Dallas Morning News, 24 August 2002 (http://www.bluecorncomics.com/thingjew.htm; viewed 21 December 2005):
Over the years, the writers told readers all kinds of things about the habits and foibles of the characters. We knew about their taste in clothing, their troubles with relationships, their sense of humor. But we rarely discovered whether they followed any particular religion.
That seems odd in one way. Back in the dawn of the modern comic book, more than 90 percent of Americans self-identified with a particular religion, mostly some kind of Christianity. Why wouldn't reality-linked superheroes have a particular religion?
Explicitly Religious Comics Characters [list of 20 characters features 8 characters under the "Christian" subheading, including:]
Nightwing, Dick Grayson (the original Robin), has dc Talk CDs and a New International Version Bible in his apartment.
From: Savant11, user review posted 21 March 2004 on order page for Nightwing & Huntress trade paperback on Amazon.com website (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/140120127X/104-6197134-3253555?v=glance&n=283155; viewed 9 June 2006):
Nightwing & Huntress paperback
by Devin Grayson
DC Comics (January 1, 2004)
It Should Never Have Happened, March 21, 2004
Reviewer: Savant11 (Canada)
This story involves Nightwing (the former Robin) and Huntress getting together to solve a crime. During the process of the investigation they have a one-night stand.
I really disliked this story immensely primarily because both Nightwing and Huntress are written WAY out of character and do things that neither character would do...
Dick "Nightwing" Grayson is an old fashioned gentleman. He is not the type of guy who indulges in one-night stands. Especially with a woman he barely knows and whom he really doesn't like. He is a capable leader and is not easily manipulated, he would have seen right up front that Huntress had no genuine interest in him and would have not touched her.
Since this story was written three successive authors at DC comics have tried to 'clean' up the events in this book. By having both characters refer to what happened as a "mistake."
I totally agree. It was a "mistake" that this story ever saw the light of day. As it did a disservice to two great characters.
From: "Christian comic book characters" forum discussion, started 27 December 2003 on "Christian Guitar Resources" website (http://www.christianguitar.org/forums/archive/index.php/t-67487.html; viewed 12 July 2007):
12-27-2003, 06:02 PM
Where have you seen Christianity professed by comic characters?
In DC Comics, Dick Grayson, the original Robin and currently Nightwing, is a professed Christian. They once showed his cd collection which included dc Talk.
The writers Chuck Dixon and Scott McDaniel, both professed Christians, also showed an NIV on his shelf.
As Michael Hutchison of Fanzing wrote, "Chuck has written that he wanted to do it not because he wants to proselytize or make all his characters his religion, but he wanted to explore what it was about Dick Grayson that made him not turn out dark and obsessed like Batman."
Over in Marvel, Kurt Wagner, the X-Men member Nightcrawler, is a Catholic and once studied for the priesthood. If you pick up the Holy War trade paperback he quotes a great deal of Scripture.
01-10-2004, 02:13 AM
NIV? Pah! Christian my foot...
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?
I think Nightwing is [Catholic] as well. (Although Batman, most assuredly, isn't.)
According to Nightwing artist Scott McDaniel, Nightwing is Christian, but not Catholic.
Actually, if you read The Chalice, Batman AND Ra's Al Ghul seem to believe that Jesus had some sort of claim to deity, so I think Batman is a believer in Christ to a certain degree. Nightwing definitely is...
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.
Not that I want to see "The Teen Titans" become "The Christian Crusaders, with their Happy Hindu friend and wacky Orthodox Jew sidekick", but seems unrealistic that there would be none...
From: Brian Doyle
Date: Thurs, Apr 22 2004 12:36 pm
The Titans discuss their faith in the first Brother Blood arc. IIRC Dick [i.e., Dick Grayson, a.k.a. Nightwing] states he believes but doesn't attend a church, and Wally [i.e., Wally West, a.k.a. Kid Flash, later known as The Flash] is in much the same situation, but is less certain.
From: "Religion in the Batman comics" thread began 7 June 2001 in alt.comics.batman newsgroup (http://groups.google.com/group/alt.comics.batman/browse_thread/thread/93368626bdebcd58/4b93b3a1e10210c6; viewed 12 June 2006):
Date: Thurs, Jun 7 2001 6:48 pm
We all know Catwoman/Selina Kyle is Catholic (and a bad one at that). The Huntress is probably Catholic too... Any other characters have religious convictions?
From: Brian Doyle
Date: Fri, Jun 8 2001 3:05 am
...Years ago Dick had a discussion with Wally West about religion in which he stated that he believes in God but doesn't attend church regularly. No demonination was mentioned.
From: "Religious Inclinations of heroes" message board, started 1 March 2005 on StarDestroyer.net website (http://bbs.stardestroyer.net/viewtopic.php?t=63632; viewed 8 June 2006):
Posted: Wed Mar 02, 2005 2:45 am
Dick Grayson is a Christan. Wasn't anything that played into any storylines but he had a Bible and a few other things in his apartment. Chuck Dixion was asked about it in an interview once.
Posted: Sun Mar 20, 2005 12:01 am
...Nightwing has DC Talk CDs and an NIV Bible in his room; circumstantial but significant evidence that he may be Christian...
The question of whether Nightwing is a Christian is dicussed at length on a message board/forum page titled "Nightwing, Christian?", started 3 March 2004 on the "Comic Book Resources" website (http://forums.comicbookresources.com/archive/index.php/t-45948.html; viewed 7 January 2006). Excerpts from this discussion are below:
03-03-2005, 12:25 PM
I remember back in the early issues of Nightwing, there'd be occasional art refrences to Dick [i.e., Dick Grayson, a.k.a. "Nightwing," previously "Robin"] being a Christian. (He had a NIV Bible [New International Version], and some Christian CDs). Nothing was made of it then. I haven't read Nightwing regularly since like, 1999, and am wondering if anything was ever made of this, or does it continue in the background at all, or is Dick Jewish now, or whatever.
03-03-2005, 02:02 PM
I haven't noticed anything lately, no. Though I did notice those things you were referring to.
03-03-2005, 06:55 PM
McDaniel [i.e., Scott McDaniel, a long-time artist of the Nightwing comic book series] is a Christian, I saw it on his web site. I assumed that was simply stuff that he inserted into the book himself. As a . . . what do you call it? Easter egg? In-joke? But it had no bearing on the character. I've heard some Nightwing fans say they've seen him mention in some past Bat books that he [Batman] prays. But I don't know anything beyond that. Dixon is a Christian but I've never seen him make Nightwing in any way religious. [i.e., Chuck Dixon, who was the writer of the Nightwing series and a major Batman writer as well.] But from issues of the JLA [Justice League of America] that I've read Batman is an atheist.
03-03-2005, 07:56 PM
Mia's right. Although he [Nightwing] may or may not be Christian (I don't think it's been spelled out anywhere), the two creators most closely associated with the character are. So, although Dick's faith is never specified, I think Scott has inserted a couple "in-jokes" for himself and Christian readers. Check out his website for more artwork dedicated to his faith.
03-03-2005, 10:19 PM
Dixon and McDaniel (both Christians, as already mentioned) definitely considered Dick to be one as well. I believe Dixon once stated he saw Batman not as an atheist, but as a lapsed Catholic (hence all the pent-up guilt).
The Lucky One
03-03-2005, 10:42 PM
Seems like Bats would have to be pretty stupid to be an atheist. In a world where your close, personal friends have actually been to Heaven and chatted with the Big Guy Himself [i.e., God], I feel like a bit of the doubt should maybe be taken out of the equation.
03-04-2005, 04:53 AM
Don't forget personally knowing demons.
03-04-2005, 05:45 AM
You know, it would be interesting to see a DC character written as a Christian. Whether that's Nightwing or someone else, it would make for some interesting stories.
03-04-2005, 05:51 AM
You're right, PA. Especially since 80-90% of Americans profess to be Christians [the actual current figure is 75-80%]. The hero's struggles would strike a familiar chord with people. Everyone makes decisions based on their worldview, so many readers would understand the tough decisions being made.
03-04-2005, 09:58 AM
...since I'm assuming that since the characters in the DCU [DC Universe] are supposed to come from varied backgrounds, life experiences etc. I don't see why they wouldn't have individual different experiences with religious faiths, including a Christian one.
03-04-2005, 09:58 AM
[QUOTE] Seems like Bats would have to be pretty stupid to be an atheist. In a world where your close, personal friends have actually been to heaven and chatted with the Big Guy Himself, I feel like a bit of the doubt should maybe be taken out of the equation.
Why? How can you believe in God if your most trusted partner beat up an archangel. It's hard to believe in a god you've met. There's also a big difference over believing that there's some big cosmic entity in some alternate dimension (where some people's souls go after death) which some people like to think of as "The God" and having faith in your Lord Savior. How many Cosmic Gawd Wannabes has Bats and his JLA buddies seen over the years? Near omnipotent imps from the 5th dimension? What makes "God" any different from them? Doesn't mean Batman doesn't believe Jehovah and his Nine Choirs of Angels exist. He just doesn't see any reason why they should be worshipped/trusted.
As for Dick [Nightwing] being Christian, I kinda think it rather fits the character, as long as he's not playing the Crisis-of-Faith card. Not his style.
03-04-2005, 10:29 AM
RE: Dick's faith: Scott and Chuck have their own perception, but doesn't EVERYONE have their own perception? Unless it's strictly spelled out, the Christianity thing is just speculation. I wouldn't mind a Christian character in comics, but I wouldn't want them to drastically alter Dick just to draw in Christian readers. That seems like pandering.
03-04-2005, 10:42 AM
Personally I never saw it, I mean apart from the Christian paraphanalia lying around his appartment. But I just thought that it was an in gag by McDaniel.
03-04-2005, 11:30 AM
What Christian stuff was hanging around Dick's apartment? Can you elaborate?
03-13-2005, 07:27 PM
Dixon portrays Nightwing as a Christian, yet he doesn't hesitate to have Dick cheat on Kory, the woman he loved when he first became Nightwing, during the Year One story.
03-13-2005, 10:27 PM
I saw nothing in Dixon's run on the book that proves one way or the other that Dick is a Christian. I saw a NIV Bible in his apartment in one of the issues. But that in and of itself means nothing. I have a copy of the Koran and the Book of Mormon and I'm neither Muslim or Mormon [i.e., a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints].
03-14-2005, 12:50 PM
Okay I will.
I'm going to say that Nightwing isn't a Christian, and has not commited to living the Christian way of life. But he does believe in God. And once in a while has a good long chat with the Creator to tell Him how he's doing and ask for strength and the endurance to fight the good fight. How about that?
03-14-2005, 05:41 PM
As for Nightwing, I can't see him being devout anything since it hasn't been mentioned yet. He might be Christian in the same sense I am, i.e., my parents nominally are Christian so if I have to identify myself with any moral and belief system that'd be it. But not devout like I see Huntress or other obviously religiously inclined figures.
I mean, if he was really devout, especially Evangelically devout, wouldn't it have come up at some point?
03-14-2005, 06:14 PM
Harking back to the original question, I have some evidence that I don't think anyone else in this thread has mentioned yet. Even before Nightwing finally got his own monthly series, he had "kinda-sorta" gotten married in New Titans #100, written by Marv Wolfman. In that one, he and Koriand'r were finally resolved to tie the knot and make it legal. First they went down to City Hall and got a marriage license; then they had a big wedding ceremony. I think they had it on Garfield Logan's Long Island estate, but I've been wrong before - the point is that they had some sort of preacher performing the ceremony. He had just gotten to the part about "I now pronounce you-" when he died. Raven was currently in one of her "Look at me, I'm such a Bad Girl!" phases and was crashing the party. She started out by disintegrating the preacher.
Now, it seems highly unlikely that Kori, coming from Tamaran, had been the one who demanded having a Christian clergyman (probably some sort of Protestant denomination, at a guess) at the wedding. So I'd hazard a guess that Dick wanted it that way.
Later on, Dick got kinda-sorta married all over again in a Nightwing Annual written by Devin Grayson, this time at Wayne Manor, and I think he had a preacher present that time too, but it's been years since I re-read that story and I could be wrong. (I was writing a scathing critique of it and needed to double-check my source material. Since then I've have no need to expose myself to it again. The whole marriage thing was a hoax for purposes of an investigation of the woman who thought she was marrying. By the end of the story, Dick was basically saying, "Oh, so you're not a serial killer after all, honey? Gosh, I could have sworn you were! That's why I trashed some of the paperwork so that we were never REALLY legally married! I feel so ashamed of myself for treating you this way!" Yes, the plot was awful.)
Anyway, I would say that while I don't know exactly what branch or branches of Christianity Dick was raised in, it appears that twice, when he kinda-sorta got married, he had enough religious feeling in him to feel it would be preferable to have a clergyman perform the ceremony. The first time around, he really meant to get married, and some have said that legally speaking he DID get married, except that Marv Wolfman later panicked and retconned it to say that no, he hadn't quite gotten married after all no matter what the state laws in New York may say!
Of course, then you can turn around and argue that the second time, in the Devin Grayson story, he swore "solemn oaths" as the clergyman asked them questions about the moral commitment they were both making, and Dick was lying through his teeth if he said that yes, he intended to honor and cherish her as his wife or however it goes, till death do us part. Hmm, certainly has a very easygoing attitude toward the importance of personal oaths made of your own free will in a solemn religious ceremony, doesn't he? As if he weren't really religious at all, but just going through a charade that some people might take seriously?
I hope all that helped. (Helped confuse the issue maybe, but "helped" in one way or another?) :)
03-14-2005, 07:13 PM
It could aslo mean that Dick is just plain old fashioned and romantic. After all getting married by a minister or a priest in a church is a heck of a lot more poignant for some than getting married by a Justice of the Peace or a Judge at city hall. Plenty of people opt for church weddings and are not Christian/religious. They just want the old fashioned ceremony.
03-14-2005, 07:42 PM
I tend to agree with you that DC and Marvel are best off not playing favorites too much when it comes to having most of their best-known characters specifically adhere to, or specifically attack, any given popular brand of religion that exists in the real world. I think it's very pragmatic of DC and Marvel to have an occasional Jew or Catholic or whatever, but generally keep the specific religious beliefs of their high-profile superheroes in the background. So that readers can fill in the gaps using their own imaginations to get what they want, or else just skip the whole subject without worrying about it. As a general rule, I don't read superhero comic books in the hope of seeing rousing, controversial, detailed theological arguments between the characters.
From: "Super Hero Religious Preferences" discussion board, started 10 March 2006 (http://forums.comicbookresources.com/archive/index.php/t-113612.html; viewed 24 April 2006):
03-10-2006, 06:27 PM
Now Nightwing I also find of interest. He's Romany, but many writers say that he's Christian. Now I know in that area people are usually with the Orthodox Church or the Eastern Catholic Church. My dad went to one Eastern Catholic Church somewhere - I belive in Eastern Europe - or knew someone who did and said their Church looked very much in the same Byzantine and their priests could marry. The main difference is they swear aligence to the Pope and the Roman Church has allowed them to keep the right for priests to be married.
Anyway, I know Nightwing has never been shown to belong to a particular church, but I personally have always thought there's at least a slim possiblity he's Eastern Othodox Christian. I know there have been a couple stories where he goes to his homeland, I forget if there was a specific country named or not. I belive it was in the mini-series before his series.
Of course I'm sure many Romany still have many pagan beliefs, but I think many Christian groups do. Some more than others of course. I know Doom and his mother were into witchcraft.
03-11-2006, 01:59 AM
Now I find it odd that Nightwing is listed under Roma, while Nightcrawler isn't. Both were raised by Roma and have been confirmed as Christians later in their life.
From: "Religion in comic books" discussion forum started on 24 April 2006, on DC Comics official message board website (http://dcboards.warnerbros.com/web/thread.jspa?threadID=2000072787; viewed 1 May 2006):
Posted: Apr 24, 2006 10:31 PM
Does anyone know if there are any DC Comics characters who are portrayed as being Christian or Catholic in religion?
Posted: Apr 24, 2006 10:50 PM
Isn't Nightwing Christian? Huntress used to be Catholic. Spectre was non-denominational...
Posted: Apr 27, 2006 4:41 AM
In an early issue of Nightwing a Bible was shown in Dick's apartment.
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; 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 21, 2006 12:44 PM
I suspect Nightwing is into Zen
From: comments about "Reeding Into Things #22: Comics Q & A", posted 26 February 2004 (http://www.comixfan.com/xfan/forums/archive/index.php/t-26014.html; viewed 12 May 2006):
[Comment posted by:] Scots Fan
Feb 27, 2004, 04:01 am
As a person of the Catholic faith I would say that a number of characters show parts that are Catholic for example Matt Murdock, Peter Parker, Scott Summers, Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson all to me would seem to be Catholic or at least have some of the underlining principles of Catholism.
From: "Is Dick the closest thing to a Superman/Batman 'disciple'?" forum discussion page started 22 April 2006 on official DC Comics website (http://dcboards.warnerbros.com/web/thread.jspa?threadID=2000072558; viewed 12 May 2006):
Posted: Apr 22, 2006 4:02 PM
Is Dick the closest thing to a Superman/Batman "disciple"?
I was thinking, Dick Grayson is supposed to be the Batman's "first student" or something, but he sure has some of Superman's personality as well, especially the fact that he is always around to lead people through example. Recently in his book he was even called a Boy Scout. If I remember correctly, the name Nightwing was also suggested by Clark.
Well, I may be really wrong on this so I was looking forward to you guys giving your opinions. Thank you.
Posted: Apr 22, 2006 4:11 PM
Great question! Personally I would have to say that Dick is his own man and I think that Dick is Batman's disciple in terms of fighting and martial arts. But given the fact that Dick is a natural athlete, I am sure that he's honed his own skills along the way. However I think that when it comes to personality and ethics. Dick wants to be the least like Batman (ie. manipulative, self-centered, arrogant) as he possibly can.
Someone awhile back said that (Dixon's) Nightwing was the most moral DC character next to Superman. I have to disagree. Superman' moral standards strike me more as being self-righteous and holier than thou. It's as if he's good in order to lord it over others. Whereas Dick is good/moral because that's who it is.
Seeing that it looks as if TPTB at DC are starting to push Dick's age up as to when he came to live with Bruce. I would say that Dick got his moral center from his Mom and Dad.
Posted: Apr 22, 2006 6:23 PM
I definitely think that Nightwing represents the best of both the Superman world and the Batman world, drawing from both of his strongest influences to create something unique.
Because Dick grew up learning at the feet of Batman and Superman, something no other character had the opportunity to do, he has the ability to see both sides of the crime fighting coin and take what works from Bruce's world (the deductive skills and the fighting techniques and the best from Clark's world, mainly the ability to be a good man with an optimistic outlook who leads by example.
At least, that's how it is in theory. That's certainly how Wolfman portrayed it, even Chuck, who's work I often don't like, got that part of his personality right.
Posted: Apr 24, 2006 6:44 AM
First of all, Superman is not holier-than-thou. If he makes a mistake, than he's first to admit it. [provides examples]
As for Nightwing, its a known fact that he draws both Batman and Superman as inspirations. While he's a Batman protigee, he's always looked up to Superman and has nothing but respect for the guy. Whereas Bruce was weary of Clark, Dick absolutley loved the guy and with good reason. Not to mention, he got the name, 'Nightwing' from Superman. So, I think that while Dick is his own person, he's been inspired by both characters and still highly respects both Batman and Superman, which is something both have rightfully earned.
Posted: Apr 24, 2006 10:25 PM
Since you mentioned morality, I'm not sure, but hasn't Dick Grayson been portrayed as being a Christian or having a belief in God?
I was absent from comics for about a decade, so I ask those of you that seem to know your comic book facts.
Posted: Apr 25, 2006 9:42 AM
I think that during some point of his books, some Protestant music CDs were shown inside his apartment, or something like that.
Posted: Apr 25, 2006 10:07 AM
Dick is clearly a Buddhist. [This statement is followed by a winking and smiling emoticon/smiley face icon, suggesting that the poster does not meant his statement to be taken seriously.]
Posted: Apr 25, 2006 12:43 PM
re: "Dick is clearly a Buddhist."
I seriously doubt it, but then I can't say for sure.
But you see, Connor [i.e., Connor Hawke, a.k.a. "Green Arrow II"] is a Buddhist right? And he is nothing like Dick, as far as I know.
Posted: Apr 25, 2006 5:41 PM
I'm joking. Dick is clearly an...
Posted: Apr 25, 2006 7:48 PM
On another thread in the general topic forum, someone said something about Dick being raised a Christian or something but he lapsed after his family died. Same thing with Bruce.
Go to the other thread about religion in comics and take a look I can't find it right now.
edit - here's the thread:
From: "New Christian JLA member" message board, started 5 May 2005 on official DC Comics website (http://dcboards.warnerbros.com/web/thread.jspa?threadID=2000023085; viewed 15 May 2006):
Posted: May 6, 2005 3:09 AM
I am a Christian... There is a reason there is no Christian superhero. Same reason as there is no real Jewish [superhero]... that flaunt their religion or fight for religious belief specific notions. It's because they would be offensive to many, if not most, of the readership.
Besides -- Zauriel, Bloodwynd, Wonder Woman, the Spectre, the Quintet, etc., etc., are all based on or are slaves to religious beliefs, but none actively flaunt it, or debate which is correct, so a hard-line Christian super hero would probably not sit too well.
Posted: May 6, 2005 3:50 AM
Well, I'm gonna hit you. Nightcrawler, Daredevil, Nightwing, Huntress, Doctor Mid-Nite, and the Flash are all Christians... Many of them have debated their beliefs in the comics - as you say, not the hardline way, but that is definitely not the same as saying that they are not Christian superheroes, or that they are not devoted.
As far as I know, none of them are fundamentalists, against other religions or...
Posted: May 10, 2005 8:29 AM
I'd vote for an existing character, like Zauriel or Seraph [as a religious character who should be in the JLA]. I've been wanting more exposure for them for a while. We've already had Nightwing in the League and Huntress.
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):
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? Several months ago, several people listed Jewish characters in other universes, but I don't recall any in the DCU."
Pre-Crisis, Colossal Boy (now Leviathan) of the Legion of Super-Heroes was portrayed as Jewish. Nuklon of the Infinity Inc. and the JLA is Jewish. Ragman is Jewish.
Date: Fri, Apr 23 1999 12:00 am
Chuck Dixon has stated that Nightwing is religious. There was even some Christian paraphenalia shown in his apartment once.
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 2:24:49 AM
Let's see, there's a rather good listing [of the religious affiliations of super-heroes] here: [link to this site]
I play on a DCU role-playing board, and the players don't tend to shy away from matters of faith. From small details like Nightwing giving Troia his crucifix for luck, and as a symbol of "man's World," ...and even a plotline where the Titans challenge the Greek Gods to win one of their own from death. Matters of Faith and their questions are every bit as fascinating as any comic-book brawl.
From: Frank Murphy, "tough cut for the mohel", posted 11 June 2006 on FrankMurphy.com blog website (http://www.frankmurphy.com/fmblog.htm; viewed 16 June 2006):
David Waters... article [link to: http://www.shns.com/shns/g_index2.cfm?action=detail&pk=FAITH-FAITH-06-07-06] in the religion section of yesterday's paper... Waters' article mentioned a website that lists the religious affiliations of all the superheroes [link to: http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/comic_book_religion.html]. I immediately looked up Batman and found out that he is either a lapsed Catholic or a lapsed Episcopalian. That theory is based on a storyline in the comic books that looks into the future and shows Bruce Wayne's Christian gravestone. Of course, I should have guessed that Batman and Robin were fairly religious people by Robin's overuse of the word "holy." [link to: http://www.usfamily.net/web/wpattinson/otr/batman/shoholy.htm]
From: "Is Robin/Nightwing a Christian?" message board, started 10 March 2006 on "Jude 2 Forum" website (http://www.jude2.com/viewtopic.php?p=86717&sid=8e758b76f53c9d87af2afe9b2378054a; viewed 22 June 2006):
Posted: Fri Mar 10, 2006 4:19 pm
Subject: Is Robin/Nightwing a Christian?
I think this topic may have been discussed here before, but here is an interesting article on the topic for those of us who are comic fans. [Link to this page.]
Posted: Fri Mar 10, 2006 4:32 pm
Yeah I've always heard about this - that he listens to DC Talk and reads the NIV Bible. I think the artist and writer of Nightwing were Christians. Odd to read that about Batman being an atheist. I have a comic where he's holding the Holy Grail and says, "Can you believe the Son of God actually held this in His hand?"
Posted: Fri Mar 10, 2006 4:59 pm
One thing they [the writers of this page] are not considering is the different writers to explain the difference in Nightwing's activities.
In his individual comic, at the beginning when initially being proclaimed a Christian, there wasn't any "sleeping with" anyone. However, if you went over to what was happening in Teen Titans/Titans, he was. There were different writers. It was the writer of the Nightwing comic that added the Christian traits and interests. So, really, it is inconsistency in character development on the part of DC's editorial staff (which is common in Marvel also).
From: "Where are the Christian Superheroes?" forum discussion page started 22 August 2006 on Newsarama website (http://forum.newsarama.com/archive/index.php/t-81451.html; viewed 5 May 2007):
08-22-2006, 10:03 AM
...I pose the question to you, my fellow Talk@Ramanians: If Christianity is the most popular faith in the United States, why aren't there more openly Christian superheroes?
08-22-2006, 12:39 PM
IIRC [If I recall correctly], in old issues of Nightwing, they showed that he had the Bible and CD's of Christian rock bands in his Bludhaven apartment.
And aren't all the characters Bendis writes Jewish? They sure sound like it sometimes... ;)
08-22-2006, 12:58 PM
re: ...Nightwing... had the Bible and CD's of Christian rock bands...
Now that you mention that, I seem to remember that too. They were hidden in the background clutter.
08-22-2006, 01:28 PM
Now that you mention that, I seem to remember that too. They were hidden in the background clutter.I believe that is because the artist at the time, Scott McDaniel, is a Christian, and not necessarily becase Dick Grayson is.
ot From Around
08-22-2006, 01:48 PM
Which perhaps brings up one reason why we don't have many superheroes of a given religious faith right there. Many of these characters have been worked on by a number of different creators over the years. Since these characters are company property and the product of many hands, there may be a tacit agreement that it's best not to dig too deeply into the religious aspect of their lives.
Mainly it's probably a matter of what somebody has mentioned earlier - they're trying to avoid offending potential readers by steering mostly clear of the topic.
From: "Is Batman an atheist or is he just not very religious?" forum discussion started 2 April 2007 on "Toon Zone" website (http://forums.toonzone.net/archive/index.php/t-187589.html; viewed 21 May 2007):
04-03-2007, 12:42 PM
I've never seen Bruce actually deny the existence of God. Heck, he and the Justice League have fought angels and demons before. But I agree that he might be the kind of guy to question those things if he couldn't see them. I also wonder if seeing evidence of the deities of dozens of other religions from this world and an others makes Bruce question the supremacy of the Judeo Christian God. Rama Kushna? I found a reference to Batman knowing religious information from Nanda Parabat, including a prayer, in Batman #663, a Grant Morrison issue. He also seems to have sort of a Catholic guilt thing going, too.
The problem with nailing down a comic book character's religion is so many writers, artists and editors have guided them over the years. Different ones may have different ideas about how religious they should be. I remember when Dick Grayson suddenly became a more obvious Catholic, and that was because one of the people who was working on him at the time thought he should be. And maybe Morrison thinks Batman would follow an Eastern religion. And J.M. Dematteis own personal Eastern religion seems to influence most of the stuff he's written and he's written Batman...
From: "Religion of Comic Book Characters" forum discussion, started 29 March 2006 on AllSpark.com website (http://www.allspark.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=4168; viewed 1 June 2007):
Alvatron! [a self-described atheist]
post Mar 13 2007, 02:58 PM
...Now, we know the Huntress is a Catholic, and that Nightwing is a non-denominational Born Again Christian, there is plenty of proof for both characters, but I've NEVER seen anything, that can convince me that Batman is religious in any way...
From: "Religion in Comics" forum discussion, started 17 May 2007 on official DC Comics message board website (http://dcboards.warnerbros.com/web/thread.jspa?messageID=2003785241; viewed 7 June 2007):
Posted: May 17, 2007 8:37 AM
Yesterday, I read Action Comics #849, and the issue had several religious references and implications. Because of this, I decided to discuss it with everyone else here. Does religion have a place in comic books?
Posted: May 17, 2007 9:43 AM
Actually religion can do a lot to inform you of a character's backstory.
What if you found out your fave was into Scientology? Zen? or maybe as a Moslem? Christian Scientist.
...ever since another fan suggested that Dick Grayson was a Zen Budhist I have found the character more interesting if I keep that in mind.
From: "Superhero Religious Views?" forum discussion, started 9 June 2007 on Newsarama website (http://forum.newsarama.com/archive/index.php/t-116001.html; viewed 13 July 2007):
06-10-2007, 07:11 AM
In response to the Original Post: I think most of the analytical heroes consider any supernatural phenomenon a science that we don't understand yet. But for the most part, most characters don't have a definite, prescribed religion. I remember reading an old O'Neil Batman story where Batman was almost wistful towards Christianity, and others where he dismisses it outright. And Hal Jordan spent quite a bit of time working for God, but we haven't seen it addressed in his own book. Wasn't Nightwing an overt Christian for a while in his own book?
Personally, I love reading about religion and spirituality, so I would like to see it explored a bit more in comics. At the same time, unless the character's religion is central to that character's personality (like Firebird or Nightcrawler over at Marvel), then I don't have any problem with their beliefs shifting from story to story.
06-10-2007, 08:43 AM
Robin [i.e., Dick Grayson] was definitely Christian in the old Batman TV show.
From: "Possible writers' cliche/prejudice: No well-adjusted athiests/agnostics in the DCU?" forum discussion, started 26 May 2005 on "Comic Bloc" website (http://www.comicbloc.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-5064.html; viewed 20 July 2007):
May 31st, 2005, 05:02 PM
I remember an issue of... something. I forget what it was in, but I remember a page where Batman told Nightwing that he didn't beleive in ghosts. Dick replyed with a "word association game": "Deadman. The Spectre. Ragman."
The fact is, every major DC character has encountered divine forces. Zauriel, an angel, was seen on national news at least once, and every person on Earth flew into space to battle Maggeddon alognside an army of angels in JLA #41. If that kind of evidence existed in the real world, which, despite holding strong religious convictions of my own, I am of course aware that there is not, only the insane would be atheist around here, too.
As for the concept that multiple pantheons invalidate the existence of a higher power, Jeffery Neary is correct: it's been shown, though somewhat indirectly, that the supreme power of the DCU is, in fact, "The Presence," who is similar to the Judeo-Christian conception God in singularity, supremacy, and in a general "hands off approach."
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, 09:11 AM
I feel like DC is tying to be an advocate... Is DC just wanting quick media attention? If this were truly about diversity where is the devote Christian hero? What about a Pro-Life Republican? A priest that takes a vow of poverty to fight poverty?
For years people have praised or criticize liberal Hollywood. Are we now looking at a Liberal DC comics?
May 28th, 2006, 10:20 AM
Christian hero? I'm sorry but aren't a good majority of heroes Christian?
May 28th, 2006, 06:04 PM
But the point is that there are a majority of Christian characters in DC comics that already exist, so there's no "diversity" in creating more of the same...
May 28th, 2006, 06:36 PM
Really? One might make a case for a general "good works ethical monotheism", but how many have made on page confessional statments of Christ being their personal Lord and Savior? To assume that these characters are Christian is akin to assuming that any male character without a girlfriend is gay. Is that good enough?
May 28th, 2006, 06:49 PM
Did you click that link in my last post? It uses evidence from the various appearances the characters have made to determine what denomination they belong to.
May 28th, 2006, 07:05 PM
I've seen it, and I'll reiterate that I believe that the number of confessional Christians in mainstream comics is equal to, or less than the number of openly homosexual characters.
May 28th, 2006, 07:12 PM
Thanks for the link. It is interesting. But religion is not shown in their everyday life. We see the gay lifestyle, but when was the last time we saw Dick Grayson (Christian) at a Baptism, Batman (Catholic) attend mass, Hal Jordan go to confession, or Superman darken the doorway of a church?
May 28th, 2006, 08:35 PM
...As for Dick Grayson, if he still has his Romany background, they have a wonky flavor of Christianity that is all their own...
May 28th, 2006, 08:49 PM
I'm sure that if Dick Grayson and Batman are Christian, they are lapsed. If we are going to see religion portrayed, it should be realistically. I'm sure that Batman and Nightwing are as conflicted about religion as most humans are--it would be an oversimplification to just show them at a baptism or attending mass.
From: "Question for other atheists" forum discussion, started 6 March 2006 on "Comic Boards" website (http://www.comicboards.com/dcb/view.php?trd=060306051129; viewed 23 July 2007):
Posted by Hellstone on Monday, March 06 2006 at 11:26:30 GMT
re: "Are there any?"
Hoo boy, yeah.
re: "How do you relate to the characters in comics, DC especially, who are characterised as atheistic/agnostic?"
Well, being a bit self-centered, I guess I consider all (or most) characters atheists until they have explicitly stated otherwise.
Other than that, I don't relate to atheistic and religious characters in any different ways. As long as they aren't fundamentalist nutjobs (but those exist among atheists as well).
re: "Would you still be an atheist if you'd had the experiences Mr Terrific and co have had?"
Impossible to answer. But I can easily see Mr. Terrific's point. In a world of cosmic energy beings and larger-than-life superheroes, why would we believe that the so-called "gods" are any different in nature. Maybe it's even easier to be an atheist in the DCU because of that.
Posted by Icon on Monday, March 06 2006 at 11:55:58 GMT
As noted in other discussions over the years, they [DC Comics] seem to bend over backwards to NOT assign denominations or faith statements to characters, due in part to a fear of alienating readers who might find it too much of a disassociation. Heroes should be relatable, and there are few things more divisive than religion.
I recall a discussion in an old New Teen Titans where Dick and Wally are infiltrating Brother Blood's base and have a discussion about their repsective viewpoints. IIRC [If I recall correctly], Wally definitely had a denomination, though I can't recall if mentions it by name (Baptist?), and Dick says that he believes in God, but doesn't go to church regularly. That struck me as an interesting commentary, but certainly didn't feel it changed my opinion of them as characters.
I am not an atheist, and am happy in my religious beliefs, but even if I WERE an atheist, I'd probably join a church just to annoy the likes of Richard Dawkins (A particularly irritating, "evangelical" atheist here in the UK who views anyone who has a faith as being, essentially, a misguided fool) :-)
...There's a nice discussion in an old New Mutants where the Catholic Empath and the Roman pantheon worshipping Magma (I think that technically makes her a Pagan, but I'm never sure whether that's a suitable word to use) discuss their respective faiths after Magma relates a story wherein she met Hercules. Is her faith stronger because she's met one of her Gods, or is his, because he still believes even though he HASN'T met his God. Appropriately, it doesn't give an answer.
Posted by Hellstone on Monday, March 06 2006 at 14:20:26 GMT
re: "As noted in other discussions over the years they seem to bend over backwards to NOT assign denominations or faith statements to characters..."
Well, I think that goes for the "big 3" [Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman], for example. But many denizens of the DCU have expressed their religion explicitly, and I'm not just talking Wonder Woman and Kobra and Zauriel here. Huntress (Catholic Christian), Nightwing (Christian, don't know what kind), Flash (Christian), Doctor Mid-Nite (Catholic), Ragman (Jewish), Janissary (Muslim), Seraph (Jewish), Maya (Hindu), Judomaster (Buddhist), Father Craemer (Catholic) and many more, have all stated their explicit beliefs...
re: "I recall a discussion in an old New Teen Titans where Dick and Wally... have a discussion about their repsective viewpoints. Wally definitely had a denomination... Dick says that he believes in God, but doesn't go to church regularly..."
I recall Wally as being religious and Dick as being agnostic here.
But that's a pretty moot point, since Dick has subsequently expressed his Christian beliefs.
Posted by Hellstone on Monday, March 06 2006 at 21:00:19 GMT
About Nightwing the Christian:
re: "He has? Do you happen to recall where?"
Not exactly, but it was during Chuck Dixon's Nightwing run.
From: "Comic book character religions" forum discussion, started 29 November 2005 on "Comic Book Resources" website (http://forums.comicbookresources.com/archive/index.php/t-94945.html; viewed 27 July 2007):
11-29-2005, 01:46 PM
I found this site via The Beat. It lists comic book characters and their religions.
11-29-2005, 02:18 PM
Yeah, but some of those aren't 100% accurate. Like Batman Catholic? I'm assuming maybe because of the parent's grave, but something tells me the only time Bruce has seen the inside of a church is when he followed somebody in to beat the crap out of them. And the Christian paraphenalia in Nightwing's room that McDaniel drew in were acknowledged to be more of an in-joke with McDaniel than anything reflecting the character himself.
Apparently an issue of Comic Book Marketplace inadvertently indicated that the Hulk had been revealed as Jewish when in fact the writer was trying to note that Ben Grimm ("The Thing") had been revealed as Jewish. This misprint prompted the following discussion. From: "What issue was the Hulk revealed as Jewish?" forum discussion, started 12 November 2004 on IMWAN website (http://www.imwan.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=999&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=22; viewed 31 July 2007):
Posted: Sat Jul 21, 2007 3:54 pm
If I'm not mistaken, Chuck Dixon did pepper Dick Grayson's bookshelf with Christian texts, but it's rarely if ever been a story point.
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, 11:00 PM
Religious Affiliation: None. I consider myself a spiritual person though.
...D. Hospitality - I used to think Batman taking in Dick Grayson was a good example but lately it's been portrayed more as a planned recruitment. The Kents adopting baby Clark after he falls from the sky is another great example...
Webpage created 30 November 2005. Last modified 6 August 2007.
We are always striving to increase the accuracy and usefulness of our website. We are happy to hear from you. Please submit questions, suggestions, comments, corrections, etc. to: firstname.lastname@example.org.