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The Religious Beliefs of Comic Book Character
in Min-Woo Hyung's manga/manhwa comic book series
From: Rebecca Salek, "Spirituality In Comics", on "Sequential Tart" website (http://www.sequentialtart.com/archive/dec03/tth_1203.shtml; viewed 5 January 2006):
For many people. December is a month which contains celebrations of religious, spiritual or cultural significance. For many people. December is a month which contains celebrations of religious, spiritual or cultural significance. In recognition of that, this month the Tarts pick out what they consider to be the best representations of spirituality in comic books...
Sheena: Priest is a horror manhwa by Min-Woo Hyung. This is not your typical twist on Armageddon. Rather this is the story of a secret war between the followers of Temozarela, an angel of blood fallen from heaven, and those who stand against him -- namely Ivan Isaacs. Ivan was a priest in life, and in death his soul belongs to the devil Belial who is using him to fight against Temozarela and his minions ... but Ivan has his own agenda as well.
While it hasn't (from what I've read) explicitly stated what the Christian faction is, it is rather apparent from their clothing and overall appearance and treatment that it is Catholicism. This is a story from a Korean creator, set in the American West with enough "fantasy" (for lack of a better word) to keep it from being any statement about Catholicism. That religion was most likely selected for its prominence throughout the world, its symbols and hierarchy, its history (and secrecy), and its beliefs ... especially those concerning demons, devils, and how to fight them.
Some might see this as a very blasphemous and/or sacrilegious series, but if you really delve into it -- into its fact and fiction (and the basis for the fiction) -- it is well-grounded with a view of spirituality and religion that is often ignored or covered-up despite being such an issue in the past and present. If you believe the Bible (which I do), you know that demons and fallen angels are very real, people can be possessed and/or sell their souls (for a variety of reasons), and priests or other religious figures are not immune to evil. Battles can also be fought, as they are in Priest, for the lesser of two evils rather than for good.
Many manga and manhwa are heavy on religious symbolism, but very few are actually about religion in any shape, form, or fashion. Priest, for good or bad, is a story of religion. It shows how religion can be corrupted and twisted, how faith can be lost, and times when God is questioned and does not appear to be doing anything about the evil on Earth. However, it also shows that faith can be very strong -- strong enough to imprison demons and keep them there -- that religious leaders have reasons for secrets and the ways in which they protect God's flock. It is an immensely intriguing series, full of questions and things to make you question yours or any other religion, as well as reasons to delve deeper into those religions. While somewhat far-fetched, and set in a time and place removed from us now, it is still very real (and thus frightening on a subconscious level). Religion is a fascinating thing regardless of what you believe, and Priest provides a very interesting view.
Webpage created 5 January 2006. Last modified 5 January 2006.
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