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The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Character
Maxillian Quincy Coleridge
Shroud
leader of the Nightshift, an ally of the West Coast Avengers

From: "Shroud (comics)" page on Wikipedia.org website (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shroud_(comics); viewed 8 June 2007):

At the age of 10, the child who would grow up to become The Shroud saw his parents gunned down right before his eyes. He decided to dedicate his life to fighting crime. Upon graduation from college, he joined the mysterious temple called "Cult of Kali", where he studied various styles of martial arts. After seven years of intense training, he graduated from that temple. During the celebration ceremony, he was branded with the "Kiss of Kali," a red-hot iron. Following a period of intense pain and hospitalization, he realized that his eyesight had been replaced by a mystic extrasensory perception. Traveling back to America, he adopted the identity of Shroud...

Powers and abilities
The Shroud possesses the mystical ability to summon the absolute darkness of the Darkforce Dimension by opening a mystical portal into the Darkforce Dimension and drawing its thick, inky atmosphere in various quantities into Earth's dimension. This darkness is not simply the absence of light, but the negation of it. No illumination can penetrate it. It is unknown how much of this darkness the Shroud can summon at once. He can blanket a small auditorium in darkness within several seconds. The darkness he projects does not fill a volume instantly: it is possible to see its hazy boundary move like thick, black smoke in the air. There appears to be no limit to the length of time the Shroud can maintain the darkness. However, if the Shroud is rendered unconscious the darkness seems to be naturally drawn through the portal from whence it came.

...Unlike Darkstar's Darkforce, the darkness possesses no mass, and unlike Cloak, the Shroud is unable to travel into and out of the dimension from which he draws his darkness.

The Shroud possesses a mystical sense of perception enabling him to "see" even through his own mantle of darkness. This mystical sense gives him psychic impressions of his environment within a radius of about 100 feet of him...

Shroud #3: Shroud versus Kali, goddess of death

Discussion

From: "New Joe Fridays: Week 49" forum discussion, started 1 June 2007 on Newsarama website (http://forum.newsarama.com/showthread.php?t=114952&page=5; viewed 8 June 2007):

06-03-2007, 04:58 AM
TheToileteer

You brought up the issue of comic-book stereotypes and religions. Since I study religion (all kinds, really) this is something I've thought about a lot...

So, on to religion. What religions do we find represented in Marvel? A lot of them are "weird" ones associated with exotic fantasy. Several decades ago, comic book writers could be fairly sure that none of their readers would know or be Tibetan Buddhists, Kali devotees, Voodoo practitioners, or Gypsies, so they felt free to make up details out of whole cloth, or portray some religions as wicked. Today this is no longer possible. Recall the Hindu reaction to Krishna's appearance on "Xena: Warrior Princess" (as a villain). So today, weird or evil religions are more likely to be entirely fictional...

Mainstream religions were generally unmentioned before the 1990's... Then suddenly a number of characters were revealed as being of Roman Catholic background (Daredevil, Invisible Woman, Nightcrawler, Punisher), or occasionally Jewish (Thing, though he is predated by minor characters Doc Samson, Sabra, Kitty Pryde, and Justice)...

In these cases, religions were still mainly used as shorthand. A number of non-heroic examples would fit the description of "religious leader turns out to be an evil-doer" (e.g. "God Loves, Man Kills", or the Six-Fingered Hand or the cult of Joshua from Defenders). These too are fairly obvious targets (Protestant evangelists, cult leaders) from the point of view of the pop culture. Some positive (but highly "orientalized") images of Asian religions come to us via Dr. Strange, Iron Fist, Karma from the X-Men (remember the appearance of the yin/yang emblem from her origin?) and even Wolverine (who adopted Japanese motifs in the wake of the TV miniseries "Shogun"). Note the different treatment with Western religions, which are more "ordinary" and generally lack magic powers.

I suggest that if real religions are going to be invoked, then they had better be done right. That means whoever writes Bro. Voodoo ought to take the trouble to find out what voodoo actually consists of in the real world, and find some way to fit the superhero within that (allowing for supernatural flourishes, of course). If Dr. Strange goes to Tibet, then the writer had better know something about the real Tibet, e.g. that it is under Chinese control. Marvel did actually try to make sense of the Cult of Kali awhile back (Shroud mini), but it became a kind of Hare Krishna pastiche (except presumably Shaiva rather than Vaishnava). It's okay to have villains who worship Kali (or whatever), but this shouldn't be presented as normal behavior for Kali-worshippers...


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Webpage created 8 June 2007. Last modified 9 June 2007.
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