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The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Character
Silver Surfer, the former herald of Galactus, was a native of Zenn-La. His birth name was Norrin Radd.
Infinity Crusade: Silver Surfer was one of 33 characters who were identified as the most religious superheroes in the Marvel Universe in Infinity Crusade (June 1993). In this issue, a powerful being who identified herself as "the Goddess" kidnapped the superheroes she had identified as being the most religious active superheroes at the time. The Goddess was a manifestation of the "benevolent" side of Adam Warlock, and she planned to use these heroes in her crusade to rid the galaxy of evil and usher in a new golden age of peace. After these 33 characters had been kidnapped by the Goddess, the remaining superheroes gathered to try to figure out what was going on. The Vision analyzed data about who had been taken and who had not, and explained his analysis (Infinity Crusade #1, page 32):
Now that the appropriate files have been examined I believe I have sufficient hard data to put forth that theory I mentioned earlier. I feel confident I know why these particular paranormals were abducted. All the missing share a common trait or experience... An event or attitude that might be categorized as religious. Many among the missing hold deeply felt moral stands or intense spiritual belief systems. Those who do not fit that profile have all had after-death experiences... My theory does not hold that these attitudes aided in the missing individual's abduction, only that these traits may have determined who would be taken.
Silver Surfer: Requiem #3 (September 2007) features an explicitly religious Silver Surfer story. The Silver Surfer intervenes in a religious war between two devoutly religious alien races - the Rumati and the Linneas. The Silver Surfer destroys the military starships of the two races, and then destroys their religious shrines. The Silver Surfer thus established what the two now-united species called the "Sacred Peace." The two races erected massive statues in honor of the Surfer himself, their new prophet. The Surfer gave these two species a new revelation that became the basis for their new belief system:
If sacred places are spared the ravages of war, then make all places sacred. And if the holy people are to be kept harmless from war, then make all peoples holy.
In addition to this story's obvious echoes of the New Testament story of Jesus Christ, this story also contains strong pacifistic and secular humanist themes. It is worth noting that the Silver Surfer in this story forcibly establishes peace between two foreign worlds he has heretofore never known about. Thus, the Surfer's actions simultaneously reflect both interventionist and pacifistic impulses. The Surfer used force in his unilateral, wholesale destruction of armies and religious organizations. But he capped off his successful destructive campaign with inspirational words of peace and harmony. In this story it is easy to see the Silver Surfer as a single person embodying the spirit of both U.S. President George W. Bush and Quaker founder/radical pacifist philosopher George Fox.
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?
...Silver Surfer would be difficult to figure. Maybe he believes his god gave him the strength to save his world or he is actually working 9 to 5 for him...
From: "Religion in comic books", posted 14 June 2006 on "Get Religion" blog website (http://www.getreligion.org/?p=1679; viewed 14 June 2006):
[Comments section for this page]
Posted by Jason S. Evans at 1:28 pm on June 14, 2006
I really appreciated the portrayal of Nightcrawler in X-Men 2 [X-Men: United]. He was never shown as being hypocritical or evil, but instead, he was penitential and devout.
I don't care for movies that are overtly "Christian" but it is nice when directors "Get Religion."
Posted by Avram at 1:41 pm on June 14, 2006:
...Jack Kirby's Galactus and the Silver Surfer were inspired by the Christian story of God and the fall of Satan; Kirby just turned the story around. Galactus is an inverted God, destroying worlds instead of saving them, and the Surfer an inverted Satan, barred from the heavens for defying his master's will and saving the world...
From: "Religious Inclinations of heroes" message board, started 1 March 2005 on StarDestroyer.net website (http://bbs.stardestroyer.net/viewtopic.php?t=63632&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=25; viewed 8 June 2006):
Posted: Tue Mar 01, 2005 6:38 pm
Post subject: Religious Inclinations of heroes
What about other heroes? I notice religion rarely plays a part in mainstream superhero comics (absent things like the Vertigo line) but have you ever picked up on hints or outright admissions by some heroes as to their religious inclinations?
Seems that atheistic heroes are as rare in comics as in real life. If they are religious it's a sort Judaeo-Christian wishy washy sort of religion... Any other examples of guesses?
Posted: Thu Mar 03, 2005 3:49 am
I remembered also the Graphic [Novel] of Silver Sufer that tells about Galactus coming to earth and getting worshipers (he was still bound to the promise to not devour us, so that was his "vengeance")... of course that was Moebius's art...
From: "Religious Beliefs of Marvel Characters" discussion board started 20 October 2004 on Comic-Forum.com website (http://www.comic-forum.com/marvel/Religious_beliefs_of_Marvel_characters_397905.html; viewed 8 June 2006):
Date: 20 Oct 2004 21:55:56
Subject: Religious beliefs of Marvel characters?
Does anybody know the religious beliefs of various characters?
Date: 20 Oct 2004 23:16:20
From: Samy Merchi
Barring any actual solid evidence in the characters' own books, you could always fall back on the Infinity Crusade and see which sides the characters were on in that conflict. Anybody feel like whipping those issues out and checking these specific characters?
Date: 21 Oct 2004 03:52:34
From: The Black Guardian
Anyway, here's the list of those who "faithfully served" the Goddess: Captain America, Jamie Madrox the Multiple Man, Jean Grey, Namorita, Silhouette, Spider-Man, Puck, Archangel, the Inhuman Crystal, Firelord, Hercules, Shaman, Talisman, Moondragon, Quicksilver, the Scarlet Witch, the Silver Surfer, Sersi, the Living Lightning, Thor, the Invisible Woman, USAgent, Moon Knight, Wolfsbane, Doctor Strange, Wonder Man, Daredevil, the Black Knight, Windshear, Sasquatch, Storm, Gamora, Sleepwalker.
IIRC, even if you read the crossover, it's still pretty vague in what religions the heroes believed.
Date: 21 Oct 2004 03:57:48
From: Samy Merchi
In many cases, it [Infinity Crusade] is the strongest canonical reference to many of the characters' religious stance. Some lucky ones have been dealt with at more depth in their own books (DD, Rahne, Storm et al.) but for many characters Infinity Crusade is the biggest canonical reference. If we want to go by canon rather than sheer postulation.
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):
Zounds! The religious affiliations of your favourite comic book heroes have finally been documented in a disturbingly thorough database. This improbable cataloguing project may well define a whole new stratum of nerdish preoccupation. But, given the effort involved, it's hard not to be impressed and, dare I say it, just a little curious. I was vaguely aware that Spider-Man is sort-of Protestant, that Ben Grimm is Jewish and that Bruce Wayne seems to have that whole lapsed Catholic thing lurking in the background...
But, shamefully, I didn't know the names of every prominent Hindu, Sikh or Muslim character, or the issues in which their faith plays a prominent role. And, even worse, I'd forgotten all about Moshe Chomsky, the Acidic Jew. Thankfully, these oversights can now be corrected, complete with sources, discussions and extensive supporting material. Ditto Shintoists, Taoists, Wiccans and adherents of Teutonic Paganism. Naturally, the database also includes extraterrestrial belief systems (e.g. Kryptonian metaphysics and Apokolipsian Darkseid Worship), along with characters who, via circumstances far too involved to relate here, came to meet God Himself...
[User comments posted on this page]
Posted by: David Thompson | March 01, 2007 at 15:40
What about the Watchers? Galactus and the Silver Surfer? How do they fit in to this model? Are they dieties? Galactus certainly has god-like power and the Watchers seem angelic in some sense.
From: "Comics and Religion Discussion (DC/Marvel)" forum discussion, started 30 May 2007 on "Killer Movies" website (http://www.killermovies.com/forums/453153_1-successful-religion-based-comics-dc-marvel; viewed 6 June 2007):
May 30th, 2007 11:42 PM
Thor believes in the Norse religion... Hercules believes in the Greek religion...
But how come no one in the MU has started a religion based on the Celestials, or Eternity/Infinity, etc?
May 31st, 2007 12:47 AM
They kinda did in the Ultimate Universe were they had a religion/cult for Galactus/Silver Surfer.
May 31st, 2007 03:38 AM
It seems like seeing Galactus would be a real Faith-Shaking experience.
May 31st, 2007 03:45 AM
Representation of the devil.
May 31st, 2007 08:06 AM
re: Representation of the devil
Wouldn't Mephisto or Dormammu be closer to that than Galactus? [emoticon: "confused"
From: "Here, God exists in Four Colors and Two Dimensions", posted 7 March 2006 by grabbingsand on Metafilter website (http://www.metafilter.com/49827/Here-God-exists-in-Four-Colors-and-Two-Dimensions; viewed 11 June 2007):
Jimmy Olsen is a Lutheran. Really. And Clark Kent? Methodist, it seems. Daredevil, Gambit, Huntress and The Punisher? Catholics, all of them, though I have to wonder when Frank Castle last went to Confession. With about half of DC Comic's line-up heading to church in the latest issue of Infinite Crisis and knowing that Civil War is imminent in the House of Marvel, what better time than now to contemplate the particular faiths of our two-dimensional heroes.
Silver Surfer - Zenn-la religion?
Ok, I buy some of the off planet concessions, but what the hell is "occult?" [referring to other listings, such as for Doctor Strange]
And for Thanos - nihilism is a religion?
But I wonder what Galactus would be? He's certainly "God" class, but he's pretty secular.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:11 PM on March 7
posted by klangklangston at 5:57 PM on March 7
Silver Surfer? Some sort of hippie, LSD-based religion. Arguably, had he been born on earth, he would have been Tex Watson [link to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tex_Watson.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:04 PM on March 7
From: message posted 14 July 2004 on "The Bleat" blog website (http://www.lileks.com/bleats/archive/04/0704/071404.html; viewed 2 August 2007):
Finally, I give you a comic that didn't last very long:
[Scanned cover of Strange Tales #174, featuring "The Golem."]
A "Note from the Bullpen" said this was the first Jewish superhero in comics, but now we know that's not true. Ben Grimm (the Thing) is Jewish [link to: http://www.forward.com/issues/2002/02.07.26/fast1.html/]. Reed Richards? Episcopalian, I'd bet. Silver Surfer? Unitarian.
From: Tom R., "It's Kabbalah-in' Time!", posted 24 July 2006 on "Father McKenzie" website (http://fathermckenzie.blogspot.com/2006/07/its-kabbalah-in-time.html; viewed 10 August 2007):
IT'S KABBALAH-IN' TIME! [updated]... It's official: Ben Grimm, a.k.a "The Thing" in Marvel Comics' Fantastic Four, is Jewish. And devoutly so [link to: http://www.forward.com/issues/2002/02.07.26/fast1.html/]. Link via James Lileks [link to: http://www.lileks.com/bleats/archive/04/0704/071404.html], who comments: "Reed Richards? Episcopalian, I'd bet. Silver Surfer? Unitarian"...