The DC Comics character known as the Spectre is unusual in the degree to which he is explicitly embodies a number of religious concepts. The Spectre is literally an agent of God and he expresses clearly monotheistic doctrine. In fact, the Spectre's interaction with other DC Comics characters is often cited as a reason why these characters should know that God exists. Presumably characters who retain atheistic or agnostic beliefs despite having met the Spectre do not believe the Spectre's claims that he is an agent of the Supreme Being of the universe. Certainly there are many "minor gods" representing various mythological pantheons who populate the universe. Possibly atheists who have encountered the Spectre think of him as deriving his power from a similar being. However, the character has consistently been written as if this is not the case.
The Spectre has never been identified with any specific religious affiliation or denomination, although if his claims and apparent representation of God's wrath are to be taken at face value, his existence would necessarily negate some beliefs of some religions, such as agnosticism, atheism, Deism, and Ethical Culture. Additionally, the concept of God sending an agent of his wrath to physically confront evil doers might be seen as out of harmony with some pacifistic and relativist beliefs.
For a long time, Jim Corrigan was the mortal host for the Spectre. Hal Jordan was the host for the Spectre for some time (see his page for more details.) In 2006, Crispus Allen, a black police detective, became the mortal host for the Spectre. Crispus Allen was raised as a Christian, although in which specific denomination we do not yet know.
Above: The origin of the Spectre briefly capsulized. Police officer Jim Corrigan is gunned down and a "Voice from Beyond" (God) makes him into the Spectre. [Source: "The Spectre" in Bizarro World, published by DC Comics (2005), page 45; written by Chris Duffy, art by Craig Thompson.]
Some comic book readers regard Spectre as an essentially Jewish character, because of the Judaic tenor of the character's actions and dialogue. The Spectre seems to be particularly compatible with the Old Testament The Spectre has been identified at times as the destroying angel that passed over Egypt in the Old Testament account of Moses. Nevertheless, the Spectre might best be classified as a character inspired in part by Jewish scripture and belief, rather than a character who is, in fact, an ethnic or religious Jew.
|Right: The Spectre (in a form more ghostly than usual), confronts the powerful being known as the Stalker. From: All Star Comics #2 (1999), written by James Robinson and David Goyer, pencilled by William Rosado; page 10. Reprinted in The Justice Society Returns! trade paperback, DC Comics: New York City (2003), page 218.|
Spectre: God's wrath awaits you for what you have done, Stalker!
Stalker: God? Which god? I've killed so many.
Spectre: There is only one God. He has many guises. You may have appeared to take some of those masks, but His supreme light shines on!
Stalker: Then perhaps with the destruction of Earth's population, that light might finally die. Perhaps then . . . when this planet and its God know the ultimate peace, I shall know peace myself. Soon, now, I'll know if my greater quest is done. Now I must commit all my energies to this grand device.
Zatara: You seem reconciled about taking life on so vast a scale.
Stalker: If it makes the outcome of all this any easier for you . . . I derive no pleasure in taking life. This is merely a means to an end . . . my end, after an eternity of lonely mayhem.
Sargon the Sorcerer: Free us then! Prove your contrition by deeds, not words.
Stalker: You know that I can't.
Dr. Fate: We almost killed our friends. The version of us that Dr. Occult summoned -- your influence . . . being tied to you . . . I fear it is . . . changing us.
Stalker: No. I need your power. Coupled with my own, it will allow me to withstand the might of your fellow heroes.
Sargon (or Zatara): How do you know they'll come?
Stalker: Of course they will . . . They're heroes.
In a discussion with Starman (Ted Knight, a materialist), the original Green Lantern (Alan Scott) cited the Spectre and Dr. Fate as evidence of the existence of God and the reality of forces beyond mortal understanding and straightforward material reality. From: All Star Comics #2 (1999), written by James Robinson and David Goyer, pencilled by William Rosado; page 17. Reprinted in The Justice Society Returns! trade paperback, DC Comics: New York City (2003), page 225:
Green Lantern (Alan Scott): I just pray our combined power can destroy the magical energy in this force-beam.
Starman (Ted Knight): I don't believe in the power of prayer, GL [Green Lantern], or in magic. What you call magic is simply a form of energy science has yet to explain.
Green Lantern: What about Dr. Fate and the Spectre? Hell, what about my ring? How do you explain that?
Starman: Like I said . . . all forms of energy. That's all this force-beam is too, although one whose origin eludes me, I'll grant you that.
Green Lantern: Well, as long as our powers can destroy it.
Starman: The laws of conservation state that energy can't be destroyed or lost. We're never going to stop this beam with brute force. We've got to redirect it. Any thoughts?
Green Lantern: Well, I'd suggest sending it to a magical dimension if you believed in that sort of thing.
Starman: Funny. Not that we have time for humor.
Green Lantern: No. Come on, then. Let's do it!
From: "Jewish Comics Exhibit Notes" webpage, last updated 5 December 2004 (http://www.geocities.com/hadassahfink/comicexhnotes.htm; viewed 4 July 2007):
From: Michael Gelbwasser, "Cool characters entice kids: Jewish superheroes work wonders in American comics", published 7 January 1997 in The Boston Jewish Advocate (http://www.jewishsf.com/bk970107/1bcool.htm; viewed 21 December 2005):
Phantom Stranger tells father Craemer of the past deeds of the Spectre, who acted as G-d's agent in Biblical times. These include the destruction of Sodom and Gemorrah, the killing of a Pharaoh, the slaying of the firstborn in Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea and the closing of the Red Sea upon the Egyptian army.
The Jewish community often complains that it's losing young people's attention. Have Jewish leaders checked the comic shops recently?From: Rebecca Salek, "Spirituality In Comics", on "Sequential Tart" website (http://www.sequentialtart.com/archive/dec03/tth_1203.shtml; viewed 5 January 2006):
...Modern comic books -- lively keystones of American popular culture -- aren't afraid to feature numerous new heroes... who have clearly Jewish backgrounds. Nor do comic books shy away from topics of particular Jewish interest, such as interdating.
The Spectre's title character is the spirit of Jim Corrigan, a policeman murdered by a crime boss. John Ostrander, the series' co-writer, says Corrigan's spirit is linked to an "entity" that "seems to be an aspect of the wrath of God." This entity, he explains, was the angel of death who "killed the firstborn of the king of Egypt" and "destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.
"I felt that if you're going into the Spectre, per se," says Ostrander, who collaborates with his wife, Kim Yale, "you have to go into the essentials of...Judeo-Christian culture."
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...
Katherine: Spirituality and religion is often handled in an extremely juvenile and well, stupid, way in mainstream comics. Avengelyne being the classic. I still think it's one of the funniest comics ever published, largely because its creators really meant it.
That said, DC offered readers one of the finest religious-themed comics ever published back in the 1990s. I'm talking about John Ostrander's run on Spectre. Ostrander came very close to becoming a priest of the Episcopal Church, and the fact that he had devoted a great deal of thought to the nature of God, the nature of sin and redemption, and man's place in the cosmos kept Spectre from becoming trite and heavy handed. Every arc dealt brilliantly with the nature of the Spectre himself, half human soul, railing against the seeming injustice of God, and half Angel of Death, barred from heaven. Brilliant stuff and well worth tracking down in the singles.
One of the more troubling concepts explored in Green Lantern: Sleepers 3 is the dichotomy between spirituality and science. In Chapter 6, The Spectre, investigating some problem with the universe, goes through a process of elimination, taking a tour of time and space, and his interior monologue troubled one of my editors who may have assumed I was pushing my Baptist agenda.
Actually, as I explained to him, I was only trying to be as truthful to the Spectre character as I could. Since World War II, the Spectre has worked for, well, God. I wasn't ever allowed to call the Spectre's boss "God" in the book because it made this editor - a staunch atheist - uncomfortable. But the Spectre has always worked for God and has, as a result, always know there is a God and known God. I told my editor, respectfully, that this is just the fundamental basics of the character, not some agenda of mine.
By merging The Spectre with Hal Jordan/Green Lantern, you now have two diametrically opposing points of view. Hal's scientific process and the Spectre's sorcery/spiritualism. Having Hal Spectre wander the galaxy while marveling at its architecture and pondering basic theological questions (rational inquiry into spiritual thought) seemed right for the character, and was an ongoing theme of the book. Not God, so much, but our purpose in Creation. Of course, simply calling existence "Creation," rubs some people the wrong way.
This back and forth with the editor, which required some deletions, troubled me on a couple of levels. First, it troubled me to think readers might assume a Christian can't write a simple Green Lantern story without dragging everybody to church. Look: I don't tell people what to believe. I tell people what *I* believe. You have to make up your own minds about things. Assuming I can't write a super-hero story without having everybody find Jesus is absurd.
Second, I don't think *I* was pushing an agenda so much as the editor was. Banning God from the book forced us into awkward work-arounds for Spectre, when the fact is, like it or not, The Spectre works for God. He's always worked for God. I didn't make that up. God has been a character in the DCU for decades. I didn't make Hal Jordan a born-again right-winger. To me, forcing God out of the book is just as wrong...
I find it interesting that, as a man of faith, I'm not the least threatened by rational inquiry into that faith. Science in no way disturbs me. But many men of science become openly (and irrationally) hostile to most any spiritual explanation for anything, when, in my view, simply the concept of spirituality is just a marker on the beach: beyond this business we can explain exists the vastness of that which we cannot. Some people may choose to call that God or define it in spiritual terms. This in no way negates science. It's not the Salem witch trials...
Would Spectre wandering around the galaxy admiring the architecture and musing about spirituality versus science ("all this architecture logically demands an architect of some kind") offend you people of science? Or, am I missing the boat, here?
Reader Comments on Priest's website:
Posted by: David Van Domelen at January 4, 2006 10:37 AM
As a fictional universe, it's possible to prove that God exists in some form... you simply have Him show up. I have no problems with God being around in the DCU, because it's clearly a fictional setting...
So, sure...Spectre works for God. And if you look back in time far enough, there's this big hand. If you look forward in time far enough, everything is ruled by this mope in a robe called the Time Trapper. No problem.
Having God show up in Marvel is a bit trickier, because they've got a history of trying to avoid that, what with the Living Tribunal, Those Who Sit Above In Shadow, Eternity/Infinity/etc.
And then there's Image, where the Savage Dragon apparently got into a fistfight with God.
Posted by: Jacob at January 4, 2006 11:01 AM
If the Spectre doesn't work for God, then I think DC needs to hire a superstar writer (preferably someone under an exclusive contract, so they can issue press release after press release about it; also someone who curses in print and online interviews, because that's so professional) to re-explain the Spectre's origin. Explain just who he works for (a new-agey, secular Intelligent Design energy being, I'm guessing) and what his motivations are, since they must have changed. I'm thinking the title should be New Spectre's Year One Origin: Disassembled.
Priest, you are exactly right that the editor has the agenda, not you. My brother collected the Ostrander/Mandrake series of the Spectre, and I can't remember a single issue EVER feeling like preaching or religious propaganda. I'm cool with different interpretations of different characters, but making the Spectre not work for God is like saying, "In this series, Batman's parents weren't murdered." It's the core of the character -- God's vengeance tempered, at times, by the humanity and mercy of Jim Corrigan. And, if you don't believe in God, so what? I'm not sure if I do -- I can also think of countless stories that put forth a point of view I didn't agree with, but that doesn't mean they should be negated or not published.
This, and your recent article of CAF make me want to give up on comics completely.
Posted by: Jeff Metzner at January 4, 2006 11:26 AM
I think the spiritual aspects of the book are what made it unique and interesting, so I'm glad you were able to include as much of it as you did.
Posted by: Spider-Devil at January 4, 2006 12:42 PM
As for the legitimacy of Spectre talking about god... well duh, "god" has been apart of the Spectre's continuity since day one. Working around that seems silly to me. I take no offense in anyone pondering the nature of the universe (but like I said... I enjoy the question) though I too have some inherent problems with the "architect" argument.
Posted by: priest [Christopher J. Priest] at January 4, 2006 01:16 PM
Okay - I really like this solution: that, within the creative universe of Spectre, God exists. That, for the purposes of *this story,* God exists. That's a conceit I hope everybody can live with. As for Spectre and Hal being diametrically opposed, I could be wrong about that...
Posted by: David N. Scott at January 4, 2006 01:34 PM
Poor Spectre. That ticks me off about him. I mean, either he's God's Vengeance, as defined in lotsa origin books, his old series, and both of my DCU RPGs, or he ain't. I remember the Day of Venegeance book had him talking about 'the universe' this and 'the universe' that. Seemed awfully... removed for God's Venegeance Incarnate (tm).
I mean, either you want this character to exist or you don't. If you don't want Christian aspects in your stories, don't have Zauriel the angel (tm), Lucifer the Fallen (tm) and the Spectre running around. Marvel gets by fine with the Celestials and Galactus... DC's the co that made all these characters, so it seems very unfair to not be able to use them.
Ah, anyway. Yes, I think the Editor had the agenda. For God's Vengeance to not talk about God seems odd. ESPECIALLY in a universe where the Devil once bought all of the souls of the major villains and upgraded their power, and where a rogue angel beseiged Heaven twice (both company-wide crossovers).
I mean, please don't get me wrong. I'm usually on the fair to middlin' edge of the spectrum religiously, though distinctly Christian. But if DC is going to say 'this is god and this is the devil and they do stuff', then they should let writers, well, write them.
Ahem. Sorry. Something that's bothered me before and now it's in living type.
Hm. Oh, yes, I'd agree the Spectre can move through time. In fact, I think him doing that in Crisis was a pretty big plot point. I could be wrong on that, though he distinctly slugged it out with the Anti-Monitor circa the big bang. Also, it seems like such a tiny thing compared to the other things he can do...!
Posted by: Richard Toler at January 4, 2006 01:41 PM
I am an atheist.
I think it's pretty ridiculous of your editor to cancel out God like that in relation to The Spectre's story. You're 100% right, that's part of the character, and an interesting one at that. Being an atheist, I have no problem with theology in the context of fiction. I think religions of all kind make for wonderful fantasy settings, and outside of something like the Chronicles of Narnia, it's almost never done with Christianity. If we can turn Thor into a superhero, why not Jesus?
Posted by: Rick Jones at January 4, 2006 03:27 PM
Random Thoughts, mostly on the comics aspects:
Spectre works for God, though sometimes Spec's Boss has been refered to as The Voice. That said, Ostrander's run on Spectre showed Spectre as the force that did all of the Old Testament Smiting while also proposing that no single religion had nailed "Who Is This God Person Anyway?"
DC also has had an angel in the Justice League and most superheroes have visited Hell at some point or another.
Trying to pull God out of the Spectre is like trying to pull Krypton out of Superman. It changes the character to such a point that it's not the same character anymore.
Posted by: Scavenger at January 4, 2006 05:23 PM
Can we get back to that there was an editor here who DIDN'T KNOW/WANT THE SPECTRE/G-D connection?
Hello? This is the thing that smited the first born in Egypt (and kicked Nabu's helmeted butt on the way). Ostrander did some great stuff (following in Gaiman's footsteps)... including establishing why the Spectre was bonded to a person. (as I recall, after Jesus, who was essentialy G-d's love bound to man, no aspects of G-d would walk the Earth unbound... kinda a "I'll send no more floods" type of pledge). Some really wonderful stuff.
I'll speak up for the agnostics, as the resident Agnostic Jew. There are things that are unknown. It's a big cosmos, and we know very little. I don't discount anything, but I don't believe everything either. I can easily incorporate G-d into evolution with no problem if i need to. (evolution and science are the tools G-d uses, duh)...
Posted by: Evan N. at January 5, 2006 01:17 AM
...why hasn't anyone brought up the issue of faith? It's belief in the existence of things unseen, ain't it? Belief of any nature is a choice. It's willful, and as such, laughs at our attempts at applying logic. It seems like this is the dynamic that drives Priest's interpretation of the Hal Jordan of the Spectre.
Posted by: G. Edward Jones, Jr. at January 5, 2006 09:14 AM
Faith and science aren't contradictory. Many man of science are also men of faith (and vice versa) and even atheist have gut instincts (following your gut is, pretty much definitionally faith).
In the end I think your editor was, well, just kind of being an @$$, he let his own prejudices overrule the character. It's not like you were trying to write Wolverine as a bible thumping Southern Baptist. You were making the agent of Devine Vengeance ruminate on the nature of God.
Seems logical enough to me.
I think this really just goes to show that no matter where you fall on the socio-political spectrum...you can still act dumb.
Posted by: Michael Denton at January 5, 2006 10:06 AM
...God seems pretty well established in the DCU, I thought, especially in regards to the Spectre. The Spectre has always been the Hand of Vengence - well, whose vengance then? And, yes, while it's all Vertigo, we've got Lucifer, Swamp Thing, and Constatine dealing with some pretty Christian supernatural critters, not to mention Preacher. I think the editor was not functioning professionally here, and clouded by his own perspective.
Posted by: Robert Jung at January 5, 2006 11:00 AM
Dunno about anyone else..., but as a fellow atheist, I'd have a verbal smack-down with your editor over this. Assuming Spectre-Lantern wasn't overtly evangelizing, I can't see how mentioning the "G-word" in the story would be offensive.
I wonder what proverbial stick is up the editor's posterior...
Posted by: Jer at January 6, 2006 11:57 AM
re: "I was just wondering why Spectre simply raising the *question* would offend anybody."
It shouldn't. Certainly not in the fictional context that's been established for the character. Fantastic occurrences are commonplace in the MU and DCU, and though I'm not very familiar with The Spectre's history, if he's been shown participating in biblical events on-panel, that pretty much seals the deal. Denying the existence of God in the DCU when it's been established as indisputable fact is silly.
Posted by: Scavenger at January 6, 2006 12:00 PM
Priest: "Yes, I agree. I was just wondering why Spectre simply raising the *question* would offend anybody."
Because all beliefs have people who can't stand those beliefs being questioned..even a belief which is just the lack thereof.
Priest: "I'm curious about why science folk get their panties in a bunch at even the speculation that this architecture *could* have had an architect."
I imagine it comes down that everytime the Christian majority flexes its muscles, it's not good for the ones they're flexing them against.
From: "How do you feel about Hal Jordan and the whole rebirth effect?" forum discussion, started 18 July 2006 on "Comic Bloc" website (http://www.comicbloc.com/forums/showthread.php?t=31097&page=9; viewed 6 June 2007):
Excerpts from: "Are Superheroes Religious?" forum page, started 13 May 2004, in "The John Byrne Forum" section of the Byrne Robotics website (http://jb.24-7intouch.com/forum/get_topic.asp?FID=3&TID=558&DIR=P; viewed 9 January 2006):
July 26th, 2006
I think we could go on all day about Hal's denomination until someone provides conclusive evidence of the Jordan family's faith from print.
But the Spectre on the other hand, we do know about. The Spectre's mythology is deeply rooted in Catholicism and the Catholic concept of Heaven and Hell, angels and demons, etc. Corrigan itself is an Irish Catholic name. It was a big part of Ostrander's Spectre run.
And to the person that asked, "Why does God need a Spectre?" the answer is he doesn't. The Spectre is a cast aside angel being punished by God.
The angel Aztar, rather than being relegated to Hell, is sentenced to serve as the Wrath of God - the Spectre. (Spectre v3 #60) He's trying to appease God and get back into Heaven.
Neil WelchFrom: "Religion of Comic Book Characters" discussion board, started 21 March 2006, on "Atomic Think Tank" website (http://atomicthinktank.com/viewtopic.php?t=15563&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=90&sid=6e1a6029528ee4ff56875971156c2732; viewed 25 April 2006):
14 May 2004 at 4:19 am
Very little religion in the DCU - there seems to be a pervading non-denominational deist philosophy (Spectre is an agent of God, but let's not be specific about what religion for fear of alienating the others)...
A bit tricky to address religion in a universe where there is quite a high preponderance of actual Gods!
MitchellFrom: "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&tstart=0; viewed 1 May 2006):
Posted: Fri Mar 24, 2006 1:52 pm
*Gets a mental image of an Atheist in the Justice League*
Atheist: There is no such thing as God.
*Spectre walks by, says Hi, grabs some coffee, heads to the window, fries a country, and leaves*
Atheist: Though I have been known to be wrong before...
Posted: Fri Mar 24, 2006 1:53 pm
The Spectre isn't a god, he's a ghost. And considering that Green Arrow and Mr. Terrific are Atheists and maintain their grip on reason, well...
Posted: Fri Mar 24, 2006 2:12 pm
No, the Spectre is not a ghost, he is the Wrath of God (and the Angel of Death who slew the firstborn Egyptian children), bound to a mortal spirit to give it, among other things, a frame of reference. He replaced Eclipso, the former embodiment of G'd's anger (Eclipso brought the Flood). Spectre pursued/embodied vengeance, Eclipso pursued/embodied revenge.
Posted: Fri Mar 24, 2006 11:29 pm
It's easy enough to consider the Spectre or Zauriel as mystical beings. Godhood is another matter.
However I'm reminded of an old cartoon (Hembeck?) where Hawkman is pointing his finger accusingly while behind him Spectre and Deadman are laughing and quoting an old Huckleberry Hound episode saying "There ain't no ghosts! There ain't no ghosts! There ain't thete ain't there ain't no ghosts!"
dick_grayson_1From: "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&start=15&tstart=0; viewed 8 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. There were some Muslim and Jewish characters introduced in Suicide Squad a million years ago. They're around. I've usually only seen religion in comics when a character is conflicted and needs advice.
Posted: Apr 25, 2006 7:30 AM
Up until the last issue of IC, religion was avoided like the plague by writers, but now it seems they have taken a "holistic" approach to religion. In the DCU, with characters like Zauriel and the Spectre running around, I'm pretty sure the Judeo-Christian God is shown to be the creator God, but I think that the gods of mythology and other metaphysical beings also have power.
Personnally, I try to live my life as close to being like Jesus Christ as I can. I believe He is set apart from all other deities or religious figures and that His message has real power. I guess that makes me a Christian. I'm hesitant to identify with that title sometimes because of the negative things people have done in the name of Christ (the Crusades are a glaring example of missing the point.)...
I think an "unitarian approach" in comics is okay (after all, they are just fictional stories) as long as a sense of right and wrong is presented and moral relativism isn't the prevailing philosophy.
gaskelljrFrom: comments section for "Two-pronged post: On Faith and Clever", posted 14 March 2006 on "Face Down in the Gutters" blog website (http://facedowninthegutters.blogspot.com/2006/03/two-pronged-post-on-faith-and-clever.html; viewed 12 May 2006):
Posted: Apr 23, 2006 3:37 AM
The Spectre, a good Jewish hero!
Posted: Apr 23, 2006 3:57 PM
The problem is that, while there is proof of some sort of divinity in the DCU, there's proof of contradictory divinitities. Wonder Woman's Greek gods, who have their own traditions about the creation of the Earth and the rest of the universe, don't jibe well with the pseudo Judeo-Christianity that the Spectre or Ollie Queen's afterlife, or an angel superhero imply. But both are categorically there.
And because there is so many different proofs of so many different "true" religions, it's not that hard to disbelieve all of them, at least in terms of being the one true... truth. I think the fact that the line between mundane "reality" and the supernatural being as blurred as it is in the DCU would make it easier to look at gods, demons, angels or magic, as just another layer of science that we haven't found an explanation for yet, and quite distinct from meaning of life and where did we all come from kinds of religion.
Posted: Apr 23, 2006 8:23 PM
re: "The problem is that, while there is proof of some sort of divinity in the DCU, there's proof of contradictory divinitities.
I did think of this, and it's the only plausible explanation. From the outside, it's obvious that DC means their universe (and the multiverse before it, more clearly) to be one framed (ultimately) on the Christian model. But, what we've seen, and what even someone like Michael Holt has seen aren't the same. I mean, we've seen scenes of Barry Allen and Ollie in heaven...
I just think that with Zauriel, The Spectre and some others, he has to be actively resisting even the possibility of believing.
Tom Foss said...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):
Yeah, atheism (or at least agnosticism) in the DCU ought to make even more sense than it does here [with atheist super-hero Mr. Terrific]. On one hand, you've got concrete proof of any number of gods, from Zauriel's Christianish "Presence" to Spectre's wrathful Judaic "God of Abraham" to the Greek, Roman, and Egyptian pantheons of the Amazons, to the South American gods of Aztek and any number of Planet DC superheroes, to the Norse pantheon, to the Endless, to Chaos and Order, to the various alien pantheons...
Posted: May 5, 2005 7:53 PM
I propose DC adds a new superhero to the JLA. His name is Shepard [Shepherd] and he fights injustice and evil in a Christian way.
His powers would essentially be a the addition of the powers of Firestorm and Superman.
While the JLA fights to protect earth from alien threats, Shepard's focus would be to protect innocents such as unborn children.
What does everyone think?
Posted: May 6, 2005 3:09 AM
I am a Christian and pro-choice [i.e., "for widespread legalization of abortion"]. There is a reason there is no Christian superhero. Same reason as there is no real Jewish or Hebrew religious only (yes please don't hit me with Bloodwynd, etc.) 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 11:49 PM
Wouldn't Ragman and the Spectre also be "Christian" superheroes? Both draw power from the one God.
Posted: May 7, 2005 6:21 AM
First off, to the comment that the Spectre could be considered a Christian hero, that's fairly true, but I've always perferred to think of him as a Jewish hero, given the connection always implied between him and the Old Testament as well as Siegel's religious beliefs.
Posted: May 7, 2005 6:52 AM
Actually, Ragman is Jewish. Spectre answers directly to God, but his specific religion, which I highly doubt he has, has never been mentioned.
Posted: May 7, 2005 8:38 AM
The Spectre is not bound to one religion. According to the Ostrander series, one of Jim Corrigan's predecessors was a Hindu, and the archangel Michael showed himself to him in the aspect of Kali.
From: archive of "Should Hal Jordan be a Christian" message board, started 15 April 2005 on Comic Book Resources website (http://forums.comicbookresources.com/archive/index.php/t-53171.html; viewed 22 May 2006):
04-15-2005, 04:37 PM
Should Hal Jordan be a Christian?
Well... technically he knew God first hand. Then he got reincarnated. So, I believe he should be a Christian, but I know that it will never happen.
04-15-2005, 06:12 PM
...I wouldn't have a problem with Hal referencing God like they reference Allah in JL: Elite; having him yell "Oh my God!" or "Jesus!" when suprised isn't bad. But having him specifically come out and say "I remember being the Spectre and now I'm a Roman Catholic!" isn't the way to go.
04-15-2005, 06:33 PM
Since the whole purpose of the 'Rebirth' story is to bring back the classic Hal Jordan, and making the whole Spectre mess a distant memory, I don't think giving him personality traits he's never had before would be a good idea. I want to read about Hal, the fearless test pilot, not Johnny Biblethump. But that's just me.
Anyway, the Spectre's always been connected with a more Old Testament tyle of religion anyway so there's no reason to assume that the experience would make Hal a Christian anyway.
04-15-2005, 07:12 PM
re: "Why do so many people assume that 'God' NECESSARILY means the Judeo-Christian God?"
In this particular case, because the Spectre's back story heavily features Jesus. So yeah, it's hard to become the Spectre and them go into the Hare Krishnas or whatever.
Mind you, I wouldn't be thrilled to read the evangelical adventures of Hal Jordan. I am just being pedantic.
04-15-2005, 07:02 PM
Why do so many people assume that "God" NECESSARILY means the Judeo-Christian God?
And considering Wonder Woman and Shazam, shouldn't there be more followers of the Greek gods and their counterparts? The existence of those gods immediately discredits Christianity.
04-15-2005, 07:25 PM
re: "Why do so many people assume that 'God' NECESSARILY means the Judeo-Christian God?"
Probably because the Spectre is supposed to be an "angel" of Vengance who can visit "heaven" and has one head omnipotent and omniciant "God" who created all the "angels," including "archangels" and "heaven." And because, you know, Christianity is one of the largest religions on Earth, with the Judeo-Christian-Islamic trinity being the current religion among humans, along with most of the culture the creators, writers, and artists who work on these comics come from being heavily based on Judeo-Christian beliefs. It's a pretty safe assumption overall.
re: "And considering Wonder Woman and Shazam, shouldn't there be more followers of the Greek gods and their counterparts? The existence of those gods immediately discredits Christianity."
Okay, first of all there are people worshiping the older gods; Wonder Girl and Wonder Woman at least both seem to worship (or at least acknowledge) their pantheon of gods. It was one of the things that got Cassie thrown out of school (in a blatant disregard for, well, the law).
Second, It doesn't really discredit Christianity. A Christian can simply say that they're demons, or apparations used by God. And, hell, Christianity doesn't deny the existance of other gods outright. the ten commandments state (translation, obviously) "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." Notice, it doesn't say "No other gods exist" or "You won't worship any other gods" it says no gods before God. So a Christian could say, okay, so these gods exist, but I will follow the commandments and not worship them before the Almighty and his son on Earth Jesus Christ. Now obviously this is a translation and thus is open to interpretation but that's something of the point; religion, all religion, is an evolving, changing structure. Chrstianity of today isn't the same as it was five centuries ago; the revelations of greco-roman gods doesn't invalidate Christianity as a whole and people would simply change their beliefs to cope. I think you're really underestimating the power of faith if you think revelations of powerful beings calling themselves gods with powers similar to that of the gods of myth would invalidate the Christian faith.
Also the worship of Odin, the Allfather, is currently an established religion in Sweden. So don't assume the old gods are dead right now. :)
04-15-2005, 08:22 PM
re: "Why do so many people assume that 'God' NECESSARILY means the Judeo-Christian God?"
For starters, heaven and hell both definitely exist in the DCU. The DCU heaven is guarded by the Archangel Michael. The interior of the DCU heaven has angels that aren't dissimilar to angels described in the Bible. And the DCU hell is a lot closer to the Christian concept of hell than other religions'.
Also, as stated above, the Spectre's history is closely tied to the events of the Bible. When Eclipso was God's agent of vengeance, he caused the Biblical flood, after which he was more or less fired. The Spectre then became God's agent of vengeance. After Christ's crucifixion, it was the Spectre that committed all the strange acts described in the gospels (e.g. raising the dead; tearing the temple curtain). And it was after that that God determined that the Spectre must have a human host to rein it in. Jesus clearly had special importance to the DCU God.
re: "And considering Wonder Woman and Shazam, shouldn't there be more followers of the Greek gods and their counterparts? The existence of those gods immediately discredits Christianity."
Not at all. It's been made clear over the years that the DCU mythological pantheons aren't really gods at all, but essentially immortal metahumans. "Genesis" established that they were created by the Godwave. Even if that's not in continuity anymore, they're still not spiritual beings anymore than the New Gods are.
04-15-2005, 09:19 PM
Genesis ignored practically every explanation for gods that came before it, and it has been mercifully ignored by every book to come out since, so Genesis' explanation is not currently valid at all.
Bored at 3:00AM
04-16-2005, 12:06 PM
It has long been established that Hal Jordan doesn't hold much faith in any one particular religion, so it's doubtful that he'll suddenly be portrayed as a Christian because he was once The Spectre, a being that has manifested itself in guises that fit various different religions.
04-19-2005, 10:57 AM
Hal Jordan's time as Spectre seems to have involved little contact with the Christian aspects of Heaven. Since it was written by DeMatteis, his religious experience was a synthesis of various religious movement, including New Age-y stuff. If one were to make this point about Jim Corrigan, I could see it, except for the fact that Jim's driving forces towards religion were his abusive minister father and the very questioning Father Cramer (still one of the greatest supporting characters ever).
Second, the very idea of the Spectre seems contrary to the evangelical idea of the Bible as the only source of divine revelation. The Ostrander series, for example, expands upon biblical tradition, thereby going beyond the fundamental word of God as seen by most evangelical Christians. Therefore, the revealed knowledge that the host of the Spectre would be privy to -- such as the Hindu Spectre or the role of Eclipso -- would be beyond the scope of the Bible. These things could be worked into a less fundamentialist Christianity such as Catholicism which does hold people who seem to have supernatural abilities (saints) as objects of veneration.
Excerpts from: "Atheist superheroes" discussion page, started 2 March 2006, on "Atheist Network" website (http://atheistnetwork.com/viewtopic.php?p=209834&sid=5ca5d2a99f2714e2f90fcee608eb4ac4; viewed 26 May 2006):
Posted: Fri Mar 03, 2006 3:42 am
It's good to see that Mr. Terrific is still an atheist...
Of course if I were in the DC Universe I would be a believer in the supernatural if not an outright theist [i.e., believer in God]. After all, the heroes of that universe have been to Hell. They've stood before the hosts of heaven. Not only does Spectre exist but so does Deadman, Zatanna, Swamp Thing, Ragman, Raven and Dawn Manitou, Shazam, and on into near infinity. ...even the original Green Lantern got his power from magic. And Hal Jordan/Green Lantern was the freakin' Spectre for awhile. Add to that the number of characters that come back from the dead and really in that reality there would be no real reason to doubt.
...not surprisingly more villains are revealed to be atheists than heroes...
From: "An argument for why religion should stay out of comics" message board started 17 May 2006 on official DC Comics website (http://dcboards.warnerbros.com/web/thread.jspa?threadID=2000076170; viewed 30 May 2006):
Posted: May 17, 2006 9:11 AM
I'm an atheist... We have so many phrases, superstitions, and references that we all use in everyday life which come from religion, that to keep religion out of comics would severly limit comics. Just imagine comics without hell or heaven, for starters...
Also, no religion would mean no Spectre, no Zauriel, no Ragman, and worst of all, no Wally (oldish Supergirl again!). I'll keep comics just as they are.
Posted: May 22, 2006 9:47 AM
No religion in comics? Here are some of the things that may be missed or have to be adjusted:
Here's something to consider when people think of religion in comics. Do you prefer Vampire stories were vampirism is a virus or do you prefer with vampirism is an issue of faith? I prefer religion-based Vampire.
Posted: May 22, 2006 10:25 AM
As an atheist, and one who is vehemently opposed to religion of any kind in public life, I'm not as bothered as you might think by comics portraying religion. IF, and that's a big if, they know what the heck they are doing.
...in some of the more interesting comics that deal with magic, it is basically portrayed as a religion, more or less. Then there's the Spectre. Heck, getting rid of religion would mean getting rid of "Kingdom Come", and that would ... well, it would suck...
So, no, religion should not be a taboo subject for comics. I desire to see all subjects investigated in the comics I read. The DCU alone is large enough to comprise any and all issues, ideas, and philosophies.
Excerpts 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):
From: Douglas Ethington
Date: Fri, Oct 11 1996 12:00 am
Email: Douglas Ethington
I always thought that Clark was most likely a Christian...
Anyway, this thread got me thinking about the other DC heroes and what their religious beliefs might be, so here are some of my thoughts (most of this MHO [My Humble Opinion]):
...Wonder Woman worships the Greek gods. Captain Marvel is probably a Christian, and the Spectre definitely is one...
From: Vincent Louie - AERE/F92
Date: Sun, Oct 13 1996 12:00 am
Superman knows everything we do. Well, not quite, but not far from it. He knows that God exists in the DC Universe. The most obvious example to think God exists in the DC Universe is that it is explicitely stated in the Spectre. For Superman not to think God exists would be like me not believing in Wayne Gretzky.
From: Vincent Louie - AERE/F92
Date: Sun, Oct 13 1996 12:00 am
Clark... knows for certain that the God of the Jews/Christians/Muslims exists (is there really any difference between the three faiths other than how they choose to honour their God?), since God exists in the DC universe continuity (Spectre provides inarguable precedence - other stories may be debatable). Since Kent is aware of Spectre, he'd be a moron not to believe in God.
From: Robert D. Kaiser
Date: Mon, Oct 21 1996 12:00 am
...Within the world of the DC Universe, I really doubt Superman believes that all people of other religions are contaminated with an original sin that dooms them all to Hell. [Note: This is an incorrect and non-Biblical interpretation of Christian theology.] He's just not written that way. Even the Spectre has his doubts about how it all works, and if any DC character has the right to say "I KNOW how this works", its him.
From: "Muslim characters in comics" message board, started 22 January 2006 in Batman discussion board area of official DC Comics website (http://dcboards.warnerbros.com/web/thread.jspa?threadID=2000059913&start=45&tstart=0; viewed 9 June 2006):
Posted: Jan 29, 2006 2:10 AM
No offense to you are your belief system but I think religion as a practice should be left out of comics. I'm not talking about Greek gods of Norse Gods no one believes in anymore... I just think at some point some member of either a different Muslim belief system than you or another Christian of Judeo-Christian religion will get offended at the portrayal. I think we should separate church and comics.
Probably too late (Daredevil's priest buddy, Spectre's host being Islamo-Judeo-Christian and Heaven exisiting and Lucifer as a balance to "the light"...
Posted: Jan 29, 2006 6:40 AM
Great topic for discussion sandwraith. I think the main reason their aren't many Muslim characters in comics is the simple financial bottom line. I don't have any hard numbers to back it up, just an assumption that the majority of comics are sold in the U.S. and U.K., where the vast majority of the population are Christian.
I don't think there's a concious decision by editors to show nothing but the stereotypical Muslim terrorist villian(s), they're just pandering to the widest base of their audience. I would like to see a well written Muslim character in the comic univese. Something along the lines of Ostrander/Mandrake's Spectre series that delves into religious themed dilemmas.
If it interests you Ostradner's Spectre was written as the wraith of all the religious deities' anger. I'll dig through my stash and find the Spectre issues that established him as the wraith of all Gods if your interested in them.
From: "Banned for using this nic" thread began 4 Apri 1999 in rec.arts.comics.dc.universe newsgroup (http://groups.google.com/group/rec.arts.comics.dc.universe/browse_thread/thread/f38288dc4e56542/8a873a0a53da3d0d; viewed 12 June 2006)
From: Tom Galloway
Date: Mon, Apr 5 1999 12:00 am
Well, one'd have to go with Spectre and Zauriel as religious heroes (can't get much more so than wrath of God and an angel). There was also the Israeli group of heroes John Ostrander is fond of using [Hayoth]... And Supergirl is an "Earth-born angel" and has had someone with a fair claim to being God as part of her supporting cast.
From: Aaron S. Veenstra
Date: Mon, Apr 5 1999 12:00 am
re: "...why are most heroes not as religious as they could be? ...it seems that most of the religious people in comics are the VILLAINS..."
My theory on this follows along the lines of why Captain America never takes a political stand -- it's so the readers don't start seeing character traits they disagree with on a fundamental level. Some stories (e.g. SPECTRE) are designed to feature deeper subject matter than hit-beat-jail, so it works there.
From: Robert Justus
Date: Tues, Apr 6 1999 12:00 am
I don't think we should count Spectre or Zauriel. I tend to think of them like Thor or Hercules. Representatives of religion, not worshipers...
Date: Tues, Apr 6 1999 12:00 am
re: "I don't think we should count Spectre or Zauriel... Representatives of religion, not worshipers."
I agree. I think of them [Spectre and Zauriel], and Supergirl, as being part of a "mythology" of Christianity. Beside which, in most cases the visions of "Heaven" and "God" are so indeterminate that you can't take them as even trying to representational of Scripture...
From: "Religion in Comics" thread started 8 November 2000 on rec.arts.comics.marvel.universe (http://groups.google.com/group/rec.arts.comics.marvel.universe/browse_thread/thread/bb40343302f28aaa/7959f6422d01b7a4; viewed 6 June 2006):
Date: Wed, Nov 8 2000 12:00 am
Can somebody explain something that has been bugging me for a long time? What is the deal with religion in comics over the past 60 years or so? I guess it all started in the Golden Age with the debut of Wonder Woman, a modern day Amazon. Then came the Spectre, who's supposed to be a spirit of God. Now it seems that in comics all religions are real(yes I know that the OHOTMU says that there is no one ominipoten deity but just a bunch of pantheons but still). Marvel has interactions with the Olympians and the Asgardians all the time. DC has Zauriel taking everybody into Heaven during "Day of Judgement" with Wonder Woman praying to the Olympians the whole time, and they also had Aztec getting his powers from an ancient Aztec diety. This concept is highly illogical. How do writers get away with these stories without causing confussion. Am I the only one who notices these things, or are there just that many atheists out there?
From "TS: Liberality For All vs. DMZ" discussion page started 30 November 2005 (http://ilx.wh3rd.net/thread.php?msgid=6419391; viewed 13 June 2006):
Huk-L (handsomishbo...), November 30th, 2005
...does the lack of clearly religious characters prevent those to whom their faith is a defining characteristic from finding characters they can identify with?
Mark C (elmarkc...), December 1st, 2005
There was a story in Birds of Prey where they uncover a weird cult that worships superheroes.
Also what about the Spectre? Hello, God's vengeance strolling the earth in an Old Testament style!
Ray (raycu...), December 1st, 2005
...And how would all the Hindus square their religion with God's vengeance walking the earth?
Any seriously religious superheroes in that universe can only highlight the absurdities...
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 Katie Q at 1:33 pm on June 14, 2006:
Absolutely. Comics are steeped in ethics and morals of a Judeo-Christian origin. I didn't mean to make it sound like comics are an intentionally godless art; heck, a long-running super hero, The Spectre, is the actual Wrath of God incarnate, and his series has often been used to explore issues on a cosmic level.
Comics have always implemented religion, both in symbols and spirit, in their stories and characters (To think of a weird example, in the DC Universe, where Batman and Superman live, Adolf Hitler used the spear Christ was pierced with to stave off heroes from invading Europe in WWII.). It's just that religion in a doctrinal or even an organizational sense (and therefore, "God") doesn't exist in comics much at all. It's not a bad thing, per se; just, on a personal level, it makes it difficult for me to believe the reality of the stories.
Posted by Avram at 1:41 pm on June 14, 2006:
...And there's the Spectre, and the Phantom Stranger. . .
I've often thought that the way that big-company superhero comics are written - generations of writers trying to introduce new material while staying faithful to what's gone before - resembles the way religious texts are assembled over the years. And that the Talmud resembles a collection of Marvel No-Prize letters.
From: Michael, "No Sunday School In Smallville", posted 12 June 2006 on "Tales to Mildly Astonish" blog website (http://talestomildlyastonish.blogspot.com/2006/06/no-sunday-school-in-smallville.html; viewed 15 June 2006):
...The absence of DC in my examples [of religious superheroes] is no accident; for a universe where the Wrath of God fought for the allies in World War II, and angels with flaming swords and spears once manifested to the world's leaders to avert Armageddon, a surprisingly small number of superheroes spend their Sunday mornings in church.
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):
From: Gustavo Wombat
Date: Thurs, Apr 22 2004 12:03 pm
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...
From: David Doty
Date: Thurs, Apr 22 2004 2:51 pm
Of course, the Spectre was Christian, even if there were bits of other faiths mixed in. At least, before J.M. DeMatteis wrote him. Hal Jordan probably became a Hindu...
[This appears to be a semi-humorous reference to J.M. DeMatteis and his stint at writing Green Lantern. The inference here is that openly Hindu writer J.M. DeMatteis typically injects religious themes into his comic book writing, and certain characters he has written have seemed particularly Hindu. In truth, J.M. DeMatteis is an extremely talented writer with great empathy for other religious faiths, and he has expertly written many characters of various religious faiths, portraying them believably and fairly within the context of their own beliefs. Hal Jordan never became a Hind.]
From: Sigbjorn Berntzen
Date: Thurs, Apr 22 2004 5:09 pm
And the Spectre (Jim Corrigan) was resurrected by God directly IIRC so he kind of HAD to be [religious]...
From: Peter Henrikson
Date: Thurs, Apr 22 2004 5:43 pm
Just happened to think of a couple more.
I think the Spectre would be pretty religious...
Date: Fri, Apr 23 2004 4:01 pm
...The Spectre is the "Redemption" of God, or the "Wrath of God" depending on old or new. I always took the original Spectre to being hard core damnation Christian (which is only a small part of the Christian message, but the part that is most dramatic, and thus sadly emphasized... the real Good News is God loving us, living as one of us, and paying the price for our sins... which is death, on himself, just so we can be with him, and him with us)...
On a related side note: I'm amazed at how few characters/heroes have been motivated by their faith especially a Christian faith. One of the main tenents of the Christian faith is loving and helping others. Since heroes do that (help others) I would think more would have the "why do they do what they do" being part their faith. Also, as a Christian, one of the things we are taught is we all have "talents" or gifts from God, and what we do with those talents is our gift back to God. I would think some "heroes" would use their super powered gifts as gifts back to God.
From: "The religion of comic book characters" forum discussion, started 3 December 2006 on RPG.net website (http://forum.rpg.net/showthread.php?t=299781&page=2; viewed 25 April 2007):
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):
12-04-2006, 12:44 AM
Originally Posted by admiralducksauce: Did Marvel (or whoever) ever explain why the walking gods, blatant proof of divine existence, still get marginalized compared to the prominent religions of our world?
Most people in the Marvel Universe believe that Thor is just some superpowered guy pretending to be the Thor of Norse Myth. After all, the Hulk is really strong and he's not a god. Storm can control the weather and she's just a mutant. Just because Thor claims to be a god doesn't mean that it's true...
Now, the DC Universe is another story. Yes, Wonder Woman is empowered by the Greek Gods. But Angels and Demons have been seen quite often. While both DC and Marvel use the "Everything is true!" take on religion, DC has made more use of it, considering that the Spectre has been around for decades. It's hard to say "Wonder Woman's cool, I'll worship Hera!" when you've got just as much proof that the Old Testament God is real.
2-04-2006, 09:34 PM
Arbane the Terrible
Quote: Originally Posted by Thranduil: While I know of the Greek/Norse/other pantheon gods empowering people in comic universes, I haven't heard of people being exalted by the biblical god to superhero-ness (except Catholics, apparently ) . Does this happen in any mainstream comics?
The only well-known character I can think of like that would be The Spectre.
In Astro City, there's a team called "The Crossbreed", who believe their powers are a gift from God. (Refreshing, in that they're devoutly religious AND unquestionably good guys. As much as I dislike organized religion, I will confess the "Evil Religious Nuts" trope has a bit overused since "God Loves, Man Kills".)
Thor once fought a guy who called himself The Crusader, but I dunno what happened to him after he lost.
08-22-2006, 10:03 AM
Found this blog (http://occasionalsuperheroine.blogspot.com/2006/08/power-of-forgiveness-in-jamie-cosleys.html) from a post in Blog@Newsarama, so I gotta give them the props for finding it. I won't post the entire entry, but I will post my response to it: While I know that Marvel actually published a couple of Christian specials back in the 80s or 90s, ("Lightbringer" or something like that) [this blogger apparently means "Illuminator"], I seriously doubt that any of the larger companies would be willing to take on a Christian character for the same reasons that there are so few gay characters: Christians are too polarizing, and if there were a Christian character, then they'd have to deal with the issue, and nobody wants to be the first to do that.
To have Christian characters means at least one of the following three things: 1) The character will be a pushy blowhard who will be shown having worse morals than other characters; 2) The character will be thoughtful and truly spiritual, which means either 2a) eventually there will have to be a serious conversation about faith, which nobody wants or 2b) the character will be Ned Flanders, and the character will be a point of derision IN SPITE of his good faith; 3) something will happen that will cause the character to walk away from his faith.
The entire nature of superheroes is humanistic ("I will avenge this person's death and bring the villain to justice!"). And the passivity preached in the New Testament doesn't lend itself to action scenes.
Plus, it'd be difficult to write such a character accurately if you personally don't have faith or don't explicitly agree with your character's faith, which would then be seen as proselytizing. And you'd have to get the characterization past your editor and publisher, either of which may disagree with your views or just be nervous about the can of worms you're opening.
Now, having said that, there are a few out there by DC: The Spectre and Grant Morrison's angel Zauriel are two characters who are explicitly tied to a Christian God. And I remember a scene in Infinite Crisis where several heroes gather in a church to pray before the final battle. But for the most part, it ain't happening.Now, I'm not looking for a flame war here (and if I find one, I'm shutting the thread down), but 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, 10:41 AM
re: I'd say whomever wrote that blog needs to read more comics.
I'm not too sure about that. There is one thing to say that a character is "N" and it is another thing to say that a character lives according to "N" faith (which the blogger truly comments on).
Additionally, if you examine the portrayals of the characters who express their Faiths, they are usually in an agnostic or pragmatic perspective rather than a devout adherent (exceptions excluded of course). Even the concept of the Spectre is agnostic in aspect in that God in a Western perspective exists - but the nature of such is left very vague and open to interpretation. I'm not sure of Zauriel though his very nature is Judeo-Christian in origin (i.e. Angels, the "El" suffix, etc.).
08-22-2006, 03:22 PM
...We also can't forget that, whatever the religon of some characters may be, the Marvel and DC universes are universes in which the Judeo-Christian religions have the upper hand. The Marvel Universe is not so obviously a Christian universe, even though there are clear depictions of Hell and other occasional Christian elements. I haven't read Fantastic Four for a while, so I am barely aware of some storyline having something to do with the afterlife. DC's most powerful super-hero is the Spectre, who is a servant of the Christian God. No one else in the DC universe measures up to him, not even gods from other religions, as we saw in Day of Vengeance. In Day of Judgment, we also see an afterlife that is very consistent with what a Christian afterlife would be like.
08-22-2006, 03:29 PM
re: DC's most powerful super-hero is the Spectre, who is a servant of the Christian God. No one else in the DC universe measures up to him, not even gods from other religions, as we saw in Day of Vengeance. In Day of Judgment, we also see an afterlife that is very consistent with what a Christian afterlife would be like.
The Spectre serves a JUDEO-Christian God--and even then it's more Judaism than it is Christian as the "eye for an eye" philosophy is Old Testament.
Though I will agree with your other points on relevancy to a Superhero--if the superhero is just shown performing acts of daring do on criminal offenders. However, that's not entirely the case anymore.
In the last ten years, comics have had an incredible amount of character internalization. We get to see the faith aspect of a character's personality even more (for example in 52 with Elongated Man and the Cult of Superboy). Lots of faith issues that are the core to the character (not religious but Faith) were demonstrated largely in that arch to that point. The same can be explored a lot more with other "openly" religious/Faithstrong characters.
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, 09:39 AM
re: Would his no-killing philophy have any bearing here?
I don't think so. There are lots of people who get behind a no-killing philosophy without religious reasons, just as there are plenty of people who wholeheartedly endorse killing other people for religious reasons.
I'm also not entirely sure how anybody in the DCU could continue to be a non-believer once they become aware of characters like the Spectre and the Demon, but DC has always dodged that by claiming that they never call him "The" God. I find that about as convincing as most politically expedient dodging of the question, but that's their story and they're sticking with it.
I think I'm OK calling Bruce Wayne a theist -- I think he does believe in the Judeo-Christian God -- but all bets are off once you're past that.
From: Kalinara, "There Are No Lions Here", posted 15 October 2006 on "Pretty, Fizzy Paradise" blog website (http://kalinara.blogspot.com/2006/10/there-are-no-lions-here.html; viewed 30 May 2007):
...Admittedly, the amount that they practice within the text can be debatable. But still the number of Christian heroes vastly outnumber those of any other religion.
Sure, we rarely see outward expressions of faith by these characters. Except for celebration of Christmas, naturally, or the giant church scene in Infinite Crisis. But we rarely see a Jewish person do anything more than wear a Star of David or light a menorah. Diana [Wonder Woman] gets a little more focus on her pagan religion, sure, but given that the gods created her... It's really not any more focus though, than is received by characters such as the Spectre, Zauriel or Peter David's Supergirl, all of whom became living representatives of a (usually) benevolent Judeo-Christian God...
From: "Legion of Atheist Super-Heroes" forum discussion, started 17 November 2006 on "Comic Book Resources" website (http://forums.comicbookresources.com/archive/index.php/t-152692.html; viewed 30 May 2007):
11-18-2006, 02:27 AM
It's funny how many atheist comic book characters there are in universes where supernatural beings demonstrably exist. In fact, hasn't Savage Dragon spoken with God personally?
11-18-2006, 09:18 AM
re: In fact, hasn't Savage Dragon spoken with God personally?
Dragon did, but blew the whole thing off as a hallucination. Which all things aside, is what alot of people might do in his position.
And it's amazingly easy to be an Atheist in a universe where it's not hard to see any "god" as another cosmic being, alien or beastie like Galactus.
Especially when you have friends that can kick such beings' asses or when all of these different religious icons co-exist and can join superhero teams or be beaten up by mere mortals.
It's not hard to write off the Spectre or Zauriel as being like Odin or Gaea... VERY powerful, but basically cosmic entities that claim godhood in some way. And especially when there are quasi-God type characters like Eternity or the Living Tribunal.
It'd be nigh impossible to deny that things like magic or even the soul exist, but Atheism isn't impossible in a superhero universe.
11-19-2006, 06:27 AM
Yeah, that's sort of the dorky thing about it. In the DCU, you've got Mr. Terrific hanging with the Spectre - the embodied Wrath of God - and Zauriel, who is literally an angel. Green Arrow, Swamp Thing and others have literally been to Heaven.
Atheism makes much less sense in a world in which gods, and God, are both demonstrably real. I suppose Mr. T argues that all these entities are just extradimensional beings of great power, but not truly divine beings.
From: "Religion in Comics, or: DCU God hates you!" forum discussion, started 9 April 2007 on "Superdickery" website (http://z8.invisionfree.com/Superdickery_Forum/index.php?showtopic=4252&st=0; viewed 30 May 2007):
Apr 9 2007, 03:47 PM
As for The Spectre, he wasn't always like he is now. He used to be a member of the JSA, and was generally more human at that time.
Besides, the modern concept of The Spectre is that he himself has no specific morality, which is why he needs a mortal host to help him cast proper judgement. That's why in Day of Vengeance, he was doing outlandish things to minor offenses, because while they were only partially wrong, The Spectre couldn't tell the difference by himself.
From: "Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Characters" forum discussion, started 10 March 2007 on "Brian Michael Bendis" part of "Comic Creator Boards" section of "Jinxworld Forums" website (http://www.606studios.com/bendisboard/archive/index.php/t-106242.html; viewed 6 June 2007):
03-10-2007, 10:46 AM
An ASTONISHINGLY detailed site that delves into the religions of superheroes. Someone has WAY too much time on their hands.
03-10-2007, 10:54 AM
Not a lot of atheists.
03-10-2007, 11:07 AM
Yeah, its kind of hard to be an atheist when you encounter gods and abstract entities on a semi-regular basis.
Even hard in the DCU, which is why I thought Mr. Terrific was a dumbass.
I mean c'mon. Captain Marvel and Wonder Woman draw their powers from ancient Pantheons, Raven is a daughter of a demon, the Spectre is the Spirit of God's vengeance, things like Etrigan, Zauriel, not to mention the various characters actually, you know, going to Heaven and Hell for whatever reason.
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.
...Obviously Wonder Woman believe in the ancient gods or the Greek pagans...
And I can hardly imagine that Hal Jordan or Cris Allen [Crispus Allen] could be agnostic after having been the Spectre - and as for Zauriel...
Posted: May 17, 2007 4:10 PM
I think the modern religions should be kept to a minimum in mainstream comics since people acutually follow these faiths. Writers run the risk of alienating readers if they misrepresent someone's church or simply center plots around concepts that refuse to work within someone's religious faith. Personally, the whole Zauriel, Spectre, and Supergirl Earth-born angel bag of concepts was a major turn-off for me because it either felt too weird or just plain wrong.
Ancient religions and made-up ones, though? Fair game! I love mythology, and crazy-cult stories are always great for a laugh.
From: "Wonder Woman and Religion", posted 21 February 2006 by Ragnell on "Written World: Hyper-Feminist Comic Book Culture Commentary" blog website (http://ragnell.blogspot.com/2006/02/wonder-woman-and-religion.html; viewed 20 June 2007):
In a way, I feel this discussion gives the writers at DC more credit for nuance and intent than they actually deserve. Speaking as a lifelong non-Christian, it's always seemed pretty obvious that the DC (and Marvel) position on religion and philosophy is exactly that of mainstream America. Some sort of nondefined Protestantism is the default "normal" state and characters who are anything else -- including Catholic or Jewish or atheist -- are only those things because it's immediately vital to their histories or a significant plot point. There might be one or two exceptions (Kitty Pryde got to be a Jewish character without her backstory involving the Holocaust or Israel or the Golem of Prague or anything like that) but overall, a generalized nonspecific Christianity is the rule. The Spectre is not the voice of a god, but The Voice of The God...and that God is certainly not Yawheh or Allah... [i.e., this poster believes the Spectre is not representative of Islam or Judaism, but represents a Christian theological viewpoint]...
re: But as a rule, comics writers are so immersed in the default assumption of the Protestant God being the one real God -- even if they themselves aren't believers -- that they can't get outside that headspace.
Sorry to hijack Ragnell's blogspace but I disagree with this completely. A great many comic book creators *aren't* actually of a Protestant background...
The Spectre's God can correlate pretty easy with a wrathful Old Testament God, Wally in Supergirl could correlate pretty easy with the more forgiving New Testament analogy, but that works primarily because of their relative lack of prominence. We don't see the Spectre's God. Wally dances in and out to "work in mysterious ways".
From: "Superheroes/villains and their religions" forum discussion, started 16 March 2006 on "Animation Insider" website (http://www.animationinsider.net/forums/archive/index.php?t-17835.html; viewed 28 June 2008):
03-16-2006, 05:16 AM
Someone pointed this out at another forum. I found it to be quite amusing that someone would actually have enough time on their hands to ponder about this.
03-19-2006, 02:08 PM
Religion seems to be a little pointless in the DCU. There's no point going around believing in things that actually exist. I mean Lucifer has a bar in LA for ****'s sake!
03-19-2006, 08:10 PM
Well, they never give definite answers. I mean, Ragman's powers are based on magic, but he believes in Judaism. Mr Terrific has met the avenging hand of God [i.e., Spectre], but is still agnostic... Just because there are beings who claim to be heavenly or such, it doesn't mean they will be believed by everyone.
From: "Stuart Moore's A Thousand Flowers: O Deadly Night" forum discussion, started 2 December 2003 on Newsarama website (http://forum.newsarama.com/archive/index.php/t-6949.html; viewed 28 June 2007):
12-02-2003, 01:24 PM
As a Jewish fan, I do get a bit tired of Christmas stories in all media, but I am certainly not hoping to see more Hanukkah stories. There was a reasonably good one in 1979 by Gerry Conway, but it only stands out because it established for all of one story that Ray Palmer is Jewish. No one ever followed up on that.
However, I will say that good writers write good Christmas stories built on ideas that can be very universal. Dan Jurgens did a beautiful one in Superman involving Supes opening all his mail at the general post office right before the holidays, and a follow-up to this that took place while Supes was dead. In John Ostrander's Spectre, the ghost with the most tried to make sure that no murders occured on Christmas Eve, which was a lot harder than it sounds, even for Jim Corrigan.
But if I see one more Christmas Carol adaptation anywhere, even in a comic book, I will scream.
12-02-2003, 02:08 PM
re: No one ever followed up on that.
...Even DeMatteis appeared to ignore that one in his Spectre run. It was almost as if becoming the Spectre caused a conversion to Christianity.
12-02-2003, 02:35 PM
...OM, I think you'll find that the Spectre II was Hal Jordon, not Ray Palmer. So there's no need for a religious conversion...
From: "Does Supes believe in God?" forum discussion, started 22 April 2007 on "Superman Home Page" website (http://www.supermanhomepage.com/forum/viewthread.php?forum_id=20&thread_id=5883; viewed 2 July 2007):
Posted on April 24, 2007 9:28pm
re: I don't think he does because most religions don't believe in other life such as aliens...
I don't think you can use this as an argument. Given the sheer preponderance of aliens in just about any continuity of Superman's, you can't rationally expect anyone to not believe in aliens. Disbelief will be shattered to pieces the first time a couple of hordes of parademons descend from on high, or the white Martians attack, or Superman himself dukes it out with Doomsday in the middle of Metropolis, or after an alien destroys Coast City, need I go on?
The point is, there's a difference between not accepting scientific theory and putting one's fingers in one's ears and shouting "I'm not listening!" The Earth is invaded far too often for people not to believe in aliens.
Also, I always thought the afterlife was kind of a foregone conclusion in the DCU. After all, it's hard to have a divine spirit of vengeance like the Spectre if there is no afterlife. The average joe might not know diddly about the Spectre, but Superman certainly does. So I'd say it's less a question of whether or not he believes, but rather what he believes. Based on where he landed, I'd say he's probably either Christian or perhaps Jewish...
Posted on June 2, 2007 9:06pm
...Anyway, back to Superman. I really don't want to know his religion, but I sincerely doubt he's an atheist. I doubt any of the superheroes are in the DCU. If there's no God, then how, pray tell, does one explain the Spectre?
From: "Religious Beliefs of DC Heroes" forum discussion, started 4 July 2006 on ComixFan website (http://x-mencomics.com/xfan/forums/showthread.php?p=1357699; viewed 6 July 2007):
Jul 4, 2006
I am a Christian (Baptist) in real life and I was wondering if anyone knows any DC characters that have been labled to a certain religion. I think DC has tried to stay away from religion, but... I thought this would cool topic. So please list anything you might know on this subject.
Jun 19, 2007
The Reviewer of Arg
...Crispus Allen, the current Spectre, was brought up Christian, but his attitude towards religion is dubious to say the least.
Jun 19, 2007
...As for the Spectre, I believe he's listed under 'Christian' because of the general religious leanings of his hosts. Crispus may be lapsed, or leaning more towards Agnostic, but he started out Christian. The Spectre, as the Wrath of God or the Spirit of Vengeance, is a monotheistic concept. Not necessarily Jewish or Christian or Muslim, but he has shown traits that lend a bit more towards the Christian theology (as far as they go in comics, anyway).
(I reserve the right to be wrong, of course. I'm not as familiar with the Spectre as I am with other characters.)
From: "It's like this webpage was written just for Austin316." forum discussion, started 24 June 2007 by Final_Flanner on "Back Room Almanac" website (http://18.104.22.168/~elkabong/boards/showpost.php?b=backroom;pid=583084;d=all; viewed 10 July 2007):
Comic book characters grouped by religion...
* Click here for link [link to: http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/comic_collage.html]
by Austin316 (06/24/2007 14:16:33)
I've posted it here before.
If you go to the home page (which I've linked below), there are some other interesting tidbits. They actually do a pretty good job. I take exception to the following theories:
...Hal Jordan as Jewish. Considering his time as The Spectre, I think we can rule out Judaism as the angelic hosts in the DC Universe mention Jesus a lot...
* Click here for link [link to: http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/comic_book_religion.html]
From: "Religious Super Heroes PC or otherwise" forum discussion, started 17 September 2003 on "HERO Games" website (http://www.herogames.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-8036.html; viewed 12 July 2007):
Sep 24th, '03, 02:59 PM
...Another one that comes to mind was Ostrander's version of Spectre, which dealt with the theological issues ignored in prior Spectre incarnations. Generally pretty good work.
From: "Gods and Champions" forum discussion, started 11 September 2004 on "HERO Games" website (http://www.herogames.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-21728.html; viewed 12 July 2007):
Sep 11th, '04, 08:26 AM
...another thought. I haven't read more then a few Golden Age stories about him, but wouldn't the Spectre explore quite a bit of religion?
Sep 11th, '04, 08:33 AM
John Ostrander's run on THE SPECTRE dealt very much - and very well - with religious themes. For that matter, Ostrander did a great job of portarying positive religious characters in SUICIDE SQUAD.
Sep 11th, '04, 09:49 AM
JLA had an angelic character for a time to replace the missing "winged guy" archetypes while the Hawks were in comic continuity limbo. Don't recall his name, but he was supposed to be from one of the Hosts of Heaven.
They also had that stupid Supergirl/Matrix merges with Linda Danvers and becomes a fiery angel plotline.
And the Spectre, as mentioned, has pretty much been defined as the Angel of Vengeance.
The Sandman and Vertigo runs aren't really mainstream comics, but God and the angelic Host played parts in many of those stories.
Sep 11th, '04, 02:08 PM
Well, Nightcrawler is Catholic, Shadowcat is Jewish. But they don't fight crime as "God Boy" or anything like that. Zauriel was an Angel and the JLA fought a renegade angel trying to conquer heaven.
The Spectre is a spirit of vengance.
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):
06-09-2007, 10:54 PM
I would assume most [DC Univese super-heroes] would believe in some higher being seeing as how they are exposed to magic pretty frequently.
06-10-2007, 01:19 AM
With the Spectre running around, Hal's interaction with it, Ollie's resurrection, and the existence of Zauriel, I'm sure a big chunk of the DCU's heroes (except for Mr. Terrific, of course) believe in some form of a deity along the lines of Christianity's god.
06-10-2007, 07:03 AM
re: "...except for Mr. Terrific, of course...
Forgive me if I appear ignorant, but does Mr Terrific have some sort of famous stance on religion? I'm not really a major DC fan, but I browse.
And incidentally, given The Spectre is a JSA member, or has been, or will be or whatever that whole crazy continuity thing is saying at the moment, (and the reasons noted by MuteMath, and a LOAD of others that I can't be bothered going into) isnt it ridiculous that any DC hero doesn't believe in a broadly Christian God?
And where do the New Gods fit in? Are they just not gods but call themselves so? This is one of those issues that terribly confusing, and I guess it'll probably always be that way, becuase sorting it out would just create problems.
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, 08:42 PM
Let's see this from the hero's point of view... Ragman is Jewish. The Spectre is a Judeo/Christian sort. Etrigan is a demon, so he obviously a religious sort...
06-13-2007, 01:43 AM
...Hal Jordan is a Christian considering that he was an agent of the Christian god when he was the Spectre...
06-13-2007, 09:47 PM
Does the Spectre really represent Christianity?
I think he'd be more representative of Judaism more Old Testament than New Testament (especially since his creators were Jewish).
I mean, what better describes the spirit of vengeance, the Old testament saying "An eye for an eye", or the New Testament message of forgiveness?
06-13-2007, 10:23 PM
Can you blame him [Mr. Terrific] or any superhero who might also be atheist? Yes he has met the Spectre but who is to say the Spectre is not just a really powerful being? Much like the Guardians on Oa or Parallax or Ares or the Moniters or Imperiex? To a man like Mr. Terrific, these guys are just powerful...
06-13-2007, 10:59 PM
re: "I hate it when people say that Batman is an athiest. The man has encountered the Spectre, the Spirit of Vengeance of the Christian god..."
And often when encountering Spectre claiming to be the embodiement of God's Vengeance, Batman says something like "So you claim."
And knowing that there are powerful creatures that claim to be gods is a LOT different than those creatures actually *being* divine. Cf. "Stargate" :)
If Wonder Woman or Superman travelled to Earth Prime [a world with no actual super-heroes, representing our own world], would they not seem as gods? Of course they would.
06-14-2007, 01:39 AM
...Batman I can see as being a Deist. He believes in A God; probably doesn't think too much about Jesus though. And he's probably got a healthy skepticism of the Spectre's claims to being God's vengence...
From: "Sacreligious amd anti-Christian Comic characters" forum discussion, started 28 February 2007 on official DC Comics website (http://dcboards.warnerbros.com/web/thread.jspa?threadID=2000107545&start=0&tstart=15; viewed 19 July 2007):
Posted: Feb 28, 2007 12:49 PM
Any character that uses magic, sorcery
Posted: Feb 28, 2007 12:58 PM
Is this crap serious? This all depends on what faith you practice. It's conservative braindead and downright dangerous thinking like this that makes more and more people turn on the church.
Zauriel, and the Spectre are representatives of God. Only freaky, religiously paranoid people would find them Anti-Christian.
Good Lord, (sigh)
Posted: Feb 28, 2007 1:09 PM
No, I would find them [Zauriel and Spectre] sacreligious.
Posted: Feb 28, 2007 1:17 PM
This is kind of a dumb topic, but I'd argue that Zauriel and Spectre are pro-Christian, since they are designated as Christian angels.
I wouldn't automatically classify all magic-users as anti-Christian or sacrilegious; I'd only count the ones that derive their power from demons or divine entities other than the Judeo-Christian deity.
Characters that derive their power from Christian mythology should count as pro-Christian IMHO, since their existence supports the Christian mythos...
Posted: Feb 28, 2007 1:19 PM
Sure, I can possibly see why Zauriel, the Spectre, Raven, the magic users and even Storm (since she is sometimes refered to as a godess) could be called sacrilegious...
Posted: Feb 28, 2007 2:25 PM
...I do NOT necessarily see the Spectre and Zariel as pro-Christian. They come from a theist tradition, and they imply belief in YHWH, but Christ does not necessarily follow from that. Same with Phantom Stranger unless you accept the possible origin that casts him as the Wandering Jew.
Throw the Fallen Angel into the pot of sacrilegious characters, though.
Not that I buy into that mumbo-jumbo [smile]
Posted: Feb 28, 2007 11:20 PM
Comments on Mavericker's list:
Zauriel - ANGEL sacrilegous HOW?
The Spectre - Some kind of angel...
"Any character that uses magic, sorcery."
The actual dictionary definition of sacreligious follows:
From the Oxford dictionary:
Adjective form of Sacrilege
Noun. Robbery or profanation of sacred building.
Outrage on consecrated person or thing.
Violation of what is sacred.
These are fictional characters!!!
Which of them have robbed or profaned a sacred building, committed an act of outrage on a consecrated person (well LOBO Probably) or violated what is sacred?
And if you think these characters are sacreligious, why don't you just avoid the books that use them?
Is Elfquest sacreligious because the elves have no organized religion?
Posted: Mar 1, 2007 11:19 AM
re: "I do NOT necessarily see the Spectre and Zariel as pro-Christian. They come from a theist tradition, and they imply belief in YHWH, but Christ does not necessarily follow from that."
I think it is implied if not explicitly stated that they are Christian, not Jewish or Muslim. But to me that doesn't make them pro-Christian. You see, if I was to worry about sacrilegious comic characters these two are two that I would worry about. Since they are Christian, and more than that on a specific mission from God himself, their dialogue and actions reflect on the religion. It is not much different than having a gay character who has every stereotype associated with gays attributed to him. Or a black man who is a sterotype of African Americans. It may seem worse than not having a character from that group at all. The Spectre for instance is the Wrath of God. If you believe in a forgiving merciful God, then clearly that is a misrepresentation of what you believe in. That could obviously be seen as offensive or even sacrilegious.
If there had been more people embrasing the Asatru I believe Lee and Kirby would have been in lots of trouble when they introduced Thor.
Posted: Mar 1, 2007 11:32 AM
In response to: mrterrific: "I think it is implied if not explicitly stated that they are Christian, not Jewish or Muslim...
I would tend to agree with that one. I'm an Orthodox Jew. (Hair covered, long sleeves, keeping kosher, etc.) I often find myself torn between wishing that there were more Jewish superheroes in comics and wincing when TPTB write them as, essentially whitebread Americans whose sole affiliation with Judaism is a Star-of-David necklace and a menorah at Hannukah.
Actually, that's not as problematic for me. I realize that the majority of Jews in the US today are not Orthodox, and while I wish that the characters showed more knowledge of their heritage, I can understand that the depiction is accurate by today's standards.
What really bugs me (and I've seen this more in the movies and on TV) is when a character is written to be Orthodox and the writer gets it wrong. Or the writer tries to incorporate Judaism into an episode and messes up.
I think it makes me cringe more when they get the religious aspects wrong, then when they don't bother with them at all.
Posted: Mar 1, 2007 1:16 PM
Mavericker is sacreligious because he causes Christians, and non-Christians to stumble by setting a piss-poor example of Christianity. People who might have been interested in the gospel but decided to turn away because his misguided beliefs is called sinning against the Spirit.
Expect a visit from the Spectre...
From: "Increasing comic circulation through different perspectives" forum discussion, started 30 November 2005 on "Comic Bloc" website (http://www.comicbloc.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-15542.html; viewed 20 July 2007):
November 30th, 2005, 09:55 AM
I think the religious issue is particularly tough to write in with regards to the main stream religions in that Heaven and Hell actually exist for sure in the DCU and Marvel universes.
We have seen characters in Heaven and return, we have seen demons from Hell. Heck, most comic book heroes have actually fought the legions of Hell. Having faith when your're standing beside an Angel who is hitting on Wonder Woman is kind of like having faith in gravity. It's the classic Douglas Adams joke with the babble fish.
November 30th, 2005, 10:01 AM
But to me, that makes it even more ridiculous that none of them are [visibly religious].
How can anybody who worked with Zauriel say they don't belive in god at the least, much less God?
Look at the Spectre, who we know is the spirit of the Judeo-Christian-Islamic God's wrath?
I mean, when you have met his servants, and know there's both a Heaven and a Hell, how do you justify not going to some form of service, or at least praying when the spit hits the fan? (as the Atom did in IDC [Identity Crisis])
If anything, the Atom's prayer makes the lack of such things [on a more regular basis] more apparent.
November 30th, 2005, 10:13 AM
Because it becomes more like using your communicator then praying, which can be viewed as marginalizing real prayers. As I understand Prayer it shouldn't be about calling God in to solve your problems. It's a matter of faith communcating with him, speaking to him and taking up your burden as a part of his plan. I think it would diminish things if Superman was praying to God so that they can get Spectre to intervene.
"Hail Mary, full of grace, please page Spectre and Zaurel. Darksied is attacking."
From: "Religion in the DCU?" forum discussion, started 25 October 2006 on "Comic Bloc" website (http://www.comicbloc.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-37480.html; viewed 20 July 2007):
October 25th, 2006, 11:06 AM
I posted this in another thread, but since it goes off-topic I decided to start my own. Anyways...
If Fourth World is still in continuity and The Presence is the God of the three major religions (Christianity, Judaism, and Islam) I was wondering...
Where do Moses, Jesus and the Prophet Mohammed stand in the DCU?
I know the Spear of Destiny is laced with the blood of Christ, but is there anything else that's been mentioned?
October 25th, 2006, 11:08 AM
Well, there's the Crime Bible, made from the rock Cain used to slay Able, the Spectre, and I think all religions exist, they just are underplayed. I THINK, but I really don't know.
October 25th, 2006, 11:09 AM
However, it seems that lately, DC is trying to get away from any religious aspects in their characters. When I interviewed Judd Winick, he said he views the Spectre as more a magical entity as opposed to a servant of God.
October 25th, 2006, 11:10 AM
How does that work when the Spectre is all about "divine judgement"?
October 25th, 2006, 11:12 AM
I'm not sure if the Spectre mini and the current ToTU mini help that perception. He stills acts like a vengeful spirit. I actually hope they keep him like that. I like that side of the Spectre better.
October 25th, 2006, 12:34 PM
Oh, I'm sure all religions exist in the DCU, and I know of the different heroes that are connected to God, and various other beliefs (like Ragman, Monolith, Zauriel, The Spectre, etc)
It's just that I've always wondered about where Moses, Jesus, and the Prophet Mohammed stood in the grand scheme of things.
Like a hero who was/is bestowed great powers by wielding the sword of Mohammed or the existence of the Holy Grail, or the staff of Moses, etc. That sort of thing.
October 25th, 2006, 05:35 PM
I agree. DC does have a multi-religious idea that works perfectly. It even fits into the Hindu idea of multiple gods being aspects of one large divine spirit. I mean, the Spectre is God's spirit of Vengeance. That's in the character discription. While I personally think they've made a mistake by saying divine characters are simply magical (or explaining it by science... Mr. Terrific... ick), I guess I can't stop them.
Besides, ever see the Waynes' gravestones? Cross. Bruce is either an Episcopalian or Catholic. And there is that great church scene in IC [Infinite Crisis] #5.
October 26th, 2006, 02:47 PM
re: "When I interviewed Judd Winick, he said he views the Spectre as more a magical entity as opposed to a servant of God."
And that's why I don't read his stuff. That's the whole origin of the Spectre. Take your choice God sends a man back to fight evil or God's wrath. If you can't get that, then don't bother with the character.
Getting back to the topic, I believe Moses was mentioned in the old Spectre series (like 75% sure) and while Jesus wasn't named, it talked about "God's Forgiveness" walking the Earth. And when Jesus died, it was the Spectre Force that caused the earth to tremble, the graves to erupt, the veil to be ripped, etc., etc., After which, I believe Arch Angel Michael told the Spectre Force that The Presence had decreed that God's Wrath couldn't walk the Earth without being grafted to a man. (Sorry for the extra info)
Another part that was touched on in the Ostrander/Mandrake Spectre series was that The Presence was known by all of the various pantheons. So it didn't dwell just on Christian/Jewish, but that was the main focus.
October 26th, 2006, 03:58 PM
After which, I believe Arch Angel Michael told the Spectre Force that The Presence had decreed that God's Wrath couldn't walk the Earth without being grafted to a man. (Sorry for the extra info)
Another part that was touched on in the Ostrander/Mandrake Spectre series was that The Presence was known by all of the various pantheons. So it didn't dwell just on Christian/Jewish, but that was the main focus.
Exactly. That is why I still say Day of Vengeance is impossible.
Your Rock God
October 26th, 2006, 04:33 PM
re: "Where do Moses, Jesus and the Prophet Mohammed stand in the DCU?"
They probably would have them be like the Greek Gods and Zauriel is where they can be hurt by non-religious beings but still powerful but to not piss off the people of their faith, they'll probably never have any of them in a comic.
October 26th, 2006, 04:46 PM
I look at it as henotheistic. There are many "gods" running around, from the new gods to greek gods, magic, etc. But there is also a supreme being that is over everything, under several names perhaps (the Source, the Presence, etc.) that seems to fall under the general idea of the three theistic religions' idea of a supreme power, but is tied somewhat closely to Christianity through the Spectre and Zauriel. Not simply Judeo-Christian, (or Muslim) for sure, but not polytheistic or Campbellesque "Everything has an aspect of truth."
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 26th, 2005, 02:12 PM
It is hard to be a "well adjusted" Atheist when the Spectre is around or Etrigan or Neron or Deadman or the entire cast of Sandman. It is hard to be an Atheist when Zeus and Athena show up on your doorstep and people who have died come back later with tales of an afterlife. When you have Lords of Order and Chaos.
You most certainly cannot be a Skeptic in the DCU - Aliens, Magic, and psychic powers Do exist there. Superman is saving the world again. Chances are good if you lived in the DCU you'd have a chance to shake his hand.
Being an Atheist in the DCU is like being a Flat-Earther in our reality.
May 26th, 2005, 02:17 PM
Conversely, so is being religious, since every deity seems to exist and none hold primacy over the others (or the Anti-Monitor, for that matter). In a world of super-beings, these "gods" just come off as slightly more super beings. The argument could go both ways.
May 26th, 2005, 02:20 PM
Not really true... as there are higher powered dieties... but the proof of God's existence has been established.
The Spectre is the embodiment of God's Wrath. Zaurel has spoken to God. . . etc. Ollie [Green Arrow] and Hal [Green Lantern] have both been to Heaven and back.
May 26th, 2005, 03:01 PM
When "God's wrath" is just another super hero and angels decide to go on benders that wreck entire cities and when devils are constantly getting their butts kicked by Superman, what use is faith?
Why fear Satan if you're a Christian, when you see Superman kick his butt every summer?
The fact that characters such as the Spectre, Etrigan, Eclipso, Azrael [sic: Zauriel], Azmodel et al all play a part in the ordinary every day scratch and claw bickering of superheroes tends to pretty much destroy any idea of the divine being something above or beyond the ordinary world. If anything, it makes the religious groups still clinging to some vague idea of divinity into the "flat-earth Luddites"--especially when "God's right hand" is busy throwing back a beer as Jim Corrigan.
The prevelance of religious characters as just another funny book hero or dimestore baddy puts them on the exact same level as Superman and Batman - and no higher.
May 26th, 2005, 03:03 PM
They've also been to Ragnarok, Olympus, etc., etc. All of these beings claim to be responsible for creation; they can't all be right. That automatically casts doubt on the "worship-worthiness" of all said deities, so there's plenty of room to be a skeptic in that respect...
May 26th, 2005, 03:14 PM
From my understanding the pantheons have defaulted to a higher power..aka "The Presence" but I could be wrong...
May 31st, 2005, 09:33 AM
God and Jesus actually exist in DCU continuity.
I suppose God would be considered "The Source" that created the universe back in Crisis. He's also been referred to as "The Presence".
And The Spectre wasn't on earth about 2000 years ago when the "Spirit of Forgiveness" was on the planet. Gee, who could that be? ;)
Of course, they share the DCU with the gods of Wonder Woman and such... so I'm sure there's a deity for everyone.
May 31st, 2005, 11:03 AM
Religion is almost always brought up as a vehicle for some kind of struggle. Otherwise, it's usually left alone. It certainly works both ways. Superman and Father Leonne sat around talking about their dissappearing faith several times during the lengthy "For Tomorrow" arc. There was no turnaround (sudden or otherwise) there. In JLA: Classified, Mary Marvel was constantly shown as naive and dogmatic largely because her faith. Recently, Hal declared that God must be cruel and vindictive as he distanced himself from the Spectre.
Besides, while it is a fact that some sort of belief in the divine is only sensible in the DCU, those convictions almost always show up in the form of "theistic humanism", for lack of a better term. All it really means is that 95% of the heroes stick to universal principles found in nearly all religions and in secular lines of thought, like "love your fellow man".
May 31st, 2005, 12:06 PM
This is an interesting post. But the DC universe is not our world. How can you not believe in God when a being like the Spectre can exist. Furthermore, Hell has been shown to a real place not simply a metaphor. There is an afterlife. The universe has been shown to have been created - remember that hand that Krona sees in his monitor? The existence of a deity in the DC Universe is more a matter of fact than faith.
May 31st, 2005, 12:41 PM
When you have the embodiment of God's rage [the Spectre] running around in your world, I would think that it's kind of hard to be an atheist. Now, knowing God exists and choosing to worship him or not could be an entirely different matter...
May 31st, 2005, 12:51 PM
re: "When you have the embodiment of God's rage running around in your world, I would think that it's kind of hard to be an atheist..."
I outlined my rebuttal to this directly before your post.
You also have emissaries of the Olympian Gods, the Hindu pantheon, etc. Who's to say the Spectre is legit, or just another super-human megalomanic? Who's to say what the dude who calls himself an "angel" on the JLA really is, or the Ares that has shown himself, only to be driven back by mortals? Plenty of room to doubt the "godliness" of these beings.
But, like I said, also in the same post, this is all beside the point I was trying to make. Atheists/agnostics clearly exist in the DCU, since creators have shown them - it's just that they always seem to show them in a negative light.
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."
May 31st, 2005, 08:27 PM
Did you catch the reference to original Starman, Crawford? I think it was his story about Etrigan where he (only once in all his years of teaming with the Spectre) even considered that religious mythology was more than fairy tales. I believe the slight conflict there was the "shaking of faith in atheism" but was NOT portrayed as "now he believes in God!". It was more of a "there are still mysteries my science does not explain" theme as I read it.
Also, I know it sounds odd, but DeMatteis' religious stories DO go into character's doubt. The whole 'Hal Jordan is Spectre' series had these arguements. The Right Hand of God wasn't sure if what he was serving was truly the god of his childhood beliefs, or some sort of Universal Subconscious created by thought itself. In the JLA/Spectre mini, we're shown the JLA getting heavens tailor made based on their thoughts... nothing truly divine.
Prayer for Hal in the "Redemption Lost" JSA arc seemed to be more about having someone to talk to, and confess his fears. Not about talking to God. The Spectre already had a direct line to heaven.
In "Rebirth," Hal concludes God (in the representation of the Spectre's urges) is not infallible or all-right. If Hal's beliefs follow most peoples, essentially that was a crisis of faith. Many modern people scoff at worshipping a flawed entity. He might accept that there's an all-powerful spirit that created the universe and empowers the Spectre, but he does not BELIEVE in it.
When Hal talks about manifested glory, he's talking about himself. All good comes from within, not from some god. The epitome of arrogance, perhaps, but more forgiveable in a man who's been host to not one, but TWO divine entities, and might've qualified as a god himself at one time under most people's definitions.
June 1st, 2005, 02:20 PM
The thing is they've never shown the Christian God anywhere in DC Comics, which shows you that he's really big stuff. You always see Ares God of War and Zeus. The closest they've ever come to showing God is when the Spectre runs around damning people to hell or turning there hands to black ash, this doesn't give Christians or God that much positive exposure. The best thing tying into Christianity I've read in comics is Kingdom Come. Waid used a minister to stop Armageddon.
From: "Barry Allen is Jewish?" forum discussion, started 13 May 2005 on "Comic Bloc" website (http://www.comicbloc.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-4308.html; viewed 20 July 2007):
Heatwave the Rogue
May 15th, 2005, 07:44 AM
...I would rather comic companies take a "don't ask, don't tell" policy about religion.
May 15th, 2005, 10:59 AM
I think don't ask don't tell is for the birds. I mean, no, I don't want some kind of sermon every time I pick up a comic, but if you were a writer trying to flesh out a character sooner or later you'd have to come up against his or her spiritual beliefs. They can make for great stories...
If you are going to write stories that are beyond mere kiddy stories about men in tights, religion will enter it at some point...
And really, if you think about it, many characters have religious or quasi-religious elements to them, its just that many readers choose to ignore it. Superman is a sort of Christ figure. Capt. Marvel and Black Adam's powers are based on ancient religions in Greece and Eygpt. Dr. Fate and most other mystical characters are rooted in pagan believes. Mantiou Raven loosely represents Native American faith. Wonder Woman, in fact, rests on the assumption that the Greek gods are real. There is Thor, taken right from Norse religion, and J'onn J'onz often prays to his alien gods. And Spectre is inspired by old school wrath of god stuff from the Old Testament...
May 21st, 2005, 08:05 AM
You know, I don't like too much overly obvious religious references in my comics nor do I like political ones because I read comics as an escape. But I do appreciate appropriate mentions.For example, I think the talk Dr. MidNite and Mr. Terrific had during the Spectre arc was very appropriate without being overblown. Now in other comics I just see religion used as a way to stereotype a character "him, he's the Catholic guy" or "He's the Jewish guy" or something like that. I think that's just a sign of an unimaginative writer.
Of course in the DCU, things get tricky because you have the Wrath of God [Spectre] right there in the open as well as angels and demons...
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, 10:32 AM
They're out there. But, once again, as with your examples, they tend to be supporting characters. The Spectre is probably the best example of an overtly relgious hero that DC has ever had. Jim Corrigan's talks with Father Cramer and his worldview are clearly deeply (and sometimes disturbingly) religious...
May 28th, 2006, 12:31 PM
Well here's some of the heroes I know with obvious religious ties:
The Spectre (Christianity/Catholicism)
Here are a couple I'm not sure about...
I know Atom Smasher is Jewish and Doc. Mid-Nite is Christian, but I'm not sure about anybody else and don't want to label anyone wrongly. Anyway, religion seems pretty well represented, IMO...
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 Corn Stone on Monday, March 06 2006 at 05:11:29 GMT
Question for other atheists. Are there any? :-)
How do you relate to the characters in comics, DC especially, who are characterised as atheistic/agnostic?
And a sort of put-yourself-in-the-shoes - Would you still be an atheist if you'd had the experiences Mr Terrific and co have had? (Not counting Green Arrow, Barry Allen and folk who have been to Heaven, if their experiences are to be believed. And they are - this is the DCU cosmology.)
I doubt very much I would call myself an atheist, if, say, I was a member of the JLA or JSA and had some of these experiences.
Posted by Einheri on Tuesday, March 07 2006 at 03:53:00 GMT
I hold out hope.
As for Mr Terrific, if he is an atheist - from what I've seen - he's very polite about it. Atheists who try to "evangelize" me to their beliefs (or lack of beliefs) tend to iritate me more than religious people trying to evangelize me to their faith. But not much more.
Let me work it out for myself. And I'll try not to bother you. But I make no promises. ;-)
There, that's about as preachy as I get, Corn. But, to better answer some of what you're driving at, I think it could be very easy to be an atheist in the presence of Superman. I daresay that the presence of entities like Darkseid, Spectre, Dr. Fate, Deadman, Wonder Woman, Clark Kent, and even "things" like Bat-Mite sort of make the supernatural common-place. If we have comic book logical explanations of these folk, it wouldn't be too hard to reason that there could be other, more powerful creatures, even a "supreme being." But I don't think someone like Mr. Terrific would call this entity "GOD." Well, maybe he might if he thought it could get IT to stop making him eat playground dirt.
Posted by JesusFan on Monday, March 06 2006 at 17:41:35 GMT
Well, I will try to divorce myself from answering if it was me, as I am a born again believer in Jesus Christ. But your point is well taken, as it appears that you are asking if any of us were in the DCU, and saw things from the DCU perspective on God, angels, aliens, mystics, etc... Could we actually in that particular frame of reference stay an atheist?
My take is that the DC DOES have God in the picture, the Presense, and that there ARE Angels/Devils on assignment, Micheal/Morningstar etc, so probably Mr. Terrific Knows that such DO really exist, but his mental grid simple will not allow him to experience it as his truth.
Just as Batman KNOWS Spectre is real, and could go to seek out his Father in heaven/Hell, his mental grids will not allow him to support that truth, as he is "rational/scientific" mindset...
Posted by tolsvar on Tuesday, March 07 2006 at 00:30:12 GMT
Ok, so I wasn't going to go there, as I feel this subject does tend to walk a very fine line between "giving you an answer" and "getting too preachy". Then I read some other posts and thought "what the heck, I'll bore everyone with my opinion!"
First, I'm not an atheist, but I'm not part of any established religion either. I have my set of beliefs, formed by rationalizing what I know with what I believe. It's a fine line of science and faith, and it works for me.
If I lived in the DC Universe and saw things like people coming back from the dead, the Spectre and people like Dr Fate and the like, I don't think I'd have that hard of time fitting all that into what I believe. Someone like Zauriel (if I spelled his name right), who claims to be an angel, would be tough to understand. I would have a hard time believing that he was what he said he was, because of my views on what a supreme being is and does.
Situations like Donna Troia coming back from the dead, not so hard to understand because of what I believe. Unlikely? YEAH! But I wouldn't dismiss it.
Even someone like Wonder Woman, with her ties to Greek Mythology and their gods, could be understood based on my views on things. I could believe in someone like Zeus existing, I just wouldn't feel they were meant to be worshipped as they were back in the day.
Other dimensions, the little "hells" that sprinkle themselves across comic book universes, would be a curiousity to me, and I would definitely want to learn more to see how, if at all, they fit-in with what I believed. If my beliefs needed to be changed in order to accomodate what I learned, that's fine... I'm open-minded enough and certainly don't think so much of myself as to believe I have all the answers, not in the DC Universe!
Someone like Mr Terrific and Iron Man in the Marvel Universe are supposed to be portrayed as scientists, but I doubt the comic writers understand, truly, what it is that makes a scientific-minded person tick. They don't go through life doubting everything, they merely seek true answers to questions they have, and rarely take anything on faith. Based on what Terrific has been through, I'ld say his religious views are more complex than what we think they are. Iron Man should be the same way, but Marvel gets hung-up on showing how much he hates magic because he "doesn't understand it" and "it's not science". Seriously, hasn't he been hanging around Scarlet Witch long enough to have figured magic out by now?
So, in a nutshell, my faith in what I believe wouldn't be shattered or even shaken a little. Without a doubt, some of my more complex questions would be answered living in a world of superheroes and spirits of vengeance, but it would hardly make me over-haul everything I felt was true about life and why I'm here.
From: "Is Bruce Wayne A Religious Person?" forum discussion, started 20 April 2006 on "Killer Movies" website (http://www.killermovies.com/forums/f50/t400582.html; viewed 27 July 2007):
20 April 2006
Bruce is basically like me: neutral. He is neither a religious person nor an atheist. Which I think is pretty cool that they keep those out of the storyline. Of course, Batman uses science to fight crime. He also has encountered Supernatural beings like The Demon, Spectre, and Shazam. You can basically assume he's split on both science and religion.
7 July 2006
Well I know [Batman] KNOWS there's a God. He was on the Justice League (not sure about anymore, have been busy with things other than reading comics) with Zauriel, who's an Angel. Haven't they come into contact with The Spectre, who is God's Wrath? Too many supernatural things, and things that have to do with a higher being have taken place for him to just ignore those things. I think he's too smart to remain ignorant on that.
BUT there is a difference in KNOWING and BELIEVING in it. I think he knows but chooses not to believe in it. Chooses not to think that Him being there will change any thing of have any effect in his life. Wasn't that the case with Constantine? He knew but didn't believe? Something like that.
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 9th, 2005, 02:29 PM
I'm a Teaching Assistant at a major college and I am doing some research for a book being written by the professor I work for with the working title Modern Morality Plays: The Religion of Comics.
Essentially, the book will discuss how comics have become the primary form or morality storytelling much in the way that Bible studies were in the past.
One of my students suggested I come here and ask a few questions, as this forum is reportedly quite active.
If you wish to participate, please provide the following:
And answer the following questions:
1. Do you feel that comics reflect your moral values?
2. What are the primary moral values reflected in comics?
3. Do you feel that comics reflect any religious philosophy in particular?
I'll probably have more questions later, but this should get us started.
December 9th, 2005, 03:53 PM
...3. Yes. With the presence of the Spectre and Zauriel it reflects the Christian, Jewish, or Muslim beliefs of heaven, hell, angels, demons, etc (though I can't recall if those related characters ever actually state specifically Christianity). Plus we've seen characters go to church (the one that currently springs to mind is Mr. Terrific and Doc Midnight at the end of the Hal/Spectre story in JSA)...
December 13th, 2005, 09:09 PM
re: "Additionally, we could also use some opinions on what characters/storylines best illustrate the following moral concepts:"
A. Redemption--Green Lantern: Rebirth, characters--Spectre, Batman, Spider-Man
B. Faith-- Nightcrawler: Icons, character--Nightcrawler
C. Humility--Green Lantern: The Road Back (even though it's not a favorite story), character--Kyle Rayner, Tim Drake
D. Hospitality--the Excalibur storyline where Kurt mentored the crazy gang (I can pull my old issues if needed); character--Aunt May
Thanks a lot! I might edit later if I think of more.
December 13th, 2005, 11:00 PM
Religious Affiliation: None. I consider myself a spiritual person though.
5. what characters/storylines best illustrate the following moral concepts:
A. Redemption: Green Lantern: Rebirth. Hal was given the opportunity to serve as God's wrath and as he did, he slowly became his own person again. I don't know if many people would stand up to "the presence" given the opportunity and through the Spectre, Hal became his own person again.