The popular Marvel Comics character Spider-Man was created by writer Stan Lee (who is Jewish) and artist Steve Ditko (who was a devout Objectivist from early in his work on the character). Spider-Man has always been written as an essentially WASP-ish character (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant).
Marvel Comics editor-in-chief Joe Quesada has stated in his JoeFridays column that Peter Parker is "most likely of Christian Protestant beliefs" (http://www.newsarama.com/NewJoeFridays/NewJoeFridays28.html).
Religious affiliation has usually been a relatively taboo subject in mainstream superhero comics. Characters in the comic books from major publishers such as Marvel and DC have traditionally exhibited an unrealistic lack of religious affiliation and religious identity. Nevertheless, it has always been apparent that Peter Parker (Spider-Man) is from a Protestant Christian background. Parker's precise denominational affiliation has never been made clear. Peter Parker has never been depicted as a regular churchgoer and could probably not be said to be religiously observant on a daily basis in any organized way. Nevertheless, Parker has exhibited a clear belief in God from time to time, and his Protestant Christian background has always been strongly manifest in his behavior and personal code of ethics.
Although Stan Lee and many other early Spider-Man writers shied away from directly addressing Peter Parker's religious beliefs and religious identity, other aspects of the character have been dealt with concretely. The character of Peter Parker has always exhibited a strong interest in science. Indeed, Parker's ability to think logically and rationally has often saved him from predicaments and dangers when his amazing spider-derived powers alone would have been insufficient.
From: "New Joe Fridays Week 28", published December 2006 on Newsarama.com (http://www.newsarama.com/NewJoeFridays/NewJoeFridays28.html; viewed 8 June 2007):
RQ [question]: What do you think accounts for the dearth of monotheistic heroes? Do you think we'll be seeing the topic of religion explored in the Marvel Universe anytime soon?...
JQ [Joe Quesada, editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics]: I don't know if dearth is the right word to use, especially when traditionally there was no expression of religious beliefs by comic characters in the past.
Like so many of the characters we create, ethnicity, religious beliefs... and all of the things that make people who they are only come into play if they're an important part of what makes up the interesting aspects of a character from a storytelling perspective. For us to sit around a table and say, "hey, we need a dozen new Hispanic characters," seems forced and not the way we go about our creative business.
The characters that have religion play into their stories are that way because their religion played an important part in who they are as a character and it effects their decisions and their stories, no one more so than Matt Murdock. In direct contrast, one would have to assume that due to Peter Parker's Irish heritage (Parker/Fitzgerald), he's most likely of Christian Protestant beliefs, yet while there have been rare instances when he's reached out to God, it's not an important makeup of his character...
Now that the appropriate files have been examined I believe I have sufficient hard data to put forth that theory I mentioned earlier. I feel confident I know why these particular paranormals were abducted. All the missing share a common trait or experience... An event or attitude that might be categorized as religious. Many among the missing hold deeply felt moral stands or intense spiritual belief systems. Those who do not fit that profile have all had after-death experiences... My theory does not hold that these attitudes aided in the missing individual's abduction, only that these traits may have determined who would be taken.
Above: After warning of impending danger, Doctor Strange suggests that the next thing Peter Parker (Spider-Man) should do is pray. Spider-Man does pray, beginning with, "Hey, God? It's Peter again..." [From The Amazing Spider-Man volume 2, issue #46, pages 6-8; written by J. Michael Straczynski with art by John Romita Jr. (pencils) and Scott Hanna (inks).]
Text from The Amazing Spider-Man volume 2, issue #46, pages 6-8:
DOCTOR STRANGE: When you went off the path [on the astral plane, during a mission that Doctor Strange sent Peter on], which kept you safe from prying eyes, you were noticed. When you went off the path, you entered the food chain. Whatever the source of your power, you are tied to the Spider. It is your icon, your totem, the template for your identity. When you follow the spider, you inherit the ways of the spider, its natural powers -- and its natural enemies. They extend into the waking world just as their counterparts in the waking world have echoes in this place.
SPIDER-MAN: Yeah, but . . . what is it?
DOCTOR STRANGE: My time is done here . . . others are calling to me. I must go.
SPIDER-MAN: Waitaminnit . . .
DOCTOR STRANGE: So that you will know this was not simply a dream . . . there is an etymology [sic: entomology] book on your third shelf. Look to page seventy-three.
SPIDER-MAN: And then . . .?
DOCTOR STRANGE: Pray.
SPIDER-MAN: . . . pray . . .
[Peter Parker wakes up from his dream (which was not simply a dream), in which Doctor Strange appeared to him and conversed with him on the astral plane. He finds the book on his shelf and opens to the page Doctor Strange described. The page has a picture and description of a "Spider Wasp."]
The spider wasp is the most efficient spider-killer in the insect kingdom. Its sting quickly subdues its prey by paralyzing the spider's central nervous system. But it does not kill the spider all at once. The spider wasp carries its prey to its nest, or if the spider is too large to carry in flight, the wasp simply drags it to the nest. In order to make the spider easier to drag, some spider wasps bite off the spider's legs, often drinking the blood that leaks form the wounds. The spider wasp places a single spider in each nest, which is often constructed after catching the prey.
[Peter Parker's face shows that he is rather horrified after reading this description.]
PETER PARKER/SPIDER-MAN: Hey, God? It's Peter again. Listen, not that I'm complaining or anything, but next incarnation, just for a change of pace, you think you could have me get bitten by a radioactive Jennifer Lopez? Just a thought."
Peter Parker, Spider-Man #48 is another issue which depicts Peter Parker in prayer, or having a "conversation with God." In this scene, we can even hear God's answers to Peter (or at least what Peter imagines God's answers are, or would be). It is probably not the intent of this scene to suggest that God is speaking directly to Peter Parker, but clearly Parker is thinking about God and pondering why God would allow terrible things to happen to him. Peter seems to find at least partial answers to his questions both in this scene and in the coming story arc.
From: Peter Parker, Spider-Man Vol. 2 #48 (September 2002), titled "The Big Question", pages 1-3; written by Paul Jenkins, pencilled by Mark Buckingham, inked by Wayne Faucher; reprinted in: Peter Parker, Spider-Man Vol. 4: Trials and Tribulations trade paperback, Marvel Entertainment Group: New York City (2003).
Dialogue from: Peter Parker, Spider-Man Vol. 2 #48 (September 2002), titled "The Big Question", pages 1-3; written by Paul Jenkins, pencilled by Mark Buckingham, inked by Wayne Faucher; reprinted in: Peter Parker, Spider-Man Vol. 4: Trials and Tribulations trade paperback, Marvel Entertainment Group: New York City (2003):
[Peter Parker sits on his bed in his apartment, staring at his Spider-Man costume, which is draped over the back a chair.]MSNBC published an article by Alex Johnson that cited this website as well as interviews and other sources. The article's material about Spider-Man drew heavily from this "Religious Affiliation of Spider-Man" page. From: Alex Johnson, "At the comics shop, religion goes graphic: Judeo-Christian themes woven into comic books you might not expect", published on MSNBC.com, 25 April 2006 (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12376831/; viewed 2 May 2006); re-posted by Worldwide Religious News (http://wwrn.org/article.php?idd=21302; viewed 2 May 2006):
PETER PARKER (thinking): Me and God, we have this little game. We're still working out the finer details, but it basically works like this: He does something really spiteful . . . normally to someone I care about . . . and I get to ask a lot of questions about it. Prayers are, like, God's way of staying interested. I swear he does this stuff to us so that we'll complain and he can have someone to talk to.
Dear God, the thing is this: my life's a joke. I mean, if you're so infinitely wise then why would you send someone like the Green Goblin to try and ruin my life? Since when did my family and friends ever do you any harm? Why would you have the Goblin put my buddy Flash Thompson in a coma so that he may never walk or talk again? And where did I go so wrong that you needed to hold a miror to my heart, just so's I can see my ugly reflection?
GOD: Oh, Peter . . . Don't you see? This is all part of my grand design.
PETER PARKER: Uh-huh . . . is this one of those "create by numbers" things you got going here? Only I'm not sure I see the entire picture.
GOD: Would it make any difference if you did?
PETER PARKER: Probably not. So just why do bad things happen to good people?
GOD: I can't tell you. It'd spoil the surprise. You'd know everything. And then you'd get all bored and grumpy and you'd blame it on me. It's much better this way, Peter . . . You get to figure everything out for yourself and when you do, it'll make all the difference in the world.
PETER PARKER (thinking): Funny how most of my conversations with God end like that.
Spider-Man's religious affiliation was mentioned in Newsweek. (Steven Waldman and Michael Kress, "BeliefWatch: Good Fight", published in Newseek, cover-dated 19 June 2006, page 12):
And the Lord said: "OH, PETER ... DON'T YOU SEE? THIS IS ALL PART OF MY GRAND DESIGN." (Here, the Lord always speaks in CAPITAL LETTERS.)
Here, God is speaking to Peter Parker.
He is speaking to Spider-Man.
Throughout the history of Marvel Comics' "Spider-Man" franchise, little clues have been dropped that Peter Parker is a believer (specifically, a Protestant, although what denomination isn't clear). There's the "God Bless Our Home" stitching on the kitchen wall, for example, and then there was the night he thanked God for bringing Mary Jane into his life.
God speaks to Peter Parker in pseudo-Gothic type in a 2002 issue of "Spider-Man."
Critics have long found Christian themes in Peter Parker's struggle to determine what's right. "With great power comes great responsibility" may be a watchword of the recent Spider-Man movies, but it's lifted straight from the comic books...
Super hero movies have been doing well in the box office. It has been said that Spider-Man is a Protestant Christian, Daredevil is a Catholic, and Superman is a retelling of the Jesus story.From: Julia Baird, "A Sunday sermon from Superman", published 22 June 2006 in The Sydney Morning Herald (http://www.smh.com.au/news/opinion/a-sunday-sermon-from-superman/2006/06/21/1150845241006.html; viewed 21 June 2006):
...Superman is not the only superhero thought to be religious... Batman is said to be a lapsed Anglican or Catholic..., as is the Hulk. Rogue from the X-Men was raised as a Baptist, and Spider-Man prays to what is assumed to be a Protestant God...From: David Waters, "A Methodist can leap tall buildings? Get a grip!", published 4 June 2006 in the Memphis, Tennessee Commercial Appeal (http://www.commercialappeal.com/mca/local_columnists/article/0,2845,MCA_25341_4745647,00.html; viewed 4 June 2006):
In fact, most superheroes have religious backgrounds, according to adherents.com... Spiderman is vaguely Protestant. Rogue (of the X-Men) grew up Southern Baptist.
Even superheroes need a superhero, I guess.
From: Barry Caine, "If a superhero lands in the forest, does anyone hear it?" (Movie Guy column), published 24 July 2006 in Oakland Tribune (http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4176/is_20060624/ai_n16506776; viewed 12 July 2007):
From: Radford, Bill, "Holy Superhero! Comic books increasingly making reference to faith", published in Colorado Springs Gazette, 6 May 2006 (http://www.gazette.com/display.php?secid=20; viewed 8 May 2006):
..."Superman Returns," which opens at 10 p.m. Tuesday... Superman's pending resurrection is inspiring super conjecture. For instance, Newsweek's "With Beliefnet.com" column has dubbed the Man of Steel a Methodist.
...while we're on the subject, the article uses data gleaned from Adherents.com to imbue other superheroes with their likely religious orientations.
For instance, The Thing from "The Fantastic Four" is Jewish, a fact addressed in the saga.
Spider-Man, "who sometimes addresses God in spontaneous prayer," is Protestant...
From: Soleine Leprince, "Discussing the origins of religious belief" in Daily Princetonian, 13 March 2007 (http://www.dailyprincetonian.com/archives/2007/03/13/opinion/17697.shtml; viewed 23 April 2007):
With or without overt references to religion, superhero stories resonate for people of faith, says Greg Garrett, author of "Holy Superheroes! Exploring Faith & Spirituality in Comic Books."'
"In the process of telling their stories of human - and superhuman - characters, comics deal with issues near and dear to our hearts: faith, hope, belief, guilt, justice, redemption, ultimate meaning, ultimate evil," he writes in the book's introduction.
Garrett, a professor of English at Baylor University in Texas, is seeking his Master of Divinity degree at Episcopal Theological Seminary of the Southwest.
He says... Batman can be seen as "an avatar of God's justice." Spider-Man teaches lessons about power and responsibility.
"I think when I go to superheroes, I see there is a religious metaphor to begin with," says comic-book writer Steven T. Seagle.
Even comic-book heroes are painted as religious: Suppositions have been made that Superman Methodist, Spiderman is Protestant, The Thing is Jewish...
From: Lynn Arave, "Superhero/ Super savior? Religious imagery plentiful; local leaders worry about Superman's morals", published 8 July 2006 in Deseret Morning News (http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,640192870,00.html; viewed 15 May 2007):
The June 19, 2006, issue of Newsweek contained a list of the "suspected" religions of superheroes... Newsweek also listed Spider-Man as a Protestant, The Thing as Jewish, The Hulk as a lapsed Catholic, Daredevil as a Catholic, Batman as a lapsed Catholic or disaffected Episcopalian and Captain America as a Protestant...
The Newsweek article is online at www.msnbc.msn.com/id/13249146/site/newsweek/.
It has been well established that Peter Parker's Aunt May is a Protestant Christian. This is the woman who has had the most influence on Parker, and who raised him during most of his life.
Above: When Spider-Man gets a glimpse of his future, he sees the tombstone of his Aunt May. Note the Christian cross that marks the gravesite of May Parker, Peter's beloved Aunt May, the woman who raised him.
Source: The Amazing Spider-Man #500 (December 2003), titled "Happy Birthday, Part Three", pages 2-3; written by J. Michael Straczynski, pencilled by John Romita Jr. and John Romita Sr., inked by Scott Hanna; reprinted in: The Amazing Spider-Man: Happy Birthday trade paperback, Marvel Entertainment Group: New York City (2004).
From: "Spiderman: A Man with a Mission" page on "Facing the Challenge of Our Times" website (http://www.facingthechallenge.org/spiderman.htm; viewed 1 December 2005):
The demon, called Green Goblin, tries different strategies to disarm the one who stands in the way of his plans. He tries temptation, lies, flattery - ideas that are neither creative nor new. To demoralize Spiderman's fighting spirit, he even tries to touch the people Spiderman loves most - the woman he loves, and his elderly aunt, who brought him up instead of his mother. But power is found in unexpected places, and she is a committed believer. When the demon tries to attack her, she (who seems so weak) prays the Lord's prayer 'But deliver us from the evil one...' - a prayer with power!
Above: Note the hand-stitched "God Bless Our Home" wall hanging on the wall of the kitchen in Peter Parker and Aunt May's home.
Source: Spider-Man: Blue #1, Marvel Entertainment Group: New York City (July 2002), page 20; written by Jeph Loeb, illustrated by Tim Sale; reprinted in Spider-Man: Blue hardcover collection (2003).
From: Steve Beard, "Bamf! The gospel according to Nightcrawler", on Thunderstruck.org website (http://www.thunderstruck.org/nightcrawler.htm; viewed 8 December 2005):
Out of all the myriad of cartoon superheroes created in the last fifty years, very few have articulated or been indentified with a specific religious faith. There have, however, been exceptions to the rule. Last year, it was revealed in the comics that Ben Grimm (a.k.a The Thing) of The Fantastic Four was Jewish. In the movie Daredevil, crucifixes and other religious iconography flood the screen (as well as visits to the confessional) in order to convey Matt Murdock's struggle between vigilantism and his boyhood Catholic faith. In the Spider-Man movie, the Lord's Prayer is featured prominently when Aunt May is attacked by the Green Goblin.
From: David Wade, "Culture Watch: Holy Warrior Nuns, Batman! Comic books take on the world of faith and spirituality", published in Sojourner Magazine, July 2004 (http://www.sojo.net/index.cfm?action=magazine.article&issue=soj0407&article=040738; viewed 6 June 2006):
...Jim Krueger, an author of Marvel Comics' Earth X series (which explores issues of divinity, eternal life, sin, and retribution using the X-Men, the Hulk, Spiderman, and many other of Marvel's main characters).
From: Regie Rigby, "The question of religion" article, "Fool Britannia" column, posted on "Silver Bullet Comics" website (http://www.silverbulletcomicbooks.com/fool/111010997522360.htm; viewed 22 December 2005):
...there's another obvious reason for this lack of positive overtly religious characters. When you think about it, there aren't that many in film, or on TV either. "Mainstream" comics, like blockbuster movies and prime time TV, tend to work around conflict. Who are the Justice League going to fight this month? How will Spider-Man deal with the latest menace? What will Batman do about the Joker? That kind of thing.
At its heart, most religion tends to be about harmony. From a comics script writer's point of view, harmony is pretty dull. When you think about it, religion only makes it onto the news when there's a problem. "Today, lots of people visited their Churches, Mosques and Synagogues in peace then went home and lived their lives like everybody else" just isn't news...
Fiction is fiction. It's not real, and unless it claims to be speaking directly about reality (which is what got Rushdie into trouble all those years ago) it needn't cause offence. Ordinary, what for want of a better word I'll call normal religious behaviour doesn't tend to make an impact in comics because, to be honest it doesn't make itself all that visible in real life either. Religion is much like sexuality in that sense - both are huge parts of an individual's life, but neither tend to be immediately obvious to the naked eye. In my view, it makes sense that niether should surface in the foreground of a story unless they become relevent to the narrative.
This is a profoundly realistic approach when you think about it. Although not religious myself, I know a good many religious people. My Atheism, or their faith, tend not to come up unless we happen to be talking specifically about religion. None of my friends introduce themselves to people with the words "Hello, I'm a Christian" or "Hello I'm a Muslim" any more than I introduce myself by saying "Hello, I'm an atheist". The subject just doesn't come up.
So why should it come up when the characters in our comics speak to us? Considering her age and social background I think Aunt May is probably a Christian. Why would she constantly tell us that? My Grandma (who is a little older than May, but of a similar background) is a deeply committed Christian, but she doesn't quote bible passages at people in the supermarket or anything, it's just the way she lives her life.
Above: When Aunt May was going to marry Dr. Otto Octavius ("Doctor Octopus"), it was in a Protestant Christian church, in a Protestant ceremony, officiated by a Protestant clergyman.
Source: Peter Parker, Spider-Man Vol. 2 #50 (November 2002), titled "And Here, My Troubles Begin...", page 23; written by Paul Jenkins, pencilled by Mark Buckingham, inked by Wayne Faucher; reprinted in: Peter Parker, Spider-Man Vol. 4: Trials and Tribulations trade paperback, Marvel Entertainment Group: New York City (2003).
From: SDG, on "Frank Miller and Batman take on Al Qaeda" message board, posted 16 February 2006, on "Arts and Faith.com" website (http://artsandfaith.com/index.php?s=73c16706d938808095fb38a1dae7c799&showtopic=8177&pid=103639&st=0entry103639; viewed 18 April 2006):
JMS's [J. Michael Straczynski] run on Spider-Man has done interesting things with religion... when Tracer made a comment to Aunt May about humans creating their own gods, Aunt May replied, "God created people, Tommy, not the other way around."
Along with prayer during times of great need, another way that Peter Parker has manifest faith in God is through expressions of gratitude. What Parker is most grateful for is the people in his life - his close friends and family. Mary Jane Watson has been a close friend of Peter Parker's nearly since the creation of the character, and has been his most significant love interest. In mainstream Marvel continuity, Peter Parker and Mary Jane were finally married -- after many years of on-again, off-again romance -- in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #21 (1987).
Peter and Mary Jane love each other deeply and their marriage is, for the most part, a strong one. In 2002 and 2003 The Amazing Spider-Man depicted a period of great strain in their marriage, and the couple was separated for a time. After they decided to reconcile, Mary Jane was still staying in a hotel in New York while Parker was living in an apartment. Mary Jane was visiting Peter's apartment during the evening and Peter suggested it was getting late and that he should get her back to her hotel. Mary Jane insisted on staying, rejecting Peter's concern that he was distracted by a case and tired and that he wanted the first night they spent together after their reconciliation to be just right. Mary Jane told Peter why she came back (The Amazing Spider-Man, volume 2, issue #53, "Parts and Pieces", page 6; published July 2003 by Marvel Entertainment Group; written by J. Michael Straczynski, penciled by John Romita Jr., inked by Scott Hanna):
PETER PARKER (SPIDER-MAN): I should get you back to the hotel before it's too--
MARY JANE: No.
PETER PARKER: No?
MARY JANE: Not tonight. . . I think it's time, don't you?
PETER PARKER: It's just . . . I want it to be right, MJ. No distractions, not when I'm tired, or chasing a case or--
MARY JANE: And will there ever be a day when that happens? I came back for you, Peter. I love you. For everything you are, for everything you think you're not. Distracted or not, tired or not, you're my lover. My husband. And the dearest thing in the world to me. . . Let me prove it.
[Mary Jane then kisses Peter, and he acquiesces to her intentions. Later, after some off-panel "husband and wife" activities, Peter lies awake and thinks about how blessed he is to have Mary Jane in his life. He explicitly thanks God for his wife.]
PETER PARKER (thinking): I can bench press a car. I can climb up the side of a wall. Fight twenty guys to a standstill. Swing across chasms thirty stories deep. Feel a bullet coming my way and move fast enough to get clear. But something in her makes me gentle. Makes me shy. Makes me strong. Makes me happy to be alive. And maybe that's it. Maybe that's what it really comes down to. She makes me. Makes me whole . . . She completes me . . .
So here's the thing, God . . . I know I complain a lot, and I know that you and me, we've got issues, but right now, just for tonight . . . Thank you for her. Thank you.
Reminiscent of other examples of Peter Parker's "talks with God," there are some notable, powerful scenes in Amazing Spider-Man #33 (vol. 2) - the 9/11 issue focusing on the aftermath of the destruction of the World Trade Center. In this story, Spider-Man appears to argue with God about to why these things have happened.
From: Steven Waldman and Michael Kress, "Beliefwatch: Good Fight", published in Newsweek, 19 June 2006 issue (posted online on 12 June 2006: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/13249146/site/newsweek/; simultaneously posted on BeliefNet.com under headline "Holy Superheroes": http://www.beliefnet.com/story/193/story_19306_1.html; viewed 14 June 2006):
...[Adherents.com] says "X-Men"'s Rogue is Southern Baptist, Cypher from "New Mutants" is a Mormon and Elektra from "Daredevil" is Greek Orthodox. Captain America is a churchgoer, and Spider-Man sometimes addresses God in spontaneous prayer...
Above: The decor in Peter Parker's bedroom reveals his passion for science. Note the picture of Albert Einstein (top left), the diagram illustrating hominid evolution (left) and the models of the U.S.S. Enterprise (from Star Trek) and NASA's space shuttle (top right).
[Source: Ultimate Spider-Man issue #21 (titled "Hunted"), page 34. Written by Brian Michael Bendis, pencils by Mark Bagley, inks by Art Thibert. Reprinted in Ultimate Spider-Man, Volume 3: Double Trouble trade paperback, Marvel Entertainment Group: New York (2002).]
Although the purpose of this page is to identify Peter Parker's religious background as Protestant, and to point out that the character occasionally expresses religious faith (at times sincere, at times casual), it would be a mistake to give the impression that any overt form of Protestant Christianity is a major aspect of his character. Spider-Man's religious background is most evident simply through his character and day-to-day actions. Prayer for Peter Parker occurs mostly during times of extreme crisis, and sometimes as an expression of overwhelming gratitude.
Science (particularly physics and chemistry) has been one of Peter Parker's most consistent passions. He is both extremely talented as a scientist and very interested in science in general. Parker's bedroom decor in Ultimate Spider-Man #21 -- with a picture of physicist Albert Einstein, a diagram depicting evolution, and models of the space shuttle and the U.S.S. Enterprise -- was an overt method of illustrating his interest in science.
Like most American scientists 1, Peter Parker believes in God, but his overall outlook is on life is as a scientist. As noted above, Parker has frequently utilized his scientific abilities and his rational mind to overcome challenges and villains he has encountered as Spider-Man.
Peter Parker's passion for science, however, has never become the socially debilitating form of mania that one sees in some other scientist characters, notably Reed Richards (Mr. Fantastic of the Fantastic Four). Parker has always tried to squeeze in an active social life, and although he has had many opportunities to work purely in science, he has usually chosen to do other things as a vocation (photographer, teacher, etc.), while also maintaining a time-consuming avocation (maintaining his heroic identity as Spider-Man).
It is also worth noting that Parker's scientific outlook and interest has been manifest as "scientism," which is the belief that the methods and theories of the physical sciences are suitable for all fields and endeavors, and the belief that science has primacy over religious, humanistic, social, spiritual and other aspects of life. In many ways, Peter Parker actually represents a fairly balanced "everyman" or "typical American" in his outlook on life. He combines a modernistic rationalism with a practical American spirituality and humanitarian altruism.
Interestingly enough, although he has long worked as a photographer (or web designer in Ultimate Spider-Man), Peter Parker has rarely seemed particularly interested in art (which along with science and religion, is another potential major lens a person might view life through). Peter Parker has been depicted as having grown tremendously in his abilities as a photographer over the course of many years, but he has simply never been as passionate about photography as an art as he has about other interests.
Peter Parker even has an entire photography book published featuring his photographs, titled Webs: Spider-Man in Action. It reveals something about Parker's lack of motivation as an artist that this book was not even his idea. As chronicled in The Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #304, the book was created entirely without Parker's input when his boss J. Jonah Jameson worked with a publisher to create a book of the Spider-Man photographs which Parker had taken, but which were the property of the Daily Bugle. Parker was perturbed that he was left out of the loop on the creation of a book featuring his photography, but he had no legal recourse. He agreed to go on a book tour in exchange for a portion of the royalties from the book. Did this experience prompt Parker to conceive of his own book idea and take artistic photos specifically for such a purpose? No, not at all.
Peter Parker's accidental and seemingly unmotivated talent as a photographer was even the subject of a storyline in which another photographer at the Bugle, one who was extremely motivated by artistic concerns, experiences such intense jealousy of Parker that he collaborates with Doctor Octopus in an effort to best Parker. The storyline mirrors the story from the movie Amadeus (1984), with the jealous photographer in the Antonio Salieri role, and Peter Parker in the place of the naturally and nonchalantly talented Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Where this parallel breaks down is that although music apparently came easily to Mozart, it was nonetheless a great passion for him and he considered himself first and foremost an artist and musician. Parker, on the other hand, seems to completely lack strong self-identification as an artist. [See: Spider-Man/Doctor Octopus: Negative Exposure. Written by Brian K. Vaughan. Pencil art by Staz Johnson. Inks by Danny Miki. Published by Marvel Entertainment Group: New York (2004). Reprints material originally published in magazine form as: Doctor Octopus: Negative Exposure #1-5.]
1 See: Larson, Edward J. and Witham, Larry, "Scientists and Religion in America," Scientific American 281 No. 3 (Sep 1999), pp. 88-93.
Perhaps in answer to Peter Parker's prayers (both on- and off-panel), J. Michael Straczynski even used a little divine intervention to help save the marriage of Peter and Mary Jane in issue #49 of The Amazing Spider-Man (volume 2). In what was certainly one of the most moving and most mature stories of Straczynski run on the series, this issue, titled "Bad Connections," features no physical battles and no villains. Peter Parker never even dons his Spider-Man mask. The story is about Peter and Mary Jane trying to come to terms with the emotional distance that has come between them as they've been living such separate lives, one as a super-hero, the other as a successful model and fledgling actress.
The issue begins with Peter in Africa, where Ezekiel has brought him so that he could survive his confrontation with Shathra. Rather than returning directly to New York City, Peter trades the first-class ticket Ezekiel purchased for him for a coach class ticket all the way to Los Angeles, where Mary Jane was filming a movie. In a romantic/tragic/comedy of errors type of situation, Mary Jane travels to New York to try to reconcile with her husband at exactly the same time. We see Peter in Mary Jane's hotel room and Mary Jane in Peter's New York apartment at exactly the same time, as they both contemplate their marriage and their recent past. Of course, both encounter empty rooms, assume the worst about the state of their relationship, and decide that their marriage is over - that it's time to move on. Peter boards a plane to fly back to New York and Mary Jane boards a plane to fly back to Los Angeles.
As the marriage of Peter and Mary Jane seems to shattering, a bolt of lightning grazes the airplane that Peter is on, doing no real damage, but forcing the pilot to land in Denver to check the electrical system. Miraculously, this the very airport that Mary Jane is at, while her plane is making a scheduled stop on its way to L.A. Peter does indeed meet up with Mary Jane at the Denver airport, and they begin the steps toward full reconciliation and saving their marriage, chronicled in further excellent stories that take place over subsequent issues.
Using lightning - perhaps the most common symbol of direct action by deity, whether by Zeus, Jove, or Whomever - in this way seems almost like an intentionally un-subtle way of saying that Peter's continuing altruism and heroism has earned him a break, and that God wants Peter's marriage to last. (Note, in particular, how in the last panel of the scene it is finally revealed, against a backdrop of billowy - heavenly - clouds, that Peter's "bad luck" at having to make an unscheduled landing will actually put him in Denver.)
Straczynski, a self-described atheist (although one fascinated with religion), can hardly be accused of proselytizing by including a little divine intervention in this story. This positive turn of events can be viewed as one of God's "tender mercies," and mirrors the themes of countless acclaimed and beloved works of fiction depicting miraculous events which signal the lovingkindness of the Lord spoken of in Psalms. One need look no further than Horton Foote's Oscar-winning screenplay for Tender Mercies (starring Robert Duvall), or David A. Bednar's sermon "The Tender Mercies of the Lord" (April 2005 General Conference) for other examples and explanations of what Straczynski does in this story.
Of course, in a world where a spider-bite can give a person super-strength, speed, agility, wall-crawling powers and spider-sense (limited precognitive abilities), it might be possible that the lightning strike which allowed Peter to meet up with Mary Jane was just a coincidence. But that seems like a stretch of the imagination, even in the Marvel Universe.
Below is the text from this scene, pages 16 and 19, in The Amazing Spider-Man (volume 2), issue #49, written by J. Michael Straczynski:
MARY JANE (thinking): [Sitting on the bed inside Peter's New York City apartment] What the hell am I doing here? After everything I've put him through, would he even want me? I'm a fool. But I'll wait. Just a little longer.
[Mary Jane continues to wait, sadly, dejectedly, through 5 silent panels.]
MARY JANE (thinking): Just... a little longer. [Mary Jane shifts from sitting on the bed to sitting on the floor, her arms around her knees, her head bowed.]
MARY JANE (thinking): This was a mistake. I should never have come.
[We see Peter Parker sitting similarly on the floor of Mary Jane's hotel room in Los Angeles.]
PETER PARKER (thinking): [In the hall outside Mary Jane's hotel room, slowly pulling the door shut.] Let it go.
MARY JANE (thinking): [In the hall outside Peter's apartment, slowly pulling the door shut.] Let it go.
PETER PARKER (thinking): [Slowly walking down the hall toward the exit] It's over.
MARY JANE (thinking): [Slowly walking down the hall toward the exit] Move on.
[The final panels on page 17 show the empty hallway outside Peter's apartment and the empty hallway outside Mary Jane's hotel room. The word's "It's over" appear, perhaps thought simultaneously by both of them.]
[Peter is shown in his seat on an airplane. He holds a magazine in front of him, but dosn't read it. He stares into space, lost in thought, a miserable look on his face.]
VOICE HEARD OVER LOUDSPEAKER SYSTEM IN PLANE: --to welcome you aboard flight 739 nonstop to New York. Before we take off you should familiarize yourself with the emergency insructions--
[Mary Jane is shown in her seat on an airplane. She stares, as if to look out the window, except that the window shade is pulled shut. She is lost in thought, and looks miserable.]
VOICE HEARD OVER LOUDSPEAKER SYSTEM IN PLANE: --and we should be arriving in Los Angeles shortly ahead of schedule. We've got one stop-over in Denver, where we're expecting some weather, but we're assured it won't be any trouble--
[Peter's airplane, seen from the outside.]
PETER PARKER (thinking): Goodbye, MJ.
[Mary Jane's airplane, seen from the outside.]
MARY JANE (thinking): Goodbye, Peter.
[Peter fidgits in his seat, trying to sleep.]
[Mary Jane stares out the window.]
[Close-up on Peter's face. His eyes are closed.]
VOICE OVER LOUDSPEAKER SYSTEM IN PETER'S AIRPLANE: --hitting some stormy weather, so we ask that you return to your seats and fasten your seat belts.
[Loud KA-THOOOM sound effect. Peter looks out the airplane window.]
[Loud KA-THOOOM sound effect. Peter looks out the window.]
[Panel shows the airplane from outside, against a pitch black sky. A bolt of lightning arcs through the sky and grazes the airplane. Sound effect: KRAAAAAKK]
[Panel shows the view from inside the cockpit. Sound effect BOOOOOM]
PILOT: Jeez--! Did it hit us?!
CO-PILOT: It grazes us . . . I'm getting irregular readings on the electrical system.
PILOT: Damn . . . are we airworthy?
CO-PILOT: I think so, but I'm not sure. I wouldn't want to risk it, though, not on a flight this long.
PILOT: Nuts . . . [Speaking into com system] This is your captain speaking . . . you probably just saw that hammer of a lightning bold that skinned the surface. We don't believe it caused any damage--
[Peter's face is shown, as he sits in his seat, listening to the captain's announcement over the com system.
PILOT: --but to be on the safe side we're going to put down for an inspection of the electrical system. We apologize for the inconvenience, but airline safety regulations require that we have full confidence in our systems before continuing.
PETER PARKER (thinking): Nuts. Just nuts. What else can go wrong?
[The airplane is seen from the outside, a tiny object against the backdrop of large, billowy clouds in the night sky.]
PILOT: So if you'll buckle up, we'll be on the ground in Denver in just a few minutes.
Ultimate Spider-Man is the name of a comic book series started in 2000 as part of the new "Ultimate" line of comics published by Marvel Entertainment Group. This new line of comics utilizes characters that were introduced in Marvel's main line of comics (launched in 1964), but with origins reset to take place in contemporary times.
Below: A young Peter Parker wonders if God is punishing him for entertaining thoughts of a relationship with Felicia Hardy (the Black Cat), from Ultimate Spider-Man #53, "Daughters", page 4, reprinted in Ultimate Spider-Man: Cats & Kings trade paperback volume 8 (Marvel Entertainment Group: New York City, 2004). Written by Brian Michael Bendis. Pencils by Mark Bagley. Inks by Art Thibert.
A rare example of young Peter Parker invoking God in Ultimate Spider-Man appeared in issue #53, in a story titled "Daughters", written by Brian Michael Bendis. Peter Parker is, once again, feeling considerably put upon because of the many problems in his life. His girlfriend Mary Jane Watson recently broke up with him, and at about the same time he met Felicia Hardy, a cat burglar known as the "Black Cat." Hardy is a beautiful woman and Parker/Spider-Man was intrigued when she invited him to meet her for what looked essentially like a date. Although very much in love with Mary Jane, Parker wondered what it would be like to be romantically involved with the Black Cat. Later, Mary Jane runs away because of the constant verbal abuse from her manifestly atheist father. Peter Parker is very worried about Mary Jane. Among the many thoughts that go through his head while he worries about her, he wonders if God is punishing him for entertaining the idea of being with the Black Cat.
Peter Parker's thoughts as he goes to Mary Jane Watson's bedroom and sees for himself that she has run away are as follows:
Come on, MJ . . . Where on earth could you have possibly gone?
Well, this is a nightmare. What is she thinking? Did she leave town? Did she leave me too? I-- I knew she was bummed out and going through stuff with her dad but this is insane. This is so out there for her. She's really this messed up? I should never have told her I was Spider-Man. Nick Fury was right -- I should never have told her. Clearly she can't handle it.
She's very-- she needs to talk to a professional or something is what she needs to do.
This is God punishing me for even entertaining the idea of that crazy Black Cat woman.
Who knew MJ was even capable of--?
After these thoughts go through Peter Parker's mind, suddenly inspiration hits him and he realizes where Mary Jane must be. He heads straight to the abandoned warehouse which they think of as their "little private hiding place" and sure enough, Mary Jane is there. She is cold and despondent, but Peter is relieved that he found her.
In another issue of Ultimate Spider-Man, Peter Parker has recently lost his Spider-Man costume for the second time in a row. Among his many troubled thoughts is the question: Is this a sign from God that he should quit being a super hero?
Below: Peter Parker wonders if his losing his Spider-Man costume for the second time in a row is a message from God. From Ultimate Spider-Man #40, "Average Bear", page 3, reprinted in Ultimate Spider-Man hardcover collection volume 4 (Marvel Entertainment Group: New York City, 2004). Written by Brian Michael Bendis. Pencils by Mark Bagley. Inks by Art Thibert.
Text from Peter's thoughts in this scene is below. From Ultimate Spider-Man issue #40, pages 2 to 3, written by Brian Michael Bendis:
I have no costume. I am a super hero without a costume. I don't even have a cool leather outfit that would pass for "costume-ish" in this more cynical world I live in. And even if I did, short people shouldn't wear leather. That must be a rule of life. And if it isn't, clearly it should be.
Another rule of life should be that teenage super heroes on a very fixed income should make a point of holding onto their costumes during elaborate fight sequences. I can't sew! How can I make a costume if I can't sew! I can't hire someone to make a costume. I don't even know where you get tights from. If I order them online or something, Aunt May will totally get the package before I do . . . and how will I explain that without having to take up ballet? And who even knows if they'll fit if I buy them online? ...I draw the line at ill-fit and schlubby.
When I was dating Mary Jane, she could whip up a Spidey costume for me in a second . . . but now that we're broken up, which was not my idea, by the way, what am I going to do? I got my original costume from that wrestling organization I was wrestling for when I first got my powers. Maybe they have extra and I can steal some. I mean, borrow some. Maybe I can get the costume from the jerk who was running around dressed as me robbing banks.
Maybe someone up there is telling me not to wear a costume, or not to be a super hero.
Maybe I was late to class and I didn't eat lunch . . . again.
Above: Spider-Man: "...it's kinda cool to have a god on your side..."
[From: The Amazing Spider-Man #504 (April 2004), titled "The Coming of Chaos", page 22; written by J. Michael Straczynski, pencilled by John Romita, Jr., inked by Scott Hanna; reprinted in: The Amazing Spider-Man: The Book of Ezekiel trade paperback, Marvel Entertainment Group: New York City (2004).]
On a number of occasions, Spider-Man has been chosen as a servent of various religious figures and deities. An example of this took place in Peter Parker: Spider-Man Vol. 2 issues #48 and #49. In this two-issue story, the Buddhist deity Tara (or at least a woman with a connection to Tara, or who sees herself as Tara's representative) enlists Spider-Man's help.
In one scene during this story, Spider-Man contemplates the relative frequency with which he is enlisted as an agent of "metaphysical" beings. From: Peter Parker: Spider-Man Vol. 2 issue #49, page 8; written by Paul Jenkins, pencilled by Mark Buckingham, inked by Wayne Faucher:
SPIDER-MAN (thinking): It's not often you find yourself swinging aimlessly around the city waiting for a major Buddhist deity to buzz you on your psychic cell phone. You figure the Gods must have this really enormous copy of the Yellow Pages which they open at random whenever they get bored or needy. My listing is no doubt in the well-worn section under "Bleeding Heart." That's the only explanation why I'm such a favorite target of the metaphysical brigade. Either that, or some Bangladeshi ultra-chick with a great taste in super heroes has found a new and very meaningful way to pass the time.In The Amazing Spider-Man issue #s 503 and 504, the Asgardian god Loki asked for Spider-Man's help in defeating the sorceress Morwen, who taken over the body of Loki's daughter, Tess Black. After they defeated Morwen, Loki asked Spider-Man to look in on Tess from time to time. He gave Spider-Man a rune, explaining "That rune you have will summon me in an instant should Tess be in danger." Spider-Man and Loki formed something of a bond during this adventure, despite the fact that most Marvel super-heroes (particularly Loki's half-brother Thor) regard Loki as a villain. The final page of this two-issue story arc shows Spider-Man swinging home, with an image the Asgardian god Loki in the background. This story was written by J. Michael Straczynski, who has consistently portrayed Spider-Man praying to his Protestant Judeo-Christian concept of God. Perhaps Spider-Man also felt he had a patron Asgardian god, or simply a new friend?
EZEKIEL: Okay, I know you don't want to hear this but pay attention, deal with it, because this is important. I know you're scientifically inclined, and I know you don't want to believe that your powers are in any way totemistic in nature or origin. I get that. But the paranormal or the unexpected is in every aspect of life. Church, physics, metaphysics, crop circles, Thunder Gods, Sorcerers Supreme, out of body experiences, extra-dimensional travel, the soul, art, music, Gaia, big green - sometimes gray - guys who should've died in gamma bomb bursts but just got real strong instead.
You can't isolate yourself from the whole world, and say noone of it has anything to do with you just because that's the way you want it. Maybe the spider that bit you was intended for you alone, maybe it was sent, maybe it was operating in a larger context. That's a connection going in to something more, something bigger. Maybe the spider had nothing behind it at all, no meaning, no intent, no context, it just webbed its way into the wrong place at the wrong time. But that scientific event tapped into ideas and constructs and racial memories and powers that were here long before science showed up.
The Ashanti have stories of a Spider-Man that go back centuries. You could look it up. You can't deny that, it's an historical fact, it--
PETER PARKER/SPIDER-MAN: A historical fact.
PETER PARKER/SPIDER-MAN: It's An if you can't hear the H, it's A if you can. An hour, A horse. It's a common mistake made by people who want to impress other people by--
EZEKIEL: Who's telling this story, me or you? I'm trying to explain that one way or another, whether it was intended or you backed into it, you've tapped into something old, something important! Don't you have anything to say about that?
PETER PARKER/SPIDER-MAN: [Parker eyes a spider that has landed on his bare shoulder, and speaks - ostensibly to the spider.] Bite me.
EZEKIEL: Peter . . . all I'm saying is that you have to pay attention to what's been happening to you lately. If you try to deny what's going on, you just make yourself vulnerable to whatever comes at you next from the spider side of you. You're tying one arm behind your back.
PETER PARKER/SPIDER-MAN: Look, Ezekiel, I'm not denying that there's been a lot of weirdness in my life lately. But I'm just not there yet, I don't believe yet. I'm hardwired a certain way. I can't change that just because you say I should.
EZEKIEL: I know . . . I'm just trying to help, that's all. I've been a parallel road to yours for a long time, and I have the advantage of being able to see down the road a bit to what's coming. I'm trying to straighten out some of the curves coming your way.
Peter's visit with the spirit of Uncle Ben is an incredible moving scene, but is best appreciated after having read the entire issue. Dialogue from this visit is shown below, from: The Amazing Spider-Man #500 (December 2003), titled "Happy Birthday, Part Three", pages 33-38; written by J. Michael Straczynski, pencilled by John Romita Jr. and John Romita Sr., inked by Scott Hanna; reprinted in: The Amazing Spider-Man: Happy Birthday trade paperback, Marvel Entertainment Group: New York City (2004).
UNCLE BEN: Hello, Peter.
PETER PARKER: Uncle Ben . . . ? I don't believe . . . it really is you . . .
UNCLE BEN: Well, sure, who else would it be? It's odd . . . I was just coming back to May, we'd had a fight, and I was walking in the door, and . . . there was a sound, I thought it sounded like a gunshot but that doesn't make any . . . I know it should mean something, but strangely, it doesn't. What matters is . . . you're here. You look good, Pete. Real good.
PETER PARKER: You look great, Uncle Ben. God, there's so many things I want to tell you . . . so many things I want to ask your forgiveness for, I--
UNCLE BEN: Forgiveness? There's nothing you need to be forgiven for, Pete. Nob by me.
PETER PARKER: But I wasn't there when you needed me--
UNCLE BEN: You know what would disappoint me? If you didn't reach for the kind of life I wanted for you. If you settled for less because you were afraid of reaching for more. If you walked away from what you believe, even once. Have you done that?
PETER PARKER: No. No, I haven't.
UNCLE BEN: Then I taught you right, and your life has meaning.
PETER PARKER: But the thing is . . . I've done things, Ben, I've got . . . abilities now, I can do amazing things. There's stuff you need to know.
UNCLE BEN: And there you're right. There's one question I have to ask you, Peter. An important question. So I can sleep easy.
PETER PARKER: Anything, Uncle Ben. Anything.
UNCLE BEN: Whatever it is you do now, whatever it is you've become, tell me this, Peter. Are you happy? We all go through pain, we all lose people we care about, we all suffer, we all get hurt. It's the price of being human. But at the end of the day . . . do you like your life? Are you happy, Peter?
[Peter thinks about his life. The panel shows him imagining himself, dressed as Spider-Man, shielding his Aunt May, his wife Mary Jane Watson, and his boss J. Jonah Jameson behind him. Circling them, as if about to attack, are the villains Doctor Octopus, Rhino, the Green Goblin, and the Kingpin. The image symbolizes Peter's life.]
PETER PARKER: It's the damndest thing, but . . . I am. I'm happy. I have a good life, Ben. A real good life. I'm very lucky. Sometimes I don't realize just how good, and how lucky. But, yeah . . . I'm happy, Ben.
UNCLE BEN: Then that's the only thing that matters, isn't it?
PETER PARKER: Maybe so. Maybe that is the right question. But I still miss you, Ben. God knows, I've missed you so much.
UNCLE BEN: I've missed you too, Peter. I love you, you know.
PETER PARKER: I love you too, Ben.
UNCLE BEN: Goodbye, Pete. Take care of May for me.
PETER PARKER: I will. I swear. I always have, and I always will.
UNCLE BEN: I know . . .
[Uncle Ben fades away, and Peter is left standing alone, his arms still held as if hugging Uncle Ben. He lowers his arms slowly. We next see him back in the apartment, where he has gone to sit on the edge of the bed. Mary Jane Watson is still awake, as she was reading a book.]
MARY JANE WATSON: So, did you have a nice stroll on the roof?
PETER PARKER: Yeah. I did.
MARY JANE WATSON: Good. I find that a moonlit walk helps clear my head. You too?
PETER PARKER: Yeah. It sure did this time. I love you, MJ. God, I love you so much. I want you to know that. Every night and every morning.
MARY JANE WATSON: I love you too, Peter. My lover, my husband, my best friend. Goodnight, Birthday Boy. Happy Birthday . . .
Below: In The Amazing Spider-Man #501, the entire story is about Peter Parker's Aunt May taking to her late husband Ben (Spider-Man's Uncle Ben), as well as to Peter's long-deceased parents.
[From: The Amazing Spider-Man #501 (January 2004), titled "Saturday in the Park with May", pages 21-22; written by J. Michael Straczynski, pencilled by John Romita, Jr., inked by Scott Hanna; reprinted in: The Amazing Spider-Man: Happy Birthday trade paperback, Marvel Entertainment Group: New York City (2004).]
[Peter sits on the floor of the attic, recording his conversation with the late Gwen Stacy into a tape recorder.]
PETER PARKER: For years I've tried to make some sense of your death. Something -- anything -- that I could call "good" that came after all that . . . bad . . . And all the time I've been sitting up here talking to you, I remembered something I don't think I've told anyone.
The night of your funeral. MJ [i.e., Mary Jane Watson] came to see me at the apartment. I was . . . putting it mildly . . . rude to her. I just wasn't up for that "Life is a party and MJ is the cake" thing. But, something happened that night. I think now your death was MJ's wake-up call -- that we weren't going to live forever and the party was going to end. Gwen, I don't think Mary Jane Watson could've had a serious relationship with me until she realized how much we all lost with you gone. She would later become my wife. I had to learn to love again, and she taught me how--
MARY JANE WATSON: Peter . . .?
[Peter looks up and sees his wife, Mary Jane Watson, standing at the top of the stairs.]
MARY JANE WATSON: Hi.
PETER PARKER: MJ . . .? How . . . How long have you been listening . . .?
MARY JANE WATSON: Long enough.
PETER PARKER: I . . . I'm sorry, MJ. I didn't mean for you to hear . . .
MARY JANE WATSON: It's all right. I just came up to make sure you were okay.
PETER PARKER: Yeah. I'm okay . . .
MARY JANE WATSON: Will you do me a favor, Peter? Say "Hello" for me and -- tell Gwen I miss her to . . .
[Mary Jane leaves. The tape recorder continues to record, recording only silence for some moments.]
PETER PARKER: That was . . . MJ, Gwen. She says, "Hi" and I . . . And . . . um . . . I should get going.
I guess when I try and sum up how I get -- how I feel sometimes around this time of year [Valentines Day] . . . I feel blue. Not like I've been dipped in with the Tidy Bowl Man, but like in music, in jazz . . . in feeling blue. And I long for a time when a girl I knew with an incredible smile and so much good in her heart made me think . . . life can be great.
[KLIK, as Peter turns off the tape recorder.]
From: Thomas Tracy, "Spidey's webs have Jewish roots", published 21 May 2007 in Fort Greene/Clinton Hill Courier (http://www.courierlife.net/site/tab10.cfm?newsid=18369761&BRD=2384&PAG=461&dept_id=552856&rfi=6; viewed 21 May 2007):
Oh, that Spidey, what a mensch!
While no one at Marvel comics would admit it - at least publicly - the webs that our Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man weaves are laced with stories and lessons taken right out of Jewish culture - so much so that one borough rabbi believes that Peter Parker is actually a child of Abraham.
"Peter Parker's a nerd who grew up in Forest Hills, his middle name is Benjamin and he's motivated by guilt . . . I see a connection," jokes Rabbi Simcha Weinstein, author of "Up, Up, And Oy Vey! How Jewish History, Culture and Values Shaped the Comic Book Superhero."
"I have a whole chapter in my book dedicated to the subject," said Weinstein, founder of the Jewish Student Foundation of Downtown Brooklyn and currently a rabbi for both Pratt Institute and Long Island College Hospital.
Speaking from the Pratt Institute campus in Clinton Hill, Weinstein can spend all day spinning similarities between the Stan Lee character and Jewish history and culture, even though the eight legged creatures aren't kosher.
"But there's an interesting story in the Bible about King David and spiders," he said.
According to the passage, David was in the wilderness being chased by King Saul's guards when he ducked into a cave. As he hid, a spider spun a web at the mouth of the cave.
When a guard went to inspect the opening, he saw the web and determined that David couldn't be in there.
"So, because of the spider, David's life was saved and he praised God for creating all creatures, even those he couldn't figure out," Weinstein said, adding that before his adventure in the cave, "David couldn't find a use for them."
King David apparently never figured out that if you give one of those creepy crawlers a crippling dose of radiation and sic it on a nerd in a science lab, you have a $400 million dollar grossing blockbuster directed by Sam Raimi (who is Jewish, by the by).
"Raimi said that he believes Spider-Man is Jewish, but his guilt was caused by his Uncle Ben, not his mother," the rabbi said.
In his book, Weinstein writes about his belief that "Old Web Head's" story is fueled by a deep, post-Holocaust sense of Jewish guilt.
"Just like generations of Jews, his ancestors were wiped away (Peter Parker's Uncle Ben was gunned down by a mugger) and whether they had powers or not, they couldn't do anything to stop it," he said.
But there are some other connections that are just too stereotypical to ignore.
"Peter Parker is a nebbishy nerd," said Weinstein. "He's a lot like Woody Allen. He's also been called a Jerry Seinfeld with webbing. But yet he rips off his clothes and he's a superhuman being."
"When he's Clark Kent, Superman pretends to be a nerd," Weinstein said. "Spider-Man is a nerd."
Weinstein's suspicions about Spider-Man were confirmed when he came across golden age comic book illustrator Patti Cochran, who told him that the Marvel Comics editorial staff always worked off the belief that Peter Parker was Jewish.
But Spider-Man is not the only comic book character to be infused with Jewish values.
Superman, Captain America, the Spirit, Batman and the Incredible Hulk (who Weinstein calls a gamma-radiated golem) all have Jewish themes woven into their masks, capes and cowls and - in the Hulk's case - loincloths.
"Up, Up and Oy Vey" is not meant to lay claim to America's favorite heroes as Jewish, but instead wishes to celebrate an open dialogue, Weinstein said.
"Superheroes are a mixture of religious beliefs and pop culture," said Weinstein. "They're a great way to break down boundaries."
From: Leah Finkelshteyn, "Thwak! To Our Enemies", published in Hadassah Magazine, June/July 2003 Vol. 84 No. 10 (http://www.hadassah.org/news/content/per_hadassah/archive/2003/03_JUN/art.htm; viewed 19 June 2007):
...Today, there may be fewer Jewish comics creators than in the past, but they are still making their mark in what has become an American institution struggling for legitimacy. The hot list - talents whose names on the cover are likely to ensure a title's popularity - includes writer Peter Allan David (Supergirl, DC, and The Incredible Hulk, among others); British import Neil Gaiman, writer of the award-winning The Sandman (Vertigo, a DC imprint), a series subtly peppered with midrashim; and author-illustrator Brian Michael Bendis, who in an article on his Web site, www.jinxworld.com, talks about coming up with ideas for his crime-noir titles on Passover...
...In the late 1950's and 1960's, comics' Silver Age, conformist heroes gave way to a more diverse comic world. Stan Lee and Marvel introduced a new type of "real-life" hero with the wall-crawling teenage Spider-Man who worried about money and social acceptance as well as how to defeat the many-limbed Doctor Octopus. In the 70's and 80's, Jews started appearing, sometimes with a beard and a hat in a crowd scene, sometimes as minor heroes. Shadowcat showed up around that time, too...
The Amazing Spider-Man #542 (August 2007), page 20: Spider-Man speaking to the Kingpin, who previously ordered a hitman to kill Spider-Man and his Aunt May: "You ordered her death, Fisk, so it is only appropriate that your life ends when hers does. So if I were you, I'd start praying right about now to try and convince God to give her every possible second of life. But to tell you the truth, in your position, I wouldn't count too much on God if I were you. See you around, Mr. Fisk. Count on it."
Another good example of the many ways in which Spider-Man is in no way a pure materialist is in The Sensational Spider-Man #39 (September 2007), written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa with art by Rick Hoberg, Stefano Gaudiano and Clayton Crain. In this story, Peter Parker is afraid that his beloved Aunt May (who was shot by a sniper) might die. Aunt May lies in a coma in a hospital and does not appear to be getting better. Peter Parker contacts an associate of his, Madame Web, a clairvoyant medium. Peter asks Madame Web to conduct a seance so that he, his wife Mary Jane Watson, and MJ's aunt Anna Watson (an old friend of May's) can contact the spirit of the unconscious Aunt May and ask her to come back to them.
From: "What religion do superhero's belong to? [sic]" forum discussion started 18 July 2002 on "Toon Zone" website (http://forums.toonzone.net/showthread.php?t=41332; viewed 21 May 2007):
07-18-2002, 01:02 PM
What religion do superhero's [sic] belong to?
I'd like to discuss what religious beliefs are favorite costumed hero's belong to. Everyone knows Daredevil is Catholic. But beyond that, what do we know of superhero's beliefs? I'm thinking of mostly the Marvel Universe, but you DC fans feel free to contribute as well...
I think Peter Parker and Stever Rogers, (Spidey and Capt. America) are New York Protestants born and raised. Peter may be a lapsed church goer, but I always got the feeling that if Steve Rogers could find more time, he'd be in church every Sunday...
07-18-2002, 01:27 PM
I would think Cap is Christian but I'm not sure...
07-18-2002, 01:30 PM
This is a discussion I've had several times with my friends, and usually I step out of it when it turns offensive. (Which with my friends, it always does!) Thing to remember though that until recently, like the past decade, religion and talks of such were verboten in most main stream comic books. Now that's changed...
Peter [i.e., Spider-Man] is probably Protestant...
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, 10:49 AM
For a lot of characters, religion shouldn't be mentioned.
Peter Parker would be less relatable to if they gave him one religion. For example, I HATE that Kevin Smith established he had sex, just because I don't think it should have been said one way or another.
03-10-2007, 11:43 AM
...I remember Joe Q [Marvel Comics editor-in-chief Joe Quesada] talking about how Peter was probably Protestant, it should never be said...
From: "Catholic Clix - Comic info needed!" forum discussion started 3 May 2003 on HCRealms website (http://www.hcrealms.com/forum/archive/index.php/t-40338.html; viewed 24 May 2007):
Ok, so in recent films it's been apparent that Daredevil and Nightcrawler are Catholic...
So, who else out there could be fielded in a "Catholic" Heroclix team?
...Wolsfbane, Rahne Sinclair is another [Catholic]. She was orphaned and raised by strict Catholic preacher named, Reverend Craig... [Editor: Actually, Wolfsbane has always been a Presbyterian, and is overtly identified as such.]
Spider-Man may also be one [a Catholic] but I'm not sure; Aunt May recites the 'Our Father' holding Rosary beads before going to bed in the movie. There's definitely a strong Christian influence there anyway.
Superman also had a strong Christian upbringing, Johnathan and Martha Kent were praying for a child around the time Kal-El landed on Earth. Martha is always praying for Johnathan during the 'Death of Superman' saga, as Johnathan is venturing on his 'spiritual search' for Clark.
Spider-Man and Superman I'm not sure about being Catholic, but they're definitely Christian influenced.
Nightcrawler, Daredevil, Aurora and Huntress definitely [are Catholic]. Superman I agree is probably one of the Protestant denominations. Spider-Man I don't think there's enough evidence really. The Our Father is pretty well universal among all Christian faiths - it's taken straight out of the Bible...
Wow, thanks everyone. Yeah, Supes grew up in the Bible Belt, and the Spider-Man/Aunt May thing would be nice...
...I meant to say the Spider-Man theory is a bit of a stretch...
...IIRC [If I recall correctly], here's the Catholic Clix you can play:
Possible Catholics (or lasped Catholics):
Catwoman (her sister was a nun)
Due to strong guilt and responsibilites the following could be Catholic (or Jewish):
A good argument for Spidey being Catholic in comics are:
A: May Parker's maiden name is Reiley, and given her age and region of the country that she grew up in it could be assumed that she is Catholic.
B: I believe in the ASM issue where Peter proposes to Mary Jane, Aunt May donated his old microscope to a Catholic Church for a fund raiser.
C: In the many what if tales where Peter Parker dies, (Most notably "What if Kraven had killed Spider-man" and "What if Spider-man became Venom"), Spider-man is shown as having a Catholic, or Catholic-looking funeral.
These of course are all speculative theories, but hope they help!
Just because someone is "raised" in a certain religion does not mean that they choose to be a member of said religion once they are on their own. I would argue that Spiderman and Batman definitely have no strong religious beliefs at this time.
Peter being a very science oriented individual tends to dismiss the religious angle many times though he has been known to pray in some way but it's typically prayed with a "if you're real" or "we don't get along well, God" or some such comment. He may have some Catholic roots, however...
Oddest. Topic. Ever.
But not a bad one. I just never expected to see it. I wouldn't use the "Our Father" as a sign of being Catholic. Many denominations use this. The same is true with the ideas of confession and alter boys. Eastern Orthodoxy has both...
And also don't look at funerals too hard. I've been to Lutheran funeral that look a lot like Catholic, as do Orthodox.
...Given that Uncle Ben's of Irish descent (based on his last name) it would stand to reason that he's Catholic. There's a very large presence of Irish Catholics in New York. Peter's probably 'too cool' to go to church, but I'd say he'd follow in his uncle's footsteps if he does go to church.
Spider-man, just to throw a wrench into the works, may believe in reincarnation, having in one issue prayed to, in his next life, be bitten by a radioactive Jennifer Lopez :)
Spider-man is the ultimate Catholic. He fights against the forces of evil because he is trying to make up for his original sin of letting the burglar go that killed Uncle Ben.
I always believed that Spidey was Jewish. He sort of talks like those old Jewish guys you often see in the park playing chess. However that could just be a NYC thing, I never picked it up when I lived there. So I doubt it. However thinking about it more and more, I have seen him celebrate Christmas. So I dunno.
Christmas is a lot like Saint Patrick's Day, in that most people celebrate it for the celebration itself, and not so much for its meaning. Not to say that there aren't lots of peple that celebrate the birth of Christ on December 25th, but there are undoubtedly lots more who celebrate the giving of gifts, and the racking up of credit card debt.
Although somebody had best point out to some of the people on this board that just because someone believes in God and Jesus, that does not make them Catholic. that makes them Christian; there is obviously a difference. Expecially beause most all born-again Protestants I know hate Catholics almost as much as they hate Muslims. I think it's a language barrier thing ;)
Wow! I started this thread so long ago - surprised its still kicking (and hasn't fallen apart either)
Few things though:
The concept of "original sin" is not that one's personal sin comes back to haunt you, but that sin entered the world through the choice of our first parents.
From: "Spidey Question for the Legion" page, started 6 July 2005, on "Captain Comics Round Table" message board/forum website (http://www.captaincomics.us/forums/lofiversion/index.php/t3594.html; viewed 20 December 2005):
Jul 7 2004, 09:14 AM
I may be mistaken, but I seem to remember Pete/Spidey having some sort of inner monologue with God in one of the latter Paul Jenkins issues of Peter Parker: Spider-Man. Maybe in the aftermath of the Goblin/Flash storyline?
...Found it, courtesy of Spiderfan.org. It was PPSM. #48 [Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man], after the Goblin turned Flash into a vegetable [i.e., puts him into a coma and possibly a brain-dead state]. The link below is to a brief review/description of the story.
From: "Frank Miller and Batman take on Al Qaeda" message board on "Arts and Faith.com" website (http://artsandfaith.com/index.php?s=73c16706d938808095fb38a1dae7c799&showtopic=8177&pid=103639&st=0entry103639; viewed 18 April 2006):
Feb 16 2006, 11:02 AM
I see they have Spider-Man listed as "Protestant." In traditional comic-book continuity, maybe, but in the movies he seems to be Catholic (e.g., the holy-water stoup by the front door in the Parker house).
[WEBMASTER: Really? This needs further investigation.]
JMS's [J. Michael Straczynski] run on Spider-Man has done interesting things with religion, mostly in terms of Peter's running inner monologue (?) addressing God. Recently when he "died" fighting Morlun, Peter's final thoughts were taken from Psalm 23 ("Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me"). Also, when Tracer made a comment to Aunt May about hmans creating their own gods, Aunt May replied, "God created people, Tommy, not the other way around."
From: "Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Super-heroes", posted 24 June 2006 on "No Sheep" blog website (http://nosheep.net/story/religious-affiliation-of-comic-book-super-heroes/; viewed 25 June 2006):
This site [link to this site] compiled an extremely detailed and well researched list of comic book super-heroes and their associated religious affiliations. Fairly interesting to me that so many actually have affiliations. I'm also amazed at how well diversified the hero population seems to be.
As for Spider-Man/Peter Parker, I always felt as though he was Protestant, but I couldn't put a finger on it. Seeing all the evidence clearly laid out was an interesting viewing.
From: comments on "Racism against Atheists" post on "Stormy's Corner" blog website, posted 23 March 2006 (http://stormy.blogs.com/stormy/2006/03/racism_against_.html; viewed 10 May 2006):
[from original blog post:] Atheists identified as America's most distrusted minority, according to new U of M study: News Releases: UMNnews: U of M.: "From a telephone sampling of more than 2,000 households, university researchers found that Americans rate atheists below Muslims, recent immigrants, gays and lesbians and other minority groups in 'sharing their vision of American society.' Atheists are also the minority group most Americans are least willing to allow their children to marry."
This is my take on it: When most Americans hear the word "Atheist" they think of someone who is against the values they grew up with. They think of Madalyn O'Hair, a woman who knew how to hate. On the other hand, when people think of Christ, they think of a man who knew how to love. So they would rather have the label Christian than atheist.
Posted by: Jay KTX | March 24, 2006 at 06:12 PM
Perhaps one explanation is the negative depiction of atheists in comic books. Most superheroes [believe in God], with a majority being Christians: Superman is a Methodist, Spiderman is a Protestant, X-Man Rogue is a Southern Baptist, X-Man Nightcrawler is a Catholic. Even the Punisher is Catholic. But when it comes to villians, atheism seems to be the rule. The Joker, The Kingpin, The Green Goblin, Sabretooth, and Lex Luthor are all atheists.
Posted by: Layman | March 24, 2006 at 06:55 PM
Joel Phillips, who identifies himself as Jewish, wrote an article in which he claimed (partially in jest, but with some underlying rationale) that nearly all Marvel and DC superheroes are Jewish. A Catholic reader of the article commented that he disagreed, although he did think that Aunt May seems Jewish. Phillips, the Jewish writer of the original article, responded and said that he does not think Aunt May seems Jewish. From: Joel Phillips, "Reeding Into Things #22: Comics Q & A", 26 February 2004 (http://www.comixfan.com/xfan/forums/archive/index.php/t-26014.html; viewed 12 May 2006):
Q: What religion is _____?
A: It's my opinion, and the opinion of many others I've encountered, that everyone in Marvel or DC comics (unless otherwise specified) is Jewish... Just about all the comic book creators from the Golden and early Silver Age were Jewish, and their characters include thick layers of Semitic behaviors, attitudes, and even speech patterns... All comic book characters from the "big two" [Marvel and DC] are Jewish...
[Comment posted by:] Scots Fan
Feb 27, 2004, 04:01 am
Your comment that every character's religion being Jewish I don't think is entirely true...
As a person of the Catholic faith I would say that a number of characters show parts that are Catholic for example Matt Murdock, Peter Parker, Scott Summers, Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson all to me would seem to be Catholic or at least have some of the underlining principles of Catholism.
Not being Jewish, and therefore only having a limit knowledge on the subject, I can't say with accuracy what character would have underlining Jewish qualities but I would say that Superman... and Aunt May all show aspects of this...
[Response by:] Joel Phillips
Feb 27, 2004, 11:55 am
Re: post by Scots Fan: "Your comment that every character's religion being Jewish I don't think is entirely true."
It wasn't meant to be true, just to raise the idea that you went on to talk about (creators infusing aspects of themselves into many of their characters). I didn't mean that the characters are all actually Jewish because obviously they aren't.
Aunt May? Can't say I get that one, but OK. Anyway I am Jewish, and there are many others I'd add, chief amongst them being Ben Grimm...
From: Paul O'Donnell, "Look! Up in the Air! A Methodist!" posted 28 April 2006 on "Idol Chatter: Religion and Pop Culture Blog" website (http://www.beliefnet.com/blogs/idolchatter/2006/04/look-up-in-air-methodist.html; viewed 12 May 2006):
A Jewish comedian claimed not long ago that he grew up thinking that all the comic-book superheroes were Jewish, because, like, say, Goldman and Federrman, all their names end in "man": Spiderman, Batman, Superman...
The theme pops up too on Progressive U., a national student blog, in an interesting essay [http://www.progressiveu.org/023135-on-the-importance-of-comic-books] about the essential religious nature of comics. The author portrays comics as modern pop mythologies--you know, the boogie-man stories equivalent to cave paintings that we flatter ourselves our society doesn't indulge in anymore. Comic books, the essay claims, allows us to feel awe--mostly concocted but sometimes taking a share of reality, as in the nearly wordless 9/11 installment of "The Amazing Spiderman."
From: "Wasn't Superman Supposed to be Jewish?" discussion board started 24 April 2006 on the official DC Comics website (http://dcboards.warnerbros.com/web/thread. jspa?threadID=2000073412&start=30&tstart=0; viewed 27 May 2006):
Posted: May 10, 2006 3:24 PM
Over at Marvel, Ben Grimm turns out to be Jewish, as does Marc Spector (Moonknight), and (correct me if I'm wrong) Peter Parker.
Posted: May 10, 2006 3:57 PM
I'm also pretty sure Peter Parker is Jewish [although he isn't listed on the main Jewish super-hero lists that are available online]... or is he?
Posted: May 10, 2006 6:26 PM
I don't know if Peter Parker is Jewish or not. In all the years of reading Spider-Man, his religious background never came up. When he married MJ it was by a judge and he has never mentioned a Jewish background.
Posted: May 14, 2006 12:04 PM
As for Peter Parker... well, I don't think his religion has ever been mentioned. But if he's not Jewish, no one is.
Posted: May 16, 2006 12:23 AM
Seems like a lot of Marvel's heroes are either Jewish or seem to be Jewish. I loved when the Thing compared himself to the golem. That was a great bit of writing.
And as for that Peter Parker thing, doesn't Aunt May seem Jewish to you guys?
Posted: May 17, 2006 5:29 PM
re: "And as for that Peter Parker thing, doesn't Aunt May seem Jewish to you guys?"
Are wheatcakes kosher?
Posted: May 17, 2006 5:38 PM
Depends on what they are made of. If they have lard in them, no.
Posted: May 19, 2006 4:43 PM
Hmmm... the ["Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Characters"] site says that Peter Parker is Protestant. Could be; I was maybe misremembering something written by a former Spidey writer about most persons living where Peter grew up would probably be Jewish.
Posted: May 19, 2006 5:11 PM
Peter Parker spent his younger days with Aunt May in Forest Hills. That area of Queens did have a high Jewish population in the 1960's (Joey Ramone was Jewish and raised in Forest Hills), but is now more mixed. You will find many ethnic backgrounds in Forest Hills nowadays.
From: "Passover Wave! Ragman and--?" message board started 13 April 2006 on official DC Comics website (http://dcboards.warnerbros.com/web/thread.jspa?forumID=29209087&threadID=2000071426; viewed 1 June 2006):
Posted: Apr 13, 2006 10:10 AM
Any other Jewish Superheroes besides RAGMAN?...
Posted: Apr 13, 2006 6:42 PM
In all seriousness, I thought Peter Parker was Jewish. Totally neurotic... Woody Allen without the incest/pedophilia thing...
Plus Stan Lee? HUGE Jew!
Mary Jane, however, is a shiksa!
Posted: Apr 13, 2006 9:15 PM
I think Peter Parker should come out as a closeted Jew. And Marvel should make it real melodramatic event issue like when Northstar came out. It was like a full splash page of Northstar, where he said "I HAVE BEEN, AND ALWAYS SHALL BE -- A HOMOSEXUAL!!!"
I read that and howled and howled and howled.
So Peter could say something like: I HAVE BEEN, AND ALWAYS SHALL BE -- KOSHER!!!"
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: John Saponaro
Date: Wed, Oct 16 1996 12:00 am
You're gonna slug me for saying this, but as far as I'm concerned, Spider-Man is Jewish. Reason One: Stan is. Reason Two: In the classic stories, Peter Parker acts like a cross between Joel Fleischman and George Costanza. (Not every Jew is like that, I must point out before I get flamed by kosher ninjas...)
From: Matthew Slater
Date: Wed, Oct 23 1996 12:00 am
Does anyone know the typical origin of the name Parker? I always thought Aunt May would have been the type to be a little more religious than she was.
Aunt May mentioned that the Vulture had to settle his debt with God to him in spec [Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man 188. I think... with names Parker and Reilly I would guess that Peter is of Irish herritage, and that probably makes him Catholic or Protestant.
From: "Religious Inclinations of heroes" message board, started 1 March 2005 on StarDestroyer.net website (http://bbs.stardestroyer.net/viewtopic.php?t=63632; viewed 8 June 2006):
Posted: Tue Mar 01, 2005 6:38 pm
Post subject: Religious Inclinations of heroes
...Seems that atheistic heroes are as rare in comics as in real life. If [super-heroes] are religious it's a sort Judaeo-Christian wishy washy sort of religion... Any other examples of guesses?
Posted: Tue Mar 01, 2005 6:46 pm
Spider-Man's made references to 'God' in the JMS [J. Michael Straczynski] stories I've read so he's either Jewish or a wishy-washy Christian of no particular description.
Posted: Tue Mar 01, 2005 7:04 pm
What kind of references to God? Atheists occassionally use phrases like "God knows" and so on.
Posted: Tue Mar 01, 2005 8:57 pm
re: "What kind of references to God? Atheists occassionally use phrases like..."
It's more than that. In a recent issue, and I don't remember which one, he has a kind of monologue to himself where he says something to the effect of: "God, I know you and I have 'issues', but thank you for giving me a beautiful wife whom I love dearly." I doubt there's anything more beyond being a wishy-washy Christian.
Posted: Sun Mar 20, 2005 12:01 am
...Spider-Man often "thinks" to God, so he's some sort of monotheist (could be Christian, Jewish, Muslim, or Zoroastrian...possibly even Brahmanic Hindu)...
From: "Religious Beliefs of Marvel Characters" discussion board started 20 October 2004 on Comic-Forum.com website (http://www.comic-forum.com/marvel/Religious_beliefs_of_Marvel_characters_397905.html; viewed 8 June 2006):
Date: 20 Oct 2004 21:55:56
Subject: Religious beliefs of Marvel characters?
Does anybody know the religious beliefs of various characters?
Bruce Banner/The Hulk
Date: 20 Oct 2004 23:02:28
From: The Black Guardian
All I know is the last one [Magneto]: Judaism. Most of the rest are probably various denominations of Christian.
Date: 20 Oct 2004 23:16:20
From: Samy Merchi
Barring any actual solid evidence in the characters' own books, you could always fall back on the Infinity Crusade and see which sides the characters were on in that conflict. Anybody feel like whipping those issues out and checking these specific characters?
Date: 21 Oct 2004 03:52:34
From: The Black Guardian
Anyway, here's the list of those who "faithfully served" the Goddess: Captain America, Jamie Madrox the Multiple Man, Jean Grey, Namorita, Silhouette, Spider-Man, Puck, Archangel, the Inhuman Crystal, Firelord, Hercules, Shaman, Talisman, Moondragon, Quicksilver, the Scarlet Witch, the Silver Surfer, Sersi, the Living Lightning, Thor, the Invisible Woman, USAgent, Moon Knight, Wolfsbane, Doctor Strange, Wonder Man, Daredevil, the Black Knight, Windshear, Sasquatch, Storm, Gamora, Sleepwalker.
IIRC, even if you read the crossover, it's still pretty vague in what religions the heroes believed.
Date: 21 Oct 2004 15:19:09
From: Paul O'Brien
I'm trying to think of any stories dealing with that [Spider-Man's religious affiliation], and none spring to mind. I'd assume Christian, though. It's a pretty safe default assumption for any U.S. character where there isn't a strong reason to think otherwise.
Date: 22 Oct 2004 12:03:33
Peter does seem to have very vague ideas, and from the beginning people have seen many of his characteristics as fitting certain stereotypes about Jews (Aunt as the typical Yiddishe Mame, Peter being saturated in "Jewish guilt" etc.), although later developments (such as giving Aunt the maiden name Reilly) do not jibe that well with that view.
Date: 22 Oct 2004 14:06:41
Out of interest, are there any comic characters, mainstream or otherwise, that are unbelievers? And if so, how do they tend to be depicted?
Date: 23 Oct 2004 23:08:12
From: Nathan P. Mahney
I've always just sort of assumed that Peter Parker was an atheist.
Date: 24 Oct 2004 00:24:19
From: The Black Guardian
That seems a stretch. I could see a non-practicing Christian (or Jew), but I can't think of anything that screams "atheist."
Date: 24 Oct 2004 00:23:42
From: Matt Deres
I can't either, and the two (non-practicing vs atheism) can be close at times, but if I were digging for evidence to support his atheism, I'd say this: in all the soliloquies that Peter has done, through all the moping and second guessing and complaining, I don't ever recall him questioning god's plan or praying for support or anything of that nature. Some religious people are like that, of course, but with all the "Why oh why can't anything work out for me..." rants, it's odd that never once (AFAIK) did he ever turn to religion in some way or another. I'm not nearly as well versed in Spidey history as some others here, though.
Date: 25 Oct 2004 14:06:34
Well, in "Soul of the Hunter", Peter muses on his difficulties believing in the concept of a soul, a problem that apparently recedes when he is making love to MJ: "I want to believe the way she does. I'd give anything to believe! And when she loves me like this -- when we seem to become... something bigger -- touch something higher -- then, for a little while, at least... I really do believe."
And it would seem that Peter saw the events of this story -- fighting for the salvation of Kraven's soul -- as probably real (although MJ apparently saw it more as a hallucination brought on by Peter's feeling of guilt).
BTW, [marital relations] with MJ really seems to be a spiritual experience for Peter, in ASM [Amazing Spider-Man] vol. 2 #53, after the Parkers make love for the first time in ages (their separation ended in #50), Peter feels compelled to thank God for MJ...
From: "Claremont's 'Revenge' / CC Trademarks" thread on rec.arts.comics.marvel.xbooks newsgroup (http://groups.google.com/group/rec.arts.comics.marvel.xbooks/browse_thread/thread/b6c76ad39ebedbac/82cfea80ebc7bade; viewed 12 June 2006):
From: Thomas Wilde
Date: Fri, May 15 1998 12:00 am
re: "Does anyone have any other instances of positive (or negative) portrayals of religion in comics?"
Well, there's Bonita "Firebird" Juarez, who's a fervent Christian and shows up occasionally in Avengers... Captain America, although that's rarely touched upon... J.M. DeMatteis' take on Spider-Man... The more I think about it, the more religious characters don't really tend to lend themselves to comics. Turning the other cheek doesn't exactly make for a hell of a good adventure story.
From: "The religions of comic book characters" thread started 10 February 2001 on rec.arts.comics.marvel.universe newsgroup (http://groups.google.com/group/rec.arts.comics.marvel.universe/browse_thread/thread/13590fda80c5d6e1/e5e0b094ced80f0b; viewed 12 June 2006):
From: Terry McCombs
Date: Sat, Feb 10 2001 6:35 pm
For the most part you don't get much of an idea as to the private lives of most comic book characters. Marvelish soap opera not withstanding.
What I mean is you don't get much of an idea what their politics or religion might be. This is sensible enough I guess as they don't want to offend any of their customers.
From time to you see things, whenever DC has shown Superman or Batman being married they always seem to have someone in a white collar officiating. Are they saying they are Catholic? or Episcopalian? Or that they just wanted someone religious looking doing it?
...What do you think?
Date: Sun, Feb 11 2001 6:05 am
That also goes for some of Marvel's characters, e.g. Scott Summers married both his wives in what appeared to be a Catholic or Episcopalian ceremonies. Peter and MJ were a possibly notable exception in choosing a non-religious ceremony (being married by a Justic of the Peace, Mary Janes's uncle Spencer).
From: Bill Craig (founding and senior pastor of Summit Trace Church in Frederick, Maryland), "Comic Faith", posted 14 June 2006 on "Bill Craig" blog website (http://billcraig.blogspot.com/2006/06/comic-faith.html; viewed 14 June 2006):
In a recent article of the latest Newsweek Magazine, http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/13249146/site/newsweek/ under "Belief Watch" I discovered that many of my childhood comic book superheroes are "religious". Now I don't know what church they may attend and even if I did I would have to be discrete to protect their identity. What fascinates me is that as super as they are they still place a faith in something greater than they are. Newsweek tells me that Peter Parker is a Protestant, Superman is Methodist -- that Midwest clean look gave him away... http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/comic_book_religion.html You can see a complete list here.
From: Joshua, "Superhero Religions", posted 14 June 2006 on "Carpathian Kitten Loss" blog website (http://kittenloss.blogspot.com/2006/06/superhero-religions.html; viewed 14 June 2006):
From: Aaron, "Hero worship", posted 16 June 2006 on "Two or Three.net" blog website (http://www.twoorthree.net/2006/06/hero_worship.html; viewed 16 June 2006):
In this week's Newsweek periscope [link to Newsweek article: "Belief Watch: Good Fight", http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/13249146/site/newsweek/], there is an odd piece on the religions and presumed religions of superheroes...
According to the list, which is taken from a website called Beliefnet.com [link to http://www.beliefnet.com/features/comicbookfaith.html] Superman is Methodist/Kryptonian, Spiderman is Protestant and Batman's either Episcoplian or a lapsed Catholic (huh?)
...The irony, if that's the right word, is that most of the early comic heroes were created by Jewish artists. They did Superman, Spiderman, the X-men and apparently Batman.
What religion is your favorite comic book character? Here is an interesting list [link to: http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/comic_book_religion.html] that explores the faith of superheroes, supervillians and other well-known comic characters... Many of the most well-known are simply generic Protestants (Spiderman, Captain America, Cyclops)...
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&start=120; viewed 16 June 2006):
From: Adam/adamelijah, "Faith of Our Tight-Clad Heroes", posted 19 June 2006 on "Where I Stand" blog website (http://www.whereistand.com/adamelijah/12737; viewed 19 June 2006):
Posted: Jun 14, 2006 12:01 PM
Wow, so I guess my question would be what comics do you read, because in my mind Spider-Man, Superman, Star Wars, Batman... the list could go on and on, but the point is they use some concept of religion. If you break everything down into the Ten Commandments you pretty much cover all comic book concepts. For example "With great power comes great responsibility" is very much based in religion. How about super-heroes never killing but once Wonder Woman did? We went bonkers. Batman trying to honor his parents by never letting something like that happen to anyone else. I don't know if I think religion has a place in comics but, It's already there.
Hat Tip to the Random Yak on this [http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/comic_book_religion.html], a page that lays out the religion of Super Heroes. Its not something I've thought about before, but the fact is that most of the comic writers have given some thought to it. The big ones of interest are that Superman is a Methodist, Batman is probably an Anglican, and Spider-Man comes from a Protestant background of some sort. Of course, in the case of most of these heroes, the religion really has little to no tie in to their character. It is more a background than their actual way of living, so they're really more humanist with a religious background than anything else. I was surprised by the number of LDS super heroes, not so much by the number of Jewish heroes.
From: "Atheist superheroes?" thread, started 21 September 1999 on rec.arts.comics.marvel.universe newsgroup (http://groups.google.com/group/rec.arts.comics.marvel.universe/browse_thread/thread/e8d686f0b20944a6/e46638dbdaa8a219; viewed 22 June 2006):
From: Paul O'Brien
Date: Tues, Sep 21 1999 12:00 am
re: "...we get of Peter Parkers life, I'd say he's at least an agnostic."
Why do you assume he's agnostic? Non-practising, certainly, but that doesn't necessarily make him a non-believer.
I'd be surprised if there aren't some vampire stories floating around somewhere that don't establish Spider-Man as being able to use Christian symbols against them. (Marvel continuity has it that it's strength of faith in the symbol that makes them effective, not anything intrinsic to the symbols themselves.) Moreover, Spider-Man was created as an everyman figure, and I rather suspect the USA everyman in the 1960s was probably a Christian.
From: Doug Tonks, "A Higher Power", posted 22 October 2006 on "All New! All Different! Howling Curmudgeons: Two-Fisted Comics Commentary and Criticism!" blog website (http://www.whiterose.org/howlingcurmudgeons/archives/009995.html; viewed 25 April 2007):
The never-identified but usually heeded "they" claim that there are two topics you should never talk about: religion and politics. But since Mike already brought up religion [link to: http://www.whiterose.org/howlingcurmudgeons/archives/009992.html], I'll follow it up with a link to this page [link to: http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/comic_book_religion.html], which lists the religious affiliations of various comic book characters. Many of the religious identifications are backed up with lengthy supporting arguments, but some of the more minor characters get little or nothing in the way of explanation.
Some of them are not too surprising: ...Spider-Man is Protestant, although a specific denomination is not identified; ...Captain America, like Spider-Man, nondenominationally identified Protestant...
Posted by Doug at October 22, 2006 7:12 PM
From: "Where are the Christian Superheroes?" forum discussion page started 22 August 2006 on Newsarama website (http://forum.newsarama.com/archive/index.php/t-81451.html; viewed 5 May 2007):
08-22-2006, 10:03 AM
...I pose the question to you, my fellow Talk@Ramanians: If Christianity is the most popular faith in the United States, why aren't there more openly Christian superheroes?
08-22-2006, 11:01 AM
I'm not sure if it's an active choice in doing such for most readers to affiliate a character with their faith umbrella. Though I would argue that unless otherwise, most readers will identify a character with themselves (which includes their respective faiths) unless otherwise revealed.
A Hindu reading Amazing Spider-Man would assume Peter Parker is a Hindu as well given your argument. This just isn't the case, although it is possible Peter Parker could be Hindu it is extremely unlikely given his background, location, lifestyle, even though it hasn't been proven either way.
This is not an ideal situation... When meeting new people or characters they are a big grey area of unknown. This includes religion and there should be no assumptions about religion. Therefore until proven otherwise they should be considered religionless, unaffiliated, or not enough information to determine.
That way you wont be disappointed when he turns out to be something different than you assumed him to be.
08-22-2006, 12:07 PM
re: I think assuming a character's religion fictional or otherwise is an insult... A lot of people are Christian... here is a person, therefore he must be Christian. That is a logical fallacy. All characters are to be assumed religionless... i.e. agnostic, until proven otherwise either through their direct speech, "I am a so and so" or actions like attending certain churches... but you cannot just assume someone is Christian because that is the majority.
I think you can. If 75% of Americans are, then most American characters will be - though not necessarily fully practicing ones. But enough to celebrate Christmas every year in all those Christmas specials, occasionally mention God (like Spider-man has occasionally prayed to God-recently in fact, and Uncle Ben has been shown, from time to time, having a Cross on his headstone), and occasionally get a Church scene.
You see a fair amount of God/Devil stuff in comics, but it is a vague, monotheistic God, but rarely do you ever see any reference at all to Jesus Christ.
The vague Monotheistic God vague spirituality seems to threaten or offend no one, and I guess they would be worried a Jesus reference would offend people.
08-22-2006, 01:48 PM
re: A Hindu reading Amazing Spider-Man would assume Peter Parker is a Hindu...
There is not a large population of white Anglo-Aaxon Hindu's in New York so it's a pretty safe bet, even if you're reading the comic in New Delhi, that Peter Parker is a Christian, practicing or not.
08-22-2006, 02:34 PM
re: There is not a large population of white Anglo-Aaxon Hindu's in New York so it's a pretty safe bet, even if you're reading the comic in New Delhi, that Peter Parker is a Christian, practicing or not.
That was my whole argument... but its not proven Parker is Christian... I say a [whole] lot and I am an Atheist. I realize that the term has a certain meaning not wholly tied to religious contexts. I also observe Christmas, but merely as a gift-giving holiday.
I think assuming someone's religion is asinine. I am insulted everytime someone assumes that I am Christian because they think it is law or something. I do not assume anyone's religion for the same reasons. I am not saying you or others shouldn't, but it shows a lot of ignorance and arrogance, and says a lot of negative things about your character if you do.
08-22-2006, 02:36 PM
re: How exactly do you work in a character being very religious without turning it into a plot point or a story arc? There are so many views and opinions, you'll end be upsetting someone. People criticize writers like Winnick for being too political, I can' t imagine a wrter being too religious would sit well either. There are many characters that have had their religious affiliations casually mentioned, but that doesn't seem to be good enough? I don't care that there are some people here that it offends, but if you are a white American (as the majority of Marvel & DC heroes are) you are probably casually Christian, therefore the majority. Why does the majority need reinforcement?
Who says anything about reinforcement? We've had a lot of threads talking about making the comic verse reflect the world that surrounds them...
You could reflect religious characters - not just Christian - just like you can reflect politics, but you don't necessarily want characters behaving as a mouth piece for the writer.
No one would want someone spouting and trying to convert someone to a religion - which is also what they don't want from politics. Just like I wouldn't want Spider-man telling me Jesus is the only way to Heaven, I don't want Lex Luthor representing George W. Bush. Winnick isn't too political, he's preachy, and he's clumbsy about it too. But a religious character or characters or a political character is fine, as long as attempts are made to be fair and to have characters from different stripes. There's a difference.
David Thompson, "Secret Knowledge, Revealed", posted 1 March 2007 on "David Thompson: Culture, Ideas and Comic Books" blog website (http://davidthompson.typepad.com/davidthompson/comic_books/index.html; viewed 15 May 2007):
Zounds! The religious affiliations of your favourite comic book heroes have finally been documented in a disturbingly thorough database. This improbable cataloguing project may well define a whole new stratum of nerdish preoccupation. But, given the effort involved, it's hard not to be impressed and, dare I say it, just a little curious. I was vaguely aware that Spider-Man is sort-of Protestant, that Ben Grimm is Jewish and that Bruce Wayne seems to have that whole lapsed Catholic thing lurking in the background... deities...
From: "The Church of Superman" forum discussion started 19 June 2006 on the "James Randi Educational Foundation" website (http://www.randi.org/forumlive/showthread.php?t=58627; viewed 15 May 2007):
19th June 2006, 06:03 AM
The Church of Superman
Hmmmm... the "religious" affiliations of comic book characters. Huh?
19th June 2006, 10:26 AM
I read a couple of entries (mostly for characters I'm familiar with) and it seemed reasonably even-handed, although
(1) they have an annoying habit of citing as "evidence" publications that merely quote their own websites; and
(2) I think they rely too much on some pretty offhanded references to God, e.g. they quote an Ulimate Spider-Man issue where Peter is bemoaning how he is once again without a costume, and wonders "I got my original costume from that wrestling organization I was wrestling for when I first got my powers. Maybe they have extra and I can steal some. I mean, borrow some. Maybe I can get the costume from the jerk who was running around dressed as me robbing banks. Maybe someone up there is telling me not to wear a costume, or not to be a super hero. Maybe I was late to class and I didn't eat lunch . . . again."
Having said that, I don't disagree with their basic conclusion on Spider-Man, which is that he's not particularly religious or devout, but does seem to believe in God and have occasional "conversations" with him.
And yeah, I think they need to retitle their "Religious Affiliation" column in the tables, when they list such things as "feminist" and "hates Spider-Man." Also, they list some super-villains as atheists without citing any supporting evidence other than some guy's message board post.
From: "Is Batman an atheist or is he just not very religious?" forum discussion started 2 April 2007 on "Toon Zone" website (http://forums.toonzone.net/archive/index.php/t-187589.html; viewed 21 May 2007):
04-03-2007, 12:42 PM
re: Also, is Spiderman intended to be Jewish?
This Spider-Man question gets asked a lot and no, even though he lives in Forest Hills, Queens and seemed to have some vaguely Jewish traits in his earliest appearances, Peter Parker has always been portrayed as being vaguely Protestant.
From: "Religions of comic book characters" forum discussion started 18 April 2007 on Uberchristians website (http://uberchristians.org/vb/showthread.php?t=373; viewed 21 May 2007):
04-18-2007, 05:26 PM
I wasn't aware so many characters had their religions defined at any point. I hardly ever remember running into it when I was into mainstream comics.
04-18-2007, 07:36 PM
Someone spent a lot of time looking into all that. I was only aware of three or four that had religion as a big part of their character. Including those who had sold their soul or went to hell kinda thing (Spawn and Ghost Rider come to mind). I know some character's families like Spiderman have religion in their background but I don't recall many practicing any faith.
From: "Atheist representation on the Avengers" forum discussion started 20 June 2001 on "Comic Boards" website (http://www.comicboards.com/avengers/view.php?trd=010620110715; viewed 24 May 2007):
Posted by Jae on Wednesday, June 20 2001 at 11:07:15 GMT
Atheist representation on the Avengers
The teams pretty well rounded now, but are there any atheistic members?...
Posted by D-Man on Wednesday, June 20 2001 at 20:10:53 GMT
...Probably the best comic you could find to figure out who believes in a god or a god, or have deep faith in God or a god would be:
The Goddess uses the heroes' faith and belief in gods and such to recruit heroes.
Here are a list of Avengers who are "believers" so are recruited by the Goddess:
Spider-Man (which is odd)
Posted by Taxman on Wednesday, June 20 2001 at 14:17:36 GMT
I just dug up some back issues of "Infinity Crusade"...
...I think that it is pretty safe to assume that none of the Crusaders [i.e., people chosen by the Goddess] are atheists...
From: "Religious Characters In Marvel" forum discussion started 15 September 2006 on "Comic Book Resources" website (http://forums.comicbookresources.com/archive/index.php/t-143850.html; viewed 25 May 2007):
09-15-2006, 09:01 PM
The other day I was thinking about religion and comic books... What I'm interested in is the way religious characters are portrayed in comic books...
I think the first step is listing what characters are what religion...
[Editor: The person posting the following message seems to think that an unusually large number of characters are Jewish:]
09-15-2006, 09:44 PM
Mags is actually a born Jewish who was raised by gypsies in his youth.
His kids, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch are gypsy.
Dr. Doom is of course, gypsy.
Moon Knight is a former Jew who now practices worship in the Egyptian deity Khonshu.
Thing is Marvel's #1 Jew obviously (he had his bar mitzvah not too long ago).
Wolverine was probably raised Catholic or maybe somewhat like a Puritan. I got the gist of it in Origin.
Spider-Man should be Jewish if anything. (Forest Hills, Queens in the 1960's is a real giveaway, though his age is obviously not consistant with this currently) Also, he did get married in a church, which kinda goes against this, though it may have just been Mary Jane's faith.
I also consider Juggernaut as Jewish since saying "the Jewggernaut" is really funny. Also, thinking of such a big guy being mortally afraid of his mother is even funnier.
Cable is Askani. At least I think it's a faith...
From: Keiichi, "Religion, politics and super heroes", posted 13 May 2007 on "Minitokyo" blog website (http://forum.minitokyo.net/thread/56752/religion-politics-super-heroes/1/#p1215679; viewed 28 May 2007):
Now with the Spidey hype, I was looking for info about our friendly neighbor and I found an article about the superheroes' religions here: http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/SpiderMan.html
and I also began to wonder about their political afiliation.
It was funny, but I disagree with the fact that Peter Parker is Christian... I think that Parker grew up in a Christian home... probably Protestant, but right now he is just a secular fellow that belives in a higher power, generally called GOD. Just like me... with no formal religious afiliation... and Democrat by the way...
From: "Is Spider-Man Jewish?" forum discussion started 15 January 2007 on "Comic Book Resources" website (http://forums.comicbookresources.com/archive/index.php/t-160187.html; viewed 28 May 2007):
01-15-2007, 09:40 PM
Is Spider-Man Jewish? cuz he's on a list of Fictional Jews on wikipedia but not on the list on Jewish comic book characters.
So is he or not?
01-15-2007, 10:00 PM
Only insomuch as Stan wrote him. And when you get down to it, Stan's about the Jewiest of writers this side of Woody Allen.
01-15-2007, 10:55 PM
He's given a lot of stereotypical Jewish quirks, but the character itself doesn't appear to be. On a few occassions we've seen the character in a church, never in a temple.
So I'm guessing that he's non-denominational Christian, but doesn't really practice his faith all that often.
01-15-2007, 11:40 PM
Yep. As said, evidence points to him being at least vaguely Christian.
01-15-2007, 11:45 PM
I remember Quesada saying in one of his "Joe Fridays" a while back that Peter had a bit of Irish in him.
Brian "Vash" Ashby
01-15-2007, 11:49 PM
His faith always seemed to be Catholic.
But because of how Judaism works, he could be [Jewish] even if he prays to Jesus every day of his life. It just depends on if his mother was or not. Sort of an interesting loop hole.
What was his mother's name? Was she ever shown to be Jewish? Etc.
01-15-2007, 11:52 PM
I just presumed he was a non-practicing Christian.
01-16-2007, 12:01 AM
It'd be great if he was [Jewish], if only to hear him mentioned in the next [Adam] Sandler Chanukah song.
01-16-2007, 01:26 AM
re: I just presumed he was a non practicing Christian.
likewise for Ultimate Spidey (although obviously his relationship with Kitty may draw this conclusion more readily).
01-16-2007, 01:44 AM
Great power. He's Irish.
01-16-2007, 04:42 AM
Aunt May is Jewish isn't she?
01-16-2007, 05:44 AM
re: Aunt May is Jewish isn't she?
Not sure, I've seen her in church as well, her maiden name is Reilly, for what that's worth.
01-16-2007, 09:33 AM
Reilly is Irish.
I always imagined him [Spider-Man] as a Protestant of some sort, simply because when comics Jews are mentioned, the likes of The Thing spring to mind but Spidey... naa.
...Funny how most of the Catholics we see in comics are quite devout though, or maybe it's just me. Daredevil, Nightcrawler etc...
01-16-2007, 09:42 AM
Peter may not be very religious at all and that really doesnt matter. But there are a few signs that point him in being a bit on the Christian/Catholic side.
After he got his second beat down from Morlun, Aunt May forced him to go to church - temple was never mentioned. Also just to be clear, is 616 Aunt May related to Peter's mom like she is in Ultimate. I know Ben Parker is Peters real uncle through daddy, but i dont recall May ever being mentioned as Mary's sister. But even so, if that's the case and she is related, then obviously her going to church rules out the possibility that Mary was Jewish.
Also was May married (or nearly married) to Doc Ock by a Catholic priest?
01-16-2007, 12:25 PM
Didn't they do the whole smashing a bottle thing in her wedding with Doc Ock? I'm sure it was on the cover.
01-16-2007, 01:00 PM
Previous continuity has established that he's probably not Jewish.
Aunt May went to church in the Tenth Chapter of "The Other" written by Peter David. This was after the movie version of the character said the Lords Prayer.
So it seems two Jewish creators ([Peter] David, [Sam] Raimi) definitely portrayed her [Aunt May] as a Christian.
I agree with Joe Q on his ethnicity being more Irish than anything else.
His mother was Mary Fitzgerald. His father was a Parker. His aunt's last name was Reilly.
If I wrote the books, I'd portray him as vaguely Protestant, except he's never really had the time to question his religion/ do anything related to the church. I see him as an enormously busy guy, who probably doesn't vote much either (although he probably is more liberal than conservative.) Unless this ends up violating future Spider-Man continuity (ie - if JMS's final arc shows him campaigning for McCain.)
01-16-2007, 01:03 PM
re: What was his mother's name?
According to Untold Tales of Spider-Man #1, his mother was Mary Fitzpatrick.
Brian "Vash" Ashby
01-16-2007, 01:34 PM
Since he is Irish, seems most likely he is Catholic. Don't know many Irish Jews.
But I suppose there is still a possibility if his grandmother on his mother's side was Jewish.
01-16-2007, 02:43 PM
I hold that yes, Spider-Man is Jewish. Of course, he's Jewisher when Bendis has the pens, but it works.
01-16-2007, 03:01 PM
He's too poor to be Jewish.
He grew up in Forest Hills. Nice neighborhood. Given the cost of rent, and the fact that the primary provider in the family died, money troubles isn't really an uncommon thing. I know you were joking, but seriously, he's never been the poorest kid in the world, and nobody is immune to money troubles.
Anyway, I do believe it may have been Stan's intention, being a nice Jewish boy from NY himself, and knowing the ethnic makeup of where Spidey grew up, plus the whole "science geek loser" thing that was a common origin for many of Stan's colleagues in the comic world at the time, who many of which were happily Jewish, Pete might've been intended to be a Jew.
But, in order to make Pete more relatable, and not get into issues of race or ethnicity if it wasn't the point of the story, he made it more vague.
Since then, Pete has had Christmas Specials and things like that, so he's probably part Irish Catholic, and part whatever Uncle Ben is. Plus, Ben is a veeeeery common name, but especially common for Jews. Sam, Max, Ben, we like those 3 letter nicknames for some reason.
Oh, and Mary was a Jewish name dating back to well, the one that gave birth to Jesus and earlier.
And WASP characters, the fact their Protestant doesn't affect them. They're not gonna go around saying "omg, my people killed Indians" but for Catholics, especially with characters with immigrant roots (or a working class boxer father involved in organized crime) being Catholic is a bigger deal. Historically (in the last 120 years, maybe more, I'm not a historian) religion is more of a community than anything once you reach American shores.
01-16-2007, 03:24 PM
This whole thing is hilarious, lol
01-16-2007, 03:57 PM
I don't think Peter's Catholic. I just believe there would have been more references to that. Hell, we'd probably have seen Peter go to confession. It's easier for a Protestant to miss church for a few years than it is for a Catholic (I say this as a Lutheran who only goes to church on the occassional Easter Sunday, Christmas Eve, or wedding/ funeral/ baptism/ confirmation.
If Peter were Jewish, we'd probably have met people he knows from the Jewish-American community (i.e., the rabbi, anyone who knows him from synagogue.)
niall mc cann
01-16-2007, 04:34 PM
I always assumed he was raised in as a Protestant of one denomination or another. If he has Irish roots, that's conceivable, and those times I've seen him in a church (his wedding, for example) the decor looked more Protestant than Catholic, to me.
Maybe i just missed all the creepy statues and huddled old ladies. :D
01-16-2007, 05:14 PM
Spidey is not Jewish that I'm aware of. Never knew the Thing was Jewish or Moonknight for that matter.
01-16-2007, 05:59 PM
No, you're all wrong, he worships the spider totem remember?
01-16-2007, 06:03 PM
I'm surprised no one took the easy hit on us Catholics by suggesting that since Pete's so wracked with guilt, he must be Catholic.
Seriously, I don't think this issue's ever been addressed. And very likely, that's the way it should stay, for various reasons.
Spider-Man, like the other comic book icons, can't be tied to one religious entity. He's the Everyman, he's an Archetype, he has to be relatable to anyone who wants to put themself in his place.
01-16-2007, 08:16 PM
First off, Parker isn't a Jewish name. Maybe it he was "Ira Parkerman" then there would be a case that he's Jewish... but he's not. He's just like most Catholics I know... non-practicing.
01-16-2007, 08:23 PM
He seems like a WASP to me.
01-16-2007, 08:40 PM
01-16-2007, 09:37 PM
re: First off Parker isn't a Jewish name...
It was changed at Ellis Island. His granpda changed the name during the war to avoid persecution. His dad was a fricken spy and had more aliases than, umm, Spiderman during identity crisis.
There are always reasons for aname change, especially in fiction.
01-17-2007, 12:18 AM
Well he IS really, really funny.
And Jews are funny!!
Brian "Vash" Ashby
01-17-2007, 01:15 AM
Again, you have to look at the mother's side. Judaism is passed that way. That's why when a nice Jewish boy marries someone who isn't Jewish the fan gets so pissed off in all the movies and such...
01-17-2007, 02:34 AM
re: Mary was a Jewish name dating back...
Mary is (with variants, like Maria, Maryam, Marianne, etc. etc.) One of the most common names in the world (It's no "Cheng" or "Muhammed", but it's up there)
Brian "Vash" Ashby
01-17-2007, 03:26 AM
That reminds me of that bit on The Daily Show. "The most common last name in the world is Wong. And the most common first name in the world is Mohammed. But there are no Mohammed Wong's."
Brian "Vash" Ashby
01-17-2007, 04:42 AM
The webpages say [Spider-Man is] Protestant, but Catholic seems far more likely to me, although very, very lapsed.
definitely not Jewish, not that there is anything wrong with that. It's very interesting that Jewish writers create heroes of other faiths more than their own.
01-17-2007, 11:29 AM
Even if Peter's mother's mother were Jewish, that wouldn't make him Jewish by faith. There's been nothing in the comics to indicate he's a practicing Jew, or active in the Jewish community. (He had a Jewish friend in "Soul of the Hunter" but I don't believe that scene contained deeper religious meaning.)
01-17-2007, 11:31 AM
Since Jews form less than 5% of Americans, I think that's only sensible.
01-17-2007, 11:39 AM
Maybe hes meant to be no religion.
01-17-2007, 12:22 PM
I'd guess that the truth really is that Marvel doesn't give him a religion because as they always say, Peter's an "everyman." So it helps us Catholics empathise with him by imagining him as Catholic, and likewise other denominations I'm sure.
But it's certainly VERY strongly indicated that he's Christian of one denomination or another...
01-17-2007, 08:43 PM
Yeah... practicing = 40-something percent of Jews. Most Jews aren't Jews by that standard. His faith is Christian and if not, defintely Judeo-Christian, but he's probably got some of a few things in his background.
And given the number (and percentage) of Jewish creators, especially at the real start of comics, and into the creation of a lot of these characters, if every creator made their character the same ethnicity as themselves, the Marvel Universe would have to accept that being Jewish is linked to being a mutant.
Instead, we get lots of diversity, with the traditional hero being a WASP with some ethnically scattered friends.
Brian "Vash" Ashby
01-17-2007, 08:50 PM
Not saying he would be practicing. But if his mother's mother is Jewish than so is he. Judaism is inherited, an interesting facet of the whole thing. It's like those hunters in Logan's Run, you can't escape them.
01-20-2007, 09:45 PM
I think Stan, in attempting to create a character that was easily relatable to, he may have envisioned a character he could relate to. A son of working-class Jews growing up in New York, winding up prematurely working in a Manhattan press office for daily publications... seems the kind of connection Stan would make. The same feeling he had walking into Timely or Atlas or whatever it was at the time, is felt by Peter Parker taking his first steps toward becoming a vital addition to the Daily Bugle staff.
From that point of reference though, the character has gone 40 years, so changes in ethnicity, religion, job, and marital status are not only understandable, but necessary for the growth of the character.
Umm, do i get a prize now?
01-21-2007, 12:18 AM
You're close, but you're slightly off. Because the whole thing about the son of working-class Jews growing up in New York winding up prematurely working in a Manhattan Press office pretty much describes Stan himself to a tee. Substite in magazine publisher for press office, and that's Stan's life in a nutshell.
Now on the other hand, Stan was never very religious. And he generally created characters to appeal to as wide a mainstream as possible. So you have Peter, whose creation is heavily influenced by Stan's own life, but whose religious affiliation doesn't have that much importance... just like Stan's. In the end, it just doesn't really matter.
Green Lantern wannabe
01-21-2007, 09:17 AM
Just because Stan Lee is Jewish doesn't mean his characters are Jewish. But, google "Spiderman religion" and you can get some well-reasoned articles, like this one. (http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/SpiderMan.html)
01-21-2007, 02:55 PM
I had a nice long post where i explained the early Twentieth Century sense of community amongst Jews that has developed into a secular non-faith-based Judaism where I talked about the fact that Irish immigrant and son of immigrant communitys developed along with pretty much segregated Jewish, and Russian, and heck, Russian Jew communities that almost socialized within each other, but I pushed the stupid red button and it went away.
Then I concluded that Stan, being the son, or grandson of Jewish immigrants in New York, probably had less of the "only trust your own kind" mentality, and was more secular as each generation of Jews in the united states has become increasingly secular, so basing Peter Parker on himself as a kid, not mentioning Judaism, and putting him in a neighborhood with a substantial Jewish community, but not exclusively Jewish community, he may have thought of Peter Parker as a Jew (in background, maybe not in faith) but he left religion AND ethnicity vague, so instead of some random kid going "Spiderman's a Jew, my (racist) grandpa said not to talk to Jews" the kid goes "oh man, if i had those powers, i'm just like this Peter kid!"
I'm not saying Stan being a Jew meant spidey is a Jew. But that Stan really went out of his way to create a character that he himself related to on multiple levels, And thus would be able to write as relatable to kids reading comics.
edit: i just read that thing GLW posted. "why do bad things happen to good people?" is the crux to Will Eisner's "Contract with God". And many of those Christian "god is watching over, life is a relationship with god" type things, originated in Judaism and were brought over to Christianity.
Anyway, someone should write an essay on the unsecularization of Spiderman. He started out somewhere between vague and faithless, and has, as the world has become more secular, become more religious. odd.
01-23-2007, 01:29 PM
The name 'Peter' was always a tipoff to me that he (or rather, his family) is Catholic. You don't meet a lot of Protestant Peters, they tend to come from Catholic families. And as someone pointed out, he's likely as Irish as he can get on his mom's side (Fitzgerald) although Parker could be from anywhere in the UK, but most likely England.
01-28-2007, 12:55 PM
Ultimate Spidey might be since he uses a bunch of Jewish words.
01-28-2007, 03:46 PM
I think Cyberman is spot on in his assessment. I've always felt that Spidey was vaugely Protestant. And for all the reasons Cyberman mentions. And vaguely Irish.
As to why not Catholic? Marvel already has two strong Catholic heroes (Nightcrawler, and the quintessential Catholic Daredevil, most strongly influenced by Miller, a Catholic). Also, you just don't see the religious trappings with Peter that you do with Kurt and Matt.
As to why Catholicism gets used so often - it's the visuals baby! Same as the movies. Who wants to see a guy in a cardigan fighting demons in a church with a cross and no other iconography? That's so WASP.
01-30-2007, 08:05 PM
That's why Protestantism isn't as cool in film and comics. you get all the boring sermons, and none of the cool jewelry, paintings and sculptures of the Virgin Mary and other flamboyant uses of the cross because of this "idolatry" thing. As Frank Miller has shown, characters acting like complete nutcases or immoral bastards while wearing crosses and going (or being a member of) the Catholic church is instant irony.
But Spiderman is never going to stress over religion and the Catholic church the way DD [Daredevil] does unless it turns out his mom became a nun and he takes up a costume based on New Testament symbology.
02-01-2007, 03:22 AM
True. Catholic church really has a much better sense of drama than most of the Protestant churches. They have nuns, monks, confessional, sign of the cross etc. You don't get to use that sort of stuff if you make your character Babtist or Lutheran. Confessional in particular makes for an excellent story-telling device.
02-01-2007, 05:28 AM
When he [Spider-Man/Peter Parker] married MJ they were in a regular church with a regular priest. He wasn't wearing a yamulkah and he didn't smash a glass with his feet at the end.
03-16-2007, 11:03 AM
Over in Ultimate [Spider-Man] I noticed two pieces of dialog:
1. USM 105 "cool, organic web-shooters", nerdy :D
(Peter commenting his female clone)
2. touches a more sensitive subject in USM 106 "I am not even Jewish"
(Peter commenting his relationship with Kitty Pryde)
What do you think?
03-16-2007, 12:34 PM
re: What do you think?
That Ultimate Spider-Man is nerdy and not Jewish.
03-16-2007, 05:01 PM
re: That Ultimate Spider-Man is nerdy and not Jewish.
Give the man a prize.
03-16-2007, 06:18 PM
Isn't there a whole "I know some Yiddish but I'm not Jewish" thing in New Avengers? I vaugely remember him talking to Spider-Woman about it. Or is it Luke Cage? My memory fails me today!
03-16-2007, 06:58 PM
This could make a good future "What If" one-shot. "What If Spider-Man Was Jewish!?"
03-16-2007, 07:24 PM
re: That Ultimate Spider-Man is nerdy and not Jewish.
Harrr, somehow i expected more. Aren't you the one that lectured people about symbolism, genre jumping and metalevels in all these "Doom crying at groundzero" discussions?
Anyway, I am much more interested in Marvel and its employees take on a matter than the matter itself.
So my question was more "what does Bendis think/tell?" and less "is Peter Parker Jewish?"
Be (more) creative!
03-16-2007, 07:54 PM
Sorry if this has been mentioned already, but Joe Q has said in JoeFridays that Spidey is an Irish Protestant, which struck me as a bit unusual in the US but whatever.
Has anyone ever met an Irish-American Protestant? Don't mean to get off topic, but I was under the impression most of the Irish that immigrated here were Catholic.
03-17-2007, 05:06 AM
Most people in Ireland are Catholic, so it would be unusual, but not impossible I guess.
03-17-2007, 05:58 AM
It depends when Parker's family moved. Before Irish independence about 10% of the 26 counties' population was Protestant. This has since fallen to below 3% (due to Protestants leaving because they didn't want to live in an independent Ireland/because their Catholic neighbours bullied them into leaving/because they faced some prejudice against them in getting jobs, etc., and being bred out by the policy of children in inter marriages being raised Catholic).
So if Parker's family lived in (26 county) Ireland before 1916 there is a 10% chance they were Protestant.
If one includes all 32 counties then there was around 25% chance of an Irish person being Protestant.
There are also a good number of Scotch Irish (what would be considered Ulster men today) who existed in the colonies before their formation, although these people's descendants probably don't consider themselves to be Irish.
With this said the Protestants tended to be better off than Catholics so those moving to the US were more liely to be Catholic (a Protestant leaving Ireland would probably move to the other parts of the UK, although a fair amount of Catholics did that as well and still do) and I suspect Irish Protestant probably weren't as a interested in the fact that they were Irish.
03-17-2007, 10:10 AM
re: Isn't there a whole "I know some Yiddish but I'm not Jewish" thing in New Avengers? I vaugely remember him talking to Spider-Woman about it. Or is it Luke Cage? My memory fails me today!
They had a scene like that in the latest issue of Ultimate Spider-Man.
Peter says "oy" and admits he's not even Jewish.
03-17-2007, 10:12 AM
re: Has anyone ever met an Irish-American Protestant?
I had a high school teacher who came from Ireland as a child, and was from a Protestant family.
He had to get his ass kicked a lot when he was young.
03-17-2007, 10:15 AM
As a Jew myself, I never thought of Peter as Jewish. Usually I look at last names and how they are drawn and then come to my assumption.
03-17-2007, 10:39 AM
Yeah, I think it's safe to say he's a non-practicing Protestant.
Or... Maybe he does practice, just off-pannel. hahaha
How do you have a religion in the Marvel U with guys like Thor/Loki and The Beyonder, or any other God or omnipotent cosmic being?
03-17-2007, 11:00 AM
I think the question is how can you be an atheist, w/ guys like Thor, Mephisto, etc.
From: Gary Stern, "The spiritual Spider-Man", posted 7 May 2007 on "On Religion" blog website (http://religion.lohudblogs.com/2007/05/07/the-spiritual-spider-man/; viewed 30 May 2007):
It always kind of amuses me when writers find "religious" or "spiritual" themes in all aspects of pop culture.
Back in 1956, Robert Short, a student at the University of Chicago Divinity School, created a whole new field of study with his popular The Gospel According to Peanuts (the Charlie Brown Peanuts comic strip).
Over the years, there are been many interesting and noteworthy commentaries, such as the Gospel According to the Simpsons, by Mark Pinsky, the Orlando Sentinel's fine religion writer. (If you haven't watched the Simpsons, it may be hard to believe, but this long-running cartoon regularly deals with religion in an insightful and tremendously funny way.)
Sometimes, however, the media get carried away. Every mega-movie that features a Good Guy against a Bad Guy (which is almost all of them) is immediately awarded religious themes that reflects passages from Scripture, the Christ story or something religious.
The Lord of the Rings has religious themes. But Spider-Man?
A Beliefnet review of Spider-Man 3 finds moralizing scenes and spiritual themes. Maybe. I've loved Spider-Man since I was a kid and really enjoyed the first two movies (I'll wait until the lines are shorter to see 3), but I have to wonder whether very, very basic morality tales really reflect anything heavier.
Is Spider-Man's mantra - "With great power comes great responsibility" - a radioactive update on the Golden Rule?
Regardless, Beliefnet has compiled a very funny quiz on the religious life of superheroes. Really. Here's a sample question:
Q3. Kitty Pryde (Shadowcat) of the X-Men is one of the most overtly Jewish superheroes of all time. How does she prominently display her faith?
1. By exclaiming "oy vey" whenever something bad happens
2. By wearing a Star of David necklace
3. By going to temple often
4. By leaving work early on Shabbat
I just noted this review at ChristianityToday.com, which really pushes the spiritual Spider-Man theme. Reviewer Mark Moring writes this:
A huge part of the franchise's popularity has been (Director Sam) Raimi's treatment not just of the action hero in the spider suit, but of the young man underneath. Raimi's direction and Tobey Maguire's acting have made Peter/Spidey arguably the most popular comic book icon in film history. Christians have been among those embracing the protagonist, in part because Raimi has been unafraid to clearly include biblical themes and spiritual imagery in the films.
Spidey 2 (2004) might well have been subtitled The Passion of Peter Parker, as the hero wrestled with whether or not he wanted to be a "savior" of sorts. And when he saves the runaway train near the movie's end - in a crucifixion pose, with a wound in his side and holes in his wrists, no less - and then goes through a symbolic death, burial and resurrection ... well, let's just say it's quite a spiritual moment.
Raimi doesn't hold back from the spiritual imagery in Spider-Man 3, either, as the main character wrestles with a dark side he never knew he had. The movie's tagline is "The Battle Within," and the story is reminiscent of Paul's struggle with his sinful nature in Romans 7: "I do not understand what I do," the apostle writes. "For what I want to do, I do not do, but what I hate, I do."
From: "Guess who's the Jew?" forum discussion started 24 October 2005 on "Silver Bullet Comics" website (http://www.silverbulletcomicbooks.com/forum/archive/index.php?t-732.html; viewed 30 May 2007):
10-24-2005, 09:45 AM
Interesting column, although I would have to point out that Marvel has actually addressed the issue a bit more openly than implied: particularly in the recent Fantastic Four #485 (vol.3 #56) which made quite a an issue of not making an issue of comicbook characters' religious roots (The Thing being revealed to be Jewish, but in quite an understated way).
Also, Brian Bendis' Spider-Man is being written with more than his fair share of Jewish mannerisms lately in New Avengers. I don't know if Spidey's religious heritage has every been explicitly stated, but I'm sure someone will correct me on that...
From: "Jewish Heroes or Villians in Marvel Universe?" forum discussion, started 12 December 2005 on "Comic Book Resources" website (http://www.xmenindex.com/forums/comicbooks/t-97146.html; viewed 31 May 2007):
12-12-2005, 05:50 AM
Reading the " Black Panther thread" got me thinking. Are there any Jewish heroes or villians in the Marvel Universe?
12-12-2005, 07:26 AM
I've always kinda gotten the impression that Peter Parker was Jewish, although I don't think anyone's actually come out and confirmed or denyed it.
12-12-2005, 08:06 AM
Considering he [Peter Parker/Spider-Man] and MJ frequently celebrate Christmas, and there's never been a mention of Hannakuh, I'm going to have say that's probably not true. Not to mention Parker isn't really a Jewish name.
12-12-2005, 08:17 AM
Direct relatives were Reilly's and they do celebrate Christmas so I don't think so. I always assumed he was Catholic but I have no basis for that other than a hunch.
12-12-2005, 09:21 AM
Not that it means anything. But no, the extent of Parker's Jewishness is in his creation and scripting by Stan.
12-12-2005, 12:17 PM
Well, the 616 Parker isnt, but has the Ultimate version ever done anything to suggest he isnt? Bendis has worked a fair amount of Yiddish into Ultimate Parker's vocabulary, and how many non-Jewish 15 year olds know Yiddish?
12-12-2005, 12:43 PM
Well Bendis appears to be fairly Jewish at least culturally.
I think Stan and Jack took the right approach when they left religion out of the major characters (though Reed Richards has w.a.s.p. written all over him).
Also, Steve Ditko was fairly hard-core Catholic so I doubt he would let Spidey be overtly Jewish.
12-12-2005, 12:58 PM
What falls under Yiddish (Examples in Ultimate Spider-Man)? I've never noticed anything that seemed really out of place or something I don't understand.
Excuse my ignorance but Jewish isn't a big religion where I live so I couldn't really say what is Yiddish and what isn't and using pop culture isn't the best idea.
12-12-2005, 01:01 PM
re: ...Steve Ditko was fairly hard-core Catholic so I doubt he would let Spidey be overtly Jewish.
Ignoring that with Stan doing the words, not much of a choice. Not to mention, a good chunk of what we consider "the essential Spidey" was drawn by people other than Ditko. Romita and the like.
That said, Spidey isn't Jewish. He just seem that way sometimes because Stan was doing the words...
12-12-2005, 01:51 PM
...Ditko was very involved with Spiderman's creation though so I'd say he had some influence as to the character development.
I've asked this before but who married Peter and MJ?
12-12-2005, 02:46 PM
I'm not sure exactly where but there were several examples of Yiddish between USM [Ultimate Spider-Man] #s 40-60. At one point MJ even asks Peter what he just said and he replies that its Yiddish. I also remember Pete using the word chutzpah.
12-12-2005, 02:54 PM
I use Yiddish words, and I'm not Jewish. I blame Mel Brooks movies.
12-13-2005, 05:08 AM
re: ...how many non-Jewish 15 year olds know Yiddish?
Well, he does live in NYC.
12-13-2005, 05:10 AM
re: Also, Steve Ditko was fairly hard-core Catholic so I doubt he would let Spidey be overtly Jewish.
Not that I agree that Spidey is Jewish, but why would a Catholic artist not "let" a character be Jewish? I don't get that.
12-13-2005, 08:22 AM
Ditko was a devout Catholic and I believe he wanted his characters to reflect both is religious and political philosophies.
12-13-2005, 10:42 AM
re: Ditko was a devout Catholic and I believe he wanted his characters to reflect both is religious and political philosophies.
Then he must have loved Dr. Strange. I mean, come on, I'm sure Ditko did not make any cultural (or political) demands on the characters he drew.
12-13-2005, 11:46 AM
You're wrong on the political. That's why he quit Spidey. Dude was all wacky with the Ayn Rand crap. First I've ever heard about religious though. Can't think of any serious religious overtones in his Charleton work, which were like Objectivism treatises in spandex.
12-13-2005, 12:00 PM
They certainly didn't make Spiderman overtly Jewish. If anything, the names Parker and Reilly suggest Christian as opposed to Jewish.
For example, Peter tends to be used more by Christians than Jews (though feel free to correct me if I am wrong Sandy!).
The last name Parker appears to be English.
It doesn't appear to be a particularly Jewish name and it lends itself more a Protestant religion or culture than anything else.
Then again, Stan loved aliteration (Bruce Banner etc.) so your mileage may vary.
12-13-2005, 12:45 PM
I'd heard that he left Spidey because of Stan's decision to have him graduate from high school. I'm aware of Ditko's Ayn Rand fixation and how that plays into some of his solo work, but I've never heard that it stopped him from working on Spidey. Ayn Rand would probably have loved Spidey. (She loved James Bond, by the way.) He lives by his deeply felt principles. That's her creed.
12-13-2005, 12:45 PM
That's the other fun thing about the Jews, there tends to be a lot of name changing, so "Jewish names" don't always apply. Realizing they aren't their given names, but still, Lee? Kirby? Not exactly dripping with Semitism. My mother's maiden name was Cole. Changed by her father from Cohen.
Which again, I'm not saying Pete is actually Jewish. Just sort of Jewish in character, by virtue of having been written by Jews for a good portion of his existance, especially in the early, formative years.
12-13-2005, 12:47 PM
I know Jews with the name Peter, but I would agree that it is not particularly Jewish. Nowadays, most Jews have names that are not particularly Jewish.
12-13-2005, 12:53 PM
That's my understanding as well. However, a last name of Parker coupled with the name Peter suggests that he isn't Jewish. Parker doesn't appear to be an abbreviate Jewish name either as it a fairly old English name in its own right.
Does anyone know who married Pete and MJ?
12-13-2005, 12:54 PM
Again, my mother's last name was Cole, a fairly old English name in it's own right. Doesn't mean it wasn't changed, which it was.
12-13-2005, 02:26 PM
Cohen to Cole makes some sense (if my understanding of your post is correct) whereas I'm not sure what Jewish name would be changed to Parker.
Moreover, with a first name of Peter and at least some family with a distinctly Irish name of Reilly all the circumstantial evidence seems to suggest that he is not Jewish.
12-13-2005, 02:51 PM
Except he's not related to Reilly at all. Reilly is Aunt May's name. Who Uncle Ben Parker married. By your logic, George W. Bush is Latino because Jeb married a Mexican.
For the record, John Kerry's fine Irish grandfather was a Czekoslovakian Jew. So never judge anything just based on names.
12-13-2005, 03:14 PM
To be sure this is all speculation but we have to go by the "more likely than not" standard. That is, if you were to take a bet without knowing the facts, it's much more likely that Kerry's grandfather was not a Jew than he was a Jew.
That is, it's more likely than not that Peter Parker is not a Jewish name (based on the preponderance of the evidence). Further, Stan Lee et al. wanted to make Peter an "everyman" so to speak. He was from Queens, NY (if I am correct) so I'm not sure what that means in terms of the number of Jews in the area.
Again, who married MJ and Pete? Doesn't anyone have the issue?
According to this list, he's a Protestant?
Some of the claims on this list (and subsequent descriptions) are just ridiculous. Still, they do make a good point about May being a Christian.
12-13-2005, 03:44 PM
And what I'm saying is that more likely than not is not a good way to judge these things. Ben Grimm was more likely than not not Jewish, till Kessel wrote that story. Hell, Sasquatch wasn't, till Starlin needed an extra Jew for Infinity Crusade.
Now, I'm not saying Pete is Jewish. In fact, I've been saying from the beginning that he isn't. At the very least not religiously, and until some writer wants to stick in that either Pete's mom was Jewish, or that the Parker family name used to be Parkstein or whatever, not ethnically. If anything, Pete's been shown to be more as one of those spiritual, but not religious kind of guys. Believes in god, talks to him occasionally, but never mentioned in any kind of specific denomination. And any aspects of Judaism in the character are due the fault of being written by guys like Lee, Gerber, Wolfman, JMS, etc. (Just a random assortment.)
And that list really, really sucks. Their evidence that Pete is Protestant is that he hasn't specifically been shown to be anything else. And seriously, what religion is Liberal Marxist Communist? Half the crap up there is either conjecture or made up entirely.
12-13-2005, 03:55 PM
I think the list sucks as well (as I noted) though I think the point about Aunt May is valid.
We're having a debate here so we tend to go with what we know. The preponderence of the evidence suggests that Spiderman is not Jewish. As I said, if you were betting you'd go with the odds and bet with what you know.
12-13-2005, 09:27 PM
...I think I'd go with the notion that Spider-man is not Jewish. Stan wanted to make him an "everyman" so to speak so to make him a member of a minority so to speak would not have helped that notion any.
12-14-2005, 11:42 AM
...this was the point I was trying to make with the whole Spider-Man thing, with all the forced name changes, assimilation and conversion, you can't assume whether or not a person is Jewish just from their last name. Or anything else really. Case in point.
12-14-2005, 03:31 PM
He converted though. You can make a "more likely than not" decision which is made all of the time in courts of law, finance, gambling etc.
It's unlikely that Peter Parker is Jewish given his name, his Aunt's clear Christianity and the numbers game: A lot more Christians than Jews.
12-14-2005, 03:34 PM
You don't know Forest Hills too well, do you?
And I mentioned conversion. But what the hell, just for the sake of argument, these guys didn't convert.
12-14-2005, 07:35 PM
No, they didn't convert but there are many Jews who do not consider Ethiopian jews to be "real" Jews at all.
Again, it's a numbers game. The evidence suggests that SpideMan is not a Jew.
12-14-2005, 10:27 PM
Hey, all I'm saying is that the same amount of evidence existed for Grimm being Jewish as Pete.
Although considering the Ethiopian Jews get right of return to Israel, of the Jews that actually matter, they count.
12-15-2005, 08:06 AM
Grimm was the exception though and there had been hints all along that he was Jewish (his background etc.). Peter Parker has an Aunt (mother-figure) who is clearly not Jewish. His first and last names are not particularly Jewish either. It's more of a leap to say he is Jewish than to say he isn't.
And Sandy, some people (even Jewish people) put nationality above their religion. My rule of thumb is that I give people the benefit of the doubt and let them tell me what they think they are.
12-15-2005, 09:53 AM
Which hints exactly? The clearly revered Aunt Petunia, which as you've been so fond of pointing out, isn't exactly a Jewish name? The football hero/test pilot career route, not exactly the stereotypical Jewish occupations of lawyer (Two-Gun Kid), psychiatrist (Doc Samson) accountant (Iceman) or God (Jack Kirby). The only real hints were from the Yancy Street address, taken from Delancy street, which would have been a Jewish neighborhood in the 30s when Grimm originally would have been a kid, and a drawing of the Thing Kirby did that hangs in a Simi Valley syanagogue of Ben in a yalmulke and tallis reading from the Torah. Otherwise, there have been as much looking into his religion as, well, Spider-Man. Whose Forest Hills address also contains a large Jewish population.
Which again, isn't saying that he's Jewish. Just saying that the things you keep providing as proof that he isn't, arent.
12-15-2005, 11:54 AM
Having a maternal Aunt though who is a Christian suggests that Parker, along with his name etc., isn't Jewish.
I thought there had been more overt instances with the Thing?
12-17-2005, 08:45 PM
Magneto=Jew, and Spiderman being, from Forest Hills with an Aunt May, and Uncle Ben - very common Jewish name, was probably intended to be Jewish, but since then various Holiday Specials and the like have turned that around.
in Ultimate Whatever It's Called, Brian Bendis has pretty much made sure that Spiderman is Jewish there, as it was probably Stan Lee's intention, but for now in the MU [Marvel Universe], he's probably Catholic or Protestant or of some other Christian sect.
This is my attempt to solve all problems, it was worth a try, and whatever they do to Magneto, he should still be a Jew, but might be part Gypsy somewhere along the line.
Sabra (think that's her name) is Jewish, and probably a few more of the unimportant random kid mutants in the X-Mansion, but oh well.
12-19-2005, 09:56 PM
It's a lot more likely that Magneto is Jewish than Peter Parker is. They should confirm that he is indeed Jewish and go from there. While many Gypsy's were killed by the Nazi's, the number killed wasn't even close to the number of Jews slaughtered.
01-20-2006, 09:02 AM
According to Wikipedia:
Peter's mother was named Mary Fitzpatrick-Parker. If anything, that suggests Irish or Scottish heritage which suggests that he's a Catholic.
02-01-2006, 07:48 PM
Magneto is Gypsy. I've been reading comics since I was a kid and he's always been a Gypsy. Only in recent years they tried to retcon it, particularly with the movie.
Doc. Samson, Peter Parker, Ben Grimm and Moon Knight are not Jewish either. Stop pushing what you wish would be...
02-01-2006, 08:52 PM
Well, you are totally incorrect [about Magneto, Moon Knight, Doc Samson and the Thing]. Magneto has been back and forth since long before the movie, Ben Grimm is absolutely, in the comics, without question Jewish. Moon Knight I could agree with you, it is a matter of semantics. Jewish can mean of a Jewish family, or of the Jewish faith, and Moon Knight, while not a practicing Jew, is the son of a Rabbi. Peter David penned a story in a Marvel Holiday Special where Leonard Samson came to a Hebrew School to tell the story of Hanukkah to a class. In what way are posters pushing anything? These are established and in continuity examples, and there is no disputing it that Samson, Grimm and in one sense, Moon Knight are all Jewish, and I have no agenda to create any Jewish characters more than any other type of religious affiliation. If anything, I'm a pantheist, I would want more pantheist characters.
02-02-2006, 04:46 AM
Magneto is Gypsy... Doc. Samson, Peter Parker, Ben Grimm and Moon Knight are not Jewish either. Stop pushing what you wish would be...
I guess you don't read many comics, do you.
Doc Samson was explicitly stated to be Jewish. He once spoke at his alma mater, a yeshiva (Jewish day school).
Ben Grimm was explicitly stated to be Jewish. It was written up in all of the Jewish newspapers.
Moon Knight was explicitly stated to be Jewish. His father is a rabbi.
Peter Parker is not Jewish, to the best of my knowledge. I've seen nothing to suggest that he is.
Nobody's pushing what they wish would be.
02-05-2006, 08:02 AM
The reason that Ultimate Spiderman might use alot of Yiddish words conld be because he grew up in a neighborhood with a high Jewish population, and/or Aunt May had some Jewish friends.
02-07-2006, 05:27 AM
[Posts detailed in-comic textual evidence for Magneto, Sabra, Moon Knight and Doc Samson all being Jewish.]
...I don't think anyone is seeing anybody just as they want. Only Magneto is questionable. (I don't think anybody REALLY thinks that Peter Parker is Jewish.)...
02-08-2006, 09:05 PM
Spidey's not a Jew. They celebrated Christmas Eve at Aunt May's before.
02-12-2006, 02:12 PM
It really bugs me in New Avengers when Spidey is always saying "Oy!" and "Oy vey!" Every other time we see him in NA, Bendis has him saying "Oy/Oy vey!" when Spidey spots a villain, etc. What is the deal with that? It just sounds stupid and uninspired.
Isn't that typically a Jewish expression? I'm used to reading Amazing Spider-Man from the 60s and 70s and his faith was never established then. If his faith was ever established, I just wouldn't be able to relate to him as much and I think many fans would feel the same way, whichever faith he would be. Nothing against any faiths, I just wouldn't want him to be given one.
02-13-2006, 04:48 AM
Well, yeah, it is an expression of Jewish origin, but he's from New York and a lot of Yiddishisms have become common parlance there (well, actually here, since that's where I'm posting this).
07-10-2006, 02:46 PM
In New York City a fair amount of Yiddish words like schlep have worked their way into the common lingo.
From: Jeff, "World Religion Statistics... and Batman", posted 1 June 2007 on "ccv_communications team: you need it when?" blog website (http://churchcrosstalk.typepad.com/comteam/2007/06/world_religion_.html; viewed 1 June 2007):
Adherents.com seems to be one of the most in-depth resources I've seen at religious statistical information. Not only does it offer useful information like Major World Religions Ranked by Adherents, but you find 50 Notable Nobel Prize Winners who Believed in God and the Religious Affiliation of Hiro Nakamura. My only criticisms would be It does lack a bit in the design category and I noticed a large portion of the information is somewhat old.
One of the most interesting bits to me was the page on The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Characters. A recent discussion in our team about who would win in a fight between Batman vs Spider-man caused quite a stir. As we all know, Batman (a lapsed Catholic/Episcopalian) would lose to Spider-man (A committed and faithful protestant). You can even take a quiz on beliefnet that will measure your knowledge of super-hero religious affiliation. Oh, and in case you were wondering, the picture included here is of Batman praying to God that Spider-man wouldn't hurt him too badly.
From: Daniel Treiman, "The Jewish Sandman", posted 22 May 2007 on "Bintel Blog" website (http://www.forward.com/blogs/bintel-blog/the-jewish-sandman/; viewed 4 June 2007):
The Forward has earned a reputation for uncovering the Jewish ancestry of figures both real and fictional. Comics, in particular, have been a rewarding realm of inquiry: My friend and former colleague Max Gross outed The Thing, while executive editor Ami Eden discovered an uncanny Jewish X-Men connection.
So it was only natural that we'd turn our attention to Spiderman, who has been slinging webs across the silver screen for the past few weeks. Spidey's creator, Stan Lee, is well known to be a member of tribe. But is his most famous superhero Jewish, too?
Rabbi Simcha Weinstein, author of Up, Up, And Oy Vey! How Jewish History, Culture and Values Shaped the Comic Book Superhero, is ready to make the case. "Peter Parker's a nerd who grew up in Forest Hills, his middle name is Benjamin and he's motivated by guilt... I see a connection," the rabbi told the Park Slope Courier.
Forgive me, rabbi, if I'm not convinced.
A little Web research, however, did yield a discovery of Jewish ancestry for the Sandman. Alas, it's the wrong Sandman: not the wall-crawler's nemesis from "Spiderman 3," but rather an obscure 1940s DC Comics superhero - a "mystery man," in the parlance of the times.
This Sandman, whose mother it seems was Jewish and father Catholic, apparently had no superpowers, but rather wielded "an exotic 'gas gun' that could compel villains to tell the truth, as well as put them to sleep," according to Wikipedia.
Also, according to Wikipedia: "Unlike many superheroes, he frequently found himself the victim of gunshot wounds." In other words, a real shlimazl of a superhero! In one comic book, he is reported to have come to the rescue of Rabbi Isaac Glickman. So it seems that this Sandman also happens to be something of a mensch!
UPDATE: Apparently, I'm not the only one who thinks Peter Parker seems a little Wasp-y. Reader Arieh Lebowitz helpfully forwarded a link to a Web page on Spiderman's religion from Adherents.com (the same site that provided the information on the religious affiliations of the Sandman and The Thing.)
From: "Which superhero would be the best Muslim?" forum discussion, started 17 January 2006 on the "Muslim Student Association: University of South Florida" website (http://www.msausf.org/MSAUSF/forums/467/ShowPost.aspx; viewed 4 June 2007):
01-17-2006, 9:00 AM
Which superhero would be the best Muslim?
Salam. Me and Momodu were speaking to each other over some delicious baklava and coffee about which superhero would most likely be Muslim. I would say Batman is most likely to be a great Muslim because he practices great self-restraint when it comes to alcohol consumption, and fornication mashallah. Also, Batman does not eat pork because it slows him down in his nightly crusades against Joker and other foes. Also, he does not have time to backbite or gossip or engage in other forms of fitna because he is too busy cleaning the Batcave and changing the oil in the Batmobile. Thank You.
Momodu, on the other hand, says the Hulk would make an amazing Muslim because he always keeps his gaze lowered. Also, Momodu says the Hulk's purple pants somehow always manage to cover his a'ura, as in his body from his belly button down to his knees. Please dont be shy about showing your feelings. No one is here to judge you and all your postings are welcome.
DC and Marvel superheroes are both welcome
01-17-2006, 9:07 AM
Cyclops from the X-Men would make a good Muslim. He would be forced to lower his gaze with women. Also Rogue would make a good Muslim because she can't touch anyone.
01-17-2006, 11:41 AM
What? Cyclops has a girlfriend and Rogue was kissing Bobby in the movie. Plus, Hulk has a VERY bad temper which is totally un-Islamic. Batman was hangin out with all those crazy European women in the movie, which was really un-Islamic, and most importantly, all superheroes lie about their true identity, and Muslims never lie... lol. I'm starting to think that I watch too many movies. Ohh, what about the Incredibles? Oh wait, no, he lied to his own wife... hmmm...
01-24-2006, 1:11 PM
I think the Green Lantern would make a great Muslim. His favorite color is green, he wears a ring, and he can fly. If that doesn't scream Muslim, I dont know what does.
01-25-2006, 12:08 PM
I'll tell you who screams Muslim: WOLVERINE. He has 3 claws from each hand (3 is sunna), and he has a beard, mashallah. He is also on a constant search in which he travels all over the world to learn about his creator. And like most great Muslims, he may not have the biggest muscles, but on the inside he is stronger then steel. Finally, though we all know he could get Jean any day (cyclops is gay), he waits his turn, until there is an official seperation. I can only hope that we may all be as devout as Wolverine.
01-25-2006, 1:58 PM
How about Aqua Girl...she always has wudu.
Or Invisible Woman... her awra is never showing.
Or Sailor Moon who saved a cat who was being tortured, and in which the cat gave her special powers to be a soldier for love and justice, principles of Islam.
The best superheroine is SHE-RA, she can horseback ride which is sunnah, and in addition the horse turns into a flying unicorn which is similar to the creature that took RasulAllah (saw) to Jerusalem. Oh yeah and she knew how to use a sword... Her and her friends fight to protect and free Etheria from the grasp of the evil Hordak, so they have a mission to spread peace and order in their ummah.
01-31-2006, 12:44 PM
Mouhannad, Wolverine would make a horrible Muslim. He never smiles, he is always angry and he is always chasing after Cyclops' fiance. He just can't get her because he has no game.
01-31-2006, 3:20 PM
Oh no, you did not go there. Wolverine was always angry for the right reasons, it's just Cyclops was a control freak and didn't want to lose the X-men to the obviously more influential member. And though Wolverine never really agreed with all of their expeditions, and wasn't always sure if he wanted to be a part of the next adventure, he conceeded to the wisdom of Professor Xavier. Finally, I think we all know where the X-men would be if Wolverine wasn't there. As for Jean... it was her fault she kept giving Wolverine hope while still claiming to belong to Cyclops. That is a no-no, and as a result the man is not fully responsible.
Anyways, Wolverine is a hardened dude whos been through a lot. you can't expect him to be a sissy hero who is so noble and shows great emotions and restraint. All in all, if I were an X-man I would want Wolverine to have my back.
02-06-2006, 11:10 AM
That is biggest load of bologna that I have ever read. First of all I think we all know that Wolverine was not a threat to Cyclops' position. If anyone was next in line to lead it would be storm since she is second in command. Second wolverine was always out for personal vengance especially when he fought Sabretooth. That doesn't seem like the right reason to be angry. I didn't want to have to go here but I guess I have no Choice. OK here goes. Wolverine liked to beat on women. Thats right I said it. He was constantly fighting Mystique hand to hand, and actually stabbed her a few times. He also got into a huge brawl with Lady Deathstrike who was once his fiance. And finally Jean did not throw herself at him. He was always chasing her but in the end he just didn't have what it took. Wolverine was a great hero, that's for sure. But could he be a great Muslim? I don't think so.
02-07-2006, 3:25 PM
Momodu, i think the only 100% accurate source to rule over this is Marvel itself. And according to that amazing source Sabretooth is a vicious blood thirsty mutant who has always been threatened by Wolverine. Wolverine's pursuit of Sabretooth is nothing short of Xavier's pursuit of Magneto, except on a smaller scale. As a matter of fact, it is even less controversial considering the fact that it could (COULD) be argued that Magneto is not necessarily all evil. Wolverine is an invaluable part of the X-men and has probably sacrificed more then any of them in order to help the Professor's cause. As for his relationship with Jean, well I still hold to the fact that Jean leaves the door slightly ajar for the possibility of those two, as she can't seem to make up her mind. But regardless, we are not asking who would make the perfect Muslim, but a good Muslim. Who knows, with Jean as Phoenix maybe he will finally move on.
02-08-2006, 10:15 AM
How dare you. I practically gave you that argument. I am not going to argue that Sabretooth isn't evil. All I want to say is that personal hatred is not a very good reason for revenge. Also on the issue of Jean, before Wolverine ever heard the word X-men Jean was engaged to be married to Cyclops. Now if you want to go back to the source, then I believe Marvel states that one of the main reasons Wolverine stays on the X-men is to be near Jean. Now I'm no expert, but I'm pretty sure that a good Muslim doesn't try to get his leader's wife.
02-10-2006, 1:32 PM
So why has no one mentioned Spiderman? Granted, he isn't the most fun guy, but look at him. He covers his face in times of heroism out of modesty and humbleness, he commits his good deeds full of charity (saving lives) in secret so that it can be considered fisabilillah only, hes nice, honest, doesn't have any anger problems, lives up to his potential, is a good friend, doesnt backbite, takes care of his aunt and uncle (elders) as if they were his parents, feels for his brothers and sisters as if its for himself, goes unnoticed, but continues his stuggles for the sake of mankind, he saves more lives than doctors do and you know the benefits of saving a life (as if you saved all of mankind) and he does it daily, doesnt get involved in zina like other people, and is thankful for everythin he has... I don't see a problem with, for all we know, judging by his characteristics, he's probably "super Muslim" undercover because he doesn't want to show off his praying and whatnot. I think Spiderman probably legitimately might be a qiyamalat (night prayer) regular...
02-13-2006, 10:48 AM
Wasn't he kissing Mary Jane when she was engaged? And, if he hadn't acted so selfishly, his uncle wouldn't have died. Thundercats were (and still are) the best. They were so Islamic. They were all covered with fur and fought with swords (which is Sunnah) and they were like a nice big family, always looking out for one another, no relationships, and no stealing of fiances. and when they werent fighting, they were so peaceful until Mumm-Ra would attack them. You can't say anything against the Thundercats!
02-13-2006, 1:23 PM
I never watched Thundercats so I can't say but I think Captain Planet and the Planeteers deserve the best Muslim superhero award. For sure you guys can't say anything bad about them. They represent different parts of the world, they wear sunnah rings, they work to protect the environment from bad people. Thats exactly our responsibility on earth, to take care of Allah's creation as khalifahs. They were good kids, masha'Allah. "Verily in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest! Those who believe and do right: Joy is for them, and bliss (their) journey's end." [Qur'an, 13.28-29]
02-26-2006, 9:36 PM
Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah. Mashallah, this posting is going as successfully as I had expected, and perhaps even moreso. I knew such a topic would spark the interests of bright Muslim minds across campus, and alhamdulillah it has. Having said that, Mr. Bilal, how are you? Is everything ok up there? Inshallah all is well. Now that we have those formalities out of the way, the simple fact that would abolish Spiderman from being a Muslim super hero is his flaming, glaring, barefaced homosexuality. His suit itself reveals his sexual preference. The whole story Spiderman shares about having natural webbing extrude from his wrists in order to swing from building to building is a damnable lie, because the truth is that the only purpose that webbing rope has ever served him is to escape from his eminent death when he was constantly being pushed off the highest cliff by a group of Muslims for exerting such homo-erotic tendencies. I understand there is no Islamic government, therefore we are not permitted to throw him off a cliff but if there was... (waving fist in the air as gay Spiderman flies by). Now I am not saying i dislike homosexual people, i just do not appreciate homosexual superheroes who try to hide their true gay identity. Why else do you think Venom is always so angry at Spiderman?
02-27-2006, 4:33 PM
I agree with Kashif, Spiderman should have never been mentioned. Anyways, I think we have all neglected Professor Xavier. I mean the main problem with all these superheroes is the ladies (further proof that the world would be a better place if the women let men and male mutants take care of the important things). Anyways Xavier has that down so well that it hasn't even occured to me to think of that man with a woman. Yet it is very obvious, unlike Spiderman, that Xavier is not gay. Not only is Xavier immune to the charm of the ladies, but hes also got everything else. He is a noble leader, who fights for the good of everyone INCLUDING HIS FREAKING OPPONENTS. He also observes everday Islamic conduct like an Islamic haircut, and the fact that he never eats while standing up. I could sit here and list a million things about how good a Muslim he would be, but instead I ask, no I challenge you all to find something that would prevent him from being such a good Muslim.
03-01-2006, 12:11 PM
...Spiderman would not make a good Muslim, but that has nothing to do with being gay. In fact its just the opposite. He can't control himself around women. Now the professor is alright but I think Magneto would be a much better choice. He is constantly going out of his way to establish a state for his people. Unlike the professor he is very decisive. He looks out for is people when they are being persecuted and defends them with forceful action. This guy would make a great Muslim and leader.
From: "The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Characters (website)" forum discussion, started 4 December 2006 on FanHost Networks website (http://forums.fanhost.com/music-cartoons-and-celebrity-info-124/cartoons-and-comics-175/152132-the-religious-affiliation-of-comic-book-characters-website.html; viewed 4 June 2007):
04-12-2006, 11:14 PM
I found this site very informative:
4-12-2006, 11:19 PM
Yeah, I read this. Superman a Methodist... doesn't seem too farfetched, I suppose...
04-12-2006, 11:21 PM
Spiderman a Protestant... Of course, that's why he's so dang cool.
04-16-2006, 12:46 AM
Believe it or not I have actually seen that site before. I found it really interesting reading about how religion comes across in different characters. Thanks.
From: Clark Goble, "Unpractical Ethics: Superheroes", posted 11 October 2005 on "Millenial Star" website [which comments on topics relating to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints] (http://www.millennialstar.org/index.php/2005/10/11/unpractical_ethics_superheros; viewed 5 June 2007):
Even as comics have sort of become marginalized again, superheroes have experienced a renaissance the last five years or so. It seems every year brings two or three big budgeted superhero films. Admittedly most aren't terribly good. But while I've not read comics for quite some time, I do enjoy the Spiderman, X-Men, and Batman pictures. I have to confess I'm eagerly awaiting the forthcoming rebirth of Superman by X-Men's Bryan Singer. (And dreading Brett Ratner taking over X-Men). Anyway, I thought for a change of pace rather than doing a "practical ethics" I'd do the opposite. The most unpractical ethics of all: analyzing superheroes.
Now I know at least one person is preparing a post on an other blog taking exception to some of my views. And I'll further confess that with a few exceptions while reading graphic novels at Borders, I've really not read comics since the early 80's when I was a kid. Since comics are re-invented a lot, things may have changed. But here's my views.
Spiderman. Probably the key ethics for Spiderman comes out of the films. With great power comes great responsibility. The last film played up the tensions between Spiderman's career, social life and duty. The idea seems to be that because he has the power he really ought be out fighting crime all the time. But doesn't he deserve a bit of a break? Don't the NYPD and FBI have some duty to take up the slack? It's an interesting question. Moreso within Mormonism.
We often say that the reason we don't have any Shakespeares or Mozarts in the church is because of the fundamental conflict between family, church and doing such secular endeavors. Would a Mormon superhero not face the same problem? What would an LDS hero do if he were called to be a Bishop? Would this power (which I think LDS would see as ultimately coming from God) conflict with the other commands God gives regarding family? What about David O McKay's comments about no success outside of the home can compensate for failure within the home? Exactly how should a hero treat his family? One can't help but wonder how the heroes of the Book of Mormon dealt with this - sadly uncommented upon in the text.
Comment from: DKL
I see Spiderman as the ultimate Mormon. By definition, there can only ever be one Superman (and good call on Astro City, Ivan; I think that Busiek's Samaritan is actually the best Superman story told--Frank Miller's Superman story is a Batman story with Superman as a guest star). Spiderman represents all of us. He's the underdog that is always in over his head. Even if we can't swing from building to building, we can all make a difference the way that Spiderman does. Not only that, but Spiderman sets an example (let's his light so shine...) while Peter Parker remains anonymous (waiting for his reward in the hereafter).
Batman is the most extreme super hero. Being a super hero requires one to be a vigilante in some sense, and therefore to assume a moral authority in one's own right outside of the authority structures of society and culture. Batman, therefore, is Joseph Smith with a family fortune.
As far as the X-Men, I've only read it sporadically. I think that the Danites is a good comparison.
Ivan, I disagree with your reading of Moore's The Watchmen. Superheroes everywhere live out the fantasies of mere mortals. In The Watchmen, Moore just picks fantasies that are more realistic (and less ideal) than comic book writers had hitherto chosen. I believe that your right about League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, where Moore makes mere mortals out of heroes. I believe that this represents the thematic continuity between the The Watchmen and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.
10/11/05 - 19:09
Comment from: Geoff Johnston - http://www.newcoolthang.com
As evidence that DKL speaks truth, let me remind y'all that Spidey is practically in the D&C [Doctrine and Covenants].
With great power comes great responsibility = "For of him unto whom much is given much is required" [link to Doctrine and Covenants, Section 82, verse 3: http://scriptures.lds.org/dc/82/3#3
10/11/05 - 19:21
Comment from: Charles - http://job21-3.blogspot.com
It seems to me that Marvel was one of the first to really start portraying its heroes as human with real problems. Spiderman is a great parallel to Mormon culture and responsibility. He knows he has a responsibility to family and still tries to temper his powers with his social responsibilities. I've never read the Fantastic Four, but I'm under the impression that in the comics they have similar problems as everyone knows who each one is, they don't really have hidden identities.
Superman is another great example. I liked the idea about living in the world but not being of it. However, most of the storylines are pretty weak as to why he does what he does. The two best are from Smallville, where he feels responsible for causing so many problems when he crashed on Earth and the second is from the book I mentioned earlier where Superman has a deep sense of wanting to belong in a world where he is different. These are pretty selfish reasons, but because of his ethics and the way he uses his powers he gains a strong following.
Batman is the most real. He has no powers other than a keen intelect and a super bank account. He made a choice to do good and go after those that were above the law. In a way he is taking his cue from the constitution, where it states that we have a moral duty when the government fails to take up our own arms (don't turn this all legal, its just an observation and a way that it fits into the Batman universe).
Batman is my favorite, not because he has any powers, but because he doesn't. He only has his devotion.
Unfortunately not many comics deal with religion. Daredevil is a Catholic, but not a very active practicing one. Spawn deals with redemption but doesn't really look at religion in the traditional sense, it seems to hang on the Dante view of hell and the magical properties of the spirit world, where demons have physical bodies and unique abilities. Its not so much about faith, but redemption - but redemption in who's eyes?
The X-men comparison is interesting.
Its interesting to see that people try to find the values that they themselves hold dear in popular culture. We try to see the Mormon Parallels in characters that are decidely un-Mormon. I think everyone has that same sense of belonging and this is one way we manifest it, to claim someone as our own, or see how they could, if only the writers would put pen to page and tell us the personal faith driven stories that never make it onto the pannels in the comic books.
10/12/05 - 11:00
Comment from: Andres Salazar
Well, this is a great thread today, becasue I'm a HUGE comics geek and its Wednesday and I cant WAIT to read Infinity Crisis!
...I always thought that Spidey was similar to Mormon views in some ways.
Batman, while is my favorite character I cant see him having much of the Mormon ideals.
10/12/05 - 18:50
From: "Comics and Religion Discussion (DC/Marvel)" forum discussion, started 30 May 2007 on "Killer Movies" website (http://www.killermovies.com/forums/453153_1-successful-religion-based-comics-dc-marvel; viewed 6 June 2007):
May 30th, 2007 11:24 PM
Name some religion based comics that have been successful in the comic industry. Also explain what so great about them and how they are kept interesting?
Here are some superheroes and there religions I found...
Info Source: http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/comic_book_religion.html
May 30th, 2007 11:29 PM
Unless the company makes it a part of the character (like Nightcrawler with Catholicism) lots of superheroes stay away from the religion issue. And when has Spider-Man ever been said to be a Protestant?!
Honestly, with all the crazy sh-- most heroes have seen, it would be pretty unbelievable for them to be a believer of any particular Earth-based religion.
May 30th, 2007 11:31 PM
re: Honestly, with all the crazy sh-- most heroes have seen...
You mean besides the fact that many of them have actually been to heaven, met with angels, or seen God's divine wrath?
May 30th, 2007 11:44 PM
I'd like to see the source for this, because my Spidey-sense is telling me to call BS on a lot of it... Spider-Man a Protestant? ...
May 31st, 2007 03:34 AM
Peter has never been confirmed to be a Protestant. However, it has been shown that he does believe in God. And considering that religion has never been a part of his character, I think it's safe to assume that he's a Christian, but has no real affliction with the church.
From: "MSNBC talks religion of superheroes" forum discussion started 15 June 2006 on BKV.TV website (http://www.bkv.tv/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=7612&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=15&sid=07f658b2db24c2248a22effba7b95208; viewed 6 June 2007):
David the Amazin'(Mighty)
Posted: Fri Jun 16, 2006 11:21 am
...Spider-man's personality was definitely supposed to be modeled after Stan Lee, a wise cracking New York born Jew. He's neurotic, he's a nebbish. However, Parker is not a Jewish name. And I think the character works very well as being Irish (as pointed out by Garth Ennis in his awesome Tangled Web story) and Catholic (I mean, guilt is his major motivation)...
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 19, 2007 10:52 AM
Lets try it this way... those that have their religion and follow it in a peaceful way that it was meant to be are not the bad guys and so it's not a bad thing if some of our heroes have their religious side shown from time to time or their background characters.
Stan Lee's work has a lot of religious influence, Spiderman is a good example.
So it come down to good verses evil and I always saw Good as the general religion of the good guys. For, example down South... the blacks and whites that get along are the good guys... the Jews and Moslems that work together and eat together are the good guys... yadda yadda...
From: "Super Hero Religions" forum discussion started 15 June 2006 on "RonFez.net" website, home of the Ron & Fez radio show (http://www.ronfez.net/forums/archive/index.php/t-50765.html; viewed 11 June 2007):
06-15-2006, 02:10 PM
Ron and Fez did an awesome bit on this years ago... Popular Comic Book Heroes Faith-by-Faith...
06-16-2006, 01:19 AM
Spiderman is Jewish... at least from a comic I saw where he lighted the menorah.
From: "Here, God exists in Four Colors and Two Dimensions", posted 7 March 2006 by grabbingsand on Metafilter website (http://www.metafilter.com/49827/Here-God-exists-in-Four-Colors-and-Two-Dimensions; viewed 11 June 2007):
Jimmy Olsen is a Lutheran. Really. And Clark Kent? Methodist, it seems. Daredevil, Gambit, Huntress and The Punisher? Catholics, all of them, though I have to wonder when Frank Castle last went to Confession. With about half of DC Comic's line-up heading to church in the latest issue of Infinite Crisis and knowing that Civil War is imminent in the House of Marvel, what better time than now to contemplate the particular faiths of our two-dimensional heroes.
Superman is definitely Jewish. He sets my Judar a-beeping.
I also suspect Spiderman and Plastic Man.
But Batman? So goyish! [i.e., "non-Jewish"]
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:34 PM on March 7
From: "Comics and Religion", posted 8 March 2006 on "Savior Machine" blog website ("Personal blog of a Kuwaiti who works on building a community for his peers") (http://www.2by4.org/content/2006/03/08/comics-and-religion/; viewed 19 June 2007):
I've never considered what a super hero's religion was; it was a moot point. It was kinda given that Spiderman, or Superman would be raised under some Judo-Christian values, but it was never evident in the writing or the story. All you knew and cared about was that they were the good guys and were fighting the bad guys.
So when I saw this list of comic book characters religions I was amazed to see the level of research in the writing of these guys. Just look how they figured out that Spiderman is Protestant or Sasquatch is Jewish.
There are about 8 or 9 that are Muslims, but that is more obvious due to the natures of their story.
So this got me thinking, imagine the regular super heroes that we know - like Batman, Spiderman, Hulk, etc. - were actually Muslim. Would it change things much? Would Frank Castle still be the Punisher if he wasn't Catholic? I don't think so, because all these characters have ethical and philosophical ideas that make them do what they do. For Spiderman, it is the classic "with great power comes great responsibility". Even Batman and Punisher share the same views when it comes to criminals, but have different methods of acting on these views...
From: "Up, up, and oy, vey!", posted 5 February 2006 on MetaFilter.com website (http://www.metafilter.com/39326/Up-up-and-oy-vey; viewed 19 June 2007):
Marvel just launched an Indian (as in the subcontinent, not Native American) version of Spiderman. This article [link to: http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/005/181egxmv.asp?pg=2] from the Weekly Standard talks about the new book and how it compares to the old book and what that tells us about national identity compared with superhero identity. Deginitely worth a read, though the weeklystandard.com site seems to be down at the moment, but that should be the right link for when it comes back up.
By the way, Marvel apparently recognized early on that its original books had been too whitebread...
posted by Asparagirl at 8:14 PM on February 5
From: "Denominational Affiliations of Superheroes", posted by Sheridan Voysey on 2 July 2006 on "The Open House (life, faith, culture)" blog website (http://www.theopenhouse.net.au/2006/07/denominational_affiliations_of.html; viewed 19 June 2007):
With all the hoopla this week of the Superman Returns movie, you might be interested to know that almost all our superheroes have some kind of denominational affiliation. Baptist, Anglican, Methodist, Catholic - you'll find connections in the storylines of our best hooded, caped, spandex-covered, super-people...
Spider-Man - Protestant
How about Spiderman? Peter Parker's precise denominational affiliation has never been clear and he's never been depicted as a regular churchgoer. But Parker has exhibited a clear belief in God from time to time, and experts say his personal code of ethics reflects a Protestant Christian background. One comic strip shows him asking God why bad things happen to him, with what seems like a conversation between him and God ensuing. Another shows Peter Parker turning to prayer in the face of imminent danger. He begins, "Hey, God? It's Peter again..."
...So, Dr Bruce Banner, The Incredible Hulk, is a lapsed Catholic; Batman is a possible Anglican; Superman is a Methodist, and Spider-Man an unnamed Protestant. I'd like to know what a Presbyterian superhero would look like, or even a Pentecostal!
Superman consults Christian ministers when he needs advice; Supergirl regularly attends church; Superboy asks God what he's doing here; The Hulk believes in an afterlife, and Spiderman prays.
It seems even Superheroes need to bow the knee for some divine help every now and then.
From: "Doug TenNapel on Black Cherry" forum discussion, started 16 May 2007 on Newsarama website (http://forum.newsarama.com/showthread.php?t=112821; viewed 28 June 2007):
05-16-2007, 12:19 PM
With almost no exception, when a particular viewpoint, lifestyle or issue is brought up in comics, it is because it is going to be Addressed. As in belabored, beaten to death, and rammed down the reader's throat. And it is very rarely entertaining.
Ben Grimm is Jewish. They've never belabored the fact, they've never done a "Pro-Jew" story, he's just Jewish, occasionally it gets mentioned, and that's it. It's part of what he is. Daredevil is Catholic. His being Catholic is a vital part of his story (or at least it was made one) but it's not like he goes around leaving tracts with the guys he captures. I don't recall Spidey's faith every being addressed, so I wouldn't be surprised if he were Christian, just due to the law of averages. But if it doesn't affect the story in any way, is there a need to mention it? I say no, you seem to say yes.
From: "Doug TenNapel on Black Cherry" forum discussion, started 16 May 2007 on "The Engine" website (http://the-engine.net/forum/lmessages.php?webtag=ENGINE&msg=8767.1; viewed 28 June 2007):
[Below: Excerpt from Michael C. Lorah's interview for Newsarama with comic book writer Doug TenNapel, posted here: http://forum.newsarama.com/showthread.php?t=112821]
[Doug TenNapel:] It's why I laugh so hard at a vocal minority in comics that just freaks out if my characters bring up Jesus Christ. They don't freak out if a character says the word "____" or decides to be gay in a series, but if Spiderman ever converted to Christianity these critics would have a period. I thought we were farther along than that in the discussion and debate department of comics. I'm shocked at the level of groupthink within a medium that should be anything but a monolith of worldview. There should be a robust debate of worldviews within comics... it's why I so look forward to Frank Miller's Batman vs. Islamic terror. That kind of material should be the norm not the controversial rarity that it is.
From: Stu West (S_G_WEST)
16 May 16:31
I find myself agreeing with some of that [Doug TenNapel's Newsarama interview with Michael C. Lorah, in which TenNapel criticized comics for shying away from portrayals of religious faith, posted here: http://forum.newsarama.com/showthread.php?t=112821]: I wouldn't like the Miller/Mazzucchelli DAREDEVIL run nearly so much if it didn't have those heavy Catholic overtones. But I'm stumped about what the hell HOLY TERROR, BATMAN has got to do with God.
Anyway, where was the outcry when they did that FANTASTIC FOUR comic which revealed the Thing was Jewish? Apart from the odd positive write-up, I doubt anyone even noticed.
From: Skipper Pickle (SPICKLE)
16 May 16:58
quote, TenNapel: "Less of draining worldviews and philosophies out of comics! Especially worldviews that are considered "anti-comic" like certain conservative ones."
I'm hearing TenNapel say two things here, not just one.
First, that more diversity in worldview would be a welcome change.
Second, that a Christian worldview in comics is more unwelcome than other worldviews. Your comment about the Thing as Jew supports that, i suppose. His comment about the hypothetical response to Spider-Man's conversion rings true to me.
(Pondering: Do other groups use the word worldview as much as Christians do?)
From: Stu West (S_G_WEST)
16 May 17:08
What he [Doug TenNapel] says is that it would be less controversial if Spider-Man came out [as gay] than if he converted to Christianity. Anyone believe that?
From: Skipper Pickle (SPICKLE)
16 May 17:27
I would be interested to see Marvel try either.
Or better yet, both. Perhaps even at the same time.
But I also have to say that I don't trust them with any one of those stories.
From: Gordon McAlpin (GMCALPIN)
16 May 17:40
Not to side-track this into super-heroes, but Spider-Man would not need to "convert" to Christianity: he's long been established as being a Christian, if not necessarily a particularly devout one:
From: Jonathan Hickman (JHICKMAN)
16 May 17:40
Re: What he says is that it would be less controversial if Spider-Man came out than if he converted to Christianity. Anyone believe that?
Both would be controversial and have their predictable responses, but I think he's saying that one would be considered a bold/brave creative choice and the other would be considered pandering to the religious right. (i.e. One would be culturally significant, the other regressive.)
I don't know that I agree, but it's a matter of framing.
From: Rantz Hoseley (RANTZ)
16 May 20:24
Yeah I agree in that it depends on how it's done. I grew up in a nutjob extreme fundamentalist environment, with all of the horrors that implies, so I tend to have a admittedly knee-jerk reaction when it comes to Christians as an organized religon.
That said, Terry Moore's depiction of David in Strangers in Paradise struck me as well done because his fath was simply an aspect of who he was. It wasn't a screed bound for converting the masses, and it didn't make him perfect, or unable to have the pleasures of the flesh be appealling... it was 'organic' for lack of a better word. So many times, these things get made into issues that it BECOMES the character, rather than adding a facet to him/her/it.
From: Matthew Craig
16 May 21:05
...There's a difference between Survivor's Guilt ("I shouldn't be here") and Catholic Guilt ("Everything's My Fault").
Hasn't six years of "Spider-Man: Addle-brained Prophet Of The Spider-God OMM" taught us ANYTHING?
Isn't it ENOUGH that these characters - and I include Uncle Ben, Pa Kent, Martha Wayne, etcetera etcetera etcetera in this - are great humanitarians? Great believers in the brotherhood of Man?
I mean, surely some of them - and yes, I'm thinking of Spider-Man in particular, and I'm aware of the irony in being evangelical about the character - are ALL THE BETTER for not being tied down to narrow notions of - of - of ANYTHING?
From: Tom Muller (HELLOMULLER)
17 May 17:07
...I can understand talking about Spider-Man or Daredevil being religious, but Superman - how messianic he might seem as an alien from another planet...
From: Garrett_Farrelly (GARRETTFARRELLY)
18 May 6:09
Ok. But here's the thing, the audience for superhero books, the mainline stuff, is mainly adults. I think it's a valid thing to say why can't books aimed at an adult audience address a very human topic.
I'm not arguing that every issue of Spider-Man should end in a homily but I think when people are doing the frequent fret about new readers and numbers in mainstream comics might look to a lack of stories addressing the points of view TenNapel is talking about.
From: BalazsOroszlany (RORIMACK)
18 May 16:40
It is a bad idea to mix living mythologies.
You couldn't have a Buddhist Zeus.
It is even worse when you mix religion with superheroes.
A Christian Spiderman would mean someone who could walk on walls believing in someone who cold walk on water.
And how could you explain it to a child? "Spiderman is just a tale, but what he believes is the Truth."
There are a lot of fantasy worlds, and some of them don't have Christianity. I don't see why this is a problem even for a Christian.
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, 09:00 AM
...Which brings us to Christmas comics.
On the face of it, Christmas comics are an odd phenomenon. The whole point of the holidays is communal experience -- reunion with loved ones, families gathering together. But comics-reading -- any reading -- is an inherently solitary activity. How does this fit together?... But now we're getting awfully heavy for a column about holiday comics. Pour yourself an eggnog (ecch -- does anybody really drink that stuff?) and let's look back at some of the best, and strangest, examples of the genre from years past.
A couple of notes before we begin. First off, holiday comics stories are almost always Christmas stories, despite the number of influential Jewish creators and editors in the field. This is partly because, in earlier decades, publishers tried to cater to the Christian majority of readers (and distributors). But it's also because of the nature of Christmas itself.
First... there's no holiday like Christmas for silly smiles, treacly sentimentality, and the ability to fool yourself into thinking all's right with the world for just one night. Which, if you think about it, plays right into those teenage tendencies we were talking about up above.
Second: When it comes to sentimental Christmas stories, DC rules. There have been very few Marvel Christmas stories, and they haven't been very good. This is partly because of the serial nature of Marvel's stories, which made holiday-themed tales harder to squeeze in -- they'd tend to call attention to the fact that, for instance, the entire previous year of Avengers took place the week before Christmas.
It's also more natural to do holiday stories when your basic format is short, self-contained tales, as most DC books were up through the '70s. Marvel heroes would stop by Aunt May's house to look at the tree, but that was usually about it...
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, 09:00 AM
...Which brings us to Christmas comics.
On the face of it, Christmas comics are an odd phenomenon. The whole point of the holidays is communal experience -- reunion with loved ones, families gathering together. But comics-reading -- any reading -- is an inherently solitary activity. How does this fit together?... But now we're getting awfully heavy for a column about holiday comics. Pour yourself an eggnog (ecch -- does anybody really drink that stuff?) and let's look back at some of the best, and strangest, examples of the genre from years past.
A couple of notes before we begin. First off, holiday comics stories are almost always Christmas stories, despite the number of influential Jewish creators and editors in the field. This is partly because, in earlier decades, publishers tried to cater to the Christian majority of readers (and distributors). But it's also because of the nature of Christmas itself.
First... there's no holiday like Christmas for silly smiles, treacly sentimentality, and the ability to fool yourself into thinking all's right with the world for just one night. Which, if you think about it, plays right into those teenage tendencies we were talking about up above.
Second: When it comes to sentimental Christmas stories, DC rules. There have been very few Marvel Christmas stories, and they haven't been very good. This is partly because of the serial nature of Marvel's stories, which made holiday-themed tales harder to squeeze in -- they'd tend to call attention to the fact that, for instance, the entire previous year of Avengers took place the week before Christmas...
The duck stories are charming, and in 1940 Superman could get away with helping an old bearded gentleman deliver presents to the world. But by the '70s, comics had "grown up" a little. On-panel appearances by Santa Claus were out, and most comics had embraced gritty realism. The results?
Batman stories like "Silent Night, Deadly Night," by Denny O'Neil and Irv Novick (Batman #239, 1971) and "Wanted: Santa Claus -- Dead or Alive," also by Denny with an early art job by Frank Miller (DC Super-Star Holiday Special, 1979, reprinted frequently). Marvel, as noted above, only dipped their toe in occasionally; "As Those Who Will Not See" by Gerry Conway and Gil Kane (Marvel Team-Up #6, 1972, reprinted in Essential Marvel Team-Up #1) was about as close as they got. This Spider-Man/Thing team-up wasn't strictly a Christmas story, but it was timed for the holidays and similarly sentimental in tone.
12-02-2003, 10:56 AM
The first Christmas issue I remember (and have) is Amazing Spider-Man #166, where Spidey fights Stegron and the Lizard, defeating the Lizard and Stegron gets away only to fall victim to the cold and snow (Len Wein believed in dinosaurs being cold-blooded). At least in this instance, Len kept the winter theme by having the next three issues take place in the same cold weather, including a great scene at Rockefeller Center skating rink with a Spider-Slayer and the statue.
12-02-2003, 02:28 PM
Can anybody help me? I've been looking for years for a Spider-Man Christmas story written by Kurt Busiek from his "Untold Tales of Spider-Man" period. I believe the story was published in some kind of Marvel Holiday Special, and has Spidey and J. Jonah Jameson trapped in a warehouse, pinned under a beam or something, and forced to spend Christmas night together. I know I'm not imagining this story, but haven't been able to find it before. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
12-02-2003, 03:11 PM
There was a Spider-Man Holiday Special published in 1996.
I don't specifically remember the story you mention, but it had a tale about Spidey and the Torch meeting on the statue of liberty each Christmas day to exchange presents.
Some very touching moments.
12-02-2003, 10:19 PM
I'm actully really really fond of the early - mid 90s Marvel Christmas specials. I remember some really good stories in there particularly a Spidey/JJJ one and a Shadowcat one. It's been years, but I think some of them were even better than that.
slug N lettuce
12-04-2003, 10:05 AM
...Marvel also has some good Holiday comics, even Ghost Rider gets into the holiday spirit of things. It's nice to see Franklin Richards learn a holiday lesson. To see Spidey stop crooks from taking off with a truck full of toys that are intended for those who are less fortunate. To see Captain America and Diamondback decorate a tree together.
I don't know what it is but they just make me feel good. They stop the pain from the real world from beating my spine for a little while. They bring out the type of character in Super-Heroes that they had in the Golden years. I know its cheesy but I love 'em and I'll keep searching back issue bins for any and every comic that has a holiday theme. Thank You Stuart Moore, I know you didn't intend on this but I consider this a great Christmas present. HAPPY HOLIDAYS!! EVERYONE!!!
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, 04:46 AM
Doesn't it seem that religious based Superheroes get a sort of lopsided treatment? Characters like Thor, Hercules and others never seem to catch much flak for claiming to be pagan gods and such, but Christian based supers are either unheard of or portrayed as over zealous wack jobs. I'm not a particularly religious person so please don't take this a some sort of rant, just something I've noticed.
I think characters like Thor should be facing some major PR [public relations] issues, more so than mutants, really. Claiming not only to be divine, but Pagan would raise some serious issues in some places. Maybe there would be an organization like the Church of the Archangel Michael or other mutant hate groups, but religiously inspired and dedicated to putting down/debunking the false gods. Has anyone done anything like this in their campaigns?
Sep 11th, '04, 06:28 AM
As noted, in the Marvel Universe most people tend to consider Thor to not really be a Norse God but someone who styles himself as one. Admittedly, it's a little wierd to think that a radiation accident gave someone the ability to so closely mimic a god but oh well. I guess it's easier for people to believe something that doesn't make sense than question their faith. It's kinda like Defender and many others in the CU [Champions Universe] refusing to believe in magic but instead trying to define it as mental powers or what not...
In general, the writers (who I suspect of a slight liberal bend) like to trot out religion to say "religion taken too far is bad." Unfortunately they also tend to not show religion as it affects a character on a daily basis like Superman going to Church on Sunday or Spriderman being asked to sponser someone for confirmation. If it doesn't have a direct impact on the story, it just doesn't exist.
From: "Mistake in Ult. Spidey 109!" forum discussion, started 13 July 2007 on official Marvel Comics website (http://marvelcomics.com/boards/viewtopic.php?p=1769511&sid=196e05349d4603bed7683869825cdad6; viewed 18 July 2007):
Posted: 07.13.2007 11:42pm
I know that Spider-Man is a Christian because in Amazing Spider-Man I see him pray a lot. I don't think he's Catholic, but I know he's a Christian. Maybe he's Hebrew or something.
Posted: 07.14.2007 5:04pm
Aunt May was shown (I'm not sure where) to be a Catholic, and Peter may or may not be, a Cafeteria Catholic.
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, 03:34 AM
In the last few days, since the thread on "Liberality for all" I have been pondering a number of seperate, yet to me, related issues affecting the comic industry in the USA. Among these are the long term trend of declining sales among mainstream comics, the ideologicall monopoly that liberals hold on the comics industry on the creative side, and the severe lack of credible, and more to the point admirable comics characters with a more conservative outlook. While I don't subscribe to the idea of a "vast leftwing conspiracy" in comics it is impossible to deny that most of those involved in the business of comics on the creative side are firmly and proudly liberal, and that while for the most part, politics comes up only tangentially in comics most Superheroes do seem to be of a liberal mindset.
I think that in the interest of honesty, we must at least examine the idea that perhaps the overwhelming presence of more liberal creators, when contrasted with the fact that the majority of Americans fall slightly more to the right of the political spectrum than left may be in some way related to the long term trend of declining sales... So could the creation or emphasis of charcters as conservatives, open the industry to new readers?
Heatwave the Rogue
November 30th, 2005, 08:50 AM
I consider myself an independant with strong liberal leanings. I love the state of the comic industry and the characters and writer's leanings to this direction.
That all being said, I would gladly read characters with a more accurate conservative viewpoint. Ultimate Captain America is a character that so far I have considered a very traditional conservative. Old school 1940's conservatism might be a more accurate description of the character and he's one of my favorite characters to read about. I'd love to see this character get into a political debate with Ollie (Green Arrow) and watch the sparks fly on in both the dialogue and on panel drawings. My favorite characters, the Flash family, tend to lean more conservative and I openly embrace this as part of their philosophies and mannerisms.
Religion, on the other hand, I feel should be kept as vague as possible. Where a Christian might be repulsed to find out that Superman is really an athiest, an athiest might be repulsed to find out that he's really a devout Christian, Jew, or other religion. Keeping the characters religious leanings more vague is more appealing to me personally. I'm not saying that religion should never play the part in a story, I just don't think that I want it ever declared that Captain America is Muslim because his current writer happens to be of that belief or that Spiderman is athiest because his current writer decides to force that down our throats...
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 say that any characters' religious affiliation would depend also on what the religion of their creator or writer happened to be. Stan Lee was Jewish so he probably leaned most of his characters (Peter Parker, Bruce Banner, Reed Richards, etc...) in that direction, at least a subconscious level.
I would rather comic companies take a "don't ask, don't tell" policy about religion.
From: "Comic book character religions" forum discussion, started 29 November 2005 on "Comic Book Resources" website (http://forums.comicbookresources.com/archive/index.php/t-94945.html; viewed 27 July 2007):
11-29-2005, 01:46 PM
I found this site via The Beat. It lists comic book characters and their religions.
11-29-2005, 05:10 PM
...I don't think I've ever seen Peter Parker acknowledging being part of any organized religion. But because JMS has had him paraphrasing "Are You There God, It's Me, Margaret," suddenly he's Protestant. And seriously, that's the evidence the guy provides.
Although really, if there was ever a character that represented second-generation Jewish-American angst and power struggle issues, it was Spidey. But that's a different story.
11-29-2005, 08:22 PM
...I've always seen Spidey as agnostic in religion, and libertarian in politics. He's a witty cynic with no agenda but to live a good life. His spirituality centers around perpetual atonement for one tragic sin, not from any obligation to God. If anything, Uncle Ben is his only connection to the spiritual...
From: "Religion in Comics" forum discussion, started 3 August 2007 on official DC Comics website (http://dcboards.warnerbros.com/web/thread.jspa?threadID=2000125054&tstart=0; viewed 6 August 2007):
Posted: Aug 2, 2007 3:52 PM
in real life, most people don't fight over religion unless you live in a place where you'd get killed for your religion. Personally, I'm an atheist although I was brought up Catholic. I'm still intrested in other people's religions and different beliefs or cultures, so I enjoy seeing superheroes' religions.
Apparently, Superman is either Methodist or some Krytonian religion. Batman was raised Catholic, but he doesn't practise. Spider-Man is Protestant, Wonder Woman believes in that ancient Greek Stuff. Deadman is obviously Hindu and the Thing is also obviously Jewish. I noticed in comics it seems as if all religions are correct.
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, 02:37 PM
3. Do you feel that comics reflect any religious philosophy in particular?
Absolutely. Isn't Superman a bit like Moses. (Esp the first movie). Cannot Spiderman appear as a bit of a Christ Symbol. Hawk and Dove...Cain and Abel.
December 9th, 2005, 04:50 PM
1. Do you feel that comics reflect your moral values?
Yes. Take for example Batman. He was wronged, and sorely traumatized for all of his life. Yet, he never resorted to killing (with the exception of the awful Dark Knight Returns stories, thankfully they're out of continuity). He was going to get revenge, but not stoop to their levels. People like that are a great reflection of my views. Kate Spencer on the other hand, not so much.
2. What are the primary moral values reflected in comics?
Dealing with life in general. Look at every comic out there. Batman has to deal with the all too human tragedies he's experienced, Spiderman has to try to deal with life and school, and Superman has to deal with wooing the love of his life. Comics, for all their whacky stuff, are human at heart, and therefore quite wonderful.
3. Do you feel that comics reflect any religious philosophy in particular?
I believe that comics reflect all religions. DC has an obvious Christian-Jewish-Islamic God, yet has managed to incorporate gods. There's no bashing of any religious, merely an acceptance of all spirituallities (which is taken from Hinduism; everyone else is conceited in their views). That's part of why I love comics, they are open to all religions.
Of course, my views on religion come mostly from Kevin Smith's epic movie Dogma, but you've got to admit the views presented were quite wonderful.
December 13th, 2005, 06:34 PM
Religious Affiliation: Episcopalian
3. Do you feel that comics reflect any religious philosophy in particular?
Not particularly. There are those that have made the connection to comics being the modern day's mythology, while I see it just as a illustrated medium for entertainment that reflects the time period it is published in while instilling a sense that we must do what is right regardless of what misteps we make and hardships we must endure. In comics, we see both faiths of Monotheistic and Polytheistic divinities with out becoming preachy as to what religion or mythology is "right" or "better". That said, I do believe that Islam and Judaism faiths should be just as present as Christianity, but at my core would prefer if the heroes and villains leave their faith ambigious (it's like what Stan Lee said about Spider-Man... his costume completely covers his body, which means anyone of any color can imagine being Spider-Man; Any person should be able to believe that their hero is a member of their faith, or practices no religion at all for those that are atheist).
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, 09:58 PM
Comics do have a Judeo-Christian aspect as indicated before. Superman - the Moses of the DCU - given powers to free his adopted people from tyranny. One who is seen as an equal in his day to day guise yet is truly the savior of his people.
Spiderman burdened with the responsibility set forth by the words of his father figure. "Great power/Great responsibility". A tale of sacrifice and burden filled with miracles.
Batman: a character given rise from the death of others who sees value in all life. The only hope for a crime filled city. He honers his parents. He shall not kill. He keeps holy the sabbath (day of his parents passing) etc.
One could argue that all modern fiction has ties to the Bible in some sense. Older tales being retold in a modern setting . . . but then in lieu of being overt . . . the creators might have been influenced on a unconscious level.
December 13th, 2005, 10:18 PM
...C. Humility - If Spiderman isn't the poster child for humility, I don't know who is. Its difficult to point out a specific story because the classic model is that for ever step forward he makes. Life forces him to take 12 back. Be it his Aunt being sick and him needing money to buy medicine, to the Cops believing he is criminal despite his numerous efforts to save the city/planet, etc etc...
From: Tom R., "It's Kabbalah-in' Time!", posted 24 July 2006 on "Father McKenzie" website (http://fathermckenzie.blogspot.com/2006/07/its-kabbalah-in-time.html; viewed 10 August 2007):
...The religious affiliation of fictional super-characters is an intriguing topic. Some are, err, confessedly Catholic (X-Men's Nightcrawler, Daredevil's Matt Murdoch), while others are obviously Baptist or Methodist (Superman's Jonathan and Martha Kent, Spiderman's Aunt May). Other characters, though, are harder to call...
In any case, from my (medium-level) reading I don't think many superheroes (as distinct from kindly adoptive parents who bake great Thanksgiving pies) are really religious in any meaningful sense. The Catholic ones I mentioned tend to be tormented by guilt -- as you would too, if you either looked like a devil or dressed like one -- and to spend a lot of time hanging around churches, but otherwise aren't distinctively Catholic. They don't, for example, ask themselves whether letting the bad guy fall to his death from a cliff edge, because he refuses the hero's helping hand, counts as "direct or indirect formal or material complicity with homicide" pursuant to the Doctrine of Double Effect. Nor, for that matter, can I picture, say, Peter Parker [link to: http://www.theage.com.au/news/film-reviews/spiderman-3/2007/05/02/1177788214439.html?page=fullpage#contentSwap1] asking himself "WWJD?" before deciding whether to continue hot pursuit of Doc Ock, or pause to stop a granny being run over...
Superman is not the only superhero thought to be religious - Wonder Woman fancied ancient Egyptian religions, Batman is said to be a lapsed Anglican or Catholic (because of the crosses on his parents' tombstones), as is the Hulk. Rogue from the X-Men was raised as a Baptist, and Spider-Man prays to what is assumed to be a Protestant God...
- Spider-Man: No More - compare essentially identical scenes from Amazing Spider-Man #50 and the Spiderman 2 feature film adaptation.