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The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Character
Shen Li-men
Swift
of Stormwatch and the Authority

Shen Li-men, more widely known as the super-hero "Swift," has been a member of Stormwatch and the Authority, which are super-teams in the Wildstorm universe. Wildstorm is a largely independent imprint of DC Comics.

Swift was raised as a Buddhist. She retains a Buddhist self-identity, although as an adult she has not been devout in her faith.

From: "Swift" webpage on "International Superheroes" website (http://www.internationalhero.co.uk/s/swift.htm; viewed 2 May 2006):

Real Name: Shen Li-men
Affiliations: the Authority; formerly Stormwatch Black

History: Shen Li-men was hatched from an ancient egg - the Egg of Dhammpada - that had been guarded by Tibetan monks for generations. The monks believed that the creature that hatched from it in the closing years of the millennium would usher in an age of peace and love. When the egg was stolen by the Nazi's in 1943, Jenny Sparks retrieved it and returned it to Tibet.

Raised a Buddhist after she hatched, Shen Li-Men witnessed the Chinese Army's occupation of her homeland as a child. After emigrating to the West she was mis-identified as a "seedling" (a human given a latent superhuman ability following exposure to the radiation of a comet that once swung past the Earth) and had her powers "activated" by a special officer of Stormwatch. Because at the time Stormwatch was in desperate need for warm bodies she was only partially activated (full activation takes a while to recover from) and a weaker manifestation of her true ability appeared. She developed powers of flight, and was tapped for the UN's Stormwatch Academy program where she became a crack shot, an expert pilot, and a fully trained tactical officer. When Stormwatch was radically reorganized shortly before Henry Bendix was revealed as a madman Synergy, the special officer who activated seeded humans, fully activated Swift and gave her the current incarnation of her powers. Nearly invulnerable when flying at high speeds she became a full Stormwatch officer in her early twenties where she served under Jenny Sparks.

It didn't take long for Shen and the other Stormwatch operatives to figure out that Bendix was insane. When Skywatch was destroyed Shen stayed with Jenny Sparks to form the Authority. A member of that group from the inception, she has fought and killed in the name of a better world, but also has proven herself talented at finding non-violent solutions when bloodshed is unnecessary or when conflicts threaten to escalate out of control.

Thanks to Cadmus for additional details. As he pointed out "Swift is actually a human who was "seeded" with a latent superhuman ability when exposed to the radiation of a comet that once swung by earth (at least, she was when she was created and when Ellis was handling her)." Subsequently her origin was ret-conned to add in the Egg of Dhammpada aspect.

Discussion

From: message board on MillarWorld.net website (http://www.millarworld.net/index.php?showtopic=39800; viewed 2 May 2006):

Shen Li-Men, Swift of the Authority, is definitely a Buddhist. Though hardly devout, she still turns to Lamas for advice.

From: "Buddhist supers?" forum discussion started 13 January 2007 on RPGnet website (http://forum.rpg.net/archive/index.php/t-306345.html; viewed 12 May 2007):

Nero's Boot
01-13-2007, 07:18 AM

Are there any Buddhist superheroes/supervillains? The only one I can think of is Swift from the Authority (she's a Tibetan Buddhist), but her behavior really doesn't speak much for her sense of piety. So, what other Buddhists in comics have superpowers and fight crime/commit crime?

--kind of curious in this regard NB


Olof Jonsson
01-13-2007, 07:39 AM

Note that Swift was much more of a Tibetan Buddhist before Millar grabbed hold of her and turned her into Mega-Bimbo. She expressed hesitation at having to kill, and usually only did so when having witnessed things that made her really angry (like the experimentation with installing illegally and horrendously unethically created superhumans as a police-force in a semi-large town in the US).

Then Millar went in with his usual "All superheroes are fascist mega-dicks and mega-sluts, so Swift should, like, sleep with everything on two legs and kill people for fun."

From: "Vegetarian Superheroes" forum discussion, started 18 March 2005 in Brian Michael Bendis section of "Jinxworld" website (http://www.606studios.com/bendisboard/archive/index.php/t-231.html; viewed 31 July 2007):

03-18-2005, 01:01 PM
So... out of curiousity are there vegetarian superheroes? I'm not talking about supporting characters, but the actual heroes who wear tights and a cape. And are any of them vegan?


anthony the ghost
03-18-2005, 01:10 PM

I would imagine at least one member of the Authority is. And probably Ultimate Thor.


Frozen Sooner
10-31-2006, 02:29 PM

OK. Supes is a meat-eater until something in continuity disproves it. I mean, if we're going off of non-canonical sources, didn't he order a meat dish at the end of Kingdom Come? I know he had some milk, though I have no idea of that's allowable under vegan philosophy - it would seem to run counter, as it's produced through what could be construed as animal cruelty [in the minds of Vegans].

Wing [sic: "Swift"] from the Authority is probably a vegetarian, seeing as how she's Buddhist. Then again, she's also been known to kick the crap out of people who annoy her, so she obviously has some relapses now and then.


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Webpage created 2 May 2006. Last modified 31 July 2007.
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