The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Character
Delroy Garrett Jr.
Delroy Garrett, Jr., the superhero known as "Triathlon" was a member of the Avengers. Delroy Garrett Jr. was a convert to and a devout member of the Triune Understanding, a new religious movement. The Triune Understanding is a fictional denomination.
Note that Triathlon's name is sometimes misspelled "Triathalon" (with an extra 'a' in the middle).
From: "Triathalon" page on "Marvel Directory" website (http://www.marveldirectory.com/individuals/t/trathlon.htm; viewed 22 December 2005):
Real Name: Delroy Garrett, Jr.
Identity: Publicly known
Group Affiliation: Avengers, also a member of the Triune of Understanding
Base of Operations: Avengers Mansion
First Appearance: AVENGERS Vol. 3, # 8
History: Delroy Garrett Jr., a promising young track star, was stripped of his three Olympic medals after testing positive for steroids. Down on his luck following this embarrassment, Garrett turned to the Triune of Understanding to restore his faith. The religious movement unlocked the athlete's great potential, enhancing his natural abilities to three times peak human performance. After fighting alongside the Avengers on several occasions, Garret joined the group at the behest of Triune leader Jonathan Tremont and team liaison Duane Freeman.
Note that the name of Triathalon's religious denomination, "Triune Understanding," is most commonly used as a synonym for trinitarianism, the Athanasian formulation for describing the Christian godhead. The "triune understanding" (i.e., Athanasian trinitarianism) was officially adopted in 325 A.D. at the First Council of Nicaea. Prior to that time, Christendom had been divided in its understanding of deity, with a large proportion subscribing to the position known as "Arianism", named bor Bishop Arius (c.250 c.336). The Arian position is generally regarded as more Biblical in its roots, while the Athanasian position is regarded as having more fully accomodated pre-Christian Greco-Roman philosophies.
In the Marvel comics, the Triune Understanding is depicted as if it is an entirely new religion. However, its name and much of its external elements clearly borrow heavily from Christianity. Jonathon Tremont, the founder of the Triune Understanding, was born in the Naga Hills of India, an area that the Indian census reports is over 90% Christian.
With the Triune Understanding, writer Kurt Busiek seems to have been addressing themes of religious devotion, religious heterodoxy, and religious fundamentalism, all in stories relating to a single fictional religious denomination. The Triune Understanding can probably not be viewed as a direct analogue for either Scientology or heterodox Baptist/Evangelical Christian beliefs, but it seems clear that these real-world religions were sources of inspiration.
Kurt Busiek is an acclaimed comic book writer who frequently writes about overtly religious characters in his comics. Busiek is known for his work on titles such as Astro City, Avengers, Shockrockets and Superstar. When asked about his own religious beliefs, Busiek told an Astro City mailing list:
I'm an agnostic, to the extent that I think about it at all. I consider religions interesting, and the idea of a higher being or beings within the realm of possibility, but I haven't heard or seen anything yet that would make me a believer... However, I don't require my characters to share my approach to these things -- as is doubtless pretty obvious...
"Triathlon" creator Kurt Busiek has clearly stated that he based Triune Understanding on Scientology. This does not mean, however, that Kurt Busiek intended to make Triune Understanding identical to Scientology. From: "Astro City: Too "goody-goody" characterizations or is it just me?" forum discussion, started 1 January 2006 on "Comic Book Resources" website (http://forums.comicbookresources.com/archive/index.php/t-100693.html; viewed 13 July 2007):
01-04-2006, 11:20 AM
...I'm also a little baffled at his assertion that we committed a blunder in AVENGERS by having Triathlon be a Scientology-esque superhero and having the crowds love him, on the grounds that such a thing is wildly unrealistic. On the one hand, the only time we showed crowds loving Triathlon was at Triune Understanding rallies (so yeah, I'd think crowds of Scientologists would love a Scientology hero), and second, Tom Cruise wears his beliefs on his sleeve, and while they engender comment, he's still enormously popular. Imagine how popular he'd be if he saved the world a few times too, Scientologist or not.
From: "Triune Understanding" definition page on Encyclopedie.Snyke.com website (http://encyclopedie.snyke.com/articles_en/triune_understanding.html; viewed 13 July 2005 version via google cache on 22 December 2005):
Triune Understanding Triune Understanding is a fictitious religious cult created by Kurt Busiek for volume three of the Marvel Comics Avengers series. Apparently inspired by the real-life religion of Scientology, the Triune Understanding was depicted as a fast-growing movement claiming to maximize human potential, but gradually revealed to have connections with an invading alien race. Members included the Avengers' government liaison Duane Freeman as well as new member Triathlon (who owed his powers to the sect).
From: Mathew R. Ignash, "Triathalon" page, last updated October 2001, on "The Great Net Book of Real Heroes" website (http://www.sysabend.org/champions/gnborh/text/Triathlon-mi.txt; viewed 22 December 2005):
Real name: Delroy Garrett Jr.
Occupation: Hero and adventurer, former Olympic athlete.
Current group affiliation: Avengers, Triunes.
First appearance: Avengers III #8
Description: Delroy is a tall athletic black man who wears a red, green, black and white costume with gold trim.
History: Delroy Garrett Jr. was an Olympic sprinter who was kicked out when he was discovered to be using steroids. He then found the Triune Understanding. He claims they helped unlock the amazing power inside him. He first hit the hero scene when the Avengers responded to a distress call from the Kennedy Airport and were confronted by Moses Magnum and his men. Triathlon showed up on the scene when the Avengers were loosing and helped turn the tide. He aided Captain America against Silverclaw, who Magnum was blackmailing into helping him (Avengers III #8).
Triathlon returned to the public eye in Calleyville, Texas with the opening of the new headquarters of the Triune Understanding, where he displayed his acrobatic prowess to the crowd and pushed the church to the people attending. The Avengers were tracking Lord Templar, and tracked his energies to the Triune headquarters, where Triathlon met with them, until Pagan attacked. Triathlon and the Avengers fought Pagan, but were unable to take him until Lord Templar showed up and defeated Pagan by himself. Templar left with Pagan, the Avengers unable to stop him (Avengers III #15).
Triathlon then accompanied the head of the Triune Understanding to the Avengers headquarters to talk with them, when some protestors were preparing to attack the headquarters with a rocket launcher. Triathlon spotted the attackers and took them out. The Avengers federal security liason then suggested that they make Triathlon a member, and although Iron Man had objections, Triathlon accepted and alongside the She-Hulk replaced the departing Captain America and Thor (Avengers III #27).
Powers: Triathlon has three times the strength and speed of a top human athlete. It is said his senses are three times as sensitive as a human and he can sprint to over 100 miles per hour.
The following article about the Triune Understanding founder Jonathon Tremont provides additional background information about the religious denomination to which Triathalon belonged. From: "Lord Templar [and Jonathon Tremont]" page, last updated 08/02/02 on "The Appendix to the Handbook of the Marvel Universe" website (http://www.marvunapp.com/Appendix/lordtemp.htm; viewed 22 December 2005):
Jonathon Tremont (Avengers III#50 (fb) ) - Born in the Naga Hills, India, Tremont was the youngest of three brothers. [Given the name of the denomination that Jonathon Tremont founded, and the fact that the family is from the Naga Hills of India, it is almost certain that these three brothers were born into a conservative Protestant family - probably Baptist.] He was well known for his ability to charm others. However, a sickness swept through his village, and his two brothers fell before it. He spent much of his following years wondering why he alone had been spared. Years passed and eventually he developed some psychic abilities that allowed him to contact Chuck Chandler (the retired hero known as the 3D Man). When Chuck arrived, he and Tremont went on an expedition to find "the reason Chuck felt he had to leave home" (which was secretly a psychic suggestion by Tremont). The duo searched until Chuck found one of the cosmic triangles which had originally gave him his power (these triangles were actually fragments created by the Universe as a defense against a powerful shard of evil from the extra-dimensional Trion). Tremont knocked Chuck out and took the triangle to gain power. He captured Chuck and, using this new power, he resurrected his two brothers (Pagan and Lord Templar).
As the years went by, Tremont decided to gain more power in the public by founding the Triune Understanding. A short time after the Understanding's founding, Delroy Garrett Jr. (AKA Triathlon) came to them seeking redemption for his shame in the Olympics. Tremont used the two triangles he had gained to merge 3D Man's spirit with Triathlon, unbeknowst to Delroy. Jonathan Tremont prophecized the coming of a "Triple-Threat" which he claims to be a threat to Earth that only the Triune Understanding could combat. This Triple Threat was the shard of Trion evil.
While he preached peace and harmony, and a balance of the mind, body, and spirit, he clearly manipulated the his followers, his apparent allies, and especially the Avengers--all in order to gain the power to stop the "Triple Threat". He remained a close ally of Triathalon, despite his joining of the Avengers (in fact, Tremont directed him to join them). Initially, Tremont stimulated public suspicion and distrust of the Avengers. Tremont later used Triathalon's involvement in the Avengers to bolster interest in the Triune, while at the same time he has used Triathalon's Triune connections to improve public opinion of the Avengers.
(Avengers Annual 2001) - Tremont was instrumental in Hank Pym's resolution of his recent identity crisis, merging the disparate aspects of his personality and the two separate forms they had taken. Tremont was clearly aware that Firestar and Justice had infiltrated the Triune, but claimed to have allowed them to do so because he had nothing to hide.
(Avengers III#48) - As the Triple Threat arrived, he convinced Firestar, Justice, Triathalon, and the Vision to join him aboard his Prayer Ship, which took them into space to confront the Triple Threat. The Ship drew on the mental power of the Triune followers, causing them to collapse in agony as the ship lifted off. Tremont appeared unconcerned, claiming that the Triune's medical staff would take care of them.
(AvIII#50)-Actually, Tremont was planning on gaining the third cosmic triangle hidden deep within the pyramid (the Trion shard). When he arrived, he was confronted by the Avengers. The team teamed up with Tremont as they battled the guardians of the triangle, since the Avengers were unaware that the triangles even existed. After absorbing the lifeforces of his guards, Tremont grew to enormous size and began battling the alien guardians of the triangle. Eventually, he even absorbed the lifeforces of his two resurrected brothers, Pagan and Lord Templar.
The Avengers were having no luck battling the giant Tremont, until Triathlon found the third triangle and used its power to unlock the power of Hal and Chuck Chandler and battled Tremont, absorbing all of his cosmic triangle-given abilities. Triathlon became extremely powerful and defeated the Triple Threat. Tremont was despondent at having lost his opportunity to gain the power and rule the world. Bereft of power, he was presumably sent to prison (following the Avengers return to Earth and assaults on Kang, of course...)
Tremont has been shown to absorb power from the belief of his followers. This sudden absorption of power has made him drunk with power, and he has made it clear he thinks of his followers as sheep. In the process of helping Hank Pym, he demonstrated psychic powers, allowing the two personalities to meet consciously on the astral plane.
He possesses various telepathic and energy manipulation powers, which at their peak are sufficient to combat an entire contingent of Avengers. He also serves as the host of Lord Templar and Pagan, whom he can release at will.
The following excerpts from an article about the mysterious Avengers villain known as "Lord Templar" provides additional background information about the Triune Understanding, the religious denomination to which Triathalon belonged. From: "Lord Templar" page, last updated 08/02/02 on "The Appendix to the Handbook of the Marvel Universe" website (http://www.marvunapp.com/Appendix/lordtemp.htm; viewed 22 December 2005):
Identity/Class: Human, possible mutant or mutate; originally a citizen of India
Occupation: agent of Jonathon Tremont
In his own words, "My crusade is to bring peace and the blessings of universal law to all of Earth"... but he usually ends up fighting someone.
Affiliations: agent of Jonathan Tremont; Pagan (briefly posed as his enemy)...
Enemies: Avengers, New Warriors, Triple Threat (a shard of extradimensional evil from the Trion)
Known Relatives: Jonathon Tremont and Pagan (brothers)
First Appearance: Avengers III #13 (February, 1999)
History: (Avengers III#50 (fb) ) - He was once one of three brothers, who were born and grew up in the Naga Hills in India. While he demonstrated exceptional intelligence as a youth, this did not save him from a sickness that swept through their village and killed both he and one of his brothers. Somehow, however, the third brother (Jonathon Tremont) managed to absorb both of his dying life forces into himself.
Years later, Tremont obtained one of three energy triangles which were created by the Universe as antibodies against the Trion shard of evil. Tremont used the power he gained from the triangle to resurrect his two brothers, who became Lord Templar and Pagan. The three brothers worked to gain the energy of the other two energy triangles, primarily throught the creation of the Triune Understanding...
(Avengers III#15) - Pagan is tearing New York City apart as the Avengers are desperately fighting him. Pagan gets blasted by Lord Templar as he floats down from the sky. Templar unleashes the Avatars of Templar again to battle Pagan and he then hurls Pagan into outer space. Later on after the battle, we see Jonathan Tremont, the head of the Triune Understanding meditating as Lord Templar phases through his wall and seems to merge his ghostly form with Tremont. (see comment)
(Avengers III#26) - Well, you don't actually see him, more like his shadow, but I'm positive it's him. After a small group of heroes are duped by the Taskmaster into battling him at a Triune Understanding building, Captain Marvel warns the group of danger behind them.
From: comments section on "The Beast is an Episcopalian" page on "IFanBoy.com" blog website, posted 1 February 2006 (http://www.ifanboy.com/archives/000675.html; viewed 10 May 2006):
Posted by: ron at February 2, 2006 01:00 AM
I love that they list Triathalon and the Triune Understanding (based on Scientology!)
From: Michael, "No Sunday School In Smallville", posted 12 June 2006 on "Tales to Mildly Astonish" blog website (http://talestomildlyastonish.blogspot.com/2006/06/no-sunday-school-in-smallville.html; viewed 15 June 2006):
...Right now, no one [among comic book superheroes] is [about] faith. There have been heroes of faith in the past, though. Right now my mind turns to the work of Kurt Busiek. His Avengers run featured, in part, Firebird and Triathlon, two characters who showed in very different ways how faith can have a positive impact on the lives of the faithful. (I'd still like to see those two debate theology over a cup of coffee, in fact.)...
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:
From: "New Joe Fridays: Week 49" forum discussion, started 1 June 2007 on Newsarama website (http://forum.newsarama.com/showthread.php?t=114952&page=5; viewed 8 June 2007):
06-03-2007, 04:58 AM
You brought up the issue of comic-book stereotypes and religions. Since I study religion (all kinds, really) this is something I've thought about a lot...
What religions do we find represented in Marvel? A lot of them are "weird" ones associated with exotic fantasy. Several decades ago, comic book writers could be fairly sure that none of their readers would know or be Tibetan Buddhists, Kali devotees, Voodoo practitioners, or Gypsies, so they felt free to make up details out of whole cloth, or portray some religions as wicked. Today this is no longer possible. Recall the Hindu reaction to Krishna's appearance on "Xena: Warrior Princess" (as a villain). So today, weird or evil religions are more likely to be entirely fictional, like the Triune Understanding (a Scientology pastiche) or the Ultimate Shi'ar (a cult not an alien race)...
From: "Please Help List Minority Groups" forum discussion, started 11-05-2006 on "Super-Hero Hype" website (http://forums.superherohype.com/showthread.php?t=255464; viewed 12 July 2007):
11-05-2006, 02:40 PM
I'm doing a project for Ohio State University about subordinate group representation in Marvel Comic's superhero population (pretty awesome, huh?)
A subordinate group basically means a population that's not a dominant group. And I've got 7 categories to fill; ethnic, gender, religious, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, age, and physical or mental ability. ..though I think I'll cut socioeconomic status do to it's fine line-ish qualities in comics.
So, how about I'll give what I've got so far, and then feel free to add to my lists. I think I have a pretty good handle on the MU, but it's still huge and I don't want to forget anybody. Should be fun anyway...
11-05-2006, 10:16 PM
Brother Voodoo is a priest of voodoo...
Triatholon, cult member or some weird religion, perhaps meant to mimic Scientology without coming out and saying it.
Webpage created 22 December 2005. Last modified 13 July 2007.
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