The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Character
of the Avengers
John Walker, who is known best as the super-hero "U.S. Agent," comes from a conservative Protestant background.
One example of John Walker's making reference to his theological beliefs occurred in Captain America (vol. 1) #383, in which Walker refers to the substitutive sacrifice of Jeusus Christ.
Infinity Crusade: USAgent was one of 33 characters who were identified as the most religious superheroes in the Marvel Universe in Infinity Crusade (June 1993). In this issue, a powerful being who identified herself as "the Goddess" kidnapped the superheroes she had identified as being the most religious active superheroes at the time. The Goddess was a manifestation of the "benevolent" side of Adam Warlock, and she planned to use these heroes in her crusade to rid the galaxy of evil and usher in a new golden age of peace. After these 33 characters had been kidnapped by the Goddess, the remaining superheroes gathered to try to figure out what was going on. The Vision analyzed data about who had been taken and who had not, and explained his analysis (Infinity Crusade #1, page 32):
Now that the appropriate files have been examined I believe I have sufficient hard data to put forth that theory I mentioned earlier. I feel confident I know why these particular paranormals were abducted. All the missing share a common trait or experience... An event or attitude that might be categorized as religious. Many among the missing hold deeply felt moral stands or intense spiritual belief systems. Those who do not fit that profile have all had after-death experiences... My theory does not hold that these attitudes aided in the missing individual's abduction, only that these traits may have determined who would be taken.
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...
So, on to religion. What religions do we find represented in Marvel? ...Mainstream religions were generally unmentioned before the 1990's (though we do find Cap consulting the New Testament for inspiration during the 1970's... Then suddenly a number of characters were revealed as being of Roman Catholic background (Daredevil, Invisible Woman, Nightcrawler, Punisher), or occasionally Jewish (Thing, though he is predated by minor characters Doc Samson, Sabra, Kitty Pryde, and Justice). USAgent, in his stint as Cap, was hinted to be a conservative Protestant. What was the motivation for all this?
...In these cases, religions were still mainly used as shorthand. A number of non-heroic examples would fit the description of "religious leader turns out to be an evil-doer" (e.g."God Loves, Man Kills", or the Six-Fingered Hand or the cult of Joshua from Defenders). These too are fairly obvious targets (Protestant evangelists, cult leaders) from the point of view of the pop culture...
Excerpts from: "Are Superheroes Religious?" forum page, started 13 May 2004, in "The John Byrne Forum" section of the Byrne Robotics website (http://jb.24-7intouch.com/forum/get_topic.asp?FID=3&TID=558&DIR=P; viewed 9 January 2006):
13 May 2004
Others: U.S.Agent (Southern Baptist?), Windshear (Protestant Christian?), Human Torch and Invisible Woman (Protestant)... Wolfsbane (Presbyterian), Jean Grey (?... shown attending church at some point), Storm (worships a goddess of some sort), Cannonball (? ...some branch of Christianity)
Mostly Marvel, I know... BTW... some of these were revealed during the Infinity Crusade.
From: "Religious Beliefs of Marvel Characters" discussion board started 20 October 2004 on Comic-Forum.com website (http://www.comic-forum.com/marvel/Religious_beliefs_of_Marvel_characters_397905.html; viewed 8 June 2006):
Date: 20 Oct 2004 21:55:56
Subject: Religious beliefs of Marvel characters?
Does anybody know the religious beliefs of various characters?
Date: 20 Oct 2004 23:16:20
From: Samy Merchi
Barring any actual solid evidence in the characters' own books, you could always fall back on the Infinity Crusade and see which sides the characters were on in that conflict. Anybody feel like whipping those issues out and checking these specific characters?
Date: 21 Oct 2004 03:52:34
From: The Black Guardian
Anyway, here's the list of those who "faithfully served" the Goddess: Captain America, Jamie Madrox the Multiple Man, Jean Grey, Namorita, Silhouette, Spider-Man, Puck, Archangel, the Inhuman Crystal, Firelord, Hercules, Shaman, Talisman, Moondragon, Quicksilver, the Scarlet Witch, the Silver Surfer, Sersi, the Living Lightning, Thor, the Invisible Woman, USAgent, Moon Knight, Wolfsbane, Doctor Strange, Wonder Man, Daredevil, the Black Knight, Windshear, Sasquatch, Storm, Gamora, Sleepwalker.
IIRC, even if you read the crossover, it's still pretty vague in what religions the heroes believed.
Date: 21 Oct 2004 03:57:48
From: Samy Merchi
In many cases, it [Infinity Crusade] is the strongest canonical reference to many of the characters' religious stance. Some lucky ones have been dealt with at more depth in their own books (DD, Rahne, Storm et al.) but for many characters Infinity Crusade is the biggest canonical reference. If we want to go by canon rather than sheer postulation.
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:
Posted by Omar Karindu on Wednesday, June 20 2001 at 11:27:02 GMT
...As stereotypical as it seems, I'd assume Living Lightning is Catholic (I believe that one of his solo stories in a WCA annual showed Catholic iconography in his house.). I'd also bet that U.S. Agent is some sort of Protestant, and that too may have been stated somewhere (when he inflitrated the Watchdogs, maybe?). Scarlet Witch may be a believer in some old mystic deities, and I've no idea what religion Quicksilver would be. Same with Wonder Man, who's been "dead." Warbird, I dunno either. She was in a church in Avengers v.1 #172, but she didn't really comment one way or another. Moondragon believes that SHE'S a goddess, so no big question there. Most other Avengers, I have no idea on.
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...
09-15-2006, 09:55 PM
Living Lightning is Christian, possibly Catholic
Sasquatch is Jewish
US Agent may have been raised Christian but is at the moment somewhat lapsed...
09-16-2006, 05:09 PM
U.S. Agent is an Evangelical.
From: "Omega Flight" forum discussion, started 2 September 2006 on Comix Fan website (http://www.comixfan.com/xfan/forums/printthread.php?t=40036&page=3&pp=50; viewed 19 July 2007):
Oct 30, 2006 05:30 pm
re: "Again, why is this guy [USAgent] being sent to represent the US on a Canadian team? Granted this is from the brain trust that brought us the psycho Thor clone and the all-new mostly-evil Thunderbolts. I like the character of USAgent, but I really cannot buy that he would be up for this or that anyone would think a man who can't play nice with American superhero teams would do any better on a foreign one."
Well, he'll probably make the short list for the first person who gets kicked off the team.
Then again, given that the current occupant of the Prime Minister's Office is a bit of a right wing Evangelical nutbar, maybe Walker might feel at home.
Webpage created 31 December 2005. Last modified 19 July 2007.
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