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The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Character
Reverend William Stryker
anti-mutant Protestant/Evangelical preacher, enemy of the X-Men


From: "Stryker, William" page in "X-Men Character Bios" section of "Mutant High" website (http://www.mutanthigh.com/stryker.html; viewed 9 January 2006):
Full Name: Reverend William Stryker (Master Sgt., US Army, ret.)
Previous Affiliations: The Stryker Crusade, United States Army
Powers & History: None (human).

Over, 25 years ago, William Stryker was an army sergeant assigned to a nuclear facility. His wife became pregnant, and delivered their baby while they were traveling on an interstate. Unfortunately, Stryker's exposure to nuclear particles appears to have had adverse affects on his child, who was undoubtedly a mutant, and whom Stryker has described as being "a monster." Horrified at his offspring, Stryker immediately killed it, then snapped his wife's neck when she asked for the baby. Despairing over his impulsive actions, he attempted suicide by loading the bodies into his car and setting it aflame while still inside. Amazingly, the car exploded and blew Stryker clear of the wreckage, yet burning his family beyond recognition and covering his crimes.

Stryker fell into despair and alcoholism for months, until his was finally discharged by the Army for reasons of conduct. Shortly thereafter, however, Stryker read an article by Charles Xavier about mutants and knew what his son was. Then he found religion and blamed his wife for their offspring's mutation, turning his righteous fury (and shame) into a 25-year-long Crusade against mutants, claming them to be less than human and against God. Stryker quietly garnered tremendous popular support and immense amounts of money, which he used to fund his armed and armored Purifier death squads. The Purifiers searched out and murdered mutants and their families in cold blood, leaving little or no evidence for police to follow up.

Eventually, Stryker researched Xavier and his X-Men and built a doomsday machine to finish off all mutants. To set up his plan, he first debated Xavier on "Nightline" and then had the Purifiers attack Charles's limo on the way home, kidnapping Xavier and his attending students Scott Summers and Ororo Munroe, faking their deaths in an auto accident. Xavier was key to Stryker's plans, so Stryker had the mutant leader subjected to hallucinatory drugs and sensory deprivation, turning him into a suggestible automaton. Stryker then "programmed" Xavier to do his bidding and strike at his students, apparently killing them. (It should be noted that Charles resisted the programming on a deep level, and did not actually kill Cyclops and Storm, but only reduced their lifesigns to bare minimums).

Stryker's plan revolved around his biggest rally, a sermon at Madison Square Garden in New York City. He hooked Xavier into a machine based on Cerebro that was located backstage. The machine channeled Xavier's mental energy into waves that were destructive to mutants. As soon as the machine activated, Xavier's mind started affecting mutants in the area, including the X-Men, giving them nausea and nosebleeds. However, soon after Stryker began his sermon, Magneto made his appearance, lifting off the arena roof, then gently replacing it to confront the bigot in person. Stryker channeled the full power of Xavier through the machine into a concussive beam, knocking Magneto out of the air, but Magneto still spoke out. Then Stryker's top aide, the Purifier named Anne, began to exhibit symptoms from Xavier's onslaught, indicating that she, too, was a mutant. Stryker denied her allegiance and pushed her off the stage, cracking her neck on live television.

The X-Men finally got past Xavier's defenses and destroyed the machine, then confronted Stryker on stage. Stryker tried to sway the crowd, using Nightcrawler as a prime example of mutantkind's monstrous nature. Ariel defended her friend, and the enraged Stryker picked up Anne's gun and pointed it at the mutants, whereupon a cop on guard duty in the stadium shot the Reverend in the shoulder.

Stryker was convicted of murder and sent to prison, his Crusade crashing in confusion and lack of public support. During his prison term, he ingratiated himself to the penal system by offering his services as preacher to doomed death row inmates. At times the corrections officers would even transport Stryker to other facilities to minister to the inmates. On one such trip, Lady Deathstrike snuck aboard the airplane carrying Stryker, murdered the guards and crashed the plane, taking Stryker with her. On a previous confessional trip, Stryker was notified of a great mutant menace that had destroyed a town called Mount Haven. For some reason, Stryker and Lady Dee then captured Shadowcat, but on their way to their next destination, Deathstrike was co-opted by a mysterious virus and began to slaughter everyone around her. Stryker got away by activating adamantium-based protection suits around himself and Kitty and using her natural intangible state to phase away.

They ended up in Mount Haven, where Stryker discovered the remains of hundreds of humans, the town's original population. He then confronted Reverend Paul, the town leader and Shadowcat with his discovery. Stryker argued for terminating Paul, who was being controlled by a machine intelligence that thought that baseline humans were not real people and who was co-opting the nervous systems of his mutant charges with nanotechnology and bringing them into a hive mind. He pushed Kitty into Paul, short-circuiting him, but they both survived. Kitty argued for educating Paul, especially since killing him would have killed every mutant that was integrated into his network. In the end, Stryker chose to merge with Paul and teach him morality, and he locked himself into a suspended animation machine for a thousand years.

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):
The transfiguration of Rev. Stryker
That reflection isn't always positive. Just as there are preachers on the wrong side of the law in real life, so, too, are there some seriously whacked-out church folk in the graphic universe.

Perhaps the most recognizably true-to-life character is the Rev. William Stryker, an evangelical preacher whose mission is to wipe the mutants of the X-Men universe from the face of the Earth.

Twenty years ago, when Stryker was introduced, "he was someone who represented intolerance," Garrett said. "There are other ways that we could represent it - you could have picked a white supremacist - but what brings the extra tang to the story is the disconnect between the message of love that's supposed to be the Christian message and the message of exclusion that is sometimes the message that Christian churches put forth."

It made perfect sense for the time, said Sharrett, of Seton Hall. Stryker was born during the 1980s, during the liberal backlash against the ascendance of the Religious Right, and that was no accident.

"That kind of device - that explicitly religious idea - you would find this in conservative moments of American history. Rather mainstream superhero comics with religious ideas speak to the conservatism of the time and the popularity of other religious narratives," he said, naming the apocalyptic Left Behind novels and the television show "Revelations," in which a scientist and a nun uncover evidence that the world is approaching the End Days.

Interestingly enough, the producers of the 2000 movie "X-Men" turned Stryker into a colonel in charge of a government bureaucracy. In that way, they managed to sidestep complaints that have occasionally been lodged against the character in the comic book series, which some conservative and religious scholars have denounced as a totem of religious hatred.

Discussion

From: "'X-men' comic books and movie tackle Christianity" forum discussion started 11 April 2003 on IIDB Secular Community Forums website (http://www.iidb.org/vbb/archive/index.php/t-50750.html; viewed 12 July 2007):

Bobzammel
April 11, 2003, 05:36 PM

Anybody been reading recent issues of this comic? The character Nightcrawler-the blue demonesque X-man with the teleportation ability-recently talked to a Jesus statue about Jesus's "uncertain tests" (Which I BTW struggled with while I was a Christian) and also tackled desire, evolution and other things the church has had issues with. "Wolverine" likewise had the title character battle crooked priests last summer.

It looks like the movie might also deal with this--a quick glance at the trailer will show the characters in a church.

Any thoughts on this?


Walross
April 11, 2003, 10:34 PM

For an excellent story about the X-Men battling a fundamentalist preacher type, try to find the graphic novel "God Loves, Man Kills". It may be hard to track down, being from the early 80's, but it's a top-notch story.


beastmaster
April 11, 2003, 10:44 PM

Walross, word is that the new X-Men movie is an adaptation of God Loves Man Kills.


Walross
April 12, 2003, 03:29 AM

I didn't know that beastmaster. Thanks - all the more reason to look forward to it!


Bobzammel
April 12, 2003, 10:56 AM

About X2 [the movie] being an adaptation of GLMK [God Loves, Man Kills]

The villain is still Stryker, but in this case Stryker is the leader of a shadowy "Weapon X" style organization which created Wolverine's adamantium. The basic plot outline of GLMK-Magneto teaming up with the X-men, Professor X's powers being used to kill mutants and so on is right out of GLMK.

There are currently comic and novel adaptations in stores for those who want a sneak peek...

From: "Who's Catholic in the Marvel Universe" forum discussion started 5 February 2005 on "HCRealms" website (http://www.hcrealms.com/forum/showthread.php?t=123637; viewed 10 May 2007):

Shellhead
02/05/2005, 15:35

I know a lot of characters are Jewish, so I was wondering who is officially Catholic?

I know Daredevil is. It's a major part of his personality and often occurs in storylines.

I also believe Firebird from the West Coast Avengers... After that, I'm pretty much stumped.

Anyone have any others?

Marvel Catholics:
Daredevil
Firebird


[http://www.hcrealms.com/forum/showthread.php?t=123637&page=2]

venomeng
02/07/2005, 18:58

William Stryker probably was something like Southern Baptist, but he was Christian.

From: "Religion in God Loves, Man Kills: Using the clergy as a bad guy" forum discussion page, started 2 September 2003, on "Captain Comics" website (http://www.captaincomics.us/forums/index.php?showtopic=754):
Mike Parnell
Sep 2 2003, 05:29 PM
Having read God Loves, Man Kills [the X-Men graphic novel published in 1982, in which Rev. William Stryker is the villain] I wonder about the use of a clergy person as a bad guy and its effect on those who read it. So I wonder what your thoughts are on the subject. I have mine, but will wait and see the reaction to topic to post them.
Chris Fluit
Sep 2 2003, 08:47 PM
I can give you one example of a relatively positive portrayal of a preacher. It was in Uncanny X-Men 234 during one of the Brood storylines. Wolverine is being chased by the Brood when he stumbles into a tent revival. The pastor isn't scared of Wolverine (even though he's a mutant!) and tries to heal him from the Brood infestation. Okay, the casting out a demon bit may not be the most positive scene but the pastor was shown as someone who loves his wife, who really cares about people and who isn't a fraud.

That one character and that one issue have made it so that I don't object too strongly to Rev. Stryker or to the pastor who raised Wolfsbane. As long as Claremont is willing to show pastors in both positive and negative light, I'll accept the latter.


The Culture Vulture
Sep 3 2003, 05:13 AM
I took Stryker as an example of the American Evangelist whose motivation may be pure in his eyes, but slightly suspect anyway. Remember this came out at the time when Falwell, Robertson and Bakker were at the peak of their ministries.
Mike Parnell Sep 3 2003, 08:24 AM
QUOTE: I took Stryker as an example of the American Evangelist whose motivation may be pure in his eyes, but slightly suspect anyway. Remember this came out at the time when Falwell, Robertson and Bakker were at the peak of their ministries.

As I read the comic that was my take on it... I see William Styker as a character created to speak back to this typology. He is an example of those that speak of what they see as being right for us and if we disagree then we are to be destroyed. This grows out of the sense of triumphism that I see in many, but not all, who hold to fundamentalism as their theological point of view.

The problem is that these characters do quickly fall into a stereotype. And I see the damage done as being a price paid to try and express the beliefs held by those who are part of the faith systems of those who proclaim fundamentalism, but not fundamentalists, as being lumped into the same category as the fundamentalists.


Silver Age Fogey
Sep 3 2003, 08:47 AM
I enjoyed "God Loves, Man Kills" - really - although a significant part of that was Brent Anderson's artwork. I do like his work a TON, and I think he's one of the most underrated artists in the business right now.

But for the topic at hand... I understand that the clergy is made a focus of positive or negative reactions to mutants (for example, although I'm going to take it a little farther afield momentarily.)

I didn't have a significant problem with Reverend Stryker quite so much as I did with his motivations. I would be understanding of - in fact, I would be GLAD of - a character who hated mutants because he really thought that they were the unclean, the heathen, the forces of evil and darkness.

That never seems the case in a Claremont story. It always seems as if the "villain" really IS villainous - never misguided and GOOD, never sympathetic. Oh, sure, sometimes he manages to get them to have sympathetic characters - even Magneto saved a puppy once, I'm sure - but I'd like to see a character who is straight up, honorable, doing everything he thinks is right - and raging against the mutants because he believes in what he is saying, and not because they are a conveneint foil, a high profile target to get some hate going.

The examples I think of are some of the characters in the Wild Cards series of novels; some of them just plain hated anyone different, and espeically those infected with the Wild Card Virus. But some of them were working on a cure for the virus in order to make life better, not to wipe out all the infected beings.

A good character can still be an antagonist. I also think about Thunderbolt Ross, although his character was singularly difficult to get a hand on at times - but that's what I look at for the kind of characters.


Mr. Satanism
Sep 4 2003, 09:34 AM
I think the problem is that since the 1980s, when there were several people exploiting Christianity to make a buck, that the "Evil Preacher" has become a convenient stock villain for lazy writers, just like the corrupt cop or the brainless, violent Nazi skinhead. In real life, I have met many police officers, and all but one have been polite and professional. Despite my general distain for organized religon of any stripe, I have never met an "evil" religious leader. And I even met a polite Nazi skinhead once. I sure didn't agree with his politics, but I cannot deny that he was polite.

It all comes down to lazy, uncreative writing. Why show (or even tell) that a character is a "bad guy pretending to be good" when you can just make him a rabid Christian minister? EVERYONE knows those people are bad news. And, of course, they are almost always portrayed as completely dedicated to some inane "cause". They are never three dimensional characters who doubt themselves, grow, learn, or even show compassion to people who share their beliefs. Nazis were jerks, but I bet they were nice as hell to OTHER NAZIS, or to their families. They weren't automotons.

It's gotten to the point where having good cops or kindly clergy is seen as a sign of "edgy" writing. It's ridiculous.

From: "Religion/Spirituality" discussion page, started 29 November 2003, on ComixFan.com website (http://www.comixfan.com/xfan/forums/archive/index.php/t-24121.html; viewed 10 January 2006):
P_Mac
Feb 5, 2004, 01:54 pm
Let me ask a dumb question that may raise much ire but has there been any good, by good I mean quality, comics with anything at all Christian in them? Or maybe even a character in a book... I have seen a few but the art was rough and the plot little more than okay. If so just let me know.
Eric Travis
Feb 5, 2004, 02:49 pm
Mutants and religion can go hand in hand. God Loves, Man Kills is a brilliant example of this, and worth getting.
From: "Religious Inclinations of heroes" message board, started 1 March 2005 on StarDestroyer.net website (http://bbs.stardestroyer.net/viewtopic.php?t=63632&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=25; viewed 8 June 2006):
Stravo
Posted: Tue Mar 01, 2005 6:38 pm

Post subject: Religious Inclinations of heroes

What about other heroes? I notice religion rarely plays a part in mainstream superhero comics (absent things like the Vertigo line) but have you ever picked up on hints or outright admissions by some heroes as to their religious inclinations?

Seems that atheistic heroes are as rare in comics as in real life. If they are religious it's a sort Judaeo-Christian wishy washy sort of religion... Any other examples of guesses?


The Dark
Posted: Sun Mar 20, 2005 12:01 am

Stryker was sort of a Christian...

From: "Batwoman Is Back as a Lesbian" message board started 1 June 2006 on "The Giant in the Playground" website (http://www.giantitp.com/cgi-bin/yabb/YaBB.pl?board=comics;action=print;num=1149174700; viewed 12 June 2006):
Post by Ing on Jun 2nd, 2006, 11:17am

Technically "fundamentalist" isn't a religion; it's a point of view... but I think you meant Evangelical Christians. Some include:
Ultimate Rogue
Superman: with the small town Christian values
The crazed military scientist from: God Loves Man Kills (Hey, not every character has to be a positive role model for their ideology.) [This refers to William Stryker, who is indeed portrayed as a "military scientist" in the film X-Men United, but was a Protestant preacher in the graphic novel X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills.]

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: Leor Blumenthal
Date: Thurs, Apr 30 1998 12:00 am

Characters with strong religious beliefs are depicted as old-fashioned, intolerant, or out of touch.

[This was one of about two dozen "CC trademarks" listed by this poster. These are plot devices that readers are suggesting Chris Claremont uses over and over again. Subsequent posters disagreed that Claremont is antagonistic to religious characters, and cited examples of positive portrayals. The upshot seems to be that Claremont's stories feature a relatively balanced portrayal of religion and religious characters, with some positive and others negative.]


From: AGr3691541
Date: Fri, May 1 1998 12:00 am

What, you mean like Nightcrawler or that preacher [William Conover] in the X-men/Brood confrontation just before Inferno?


From: Leor Blumenthal
Date: Fri, May 1 1998 12:00 am

No, like Reverend Craig, or the televangelist villain from "God Loves Man Kills"...


From: AGr3691541
Date: Wed, May 6 1998 12:00 am

re: "Why should Kurt's faith only matter when it is called into question?"

Because it's an interesting development. Nightcrawler reading the Bible for half an hour would make a crap comic (although no worse than the current X-men/Doctor Doom Annual).

re: "Why should religious people be constantly portrayed as backwards, primitive, or naive?"

Erm... except for the fact that they're not. The preacher in God Loves, Man Kills is an attack on TV evangelist style religion. It plays on peoples' fears, promotes intolerance and is led by sanctimonous nutters. They exist in this world. I've seen TV Evangelists promote hatred thru self-righteousness. Some religious people ARE backwards, primitive and naive.

While Nightcrawler, Kitty Pryde and the preacher in the Brood storyline [William Conover] all show religious characters that are none of the above...

re: "Instead we get stereotypes that are as inaccurate as any of the Anti-Mutant propaganda of Graydon Creed."

Not from Claremont. There have been intolerant 'Christians' and tolerant Christians, which is a reflection on society.

You're argument that Claremont portrayed every Christian as intolerant doesn't stand up to moment people can point to tolerant Christian characters.

I agree that Nightcrawler's faith should be explored more - but to say that if it isn't explored that's an example of Anti-Christian propaganda worthy of Graydon Creed then I stop agreeing with you and start running the other way.

Finally, if you object to Claremont portraying a TV evangelist badly... There are bad TV evangelists out there. Would you rather we pretended they don't exist?


[Samy Merchi disagrees with previous poster Leor Blumenthal's contention that most religious characters written by Chris Claremont are "backwards, primitive and naive", or, on other words, negatively portrayed. Merchi counters Blumenthal's contention by categorizing all the religious Claremont characters he can think of. Most do not display the negative characteristics Blumenthal is complaining about.]

From: Samy Merchi
Date: Sat, May 9 1998 12:00 am

re: "Why should religious people [in Chris Claremont stories] be constantly portrayed as backwards, primitive, or naive?"

Let's see.

Tolerant, un-backwards, un-primitive, un-naive: Kurt, Reverend Conover, Hank..., Ororo, Kitty, Dani, Forge, Amara..., Lilandra.

Total: 9.

Intolerant, backwards, primitive, or naive: Rahne, Reverend Stryker.

Total: 2.

Additions? You'll have to add eight backwards people to validate your point, or invalidate eight of the people I gave.


From: Samy Merchi
Date: Mon, May 11 1998 12:00 am

re: "I was originally complaining about Claremont's tendencies of ignoring character's religious beliefs except in major stories, and of treating certain religious characters (notably clergy) as intolerant."

Reverend Craig and Reverend Stryker vs. Father Bowen and Reverend Conover. 50-50 ratio. I'd say he was fairly balanced at using clergy for both good and evil.

From: "Religion and X-Men" thread started 21 July 1998 on rec.arts.comics.marvel.xbooks newsgroup (http://groups.google.com/group/rec.arts.comics.marvel.xbooks/browse_thread/thread/b61ff5d2e422d0a5/1ebe80a26a7df2e5; viewed 13 June 2006):
From: Alan D. Earhart
Date: Tues, Jul 21 1998 12:00 am

Some of the recent discussion got me thinking about this once again.

When has religion been used as a plot device in an xbook? [i.e., a comic book series related to the X-Men]


From: David R. Henry
Date: Wed, Jul 22 1998 12:00 am

...God Loves, Man Kills is a classic that goes without saying, so we shall...


From: Harlaquin1
Date: Wed, Jul 22 1998 12:00 am

re: "The God loves, man Kills-saga?"

YES that was probably the best X-Story ever written!!!!

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):
...There are precious few heroes of faith in comics, mainstream or alternative, and the more I think about that, the less I like it...

Religious-themed villains are another thing. Marvel has no end of devil-analogues -- Mephisto, Hades, Cloot, Satannish -- but they balk at letting the cloven-hooved one himself make an appearance... And then there are the men of the cloth who show up as villains, a la Claremont's Reverend Stryker, and are always defeated and exposed, not by the true faithful, but the secular superheroes...

The astute reader will no doubt wonder where my feelings lie on the subject of Preacher. While that series contains many insights worth discussion, its "grade school theology," as Grant Morrison put it, are not among them. Now that I think on it, if my only choices for spiritual guidance were Jesse Custer or Bill Stryker, I'd be an atheist, too.

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):
Their list of supervilliains was surprising. It had relatively few devout Christians as villains. The only that stood out was the Rev. William Stryker. Quite a few Atheists really, as well, Lex Luthor and the Joker among them. It may just seem more believable to have an Atheist Super Villain. Given the 20th Century horrors of Communism, I think it seems more believable to people in their heart that super villiains who have no fear of God, not believe in him either.

[Actually, a considerable number of Christian villains are listed on the site, but they simply aren't among the "major" villains. Devout Christian villains in comics tend to be used as one-shot characters in stories built around commentary about a specific polemical or political subject, rather than as more frequently recurring villains.]

From: "There Are No Lions Here", posted 15 October 2006 on "Pretty, Fizzy Paradise" blog website (http://kalinara.blogspot.com/2006/10/there-are-no-lions-here.html; viewed 30 May 2007):

[Reader comments:]

At 7:48 PM, david brothers said:

...My problem with the treatment of Christianity in comics is that, like another commenter said, the heroes who are Christians, with the exceptions like Daredevil, Huntress, etc, are rarely shown having anything to do with Christianity beyond saying "Oh my God."

The loud "Christians," the obvious ones, they tend to be screaming hellfire and brimstone corrupt bigots. Chuck Austen's kind of hilariously poorly thought-out exploding communion wafer Nightcrawler as anti-pope story comes to mind, as does Ennis's Preacher (which I did enjoy) and William Stryker.

It gets old seeing that the loudest and most visible representatives of my religion in fiction are idiots in general. I get enough of that in real life...

I've seen the Adherents site, and I think it's a great thing. A lot of it, though, is conjecture, and a lot of that conjecture is telling. Most of the usenet posts tend to start "What religion is X" or "I never really thought that X character had religion..." Most people don't realize that these characters have fleshed out backstories that include religion because it's never mentioned. If you were to suggest that Superman were Methodist or Batman anything but atheist/agnostic (I lean toward the latter more than the former) to the average comics fan, they'd laugh at you. But, for every Wolfsbane or Ben Grimm we have that does show their religion, we've got a Stryker, a crazy Austen nun, or whatever...

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
TheToileteer

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? 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). The Greek and Norse pantheons appear to also be fair game.

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. [Reverand Willian Stryker in] "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...

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):

posted by hifiparasol
February 5, 2005 7:28 PM

"After unknowingly eating an atomic matzah that was accidentally baked in a microwave oven with radioactive water, she was surprised to learn that she could fly..." [link to webpage about the Jewish Hero Corps: http://www.nusion.com/jewishsuperhero/jhc.htm] Take your radioactive spiders and your gamma bombs and shove them up your tuchus. I'm casting my lot with the Jewish Hero Corps! [link to: http://www.nusion.com/jewishsuperhero/] But seriously: Most [link to: http://www.marveldirectory.com/teams/fantasticfour.htm] (but not all [link to: http://www.spawn.com/comics/series.aspx?series_id=1]) of the most widely-known superheroes around are a bit on the WASPy side. Is it possible to address issues of ethnicity and identity via superheroes, given the fact that most folks think it's just a lot of punching and zapping? Or do we have to resort to doing via metaphor [link to Amazon.com order page for the X-Men graphic novel: God Loves, Man Kills, which is about Rev. William Stryker using his Protestant ministry as a platform for his anti-mutant crusade: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0785100393/metafilter-20/ref=nosim/]?

From: "New Joe Fridays Week 28", published December 2006 on Newsarama.com (http://www.newsarama.com/NewJoeFridays/NewJoeFridays28.html; viewed 8 June 2007):

RQ: ted_dahlman [question]: I can only think of three Marvel characters who are practicing Jews (Thing, Shadowcat, and presumably Sabra), two who are practicing Christians (Nightcrawler and Firebird, both Catholic), along with a few Muslim heroes who have figured into minor roles in several stories, and the thousands of "mutant-hating bigots" who have shown up dressed in clerical garb.

JQ [Joe Quesada, editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics]: Hey there, ted_dahlman. Marc Spector, Doc Samson, and Magneto are also... Jews and don't forget Matt Murdock is a practicing Catholic. I know there's more, but I just thought I'd mention these four as they seem like important ones to include.

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):

Mark Matthewman
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?


PeterCool
November 30th, 2005, 08:27 AM

I also think it's important to note that it doesn't just take political discussions, but the metaphor of comics stories.

Take the X-Men. While it's the most obvious pick, it's either a book about African-Americans (in it's original inception) or about Homosexuals (in the modern day). And who do the X-Men always come up against? Stereotypical White Christian Males.


reasonablefan1
November 30th, 2005, 11:55 AM

...As far as the "X-Men" go, saying all of their villains are "stereotypical White Christian males" doesn't strike me as an accurate statement. I don't think the X-Men have fought a disproportionate number of white Christian males and their most famous villian, Magneto, was Jewish.


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