The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Character
an angel from God who joined the Justice League
Zauriel is an angel from God who became a super-hero and a member of the Justice League of America.
Zauriel is not simply a "generic" angel. He specifically invokes the name of Jesus Christ as a source of strength. Zauriel can be regarded as a Christian. He has never stated a preference for a specific denomination, and it is unlikely that he ever will.
From "Zauriel" article on Wikipedia.com website (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zauriel; viewed 30 November 2005):
Zauriel is a fictional character in the DC Universe. He first appeared in JLA #6. In his first appearance, he saved Aquaman's life from an evil angel and over time Zauriel has formed a friendship with Aquaman.
An angel of the Eagle Host in Heaven, Zauriel was assigned by The Presence (i.e. God) as a guardian angel. He protected the souls of various people over the centuries including Cleopatra, Mona Lisa, and Joan of Arc. Eventually, he fell in love with one of his charges. To be with her he, gave up his immortality (though still having wings and certain powers like the ability to part oceans, along with a flaming sword and sonic scream) and appeared on Earth. He aided Kendra Saunders, Hawkgirl, in discovering the true nature of her identity as a descendant of the bride of Khufu, an Egyptian prince along with the first Hawkman.
He aided the JLA against the angel Asmodeus. Since then, he joined the Justice League as their spiritual advisor. After Mageddon attacked Earth, Zauriel left the Justice League to protect others on his own.
From: Andrew A. Smith (Scripps Howard News Service), "Comics superheroes of many faiths", published 3 February 2000 in The Houston Chronicle (http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/religion/446482.html; viewed 30 November 2005):
Janos (Blackhawk) Prohaska is a lapsed Catholic who lost his faith when the Nazis (and later, the Soviets) overran Poland and now claims to be an atheist. Perhaps he should join the Justice League, which has a manifest angel (Zauriel) as a member. Or have a chat with the Spectre, who claims to be the actual Wrath of God!
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):
In the fifth issue of "Infinite Crisis," a recent comic-book miniseries from DC Comics, DC's heroes meet in a church to gather their forces - and seek help from a higher power.
"We ask you, Lord, to take care of those who have already fallen," says Zauriel, a fallen angel and a former member of the Justice League of America. "We ask you to watch over those that have been injured and those that are missing."
...The two-page scene is an unusual acknowledgment of religion and faith among the superheroes of the DC universe. And it's a sign of how comicbook creators have become more open in exploring religion in the colorful, action-packed world of superheroes.
"I think you have to touch upon the aspect of religion, because it is such an important part of people's lives," says DC executive editor Dan DiDio. "We had to show that there is some level of belief that takes place with our characters."
From "He's strong! He's powerful! He's fantastic! And he prays!" forum discussion page started 1 October 2002 on ToonZone.net website (http://forums.toonzone.net/archive/index.php/t-50423.html; viewed 11 January 2006):
10-01-2002, 03:29 PM
I don't know that religion is really ignored in comic books. I'd say it turns up at least as much as it would in a regular series of novels or a TV series. Moreso, even.
I mean, the JLA had an ANGEL for a member for a while. Obviously they never had Zauriel get too specific about God and heaven since DC didn't want to be picking and choosing "one true religion" for their universe . . . but he was THERE. That's pretty significant.
From: reader comments to "Godless Sunday" blog post on Pharyngula [subtitled: "Evolution, development, and random biological ejaculations from a godless liberal"] blog (http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2006/03/godless_sunday.php; viewed 26 April 2006):
Posted by: Christopher | March 20, 2006 12:40 AM
Superhero religion is a complicated thing, because many of them have actually MET gods, as well as seen mutually exclusive belief systems interact.
Thor himself was a founding member of the Avengers, and the JLU had an angel [Zauriel] working for them. Hell, the angel told them that YHWH was going to start a new creation because Tezcatlipoca was going to destroy this one.
Not to mention that superheroes hardly ever express any religious feelings... I don't think I've actually ever seen a superhero go to church or even express any religious sentiments...
From: "Religion in comic books" discussion forum started on 24 April 2006, on DC Comics official message board website (http://dcboards.warnerbros.com/web/thread.jspa?threadID=2000072787&tstart=0; viewed 1 May 2006):
Posted: Apr 25, 2006 7:30 AM
Up until the last issue of IC, religion was avoided like the plague by writers, but now it seems they have taken a "holistic" approach to religion. In the DCU, with characters like Zauriel and the Spectre running around, I'm pretty sure the Judeo-Christian God is shown to be the creator God, but I think that the gods of mythology and other metaphysical beings also have power.
From: "What Religion is Your Favorite Superhero?" discussion board started 20 April 2006 on official website of DC Comics (http://dcboards.warnerbros.com/web/thread.jspa?threadID=2000072337&start=15&tstart=0; viewed 8 May 2006):
Posted: Apr 23, 2006 3:57 PM
The problem is that, while there is proof of some sort of divinity in the DCU, there's proof of contradictory divinitities. Wonder Woman's Greek gods, who have their own traditions about the creation of the Earth and the rest of the universe, don't jibe well with the pseudo Judeo-Christianity that the Spectre or Ollie Queen's afterlife, or an angel superhero imply. But both are categorically there.
Posted: Apr 23, 2006 8:23 PM
re: "The problem is that, while there is proof of some sort of divinity in the DCU, there's proof of contradictory divinitities.
I did think of this, and it's the only plausible explanation. From the outside, it's obvious that DC means their universe (and the multiverse before it, more clearly) to be one framed (ultimately) on the Christian model. But, what we've seen, and what even someone like Michael Holt has seen aren't the same. I mean, we've seen scenes of Barry Allen and Ollie in heaven...
I just think that with Zauriel, The Spectre and some others, he has to be actively resisting even the possibility of believing.
Posted: Apr 25, 2006 5:29 AM
O.K... I guess I'm a fan of the Martian Manhunter... and to a certain extent he is infused with Martian religiousity... I would like to see him and Zauriel combine together... an interdimensional angel and an alien philosopher...
From: "Religious Themes in Comics" forum discussion page, started 21 May 2003 on "Sketchy Origins" website (http://www.sketchyorigins.com/comics/archive/index.php?t-1380.html; viewed 12 May 2006):
05-23-2004, 06:53 PM
I love how we're talking religion in comics and nobody has mentioned Zuriel [Zauriel]. C'mon people, we had a freaking christian angel as a member of the JLA. He died and went back to heaven for (pun intended) god's sake.
From: "Kyle's fate" discussion board started 28 October 2004 on official website of DC Comics (http://dcboards.warnerbros.com/web/thread.jspa?threadID=60989307&messageID=60989852; viewed 12 May 2006):
Posted: Oct 28, 2004 5:00 PM
But what is Kyle's Faith? ["Kyle" here refers to Kyle Rayner, who was the super-hero known as "Green Lantern," a fellow member of the Justice League of America along with Zauriel.]
Posted: Oct 28, 2004 5:00 PM
I think hes a Unitarian.
Posted: Oct 28, 2004 5:00 PM
...It's fairly stupid to even give him a normal religion... It's fairly stupid to do that with any hero. It would cloud their judgement... Look what it did to Zauriel. He freaked out every few issues and he was a freakin' angel.
Posted: Oct 28, 2004 5:00 PM
Everyone has a religion that clouds their judgement, even if it's plain vanilla secular humanism.
From: comments section for "Two-pronged post: On Faith and Clever", posted 14 March 2006 on "Face Down in the Gutters" blog website (http://facedowninthegutters.blogspot.com/2006/03/two-pronged-post-on-faith-and-clever.html; viewed 12 May 2006):
Tom Foss said...
Yeah, atheism (or at least agnosticism) in the DCU ought to make even more sense than it does here [with atheist super-hero Mr. Terrific]. On one hand, you've got concrete proof of any number of gods, from Zauriel's Christianish "Presence" to Spectre's wrathful Judaic "God of Abraham" to the Greek, Roman, and Egyptian pantheons of the Amazons, to the South American gods of Aztek and any number of Planet DC superheroes, to the Norse pantheon, to the Endless, to Chaos and Order, to the various alien pantheons, to Mr. Mxyzptlk, to the New Gods. Who do you believe in? They all certainly appear to be real, who do you trust?
From: "New Christian JLA member" message board, started 5 May 2005 on official DC Comics website (http://dcboards.warnerbros.com/web/thread.jspa?threadID=2000023085; viewed 15 May 2006):
Posted: May 5, 2005 7:53 PM
I propose DC adds a new superhero to the JLA. His name is Shepard [Shepherd] and he fights injustice and evil in a Christian way.
His powers would essentially be a the addition of the powers of Firestorm and Superman.
While the JLA fights to protect earth from alien threats, Shepard's focus would be to protect innocents such as unborn children.
What does everyone think?
Posted: May 6, 2005 3:09 AM
I am a Christian and pro-choice [i.e., "for widespread legalization of abortion"]. There is a reason there is no Christian superhero. Same reason as there is no real Jewish or Hebrew religious only (yes please don't hit me with Bloodwynd, etc.) that flaunt their religion or fight for religious belief specific notions. It's because they would be offensive to many, if not most, of the readership.
Besides -- Zauriel, Bloodwynd, Wonder Woman, the Spectre, the Quintet, etc., etc., are all based on or are slaves to religious beliefs, but none actively flaunt it, or debate which is correct, so a hard-line Christian super hero would probably not sit too well.
Posted: May 6, 2005 5:08 AM
...Also, we can't forget Zauriel; I mean, he cries out "CHRIST GRANT ME STRENGTH!" when he's flying around doing the whole superhero thing.
Posted: May 6, 2005 5:28 AM
...As mentioned, there's Zauriel and Nightcrawler. These are aspects of the character that make them interesting... Nothing wrong with that. It's all in the name of telling stories, not pushing some... agenda.
Posted: May 6, 2005 9:11 AM
I, too, would like to see Christianity depicted in a hero but done well. That seems to be one of the final challenges left to writers today. But how does the writer portray a theme as diverse as the Christian faith so that it sticks? There is more to Christians than intolerant fundamentalists. But how interesting are moderates? Nightcrawler and Daredevil seeking Christ for sanctuary, and Zaurial's exploration of the Christian epic myth are character designs that meet the Christian core I identify with... I appreciate any writer willing to take up the challenge.
Posted: May 6, 2005 9:39 AM
Speaking as a Christian, I have to say I tend to favor separation of church and superheroes. I like to see characters like Zauriel, Janissary, etc., who represent different belief systems, but I don't like the idea of a character acting on what I supposedly believe, because a writer's interpretation of what a Christian, Muslim, Jew, etc. believes may not reflect my personal beliefs...
Posted: May 6, 2005 1:38 PM
Is Zauriel considered a Christian superhero?
Shepherd might be interesting if it was a Vertigo title, and had lots of Christian mythological figures in it.
Posted: May 7, 2005 6:33 PM
I don't like this ["Shepard"] idea. So he would go around hating minority grops, or others who are different? Besides, didn't we already have a Christian member in Zauriel?
Posted: May 10, 2005 8:29 AM
I'd vote for an existing character, like Zauriel or Seraph. I've been wanting more exposure for them for a while. We've already had Nightwing in the League and Huntress.
Posted: May 13, 2005 7:59 PM
Heh. Took no time at all for this to become controversial. I think Zauriel is a good example of what it is appropriate, and not just in a moral sense but in a story sense as well. While an angel and a hero, he does not preach. I for one would have no time for a character than comes the "Jesus loves you" line.
If we also consider Sandman, Lucifer and Preacher, God has not fared well.
Posted: May 15, 2005 5:02 PM
Just as religion is seperate from government (at least in most countries), religion should also be seperate from comics unless there is a good story to be told with it (ex. Zauriel, several Vertigo series, etc.)
Posted: May 16, 2005 2:22 AM
Hey, bring it on! They've had the angel Zauriel on the team, how divine can that get?
It may actually be interesting... but Christian lovers, be careful what you ask for... They may just portray this "Christian" superhero to be some kind of Bible thumping hero...
Posted: May 20, 2005 4:00 AM
Christian values, fine. Like Zauriel? Hey! There you go! You got him!
Posted: May 23, 2005 8:59 PM
First off, DC has a Christian hero in Zauriel.
...I am a Baptist Pastor and a Christian and feel Zauriel should be given a shot. He uttered statements like "Christ give me strength" and suddenly he's nowhere to be seen. That's real fair. So when Wonder Woman says "Hera give me strength" or other heroes/heroines cry out to their power source in the comics - why does no one freak out about them? Mention Christ and it's all of a sudden taboo! A true Christian will uphold the ideals of pro-life, anti-homosexual activities (note the statement - activities, not people. We Christians hate the sin but love the sinner. There is a big difference between that and calling us homophobic), celibacy before marriage, and staying true to your spouse in marriage.
...I find it ironic that when people stand up for sinful activities they're seen as open-minded, and when people stand up for absolute truths we are branded as biggots and hate flows our way...
Posted: May 23, 2005 11:53 PM
re: "...feel Zauriel should be given a shot. He uttered statements like "Christ give me strength" and suddenly he's nowhere to be seen."
You are sadly wrong there, Zauriel had a full story and it went its course, Grant Morrison said that he was going to come to a bad end when the character first appeared. He died trying to be a hero which is pretty compelling when you think about it.
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=2000077543&start=30; viewed 30 May 2006):
Posted: May 31, 2006 12:56 AM
I'm actually a conservative (theologically, not politically) Christian, so it's easy for me to say I like this idea. [DC Comics writer Gail Simone's pitch for story arc in which Batgirl becomes a committed Christian.]
...I really like this idea. Buddhism or Nietzsche seems pretty easy for comic book characters to pick up on without anyone blowing a gasket. Why not a Christian (who's more Wesley or Spurgeon than Dobson) character who isn't a freaking literal angel (Zauriel, what on earth)
From: reader comments to Christopher J. Priest's post "Hal and Jesus", posted 4 January 2006 on "According to Me", the official website of comic book writer Christopher J. Priest (http://phonogram.us/admin/logs/arch242ives/000658.html; viewed 6 June 2006):
Posted by: David N. Scott at January 4, 2006 01:34 PM
I mean, either you want this character [Spectre] to exist or you don't. If you don't want Christian aspects in your stories, don't have Zauriel the angel (tm), Lucifer the Fallen (tm) and the Spectre running around. Marvel gets by fine with the Celestials and Galactus... DC's the co that made all these characters, so it seems very unfair to not be able to use them.
Posted by: Rick Jones at January 4, 2006 03:27 PM
...DC also has had an angel in the Justice League and most superheroes have visited Hell at some point or another...
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: Wed Mar 02, 2005 2:45 am
Batman also worked with an angel in the JLA for a while... what was his name?
Posted: Wed Mar 02, 2005 3:45 am
From: "Religion in Comics" newsgroup thread started 8 November 2000 on rec.arts.comics.dc.universe (http://groups.google.com/group/rec.arts.comics.dc.universe/browse_thread/thread/bf82d29e106e876b/02d87d0cafe5e091?tvc=2&q=religion+comics&hl=en#02d87d0cafe5e091; viewed 12 June 2006):
Date: Thurs, Nov 9 2000 12:00 am
re: "Religions are basically mythic stories and therefore fit rather well into a superhero mythos - as long as you're not using one that the audience take deadly seriously, in which case they'll be mortally offended at the trivialisation of their religious beliefs."
The majority of religious people in this country are either Christians or Jews..., yet I've never seen or heard of anybody complaining about Zauriel (or for that matter Preacher). Not even the Christian Coalition or the Southern Baptists have said anything about it to my knowledge (and that I find very surprising). Now that I think about it, I don't recall any Buddhist or Hindu stories in comics.
From: Paul O'Brien
Date: Thurs, Nov 9 2000 12:00 am
Preacher got a few complaints. The lack of reaction to Zauriel from the religious groups did surprise me somewhat - not because of Zauriel himself, who was a perfectly innocuous character, but because his back story involved corruption in Heaven which God didn't seem to be aware of, suggesting that God wasn't doing a terribly good job up there.
Date: Thurs, Nov 9 2000 6:44 pm
I have heard people on this very newsgroup, and related ones, complaining about both Zauriel and Preacher.
The Christian Coalition and the Southern Baptists don't pay much attention to comics - Disney's more their size - but there was some "concerned Christian mother's group" (I cannot recall its precise name, and would be happy if someone could remind me) that decided to boycott Gaiman's SANDMAN. Mr. Gaiman had a well-written response, describing the happy day when the members of this organization would come flocking back to the book.
As is not entirely unusual, what prompted the reaction of this group (as of the Southern Baptists to Disney) was the presence and acceptance of gay people. They don't react very much when a straight person in a fictional story breaks one of their sexual rules and gets away with it (because then they'd have to deal with Lot and his nieces and all that other stuff in the Bible), but give 'em a homosexual or two and they're rarin' to go.
Statistically speaking, that is.
Date: Fri, Nov 10 2000 12:00 am
I did raise a complaint about Zauriel on DCU-L (I think) a few years back, but it was mostly, "Good story. Doesn't resemble heaven in any way, but a pretty good story nonetheless. Preacher - why bother? The religion in that book had only a fleeting resemblence to any of the big three monotheisms.
From: "Banned for using this nic" thread began 4 Apri 1999 in rec.arts.comics.dc.universe newsgroup (http://groups.google.com/group/rec.arts.comics.dc.universe/browse_thread/thread/f38288dc4e56542/8a873a0a53da3d0d; viewed 12 June 2006):
From: Tom Galloway
Date: Mon, Apr 5 1999 12:00 am
Well, one'd have to go with Spectre and Zauriel as religious heroes (can't get much more so than wrath of God and an angel)...
Date: Tues, Apr 6 1999 12:00 am
Well, I think Zauriel would definitely count. He lives in heaven, for crying out loud.
BTW [By the way], the fact that in the DC universe the God of the Christian religion is confirmed to exsist seems to be an endorsement of religion.
From: Robert Justus
Date: Tues, Apr 6 1999 12:00 am
I don't think we should count Spectre or Zauriel. I tend to think of them like Thor or Hercules. Representatives of religion, not worshipers...
Date: Tues, Apr 6 1999 12:00 am
re: "I don't think we should count Spectre or Zauriel... Representatives of religion, not worshipers."
I agree. I think of them [Spectre and Zauriel], and Supergirl, as being part of a "mythology" of Christianity. Beside which, in most cases the visions of "Heaven" and "God" are so indeterminate that you can't take them as even trying to representational of Scripture...
From: "Religion in Comics" thread started 8 November 2000 on rec.arts.comics.marvel.universe (http://groups.google.com/group/rec.arts.comics.marvel.universe/browse_thread/thread/bb40343302f28aaa/7959f6422d01b7a4; viewed 6 June 2006):
Date: Wed, Nov 8 2000 12:00 am
Can somebody explain something that has been bugging me for a long time? What is the deal with religion in comics over the past 60 years or so? I guess it all started in the Golden Age with the debut of Wonder Woman, a modern day Amazon. Then came the Spectre, who's supposed to be a spirit of God. Now it seems that in comics all religions are real (yes I know that the OHOTMU says that there is no one omnipotent deity but just a bunch of pantheons but still). Marvel has interactions with the Olympians and the Asgardians all the time. DC has Zauriel taking everybody into Heaven during "Day of Judgement" with Wonder Woman praying to the Olympians the whole time, and they also had Aztec getting his powers from an ancient Aztec diety. This concept is highly illogical...
From "TS: Liberality For All vs. DMZ" discussion page started 30 November 2005 (http://ilx.wh3rd.net/thread.php?msgid=6419391; viewed 13 June 2006):
Huk-L (handsomishbo...), November 30th, 2005
As another example, (and again as an example only) despite the fact that well over 80% of Americans identify themselves as Christian, there are little to no characters whose words, or actions, Identify themselves to be of that persuasion. (I can think of some Zauriel springs to mind immediatly and in fact I somewhat consider him to be a copout. Given that he's an angel he can not really be considered to have faith, as he has first hand knowledge.) Just as many Americans of African descent, were uninterested in comics in the 50s and 60s because they were unable to find characters that they could identify with, does the lack of clearly religious characters, prevent those to whom their faith is a defining characteristic from finding characters they can identify with?
Ray (raycu...), December 1st, 2005
Making comics characters religious is a bad idea anyway. Different universes I know, but what happens if Nightcrawler, the staunch Catholic, bumps into Zauriel, an actual angel? The problem of superheroes (and superhero inventors) transforming society out of recognition is hard enough to paper over, but how are traditional religions supposed to remain unchanged when angels, demons, and apocalyptic visitations are everywhere?
From: "Religion in comic books", posted 14 June 2006 on "Get Religion" blog website (http://www.getreligion.org/?p=1679; viewed 14 June 2006):
[Comments section for this page]
Posted by Katie Q at 11:59 am on June 14, 2006:
Other than the iconic nature of the characters, the universes they [comic book superheroes] live in tend to discourage religion. These characters regularly fight with or alongside demons, gods, and magical beings of all kinds -- none of whom seem to acknowledge the existence of a higher deity; not to mention that the universe is regularly threatened with destruction, and no "God" ever intervenes or even seems to notice. (One exception to this is the recent introduction of a guardian angel-turned-super hero named Zauriel to the Justice League.) So on the whole, comic book reality itself is hostile to any traditional, dogmatic defintion of God.
Posted by girlfriday at 12:42 pm on June 14, 2006:
I am not a comic book reader so I may be accused of being a poser.
But if the super-hero movies are any indication then I agree with Katie that a traditional, dogmatic definition of God is lacking. But these movies, almost exclusively it seems, clearly delineate between good and evil. The baddies seek destruction; the goodies, the best for mankind. The baddies pursue outcomes that will benefit only themselves; the goodies seek justice. For the baddies, the ends always justify the means; for the goodies, even the death of a bystander is a minor tragedy. The baddies kill; the goodies save.
These are shades of Judeo Christian ethics.
Posted by Katie Q at 9:53 am on June 16, 2006:
Avram, the triple usage theory is interesting, but I'd say theology and mythology (in this context) are roughly the same. As far as the DC Universe is concerned, Wonder Woman's classical Greek pantheon-worship isn't much different from Zauriel's Judeo-Christian Silver City, which isn't much different from Zatanna the Magician's vague neo-occult beliefs. All lean heavily towards the mythology end of the spectrum; "theology" rarely plays a role in comic book worlds. This is largely because, when it comes to the validity of any given religion, the universes are very pluralistic.
You're right to point out that faith doesn't exist much in comic book universes; this is because actual magical beings are right down the street, so there's little need for "the substance of things hoped for."
And, also, as we've stated multiple times, comics work best in metaphor. As plenty of you guys have noted, Superman is a messiah figure (though, personally I like to think of him more as the Ultimate Immigrant); and the two witches' workings in Sandman is a metaphor too. But actual, denominational, religious beliefs don't fit too well in the stories themselves.
I'd still like to see them in the characters, though, not metaphorical. That's all.
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):
...The absence of DC in my examples [of religious superheroes] is no accident; for a universe where the Wrath of God fought for the allies in World War II, and angels with flaming swords and spears [Zauriel] once manifested to the world's leaders to avert Armageddon, a surprisingly small number of superheroes spend their Sunday mornings in church.
From: reader comments accompanying "Holy Superheroes" article, written by Steven Waldman and Michael Kress, posted 12 June 2006 on BeliefNet.com website; reprint of "Beliefwatch: Good Fight" article published in Newsweek, 19 June 2006 issue (http://www.beliefnet.com/story/193/story_19306_1.html; viewed 14 June 2006):
6/15/2006 2:24:49 AM
Let's see, there's a rather good listing [of the religious affiliations of super-heroes] here: [link to this site]
I play on a DCU role-playing board, and the players don't tend to shy away from matters of faith. From small details like Nightwing giving Troia his crucifix for luck, and as a symbol of "man's World," to the angel Zauriel showing up and intervening in a global plague cooked up by Ra's al-Guhl on behalf of God... Matters of Faith and their questions are every bit as fascinating as any comic-book brawl...
From: "Any Christian Superheroes?" thread began 22 April 2004 on rec.arts.comics.dc.universe newsgroup (http://groups.google.com/group/rec.arts.comics.dc.universe/browse_thread/thread/4e5839f075fecf76/8821b5db671e7ce1; viewed 20 June 2006):
I can't think of any major superheroes that strongly believe in any real faith, and that surprises me. Certainly not in the DC Universe. I think there are more minority superheroes than religious ones...
In addition to the ones others mentioned, I thought of Zauriel, but I'm not sure he is religious, as we'd understand it. Religion is an interpratation of a truth that he actually knows.
From: Brenda W. Clough
Date: Fri, Apr 23 2004 6:53 pm
I haven't been following this thread closely, but someone surely has mentioned Zauriel, who was an angel of the Heavenly Host.
From: Dan McEwen
Date: Sat, Apr 24 2004 7:30 pm
re: "...someone surely has mentioned Zauriel, who was an angel of the Heavenly Host."
True, but it doesn't follow that he's Christian or even religious in any way that's meaningful to regular people. I see Zauriel the same way as gods. He's the subject of the religion, but not part of it.
From: Johnny Storm
Date: Sun, Apr 25 2004 6:36 pm
Does the earth angel version of Supergirl count as being religious, or is it like Zaurel, not really faith since he is, in fact, a fallen angel, and already knows about heaven, hell, and God?
From: "The religion of comic book characters" forum discussion, started 3 December 2006 on RPG.net website (http://forum.rpg.net/showthread.php?t=299781&page=2; viewed 25 April 2007):
12-04-2006, 12:44 AM
Originally Posted by admiralducksauce: Did Marvel (or whoever) ever explain why the walking gods, blatant proof of divine existence, still get marginalized compared to the prominent religions of our world?
Most people in the Marvel Universe believe that Thor is just some superpowered guy pretending to be the Thor of Norse Myth. After all, the Hulk is really strong and he's not a god. Storm can control the weather and she's just a mutant. Just because Thor claims to be a god doesn't mean that it's true...
Now, the DC Universe is another story. Yes, Wonder Woman is empowered by the Greek Gods. But Angels and Demons have been seen quite often. While both DC and Marvel use the "Everything is true!" take on religion, DC has made more use of it, considering that the Spectre has been around for decades. It's hard to say "Wonder Woman's cool, I'll worship Hera!" when you've got just as much proof that the Old Testament God is real.
Quote: Originally Posted by Thranduil: While I know of the Greek/Norse/other pantheon gods empowering people in comic universes, I haven't heard of people being exalted by the biblical god to superhero-ness (except Catholics, apparently ) . Does this happen in any mainstream comics?
The only well-known character I can think of like that would be The Spectre.
In Astro City, there's a team called "The Crossbreed", who believe their powers are a gift from God. (Refreshing, in that they're devoutly religious AND unquestionably good guys. As much as I dislike organized religion, I will confess the "Evil Religious Nuts" trope has a bit overused since "God Loves, Man Kills".)
Thor once fought a guy who called himself The Crusader, but I dunno what happened to him after he lost.
Zuriel is one of those listed as Angels in the site, and he was created by God.
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
Found this blog (http://occasionalsuperheroine.blogspot.com/2006/08/power-of-forgiveness-in-jamie-cosleys.html) from a post in Blog@Newsarama, so I gotta give them the props for finding it. I won't post the entire entry, but I will post my response to it: While I know that Marvel actually published a couple of Christian specials back in the 80s or 90s, ("Lightbringer" or something like that) [this blogger apparently means "Illuminator"], I seriously doubt that any of the larger companies would be willing to take on a Christian character for the same reasons that there are so few gay characters: Christians are too polarizing, and if there were a Christian character, then they'd have to deal with the issue, and nobody wants to be the first to do that.
To have Christian characters means at least one of the following three things: 1) The character will be a pushy blowhard who will be shown having worse morals than other characters; 2) The character will be thoughtful and truly spiritual, which means either 2a) eventually there will have to be a serious conversation about faith, which nobody wants or 2b) the character will be Ned Flanders, and the character will be a point of derision IN SPITE of his good faith; 3) something will happen that will cause the character to walk away from his faith.
The entire nature of superheroes is humanistic ("I will avenge this person's death and bring the villain to justice!"). And the passivity preached in the New Testament doesn't lend itself to action scenes.
Plus, it'd be difficult to write such a character accurately if you personally don't have faith or don't explicitly agree with your character's faith, which would then be seen as proselytizing. And you'd have to get the characterization past your editor and publisher, either of which may disagree with your views or just be nervous about the can of worms you're opening.
Now, having said that, there are a few out there by DC: The Spectre and Grant Morrison's angel Zauriel are two characters who are explicitly tied to a Christian God. And I remember a scene in Infinite Crisis where several heroes gather in a church to pray before the final battle. But for the most part, it ain't happening.Now, I'm not looking for a flame war here (and if I find one, I'm shutting the thread down), but 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, 10:15 AM
Religion is important to Zauriel.
08-22-2006, 10:41 AM
re: I'd say whomever wrote that blog needs to read more comics.
I'm not too sure about that. There is one thing to say that a character is "N" and it is another thing to say that a character lives according to "N" faith (which the blogger truly comments on).
Additionally, if you examine the portrayals of the characters who express their Faiths, they are usually in an agnostic or pragmatic perspective rather than a devout adherent (exceptions excluded of course). Even the concept of the Spectre is agnostic in aspect in that God in a Western perspective exists - but the nature of such is left very vague and open to interpretation. I'm not sure of Zauriel though his very nature is Judeo-Christian in origin (i.e. Angels, the "El" suffix, etc.).
From: Kalinara, "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):
...Admittedly, the amount that they practice within the text can be debatable. But still the number of Christian heroes vastly outnumber those of any other religion.
Sure, we rarely see outward expressions of faith by these characters. Except for celebration of Christmas, naturally, or the giant church scene in Infinite Crisis. But we rarely see a Jewish person do anything more than wear a Star of David or light a menorah. Diana [Wonder Woman] gets a little more focus on her pagan religion, sure, but given that the gods created her... It's really not any more focus though, than is received by characters such as the Spectre, Zauriel or Peter David's Supergirl, all of whom became living representatives of a (usually) benevolent Judeo-Christian God...
From: "Legion of Atheist Super-Heroes" forum discussion, started 17 November 2006 on "Comic Book Resources" website (http://forums.comicbookresources.com/archive/index.php/t-152692.html; viewed 30 May 2007):
11-18-2006, 02:27 AM
It's funny how many atheist comic book characters there are in universes where supernatural beings demonstrably exist. In fact, hasn't Savage Dragon spoken with God personally?
11-18-2006, 09:18 AM
re: In fact, hasn't Savage Dragon spoken with God personally?
Dragon did, but blew the whole thing off as a hallucination. Which all things aside, is what alot of people might do in his position.
And it's amazingly easy to be an Atheist in a universe where it's not hard to see any "god" as another cosmic being, alien or beastie like Galactus.
Especially when you have friends that can kick such beings' asses or when all of these different religious icons co-exist and can join superhero teams or be beaten up by mere mortals.
It's not hard to write off the Spectre or Zauriel as being like Odin or Gaea... VERY powerful, but basically cosmic entities that claim godhood in some way. And especially when there are quasi-God type characters like Eternity or the Living Tribunal.
It'd be nigh impossible to deny that things like magic or even the soul exist, but Atheism isn't impossible in a superhero universe.
11-19-2006, 06:27 AM
Yeah, that's sort of the dorky thing about it. In the DCU, you've got Mr. Terrific hanging with the Spectre - the embodied Wrath of God - and Zauriel, who is literally an angel. Green Arrow, Swamp Thing and others have literally been to Heaven.
Atheism makes much less sense in a world in which gods, and God, are both demonstrably real. I suppose Mr. T argues that all these entities are just extradimensional beings of great power, but not truly divine beings.
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):
An ASTONISHINGLY detailed site that delves into the religions of superheroes. Someone has WAY too much time on their hands.
03-10-2007, 10:54 AM
Not a lot of atheists.
03-10-2007, 11:07 AM
Yeah, its kind of hard to be an atheist when you encounter gods and abstract entities on a semi-regular basis.
Even hard in the DCU, which is why I thought Mr. Terrific was a dumbass.
I mean c'mon. Captain Marvel and Wonder Woman draw their powers from ancient Pantheons, Raven is a daughter of a demon, the Spectre is the Spirit of God's vengeance, things like Etrigan, Zauriel, not to mention the various characters actually, you know, going to Heaven and Hell for whatever reason.
03-10-2007, 11:14 AM
All those people could just get their powers from a really powerful person, who got them from another really powerful person, etc. making Reed Richards:
1: the smartest man ever...
03-10-2007, 11:17 AM
But the gods physically appear in front of these people. Heck, freaking Thor and Hercules are superheroes. Zauriel is a superhero who happens to be an angel, and the FF have actually met God (who appeared to them as Jack Kirby, heh).
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 17, 2007 9:43 AM
Actually religion can do a lot to inform you of a character's backstory.
What if you found out your fave was into Scientology? Zen? or maybe as a Moslem? Christian Scientist.
...Obviously Wonder Woman believe in the ancient gods or the Greek pagans.
And Lobo's conversion to the Church of the Threefold Fish really made that arc work a lot better than if maybe he was being mind controlled...
And I can hardly imagine that Hal Jordan or Cris Allen could be agnostic after having been the Spectre - and as for Zauriel...
Posted: May 17, 2007 4:10 PM
I think the modern religions should be kept to a minimum in mainstream comics since people acutually follow these faiths. Writers run the risk of alienating readers if they misrepresent someone's church or simply center plots around concepts that refuse to work within someone's religious faith. Personally, the whole Zauriel, Spectre, and Supergirl Earth-born angel bag of concepts was a major turn-off for me because it either felt too weird or just plain wrong.
Ancient religions and made-up ones, though? Fair game! I love mythology, and crazy-cult stories are always great for a laugh.
I like Daredevil a lot and do like the fact that Matt Murdock is a Catholic. It helps me to "identify" with the character a little bit.
I also do like Zauriel alot since he's obviously a religious character but does not seem to adhere to any specific religion. I grant you that his beliefs do tend to lean towards judeo-christianity or something resembling that but he never (at least to my recollection) avowed himself to any specific religion. I also like how when he refers to what we call God he refers to it as the Presence. As if to say that there is someone up there but it has no physical form we could comprehend. I think it leaves it all up to personal interpretation and goes a long way to not offend anyone in their religious beliefs, contrary to what Ratsstar suggested. No offense.
I also like Nightcrawler alot for being a Catholic too. Much like Daredevil, I "identify" myself with him on some level because we share similar beliefs.
Still, if I may give one word of advise to everyone, there are two subjects that many of us (including me) should avoid discussion of in our daily lives, Politics and Religion. It's less of a hassle if you do.
I really liked this book a lot up until it got too churchy for my taste. I like a little refrence of faith in my comics but Zaurel is too silly.
I switch to Birds Of Prey... I hope Enchantress follows.
From: "Wonder Woman and Religion", posted 21 February 2006 by Ragnell on "Written World: Hyper-Feminist Comic Book Culture Commentary" blog website (http://ragnell.blogspot.com/2006/02/wonder-woman-and-religion.html; viewed 20 June 2007):
kalinara said [5:26 a.m.]...
...Thus, when you assemble the correlation: Brahma is Allah is Chaos is Yahweh is Jehovah and so on and so forth, the Pantheons' Power will end up diminished, in some sense.
It's not fair really, and it's a gross oversimplification of people's actual belief systems, but when you've got the Earth Angel, Zauriel, Diana and Etrigan running around in the same universe, you need to construct a cosmology to make it all work.
Unfortunately, that means some religions unfairly get the shaft. :-(
From: "Religious Super Heroes PC or otherwise" forum discussion, started 17 September 2003 on "HERO Games" website (http://www.herogames.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-8036.html; viewed 12 July 2007):
Sep 17th, '03, 09:38 PM
Another thread got me to thinking a bit about religious super heroes. They do occur in comic books. Some it barely gets mentioned, some few are quite devout in their faith...
How much or little does your typical super human in your campaign (or game if you are a player) let his/her faith affect his/her life especially AS a super hero?
Sep 18th, '03, 02:53 AM
DC Comics had Zauriel, an honest-to-God Angel as a member of the JLA for a while. I've also played Angel PCs in a few games. Two of my characters were Catholic priests, and I had one guy in a Shadowrun game who spent most of his down-time in confession. Most of my characters tend to be non-Bible-thumping, laid back Christians with some Pagan influences (kind of like me;) ). My big question is: given the encounters with demons, spirits, and out-right miracles, how can any comic book or RPG character NOT have religious faith of some kind? I also always wondered: why isn't everyone in the Marvel Universe an Odinist? I mean, Thor is right freaking there for anyone to see!
From: "Religious Super Heroes PC or otherwise" forum discussion, started 17 September 2003 on "HERO Games" website (http://www.herogames.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-8036.html; viewed 12 July 2007):
Sep 23rd, '03, 09:31 PM
On topic, why do y'all think it is that GMs (and comics in general) tend to focus on the bad guys as religious (well, demons and the like) but usually fail to have religious heroes? There are of course exceptions like Nightcrawler, but they are the exception.
Sep 24th, '03, 03:53 AM
Originally posted by Isaiah_26_4
It's important to recognize that there's a substantial difference between "being religious" like Nightcrawler and being "of a religion" like Thor or Hercules...
Thor and similar characters are based on pagan dieties, but hardly act religious. ("All-Father Odin, helpeth me kicketh mine enemy's butt!" hardly constitutes praying. :) ) I think you'd need to look for characters based on current "real" religions' heroes and villains. DC's Azrael [sic: this poster means "Zauriel"] probably qualifies; I think he's supposed to actually be an angel.
Sep 25th, '03, 04:58 AM
[Plastic Man] woke up in a monastery. And I'll grant your point, which is why I admitted outright that it wasn't "really" a religious origin.
It is however an element I wish DC would play up a bit more -- it's more interesting than the "Horny Jim Carrey on Speed" take Grant Morrison brought to the character (and led to the atrocious "Dark Nut" issue). There were times during the Morrison JLA that I thought it was going to happen -- especially when he started pairing Zauriel and Plaz [Plastic Man] (it's a natural pairing; the angel and the redeemed) in dialog...
Sep 25th, '03, 08:30 AM
I always wanted to see more interaction between Zauriel and the Huntress. I mean, she's a Roman Catholic (although she has slipped a good bit, but she still wore a cross as part of her costume at the time), and he was an honest-to-God (no pun intended) Angel! What does that do to her head? Especially since at the same time both Orion and Barda were on the team, with Orion constantly proclaiming his own godhood. I would have loved to see some deep conversation between the Angel and the Believer concerning the New God.
Sep 26th, '03, 05:01 AM
The closest I ever saw them come to the possible Huntress/Zauriel possibilities occured during the "Foreign Bodies" one-shot (I THINK that was the name). Then again, that writer seemed to be quite fond of Zauriel -- if nothing else the writer had Z's character and power level closer to what I feel they should be than anything else I've seen. The throwaway statement during the "Amazo" issue of JLA that implied Zauriel's armor is tougher than Superman is the only "mainline" reference to this (often, one-shots are considered non-continuity).
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.
Sep 11th, '04, 09:49 AM
JLA had an angelic character for a time to replace the missing "winged guy" archetypes while the Hawks were in comic continuity limbo. Don't recall his name, but he was supposed to be from one of the Hosts of Heaven.
They also had that stupid Supergirl/Matrix merges with Linda Danvers and becomes a fiery angel plotline.
And the Spectre, as mentioned, has pretty much been defined as the Angel of Vengeance.
The Sandman and Vertigo runs aren't really mainstream comics, but God and the angelic Host played parts in many of those stories.
Sep 11th, '04, 02:08 PM
Well, Nightcrawler is Catholic, Shadowcat is Jewish. But they don't fight crime as "God Boy" or anything like that. Zauriel was an Angel and the JLA fought a renegade angel trying to conquer heaven.
The Spectre is a spirit of vengance.
Sep 11th, '04, 03:44 PM
Frankly, I really liked Zauriel. It's a pity he doesn't show up more often.
From: "Superhero Religious Views?" forum discussion, started 9 June 2007 on Newsarama website (http://forum.newsarama.com/archive/index.php/t-116001.html; viewed 13 July 2007):
06-09-2007, 10:54 PM
I would assume most [DC Univese super-heroes] would believe in some higher being seeing as how they are exposed to magic pretty frequently.
06-10-2007, 01:19 AM
With the Spectre running around, Hal's interaction with it, Ollie's resurrection, and the existence of Zauriel, I'm sure a big chunk of the DCU's heroes (except for Mr. Terrific, of course) believe in some form of a deity along the lines of Christianity's god.
From: "Sacreligious amd anti-Christian Comic characters" forum discussion, started 28 February 2007 on official DC Comics website (http://dcboards.warnerbros.com/web/thread.jspa?threadID=2000107545&start=0&tstart=15; viewed 19 July 2007):
Posted: Feb 28, 2007 12:49 PM
Any character that uses magic, sorcery
Posted: Feb 28, 2007 12:58 PM
Is this crap serious? This all depends on what faith you practice. It's conservative braindead and downright dangerous thinking like this that makes more and more people turn on the church.
Zauriel, and the Spectre are representatives of God. Only freaky, religiously paranoid people would find them Anti-Christian.
Good Lord, (sigh)
Posted: Feb 28, 2007 1:09 PM
No, I would find them [Zauriel and Spectre] sacreligious.
Posted: Feb 28, 2007 1:17 PM
This is kind of a dumb topic, but I'd argue that Zauriel and Spectre are pro-Christian, since they are designated as Christian angels.
I wouldn't automatically classify all magic-users as anti-Christian or sacrilegious; I'd only count the ones that derive their power from demons or divine entities other than the Judeo-Christian deity.
Characters that derive their power from Christian mythology should count as pro-Christian IMHO, since their existence supports the Christian mythos. This would include characters like Etrigan, Kid Devil, etc. They might count under your definition "sacrilegious" though. Most of the heroes that derive power from Christian demons have to pay a horrible price for it though, and thus probably serve as an object lesson.
Characters that derive their power from non-Christian deities probably fall squarely into the definition of anti-Christian, since Christianity denies the existence of other gods. This would include Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel, Manitou Raven, Black Adam, and all similar characters.
I'm not sure if Janissary should be considered anti-Christian or not, since Islam is closely related to Christianity.
Doctor Fate is borderline as well. I think the Lords of Light/Lords of Chaos conflict that Doctor Fate is a part of, is an allegory for the conflict between the agents of Heaven and Hell. But, Doctor Fate has pretty strong roots in Egyptology, so it's arguable.
Phantom Stranger is clearly a Christian character based on his back story, albeit a sinner who is being eternally punished by the Christian god.
Posted: Feb 28, 2007 1:19 PM
Sure, I can possibly see why Zauriel, the Spectre, Raven, the magic users and even Storm (since she is sometimes refered to as a godess) could be called sacrilegious. Maybe even Lobo, partly because of his violent nature and partly becuse of his "re-birth" in "52". Supergirl if you mean the "earthborn angel". But seriously, Nightcrawler? Is it because he is shown to have faith at all? Is the mere portrayal of a religious man sacrilegious to you? Venom? Juggernaut? What is even remotely sacrilegious about those characters?
Posted: Feb 28, 2007 1:57 PM
As a devout follower of the Judeo-Christian God and his Son, Jesus Christ, here is my reaction to this topic...
These are fictional characters in a world that is fictional. The behaviors of these characters really have no bearing on how I live my life or worship God. I can see how some characters can be used as parables or metaphors for Christ. Or how many heroes exemplify the best things that God put in us. Every once in a while, a book will cause me to reflect on my own goals and ideals, but I've never had a writer or character change the way I see faith and worship. Kingdom Come was very unveiled in its representation of the Christian God, with several passages of scripture cited throughout, especially from the book of Revelation. But all of the prophesies didn't come true in that story. The world didn't end. Now, I believe that the bible is true, and that the things that are written about in Revelation will come to pass, but that dosen't keep me from enjoying that particular story.
I drink beer. I listen to hard music. I enjoy comics. I talk with other sinners openly about life, love, faith, and trying to figure out what it is that we are put here on earth to do. Life is too short to worry about whether or not comic book heroes are sacreligious or not.
Posted: Feb 28, 2007 2:25 PM
...I do NOT necessarily see the Spectre and Zariel as pro-Christian. They come from a theist tradition, and they imply belief in YHWH, but Christ does not necessarily follow from that. Same with Phantom Stranger unless you accept the possible origin that casts him as the Wandering Jew.
Throw the Fallen Angel into the pot of sacrilegious characters, though.
Nightcrawler - er, when was the last time you read an X-Men comic? Kurt Wagner is a devout Catholic who's frequently had crises of faith. How can you equate looks demonic with sacreligious?
Storm - How can she be anti-Christian? Her mother was a pagan priestess and as far as we know she was never Christian.
Raven - Groan, not again. (Remembering previous posts by Mavericker.)
Venom - ????????
Lobo is a force of chaos incarnate as a Czarnian. Evil, dangerous, deadly, yes. Sacreligious?
Zatanna being homo magicus is sacreligious?
Scarlet Witch - well, since she's insane anyway...
Juggernaut - He got his powers from the Crimson Jewel of Cyttorak, if i remember correctly... Since he later found out he was abused by his parent and may have had brain damage from that, his choice to be posessed was more a blunder than a delibarate choice for evil.
Dr. Strange - NON-Christian character. Probably an atheist before becoming a sorcerer/mystic.
Dr. Fate - See above.
"Any character that uses magic, sorcery."
The actual dictionary definition of sacreligious follows:
From the Oxford dictionary:
Adjective form of Sacrilege
Noun. Robbery or profanation of sacred building.
Outrage on consecrated person or thing.
Violation of what is sacred.
These are fictional characters!!!
Which of them have robbed or profaned a sacred building, committed an act of outrage on a consecrated person (well LOBO Probably) or violated what is sacred?
And if you think these characters are sacreligious, why don't you just avoid the books that use them?
Is Elfquest sacreligious because the elves have no organized religion?
Posted: Mar 1, 2007 7:36 AM
re: "No, I would find them sacreligious."
I agree with Mavericker. Sacreligious and in most cases heretical.
Posted: Mar 1, 2007 7:52 AM
Actually, Mavericker, I find YOU sacreligious and anti-Christian!
Posted: Mar 1, 2007 7:42 AM
re: "Theses are fictional characters in a world that is fictional. The behaviors of these characters really have no bearing on how I live my life or worship God. I can see how some characters can be used as parables or metaphors for Christ. Or how many heroes exemplify the best things that God put in us. Every once in a while, a book will cause me to or reflect on my own goals and ideals, but I've never had a writer or character change the way I see faith and worship."
Oh! Good point!
DC and Marvel comics never say sorcery and Rama Kushna and angel superheroes exist in the real world -- so it's not sacreligious. They don't opine on the nature of God in the real world.
Posted: Mar 1, 2007 11:19 AM
re: "I do NOT necessarily see the Spectre and Zariel as pro-Christian. They come from a theist tradition, and they imply belief in YHWH, but Christ does not necessarily follow from that."
I think it is implied if not explicitly stated that they are Christian, not Jewish or Muslim. But to me that doesn't make them pro-Christian. You see, if I was to worry about sacrilegious comic characters these two are two that I would worry about. Since they are Christian, and more than that on a specific mission from God himself, their dialogue and actions reflect on the religion. It is not much different than having a gay character who has every stereotype associated with gays attributed to him. Or a black man who is a sterotype of African Americans. It may seem worse than not having a character from that group at all. The Spectre for instance is the Wrath of God. If you believe in a forgiving merciful God, then clearly that is a misrepresentation of what you believe in. That could obviously be seen as offensive or even sacrilegious.
If there had been more people embrasing the Asatru I believe Lee and Kirby would have been in lots of trouble when they introduced Thor.
Zauriel is an angel that serves as a Hawkman? I would say that's sacrilegious...
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...
As another example, (and again as an example only) despite the fact that well over 80% of americans identify themselves as Christian, there are little to no characters whose words, or actions, Identify themselves to be of that persuasion. (I can think of some Zauriel springs to mind immediatly and in fact I somewhat consider him to be a copout. Given that hes an angel he can not really be considered to have faith, as he has first hand knowledge.) Just as many Americans of African descent, were uninterested in comics in the 50's and 60, because they were unable to find characters that they could identify with, does the lack of clearly religious characters, prevent those to whom their faith is a defining characteristic form finding characters they can identify with?
...So could the creation or emphasis of charcters as conservatives, open the industry to new readers?
November 30th, 2005, 09:55 AM
I think the religious issue is particularly tough to write in with regards to the main stream religions in that Heaven and Hell actually exist for sure in the DCU and Marvel universes.
We have seen characters in Heaven and return, we have seen demons from hell. Heck, most comic book heroes have actually fought the legions of Hell. Having faith when your're standing beside an Angel who is hitting on Wonder Woman is kind of like having faith in gravity. It's the classic Douglas Adams joke with the babble fish.
November 30th, 2005, 10:01 AM
But to me, that makes it even more ridiculous that none of them are [visibly religious].
How can anybody who worked with Zauriel say they don't belive in god at the least, much less God?
Look at the Spectre, who we know is the spirit of the Judeo-Christian-Islamic God's wrath?
I mean, when you have met his servants, and know there's both a Heaven and a Hell, how do you justify not going to some form of service, or at least praying when the spit hits the fan? (as the Atom did in IDC [Identity Crisis])
If anything, the Atom's prayer makes the lack of such things [on a more regular basis] more apparent.
November 30th, 2005, 10:13 AM
Because it becomes more like using your communicator then praying, which can be viewed as marginalizing real prayers. As I understand Prayer it shouldn't be about calling God in to solve your problems. It's a matter of faith communcating with him, speaking to him and taking up your burden as a part of his plan. I think it would diminish things if Superman was praying to God so that they can get Spectre to intervene.
"Hail Mary, full of grace, please page Spectre and Zaurel. Darksied is attacking."
From: "Religion in the DCU?" forum discussion, started 25 October 2006 on "Comic Bloc" website (http://www.comicbloc.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-37480.html; viewed 20 July 2007):
October 25th, 2006, 11:06 AM
I posted this in another thread, but since it goes off-topic I decided to start my own. Anyways...
If Fourth World is still in continuity and The Presence is the God of the three major religions (Christianity, Judaism, and Islam) I was wondering...
Where do Moses, Jesus and the Prophet Mohammed stand in the DCU?
I know the Spear of Destiny is laced with the blood of Christ, but is there anything else that's been mentioned?
October 25th, 2006, 11:08 AM
Well, there's the Crime Bible, made from the rock Cain used to slay Able, the Spectre, and I think all religions exist, they just are underplayed. I THINK, but I really don't know.
October 25th, 2006, 11:09 AM
However, it seems that lately, DC is trying to get away from any religious aspects in their characters. When I interviewed Judd Winick, he said he views the Spectre as more a magical entity as opposed to a servant of God.
October 25th, 2006, 12:34 PM
Oh, I'm sure all religions exist in the DCU, and I know of the different heroes that are connected to God, and various other beliefs (like Ragman, Monolith, Zauriel, The Spectre, etc)
It's just that I've always wondered about where Moses, Jesus, and the Prophet Mohammed stood in the grand scheme of things.
Like a hero who was/is bestowed great powers by wielding the sword of Mohammed or the existence of the Holy Grail, or the staff of Moses, etc. That sort of thing.
October 26th, 2006, 03:27 PM
One of my favorite moments happened during an issue of JLA when General Elliot gets the army to start attacking the JLA, one of the men then makes a remark about how some of the men don't want to shoot on Zauriel since they're religious.
Personally if I saw a real life angel myself I'd suddenly not be an atheist any longer, probably wet myself and then go to church every Sunday to avoid being smoted.
October 26th, 2006, 04:46 PM
I look at it as henotheistic. There are many "gods" running around, from the new gods to greek gods, magic, etc. But there is also a supreme being that is over everything, under several names perhaps (the Source, the Presence, etc.) that seems to fall under the general idea of the three theistic religions' idea of a supreme power, but is tied somewhat closely to Christianity through the Spectre and Zauriel. Not simply Judeo-Christian, (or Muslim) for sure, but not polytheistic or Campbellesque "Everything has an aspect of truth."
From: "Possible writers' cliche/prejudice: No well-adjusted athiests/agnostics in the DCU?" forum discussion, started 26 May 2005 on "Comic Bloc" website (http://www.comicbloc.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-5064.html; viewed 20 July 2007):
May 26th, 2005, 02:12 PM
It is hard to be a "well adjusted" Atheist when the Spectre is around or Etrigan or Neron or Deadman or the entire cast of Sandman. It is hard to be an Atheist when Zeus and Athena show up on your doorstep and people who have died come back later with tales of an afterlife. When you have Lords of Order and Chaos.
You most certainly cannot be a Skeptic in the DCU - Aliens, Magic, and psychic powers Do exist there. Superman is saving the world again. Chances are good if you lived in the DCU you'd have a chance to shake his hand.
Being an Atheist in the DCU is like being a Flat-Earther in our reality.
May 26th, 2005, 02:17 PM
Conversely, so is being religious, since every deity seems to exist and none hold primacy over the others (or the Anti-Monitor, for that matter). In a world of super-beings, these "gods" just come off as slightly more super beings. The argument could go both ways.
May 26th, 2005, 02:20 PM
Not really true... as there are higher powered dieties... but the proof of God's existence has been established.
The Spectre is the embodiment of God's Wrath. Zaurel has spoken to God. . . etc. Ollie [Green Arrow] and Hal [Green Lantern] have both been to Heaven and back.
May 26th, 2005, 03:01 PM
When "God's wrath" is just another super hero and angels decide to go on benders that wreck entire cities and when devils are constantly getting their butts kicked by Superman, what use is faith?
Why fear Satan if you're a Christian, when you see Superman kick his butt every summer?
The fact that characters such as the Spectre, Etrigan, Eclipso, Azrael [sic: Zauriel], Azmodel et al all play a part in the ordinary every day scratch and claw bickering of superheroes tends to pretty much destroy any idea of the divine being something above or beyond the ordinary world. If anything, it makes the religious groups still clinging to some vague idea of divinity into the "flat-earth Luddites"--especially when "God's right hand" is busy throwing back a beer as Jim Corrigan.
The prevelance of religious characters as just another funny book hero or dimestore baddy puts them on the exact same level as Superman and Batman - and no higher.
May 31st, 2005, 05:02 PM
I remember an issue of... something. I forget what it was in, but I remember a page where Batman told Nightwing that he didn't beleive in ghosts. Dick replyed with a "word association game": "Deadman. The Spectre. Ragman."
The fact is, every major DC character has encountered divine forces. Zauriel, an angel, was seen on national news at least once, and every person on Earth flew into space to battle Maggeddon alognside an army of angels in JLA #41. If that kind of evidence existed in the real world, which, despite holding strong religious convictions of my own, I am of course aware that there is not, only the insane would be atheist around here, too.
As for the concept that multiple pantheons invalidate the existence of a higher power, Jeffery Neary is correct: it's been shown, though somewhat indirectly, that the supreme power of the DCU is, in fact, "The Presence," who is similar to the Judeo-Christian conception God in singularity, supremacy, and in a general "hands off approach."
June 1st, 2005, 06:33 AM
...I'm an atheist myself, a well adjusted one with no emotionally crippling things in my past, so I can see some of the frustration here. It IS impossible to be an atheist in the DCU, thanks to Zauriel and the angels taking on Mageddon. Day of Judgement with the heroes going to Heaven. Peter David's Supergirl series. But you know what? It's fiction. I still enjoyed all thosed stories, I'm always saying that they need to bring back Zauriel (so much potential!), and I really didn't mind Mr. Terrific finding faith either...
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):
May 21st, 2005, 08:05 AM
You know, I don't like too much overly obvious religious references in my comics nor do I like political ones because I read comics as an escape. But I do appreciate appropriate mentions...
Of course in the DCU, things get tricky because you have the Wrath of God right there in the open as well as angels and demons. I thought Morrison was going to have a hard time with Zauriel, but I like where he went with his stories...
From: "NY Times outs Batwoman. DUH SPOILERS!!!!!" forum discussion, started 27 May 2006 on "Comic Bloc" website (http://www.comicbloc.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-27770.html; viewed 23 July 2007):
May 28th, 2006, 09:11 AM
I feel like DC is tying to be an advocate... Is DC just wanting quick media attention? If this were truly about diversity where is the devote Christian hero? What about a Pro-Life Republican? A priest that takes a vow of poverty to fight poverty?
For years people have praised or criticize liberal Hollywood. Are we now looking at a Liberal DC comics?
May 28th, 2006, 10:20 AM
Christian hero? I'm sorry but aren't a good majority of heroes Christian?
May 28th, 2006, 12:06 PM
Weird, I thought there used to be an ANGEL of GOD on the JLA...
May 28th, 2006, 12:31 PM
Well here's some of the heroes I know with obvious religious ties:
The Spectre (Christianity/Catholicism)
Here are a couple I'm not sure about...
I know Atom Smasher is Jewish and Doc. Mid-Nite is Christian, but I'm not sure about anybody else and don't want to label anyone wrongly. Anyway, religion seems pretty well represented, IMO...
May 28th, 2006, 02:34 PM
Again - Where are the diversity of the NEW characters?
...Zauriel was a fallen angel that forsook Heaven for the love of a Woman. He has been sort of a spitural adviser to the DCU but I have never seen any indication that he is a Christian Hero. I don't think he would get the endorsement of the Vatican...
May 28th, 2006, 06:04 PM
But the point is that there are a majority of Christian characters in DC comics that already exist, so there's no "diversity" in creating more of the same...
May 28th, 2006, 06:36 PM
Really? One might make a case for a general "good works ethical monotheism", but how many have made on page confessional statments of Christ being their personal Lord and Savior? To assume that these characters are Christian is akin to assuming that any male character without a girlfriend is gay. Is that good enough?
May 28th, 2006, 06:49 PM
Did you click that link in my last post? It uses evidence from the various appearances the characters have made to determine what denomination they belong to.
May 28th, 2006, 07:05 PM
I've seen it, and I'll reiterate that I believe that the number of confessional Christians in mainstream comics is equal to, or less than the number of openly homosexual characters.
From: "Question for other atheists" forum discussion, started 6 March 2006 on "Comic Boards" website (http://www.comicboards.com/dcb/view.php?trd=060306051129; viewed 23 July 2007):
Posted by Corn Stone on Monday, March 06 2006 at 05:11:29 GMT
Question for other atheists. Are there any? :-)
How do you relate to the characters in comics, DC especially, who are characterised as atheistic/agnostic?
And a sort of put-yourself-in-the-shoes - Would you still be an atheist if you'd had the experiences Mr Terrific and co have had? (Not counting Green Arrow, Barry Allen and folk who have been to Heaven, if their experiences are to be believed. And they are - this is the DCU cosmology.)
I doubt very much I would call myself an atheist, if, say, I was a member of the JLA or JSA and had some of these experiences.
Posted by Old Guy on Monday, March 06 2006 at 22:13:58 GMT
re: "Are there any [atheists]? :-)"
Not me. I'm Lutheran.
re: "I doubt very much I would call myself an atheist, if, say, I was a member of the JLA or JSA and had some of these experiences."
You might still do so. Because empiricism can never yield faith. Suppose "The End of the World" started to happen. Is it God - or is it Galactus? No experience - no matter how cosmic - can force reason to embrace the eternal omnipotent. Especially not in the comics universes, where colossal entities eat suns for breakfast yet aren't the eternal omnipotent.
As a matter of fact - if I lived in the DC universe, I wouldn't believe that Zauriel was really an angel. I would assume he was either lying or mistaken. He's too empirical for me. Heavenly entities should be more ephemeral. Or so my instincts tell me. The exception to that was the Son of Man.
Posted by tolsvar on Tuesday, March 07 2006 at 00:30:12 GMT
Ok, so I wasn't going to go there, as I feel this subject does tend to walk a very fine line between "giving you an answer" and "getting too preachy". Then I read some other posts and thought "what the heck, I'll bore everyone with my opinion!"
First, I'm not an atheist, but I'm not part of any established religion either. I have my set of beliefs, formed by rationalizing what I know with what I believe. It's a fine line of science and faith, and it works for me.
If I lived in the DC Universe and saw things like people coming back from the dead, the Spectre and people like Dr Fate and the like, I don't think I'd have that hard of time fitting all that into what I believe. Someone like Zauriel (if I spelled his name right), who claims to be an angel, would be tough to understand. I would have a hard time believing that he was what he said he was, because of my views on what a supreme being is and does.
Situations like Donna Troia coming back from the dead, not so hard to understand because of what I believe. Unlikely? YEAH! But I wouldn't dismiss it.
Even someone like Wonder Woman, with her ties to Greek Mythology and their gods, could be understood based on my views on things. I could believe in someone like Zeus existing, I just wouldn't feel they were meant to be worshipped as they were back in the day.
Other dimensions, the little "hells" that sprinkle themselves across comic book universes, would be a curiousity to me, and I would definitely want to learn more to see how, if at all, they fit-in with what I believed. If my beliefs needed to be changed in order to accomodate what I learned, that's fine... I'm open-minded enough and certainly don't think so much of myself as to believe I have all the answers, not in the DC Universe!
Someone like Mr Terrific and Iron Man in the Marvel Universe are supposed to be portrayed as scientists, but I doubt the comic writers understand, truly, what it is that makes a scientific-minded person tick. They don't go through life doubting everything, they merely seek true answers to questions they have, and rarely take anything on faith. Based on what Terrific has been through, I'ld say his religious views are more complex than what we think they are. Iron Man should be the same way, but Marvel gets hung-up on showing how much he hates magic because he "doesn't understand it" and "it's not science". Seriously, hasn't he been hanging around Scarlet Witch long enough to have figured magic out by now?
So, in a nutshell, my faith in what I believe wouldn't be shattered or even shaken a little. Without a doubt, some of my more complex questions would be answered living in a world of superheroes and spirits of vengeance, but it would hardly make me over-haul everything I felt was true about life and why I'm here.
Posted by Hellstone on Monday, March 06 2006 at 14:20:26 GMT
re: "As noted in other discussions over the years they seem to bend over backwards to NOT assign denominations or faith statements to characters..."
Well, I think that goes for the "big 3" [Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman], for example. But many denizens of the DCU have expressed their religion explicitly, and I'm not just talking Wonder Woman and Kobra and Zauriel here. Huntress (Catholic Christian), Nightwing (Christian, don't know what kind), Flash (Christian), Doctor Mid-Nite (Catholic), Ragman (Jewish), Janissary (Muslim), Seraph (Jewish), Maya (Hindu), Judomaster (Buddhist), Father Craemer (Catholic) and many more, have all stated their explicit beliefs...
From: "Is Bruce Wayne A Religious Person?" forum discussion, started 20 April 2006 on "Killer Movies" website (http://www.killermovies.com/forums/f50/t400582.html; viewed 27 July 2007):
7 July 2006
Well I know [Batman] KNOWS there's a God. He was on the Justice League (not sure about anymore, have been busy with things other than reading comics) with Zauriel, who's an Angel. Haven't they come into contact with The Spectre, who is God's Wrath? Too many supernatural things, and things that have to do with a higher being have taken place for him to just ignore those things. I think he's too smart to remain ignorant on that.
BUT there is a difference in KNOWING and BELIEVING in it. I think he knows but chooses not to believe in it. Chooses not to think that Him being there will change any thing of have any effect in his life. Wasn't that the case with Constantine? He knew but didn't believe? Something like that.
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, 03:53 PM
...3. Yes. With the presence of the Spectre and Zauriel it reflects the Christian, Jewish, or Muslim beliefs of heaven, hell, angels, demons, etc (though I can't recall if those related characters ever actually state specifically Christianity). Plus we've seen characters go to church (the one that currently springs to mind is Mr. Terrific and Doc Midnight at the end of the Hal/Spectre story in JSA)...
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