The emphasis of this page is on fictional characters who originated as comic book characters. Of course real-life people such as Pope John Paul II, St. Francis of Assisi, and Mother Teresa have been depicted in comic books (Marvel published one-shot comics about these prominent Catholics), but such people are not listed here. This page focuses on fictional comic book characters who are adherents of real-world (not purely fictional) religions. (Some fictional religious groups are listed as well, as appropriate.)
We want this page to be as accurate as possible, backed up by objective, published information and not based on conjecture. We do not want this listing to be slanted toward any particular denominational or religious viewpoint. It is intended to accurately report the composition of comic book character religiosity. If you have corrections, suggestions, additional information, etc., or would like to post an alternative viewpoint, please write to us at email@example.com. (Nothing you send to us or say via email will be added to our website without your express permission.)
How do I find my favorite super-hero? Characters are grouped by religious affiliation and are not listed alphabetically. If you are looking for a specific character, try using the "Find" feature of your web browser (you may be able to type "Ctrl-F" or use the the Command-F keyboard shortcut). If you don't find the character you're looking for on this page, try looking here or here. Feel free to write to us if you still can't find what you are looking for.
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Remember: For each character, you can click on the link in the "religious affiliation" column to see supporting material, excerpts from the comics, images, discussion, etc. about that character and their religious affiliation. (Clicking on the word "Catholic" next to Nightcrawler's name does not take you to a page about Catholicism. It links to a page about Nightcrawler and his religious beliefs, affiliation, practice, etc.)
The religious affiliation of comic book characters is an active area of research for us. To receive updates about our research on this topic, including notices about newly created pages, subscribe to our Comics Research mailing list. This is a relatively low-volume list, and you can un-subscribe at any time. To subscribe, click here to send an email to us.
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Other Lists of Religious Superheroes
Which major mainstream superheroes are most consistently portrayed as overtly religious? These are characters who go beyond simply exhibiting positive religious values, charity and heroism, but who openly exhibit religiosity tied to an organized religious affiliation, through prayer, verbally sharing their faith, worship service attendance, and other means. This brief list only includes some of the best known devoutly religious comic book characters. Many other characters listed on this page are devout in their religion.
- Wonder Woman
- Moon Knight
- Doctor Mid-Nite
- Martian Manhunter
- Captain Canuck
- Green Arrow
- Atom Smasher
- Black Lightning
(Note that these characters represent many different religious faiths and denominations, including: Catholic, Greco-Roman classical religion, American Baptist Church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Buddhist, Jewish and Islam.)
Superheroes who are Clergy or Religious Leaders
In addition to superheroes who are devout lay members of their religious faith (see above), there is another class of superhero: those that are actually active clergy or religious leaders. A surprising number of full-time religious have been members of various super-hero teams, including the Avengers, Defenders, the Legion of Super Heroes, Infinity Inc., etc.
- Black Panther
- Shang Chi
- Sister Eve
- Sensor Girl
- Brother Voodoo
- Justice/Josiah X
- Cerebus the Aardvark
- Animal Man
- Green Lama
- Mr. Christian
- Marvel Boy (Noh-Varr)
- Lilandra Neramani (UXM)
- Scarecrow of Romney Marsh
Superheroes who are Former Clergy or Seminarians
A number of major superheroes are former clergy, former religious leaders or (in the case of former Catholic seminarian Frank Castle, the Punisher) former clergy-in-training. For the most part, these heroes have left their religious calling, but not their faith.
- The Punisher
- Caleb Hammer
- Michael Devlin
The Significant Seven
Out of the hundreds of superhero characters, seven stand out as most historically important:
Source: Mike Benton, The Comic Book in America: An Illustrated History, Taylor Publishing Company: Dallas, Texas (1989), page 178.
Are Nearly All Major Superheroes Episcopalian?
From: "At DC Comics, Diversity Is No Laughing Matter", published on AOLTimeWarner.com website, 1 November 2001 (http://www.bluecorncomics.com/atdccom.htm; viewed 20 December 2005):
"The original creators of comics, 60 or 70 years ago, were almost all Jewish and Italian kids from various parts of New York," notes DC Comics Executive Vice President and Publisher Paul Levitz. "And the characters they created were pseudo-whitebread Episcopalian. It was almost de rigueur back then to paint people in this idealized American image."
John Rogers: Most Superheroes are White Protestants
From: Jennifer M. Contino, "John Rogers' Comic Bug, Blue Beetle" (interview with Blue Beetle writer John Rogers), published in The Pulse, April 2006 (link; viewed 3 May 2006):
To tell you the truth -- gahh, I don't want to make a big political statement here, but God, why does every superhero have to be a Protestant White Guy? Is it still 1959?
In the foreword to The Gospel According to Superheroes, a book examining superheroes and religion, legendary comic-book writer and editor Stan Lee says he always scrupulously avoided any mention of specific religions in his stories. "I thought of myself as an 'equal opportunity writer,'" he says.
...When comic books first appeared in the late '30s, "America was supposed to be a melting pot," [Douglas] Rushkoff says. "That was our cultural metaphor. Religion and ethnicity were supposed to be subordinate to our role as Americans. I think now we're much more in a multicultural phase where people are trying to discover their roots."
The Comics Code and the Religion Taboo
Most people familiar with comics are aware that the Comics Code restricted content such as nudity, drug use, graphic sex, etc. The Comics Code also featured specific restrictions about religious content. For many years, part of the reason that there was effectively a "religion taboo" that severely limited overt recognition of real-world religious affiliation among comic book characters was that the Comics Code that the major publishers adhered to specifically prohibited many types of religiously-oriented content. Such prohibitions may have been inspired by the Hayes film code, which contained very similar restrictions against negative portrayals of clergy and real-world religious denominations. Religious restrictions were still in the Comics Code in 1989. A copy of the 1989 Code can be read here, with religious restrictions highlighted.
Notable Writers of Religiously Themed Comic Book Stories
It is no coincidence that some of the world's most popular and critically acclaimed comic book writers are the writers who have written the most comic book stories about overt religious themes and openly religious characters. These are writers who take their stories beyond stereotypical superheroic fisticuffs and explore fascinating, more complex themes and deeper aspects of their characters. These deeper themes, which often resonate with serious readers and garner accolades for the writers and their stories, include religion and spirituality.
Comic book writers notable for their regular and insightful use of religious themes in their stories include writers who are Christian, Jewish, Hindu, agnostic, atheist, etc. These writers differ in their religious beliefs and backgrounds, but they are united in their desire to write more realistic, more human, more meaningful stories. These writers include:
Infinity Crusade identifies Marvel's Most Religious
One of the few places in mainstream comics where a large number of major superheroes have been explicitly identified as religious was in Marvel's Infinity Crusade #1 (June 1993). In this issue, a powerful and mysterious being known as the "Goddess" kidnaps superheroes specifically identified as Marvel's most religious characters. The list of heroes taken, comprising what one could consider Marvel's officially "most religious" leading superheroes at the time, is as follows:
- Captain America
- Madrox the Multiple Man
- Jean Grey
- Scarlet Witch
- Silver Surfer
- Living Lightning
- Invisible Woman
- Moon Knight
- Doctor Strange
- Wonder Man
- Black Knight
You can read more about the Infinity Crusade and see numerous images from the scenes identifying religious Marvel Comics super-heroes here.
The most rebellious thing David Qin could say:
"I'm a Christian"
Comic book writer Terry Moore's Strangers in Paradise is regarded as one of the most critically acclaimed long-running series in modern comic book history. One of the central characters of the series is David Qin, a devout Christian.
Below is an excerpt from an interview Dirk Deppey conducted with Terry Moore for The Comics Journal #276 (http://www.tcj.com/276/i_tmoore.html; viewed 4 June 2007):
DEPPEY: At what point did you decide a conversion to Christianity was the central defining moment in [David Qin's] life?
MOORE: I think right before I got to that scene. I was thinking that they needed to trade secrets. I knew that the problem for Katchoo in that conversation was that David knew more about her than she knew about him. And she was going to hold him to task for that. "You know all this about me but you're not sharing anything, and what kind of friend is that?"
So I was trying to think, "What can he reveal?" For some reason it struck me that there were no real Christians in comics, in mainstream-accepted comics anyway. I thought, "Well, that would be one of the most revolutionary things I could do right now." Because this was in the heyday of like Preacher and Son of Satan, whatever. Everybody was into being as wicked as they could be, or at least looking like they ran with wicked anyway, and I thought one of the most rebellious things David could do was just say, "I'm a Christian." I mean, he was the only one I could think of. There weren't any Christians in comics at all that I could think of, so I thought, "Well, I'll do that." And I'll do it with the same sort of in-your-face-attitude that I did with the whole Emma lesbian thing and dying of AIDS and all that. Here. Boom. Deal with it.
DEPPEY: Now that you mention it, there aren't a lot of positive portrayals of Christianity in comics. Or even in general media. And when it is, it's generally seen by the Coastal types as a sop to the so-called "red states."
MOORE: Exactly. I mean, being a Christian right now is the most uncool thing you could possibly be, whether it's in comics or literature or TV or film or whatever. Pop-culture-wise, for somebody now to stand up and say, "I'm a Christian," they'd have to be very anti-establishment. Unless, they're standing in the middle of the Bible Belt surrounded by churches or something. But, you know, in mainstream culture, it's just not acceptable any more. Which made it all the more fun for me. I like thumbing my nose at both the establishment and the revolution.
Major Team Affiliation(s)
Religious Affiliation (click for source, supporting data, info about character's religious beliefs)
Regularly mentioned in DC Universe. Servants include: Zauriel (JLA), the Earth-Born Angels (incl. Supergirl, Comet, Blithe), the Spectre, the Word. Heroes drawing from the Presence's power include Seraph, Ramban.
Most super-villains in mainstream comic books are atheists, agnostics, or simply non-religious. Aside from a few major villains, the list below primarily focuses on villains who have a known religious affiliation other than these. Because of space and file size considerations, only a select number of the best known and most important super-villains are listed below. Hundreds more are listed in the Additional Super-Villains page.
There are many more characters listed on this website.
We simply didn't include all character/religious affiliation listings on this page because of space/file size considerations. For listings of many more super-villains as well as many minor supporting characters, click here.
This second, supplemental page lists hundreds of comic book characters from a large number of religious denominations and backgrounds, including: Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Sikh, Muslim, Dutch Reformed, atheist, Santeria, Gnostic, Shinto, Vodoun, Catholic, Russian Orthodox, Protestant, Evangelical, Greco-Roman classical religion, Selsian, Zoroastrian, Pagan, Thugee, Thanagarian, Methodist, Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Acanti, Polynesian traditional religion, and more.
* JLA: stands for "Justice League of America," the premiere superhero team of the DC Universe. The team has sometimes been known simply as the "Justice League." The team is sometimes referred to as "the League," not to be confused with the ancient DC Universe team known as "The League," introduced in Justice League of America #70 (October 2002). Seriously, though, is anybody who actually reads this page not going to know what "JLA" stands for?
* JSA: stands for "Justice Society of America," the premiere superhero team of the DC Universe in the Golden Age (circa World War II).
* NU: Stands for "New Universe," the name of a new imprint of comics published by Marvel beginning in 1986 (the 25th anniversary of Marvel Comics). The line of comics was intended to take place in a word very similar to our own, with only limited differences, and no magic, pantheons of mythological gods, supertechnology, aliens, hidden races, etc. Because the characters in the New Universe titles were intended to be as reality-based as possibly, many were explicitly identified with specific real-world religious backgrounds and religious affiliations (such as Presbyterian, Lutheran, etc.), rather than using the "generic all-American" character template that had been the basis for Marvels (and DC's) key foundational characters. Despite many intriguing approaches and some (but not all) high quality stories and art, sales were generally poor for the New Universe line and the imprint was discontinued in late 1989 after less than three years and a combined total of 172 issues for the various series. Since then, New Universe characters have crossed over into the mainstream Marvel universe on a few limited occasions.
This webpage includes information about Catholic superheroes, Jewish superheroes, Buddhist superheroes, Christian superheroes, Protestant superheroes, Methodist superheroes; Jewish super-heroes; Wiccan superheroes; Muslim superheroes, Mormon superheroes, Latter-day Saint superheroes, Vodoun superheroes, Greco-Roman classical religionist superheroes, religious superheroes, Presbyterian superheroes, Eastern Orthodox superheroes, Greek Orthodox superheroes, pagan superheroes, GLBT superheroes, LGBT superheroes, Egyptian religionist superheroes, atheist superheroes, Communist superheroes, agnostic superheroes, Hindu superheroes, Shinto superheroes, Roma superheroes, Gypsy superheroes, Baptist superheroes, Native American superheroes, Indian superheroes, Tibetan Buddhist superheroes, Druid superheroes, Sunni superheroes, Islamic superheroes, Anglican superheroes, Episcopalian superheroes, Episcopal superheroes, Southern Baptist superheroes, Northern Baptist superheroes, National Baptist superheroes, Lutheran superheroes, Evangelical superheroes, Christian comic book characters, Jewish comic book characters, Muslim comic book characters, LDS comic book characters, Mormon comic book characters, Buddhist comic book characters, Hindu comic book characters, Catholic comic book characters, atheist comic book characters and more.
Comic book religion / Christian comics / religious characters / religion comics / religion of superheroes / religion of super-heroes webpage created 27 July 2005. Last modified 22 August 2007.