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The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Character
Brian Kinney
Altar Boy
Confessor's sidekick in Kurt Busiek's Astro City
(later known as the second "Confessor")

Confessor was definitely a priest, and he lived a massive cathedral. But I recently read somebody describe him as an "Anglican priest" and I got to thinking that maybe that's right. I'm working on re-reading the comics featuring Confessor and Altar Boy to see if a determination can be made either way.

The original Confessor (whose real name was Jeremiah Parrish) was Catholic priest in Astro City before being unwillingly turned into a vampire. He channeled his vampiric powers and temptations into becoming a costumed adventurer. Although Parrish retired from active pastoral duties, he remained an ordained priest and a devout Catholic until he died heroically defending his city.

Confessor's sidekick was Brian Kinney, who appears to only have been only a nominal Christian (apparently a Catholic). Kinney was not particularly excited about the "Altar Boy" codename and costumed identity whe Confessor first proposed it. But Confessor didn't really give him much choice in the matter if Brian wanted to be his sidekick.

After Confessor died, Brian Kinney trained further and later took up Parrish's mantle as the new "Confessor."

For more information, see: http://www.internationalhero.co.uk/c/confessr.htm


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 12 July 2007):

Ed Liu
10-01-2002, 09:57 AM

There was a thread about this here a while ago, concerning the confirmed religions of the various comic-book characters along with speculations on the unknowns. Was pleasantly civilized throughout.

I'm impressed that the writer clearly did his homework for the story. He pulled in a BUNCH of really obscure characters, including some from well outside the normal DC/Marvel continuity. Kind of miffed that he included the Crossbreed from Astro City, but left out the Confessor from the same story arc, though...

From: "Catholic Clix - Comic info needed!" forum discussion started 3 May 2003 on HCRealms website (http://www.hcrealms.com/forum/archive/index.php/t-40338.html; viewed 24 May 2007):

05/03/2003, 21:04

Ok, so in recent films it's been apparent that Daredevil and Nightcrawler are Catholic...

So, who else out there could be fielded in a "Catholic" Heroclix team?

Hatut Zeraze
05/04/2003, 23:42

Cool clix they could make that might fit the bill could come from Astro City: The Confessor and Altar Boy would certainly apply. The Crossbreed might, although, I picture those guys more as non-denominational Christians.

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: Tue Mar 01, 2005 6:38 pm

Post subject: Religious Inclinations of heroes

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

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

Battlehymn Republic
Posted: Tue Mar 01, 2005 7:57 pm

Perhaps I should make a thread only about the comic or religious comics in general, but has anyone read Astro City: Confession? The main character is Altar Boy, the sidekick of the Confessor, who's Catholic. There's also a born-again bunch named the Crossbreed.

Posted: Wed Mar 02, 2005 3:43 pm

Just read it [Astro City: Confession] actually. Very cool.

Winged Victory appears to be less than a fan of Catholicism...

From: Michael, "No Sunday School In Smallville", posted 12 June 2006 on "Tales to Mildly Astonish" blog website (http://talestomildlyastonish.blogspot.com/2006/06/no-sunday-school-in-smallville.html; viewed 15 June 2006):
...Right now, no one [among comic book superheroes] is [about] faith. There have been heroes of faith in the past, though. Right now my mind turns to the work of Kurt Busiek. His Avengers run featured, in part, Firebird and Triathlon, two characters who showed in very different ways how faith can have a positive impact on the lives of the faithful. (I'd still like to see those two debate theology over a cup of coffee, in fact.) And then there's Astro City's Confessor. You don't get much more archetypally virtuous than a vampire whose faith drives him to serve man instead of feeding on him.
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/4e5839f075fecf76/394c4ad930a0e68c; viewed 20 June 2006):
From: Gustavo Wombat
Date: Thurs, Apr 22 2004 12:03 pm

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...

From: WRH Bill
Date: Fri, Apr 23 2004 5:08 pm

Kurt Busiek's ASTRO CITY series has a superhero team called the "Crossbreed" which is explicitly Christian, though they've only appeared in the background and not (so far at least) been the major focus of a storyline. In the one significant appearance by them that I recall, where they helped Altar Boy, the kid sidekick of the vampire-hero Confessor, the Crossbreed were portrayed positively, not as religious fanatics as Christians tend to be stereotyped.

Come to think of it,, the Confessor himself was originally a Catholic priest who is bitten by a vampire but tries to continue doing good despite his "undead" status. You might want to look up the TPB of that Astro City storyline (I think the title is "Confession").

Date: Mon, Apr 26 2004 4:55 pm

There was a nicely done Christian supergroup in "Astro City" in the Confessor storyline. For that matter, the original Confessor was a Christian vampire who mortified his flesh with Christian symbols to keep his evil urges at bay. He ended up staked in the story but his sidekick carried on his legacy.

From: "Religions of super heroes" forum discussion page started 14 August 2006 on "Wizard Universe" website (http://wizarduniverse.invisionzone.com/lofiversion/index.php/t1595.html; viewed 25 April 2007):

G:The Last Man
Aug 15 2006, 09:46 AM

Astro City had a pretty cool religious superhero duo!

I always thought that the Confessor and Altar Boy were great superheroes that tied in heavily to Catholic religion.....A priest who at the same time was a vampire was an interesting twist!!!

From: "Religion in comic books", published 14 June 2006 on "Get Religion" website (http://www.getreligion.org/?p=1679; viewed 15 May 2007):

[Rader comments section for this page]

Mark V. says:
June 14, 2006, at 3:34 pm

I would recommend the "Confession" arc (also trade paperback) of Kurt Busiek's Astro City series. There is a very interesting twist with the lead character, a Batman-like hero and Anglican priest called the Confessor. It is very well written with some interesting sub-plots. The trade paperback is available from Amazon.

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):

11-17-2006, 05:19 PM



Fish Sauce
11-18-2006, 04:30 AM

They really need to put Astro City's Confessor in there somewhere. If that's not religious, I don't know what is.

I mean he called his sidekick Altar Boy.

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 13th, '04, 02:23 AM

There was a great team in Astro City of religious superheroes. They're called the Crossbreed.

Here's a link. (http://www.astrocity.us/cgi-bin/index.cgi?page=features/visitorsguide/teams.html)

Sep 13th, '04, 10:10 AM

Ah yes, the Crossbreed. I have several Fundie [Fundamentalist Protestant Christian] (non-crazy) and Evangelical friends who love that group and AC's depiction of them. Confessor (ex-Catholic priest turned vigilante vampire) was amazing too.

And I personally think that CONFESSIONS is the best plot line to use religion I've ever seen in any comic book anywhere.

Sep 13th, '04, 06:07 PM

Yes, Astro City's CONFESSION is probably the best attempt so far of mixing superheroes and religion in a positive (but not rosy-colored) light. The Confessor was a devout Christian super-character that was both admirable and complex...

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