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The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Character

Anung Un Rama, better known as "Hellboy" is a demon who is a native of a Hell-like dimension. He was not raised in his native dimension, however, as he was found abandoned in a church as an infant. The young demon was raised as a traditionalist Catholic by Professor Trevor Bruttenholm.

As an adult, Hellboy has remained a devout Catholic.

Hellboy works for the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense. He is one of the world's foremost defenders against demons and other mystical threats.

Hellboy and his rosary beads Left: A matter-of-fact example of Hellboy's Catholic faith. His rosary beads fall out of his pocket while he fishes around for a grenade during a battle.

Source: Hellboy: Conqueror Worm #3 (2001), page 20; written and illustrated by Mike Mignola; reprinted in Hellboy: Conqueror Worm trade paperback, Dark Horse Comics: Milwaukie, Oregon (2001).


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 c.tower at 6:49 pm on June 15, 2006:
It should be noted that, as serial fiction, mainstream American comics pass through many hands, and change along the way. For example: It wasn't until Frank Miller's famous run on DAREDEVIL that the character was established as a Catholic - almost 20 years after the strip first appeared.(One of the few heroes whose religious beliefs were established in his first appearence was Hellboy. This character- a human/demon halfbreed who is SUPPOSED to be the harbringer of the Apocalypse- was raised on Earth as a Catholic, and has repeatedl;y rejected his demonic heritage, positioning himself as the defender of mankind against the forces of darkness.Yes, Hellboy's creator - Mike Mignola - is Catholic himself).

From: "Religion of Comic Book Characters" discussion board, started 21 March 2006, on "Atomic Think Tank" website (http://atomicthinktank.com/viewtopic.php?t=15563&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=45&sid=6e1a6029528ee4ff56875971156c2732; viewed 28 April 2006):
Posted: Thu Mar 23, 2006 12:11 pm

Hellboy would be an interesting study, religion-wise. Raised Catholic, but his heritage is what, Satanist?

Posted: Thu Mar 23, 2006 12:13 pm

No, just Satan. A Roman Catholic Demon. The mind boggles.

It [Adherents.com/lit/comics] is an interesting site, because it fleshes out the characters that little bit more, makes them seem more Human, to believe in something besides Liberty and Justice for all.

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):
05-21-2003, 04:17 AM

I'm sitting here just mulling over nothing in general, and I made a post about dark heroes, and it got me to thinking: a surprising amount of my comics carry with them religious themes, be they overt or hidden within the storyline themself. Off the top of my head I can list Madman, Marquis, Obergeist, Akira, the Coffin, Hellboy, Preacher, Just a Pilgrim, and to a lesser extent Grendel, Watchmen and Domu (in that they deal with people who, essentially, have a god complex, and the repercussions of that state of mind upon those within their influence). I'm one of the least religious people I know, although I'd still classify myself as Christian, but only in the loosest possible sense. I'm not entirely sure why I'm drawn to these books; perhaps I'm just seeking out different ideas about things which I've always been up on the fence about; maybe I'm drawn to something that I've essentially rejected, and see it as a kind of gleeful taboo to read these tales; maybe I just thought the premises sounded :cool: and it's all a big coincidence and I've finally lost it due to over-analyzing myself one too many times. Anybody else notice this about their personal reading selections?

From: Bill Craig (founding and senior pastor of Summit Trace Church in Frederick, Maryland), "Comic Faith", posted 14 June 2006 on "Bill Craig" blog website (http://billcraig.blogspot.com/2006/06/comic-faith.html; viewed 14 June 2006):
In a recent article of the latest Newsweek Magazine, http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/13249146/site/newsweek/ under "Belief Watch" I discovered that many of my childhood comic book superheroes are "religious". Now I don't know what church they may attend and even if I did I would have to be discrete to protect their identity. What fascinates me is that as super as they are they still place a faith in something greater than they are. Newsweek tells me that Peter Parker is a Protestant, Superman is Methodist -- that Midwest clean look gave him away. The Thing is apparently Jewish. Now the big new Hellboy is Catholic. Yes, apparently even Hellboy received a special dispensation. http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/comic_book_religion.html You can see a complete list here.
From: Jan Edmiston (a self-identified Presbyterian), "Where Would Mutator Worship?", postd 14 June 2006 on "A Church for Starving Artists" blog website, part of the "Presbyterian Bloggers" webring (http://churchforstarvingartists.blogspot.com/2006/06/where-would-mutator-worship.html; viewed 14 June 2006):
...Newsweek reported this week that Superman is Methodist... You, too, can find the affiliation of your favorite Super Hero at [link to Adherents.com website]...

Ironically Hellboy is a devout Roman Catholic. Electra [sic] is Greek Orthodox. Captain Steel is Mormon...

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=3; viewed 25 April 2007):

12-04-2006, 06:09 AM

Re: The religion of comic book characters

Hellboy is Catholic? [What] The hell?


12-04-2006, 10:55 AM
Brad Ellison

Hellboy's Mom was Catholic. His half-brother and half-sister were Catholic clergy. And his rosary's the most prominent anti-evil charm he carries (maybe second-most prominent, but the horseshoe isn't the emblem of any religion.)

And if you go by the movie, Professor Bruttenholm may have been Catholic, depending on what he meant when he said "among other things," and his rosary was a very important symbol of Hellboy's human identity.

It seems like you can make at least a moderately good circumstantial case for him being Catholic, at least if you use the film as evidence.

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

02/05/2005, 15:35

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

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

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

Anyone have any others?

Marvel Catholics:


Gabe Sapien
02/06/2005, 12:58

This is kind of off topic but I can't think of any Marvel characters that are Catholic at the moment. So I want to know if Hellboy is Catholic. He usually carries around a crucifix with him but I highly constitute that as being of the Catholic faith (seeing how he carries items from other religions). Just curious. Hope someone can answer that for me.

02/06/2005, 13:12

Well my guess on that Gabe (and I'll be honest I haven't read that much Hellboy) is that he carries those relgious items for the same reason that a vampire hunter would; the those items of faith are a kind of weakness to some of the creatures he fights. Of course I could be wrong, and probally am, so if someone wants to give a better/the right anwser, go right on ahead.

02/06/2005, 13:37

Yeah, the religious icons that the BPRD [organization that Hellboy works for] guys carry are more general purpose tools (think of them as faith grenades) than they are statements of any kind of belief. I also think that Hellboy might carry around a couple to remind himself what he's *not* (hard to imagine a true prince of hell toting around that much holy water). When they're working in areas where the Christian paradigm doesn't dominate, they change tactics to fit the mission (a cross won't do jack to an Asian vampire, for example).

Marvel did a comic book on the life of Pope John Paul II and St. Francis of Assisi back in the '80s. Don't get any more Catholic than them. Whether they were 616 or not is left up to the individual reader, I suppose (personally, I find the idea of Ultimate Pope to be pretty sweet - try to imagine what his outfit would look like)...

From: "Unpractical Ethics: Superheroes", posted 11 October 2005 on "Millenial Star" website [which comments on topics relating to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints] (http://www.millennialstar.org/index.php/2005/10/11/unpractical_ethics_superheros; viewed 5 June 2007):

[Reader Comments]

Comment from: Eric Russell

What I find ethically disturbing is the relatively new wave of badboy superheroes who are dark and dirty people but obtain the good guy status just because they fight bad guys. In terms of recent movies, I'm thinking Hellboy, Constantine, Spawn, The Punisher, the guys in Sin City, etc. It's like writers want to make their characters as cool as possible to the fanboy masses while still maintaining an image of a hero who does good.

10/12/05 - 01:16

From: Rick Phillips, "Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Characters", posted 14 July 2007 on "Black Lightning Limited" blog website (http://blacklightninglimited.blogspot.com/2007/07/religious-affiiation-of-comic-book.html; viewed 16 July 2007):

I have linked to this site before but I didn't see the photos [collage illustrations] that they now have on the site. It is called The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Characters [http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/comic_collage.html]...

[Reader comments]

July 14, 2007 5:01 AM
Luke said...

Very interesting. Apparently, being Catholic, like I am, is a good lead-in to being either demonic (Hellboy, Daimon Hellstrom), demonic-looking (Nightcrawler, Blue Devil), or full of guilt (Daredevil). That, or Irish, it would seem.

My favorite Catholic characters were always Nightcrawler -- who actually was in the seminary at one point, and Firebird...

Great find!

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=45&tstart=15; viewed 20 July 2007):

Posted: Mar 1, 2007 11:43 AM

Nightcrawler was born being a demonic being, and yes he's both anti-Christian and sacreligious.

Other anti-Christian characters:
Ghost Rider

Posted: Mar 1, 2007 11:57 AM

...Hellboy isn't anti-Christian. He is very much pro-Christian (or would be if he were real). He has turned his back on Hell and actively fights against evil. What? You don't believe in redemption?...

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Webpage created 28 April 2006. Last modified 20 July 2007.
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