< Return to Religious Affiliation of Comics Book Characters Mr. Terrific (Michael Holt)

The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Character
Michael Holt
Mr. Terrific
of the Justice Society of America

Michael Holt, the second superhero to don the mantle of "Mr. Terrific." Holt, sometimes identified as "Mr. Terrific II," is the successor to Terry Sloane, who was the World War II-era "Mr Terrific." Holt took up the mantle of "Mr. Terrific" in 1997. Holt is an African-American. Holt identifies himself as the "third smartest person" on Earth. He is a self-avowed atheist.

From: "Mister Terrific" article on Wikipedia website (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mister_Terrific_(comics); viewed 7 June 2006):

In 1997, the mantle of Mister Terrific was passed on to Michael Holt... who, while contemplating suicide after the accidental death of his wife and unborn child, was met by the Spirit of God's Vengeance, known as the Spectre (ironically, Holt is an atheist), who told him about [Terry] Sloane. Inspired by Sloane's life story he took the name Mister Terrific and later joined the current Justice Society of America...

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."

...Outside, Ragman and Mr. Terrific discuss faith. Ragman is Jewish; Mr. Terrific reveals he's an atheist.

"Atheist?" Ragman asks. "I thought Mr. Terrific was supposed to be the smartest man in the world."

From: Dreighton
Date: Fri, Apr 23 2004 4:01 pm

In the latest JSA Dr. Mid-Nite goes into a church (looks very Catholic) and prays, then has a discussion with Mr. Terrific about Faith and God...

Mr. Terrific II (Michael Holt) attends church
From: Steven Waldman and Michael Kress, "Beliefwatch: Good Fight", published in Newsweek, 19 June 2006 issue (posted online on 12 June 2006: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/13249146/site/newsweek/; simultaneously posted on BeliefNet.com under headline "Holy Superheroes": http://www.beliefnet.com/story/193/story_19306_1.html; viewed 14 June 2006):
...Adherents.com, has analyzed dozens of comic-book characters [and] says Batman may not be the churchgoing type, but glimpses of the crosses on his parents' gravestones may mean he's a lapsed Roman Catholic or disaffected Episcopalian. The Thing from "The Fantastic Four" is Jewish, a rare instance of a character's faith being discussed openly in the story, but what about the "X-Men" villain Magneto? He spent time in a Nazi concentration camp. Jewish, or maybe Roma (Gypsy).

[Adherents.com] says "X-Men"'s Rogue is Southern Baptist, Cypher from "New Mutants" is a Mormon and Elektra from "Daredevil" is Greek Orthodox. Captain America is a churchgoer, and Spider-Man sometimes addresses God in spontaneous prayer.

Who's left for atheists? Mr. Terrific of DC Comics' "Justice Society of America."

Mr. Terrific's religious affiliation was mentioned in Newsweek. (Steven Waldman and Michael Kress, "BeliefWatch: Good Fight", published in Newseek, cover-dated 19 June 2006, page 12):
Newseek article about religions of superheroes


From: "Spidey Question for the Legion" page, started 6 July 2005, on "Captain Comics Round Table" message board/forum website (http://www.captaincomics.us/forums/lofiversion/index.php/t3594.html; viewed 20 December 2005):
Jul 7 2004, 02:56 PM ...Dr. Mid-Nite pauses to pray at a church in the current JSA storyline dealing with Hal Jordan. The story also deals with Mr. Terrific's lack of faith following the death of his wife.
From "Nightwing, Christian?" forum page, started 3 March 2004 on the "Comic Book Resources" website (http://forums.comicbookresources.com/archive/index.php/t-45948.html; viewed 7 January 2006):
Private America
03-04-2005, 05:52 AM
Geoff Johns has done some great work with Dr. Midnite and Mr. Terrific, re: faith and atheism, over in the JSA [Justice Society of America] title.
Excerpts from: "Are Superheroes Religious?" forum page, started 13 May 2004, in "The John Byrne Forum" section of the Byrne Robotics website (http://jb.24-7intouch.com/forum/get_topic.asp?FID=3&TID=558&DIR=P; viewed 9 January 2006):
Kevin Bennett
14 May 2004 at 5:28 am
I enjoy it when a character's faith (or lack of it) is explored. Done properly, it can enrich characterization and be a powerful dramatic tool... Geoff Johns has written some good scenes using this aspect of character as well, such as the scene with Mister Terrific and the Flash in JSA [Justice Society of America] #25, and more recently with Mister Terrific and Doctor Mid-Nite in JSA #60.
From: "List of Superhero Religions" discussion board, started 14 March 2006 (http://s8.invisionfree.com/Superdickery_Forum/ar/t2607_0.htm; viewed 24 April 2006):
Drink - March 14, 2006 04:40 AM (GMT)

Seems kinda odd on Green Arrow's part to be technically atheist [or agnostic], as he died and went to Heaven, as well as came back to life.

Then again, in Infinite Crisis #5, Mr. Terrific seems skeptical regardless of such evidence. I guess seeing isn't believing after all.

ROBRAM89 - March 14, 2006 04:41 AM (GMT)

Notice how he [Mr. Terrific] dodges the Spectre's question [in Infinite Crisis #5] completely.

EspanolBot - March 14, 2006 04:19 PM (GMT)

...the current Dr. Midnite [Dr. Mid-Nite] and Mr. Terrific are both shown to go to church frequently.

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=60&sid=6e1a6029528ee4ff56875971156c2732; viewed 25 April 2006):
Posted: Fri Mar 24, 2006 8:41 am

Someone goofed, because I remember reading a story where Batman was arguing with Hal Jordan about the evil things Jordan did as Parallax, and it was made clear that Batman was Christian, though there was no mention of a particular denomination.

Posted: Fri Mar 24, 2006 9:29 am

Besides, people's beliefs change. Look at Mister Terrific (the new one). He's gone from a confirmed atheist to 'considering'.

Posted: Tue Mar 28, 2006 9:42 am

This actually got brought up with Mr Terrific. They asked him why he didn't believe when the Spectre was a teammate. He made a good point (similar to the one made in the Ultimates) that how can you tell the difference between someone with a lot of power, and divinity?

Posted: Wed Mar 29, 2006 11:02 pm

And Mr. Terrific has a good point. The secondary question would be 'At some point, does it really matter?'

Posted: Wed Mar 29, 2006 11:53 pm

The point at which it matters is when a man begins to look for answers. Terrific had always sought his answers in science, and they weren't ever enough for the questions he had to ask. So, one day he tried going to Church with Dr. Mid-nite.

Posted: Thu Mar 30, 2006 8:09 am

This was just after he had a near-death experience in which he met and spoke with his deceased wife. He didn't think that oxygen-starvation-caused hallucinations (common in near-death situations) sufficiently explained what he experienced, so he's exploring new lines of investigation, such as going to church.

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: cm | March 19, 2006 10:56 PM

The superheroes page [Adherents.com's "Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Characters" page] has taught me of the existence of Mr. Terrific, and for that I am grateful. Do check out his entry; I like how his adherence to the concept of "fair play" is so strong as to suggest it is his personal religion. Great stuff.

Posted by: plunge | March 20, 2006 10:10 AM

Mr. Terrific, unfortunately, doesn't even believe in souls. Which in the DC universe leaves him a bit silly, as a recent issue has him debating the supernatural with a guy whose cloak is, well, made out of human souls. Sheesh.

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&tstart=0; viewed 8 May 2006):

Posted: Apr 20, 2006 9:30 AM

...What is the religion of the heroes we read about?... Don't get me wrong, not picking on anyone, just wonder what everyone thinks what our heroes believe... (maybe a moderater can have some imput..?) ...other threads touch on the subject in passing, time to discuss it!

Posted: Apr 20, 2006 9:49 AM

For the vast majority, it is deliberately left unsaid and any distinct belief system is never referred to. Unless otherwise indicated, I pretty much assume most believe in God, but don't attend service very often. Here are the ones I know about.
Huntress - Catholic
Blue Devil - Catholic
Atom Smasher - Jewish
Ragman - Jewish
Mr. Terrific - Atheist
Wonder Woman - Greek Gods

Posted: Apr 22, 2006 2:09 PM

Registered Republican here, and I'm perfectly willing to check that at the door. If some of you can't then don't even open the door.

Now. As for religion and superheroes, I have this tendency to see the DCU through Luthor-colored glasses. And if Michael Holt is an atheist, then I tend to think Lex is an atheist of Randian proportions.

Despite, as its been mentioned, the existence of folks like Ragman and Blue Devil.

Posted: Apr 23, 2006 1:45 PM

re: "Statistically speaking..."

Here's the problem. Unless that character has been shown to be a particular religion (Colossal Boy used to be Jewish, for example) you can't know. Statistics might be useful sometimes, but not here. They won't tell you what religion a person IS. Nor will their actions.

The one religiously-oriented position I find almost untenable in the DCU is atheism. Being that I am an atheist, this might sound odd. But, while I do believe that atheism is a rational choice in the real world, I don't think it is in the DCU. Michael Holt has to be actively choosing not to believe, rather than not believing because the proposition "God exists" doesn't make sense, or there's no proof. There IS proof in the DCU.

Posted: Apr 23, 2006 3:43 PM

Well, there's proof that superhumans exist; I don't know how that fact is supposed to convince Holt that one of them created the universe in general and mankind in particular. The Spectre obviously has some entity backing him, no argument on that - and he gets his ass kicked by Jakeem Thunder's genie.

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.

And because there is so many different proofs of so many different "true" religions, it's not that hard to disbelieve all of them, at least in terms of being the one true... truth. I think the fact that the line between mundane "reality" and the supernatural being as blurred as it is in the DCU would make it easier to look at gods, demons, angels or magic, as just another layer of science that we haven't found an explanation for yet, and quite distinct from meaning of life and where did we all come from kinds of religion.

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.

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 24, 2006 3:31 AM

re: "Wow, if Superman is Methodist, it gives you new respect for the religion"

Er . . . why? He's heroic, sure, but is he more heroic than Batman or Colossus or Mister Terrific or Starman, who don't really believe in any religion? More heroic than Wonder Woman, who venerates the Greek gods? More heroic than Catholics like Doctor Mid-Nite, or Buddhists like Green Arrow?

...Not trying to be argumentative, just scratching my head . . .

From: comments section on "The Beast is an Episcopalian" page on "IFanBoy.com" blog website, posted 1 February 2006 (http://www.ifanboy.com/archives/000675.html; viewed 10 May 2006):

Posted by: Michael at February 6, 2006 09:51 PM

My two favorite religiously themed stories come from Geoff Johns and Peter Tomasi. In Johns' JSA arc that appears in JSA #59-62, we are told about Mr. Terrific's tragic past with his wife's death. There are also some interesting dealings with the Spectre in there as well (which leads directly into Rebirth), but I really enjoyed the interactions between Mr. Terrific and Dr. Mid-Nite. It deals with how Mid-Nite uses religion to understand and support some of the heroic things he does, while also relying on it for support when tragedy strikes. Terrific has problems with that. The end result I feel is one of the more moving sub-stories I've read.

The Peter Tomasi book is The Light Brigade. Just read it. VERY religiously toned, both in the supernatural realm, as well as in the aspects of how religion can affect humanity.

From: Jon Colchester, "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):

For some reason, over the years, I've grown incredibly sick of DC characters who think that magic and religion are merely sciences beyond comprehension. I'm sorry, but when Zeus gets an occasional speaking part, atheism just seems sort of silly. Sure, I thought it was clever when Ted Knight brought it up in Starman, but it seemed to be the only character trait Mr Terrific had going for him excepting "is very smart" for about five years of JSA. I figured Terrific's lack of faith was made moot at the tail end of Lost, when the Spirit King beat him half to death and he saw his wife and son in one of those near death experience vision type things, as he followed that up by freakin' going to church.

[full-page scan from Justice Society of America comic showing Mr. Terrific going to church with Doctor Mid-Nite.]

But then Infinite Crisis #5 opens on him and Ragman having the same damned conversation I feel like I've read a hundred times. Blah blah, you don't believe in God? But you're on a team with the Spectre, blah blah. "Before my time." (Which is total horsesh--, by the way. He's met the Spectre four or five times, by my count, including during his own freaking origin story.) Blah blah, but what about Zauriel? Blah blah. "Blah blah science blah blah." Don't you have faith in anything? "I have faith in my team."

So did Michael walk into that church in Portsmouth and get kicked square in the balls by the priest? He's willing to go to church that one time, but now, he'd rather stand outside and be all "I'm so much smarter than everyone in there." He did a one-eighty on faith and then just kept going 'til he was in the same place he started. It wouldn't bother me so much if both scenes weren't written by the same guy, but they are.

Excerpts from: "Atheist superheroes" discussion page, started 2 March 2006, on "Atheist Network" website (http://atheistnetwork.com/viewtopic.php?p=209834&sid=5ca5d2a99f2714e2f90fcee608eb4ac4; viewed 26 May 2006):

Posted: Fri Mar 03, 2006 3:42 am

It's good to see that Mr. Terrific is still an atheist. Some months back there was an issue of JSA [Justice Society of America] where he was convinced to go to church by Dr. Midnight and was really on the verge of becoming a theist again [i.e., a believer in God]. It was disgusting...

Of course if I were in the DC Universe I would be a believer in the supernatural if not an outright theist. After all, the heroes of that universe have been to Hell. They've stood before the hosts of heaven. Not only does Spectre exist but so does Deadman, Zatanna, Swamp Thing, Ragman, Raven and Dawn Manitou, Shazam, and on into near infinity. Hell, even the original Green Lantern got his power from magic. And Hal Jordan/Green Lantern was the freakin Spectre for awhile. Add to that the number of characters that come back from the dead and really in that reality there would be no real reason to doubt.

...not surprisingly more villains are revealed to be atheists than heroes...

Usually, religion tends to be mostly ignored in comics and most often when it is addressed it tends to be treated fairly rough. How many times has the religious fanatic (usually some far eastern or Middle Eastern made up religion--never wild-eyed Christians) bent on murder and mayhem been the villian of a comic?

Posted: Sun Mar 05, 2006 5:32 pm

...[It seems that what often happens in the DC Universe is] you get a life, then you die but that's not much of a life in itself, then you come back and pick up your original life where you left off. Figures, create a universe with gods and angels and demons and all that, then realize somewhere along the line that you're not representing humanity in all its uniqueness or some other politically correct idea and stick in atheists to make statements that in context make absolutely no sense. Fine to say if you're a normal and don't have any superhero friends, but a superhero would probably have to stay very secluded to not get the news even through the rumor mill.

From: "Passover Wave! Ragman and--?" message board started 13 April 2006 on official DC Comics website (http://dcboards.warnerbros.com/web/thread.jspa?forumID=29209087&threadID=2000071426; viewed 1 June 2006):

Posted: Apr 13, 2006 10:29 AM

...Superman's a Jew, as are the Weinbergs...

Posted: Apr 13, 2006 7:30 PM

...I equate Jesus with Superman... I'm an Atheist, so I think it's all bunk...

Me and Mister Terrific... he put it the same way I would...

From: "Is Robin/Nightwing a Christian?" message board, started 10 March 2006 on "Jude 2 Forum" website (http://www.jude2.com/viewtopic.php?p=86717&sid=8e758b76f53c9d87af2afe9b2378054a; viewed 22 June 2006):
Posted: Fri Mar 10, 2006 4:32 pm

...In the new Identity Crisis, a bunch of heroes are actually in a worship service asking God for guidance and help during this time. Only one hero [Mr. Terrific] is standing outside, identifying himsefl as an atheist (the black guy with the mask who's also on Justice League Unlimited). And someone asks him, "you're an atheist? I thought you were supposed to be one of the smartest guys in the world?"

From: "Is Batman an atheist or is he just not very religious?" forum discussion started 2 April 2007 on "Toon Zone" website (http://forums.toonzone.net/archive/index.php/t-187589.html; viewed 21 May 2007):

Sage Shinigami
04-09-2007, 06:27 PM

re: I'm also not entirely sure how anybody in the DCU could continue to be a non-believer once they become aware of characters like the Spectre and the Demon...

I'm not sure either but there's plenty of them [non-believers]. For instance, there was an arc dealing with Mr. Terrific and the Hal Jordan Spectre (just before Rebirth) and despite all that went on in it (including seeing numerous souls from Hell and all that) he remained atheist at the end of the day. I guess when you live in a world with super-science (yes, a Venture Bros. reference) you can explain away anything...even if you may not be correct.

As far as Batman... Y'know I still don't know. It's not something they talk about that much and when it comes down to it I don't think its that important.

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.

Under-represented? Really?

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.

Even the atheists don't get very much lip-service, honestly. When they do, it's designed to contrast them as a minority against the rest of the DCU. That's hardly counting...

[Reader comments:]

At 5:51 PM, Tom Foss said:

re: I'd like to see more atheists in this vain instead of "cool, superlogical nihilist".)

I'd like to see a few of these "cool, superlogical nihilists" (though I hesitate linking atheism with nihilism, and I wonder what nihilistic comic characters there are at all), as opposed to the usual depiction I see of atheists, which is "blind/fool who just needs the right emotional impetus to find faith/can't see what's right in front of his eyes." Whether it's Mr. Terrific's "conversion" after his experience with ghosts and whatnot (which thankfully seems to have been conveniently forgotten) or Crispus Allen's denial of God even as he acts as His messenger, linking atheism to "denial of the obvious," it seems that atheists fare little better than these complaints suggest of their theistic companions.

At 9:10 PM, Filby said:

re: Even the atheists don't get very much lip-service, honestly. When they do, it's designed to contrast them as a minority against the rest of the DCU. That's hardly counting.

I remember this issue of JSA by Geoff Johns where Mister Terrific's identity as an atheist is shaken by a run-in with the ghostly Spirit King, culminating in a near-death experience where he meets his late wife and unborn son in Heaven, and afterwards he decides to go to church with Doctor Mid-Nite. Reading it, I felt kind of insulted -- like my beliefs (I'm an atheist) were being trivialized, as though Johns was saying that you can't possibly be an atheist in the DCU.

And then, about two years later, we have the church scene in Infinite Crisis, where Mister Terrific is talking to Ragman, and Ragman says something like, "How can you not have faith?" and Terrific responds with something like "I do have faith -- in myself, in my friends." That pretty much summed up all my feelings on faith, and made Mister Terrific one of my favorite characters, 'cause I could relate to him. (And oddly enough, it was also written by Geoff Johns.)

One thing that bothered me about it though was how Terrific deigned not to rationalize the Spectre, despite the fact that it was Jim Corrigan who inspired him to be a hero in the first place. Obviously, the Spectre is just another extradimensional entity... a very large, opinionated extradimensional entity... ;)

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


Dang, the Legion of Methodist Super-Heroes gets Superboy, Supergirl and Superman

...and the Legion of Atheist Super-Heroes... uh, The Atheist


Ed Cunard
11-17-2006, 05:20 PM

And Mr. Terrific, as I understand it.

Jack Zodiac
11-17-2006, 07:43 PM

I think Johns made him believe in at least an afterlife and possibly the human soul, but maybe not God himself. Either way, if Atheists get Mr. Terrific, Atheists win!

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):

03-10-2007, 10:46 AM


An ASTONISHINGLY detailed site that delves into the religions of superheroes. Someone has WAY too much time on their hands.

John Drake
03-10-2007, 10:54 AM

Not a lot of atheists.

Keith P.
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...

Pablo Diaz
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 1:36 PM

I'm fine with it if it's used interestingly, like in Sandman or Promethea or something.

I have no use for it when it's stupid, like that really dumb sequence in Infinite Crisis with the church service and Mr. Terrific the atheist.

From: "Here, God exists in Four Colors and Two Dimensions", posted 7 March 2006 by grabbingsand on Metafilter website (http://www.metafilter.com/49827/Here-God-exists-in-Four-Colors-and-Two-Dimensions; viewed 11 June 2007):

Jimmy Olsen is a Lutheran. Really. And Clark Kent? Methodist, it seems. Daredevil, Gambit, Huntress and The Punisher? Catholics, all of them, though I have to wonder when Frank Castle last went to Confession. With about half of DC Comic's line-up heading to church in the latest issue of Infinite Crisis and knowing that Civil War is imminent in the House of Marvel, what better time than now to contemplate the particular faiths of our two-dimensional heroes.

[User comments:]

The new version of Mr. Terrific is, however, atheist. Despite having come into contact several times with both The Spectre and Zauriel.

posted by WolfDaddy at 3:15 PM on March 7

From: "Superheroes/villains and their religions" forum discussion, started 16 March 2006 on "Animation Insider" website (http://www.animationinsider.net/forums/archive/index.php?t-17835.html; viewed 28 June 2008):

03-16-2006, 05:16 AM

Someone pointed this out at another forum. I found it to be quite amusing that someone would actually have enough time on their hands to ponder about this.


03-19-2006, 02:08 PM

Religion seems to be a little pointless in the DCU. There's no point going around believing in things that actually exist. I mean Lucifer has a bar in LA for ****'s sake!

Dr. Killbydeath
03-19-2006, 08:10 PM

Well, they never give definite answers. I mean, Ragman's powers are based on magic, but he believes in Judaism. Mr Terrific has met the avenging hand of God [i.e., Spectre], but is still agnostic... Just because there are beings who claim to be heavenly or such, it doesn't mean they will be believed by everyone.

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):

Bijan S
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.

06-10-2007, 07:03 AM

re: "...except for Mr. Terrific, of course...

Forgive me if I appear ignorant, but does Mr Terrific have some sort of famous stance on religion? I'm not really a major DC fan, but I browse.

And incidentally, given The Spectre is a JSA member, or has been, or will be or whatever that whole crazy continuity thing is saying at the moment, (and the reasons noted by MuteMath, and a LOAD of others that I can't be bothered going into) isnt it ridiculous that any DC hero doesn't believe in a broadly Christian God?

06-10-2007, 04:39 PM

...With both Superman and Batman, they tend to leave religion out of it, probably to avoid discussions like these. Sure you can have Daredevil as a Catholic, but Supes and Bats are very iconic characters and one of their appeals is that they can appeal to anyone...

Ollie may believe in something now after being dead but Hal never said they were in Heaven, "an aspect of it" yes. He could have been in Heaven but he also could have been in Elysian Fields (spelling? the Greek myth of where good people go when they die). Connor is Buddhist (yay, my peeps). Mr. Terrific atheist. It really doesn't matter.

06-10-2007, 04:58 PM

I think it's very unfair that Mr. Terrific's atheism is accepted as an intelligent POV, while Dr. Thirteen's skepticism is taken as a sign of pigheadedness.

06-13-2007, 01:43 AM

...Mr. Terrific is only an atheist because he's a stubborn crybaby over his dead wife. A man of his knowledge should know that there are gods out there, he just refuses to acknowledge it because it goes against his views.

06-13-2007, 10:23 PM

Can you blame him [Mr. Terrific] or any superhero who might also be atheist? Yes he has met the Spectre but who is to say the Spectre is not just a really powerful being? Much like the Guardians on Oa or Parallax or Ares or the Moniters or Imperiex? To a man like Mr. Terrific, these guys are just powerful. Plus "the third smartest man on earth" can find more holes the Bible than in a sponge.

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 12:03 PM

So Dragonbat, you never read Shaloman?

As for who's more anti-Christian, a Jew or an atheist? That's an interesting question. I'm sure the Rabbis have discussed it, as they have discussed everything.

But I thought Michael Holt was an agnostic. So, he doesn't know if there's a God or not, while a Jew believes there is a god, but it ain't Jesus. So I would think a Jew is more anti-Christian than an agnostic.

Posted: Mar 1, 2007 1:27 PM

He [Michael Holt] refers to himself as an atheist in IC [Infinite Crisis] #5, but I think he might be leaning towards agnosticism after the events in "Redemption Lost".

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):

Heatwave the Rogue
November 30th, 2005, 09:09 AM

I think that the "heroes" of comic book literature should be showed respecting ALL religious practice. The heroes we read about should be above us in this regard. I would also never expect to see Superman look down on someone who doesn't believe in God. I feel more strongly about this with the more iconic Superheroes (Superman, Spiderman, Batman, Flash, Green Lantern, etc..), but I am very open to relgious declarations from lesser characters like Nightcrawler, Nova, Ragman, Catman, or Animal Man.

Mark Matthewman
November 30th, 2005, 09:18 AM

I agree that the superheroes shouldn't look down on some one because they believe differently, Heatwave, but I don't see how them having beliefs of their own would lead to that. If anything, Geoff's recent issue of JSA in which Mr Terific, and Dr Midnite, discuss Mr Terrific's atheism, is a near perfect example of how I would want hereoes' beliefs portrayed. Dr Midnite began the discussion with Mr Terrific out of compassion, and Mr Terrific recogonized it as such, and neither judged the other.

I also disagree that people would feel that simply because their favorite hero belives a certain way they would feel they have to as well.

I guess I just don't think the average person is that weak-minded.

I agree that belief in God is essentially a personal thing, but at the same time, if you believe, and feel another is suffering, or that sharing that belief, or helping to guide them torwards your belief is something they would benefit from, how can you not do so, or at least attempt to do so, and still call yourself a friend? Dr Midnite opened the discussion with Mr Terrific because they were friends IMO [in my opinion] and as a friend he could do no less.

Heatwave the Rogue
November 30th, 2005, 09:22 AM

The Mr Terrific character story was a very good one in my opinion, and an excellent example to support your case...

Terrific Lines
November 30th, 2005, 10:34 AM

I liked this JSA issue you are talking about (Dr. Mid-nite, Mr. Terrific talking about faith). And I agree with the idea of to expose all the points of view.

There have to be all kind of characters. Liberals, conservatives, independents. Heroes or Villains. The Punisheer, for example. I like the character, but if he was a real person I would think he is a criminal who has to be jailed. Why? Because I think that killing people never could be a solution.

I can understand there is a difference between the stories I can read in comic books than in the newspapers. Between what happens in a movie than in the news. My ideas, my opinions, are ruling my life for every decision I do, but also let me enjoy a good story, even if the hero is a killer.

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, 05:35 PM

...DC does have a multi-religious idea that works perfectly. It even fits into the Hindu idea of multiple gods being aspects of one large divine spirit. I mean, the Spectre is God's spirit of Vengeance. That's in the character discription. While I personally think they've made a mistake by saying divine characters are simply magical (or explaining it by science... Mr. Terrific... ick), I guess I can't stop them.

Besides, ever see the Waynes' gravestones? Cross. Bruce is either an Episcopalian or Catholic. And there is that great church scene in IC [Infinite Crisis] #5.

Jor-El's Ghoest
October 27th, 2006, 02:54 PM

For the curious, the reason Judaism doesn't look at Christ as the Messiah is we who are Jewish believe all people below G*d are equal to each other.

I also like that about comics. Unfortunately, people will often try to change characters to EXACTLY their beliefs. AKA, "Superman is an alien so he couldn't be a Christian!" (Talk to C.S. Lewis about this one. His writings on aliens are a lot of fun to read, though certainly not orthodox.) Or maybe (though I haven't heard this one) Mr. Terrific can't be the third smartest person in the DCU because he's an atheist! (Actually, it's very possible that that's the reason he's the THIRD-smartest rather than the smartest. :p just kidding)

BTW, we Christians also believe that all humans who are below God are equal. The issue is, we believe that Jesus WAS God, and therefore could be the Messiah. Out of curiousity, do you believe that there is going to be a Messiah? If so, wouldn't this person fall under this same parameter? Thanks in advance for the answer.

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, 01:42 PM

...I've noticed a small, but persistent... subtext in the DCU, reinforced by many of my favorite writers...

It seems to me that anyone in the DCU who is identified as not being religious is either painted as emotionally crippled, cold and unspiritual, or just angry at a God that they do, in fact, believe in, deep down. There's also the implication that if they could just undo their twisted thinking - or, in the case of Ray Palmer in Identity Crisis, if they get desperate enough - they'll "revert to their senses and believe what they've always known to be true".

For a couple of examples beyond Ray Palmer in IC [Identity Crisis], there have been two recent stories where two of my favorite writers (gee, who might be familiar :D) have made two atheistic/agnostic characters basically (if not definitively) "see the error of their ways" and "open up" to religious notions. In both cases, the writers seem to cast the characters as "resisting" religion, due to anger/grief/personal issues or what not, rather than as a valid and respectable outlook on life.

In the first case (Geoff's story about Mr. Terrific), it's left open-ended with the pretty clear implication that Mr. T, having faced some of those issues that "kept him away" from religion, has "let down his walls" and is on the road to some form of belief, if not a strict religion. A similar thing happened in the second story (Gail's recent take on the Huntress), where Huntress, because she's become "happier" with her life, is on the cusp of embracing the beliefs that she was raised in and had set aside because of bitterness, only to have a sudden feeling of betrayal make her "turn her back" on them again.

The message? It would seem to be that atheists and agnostics only possess their "skewed" perspective because they're emotionally crippled and angry at God...

This is important to note... Someone mentioned on the other thread that these characters were ones that began with faith and lost it, which means they are more naturally inclined to revert...

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.

Jeffrey Neary
May 26th, 2005, 03:14 PM

...I understand where you are coming from... But I still refer back to the point where Atom and Terrific (before the change) didn't seem broken, ignorant or disturbed. The fact that they changed does not mean they were repaired... Just that they changed.

May 31st, 2005, 12:51 PM

re: "When you have the embodiment of God's rage running around in your world, I would think that it's kind of hard to be an atheist..."

I outlined my rebuttal to this directly before your post.

You also have emissaries of the Olympian Gods, the Hindu pantheon, etc. Who's to say the Spectre is legit, or just another super-human megalomanic? Who's to say what the dude who calls himself an "angel" on the JLA really is, or the Ares that has shown himself, only to be driven back by mortals? Plenty of room to doubt the "godliness" of these beings.

But, like I said, also in the same post, this is all beside the point I was trying to make. Atheists/agnostics clearly exist in the DCU, since creators have shown them - it's just that they always seem to show them in a negative light.

Adam Jones
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 15th, 2005, 08:58 AM

...I don't think it's bad to have characters of diverse ethnicity, including Jews. However, bringing in questions of religion to mainstream characters also leaves them open for creators to send alienating, belief-oriented messages through them.

...there have been two recent stories where two of my favorite writers (gee, who happen to frequent these boards, no less) have made two atheistic/agnostic characters basically (if not definitively) "see the error of their ways" and "open up" to religious notions.

In both cases, the writers seem to cast the characters as "resisting" religion, due to anger/grief/personal issues or what not... In the first case (Geoff's story about Mr. Terrific), it's left open-ended with the pretty clear implication that Mr. T, having faced some of those issues that "kept him away" from religion, has "let down his walls" and is on the road to some form of belief, if not a strict religion. A similar thing happened in the second story (Gail's recent take on the Huntress), where she's on the cusp of embracing the beliefs that she was raised in and had set aside because she's become "happier" with her life, only to have a sudden feeling of betrayal make her "turn her back" on them again.

The message? It would seem to be that atheists and agnostics only possess their "skewed" perspective because they're emotionally crippled and angry at God...

May 15th, 2005, 11:42 AM

I think you're missing one important fact with these two cases. in both, they turned away from religion as a result of a traumatic event. as a guy who's at the very least agnostic, if not athiest (depends on the day), I think that's an important distinction. if you will, their natural state is a religious person, and as a prolonged result of the trauma in their lives, they lost faith in god. I tend to think that people who are truly atheistic don't hold a grudge against religion, as Mr. Terrific clearly was. Huntress, I can't be as sure about, since I wasn't reading the comic at the time.

May 15th, 2005, 12:23 PM

...While I agree with crawfordcrow's thoughts and very well though out posts, I do have to add something. My father is a Baptist preacher and living in East Tennessee, I've seen lots of "atheists" and "agnostics" who are just like the sterotypes that you mentioned. Cold, emotonally stunted or "angry with God". Now mind you, I'm not trying to cheapen your thoughts/posts or beliefs, but while it may be a sterotype, it does exist. I can only speak for the places I've been and grown up, but I've seen it over and over. Almost Christmas Carol-like where Scrooge finally opens his heart/realizes his mistake or whatever and they join in and drop to their knees when the time comes.

Just to point out that does happen. No offense intended.

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. For example, I think the talk Dr. MidNite and Mr. Terrific had during the Spectre arc was very appropriate without being overblown. Now in other comics I just see religion used as a way to stereotype a character "him, he's the Catholic guy" or "He's the Jewish guy" or something like that. I think that's just a sign of an unimaginative writer.

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):

June 1st, 2006, 08:54 PM

re: "But I do know know that those who self identify as Christians, for the most part, share certain behaviors, chief among them regular worship."

Just to point this out:

Dr. Mid-Nite was shown to attend Worship in JSA.

This is why I'd never call foul on DC.

They have done a fair job of representing all diversities in their comics.

DC having Mid-Nite (a Christian) and Terrific (an Atheist) interact in a fair and balanced way and their (DC's) fearlessness (see Obsidian and now Batwoman) to show all the beauty of individuality in the world.

I think DC is also doing well at letting these diversities be PART of the character and not the totality of the character (like in real life) and not being afraid to show all sides of a character.

Just my impressions, though.

June 2nd, 2006, 06:53 PM

Absolutley, If anything I think Geoff's treatment of the issue in JSA is the way it should be handled, both characters stayed true to their beliefs without denigrating either. Mr T didn't refer to Doc Midnite as a "gullible fool who believes in fictional books and imaginary men in the sky" and Doc didn't call Mr. T a "godless heathen secular humanist hellbent on dragging humanity into a cesspool of immorality."

I wish more religous-themed conversations could go that way in the real world.

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 gumbo on Tuesday, March 07 2006 at 19:38:10 GMT

I relate to atheists and religious people as people; beyond that it's got to be specific to make me not relate to them (personality beyond one aspect).

As for atheism; would I still believe it in the DCU? Well, I'm agnostic but close enough for this discussion.

I would say no; I don't think I would be a particular religion, especially after meeting gods, spirits and deities from "every" religion ever (and that's presuming I didn't just think they were delusional aliens or something).

I don't know if I would believe any of the actual religions were "true or right" though either, because usually the comic book versions of the characters are significantly different than the mythological ones.

Also the whole "multiple" universes things would throw in even more confusion on that subject.

Posted by Einheri on Tuesday, March 07 2006 at 03:53:00 GMT

I hold out hope.

As for Mr Terrific, if he is an atheist - from what I've seen - he's very polite about it. Atheists who try to "evangelize" me to their beliefs (or lack of beliefs) tend to iritate me more than religious people trying to evangelize me to their faith. But not much more.

Let me work it out for myself. And I'll try not to bother you. But I make no promises. ;-)

There, that's about as preachy as I get, Corn. But, to better answer some of what you're driving at, I think it could be very easy to be an atheist in the presence of Superman. I daresay that the presence of entities like Darkseid, Spectre, Dr. Fate, Deadman, Wonder Woman, Clark Kent, and even "things" like Bat-Mite sort of make the supernatural common-place. If we have comic book logical explanations of these folk, it wouldn't be too hard to reason that there could be other, more powerful creatures, even a "supreme being." But I don't think someone like Mr. Terrific would call this entity "GOD." Well, maybe he might if he thought it could get IT to stop making him eat playground dirt.


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 JesusFan on Monday, March 06 2006 at 17:41:35 GMT

Well, I will try to divorce myself from answering if it was me, as I am a born again believer in Jesus Christ. But your point is well taken, as it appears that you are asking if any of us were in the DCU, and saw things from the DCU perspective on God, angels, aliens, mystics, etc... Could we actually in that particular frame of reference stay an atheist?

My take is that the DC DOES have God in the picture, the Presense, and that there ARE Angels/Devils on assignment, Micheal/Morningstar etc, so probably Mr. Terrific Knows that such DO really exist, but his mental grid simple will not allow him to experience it as his truth.

Just as Batman KNOWS Spectre is real, and could go to seek out his Father in heaven/Hell, his mental grids will not allow him to support that truth, as he is "rational/scientific" mindset.

While WW [Wonder Woman] also KNOWS that there must be the Presense/God in the DCU, her mindset refuses to acknowledge that ANY being could be greater than her "gods" that created/empowered her, so she is like Bats in that regard, it's just that he refuses to believe based upon "rational/scientific" framework of reality, while Diana refuses due to her "spiritual" understandings.

Superman of the big 3 probably comes closest to being what would be considered a "true" believer in existence of Presense/God/Angels etc, as he has been raised undoubtably by his parents in some way to foster that belief, but he walks the line between Bruce/Diana, as he appreciates Science, abhors/reluctant to try to understand Magic, so he does probably have faith that God is real, it's just that he would not probably get into the finer details of... Is there a real Jesus? is Heaven/Hell real? Do I need to find the will of God for my own life? etc...


Posted by tolsvar on Monday, March 06 2006 at 15:16:00 GMT

Not an Atheist, but . . .

Sorry, but you raise such an interesting question that I think can apply to anyone, regardless of their system of beliefs, such as myself.

A more general version of your question is: "How do you relate to religious characters in the DC Universe?" and "How would rationalize your life, through your systems of beliefs, if you lived in the DC Universe?"


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 11:26:30 GMT

re: "Are there any?"

Hoo boy, yeah.

re: "How do you relate to the characters in comics, DC especially, who are characterised as atheistic/agnostic?"

Well, being a bit self-centered, I guess I consider all (or most) characters atheists until they have explicitly stated otherwise.

Other than that, I don't relate to atheistic and religious characters in any different ways. As long as they aren't fundamentalist nutjobs (but those exist among atheists as well).

re: "Would you still be an atheist if you'd had the experiences Mr Terrific and co have had?"

Impossible to answer. But I can easily see Mr. Terrific's point. In a world of cosmic energy beings and larger-than-life superheroes, why would we believe that the so-called "gods" are any different in nature. Maybe it's even easier to be an atheist in the DCU because of that.


Posted by Icon on Monday, March 06 2006 at 11:55:58 GMT

As noted in other discussions over the years, they [DC Comics] seem to bend over backwards to NOT assign denominations or faith statements to characters, due in part to a fear of alienating readers who might find it too much of a disassociation. Heroes should be relatable, and there are few things more divisive than religion.

I recall a discussion in an old New Teen Titans where Dick and Wally are infiltrating Brother Blood's base and have a discussion about their repsective viewpoints. IIRC [If I recall correctly], Wally definitely had a denomination, though I can't recall if mentions it by name (Baptist?), and Dick says that he believes in God, but doesn't go to church regularly. That struck me as an interesting commentary, but certainly didn't feel it changed my opinion of them as characters.

I am not an atheist, and am happy in my religious beliefs, but even if I WERE an atheist, I'd probably join a church just to annoy the likes of Richard Dawkins (A particularly irritating, "evangelical" atheist here in the UK who views anyone who has a faith as being, essentially, a misguided fool) :-)

...There's a nice discussion in an old New Mutants where the Catholic Empath and the Roman pantheon worshipping Magma (I think that technically makes her a Pagan, but I'm never sure whether that's a suitable word to use) discuss their respective faiths after Magma relates a story wherein she met Hercules. Is her faith stronger because she's met one of her Gods, or is his, because he still believes even though he HASN'T met his God. Appropriately, it doesn't give an answer.


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...


Posted by Icon on Monday, March 06 2006 at 15:08:25 GMT

Many of those have their beliefs tied up in their powers or character. I'd have a much harder time saying what denomination (or absence of same) some of the more generically-themed characters are, like: Robin, Argent, Impulse..., Steel, Wonder Girl..., Joto, Hawkman..., Metamorpho, Captain Boomerang (Senior and Junior), and the like...


Posted by Nemo on Monday, March 06 2006 at 05:25:13 GMT

re: "How do you relate to the characters in comics, DC especially, who are characterised as atheistic/agnostic?"

I wish there were more of them, but the ratio of atheist characters in comics to characters who have some sort of faith seems fairly reflective of real life percentages, so I can't really complain. However, I don't necessarily relate to a character because he's an atheist; I just think, "Attaboy."

re: "Would you still be an atheist if you'd had the experiences Mr Terrific and co have had?"

Sure I would. Ockham's razor tells me that a "supernatural" or "divine" experience is far more likely a personal, psychological experience rather than an objectively falsifiable one. Considering what I know of Mr. Terrific's experiences, I don't see why I'd think any differently.

From: "Religion in Comics" forum discussion, started 3 August 2007 on official DC Comics website (http://dcboards.warnerbros.com/web/thread.jspa?threadID=2000125054&tstart=0; viewed 6 August 2007):

Aug 2, 2007 3:11 PM

I went on this site a few nights ago and it had a list of various superheroes, villians and various other characters from comics and each of their religion and/or religious views.

Aside from a few surprises about characters' religons, I was just so surprised how little religion is featured in comics. Aside from obvious characters portraying their religion (Huntress for example), there are very few religious points ever really made.

I, for one, would love to see religous debates between superheroes. Y'know, like Superman (being Methodist) arguing with, say, Mr. Terrific (an Atheist) over the importance of religion and God within their work. Or one of the New Gods destroying the very basis of a hero's religion.

Although a sensitive issue, I think it's still an extremely interesting subject matter that I think deserves more focus in the DCU [DC Universe].

Well, I've ranted enough. Now let's hear what everyone else out there thinks.

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:
Religious Affiliation

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

Egyptian Orthodox(Christian)

...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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