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The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Character

From: Jeffrey Weiss, "Comic-book heroes seldom reveal their faith: Recent revelation of the Thing's religion was a rare moment for pop culture", published in Dallas Morning News, 24 August 2002 (http://www.bluecorncomics.com/thingjew.htm; viewed 21 December 2005):
Over the years, the writers told readers all kinds of things about the habits and foibles of the characters. We knew about their taste in clothing, their troubles with relationships, their sense of humor. But we rarely discovered whether they followed any particular religion.

That seems odd in one way. Back in the dawn of the modern comic book, more than 90 percent of Americans self-identified with a particular religion, mostly some kind of Christianity. Why wouldn't reality-linked superheroes have a particular religion?

Explicitly Religious Comics Characters
[a list of 20 characters features 10 Jewish characters, 8 Christian characters, plus:]
Dr. Stephen Strange is Master of the Mystic Arts.
Thor is one of many Norse gods.

Thor and God

Many issues of Thor featuring the famed titular superhero as well as other fellow Asgardians speaking of a creator or higher supreme being who created their race. Odin was the father and ruler of the Asgardian gods, but he was not regarded as omnipotent. In fact, Odin died in recent Marvel continuity.

There was a memorable issue of Namor (written and drawn by John Byrne), in which Namor the Sub-Mariner was on trail. Thor was one of the witnesses. The bailiff naturally hesitated when it came time to swearing Thor in on a Bible, but Thor said he had no problem acknowledging a greater God, and we was quite willing to be sworn in just as anybody regular person would be.

In an old Pre-Korvac Avengers story, Thor is with the Avengers when they walk into a church. Thor admits he is uncomfortable because he knows that the God of that church doesn't think much of old Thor. Thor admitted that neither he nor Odin actually claim any sort of supremacy, but that many members of the church find Thor to be offensive. The point seemed to be that Thor does not consider himself a "God" in the same sense that most contemporary monotheists use the word.

From: "Religion in Comic Universes" forum page on "Captain Comics" website (http://www.captaincomics.us/forums/lofiversion/index.php/t2620.html; viewed 5 January 2006):

In Avengers issue #171, when the team enters a Catholic convent (looking for Jocasta):

Wanda: You seem a bit uncomfortable, Thor?

Thor: (who has taken off his winged helmet) Aye, Wanda, verily! This house of Christian worship hath no regard for the Asgardian god of thunder!

Wanda: Should it?

Thor: Nay, milady! E'en my father, mighty Odin, who is called all-powerful, doth lay no claim to supreme divinity... and yet t'would seem that many mark my very existence as an affront to this edifice!

Infinity Crusade

Thor was identified as among Marvel's most religious in Infinity Crusade Thor was one of 33 characters who were identified as the most religious superheroes in the Marvel Universe in Infinity Crusade (June 1993). In this issue, a powerful being who identified herself as "the Goddess" kidnapped the superheroes she had identified as being the most religious active superheroes at the time. The Goddess was a manifestation of the "benevolent" side of Adam Warlock, and she planned to use these heroes in her crusade to rid the galaxy of evil and usher in a new golden age of peace. After these 33 characters had been kidnapped by the Goddess, the remaining superheroes gathered to try to figure out what was going on. The Vision analyzed data about who had been taken and who had not, and explained his analysis (Infinity Crusade #1, page 32):
Now that the appropriate files have been examined I believe I have sufficient hard data to put forth that theory I mentioned earlier. I feel confident I know why these particular paranormals were abducted. All the missing share a common trait or experience... An event or attitude that might be categorized as religious. Many among the missing hold deeply felt moral stands or intense spiritual belief systems. Those who do not fit that profile have all had after-death experiences... My theory does not hold that these attitudes aided in the missing individual's abduction, only that these traits may have determined who would be taken.

The negligible impact that Thor has on the religious beliefs of most people in the Marvel Universe

From: "The Shape of THINGS to Come" (interview with Marvel Comics editor Tom Brevoort) posted on Orthodox Union website (OU.ORG - Your Gateway to the Jewish Internet), (http://www.ou.org/ncsy/projects/kp/5763/kpwint63/thing.htm; viewed 30 November 2005):
KP [Keeping Posted/interviewer]: The Thing lives in a universe where you have characters like Thor and Hercules running around. What does this do to the state of monotheism, in your opinion?

TB [Tom Brevoort]: Well, I think that for the average person in the Marvel universe, sort of taking it from that point of view, they look at Thor and they say he is a superhero. He is no different then a Mr. Fantastic or Spider-Man or Cyclops; that his get-up, his shtick, his whatever, is based on the mythological god of thunder. But I do not believe that most people in the Marvel universe actually believe he is the bona fide article. In terms of the superhero community, they have a little more experience with, perhaps, having walked the streets of Asgard or walked the halls of Mount Olympus or whatnot, and given more of a tangible sense of the reality of the place, but in the same token they have seen colossal wonders. They've seen Galactus, they have been on other planets, they've seen the Celestials and whatnot. I think belief is a fairly personal thing. As a matter of fact, oddly enough, I was just editing this morning the script for a short eleven-page story for our upcoming issue of Marvel Double Shots that's all about Reed and Franklin talking about whether Reed believes in G-d. And his take is, essentially, that having seen, science and religion are two sides of the same coin and having seen the scope and the breadth and the depth of the universe, it seems like there is an ordered mind behind it, that it all follows rules and that it is all logical and that it all makes sense and that can't be an accident, and I believe because of these things that I've seen. So I don't think that having encounters with Thor, whether you are an ordinary person on the ground or a superhero in the air necessarily has that much of an impact. It may be a testing of your faith. It may make you question your beliefs a little bit more, but the basic tenet of the faith is belief in that which cannot be proven. And so it doesn't necessarily make such an impact depending on the individual.

From: Regie Rigby, "The question of religion" article, "Fool Britannia" column, posted on "Silver Bullet Comics" website (http://www.silverbulletcomicbooks.com/fool/111010997522360.htm; viewed 22 December 2005):

How secular are comics? How seriously do comics take religion? How seriously should comics take religion? Religion is certainly impossible to avoid in American comics. Deities from every pantheon you could think of keep popping up, in the Marvel Universe they even have a thunder god as part of a superhero team!

You could argue of course that this is mythology rather than religion. After all, although there are bound to be a few devotees somewhere, there can't be very many people who actually believe in Thor. Having him join the Avengers isn't messing with anyone's religious belief, any more than Ray Harryhausen was messing with people's religious beliefs when he put the Roman and Greek gods into his films.

Playing with defunct pantheons is one thing. Using gods that people actually worship is another. Messing with a person's gods or prophets risks causing offence, or worse. Just ask Salman Rushdie.

Heimdall and Volstagg, gods of Asgard, speak of Jesus
Above: Heimdall and Volstagg, two "gods" of Asgard (from Teutonic/Scandanavian mythology) speak of Jesus, although perhaps not reverentially. [From: The Amazing Spider-Man #503 (March 2004), titled "Chasing a Dark Shadow", page 7; written by J. Michael Straczynski, pencilled by John Romita, Jr., inked by Scott Hanna; reprinted in: The Amazing Spider-Man: The Book of Ezekiel trade paperback, Marvel Entertainment Group: New York City (2004).]

From: Alan Donald, "The Tenth Draft" column, published in 2003 on Silver Bullet Comics website and also published as a magazine insert (http://www.silverbulletcomicbooks.com/final/105584240589479.htm; viewed 12 May 2006):

The Panel
Very different people from different parts of the comicbook industry, with different experiences and ideas on the industry come together to answer your questions ...[including] me, The Columnist...

This week's question is:
"What is your opinion on the portrayal of religion in comicbooks?"

The Columnist [Alan Donaled]: "I find it quite odd to be frank over in Marvel we've got a Norse God running round as a superhero yet claiming to be a God. Over in DC we've got demons as baddies and a whole planet full of Gods... I think that with some major exceptions religion has been handled very badly in comics with the very term God being cheapened and tarnished (whilst both companies simultaneously create characters who act in ways that espouse the values of most major religions (aside from the whole beating people up thing)). Perhaps the best exception to the rule is The Sandman by Neil Gaiman (and co-creators). Gaiman managed to bring in all the Gods of history and DC's continuity and yet he managed to produce a good balance. More than this (though Gaiman disputes this reading of his work) I found The Sandman to be an incredible work that fitted in wonderfully with my belief in the Judeo-Christian God (the creator of the Silver City, in my reading of it anyway).

The Preacher was a blasphemous pagan work, yet very enjoyable. Even more blasphemous is Battle Pope but I believe God has a sense of humour.

I have no problem with other religions, or other facets of my belief being portrayed in comicbooks. I found parts (and probably the parts most people didn't have a problem with, conversely I didn't have a problem with and quite enjoyed the parts many people did complain about) of Preacher to be offensive but I except it and move on.

Bloody hell was that a witter or what? I guess what I'm trying to say is I have no problem with religion in comics, any religion. I have no problem with works like the Preacher and in fact I prefer them over my big bugbear... The cheapening of God, of religion. The two major companies have loads of 'Gods', if character isn't a hero or a mutant then they are classified as a God... it's cheap, overused and deeply, well, offensive."


From: "What religion do superhero's belong to? [sic]" forum discussion started 18 July 2002 on "Toon Zone" website (http://forums.toonzone.net/showthread.php?t=41332; viewed 21 May 2007):

07-18-2002, 01:02 PM

What religion do superhero's [sic] belong to?

I'd like to discuss what religious beliefs are favorite costumed hero's belong to. Everyone knows Daredevil is Catholic. But beyond that, what do we know of superhero's beliefs? I'm thinking of mostly the Marvel Universe, but you DC fans feel free to contribute as well...

07-18-2002, 04:03 PM
Ed Liu

...I think we can safely exclude the gods of the respective universes from this discussion, since it's pretty clear who Thor, Hercules, Odin, Loki, and Zeus would believe in...

07-19-2002, 11:06 AM

Actually, I think we could include Thor and Hercules in this discussion. Funny thing is, if you follow Thor's title closely, he reveals that he and the rest of the Asgardians believe in a "Higher Power". In issue 20 something of the current run of Thor, a little child makes Thor pause along the street. The little kid says something like. "My mommy says that you're a liar claiming to be a God, and that there's only one God, but you're not it". Thor explains something like, "I'm a higher being, but their is a higher being than me and my kind, so your mother is right to believe whatever she chooses".

This belief actually goes back to the Stan Lee written days of the title. He included Thor and the rest of Asgard as having this belief to get any Christian readers upset off his back.

But the belief makes sense from an Asgardian point of view. They're immortal, superior beings. If they "worship" anyone, it's Odin. But even Odin believes in the "higher force", as seen in the current series' 2nd annual, where he saved Jake Olsen's soul from Hel, (the Asgardian version) and released it to heaven.

So why believe in a higher being if your an Asgardian? Because Asgardians may be immortal, but they can still be killed, (as witness recently by Odin). A death in Immortal Asgard is always a mournful period. Since they know they'll never die of old age, the effect is like they feel they'll never see their dead friends again. Most Christians, (or other believers of faith) have the knowledge that they'll will see their dead loved ones again someday in Heaven. Asgardians have no such assurance since they live forever. But they can console themselves with the fact that if they ever do die, at least THEN they can see their loved ones again. So that's why I feel it makes sense for them to believe in a higher power.

From: "'X-men' comic books and movie tackle Christianity" forum discussion started 11 April 2003 on IIDB Secular Community Forums website (http://www.iidb.org/vbb/archive/index.php/t-50750.html; viewed 12 July 2007):

Bobzammel [a self-described atheist/agnostic]
April 12, 2003, 10:56 AM

...A few Marvel characters have religious backgrounds. The Thing is Jewish, although he is not practicing. Magneto is also either Jewish or a Gypsy. The Avenger Firebird is a Catholic missionary. Storm is a Pagan. Thor thinks he is a God. Daredevil is also a Catholic.

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?

05/04/2003, 16:36

Here's some for future reference that aren't in Heroclix yet.

Firebird's is Catholic. Punisher was Catholic (I'm not sure now). Aurora from Alpha Flight is very Catholic in one of her split personalities. Dagger is Catholic (not sure about Cloak). Bushwhacker (a villain) is Catholic. Venom's Catholic (Eddie Brock that is ;) ).

As for those that are in the game:

Thor at least believes in the Catholic church's beliefs (as he expressed in the classic 'Whatever Gods There Be' storyline) and I'd guess that Doom is Catholic, when he's not being a master of the occult. Most middle-European monarchs in his region are. I'm sure there are more.

05/04/2003, 18:23

...Thor isn't so much Catholic, as much as he knows there are greater powers than he and his kind...

05/05/2003, 01:36

Of course Thor knows that there are greater powers than he. His dad's Odin, he hangs out with Zues and he darn well knows about The Living Tribunal, Eternity, Death, Galactus, and all of the Celestials.

05/14/2003, 11:17

Also, Thor confirmed his belief in God in both an Ultron adventure (where he denied that he felt uncomfortable in a nunnery (Catholic, of course) because of his belief in God). Just before this whole "Lord of Asgard" thing started, he consoled a Catholic child that his faith in God was true.

But the strongest moment came about in the classic "Whatever Gods There Be". In that story he saved a Catholic priest from a collapsing church. The priest had been losing faith and wondering whether he should have been worshipping Thor, a god he could see, all along. Thor, mightily supporting the church, tells him that though there are great powers in Asgard, there is One whose radiance outshines us all, and (and you really have to see the issue to get how dramatic this is.) "Thy faith is NOT misplaced!"

Thor and Odin have both referred to God as "The one to whom every knee must bend, and whose light outshines us all."

If not specifically Catholic, Thor and the Asgardians are at least a god-fearing people. However, "Whatever gods There Be" does give at least a little evidence towards his actual belief system.

08/11/2003, 16:56

re: But the strongest moment came about in the classic "Whatever Gods There Be"...

Does anyone know which issues of Thor this was? Or was it a special limited series?

08/16/2003, 16:56

This was a normal issue of Thor. I have the issue in my archives. I'll find it. The title of the story is 'Whatever gods there be'.

08/17/2003, 00:52

re: If not specifically Catholic, Thor and the Asgardians are at least a god-fearing people. However, "Whatever gods There Be" does give at least a little evidence towards his actual belief system.

Yeah, but there are two problems with this logic. For one, that obviously doesn't make him Catholic - or even Christian. He could be talking about Yaweh (is that correct? The Jewish name for God), or even Allah. All he confirmed, from your description, was the believe in 'a god.'

But secondly - and more importantly - Thor couldn't actually 'confirm' Christianity or Judaism. I don't think he could confirm Islam either, but I don't know enough about it. The reason is that one of the main points of the Ten Commandments is that "Thou shalt worship no false gods" ... in other words, it is against Judaism/Christianity to believe in more than one god. The existence of Thor, Odin, etc sort of kills that, don't you think? Unless of course you want to consider all other gods a test of faith - those that believe are unfaithful. But then with all those gods running around, it would be literally impossible to know which one was correct for sure - especially because every single God has a face attacthed to him, EXCEPT the monotheistic Gods.

Heh. Monotheistic gods is sort of an oxymoron :)

08/17/2003, 01:54

re: ...The reason is that one of the main points of the Ten Commandments is that "Thou shalt worship no false gods" ... in other words, it is against Judaism/Christianity to believe in more than one god. The existence of Thor, Odin, etc sort of kills that, don't you think?

Here we encounter the distinct difference between "worship" and "acknowledgement".

Look at it this way; when you go to the store, you see someone you know, but you decide not to speak to him, you just nod politely and walk away. You acknowledge him, but you don't devote your time to him.

I'm a devout Catholic, I believe in God and all that comes with the faith, but I also acknowledge the existence of other faiths and religions, and with that, the existence of other gods. This however, does not mean I worship these "other" gods. This is not by any means saying that "mine is right, and yours is wrong" or, "yours is right, and mine is wrong". It is simply about tolerance, and acknowledging that not everyone out there belives in God, or "a god".

"Some people prefer Pepsi, some people prefer Coke" (Cake - Comfort Eagle), they take one or the other, but still know there is "the other".

And overkill, the "nunnery" as you referred, is known as a 'convent'.

08/17/2003, 12:13

There is a large difference between the acknowledgement of other faiths, and other other gods. I, for one, am not religious myself. I say that I don't believe in God, but I'm not opposed to the idea either - if one day I have a 'revelation', so be it. However, I have been to many different services (all of Christian denomination), and I acknowledge the existence and/or validity of those sects. I do not, however, acknowledge the existences of God. Acknowledging the existence of God and Jesus Christ (as a being, and not an idea)makes one a Christian, even a non-practicing one. Similarly, acknowledging the existence of Allah would make one a believer of Islam. The reason is that religion is founded not upon worship, but upon belief. If you believe that Shiva, Brama, and Ganesha exist, then you would be Hindu. Or Hindi .... I'm not sure what the proper adjective form is. Note that whereas many of us read about Thor and Odin (sometimes outside of comics even), most of us only know the idea of Thor. I don't know anybody who prays to the Thunder God for rain, nor whom prays to the Allfather for glory in his dealings at the office.

The point here is that the main basis of any monotheistic religion is the idea that there is only one God. The Christian Coalition, for example, could never acknowledge the existence of Allah; because in doing so, that means that there are now two Gods, when there ought only be one. Do you know what I mean?

Oh, and "nunnery" is actually a correct word, albeit an archaic one. Shakespeare used it a few times. Like in Hamlet, where Hamlet told Ophelia "Get thee to a nunnery."

08/17/2003, 14:21

As to praying to the Allfather. I do know some who still profess this faith these include rituals and discussions etc... These people do take their faith seriously as I have previously stated. The 3 Unitarian Churches I have visited all have had CUUP Chapters (Covenant Universalist Unitarian Pagans.) So if you type in those CUPPS in a search engine you should be able to connect with them. Also The group in Lexington Kentucky of the Nordic faith tend to refer to themselves as Norse Heathens.

08/17/2003, 15:10

Batman is a confirmed atheist, Superman is Protestant (exact denomination unknown), Thor's [religion] is his own dad...

08/17/2003, 15:26

Just to throw in my two cents regarding the Thor, belief in one God ect...

In the Marvel Universe it has been readily accepted as cannon that the Asgardians, Olympians, and such are not gods, but in fact Alien races, who at one time saw fit to intervene in the race of man, and sought their worship, but no longer do so. So Thor acknowledging the existince of One God, or supreme being, doesn't neccesarily negate the first commandment (which actualy reads "Thou shalt have no other gods before Me, Exedous 20:2-3).

And as for Christians acknowleding Allah, Christians do in fact acknowledge both Allah and Yaweh, for they are in fact the same God. Allah and Yaweh are two different names for the God of Abraham, which Christians, Jews, and Muslims all believe in, we just believe that he has done different things and worship him in different ways.

Well that's enough for my Sunday homily!

God bless!

08/17/2003, 18:03

I thought that gods other than "that one" were only Aliens in Earth/Universe X. I know that the storyline revolved around that point. I wasn't aware that idea existed outside of that storyline though.

But as far as God/Allah/Yaweh being the same .... they are, and they aren't. In theory, all of them are the same person with different names. All of them created the world, and then created life. then all of them taught people to be faithful to Him, and punished those that weren't. In practice, you'll find that they all have slightly different personalities in the New Testament/Quran/Torah, and that most of the .... more stringent believers in the faith hold that they are NOT all the same. Some more Fundamentalist believers actually get very angry when you compare their religion to one of the other 'big three'. Indeed, history supports this idea: the Crusades basically boiled down the God vs. Allah, much in the way that the modern fight over Jerusalem boils down to Yaweh vs. Allah. So yes, all monotheistic gods are the same, but only in theory .... but then again, they have to be. After all, how many different ways could there be to create the world?

But it's obviously much easier for us to talk about this, since we gamers tend to be a more Liberal bunch. :) I also notice that gamers tend to be more likely to be agnostic, which means that we argue from the standpoint of theory, rather than personal convictions. Which is good and bad, I suppose.

08/17/2003, 19:38

Well Jean in response to what you said about Alla/Yaweh/God it does boil down to the fact that fundamently Christians, Jews, and Muslims worship the same God. All three base their faith in the God of Abraham. However, Muslims believe that it was Ishmael, the son of Abraham and his handmaiden Hagar, who was the rightful heir to the covenant of God and Abraham, whereas Jews and Christians believe that it was Isaac, the son of Abraham and his wife Sarah. Christians differ from the Jews in that they believe that God manifested himself on Earth as his Son Jesus, while the Jews still await the Messiah. Of course the three different faiths and thier numerous sects and denominations believe different things about God/Allah/Yaweh and how He has interacted with us throught out time.

As for the Crusades they were more about politcal power, and who controlled the rights to the Holy Land, and I think it's safe to say that the crusades have never really ended, for that region is still in conflict. But that happens when three different groups have different ideas about the same God.

As for the Asagardians, in the Official handbook of the Marvel Universe they are listed under Alien Races (as they are anyother time they are listed catogorically), The Earth X trilogy just took this little known fact andexpanded on it. Here's a helpful link on the Asgardians:

And I'm not sure I agree with your theory on agnostics arguing strictly from theory is correct. Believing in nothing is still a belief and I have seen many an agnostic and athist throw fact and thory out the window for their belief in nothing or their belief in indecision;)

People are people no matter what faith or lack thereoff and are just as willing to become fanatical if they believe strongly enough in something... or nothing.

08/21/2003, 11:16

There's a difference though, between the way Thor and the Asgardians define themselves as gods and how God is defined as a god. Odin himself prays to God, and they both have said that they are as nothing compared to 'the one to whom every knee must bend and whose radiance outshines us all".

As to his statement to the priest in 'Whatever gods there be', not to mention his words regarding the CONVENT (yes, I know it's a convent, simply chose the wrong word) not to mention his words to the little boy in 'Across All Worlds', I'd say that there's a pretty good shot that he at least believes to some degree in the Catholic faith, even if he himself is not a Catholic...

From: "Any Christian Superheroes?" thread began 22 April 2004 on rec.arts.comics.dc.universe newsgroup (http://groups.google.com/group/rec.arts.comics.dc.universe/browse_thread/thread/4e5839f075fecf76/8821b5db671e7ce1; viewed 20 June 2006):
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... [It] seems unrealistic that there would be none.

...I know that for a large chunk of the population, faith is an important part of their lives...

There would seem to be a lot of untapped ground for storytelling. I wonder why it hasn't happened. So, what do you think: Agnostic/Atheist writers trying to force their worldview on impressionable children, or writers shying away from something that could be handled very badly and offensively?

I, for one, would like to see some character get revamped as a Born Again Christian, rather than the usual darker, angrier more violent version. And not a religious zealot either -- tolerent, although perhaps disapproving at times.

From: Peter Henrikson
Date: Thurs, Apr 22 2004 5:43 pm

A couple thoughts

Thor would have to believe in his faith. So there is at least one. (Is that what you meant by "certainly not in the DC universe")

As to why we don't see them. There is an expression "Never discuss religion or politics". Presumable because it will always lead to a disagreement at the least and a major blowout is not uncommon. Some things people believe so strongly that nothing will sway them. If you suggest that they may be wrong, it won't be taken well.DC and Marvel are avoiding the issue so as not to piss off half of their readers. (although they don't seem to be too averse to stating an opinion on the political issues)

From: Dan McEwen
Date: Thurs, Apr 22 2004 7:50 pm

re: "Thor would have to believe in his faith. So there is at least one..."

This sort of goes against the idea of "faith". Thor doesn't have a faith associated with him. He's just there. Since an ever-growing number of stories have him act as nothing more than an average child (super-powered, of course), it's hard to imagine he sees himself as anything other than just a person.

From: Peter Henrikson
Date: Thurs, Apr 22 2004 11:18 pm

I'm assuming a bit here but, since Thor is a Scandinavian god wouldn't there be a religion or faith with people who worship him? (with a name like Henrikson, I should know more about this subject.) Of course, since Thor knows for a fact that he's a god, "faith" might not be an accurate term.

From: WRH Bill
Date: Fri, Apr 23 2004 5:13 pm

The issue of Marvel's Thor being worshipped as an actual god was pretty much ignored in the series until recently, but current Thor writer Dan Jurgens has gotten heavily into it in the last couple of years, with a storyline in which Thor, who has replaced Odin as ruler of Asgard, brings Asgard to Earth and sets himself up as ruler of Earth for its own good. A Thor cult is started, based on Thor actually being able to perform "miracles" for the people of Earth, and it comes into conflict, eventually violent, with Christianity and other established religions.

From: "Religion and Comics" discussion forum on "scans_daily" section of LiveJournal website (http://community.livejournal.com/scans_daily/1370216.html?thread=42766696#t42766696; viewed 26 April 2006):
2006-01-29 01:24 am

Reed's met God face-to-face, remember. [Referring to Mr. Fantastic of the Fantastic Four]

2006-01-29 01:38 am

Which brings up an interesting point.

Monotheistic religions tell us that there is one, and only one, god in the world. But in Marvel and DC universes, you have other, "pagan" gods wandering around all the time. Thor and Hercules (all right, so he's only a demi-god... still) bandy about Earth 616, speaking a bad parody of Elizabethan English. In DC you've got the whole Greek pantheon with Wonder Woman and Girl.

Yet there are still agnostics, or atheists, or people who believe there god is the only one that exists. I recall the scene from Marvel's 1602, where the preacher revealed that the reason they kept the staff of Thor a secret was because it would've proved that the pagans were right and the Christians, by extension, were wrong. But there's not really any indication (that I've seen) that such has happened in the normal universes... do people just believe these guys are hoaxes, or they're just taking the names and aren't "real" gods, or what?

2006-01-29 01:49 am

It could be like the scene from "The Justice Society Returns!" where Ted Knight basically says he doesn't believe in the spiritual or magical (despite being on the same team as Alan Scott, Dr. Fate, and the Spectre), and just views them as energies or origins of a nature not yet explained by science.


2006-01-29 01:58 am

Or from She-Hulk: "They're not really gods, they're just lunatics who believe they are?"

2006-01-29 04:11 am

As I recall, in one of the Jack Kirby Thors the God of Thunder said that there was a "higher power" above even Odin. So basically it's just a suspension of disbelief thing so that writers can mine story ideas from all mythologies and religions. Just for instance, in Mark Waid's FF, as mentioned, Reed and the crew meet God. A few years later, in JMS's FF, Reed IS God and manages to create the universe in a temporal paradox (in one of those moments that make me go Boo, you whore to ol' Jan Michael).

From: "The Corner" (letter column), published in National Review Online, 29 July 2002 (http://www.nationalreview.com/thecorner/2002_07_28_corner-archive.asp#85293899; viewed 12 May 2006):
[Jonah Goldberg]
Posted 2:08 PM

Email box ...filling with...comic geeknesssss...losing...consciousness. A few quick points... Thor and Hercules, obviously, are Methodists. Whoops, just kidding. But they clearly have religions as they are Gods and adopting atheism would be suicidal...

From: "An argument for why religion should stay out of comics" message board started 17 May 2006 on official DC Comics website (http://dcboards.warnerbros.com/web/thread.jspa?threadID=2000076170&start=15; viewed 30 May 2006):
Posted: May 22, 2006 9:47 AM

No religion in comics?

Here are some of the things that may be missed or have to be adjusted.

Wonder Woman
Ghost Rider

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

...Thor is a God himself so religion is a moot point for him... lgot
Posted: Tue Mar 01, 2005 11:49 pm

I remember an old number of Avengers - It was when John Byrne, George Perez and John Buscema are working with it and they go inside a Church (or a Convent) and Thor says he felt not confortable inside there because of the religious stuff.

About worshiping there is also the story where Loki kidnaps Scott Summers and Madeline (when they are married still) and a few friends when they are traveling in one plane and later the X-man go there to rescue them (the art was Paul Smith's) and Loki tried to give them - humans - special skills but they would be grateful and worship him (although of course he does not revel that part because it was really not that important).

One of the best things is also in The Ultimates (the version of Avengers) with a Thor with a vision more world-wise. He does also proclaims to be a God all the time... great stuff.

From: "Religious Beliefs of Marvel Characters" discussion board started 20 October 2004 on Comic-Forum.com website (http://www.comic-forum.com/marvel/Religious_beliefs_of_Marvel_characters_397905.html; viewed 8 June 2006):
Date: 20 Oct 2004 21:55:56
From: OSinner1

Subject: Religious beliefs of Marvel characters?

Does anybody know the religious beliefs of various characters?

Date: 20 Oct 2004 23:16:20
From: Samy Merchi

Barring any actual solid evidence in the characters' own books, you could always fall back on the Infinity Crusade and see which sides the characters were on in that conflict. Anybody feel like whipping those issues out and checking these specific characters?

Date: 21 Oct 2004 03:52:34
From: The Black Guardian

Anyway, here's the list of those who "faithfully served" the Goddess: Captain America, Jamie Madrox the Multiple Man, Jean Grey, Namorita, Silhouette, Spider-Man, Puck, Archangel, the Inhuman Crystal, Firelord, Hercules, Shaman, Talisman, Moondragon, Quicksilver, the Scarlet Witch, the Silver Surfer, Sersi, the Living Lightning, Thor, the Invisible Woman, USAgent, Moon Knight, Wolfsbane, Doctor Strange, Wonder Man, Daredevil, the Black Knight, Windshear, Sasquatch, Storm, Gamora, Sleepwalker.

IIRC, even if you read the crossover, it's still pretty vague in what religions the heroes believed.

Date: 21 Oct 2004 03:57:48
From: Samy Merchi

In many cases, it [Infinity Crusade] is the strongest canonical reference to many of the characters' religious stance. Some lucky ones have been dealt with at more depth in their own books (DD, Rahne, Storm et al.) but for many characters Infinity Crusade is the biggest canonical reference. If we want to go by canon rather than sheer postulation.

Date: 21 Oct 2004 01:45:45
From: JWMeritt

Trick question! There ARE Gods that are Marvel characters. One blatantly obvious: A vampire is repelled by religious symbols. When one was hit by the Holy Hammer wielded by the God of Thunder (who obviously believed in Himself), he sputtered out...

We have Asgardians (Viking Gods), Olympians (Greek Gods), ... pick your religion. The few times it has played a role is when Wolvie made a cross in front of Dracula, who was suprised by its non-effect (it was wielded by a nonbeliever), and Nightcrawler took the cross away from Wolvie and seared Drac big time. And then Drac was burned on Kittie's Star of David. And of course the Vamp that sputtered out on Thor's hammer...

Date: 31 Oct 2004 22:14:15
From: Randal

Where did this happen? I've heard of it before but never read the actual story. It seems ridiculous to me that that the hammer would have any more effect than Thor himself. If Thor was there why didn't that drive the vampires away? If Christ appeared would he need a Crucifix to scare vampires?

Date: 21 Oct 2004 08:13:54
From: Just Jak!

...Belief indicates faith which means that thinking something is true without evidence...

So nobody in the MU [Marvel Universe] 'believes' in Thor. Worships him, yes. Takes him as their god, yes. But belief dies in the face of evidence and is replaced by knowledge.

Date: 22 Oct 2004 18:21:53
From: Sean M. Connolly

You assume that faith and reason are contrary principles, not complementary ones.

Date: 22 Oct 2004 22:40:47
From: Matt Deres

I'm not sure that's what he's saying. Faith and skepicism are contrary principles. Where there is faith, there is a resistance to evidence and where there is evidence, faith is irrelevent. If Thor were alive and well and attending Avengers press conferences, saying you had faith in his existence would be meaningless.

Date: 22 Oct 2004 07:03:46
From: Just Jak!

This is actually a pretty interesting question that never gets looked at in the comics (for pretty good reason, I can't imagine it would help sales). How would current religions fare in the face of living ancient gods walking around and acting as super-heroes? Sure, there would be the hard-core believers who think they're fakes or deceivers, but how would the luke warm believers take the fact that Thor, Norse God of Thunder, is walking around...most faith systems around today don't allow for the existence of gods other than their own.

I seem to recall a character named Crusader who fought against Thor but lost his powers when his faith wavered upon realizing that Thor actually WAS a god, as he claimed...

Date: 22 Oct 2004 14:46:23
From: Lee K. Seitz

I think I read somewhere that most average citizens in the Marvel Universe don't believe Thor is actually *the* Thor of Norse mythology. (Unfortunately, I don't remember where I read that. TOHOTMU, be?) And I don't know if the Mavels Comics skip week event is considered canon, but the Thor comic there potrayed Thor as someone using technology [to] simulate magic.

I still remember Byrne's great scene, I think it was in NAMOR, where Thor was sworn in as a trial witness. The bailiff naturally hesitated in having Thor swear on a Bible, but Thor said he had no problem acknowledging a greater god. (Or is that "God"?)

Date: 31 Oct 2004 22:33:27
From: Randal

People have different standards of Godhood. In an old Pre-Korvac Avengers story, the avengers, Thor incluced, walk into a church. Thor admits he is uncomfortable since he knows that the God of that church doesn't think much of old Thor. Didn't really seem to imply hostility so much as dismissal. Thor goes on to admit that neither he nor Odin actually claim any sort of supremacy, but that many members of the church find Thor to be offensive. I think his whole point is that Thor himself does not consider himself a God in the sense that most people today use the word.

re: "I seem to recall a character named Crusader who fought against Thor but lost his powers when his faith wavered upon realizing that Thor actually WAS a god, as he claimed..."

Particularly since I didn't think he ever went around proselytizing himself, I would think most people who knew what thor was (fanatic or luke warm) would just think he was a powerful alien creature that had once been worshiped by people with less sophisticated ideas of theology. They or not find him offensive, but they wouldn't find him a challenge to their faith.

From: "Banned for using this nic" thread began 4 Apri 1999 in rec.arts.comics.dc.universe newsgroup (http://groups.google.com/group/rec.arts.comics.dc.universe/browse_thread/thread/f38288dc4e56542/8a873a0a53da3d0d; viewed 12 June 2006)
From: Robert Justus
Date: Tues, Apr 6 1999 12:00 am

...the only really religious person that's sane that I recall in DCU is Huntress, and I guess Wonder Woman... Anyone else...? ...I'm just wondering if DCU has many more religious heroes than I can recall.

I don't think we should count Spectre or Zauriel. I tend to think of them like Thor or Hercules. Representatives of religion, not worshipers...

From: "The religions of comic book characters" thread started 10 February 2001 on rec.arts.comics.marvel.universe newsgroup (http://groups.google.com/group/rec.arts.comics.marvel.universe/browse_thread/thread/13590fda80c5d6e1/e5e0b094ced80f0b; viewed 12 June 2006):

From: Terry McCombs
Date: Sat, Feb 10 2001 6:35 pm

For the most part you don't get much of an idea as to the private lives of most comic book characters. Marvelish soap opera not withstanding.

What I mean is you don't get much of an idea what their politics or religion might be. This is sensible enough I guess as they don't want to offend any of their customers... for the most part you just can't really say just what, if any religion or personal philosophy that or that comic character might follow.

What do you think?

From: Menshevik
Date: Sun, Feb 11 2001 6:05 am

...As far as Marvel is concerned, there are a few characters where you do: ...the mythology connected with Thor, Hercules etc. (which is really treated more as literature than actual religion), and a few others...

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 Will at 7:47 pm on June 14, 2006:

A reference back in the Bronze Age of Comics to the Avengers "bowing their heads in prayer" after a funeral provoked a letter from a reader asking what sort of prayer? And who does Thor pray to? His father? Himself? The editorial reply indicated that they had not thought about it other than that "the Avengers, being Americans, would be mostly Christians or Jews."

This all reminds me of a different area of Popular Culture, where the religious attitudes of the characters on BABYLON 5 are explicit. Sinclair is Catholic (probably lapsed), an ex-seminarist; Garibaldi is an atheist, Ivanova a dubiously observant Jew, Dr. Franklin a Foundationist (a religion which postdates the 21st century). Sheridan, on the other hand, is one of those wishy-washy postmodernists believing "in everything, a little). Delenn seems to take human religion more seriously, literally dragging Sheridan to Reverend Willy's gospel meeting. Other clergy appear as part of the "resistance". The Centauri aristocracy is pretty clearly copied from the Roman Empire, with an official polytheism, including deified-emperor cults, which almost no one still takes seriously...

From: Bripe Klmun, "Holy Superheroes?", posted 15 June 2006 on "Bripecave" blog website (http://www.bripeklmun.dk/blog/?p=189; viewed 15 June 2006):

Source [link to "Holy Superheroes"/"Beliefwatch: Good Fight" article from Newsweek coverdated 19 June 2006; http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/13249146/site/newsweek/]

[Excerpt (focusing on Superman's religious affiliation) from Newsweek article]

I personally find the whole thing dumb. As a general rule, it's not remotely important what religion a superhero (or super villain) subscribes to. Some are of obvious importance, like Thor or Odin - some are important to their character development (Magneto), and some it's of mere background information (Kitty Pryde).

From: reader comments to "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):

David said...
There's only a few defenses I could give for the obscurity of genuine religious practice in comic books. It's difficult to reconcile the competing claims of say, Thor with those of Christianity (in the comic book world, at least)...

From: reader comments accompanying "Holy Superheroes" article, written by Steven Waldman and Michael Kress, posted 12 June 2006 on BeliefNet.com website; reprint of "Beliefwatch: Good Fight" article published in Newsweek, 19 June 2006 issue (http://www.beliefnet.com/story/193/story_19306_1.html; viewed 14 June 2006):

6/15/2006 11:25:06 AM

I agree, this is a great topic. Jestrfyl, thank you for mentioning Testament, which is a wonderful comic. I would also mention Promethea... Sandman... Kirby's New Gods... and even Hellblazer.

I'm impressed that comics have been so daring in this subject. I mean, how many people were first introduced to Norse mythology through Thor?

From: http://www.captaincomics.us/forums/lofiversion/index.php/t2620.html:

Captain Comics
Apr 13 2004, 02:04 AM

I think this topic has been addressed on this board before, and the consensus (which swayed me -- I originally held a different view) was that the vast majority of residents in the Marvel and DC don't take the claims made by the likes of Wonder Woman and Thor very seriously. They consider them superheroes with a "god" schtick, a clever marketing gimmick.

Heck, there was even a remark in some issue of Fantastic Four that someone resurrected to the effect that most Marvel denizens think Galactus is a put-on -- that he's was a National Enquirer kinda thing, like Bigfoot.

The Pope probably doesn't distinguish between Thor and Iron Man. They're both superheroes, with different "acts."

And in The Ultimates, Mark Millar made it quite obvious that nobody believes Thor's claims to godhood. In fact, in the final issue, #13 -- SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER -- Iron Man rings in the Thunder God to use Asgardian magic to get rid of a really big bomb. The dialogue goes like this:

Iron Man: "I want Thor to use his magic hammer to teleport the bomb off-world and as far away from me and you as possible."

Black Widow: "What?"

Iron Man: "Well, he's always showing off about how it can take him to Asgard and all that crap so I don't see why he couldn't just dump it in some mystical realm or something."

Wasp: "Oh my God. I think I'm going to be sick."

Black Widow: "Are you serious? This was your big plan? You're going to take the bomb and dump it in Narnia?"

Iron Man: "Oh, stop being so Eastern European and relax, Natasha. We're talking about the Norse God of Thunder here."

Black Widow: "No, we're not. We are talking about a former mental patient. Are you the only one who hasn't noticed? Thor's insane. He's out of his mind. The poor man's a delusional schizophrenic. ... Tony, please tell me you're joking. This is insane. ... I don't believe this. I cannot believe that our lives are in the hands of an ex-psychotic."

And, while The Ultimates isn't the "real" Marvel universe, it's not a stretch to believe that Natasha's attitude in the Ultimate line isn't mirrored to some extent over in the Marvel U. Most people probably don't believe Thor is a Thunder God, except for those who've actually visited Asgard. And even some of them might write it off to hypnotism, mass delusion, or some ability on Thor's part to "cloud men's minds."

In short, I doubt the Pope loses much sleep over the "Thunder God" in his midst.

Baron Bizarre
Feb 15 2005, 01:36 PM

There was a Thor comic in which the light from the destruction of a previous Asgard was implied to be the "Star of Bethlehem."

For some reason I cannot now remember, Thor was talking to a giant eyeball who told him the story of a previous Asgard that had acted out Ragnarok, causing Thor's Asgard to come into existence. Anyway, the light from the destruction of this prior Asgard was shown shining down on a manger where a Child was being born, and the dialogue went something like this:

Eyeball: I assume you know when this was, Thor?

Thor: Aye, some two thousand years ago...

Rich Lane
Feb 15 2005, 02:05 PM

That was the eye that Odin sacrificed to the Well of Mirmir, but it had grown a tad. The story was in Thor #293.

From: "Atheist superheroes?" thread, started 21 September 1999 on rec.arts.comics.marvel.universe newsgroup (http://groups.google.com/group/rec.arts.comics.marvel.universe/browse_thread/thread/e8d686f0b20944a6/af8d343aa5f07677; viewed 23 June 2006):

From: DOOM0880
Date: Wed, Sep 22 1999 12:00 am

...Luminator is a Catholic, Shamrock is [also Catholic]. Hell, I even saw Thor go in a church and kneel down and say that there is an even higher power than Odin, which is a real moment.

From: Brian Thomas Habing
Date: Wed, Sep 22 1999 12:00 am

re: "And what would Thor's religion be? Self-worship?"

There is of course the Avengers issue where he [Thor] goes into a convent and this is addressed somewhat... and there's the Thor issue where he's facing the Crusader (or some similarly themed adversary).

From: Dave Groening
Date: Wed, Sep 22 1999 12:00 am

He [Thor] might also worship their ancestors, such as Odin's father, Odin's grandfather, and the Elder of the Universe (I think he was an Elder) called Demiurge, from whose essence all of the Earth's pantheons sprang in the first place, at least according to the original Asgardian origin (not the "alien" one). From Thor's point of view, those beings must seem like superior gods.

Admittedly, it's kind of paradoxical for a god to be worshipping other gods, but it's all a matter of perspective.

From: Paulo Costa
Date: Wed, Sep 22 1999 12:00 am

Well, he [Thor] also said "this Christian house of worship is not pleasing to the Odinson" (paraphrase). It was in the Ultron Unlimited tpb [trade paperback].

From: Andrea Rotondo
Date: Thurs, Sep 23 1999 12:00 am

What Thor actually said (more or less) was...

...This Christian house of worship hath no regard for the god of thunder. My very existence is an affront to this place...

Which translates as "This church should be ticked I am here. Since, I am a pagan god and have shown up here, while the God they worship has not, I would imagine my presence should elicit some bad feelings among the Christians."

That's how I read it anyway...

From: Paulo Costa
Date: Sat, Sep 25 1999 12:00 am

And as someone else pointed out, Thor didn't say that exactly. He said "This house of Christian worship hath no regard for the Asgardian God of Thunder. [...] E'en my father, who is called all-powerful, doth lay no claim to supreme divinity... and yet 'twould seem that many mark my very existence as an afront to this place."

I couldn't check before at the time because all my comics were stored in another place.

From: DOOM0880
Date: Sat, Sep 25 1999 12:00 am

re: "For Thor, a higher power than Odin is simply an observed fact. He's met Galactus, the Celestials, etc."

Yeah, but he always thinks Odin is superior. He's a devoted guy.

From: Doug Tonks, "A Higher Power", posted 22 October 2006 on "All New! All Different! Howling Curmudgeons: Two-Fisted Comics Commentary and Criticism!" blog website (http://www.whiterose.org/howlingcurmudgeons/archives/009995.html; viewed 25 April 2007):

The never-identified but usually heeded "they" claim that there are two topics you should never talk about: religion and politics. But since Mike already brought up religion... I'll follow it up with a link to this page [link to: http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/comic_book_religion.html], which lists the religious affiliations of various comic book characters. Many of the religious identifications are backed up with lengthy supporting arguments, but some of the more minor characters get little or nothing in the way of explanation.

Some of them are not too surprising... Others are obvious...

But this being comic books, it's not too long until things start getting a bit less clear. Thor is identified as an adherent of Tuetonic paganism, but Thor's actually a god himself, so does this mean he and the other members of the Norse pantheon worship each other?...

Posted by Doug at October 22, 2006 7:12 PM

[Comments posted by readers of this page:]

Thor is actually a deicide. The Norse gods had gods above them, "Those Who Sit Above In Shadow." ISTR [I seem to recall] Thor killed them recently, or at least drove them away.

Mind you, the mythic Thor didn't necessarily worship any god, but did have a religious viewpoint, which had a somewhat fatalistic bent.

Posted by: David Van Domelen at October 24, 2006 8:08 AM

From: "The religion of comic book characters" forum discussion, started 3 December 2006 on RPG.net website (http://forum.rpg.net/showthread.php?s=9326f642dca06ede764bcd691814750c&t=299781; viewed 25 April 2007):

12-03-2006, 09:55 PM

Re: The religion of comic book characters

Perhaps this has been answered somewhere, but I've always wondered about the religions of the common people in comic books. I mean, Thor's walking around. He's been on friggin' TV, saying people nay and smiting them with his mighty hammer. I have an old issue of the Avengers where Hercules is taking bets in a bar on how many women he can lift on a big dining room table.

Did Marvel (or whoever) ever explain why the walking gods, blatant proof of divine existence, still get marginalized compared to the prominent religions of our world?

12-03-2006, 10:16 PM

Uhm, because they could just be guys with those names. I mean without going transdimensional we've had superstrong lightning tossers *better* than Thor even in Marvel? Because Thor shows some respect to the church and doesn't set up churches until the Simonson era or somedat [something like that]? Because Satan's Son has shown up on earth. Because Hell has shown up as well as ShanGriLa and reincarnation proven.

[From: http://forum.rpg.net/showthread.php?t=299781&page=2]

12-04-2006, 12:44 AM
Peter Svensson

Most people in the Marvel Universe believe that Thor is just some superpowered guy pretending to be the Thor of Norse Myth. After all, the Hulk is really strong and he's not a god. Storm can control the weather and she's just a mutant. Just because Thor claims to be a god doesn't mean that it's true.

And that's not bringing up the "Asgardians aren't gods, but psychic space vampires!" theory. (A theory which is untrue, but Wak still believes it because he's weird that way.) In a universe where there are powerful godlike aliens, what is the defining point between God and Alien?


12-04-2006, 05:35 AM

I've just finished reading the huge dose of concentrated Bronze Age Marvel Goodness that is Essential Marvel Two In One, and it tangentially hits on some of these issues:

Thor: When fighting Egyptian death god Seth, Thor gets taunted, something like "How pathetic, a god who refuses worshippers." It's just a random insult, really, but apparently they addressed the issue specifically somewhere, with Thor explicitly telling people not to worship him.


12-05-2006, 11:06 AM

Bear in mind that the site's topic is inherently tricky - speculating about the religious life of characters in an industry that, by and large, intentionally suppresses all such references, as a matter of policy! So whatever does "get out," beyond the odd character here and there with an explicitly religious background, is going to be based on pretty thin evidence.

12-05-2006, 11:57 AM
John Nowak

Right, and it's also a sort of bizarre theological environment. If you live in the Marvel Universe saying you do not believe in Thor, Norse God of Thunder, Son of Odin, is sort of like not believing Bill Gates is real. Does that mean everyone in the MU should be listed as "Believes in Thor?"

It's probably better to assume that in this context "religion" implies actual worship.

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):

Derrick Fish
Aug 18 2006, 12:22 PM

Religion in the mainstream Marvel and DC Universes is weird. I mean, in the real world, we have to rely of faith since there's no physical proof for the existance of any gods, goddesses, etc.

But in these comics, tere are "Gods" walking around everywhere. Some have their own titles... it's gotta throw a spanner into the proverbial works.

Aug 18 2006, 12:56 PM

I know. Does Thor make guest appearances at any shrines or churches dedicated to him?

Aug 18 2006, 01:39 PM

I mentioned this earlier in the thread. And Simonson addressed Thor worship during his run in a very cool way if anyone remembers...

From: "Where are the Christian Superheroes?" forum discussion page started 22 August 2006 on Newsarama website (http://forum.newsarama.com/archive/index.php/t-81451.html; viewed 5 May 2007):

Mr Wesley
08-22-2006, 10:03 AM

...I pose the question to you, my fellow Talk@Ramanians: If Christianity is the most popular faith in the United States, why aren't there more openly Christian superheroes?

08-22-2006, 05:07 PM

re: So if we're talking about the religious beliefs of superheroes, I'd be quite surprised if more than a few were actively religious. Think about it: they've already put themselves above social institutions such as law and accountability. As a group, are these the kind of people who'd be likely to dedicate themselves to a higher power? Superheroes are, frankly, egotists. They believe in the importance of their own judgments above others. It's fairly unrealistic to assume that they'd devote themselves to a higher power than themselves. Sure, there'll be exceptions. But as a group, we see exactly what we should expect to see; nothing.

Taking that idea a bit further, we should also expect that about half the planet would be part of the Church of Superman, worshipping the Greek gods, the Norse gods, the Celestials. After all, when was it that Jesus ever showed up to save the planet from Galactus? The confirmation of other mythologies as part of reality while the Judeo-Christian mythology remains unseen for most of the population would cause a crisis of faith of global proportions.

Steward Ace
08-22-2006, 05:11 PM

Well, yeah. That's why I always liked the Thor issues that touch on him as a religious figure. Makes you realize that the faith of your average Christian MU or DCU character must be much, much stronger than that in the real world.

From: "Religion of comic book characters" forum discussion started 17 March 2006 in "Media & Popular Culture" section on "IIDB General Discussion Forums" website (http://www.iidb.org/vbb/archive/index.php/t-158938.html; viewed 10 May 2007):

March 17, 2006, 09:54 PM

This might be old, but I found it interesting,


Supervillains tend to be atheists, superheroes tend to be theist...

March 17, 2006, 11:11 PM

I like how they classify Thor and Hercules as adherents to the Teutonic and Greco-Roman classical religions respectively. Um, Thor and Hercules don't have religion; they ARE religion...

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]

c.tower says:
June 14, 2006, at 4:57 pm

American superhero comics are, first and foremost, about MYTHOLOGY. Not just existing mythology (though many characters - like Thor and Wonder Woman - are drawn directly from myths); new myths are constantly being created and developed.Jack Kirby was the greatest mythmaker of them all; one of his crowning achievements was even called NEW GODS(a comic STAR WARS owes a HUGE debt to).It's fasinating to watch these myths develop and change as they pass through the hands of different creators; it really is like watching little religions develop (and the infighting between comics fans sometimes seems like fanatics yelling "INFIDEL!" at each other). But it should be noted: Hollywood changes these myths when it sends them to the big screen, and not always for the better. (When the first X-MEN movie came out, I saw a pair of matched posters for it - one featuring the heroes, the other the villians. Seperated like that, I noticed that all of the heroes were depicted as being classically good-looking, and all the villians were made ugly- a sort of visual moral short hand that wasn't in the comics. . . and clearly intended as such, because the most popular of the heroes, Wolverine, had gone from short, hairy, and ugly to tall, dark, and handsome.)

David Thompson, "Secret Knowledge, Revealed", posted 1 March 1007 on "David Thompson: Culture, Ideas and Comic Books" blog website (http://davidthompson.typepad.com/davidthompson/comic_books/index.html; viewed 15 May 2007):

Zounds! The religious affiliations of your favourite comic book heroes have finally been documented in a disturbingly thorough database. This improbable cataloguing project may well define a whole new stratum of nerdish preoccupation. But, given the effort involved, it's hard not to be impressed and, dare I say it, just a little curious. I was vaguely aware that Spider-Man is sort-of Protestant, that Ben Grimm is Jewish and that Bruce Wayne seems to have that whole lapsed Catholic thing lurking in the background. And, being an ageless Amazon, Wonder Woman obviously leans toward the Greco-Roman deities.

But, shamefully, I didn't know the names of every prominent Hindu, Sikh or Muslim character, or the issues in which their faith plays a prominent role. And, even worse, I'd forgotten all about Moshe Chomsky, the Acidic Jew. Thankfully, these oversights can now be corrected, complete with sources, discussions and extensive supporting material. Ditto Shintoists, Taoists, Wiccans and adherents of Teutonic Paganism. Naturally, the database also includes extraterrestrial belief systems (e.g. Kryptonian metaphysics and Apokolipsian Darkseid Worship), along with characters who, via circumstances far too involved to relate here, came to meet God Himself...

[User comments posted on this page]

Posted by: David Thompson | March 01, 2007 at 12:38

And of course, Thor is an actual god himself. As is his arch nemesis Loki.

Posted by: nobody important | March 01, 2007 at 15:22

Quite. And what about the homicidal clone of Thor, seen in Civil War #4? Does he/it still count as a deity? Clearly, we need guidance on this, possibly from above...

From: "The Church of Superman" forum discussion started 19 June 2006 on the "James Randi Educational Foundation" website (http://www.randi.org/forumlive/showthread.php?t=58627; viewed 15 May 2007):

19th June 2006, 06:03 AM

The Church of Superman

Hmmmm... the "religious" affiliations of comic book characters. Huh?

19th June 2006, 01:38 PM

...Of course, the real hot potato in the Marvel and DC universes is how conventionally religious characters feel about their fellow superheroes who are literally said to be gods, e.g. Thor. How does, say, Nightcrawler feel about a guy flying around calling himself the God of Thunder? (Actually, in Secret Wars II Nightcrawler asks a priest friend whether the Beyonder is God, and if not, how could God allow the Beyonder to exist? But that's the closest I ever saw them come to the issue. Okay, enough geekdom for one post.)

22nd June 2006, 06:33 AM

Quote [from website this forum is discussion]: Thor: Teutonic paganism ("Norse mythology")

Well, it isn't mythology if you are one of the actual, existing, primary gods of that pantheon.

It's also not a "religion" in the classical, "yeah, that's some crap some people believe" sense, if you are one of those gods.

22nd June 2006, 08:50 AM
Abdul Alhazred

How about "yeah, that's some crap some people believe about me"?

From: "Atheist representation on the Avengers" forum discussion started 20 June 2001 on "Comic Boards" website (http://www.comicboards.com/avengers/view.php?trd=010620110715; viewed 24 May 2007):

Posted by Jae on Wednesday, June 20 2001 at 11:07:15 GMT

Atheist representation on the Avengers

The teams pretty well rounded now, but are there any atheistic members?...


Posted by D-Man on Wednesday, June 20 2001 at 20:10:53 GMT

...Probably the best comic you could find to figure out who believes in a god or a god, or have deep faith in God or a god would be:

Infinity Crusade
The Goddess uses the heroes' faith and belief in gods and such to recruit heroes.

Here are a list of Avengers who are "believers" so are recruited by the Goddess:
Living Lightning
Black Knight
Hercules (duh he's a god)
Invisible Woman
Wonder Man
Captain America
Thor (duh he's a god too)
Scarlet Witch
Moon Knight


Posted by Taxman on Wednesday, June 20 2001 at 14:17:36 GMT

I just dug up some back issues of "Infinity Crusade"...

...I think that it is pretty safe to assume that none of the Crusaders [i.e., people chosen by the Goddess] are atheists...

From: "Most Religious Avengers/Marvel Heroes" forum discussion started 5 January 2007 on "Comic Book Resources" website (http://forums.comicbookresources.com/archive/index.php/t-158828.html; viewed 25 May 2007):

01-05-2007, 07:42 AM

I found this interesting article in the internet about religious Marvel Universe heroes. Wonder Man and Captain America are some of the ones mentioned:


["The Religious Affiliation of Wonder Man" page, which shows Wonder Man and the list of other heroes chosen by the Goddess in the Infinity Crusade crossover event.]

Your Imaginary Pal
01-05-2007, 08:47 AM

Thor always gives praise to his High Father ODIN.

From: "Religion of Comic Book Characters" forum discussion, started 29 March 2006 on AllSpark.com website (http://www.allspark.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=4168; viewed 1 June 2007):

post Mar 29 2006, 08:38 AM

I found this great resource entirely by accident:

Rolon Bolon
post Mar 13 2007, 02:01 PM

re: ...Batman is an Atheist, I love the dichotomy, he has fought with gods, and has BATTLED Angels, yet he chooses not to believe.

And hey, Iron Man's worked with Thor for years. Doesn't mean he's gonna convert to... uh, Odinism or whatever.

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: Clark Goble

re: Its interesting to see that people try to find the values that they themselves hold dear in popular culture. We try to see the Mormon Parallels in characters that are decidely un-Mormon.

What is interesting to me are the structural parallels. As you said, Marvel intentionally revolutionized comics in the 1960's by introducing more focus on continuity as well as focusing on social, psychological and other issues. The characters became flawed and very human. Comics from the 1950's are much less interesting precisely because of that. I think in the late 80's on up they became unduly focused on darkness. But perhaps that's just from my limited reading back when I was single and bored at Borders.

Anyway, while they clearly aren't Mormon, it seems that similar issues arise at times in our scriptures. I've brought up Enoch quite often. But also the Three Nephites. (Who have their own set of urban legends)

Your later comment about how religion informs our moral choices is an apt one. The fact is that there are very different forces at place between the religious and the secular. It's interesting that comics embraced so much quasi-religion. (Typically mythic beings such as Thor, Hercules, and then similar characters in new guises and histories) I think the huge divide traditional Christianity put between man and God led to this. It's an interesting issue. Reminds me of that thread from last year on T&S about enchantment in the world. i.e. how many religious people see the world as fundamentally enchanted. That's not to say we need buy into many wrong superstitions. But I do think we see the world differently in a way that perhaps fantasy like comics can capture and deal with better than traditional literature.

10/12/05 - 16:42

From: "Comics and Religion Discussion (DC/Marvel)" forum discussion, started 30 May 2007 on "Killer Movies" website (http://www.killermovies.com/forums/453153_1-successful-religion-based-comics-dc-marvel; viewed 6 June 2007):

Endless Mike
May 30th, 2007 11:42 PM

Thor believes in the Norse religion... Hercules believes in the Greek religion...

But how come no one in the MU has started a religion based on the Celestials, or Eternity/Infinity, etc?

May 30th, 2007 11:44 PM

...as for people like Thor, they believe in themselves and their Pantheon, but that wouldn't be their "religion" because Thor realizes that Odin didn't just create the multiverse.


May 31st, 2007 09:12 PM

The Ultimates is full of religious symbolism. I mean there are numerous references to the Ultimates' fear of being portrayed as a new world order or the next Roman Empire which is referred to in John's Revelation. Loki turns into a snake in one scene to taunt Thor. In issue 9 Loki claims that "The great Satan has been liberated". Thor in his prison cell asks "Father, Father, why have you forsaken me?" In Ultimates vol 1 ish 13 Thor even discredits the soviet atheist attitude with Black Widow over the teleportation of the universe destroying bomb to another dimension by saying "Oh ye of little faith."

Heck even Black Widow gets into a very quick and minor discussion with Hawkeye prior to her execution about the afterlife.

There are sooo many parallels that can be drawn up between Ultimate Thor and Jesus of Nazareth. Ironically we all know Thor to derive from the Pagan Norse Mythology which is vastly different from Christianity as a whole.

And that's just to name a few.

grey fox
May 31st, 2007 09:37 PM

...In-fact I was quite amazed at how many people DIDN'T get the reference. I mean he's pretty much shown as Jesus-lite in Ultimates Vol2 #5.

From: "Wonder Woman and Religion", posted 21 February 2006 by Ragnell on "Written World: Hyper-Feminist Comic Book Culture Commentary" blog website (http://ragnell.blogspot.com/2006/02/wonder-woman-and-religion.html; viewed 20 June 2007):

[User Comments]

RAB said...

In a way, I feel this discussion gives the writers at DC more credit for nuance and intent than they actually deserve. Speaking as a lifelong non-Christian, it's always seemed pretty obvious that the DC (and Marvel) position on religion and philosophy is exactly that of mainstream America. Some sort of nondefined Protestantism is the default "normal" state and characters who are anything else -- including Catholic or Jewish or atheist -- are only those things because it's immediately vital to their histories or a significant plot point. There might be one or two exceptions (Kitty Pryde got to be a Jewish character without her backstory involving the Holocaust or Israel or the Golem of Prague or anything like that) but overall, a generalized nonspecific Christianity is the rule. The Spectre is not the voice of a god, but The Voice of The God...and that God is certainly not Yawheh or Allah.

The ONE good example I can recall in a superhero comic of a "pagan" viewpoint being depicted as equally valid to a whitebread American viewpoint is in a little-known Marvel comic called Big Town written by Steve Englehart. At one point, Dr. Don Blake confronts a gang of "Odinists" sent by the Red Skull to kill one of Blake's patients. Rather than playing his usual role, Blake stands up to the neo-Nazis and says something to the effect that "You've got it all wrong! I love Odin too! It's true that we admire strength, but we don't prey on the weak, and we hate racism!" For Thor's human alter-ego to "out" himself as a believer in Thor's dad is only logical...but all too rare.

The payoff is that the Odinist goons of course refuse to believe him... so Blake becomes Thor, and Thor tells them "My father wouldn't have a single one of you as followers!"

Englehart is that rarity who can look at mainstream beliefs with some perspective and distance, so it's no surprise he treats this issue well. I'm sure he'd do equally well by the Greek pantheon. But as a rule, comics writers are so immersed in the default assumption of the Protestant God being the one real God -- even if they themselves aren't believers -- that they can't get outside that headspace.

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 10:44 PM

Does religion have a place in comic books?

Yes. It does.

Religion can be used as a powerful storytelling device. And as such, it definitely has a place in a storytelling medium. In the hands of a good writer, religion can add quite a bit to a story. So it's definitely a tool for use in comics.

Beyond that, I guess it becomes a matter of opinion. Whether or not a specific story uses religion well to tell its story. I believe Walt Simonson used old Norse religion extremely well to tell Thor stories. I believe Kevin Smith used Catholic imagery and concepts very well to tell Daredevil stories. So there are two examples of what in my opinion were writers using religion well in a comic.

From: "New Joe Fridays: Week 49" forum discussion, started 1 June 2007 on Newsarama website (http://forum.newsarama.com/showthread.php?t=114952&page=5; viewed 8 June 2007):

06-03-2007, 04:58 AM

You brought up the issue of comic-book stereotypes and religions. Since I study religion (all kinds, really) this is something I've thought about a lot...

What religions do we find represented in Marvel? A lot of them are "weird" ones associated with exotic fantasy. Several decades ago, comic book writers could be fairly sure that none of their readers would know or be Tibetan Buddhists, Kali devotees, Voodoo practitioners, or Gypsies, so they felt free to make up details out of whole cloth, or portray some religions as wicked. Today this is no longer possible. Recall the Hindu reaction to Krishna's appearance on "Xena: Warrior Princess" (as a villain). So today, weird or evil religions are more likely to be entirely fictional, like the Triune Understanding (a Scientology pastiche) or the Ultimate Shi'ar (a cult not an alien race). The Greek and Norse pantheons appear to also be fair game...

From: "Up, up, and oy, vey!", posted 5 February 2006 on MetaFilter.com website (http://www.metafilter.com/39326/Up-up-and-oy-vey; viewed 19 June 2007):

The thing with comic books and superheroes is that we read diversity into them anyway and don't need it spelled out for us usually--except when it comes to Thor: clearly not Jewish. : )

posted by amberglow at 8:03 PM on February 5

From: "Does Batman Go to Church?" forum discussion, started 21 March 2006 on AppleGeeks.com website (http://www.applegeeks.com/sm/index.php?action=printpage;topic=6662.0):

Title: Does Batman Go to Church?
Post by: gabrielzero on March 21, 2006, 01:11:16 PM

Well find out here:

and other inqueries on which superhero worships which religion. Its a pretty extensive sight with theories and findings...

Post by: Phoon on July 04, 2006, 08:51:41 AM

I like that Thor worships himself...

Wait... Power Pack are Mormons?

Post by: William Dojinn on September 29, 2006, 08:34:14 AM

Well, technically speaking, Thor is a God so . . . yeah...

From: "Doug TenNapel on Black Cherry" forum discussion, started 16 May 2007 on "The Engine" website (http://the-engine.net/forum/lmessages.php?webtag=ENGINE&msg=8767.21; viewed 28 June 2007):

[Discussing the interview conducted by Michael C. Lorah with comic book writer Doug TenNapel for Newsarama, 16 May 2007, posted here: http://forum.newsarama.com/showthread.php?t=112821]

From: Elliot Mears (ELLIOTMEARS)
17 May 8:31

I always wanted to see a THOR comic where the God of Thunder went haring around the night skies dispensing blessings on his people and chinning Christians, while Odin nailed himself to a tree to learn Strange Revelations. Come on Marvel, support my Worldview, damn you!

From: "Stuart Moore's A Thousand Flowers: O Deadly Night" forum discussion, started 2 December 2003 on Newsarama website (http://forum.newsarama.com/archive/index.php/t-6949.html; viewed 28 June 2007):

12-02-2003, 10:25 AM

There was a Marvel comic, either in Thor, or Thunderstrike, "The Gronk stole christmas, or something like that. If memory served, it was kinda cool.

12-02-2003, 11:55 AM

I believe it was in Thor. Since I have started seeing article this year about X-Mas comics, that Thor story keeps popping into my head. I seem to remember enjoying it when it came out. Now I am going to have to go home and read it again!

From: "The Religious Affiliations of Super Heroes", posted 27 June 2007 by Elizabeth "I'm Pro-Accordion and I Vote!" B. on Gather.com website (http://www.gather.com/viewArticle.jsp?articleId=281474977041058; viewed 2 July 2007):

Okay, anyone could have guessed that Shamrock, a.k.a. Molly Fitzgerald, would have to be Catholic. But did you know that Superman is Methodist? The Shadow is a Buddhist? Who knew?

A website, www.comicbookreligion.com, attempts to catalogue our Superfriends by religion and ethnicity...

Nippy Katz (Not his real name) sez: Ask me about Gather--I'll give you a wrong answer., Jun 27, 2007, 1:09pm EDT

Wonder Woman obviously worships the Greek gods. I'll bet she's fondest of Artemis.

Thor is another obvious one...

From: "The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Characters" forum discussion, started 27 June 2007 on "City of Heroes" website (http://boards.cityofheroes.com/showflat.php?Cat=0&Number=8576731; viewed 6 July 2007):

06/27/07 02:31 PM

The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Characters [link to: http://boards.cityofheroes.com/showflat.php?Cat=0&Number=8576731]

My Local newsradio station pointed this site out.

Let the battle begin.


06/27/07 08:32 PM

Know what's wierd? Many of the characters mentioned ARE gods, yet have religions listed for them. Moon Knight is the earthly avatar of Khonshu, Thor, Hercules, et al are full-on gods, and bunches of others have personally met god/gods, which makes the subject of "faith" moot (you can't have "faith" in what you know for fact, granted, you can still carry the belief system from a religion, but you could just as easily come up with independant beliefs after having met God).

From: Brad Meltzer, "Jewish Superhero Website Listing", posted 28 June 2007 on his official MySpace website (http://www.bradmeltzer.com/labels/Comics.html; viewed 9 July 2007):

Thanks to Jack G. for this. And I so admire The Acidic Jew [link to: http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/AcidicJew.html].

Jewish superhero website listing:



[reader comments posted in response to this, at:

I know your purpose was different than as taken, but, I still think it's very interesting that both Marvel and DC (as well as independents) have incorporated religions in their characters' backgrounds.

Sure, we know some have religious/mythoological backgrounds (Thor, Nightcrawler, Daredevil, Bibleman) but, to see how many do, is interesting... I found it interesting that these universes incorporated religions from all over the world, just like a real universe would...

Thanks for that interesting link, Brad.

Posted by LegendsOfBatman on Monday, July 02, 2007 at 9:32 AM

From: "Religious Super Heroes PC or otherwise" forum discussion, started 17 September 2003 on "HERO Games" website (http://www.herogames.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-8036.html; viewed 12 July 2007):

Sep 17th, '03, 09:38 PM

Another thread got me to thinking a bit about religious super heroes. They do occur in comic books. Some it barely gets mentioned, some few are quite devout in their faith...

How much or little does your typical super human in your campaign (or game if you are a player) let his/her faith affect his/her life especially AS a super hero?

Sep 18th, '03, 02:53 AM

DC Comics had Zauriel, an honest-to-God Angel as a member of the JLA for a while. I've also played Angel PCs in a few games. Two of my characters were Catholic priests, and I had one guy in a Shadowrun game who spent most of his down-time in confession. Most of my characters tend to be non-Bible-thumping, laid back Christians with some Pagan influences (kind of like me;) ). My big question is: given the encounters with demons, spirits, and out-right miracles, how can any comic book or RPG character NOT have religious faith of some kind? I also always wondered: why isn't everyone in the Marvel Universe an Odinist? I mean, Thor is right freaking there for anyone to see!

Sep 23rd, '03, 09:31 PM

On topic, why do y'all think it is that GMs (and comics in general) tend to focus on the bad guys as religious (well, demons and the like) but usually fail to have religious heroes? There are of course exceptions like Nightcrawler, but they are the exception.

Sep 24th, '03, 03:53 AM
Originally posted by Isaiah_26_4

It's important to recognize that there's a substantial difference between "being religious" like Nightcrawler and being "of a religion" like Thor or Hercules. With Nightcrawler, I think the comic writers mostly wanted to explore the dichotomy between his demonic looks and his faith. I also don't recall Nightcrawler as being particularly religious when he was first introduced in the 80's; his Catholicism was sort of mentioned in passing but wasn't a major issue. You'll also note that Nightcrawler as portrayed is virtually a religious fanatic; not really a typical Catholic. Most Catholics don't walk around with a rosary praying all the time (I know, I was raised Catholic and have been dating a devoutly Catholic woman for 22+ years). The movie version was even worse; Nightcrawler was mutilating himself whenever he sinned. This is a very medieval extremist version of Catholicism; one the Church itself opposed. Nightcrawler isn't religious in any real sense; he's more a caricature of a religious character. In essense, Nightcrawler is really more anti-religious because he's portrayed as a virtual nutcase.

Thor and similar characters are based on pagan dieties, but hardly act religious. ("All-Father Odin, helpeth me kicketh mine enemy's butt!" hardly constitutes praying. :) ) I think you'd need to look for characters based on current "real" religions' heroes and villains. DC's Azrael [sic: this poster means "Zauriel"] probably qualifies; I think he's supposed to actually be an angel.

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.

I think characters like Thor should be facing some major PR [public relations] issues, more so than mutants, really. Claiming not only to be divine, but Pagan would raise some serious issues in some places. Maybe there would be an organization like the Church of the Archangel Michael or other mutant hate groups, but religiously inspired and dedicated to putting down/debunking the false gods. Has anyone done anything like this in their campaigns?

Sep 11th, '04, 05:13 AM

...One could take the approach that Marvel Comics has classically used, in which Thor stated quite clearly that even the Gods of Asgard, Olympus, etc. were neither the full story nor the last word regarding divinity, and that there were cosmic gods beyond even their power and understanding.

Sep 11th, '04, 05:26 AM

Mainstream comic books have generally handled religion poorly, for various reasons. The "pagan god" types in early Marvel had no real problems since a) the comics avoided dealing with the real-world religious aspects of the characters, and b) the general public didn't actually believe that Thor, etc. were really "gods", just people with special powers who had names similar to (or stolen from) the mythology books.

Various stabs have been made at dealing with the Norse religion and its interaction with other faiths over the years in Thor's book, some more successful than others.

Hercules' various solo series have largely avoided the topic...

Sep 11th, '04, 06:28 AM

As noted, in the Marvel Universe most people tend to consider Thor to not really be a Norse God but someone who styles himself as one. Admittedly, it's a little wierd to think that a radiation accident gave someone the ability to so closely mimic a god but oh well. I guess it's easier for people to believe something that doesn't make sense than question their faith. It's kinda like Defender and many others in the CU [Champions Universe] refusing to believe in magic but instead trying to define it as mental powers or what not.

The storyline that ran through Thor where he tried to establish his own religion on Earth probably throws that out of whack but its effects will likely be glossed over in the future.

In general, the writers (who I suspect of a slight liberal bend) like to trot out religion to say "religion taken too far is bad." Unfortunately they also tend to not show religion as it affects a character on a daily basis like Superman going to Church on Sunday or Spriderman being asked to sponser someone for confirmation. If it doesn't have a direct impact on the story, it just doesn't exist.

Sep 11th, '04, 06:41 AM

Well, Thor really IS some kind of Alien, right? So they've got the basics down okay.

And Radiation seems to be able to do anything else, why not make you godly?

Maybe you swallowed a radioactive holy symbol.

Sep 11th, '04, 04:51 PM

...I think that the body-on-the-street thinks that people like Thor and Hercules are just picking those names, based on mythological beings, because they have powers that happen to match, kind of like old Pro Wrestlers like Zeus and, again, Hercules.

Another thing comes down to just how one defines 'god' vs 'God', for lack of a better way to put it. Thor and Hercules and their ilk are extra-dimensional beings who were once worshipped by humanity and possess significant power. God, in the Christian sense, is a being of unproven existance in whom people have faith. Nobody worships Thor or Hercules anymore (at least, not in an organized sense, as far as I know), so nobody raises a fuss.

Now, the Spider-Man 2099 comic did an interesting take on this... Thor actually had a following of worshippers, dubbed simply enough 'Thorites'...

Sep 11th, '04, 05:06 PM

I don't know about "organized", but I know there's groups worshipping the Norse deities. The only ones I've heard of worshipping Greek deities are specifically worshipping the Greek goddesses (so Hercules doesn't qualify :) ), but there may be some out there who worship the whole pantheon.

However, I lost several of my contacts when the new age bookstore that carried my stained glass on consignment closed, so I may be way out of date here.

Sep 12th, '04, 08:17 AM

I don't think pagan-based characters, so long as they're doing ancient gods, will get flak because those ancient gods aren't seen as real and the heroes are seen as iconic representations. I think they'd get PR trouble, though, if they acted out.

As in Thor talking to the media, "You should all bow down to Odin, he does not appreciate you and your Christian 'god' and that pretender 'Jesus'!" Now that would make for interesting social lims and controversy.

Sep 12th, '04, 08:20 AM

True, but I'd think there'd be some flak on a certain level. I mean there are some really obessive fundamentalist types that would take offense at any reference to other deites besides the Christian one being legitimate.

Von D-Man
Sep 14th, '04, 07:22 AM

I thought Thor took the position that the Asgardians were worshipped as gods once, a long time ago, but not anymore - hence implying himself that he was not a god, or at least, not currently being worshipped as one.

If so he's pretty much said that he's just a really ancient alien/extradimensional being who uses his age old tried and tested "norse-storm-hammer-guy" motiff when fighting the forces of evil.

Maybe some fringers would point fingers and call him the "tool of the devil" or a "false god" or whatnot, but I would think mainstream folks and the media in general wouldn't be too peeved or worried about it. His "flak" would be minimal, I think.

I mean, come on, I'm an orthodox Jew - have you seen what some of the websites (blood libels online) out there say about my faith and the things I don't actually believe or do that they say I do? I don't get much flak when I'm out and about - especially not from your average "man on the street" (or at least I didn't when I was living in the diaspora, here its a complete nonsequiter).

I mean - instead of the problems coming from weirdos who hate them, what if the problems came from weirdos who loved them? What if they had cultists running around shadowing their every move, or leaving offerings outside their door? What if the problem stemmed from the claims their unwanted worshippers were making?

I can see it now:

Its a rare cozy and quiet evening at the Avengers mansion. Just having finished his hundred-ton workout followed by a hot shower Thor has sat down at the kitchen table and begun to crack walnuts with Mjolnir for the the scarlet witch's famous walnut-run sponge cake when Cap walks in and sits down across from him. The winghead sighed, looked concerned.

"Thor," he said. "Got a minute."

"Verily," norse-storm-hammer-hero answered. "Is something amiss."

"Well," Cap said, somewhat uncomfortable. "Its the god thing."

"God?" norse-storm-hammer-hero asked, curious. "I did not know you were a religious man."

"Its not something I talk about much," Cap answered. "My faith is an intensely private affair, and each man has a right to believe as he chooses..."

"Yet something troubles you," norse-storm-hammer-hero said, cracking another nut, a small zap being heard.

"Its Tommy Brown."

"Tommy Brown?"

"He's a boy who goes to my church," Cap answered. "His parents are very worried about him. He's become... confused."

"A crisis of faith?"

"You could say that," Cap answered, sighing again, still uncomfortable. "He thinks you're a god."

Hours later Thor is sitting next to Tommy on the couch in the boys parents home, his hand on his shoulder as the parents, Reverened Miller, and Cap listen quietly from the kitchen: "So you see Tommy," norse-storm-hammer-hero answered, "though mankind was once primitive and superstitious and worshipped my people as Gods we are in fact merely visiting alien beings with strange and amazing powers from a pocket dimension called Asgard."

"Oh, I understand now Mr. Thor. Your a space alien."

"Er... Good Tommy."

Tommy's father walks into the room tamping his pipe, "thank you Mr. Thor for setting our boy straight. It was mighty neighborly of you."

"I am the mighty Thor, it was my pleasure."

Cap and Reverend Miller look on, nodding sagely while Mrs. Brown rushes up, a fresh baked cherry pie in hand, and kisses norse-storm-hammer-hero on the cheek. "Won't you stay for dinner, we're having roast beef."

"I'm afraid I can't Mrs. Brown. Ragnorok is coming after-all." Throwing Mjolnir and catching it by its strap and flying out the window and back towards the avengers mansion.

Reverend Miller looked at Cap: "Ragnor-what?"

Cap smiled with chagrin: "Don't ask."


Landing across the street from the Avengers Mansion Thor tucked Mjolnir into his belt and started towards the gate, stopping in the street as his eyes fell upon a flyer tacked to a nearby power-pole. It advertised a cult of Thor sponsored orgy and human sacrifice, a picture of his face used without permission was boldly on the copy. As he looked down the street the he norse-storm-hammer-hero's blood ran cold. All of the poles had such flyers on them...

"These people are all mad!"

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=30&tstart=15; viewed 19 July 2007):

Posted: Mar 1, 2007 11:19 AM

re: "I do NOT necessarily see the Spectre and Zariel as pro-Christian. They come from a theist tradition, and they imply belief in YHWH, but Christ does not necessarily follow from that."

I think it is implied if not explicitly stated that they are Christian, not Jewish or Muslim. But to me that doesn't make them pro-Christian. You see, if I was to worry about sacrilegious comic characters these two are two that I would worry about. Since they are Christian, and more than that on a specific mission from God himself, their dialogue and actions reflect on the religion. It is not much different than having a gay character who has every stereotype associated with gays attributed to him. Or a black man who is a sterotype of African Americans. It may seem worse than not having a character from that group at all. The Spectre for instance is the Wrath of God. If you believe in a forgiving merciful God, then clearly that is a misrepresentation of what you believe in. That could obviously be seen as offensive or even sacrilegious.

If there had been more people embrasing the Asatru I believe Lee and Kirby would have been in lots of trouble when they introduced Thor.

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):

Heatwave the Rogue
May 15th, 2005, 07:44 AM

...I would rather comic companies take a "don't ask, don't tell" policy about religion.

May 15th, 2005, 10:59 AM

I think don't ask don't tell is for the birds. I mean, no, I don't want some kind of sermon every time I pick up a comic, but if you were a writer trying to flesh out a character sooner or later you'd have to come up against his or her spiritual beliefs. They can make for great stories...

If you are going to write stories that are beyond mere kiddy stories about men in tights, religion will enter it at some point...

And really, if you think about it, many characters have religious or quasi-religious elements to them, its just that many readers choose to ignore it. Superman is a sort of Christ figure. Capt. Marvel and Black Adam's powers are based on ancient religions in Greece and Eygpt. Dr. Fate and most other mystical characters are rooted in pagan believes. Mantiou Raven loosely represents Native American faith. Wonder Woman, in fact, rests on the assumption that the Greek gods are real. There is Thor, taken right from Norse religion, and J'onn J'onz often prays to his alien gods. And Spectre is inspired by old school wrath of god stuff from the Old Testament...

From: "Vegetarian Superheroes" forum discussion, started 18 March 2005 in Brian Michael Bendis section of "Jinxworld" website (http://www.606studios.com/bendisboard/archive/index.php/t-231.html; viewed 31 July 2007):

03-18-2005, 01:01 PM
So... out of curiousity are there vegetarian superheroes? I'm not talking about supporting characters, but the actual heroes who wear tights and a cape. And are any of them vegan?

anthony the ghost
03-18-2005, 01:10 PM

I would imagine at least one member of the Authority is. And probably Ultimate Thor.

Apparently an issue of Comic Book Marketplace inadvertently indicated that the Hulk had been revealed as Jewish when in fact the writer was trying to note that Ben Grimm ("The Thing") had been revealed as Jewish. This misprint prompted the following discussion. From: "What issue was the Hulk revealed as Jewish?" forum discussion, started 12 November 2004 on IMWAN website (http://www.imwan.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=999; viewed 31 July 2007):


Posted: Sun Jul 22, 2007 6:32 am
Rob Steinbrenner

Although at times he's [Thor] recognized there is a "higher power" beyond his gods, meant to be a vague reference to God.

Posted: Sun Jul 22, 2007 6:38 am

Darin Wagner

I've caught that. Some writers have made out the Asgardians to be simply a magical people who were once worshipped as gods, but not actual gods... even though they still refer to themselves as such. I vaguely remember some minor, throwaway lines referencing a higher power. I also remember the OHOTMUDE [Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe: Deluxe Edition] stating that the catalyst for Thor not actively seeking worship on Earth was an instance where his vikings massacred a Christian settlement.

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).

Then there's the defunct ancient beliefs like Greek gods in Wonder Woman, ancient Egyptian reincarnation in Hawkman, Norse gods from Thor, and then made for comics gods like The New Gods.

From: "Comics and Faith/Religion" forum discussion, started 12 August 2007 on Jinxworld website (http://www.606studios.com/bendisboard/showthread.php?t=122876; viewed 18 August 2007):

08-12-2007, 08:30 PM

I am looking for some new comics, or old ones I've missed, dealing with faith and religion. So far I have... I am looking more for mini-series. It need not be pro- or anti- religion, I am open to both. Suggestions?

08-12-2007, 08:36 PM

[Posts image: cover of Journey into Mystery #104, featuring The Mighty Thor. Cover captions: "The most dramatic hero of all time! The pride of the Marvel Group!" and "Nothing you have ever seen before can equal the breath-taking spectacle 'Giants Walk the Earth!'"]

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