Comic Book Religions

2 03 2009

RELIGIOUS AFFILIATIONS OF COMIC BOOK CHARACTERS

Some Top Super-Heroes
Superman Methodist
Spider-Man Protestant
Batman Episcopalian/Catholic (lapsed)
Wonder Woman Greco-Roman Classical Religion
Aquaman Greco-Roman Classical Religion
The Hulk Catholic (lapsed)
Captain America Protestant
Invisible Woman Episcopalian
Nightcrawler Catholic
Shadowcat Jewish
Daredevil Catholic
Hawkman Egyptian classical religion
The Thing Jewish
The Atom Jewish (lapsed)
Zatanna Dianic Wiccan
Elektra Greek Orthodox

Dawn probably knows every comic book character’s religious identity, but I had no idea they HAD religious affiliations, didn’t know what I didn’t know including the fact that there is a comic book superhero literally named The Atheist.  (But even that religious identity is not quite as straightforward as it seems?)

These graphic groupings by every faith imaginable, look like they’d provide hours of fun!

methodist_comics_collage

Young Son noted the Catholic superhero group photo was much larger than the Methodists (group pictured above and part of my heritage) and opined it must be because Catholics tended to have larger families . . would that affect superheroism though, considering most are unique rather than just ordinary families with extraordinary genes?

So it all just strikes me as cool.   Favorite Daughter is into real-world religions and Young Son is into comic superheroes, so both may enjoy playing in the power of story here, maybe even together. 🙂

Hmmm, and maybe they could start by helping me figure out why “The Atom” has a Jewish backstory yet “the atom” is the US Government’s official symbol for non-believers.

Atom

Frisky cock of the snook for this find, to the idea-packed unschooling resource site Thinking Sticks.

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22 responses

2 03 2009
Crimson Wife

There’s an actual “Aquaman”? I *totally* thought that was a fictional superhero made up by the writers on Entourage!

2 03 2009
Nance Confer

Yes, there was an Aquaman. 🙂

I have to wonder what the religion was of each of the creators of these characters. The same as the characters or different, and what does that tell us?

Nance

2 03 2009
JJ

Ever since I read Michael Chabon’s acclaimed novel, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, maybe eight years ago? — I thought all superhero comic authors were Woody Allen/Philip Roth-style Jewish boys . . . they aren’t?

This book, set mostly in the 1940s, begins when Joe Kavalier escapes with the legendary Golem from Nazi-occupied Prague, only to find himself in America with no way to free his family, no matter what he does. Just as America is wide-open for these characters, so Europe closes around their loved ones and refuses to let go. His cousin, energetic yet directionless and mostly friendless Sammy Klayman – or Clay, as he becomes – seems freer, but, you eventually discover, is trapped within himself. Together the two cousins dream up a comic-book character called the Escapologist, and try to find their liberty.

If you’re at all familiar with the history of American comics, this aspect of the novel will delight you. The depictions of the golden days of comics, when Superman was new and America was on the brink of launching itself into the second World War, are beautifully depicted. The enthusiasm people had for the new medium, the plethora of bizarre superheroes, the way so many writers lost all rights to their characters and were effectively ripped off by the comics companies, it’s all here.

The book is written from a modern viewpoint, as though Cavalier and Klay really existed, with footnotes here and there telling us what eventually happened, how much issues sold for at auction and so on. It adds a huge touch of reality to the story.

2 03 2009
JJ

Nance, this resource site has all kinds of sourcing and interpretations, seems like accuracy and comprehensiveness are the whole goal. You will surely find answers to all life’s cosmic comic questions there! 😉

3 03 2009
Nance Confer

Wow! That should come in handy! 🙂

Nance

3 03 2009
writestuff444

Loved it..loved that we Methodists are connected to what I consider the only real viable super hero..Superman!! Gorgeous, sensitive, cool and so sexy. He’s my idea of a superhero! The site looks amazing, what fun!

3 03 2009
JJ

YOU’RE fun, Betty. I can almost hear your voice wagging in your words, makes me smile. Our local homeschool list has been wrangling over ratifying the UN Rights of the Child Convention treaty, so it’s a pleasure to hear a little unabashed fun instead. 😀

3 03 2009
Crimson Wife

Perhaps there’s more angst to explore for a Catholic superhero than for a Methodist one?

3 03 2009
JJ

😀 — are you suggesting angst is fertility-enhancing??

4 03 2009
Crimson Wife

Hadn’t thought about *that* particular angle 😉

I was thinking more along the lines of making the backstory more interesting. Catholicism is a notoriously guilt-inducing religion, while from what I’ve seen of them, mainline Protestant denominations like Methodism are much less so. If a comic book is going to have a brooding superhero struggling with psychological issues like Batman, the Hulk, or Daredevil, it makes much more sense from a narrative standpoint for him/her to be a Catholic. And for the more whitebread heroes like Superman and Captain America to be Protestants.

Of course, there are exceptions to this like Spiderman, who’s plenty angsty while still a Protestant.

4 03 2009
JJ

What about the Woody Allen Jewish angst? When I as pure southern whitebread thinking literally that differences were all black and white (but still protestant!), first began to learn about the larger human world, I often thought of Catholic and Jewish kids as having a lot in common, including this. 🙂

4 03 2009
JJ

About Spiderman’s angst, is Emo a religion? 😉

4 03 2009
Crimson Wife

Well, it appears from the linked graphic that Jews are overrepresented among superheroes relative to their percentage of adherents worldwide (which WikiPedia says is 0.02%)

4 03 2009
writestuff444

so funny…that we’re having this quasi-tongue in cheek serious conversation about this subject. 🙂 I want to add some form of serious researched comment…but my brain is pooped from a very tiring day…thanks for the laugh

5 03 2009
Crimson Wife

oh, c’mon- y’all knew that geeks are overrepresented among home educators (at least among the ones not exclusively motivated by religion) 😉

9 03 2009
JJ

Speaking of our very American Methodist hero Mr. Superman, here’s Favorite Daughter’s take (from two years ago TODAY, what a coincidence, when she was still 16):

And one more thing, about Superman: not a lot of people know that when Superman started out on the radio, he was always fighting Nazis. A side effect of the Post WWII era, I suppose. He was always bringing down people who were ruining America by attempting to make it too ethnocentric. In every storyline, there would be a rousing speech about diversity making us great, and about how it didn’t matter where your family was from, or what church you went to, this was AMERICA, from sea to shining sea.

9 03 2009
JJ

And a frisky cock of the snook to COD, for this very serious comic analysis:
Comics to follow Watchmen (depending on what you liked best about that)

13 03 2009
Dawn

I actually don’t know the religions of all the characters but if you find it interesting it’s always good to check out Superman’s original origin story. It’s very Jewish (fitting as he was conceived by a couple of Jewish kids -one a Canuck at that) and the Christ-like aspects were a later addition.

I should have commented earlier but we moved and I’ve been having trouble getting on the internet. Plus, I’m now confined to dial-up. 😦

13 03 2009
JJ

About the move, congratulations — I’ve been following it on your blog. Are the kids settling in? Glad to see you commenting again. 🙂

15 12 2010
JJ

Something new about superhero um, reality?
Superheroes, Supervillains and the Law

21 12 2010
Latest Tea Party Target: Methodists? « Cocking A Snook!

[…] Superman won’t like this, and neither would Little JJ’s grandmother! […]

25 09 2011
JJ

Just for kids from a Pulitzer-Prize winning author, comes . . . .
AWESOME MAN!

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