Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Pow! Bam! Holy Epiphanies, Batman!

As you can probably tell, I dig Aquaman. Posting about him yesterday made the revelation of comic book heroes' religions even more relevant.

I don't know why I never thought of this before, but thanks to Terry at Idle Speculations for blogging about comic book religions. I really had no idea. But, right, why wouldn't our comic book heroes and heroines have religious affiliations?! They're just like us but moreso.....

So, of course I checked out who is Episcopalian, or Anglican... and here's a partial list:

Batman
Invisible Woman
Jean Grey
Saturn Girl
Warren Worthington III

Seems like the Marvel Universe tends more toward the "main line" churches than DC, but there's plenty of representation to go around. Or maybe it's just that Marvel mentions the religion of their characters. When I checked out the FAQ,I realized that the blogger knows a lot about the world's religions, and has done lots of research on this topic.

And my questions about the "main line" affiliations got answered there too:
Are Nearly All Major Superheroes Episcopalian?
From: "At DC Comics, Diversity Is No Laughing Matter", published on AOLTimeWarner.com website, 1 November 2001

"The original creators of comics, 60 or 70 years ago, were almost all Jewish and Italian kids from various parts of New York," notes DC Comics Executive Vice President and Publisher Paul Levitz. "And the characters they created were pseudo-whitebread Episcopalian. It was almost de rigueur back then to paint people in this idealized American image."


Stan Lee and the Religion Taboo
From: Radford, Bill, "Holy Superhero! Comic books increasingly making reference to faith", published in Colorado Springs Gazette, 6 May 2006:

In the foreword to The Gospel According to Superheroes, a book examining superheroes and religion, legendary comic-book writer and editor Stan Lee says he always scrupulously avoided any mention of specific religions in his stories. "I thought of myself as an 'equal opportunity writer,'" he says.

...When comic books first appeared in the late '30s, "America was supposed to be a melting pot," [Douglas] Rushkoff says. "That was our cultural metaphor. Religion and ethnicity were supposed to be subordinate to our role as Americans. I think now we're much more in a multicultural phase where people are trying to discover their roots."
It's interesting. I've never really considered comix as a form of religious art, perhaps more often mini-morality plays, but the heroes' spirituality or morality definitely comes through in the books. I guess since they're constantly battling evil, they need to draw on something to get through their days.

Food for thought.