This is not one of those tirades that you ocassionally see on the Internet about how because every member of the Avengers is not a card-carrying evangelical Christian that the whole genre of comics is evil and of Satan. It is presented as an observation of how the two major comics publishers in America handle the spiritual questions and aspects within their comics. For the record, I will state that I am a believer in Jesus Christ, but I am going to seek to not make any judgments within this node upon how the two universes of these comics publishers are presented.

Comics readers are an avid fan base, with most spending hours and a good deal of money to follow the adventures of their favorite heroes. They are people who thrive upon the details of their champion's life and often can recount the intricate details of the characters's adventures. Over the years, these fans have demanded greater and greater realism in these stories and some of the writers and creators have risen to the challenge, creating stories of depth and vision that rival their text counterparts.

One of the areas that has been more highly addressed in recent years is spirituality. Interestingly, the two major publishing houses of comics in the United States, Marvel Comics and DC Comics have taken vastly different directions when handling this subject. One has chosen to stay away from the potentially dangerous ground of mainstream belief, perferring instead to direct their spiritual realm more toward science and fiction. The other has tackled mainstream beliefs head-on, creating stories that directly address the beliefs of many Americans within the confines of hero fiction.

In The Beginning...

The origin of the universe is one of the greatest mysteries of all time. Scientists and theologians have tried to address the question of where the universe began for many years and have come up with completely different answers. Marvel Comics and DC Comics have also come down of different sides of the fence when it comes to the origin of their universes.

To find the origin of the Marvel Universe, one must look to the origin of the cosmic menace Galactus. Galactus is a giant of a being, who to survive most devour the energy of a planet. We are told that originally Galactus was a space explorer, who existed before the universe as we know it existed. He was exploring the edges of the huge cluster of energy and matter that would become our universe when the Big Bang occurred. The tremendous energy that was released engulfed the explorer transforming him into a being or unbelievable power, who became part of a trio of beings with cosmic purpose. Galactus, Death, and Eternity are these three beings, each with its own purpose in this new creation.

From this story, one sees that the Marvel Universe is one that was created after the pattern of scientific belief. The incorporation of the Big Bang and the huge mass of energy and matter that created the universe give the whole Marvel Universe a science bent.

DC Comics, on the other hand, took a different tact with the creation of their universe. The story of Krona, the member of the Oan race who constructed a viewer to see the creation event, is where we see how DC Comics chose to explain its universe's creation. Krona gazing through the viewer was met with the image of the universe cradled in the palm of a colossal hand. DC clearly chose to make reference to the creation story found in Genesis with there being an intelligent Creator behind the universe.

Handling the Evolution Issue

The seeming litmus test between the science and religion in late 20th century was the issue of evolution. A battle line drawn on the education background, evolution is an issue that has oft divided these two groups. The comics companies have dealt with the issue in two different ways as well.

DC Comics has not made the evolution a major centerpiece of their writing. With only a few exceptions, like the origin of Captain Comet and the Millenium mini-series, DC Comics has generally stayed away from evolution.

Marvel Comics, on the other hand, has made the bulk of its money over the last thirty years upon the back of a comic based upon the concept of evolution. The X-Men are a group of humans who have made the next step up the evolutionary ladder. Instead of being homo sapiens, these mutant heroes are actually homo superior, the next step in the human evolution. Only a few writers at Marvel Comics have tried to fully explore this idea, usually with limited success, but the fact remains that within the Marvel Universe, evolution is a major force to be dealt with.

Of Gods and Demons

The spiritual realm is one that is often explored in comic book writing. How Marvel and DC handle the realm of the unseen is telling as to the differences in the philosphy behind the scenes.

The Marvel Universe is full of different pantheons of gods. Egyptian, Greek, Celtic, and Norse are just a few of the fantastically powered beings that inhabit the realms beyond our own within the Marvel universe. These gods often have contact within the human realm and many are even champions of humanity, the most notable being the hero Thor. The Marvel Universe also has a number of demons roaming it, making mischief and mayhem. Chief amongst them is the demon Mephisto. He has been a thorn in the side of many of the heroes along with others of his ilk.

Interestingly, the one entity that is not represented in the Marvel Universe is the God worshipped by Christians. His presence is completely ignored by this publisher, possibly in an attempt to not offend its readership.

DC Comics however has no such qualms. They have tackled the issue of God head-on, with numerous stories in the past few years dealing with a biblical vision of the spiritual realm, including angels and demons and the biblical image of Hell. The DC Universe also includes the Greek gods and groups of other highly powerful entities like the Lords of Order and Lords of Chaos.

The differing viewpoints of these two publishers on matters of a spiritual nature are interesting, but not cause for alarm. The readers of such material should keep in mind that the material is fictional in nature and therefore not to be taken to seriously. Just because one of the publishers does not reflect the specific beliefs that the reader espouses, is not cause for letters to the editor, howling outrage at their take on a fictional reality. It is all an escape and should be taken as such.

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