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
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
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
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
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.