Do modern religions play significant roles in comic books? Attempts at creating characters in the past that embody religions, political beliefs, or emotions are easy to find. The Batman villain known as Anarky is modeled after his namesake’s belief system, as is Marvel’s Apocalypse (he wants it to happen), and the DC Universe has introduced Lantern Corps based on the emotional spectrum. Yellow Lanterns are powered by fear, the Green Lanterns are powered by will, and the Red Lanterns are powered by rage. However, DC is not the lone studio using such inspirations.
In the early 1980’s, the first product to simultaneously debut as both a toy-line and a television series came to fruition. Can you name it? If you can, then you may also be familiar with the backlash of arguments that attacked how the Hasbro product was detrimental to the creativity of children. Critics lambasted the toys because the show was telling kids how to play with them. As a result, children were not allowed to create their own realities for the toys. In addition, the popular television series, which will be rebooted for the 2nd time on the silver-screen in a live-action format next year, ended each of its episodes with a message about how to be more moral or ethical in life. The endings to He-Man & the Masters of the Universe were misplaced. After He-Man and his cohorts, like Man-At-Arms and Ram-Man, had finished pummeling baddies they would often instruct the viewers that violence was bad, or that others should be treated with respect. Adults were also overly critical of the cartoon because the “Christian” instructions at the end were not reflected by any of the characters.
The 80’s were a more black and white time in regards to entertainment. The world has dynamically changed over the past two decades, and even citizens who do not attend a church, a mosque, a synagogue, or another place of worship regularly can still claim a religious background. The backgrounds of beliefs of those in America and the rest of the world cannot be isolated, and many Christians, Muslims, Mormons, Atheists, and all other belief systems need positive role-models that set good examples for their families.
Again, does religion play a significant role in comics?
October, 2012 was a busy month for DC and its New 52 line-up. A story-arc ran in which both of the power rings for Hal Jordan (a Green Lantern) and Sinestro (a Yellow Lantern) left them because the rings thought that they were dead. Whenever a host of one of the power rings in the DC Universe dies, the ring then flies off to search for a new, suitable host. The latest person to replace Hal Jordan as Earth’s Green Lantern was a young Lebanese-American man named Simon Baz, who lives in Dearborn, Michigan. His back-story paints him as a young man who was bullied after the 9/11 attacks in America. However, Simon does not retaliate. Instead, he takes the high road against those that persecute him for his skin color and Muslim background.
Not to be outdone, Marvel introduced the new version of Mrs. Marvel in a press-release today. The new Mrs. Marvel will debut this month and her secret identity is desribed as a 16 year-old girl named Kamala Khan. She lives in Jersey City and is a Muslim with conservative values. But, when she is given the powers of her idol, Mrs. Marvel she has difficulty facing the extreme pressures from her parents as well as how to use her gifts responsibly.
Therefore, it can be assumed that both modern religion and modern people of various backgrounds do play roles in popular comics. Simon and Kamala are but two characters of similar descriptions, but DC and Marvel regularly share many writers and artists and, as a result, for every DC or Marvel character created the other will always put their spin on it. In the Marvel Universe, Batman is named Daredevil, and in the DC Universe Captain America is called Guardian.
Regardless, the impact of these characters is still on the horizon. If the characters can prove to be acceptable and interesting, then they may flourish internationally and help do away with the silly, one-dimensional “Christian” alpha-males of the 80’s like He-Man. If these characters are not accessible, or if they are developed carelessly, then both DC and Marvel will have to adjust their artistic creations to suit the world’s people more effectively. Today, the vast religions and the multi-cultural people of Earth only play minor-roles in major comics.