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Christians and DC Comics delay the Second Coming February 20, 2019

Posted by P, J, or J in Uncategorized.
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Okay so the headline is a deliberate attempt to get your attention. This is about a controversial comic in which an inaccurate portrayal of Jesus gets to be room-mates with an imaginary superhero …and whether or not that’s really a good idea for a comic.

Not the Real Jesus

Several thousand Christians were outraged and DC comics backed down. Or at least that’s one version of the story. Another version is that DC comics wanted to remove some of the profanity and depiction of a nude Adam in the garden of Eden (requests they were already making before the petition got going) but the writer wanted to stay true to his vision and asked for the rights back.

Different commentators are going to have different views as to whether this is censorship of artistic expression or a victory over a blasphemous presentation of Christ.

Gregory Merz of Citizen Go states:


“Most children grow up reading about iconic DC superheroes like Batman, Superman, or Wonder Women.  It would be a shame to market this false view of Jesus as an equal read to these figures. I wouldn’t want children to read this comic book and believe it as truth. ”


Gregory Merz , quoted in SyFy.com

It would indeed be a shame, but it’s also a shame if they just encounter comic book superheroes and never read anything about Jesus. Does a knowingly flawed portrayal of Jesus point people to look for the real deal or just push them further away?

Mark Russel, who describes himself as more of a fan than a follower of Jesus maintains that his comic is actually pro-Christ:


“Superheroes tend to lean on violence as a solution because it’s what they’re good at. But drop-kicking someone into a volcano or throwing them through a plate-glass window only works for solving a very small percentage of human problems. The other 99.9% of problems require empathy and that’s the superpower that Christ brings to the table.”

Mark Russel, quoted in SyFy.com

Russel also says of his critics:


“They probably (correctly) suspect that it’s not Christ who’s being parodied, but themselves and how they’ve twisted his teachings of mercy for the powerless into a self-serving tool of the powerful.”

This reminds me of a 1979 interview between the Monty Python team and some less than sympathetic opponents of their film “The Life of Brian”, which though set at the time of Jesus was about someone mistaken for the messiah. It was a film that wouldn’t have inspired anyone to real faith but written by men who had not been inspired by the church as they had encountered it.

This is not to meant to suggest Russel has the right approach. There are definitely better portrayals of Christ in comic book form but many struggle to get the balance of making Jesus attractive to a comic book audience without turning him into a musclebound, all American, hero.

Amongst those I’d recommend taking a look at are the Jesus Messiah Comic bookwhich is now available in over 130 languages.

Others have tried a different approach. On one of my first visits to the United States I attended a large mega church where there were armed guards and a bookshop which sold BibleMan action figures.

Bible man has been around since the mid 90’s. The earliest versions definitely look dated and almost a parody in itself so if you want to be gracious start off with a minute from the latest cartoon version.

Then enjoy the epilogue from an episode in the original series…

You may choose to watch the rest of the episode. If you were brought up on Bibleman you may have some nostalgia or it may make you cringe. It contains some truth and some of the bits of a subculture that Mark Russel dislikes. Even in it’s cringeworthyness (is that a word?) teens and twenty-somethings who were bought up on it are apparently sharing gifs of Bibleman to encourage one another.

In the Bible there are people who spoke out against the culture and religion of their own day. Those that did so under God’s direction were called prophets, but not every critic is a prophet.

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