Biblical parallels in comic books? It’s more than just good vs evil
The first story sounds as old as the Book of Exodus: A mother and father, fearing his annihilation by a sinister force, place their newborn son in a vessel they hope will transport him to safety. Adopted by a completely different family, he grows up to deliver many from the oppression of evildoers.
Another well-known narrative tells of divine favor shown to a lesser being, by which the recipient was endowed with great power. But the favorite gave way to the sin of arrogance, and fell from grace. Turning from the path of righteousness, he raised up an army of the fallen to rebel against the very force that had once exalted him.
Those familiar with Scripture will, of course, recognize the outlines of the biblical biographies of Moses and Lucifer, respectively. Yet, within the world of comic books, the former tale recounts Superman’s origins, the latter concerns hero Hal Jordan’s primary nemesis in the Green Lantern series.
Thus Superman’s parents secured their infant in a spaceship to ensure his escape from the doomed planet Krypton. Arriving on Earth, he was eventually taken in and raised by the humble Kent family.
And the aforementioned archvillain, Thaal Sinestro? His backstory tells us that he was once the greatest figure among members of the intergalactic police force known as the Green Lanterns. He was raised to that office, moreover, by the supreme rulers of the “Green Lantern” cosmos, the Guardians of the Universe.
Yet, like Satan, Sinestro turned away from good, becoming instead the founder of the Sinestro Corps, the nefarious mirror image of the Green Lanterns — and their most powerful antagonists.
As for Superman, the baby Moses is not the only scriptural figure with whom analysts have connected. In his 2011 study-cum-memoir “Supergods,” for instance, famed Scottish comic book writer Grant Morrison asserts: “Superman was Christ, an unkillable champion sent down by his heavenly father (Jor-El) to redeem us by example and teach us how to solve our problems without killing one another.”
Morrison’s analogy has its obvious limitations from a Catholic perspective. The salient point remains, however, that the fables behind any number of familiar comic book figures — from Spider-Man and the Flash to Batman and the X-Men — bear strong similarities, not only to Judeo-Christian narratives but to those of other faiths as well. They are often, moreover, deep, complex fictions calculated to convey a multitude of messages to their readers.
Whatever else can be said about them, these messages cannot be considered inconsequential. [More]