Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Secret origins II

It's important for a hero to have an origin story. You know, like if your parents were killed by an ancient Norse radioactive spider with an admantium proboscis, and you swore "By Great Hera's Ghost! I'll strive to ensure that this fate ne'er befalls another," dedicating your life to:

A) fighting crime
B) protecting Earth from alien threats
C) making sure that neither God nor the Devil win their long-standing bet
D) protecting the seas from pollution and arrogant land-dwellers
E) madcap tomfoolery

Some of these origin stories are foundational, iconic, and must never be tampered with: Kal-El slumbering in his little space-boat, Bruce Wayne crying in the alleyway, or Peter Parker slapping at his forearm. Others get over-hauled every few years. And there are some heroes whose appeal comes partly from their mysteriousness - pinning down the details of their origin strips them of a great deal of their power. It's important that Wolverine never find out exactly what was going with the Weapon X project, or where he was born. Hey, with his healing power, he could be thousands of years old! Finding out that he was originally a 19th century farmhand, or maybe a caveman, is anticlimatic and really, really lame. We can always imagine something better than that. We need some blank spaces on our maps.

I think my favorite biblical example is that mysterious man Melchizedek. A priest and a king, he shows up out of the blue to bestow God's blessing on the victorious Abram, giving him bread and wine. After that he quickly and quietly vanishes away. Nobody's really sure where he comes from, or where he goes: no origin, and no death. Thus in the Psalms he becomes immortal: "Thou art a priest for ever after the manner of Melchizedek." And in the Christian tradition he is held up as a type, or symbol, of Jesus Christ: "Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually." Scholars, of course, can give you all sorts of textual and historical explanations for him, but they're not very interesting from a literary point of view (and are remarkably reminiscent of the nitpickings of serious comic book geeks). Melchizedek's mysteriousness leads to his becoming a name to conjure with in assorted apocryphal works (or as I like to call them, 'fanfic'), a powerful character in Judaism, Christianity, Gnosticism, and Mormonism, not to mention Hermetic magic and modern bank fraud schemes.

Of course, Melchizedek's power is not just bound up in his origin, but in his deathlessness. As in comics and soap operas, if you don't see a body, you know they're not dead. If you do see a body, they might be dead, but don't count on it. So he's still on the loose, having escaped the bonds of space and time, like Elijah or Christ himself, evading capture and moving undetected behind enemy lines. In fact... is that him standing right behind you?!?

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Claw scratches your itch-- for sneak peeks!!

I want to reassure all three of our readers (or as I like to call 'em, True Believers) that Holy Heroes!! will not just consist of my attempts at superhero humor. Not for long, anyways. My posts are simply like the Bullpen Bulletins and Stan Lee Soapboxes in old Marvel comics: partly news, partly bad puns, mostly filler. But enough about me:

Item! I have it on good authority that Paul (aka "Numinous Boy") has an essay underway about Superman's religious roots! Who'da thunk it?

Item! Rumor has it that "All Hallowed" Eve is wrestling with a thesis arguing that... the best Catholic comics are horror comics?! Whaa--? I guess you'll just have to wait and figure that one for yourselves, gang!

Item! "Glorious" Gabriel McKee has been making cryptic remarks about Animal Man of late. Hmmmm...!

Item! Your humble scribe has been reviewing the religious elements in a fairytale comic entitled Castle Waiting, with an eye to creating a post. I'll give you a hint: beards.

I know you've had enough of me babbling on. I get it - you can stop sending me those letter bombs. Remember, kids, we must not become so embittered that we take Satan's methods as our own! But we do welcome non-exploding letters, here at The Claw's Corner.

Until next time: Keep the faith!

Monday, April 16, 2007

The Bat Eagle lends a hand

Thanks to SolShine7, aka The Bat Eagle, for pointing out her post, "Black, Christian, and Super-duper!"

That's interesting. I remember DC distributing Milestone Comics, back in the day. I bought some and thought they were pretty cool. The Milestone artists' feeling was that there were too few minorities represented in superhero comics, and they wanted to redress that. I noticed that Grant Morrison made two of the Seven Soldiers of Victory African-Americans (Mister Miracle and The Guardian) along with a number of the supporting characters. And of course Klarion the Witch-Boy is a minority, cause he's, well...Blue.

I took a test I found on The Bat Eagle's blog, and apparently this is my super-hero name:

Your Superhero Profile

Your Superhero Name is The Jade Arrow
Your Superpower is Piracy
Your Weakness is Alcohol
Your Weapon is Your Grenade Axe
Your Mode of Transportation is Zip-line

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Secret origins

Our team members have a long and glorious history of writing about comics at their home blogs. Here's some examples to whet your appetite for their upcoming work on Holy Heroes!!

Ian really likes Miracle Monday by Elliot S! Maggin. And check out his visions of Moses, Jacob, and Adam.

D.G.D. explores Jeff Smith's Bone, and a Little White Mouse.

Eve tries to hook the world on Love and Rockets, and lists fifty things she loves about comics: part 1 and part 2.

Gabriel considers issues of X-Factor, Superman, Wormwood, and Astro City.

Paul ponders the problem of pain in the DC universe, and explains why Superman is a Christ-figure.

And as for me, here's my reviews of Creature Tech and Blankets. Plus, I'm enthusiastic about Grant Morrison.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Issue #0

Welcome to Holy Heroes, a team blog about religion in comics: anthropomorphic coyote saviours, mutants in holy orders, Superman's relation to the problem of pain, New Gods, old ones, and whatever else we come across.

The site is still undergoing some construction, and will look much cooler in a week or so. I promise.