I love comic books. I started reading them when I was a kid, and I never stopped. My favorite comic book heroes are Dr. Strange, Master of the Mystic Arts, and The Shadow. I tell you this lest you think me anti-comic book when I bemoan a new poll ranking the top superheroes of the American comic reading public.
Four things trouble me about the poll. First, I was not asked to participate. Second, none of my heroes made the top ten. Third, the fact that Batman tied for sixth place with Catwoman. And, fourth, that God and Jesus ranked below Batman and Catwoman.
This is scandalous. Clearly the Dark Knight trumps Catwoman in brains, brawn, bucks, and literary depth. If people can’t see the superiority of Batman over Catwoman, I have to question their wisdom altogether. Which brings me to the ranking of God and Jesus.
Whatever your thoughts about Batman, neither he nor Catwoman can resurrect the dead. And as dark as the Dark Knight is, even he pales next to the Jesus of Revelation who wallows in the blood of his enemies in a manner that would make Vlad the Impaler flinch. But are God and Jesus really superheroes?
Before you answer that, it pays to remember that Thor, the Norse God of Thunder, was a god and is today a superhero with a very successful comic franchise and Marvel movie in the works. True Jesus also had a successful box-office run but his film was in Aramaic and he dies at the end which makes a sequel awkward at best (unless of course you happen to be a Christian in which case you are waiting for just that).
So God can be a superhero, but how many people go to the Temple of Thor and worship the God of Thunder any more? Maybe getting your own comic is what happens to gods when they are put out to pasture. Is this what is happening to God and Jesus now that they are listed as superheroes, seven lengths back from Spider-Man?
And it is not just superhero fans who feel that God is somewhat lacking. The two television shows that actually featured God or Jesus (Joan of Arcadia which featured God in various guises, and NBC’s Book of Daniel that featured Jesus as a Rogerian psychologist, “Well, what do you think ought to be done to save your soul?”) were both short-lived. The Jesus show lasted only two weeks! Compare that to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Ghost Whisperer, two long lasting shows of the supernatural that never mention God or Jesus. Of course Buffy and Ghost Whisperer have a sexual subtext that God and Jesus lack, so if we want to raise God's standing we might have to forgo the Virgin Birth for something a little more, shall we say, Zeus-like?
So what can we God-lovers do to raise the status of our hero? I think we need to hire better writers and artists to tell his story. A Frank Miller version of Job or an Alan Moore take on Esther could be promising. Or how about a Stephen King version of the Gospel According to John? We could call it The Last Godslinger.
With the right artists and colorists, God might give at Catwoman a run for her money. Spider-Man, however, is probably beyond even God’s reach.