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.
Five things trouble me about this poll. First, I was not asked to participate. Second, Spiderman was ranked number one. Third, neither of my heroes made the top ten. Fourth, the fact that Batman tied for sixth place with Catwoman. And, fifth, God and Jesus rank 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?
Thor, the Norse God of Thunder, is now a superhero with a very successful comic franchise and Marvel movie in the works. And Jesus and God have both had hit movies in the last few years. But how many people go to the Temple of Thor or worship the God of Thunder any more? Maybe getting your own comic is what happens to Gods when they’re put out to pasture. Is this what is happening to God and Jesus now that they are listed as superheroes?
And it is not just superhero fans who feel that God is somewhat lacking. 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. And the current Saving Grace features Earl, a totally powerless angel who can't even help Grace, who is clearly anorexic and an alcoholic, stop drinking and get herself to a nutritionist. God and Jesus are powerless in these shows. Forget Catwoman, they couldn't even take on a Teletubbie.
Compare these shows to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Ghost Whisperer, two long lasting shows of the supernatural that never mention God or Jesus. Of course these shows have a sexual subtext that God and Jesus lack, so maybe we might have to forgo the Virgin Birth for something a little more Zeus-like.
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, Jesus might give at Catwoman a run for her money. Spiderman, however, is probably beyond even God’s reach.