Religion in X-Men and Alan Moore's Top 10 comics

Written: 12 July, 2000

I'm a huge comics fan, but I usually avoid the movies about them -- well, I tend to avoid modern movies in general! I used to have a subscription to Uncanny X-Men back in the early 1980s, then stopped buying it regularly around 1983. Oddly enough, I now have two new X-Men series on my monthly pull list, both of which are about the group's old days: "X-Men: Children of the Atom" is a comics mini-series re-telling their origin in a more realistic way, like a movie would. And "X-Men: The Hidden Years" is a new series telling new adventures about a period in their history prior to the mid-1970s "New X-Men" era (when Storm, Wolverine, and so on, joined the team).

Incidentally, X-Men is one of the few superhero comics that has included some of the characters' religious faiths in the stories. Nightcrawler is Catholic, I think, and Kitty Pryde is Jewish. I seem to recall one storyline, back in the early 1980s, when they were fighting a vampire, and Kitty made a cross with two sticks and told the vampire to back off. But the vampire knocked her aside, saying that it had no effect because she was not a believer. So Nightcrawler picked up the sticks and made a cross and the vampire had to back off because the cross had power against the vampire now, because of his faith. Hope I'm remembering all that right. I doubt the movie will have anything similarly thought-provoking.

Another comicbook which may be of interest is Alan Moore's Top 10. A few days ago, I sat down and read issues #2 thru #8 for the first time, and it was quite an experience. In the letter pages, a few Christians criticized Moore for so many characters frequently taking God's name in vain, in the early issues. Then a Muslim wrote in, complaining that one of the Christians who wrote in had called Allah a pagan deity, or something like that. Then, Moore decided to have a story involving the Norse mythological gods, where the "super-cops" have to investigate the murder of Baldur by misletoe at a bar called "Godz."

It was a greatly entertaining and funny story, although I was annoyed that Moore has one character refer to Baldur as an "antecedent" to Christ. An antecedent means something that happened before, prior to, something else, foreshadowing it. But I don't think that Moore can make such a statement, considering that (unless I'm mistaken) all that we know of the Norse myths comes from after the time of Jesus. For example, the two main writings about the Norse myths, the Younger and Elder Eddas, were written after 1000 AD when Scandanavia became Christian.

(By the way, I think that the same may be true of Mithra as well, but I'm not sure. Skeptics always point to similarities to Mithra and Jesus, saying Christianity was influenced by the earlier religion, but I think I may have read somewhere that all we know of Mithra comes from after the time of Jesus. Skeptics seem much more likely to believe that something else influenced Christianity, or was an "antecedent" of it, rather than the other way around. For example, isn't it possible that Snorri Sturuluson (or however his funky name is spelt) played up the "similarities" between Jesus and Balder's death stories because Snorri himself was a Christian?

Anyway, getting back to Top 10. The current issue shows that one of the "super-cop" characters, a flying woman called Peregrine, is a Christian, and she comforts a dying man who wants to know what is going to happen when he dies. He asks if he will see Jesus, and she says she thinks so, or something like that. She stays to be with him as he "goes on a journey" (her words) from this life to the next. There wasn't any Christian theology mentioned in the story, but it was nice to see Alan Moore writing a Christian character in a positive way.