Friday, December 3, 2010

A superhero reveals his true identity

Comic book superheroes are normally in an odd situation when it comes to supernatural beliefs, at least when compared to the reality of the real world.  They can usually count among their allies and enemies a variety of beings that consider themselves deities or demons.  One of the earliest superheroes is even fairly obviously portrayed as the Judeo-Christian Wrath of God.  Thor, Hercules, Venus...they're all presented as living beings that interact regularly with the world.  Right now, Marvel has an expansive story in which the Japanese god of evil Amatsu Mikaboshi is attempting to destroy the universe.  In a universes like these, it might seem at first blush to be fairly foolish for a character to claim to be an atheist.  Still, a thinking person would still have reservations, doubts, and could still foster a rational sense of disbelief.

This seldom happens, though.  Normally, when a character claims to be an atheist or agnostic, he's being set up to soon or later be shown the error of his ways.

That may be the eventual fate of another hero who has recently admitted his atheistic leanings.  Founding Avenger Hank Pym,  (aka Ant-Man, aka Giant Man, aka Goliath, aka Yellow Jacket, currently know as The Wasp)  recently related his rationale to the latest hero to take up his former title of Ant-Man.  In the miniseries Ant-Man and Wasp, Pym has created a virtual reality world, and he has downloaded the memories and personality of a dead friend into it, creating a cyber-Heaven of sorts where digital "souls" can dwell.  The computer systems containing this heaven are stolen, leading the pair of heroes to go after it and save Pym's friend.  During the second issue this exchange between the pair occurs,

from Ant-Man and Wasp #2 from Marvel Comics
Even in a world where Norse Gods now live openly near a small town in Oklahoma, this line of logic makes perfect sense, though I could go without the overly florid "science is my god" spiel.  I'm sure it's meant metaphorically here, but all it will do is add fuel to the "atheism is just another religion" argument.

Of course, this isn't an outing without a downside.  Pym has been shown for years to be one of the less stable of old school heroes.  He's gone through numerous superhero IDs and is currently using the name of his (presumed) dead wife.   He's had a couple of mental breakdowns, and he even slapped his wife in anger once, making him the repentant poster boy for comic book spousal abuse ever since.  Additionally, there's still one more issue in the mini to go, and it's possible that we're again being set up for the skeptical hero to find that faith is as important as facts, but one can hope.

1 comment:

  1. I haven't seen anything in any stories I've read about Hank Pym that would make me think he's a man of faith. I think it's in character for him. I agree that the "science is my god" line was a bit much.