Today Marks the Release of a Comic Book Series Featuring Atheist Superheroes Battling Supernatural Threats

For the comic book fans out there, today is the publication date of the first issue in the four-part series S.H.O.O.T. First by Justin Aclin with illustrations by Nicolás Daniel Selma:

The title will center around a group of hardcore atheists who protect mankind from the supernatural threats that they do not believe in.

“It’s about a team called the Secular Humanist Occult Obliteration Taskforce, who use the power of their own disbelief (as filtered through sci-fi weaponry) to protect humanity from supernatural creatures that seek to do us harm,” Aclin told Parallel Worlds.

“But for S.H.O.O.T., that means demons, angels and everything in between.”

The team dismiss all the manifestations of ghouls and monsters as ‘Outside Actors’ — extra-dimensional attempts to manipulate mankind’s primal fears.

It’s actually a very fascinating approach to the atheist conversation. We’ve said for a long time that doubt is the enemy of faith, that critical thinking can vanquish religious beliefs, and this graphic novel puts those ideas right at the center of a superhero-genre story:

I have to say, having read the first two issues, I also appreciate that one of the subplots involves an African-American woman dealing with the Big Questions from her curious son and the conflicting advice of her religious mother:

I asked Aclin a few questions about his series and how his beliefs impacted the storyline and he graciously responded at length:

What would atheists enjoy about this series?

I think, even more than the fact that this is the first action/adventure comic I can think of where all of the main characters are atheists, they’ll enjoy the fact that it’s about the emotional life of atheists. When I started finally letting go of my religious self-identification, I had never seen any story that explored what that was like. Every story you ever see about someone having a crisis of faith seems to end with the faith being reaffirmed. I wanted to see a story that explored what the emotional experience of being an atheist is like, and what the unique struggles and joys of that are. And, maybe I’m weird, but I wanted to see that explored through a comic book with monster fights.

The real emotional crux of the series is laid out on the first page, in which the main character, team leader Mrs. Brookstone, gets asked by her young son what happens after you die, and she doesn’t have an easy answer to tell him. The conversation gets interrupted, but I think it’s safe to say that if it’s important enough to kick off issue 1 with it, it’s a conversation that you’ll see resurface later on in the mini-series.

Do you think religious people might be offended at any aspect of your story?

There’s a surface-level kind of offense that could be taken to a subplot where the Vatican is working to stop the team, but I don’t think of them as cartoonish villains. I think they’re perfectly within their rights to try to stop a team whose marching orders include killing angels, and in a different story the Vatican would probably be the heroes… but this isn’t that story.

I think the religious people who should take offense would never see themselves in the story, even though I based the villains off of them. In the world of S.H.O.O.T. First, anything that might be considered a supernatural creature is actually an Outside Actor, an extra-dimensional being which can self-evolve and that feeds off the faith of humanity. And many of the Outside Actors fear the degree to which science and reason are affecting humanity’s faith, and they’ve hatched a plan to bring about an Apocalypse and wipe that away. That’s very much based on a certain type of Fundamentalist that’s actively working to bring about the end times, which is a concept I just find abhorrent. I was raised Jewish, and when I realized that there was a group of Christians out there who were cheerleading Israel’s worst tendencies because they think it’s going to bring about the end of the world, and they’d like that, I was horrified. And I took that horror and created monsters out of it.

What topics related to faith were you glad you could explore?

I think the best stories come from not starting with a message you want to deliver, but starting with a question you want to explore. I started working on S.H.O.O.T. First when I first began letting go of thinking of myself as believing in god, and I had a lot of questions, “How do you talk to your children about death” being chief among them. But also, “How do you find meaning in life if you don’t believe that we were put here for a purpose?”

Religion has been around nearly as long as humanity, and it persists in part because it’s hugely comforting. I needed to find meaning beyond that comfort, and writing this story helped me to do that. And even if it had never seen print, it would be tremendously important to me because of that.

What advantages does a comic book give you to tell this story that a more traditional book might not lend itself to?

The truth is I love comics, and I’ve always wanted to write comics, and my favorite kinds of comics are the ones that explore something recognizable and universal about the human condition through the lens of stories where there are also big exciting fight scenes. So I wanted to write the kind of comic that I like to read.

As far as advantages, I think the most obvious one is that you get incredible visuals in the art from my co-creator Nicolas Daniel Selma and our colorist Marlac. It’s one thing to say the team is fighting a Jinn that swallows people and stores them in its body, and it’s another, far creepier thing to get to see it. I suppose you could get visuals from a movie as well, but that’s another advantage that comics has: this is a story where the main characters are an African-American woman and an Afghan man. That would never in a million years get made into a big-budget, special effects-laden movie. Working with Dark Horse Comics has afforded us incredible freedom to tell exactly the story we want to tell.

If you can’t get to a comic book shop, you can order the digital edition of the first issue right here.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • SeekerLancer

    I’m not very sure I like the concept. I never liked the whole “supernatural things do exist but only if you believe” trope, even though it’s sort of turned on its head here. I can think of the Nightmare on Elmstreet films being similar with Freddy only being able to manifest and gain power when others fear him.

    • JN

      I kind of agree with you; I think it’s weird that there are characters that directly interact with supernatural beings, yet decide not to believe in them. If I could directly interact with something the evidence I would have to believe it exists. That being said, I think it’s supposed to be mostly a symbolic comic.

      • Lando

        I think the big distinction is that the comic is saying these angels and demons and mythical creatures exist (in this fictional world), but they’re being misinterpreted by the faithful.
        Sort of like, crazy aircraft might be seen near Area 51, rational people know they’re not space aliens, but we still have plenty of people who think we’re being visited by little green men, rather than believe we might test airplanes without showing them to the rest of the world.
        So maybe these religious myths are based in some bit of reality, but these ‘angels’ clearly aren’t servants of god. They’ve either taken on the appearance of our mythology, or dudes with white robes and wings exist and have worked their way into it.

        • Itarion

          Along with that, there’s a distinct difference between admitting something exists and worshiping it because it exists. There’s a good example somewhere within Terry Pratchett’s work. Something along the lines of “Sure, the gods exist [they do in his Discworld], but that’s no cause to go around believing in them.” Granny Weatherwax, I think.

          • phantomreader42

            Yeah, believing in them just gives them ideas :P

          • rtanen

            “Belief just encourages them.”
            “They knew tables existed, but they weren’t about to go around saying ‘Oh, mighty table, without you we are nought.”
            Quotes from flawed memory of Terry Pratchett novels.

            • freemage

              Yeah, in general, in fantasy settings, you don’t get literal atheism like we have in the real world; instead, you usually get something that might best be called Refusenikism, that simply states that whatever powers-that-be might be, none of them is actually deserving of worship or awe. Stark probably fits that same bill–having met Thor, he’d suggest that if there IS a ‘historical Jesus’, he probably came from some other dimension and was just trying to get everyone to be nice for each other, and got nailed to a tree for his trouble.

      • JRB

        It actually kind of reminds of what James Randi, et al do when they bust psychics.

        I think we’re all in agreement that psychic power don’t really exist. Yet how do psychics convince people that they have those powers? Through things like cold reading, hot reading, the rainbow ruse, Forer effect, etc. All of these techniques are real and can give the impression that the user has real psychic powers; the more someone wants to believe in the existence of psychic powers the more likely they are to accept a cold reading as something truly supernatural. So while we shouldn’t believe in psychics, you should certainly believe in the Forer effect.

        Similarly, I get the impression that the “outside actors” of the comic in the original post do exist but are not the angels, demons and other assorted creatures of human mythology they pretend to be. And I’m assuming that distinction is important because a “God-fearin’ Christian” is probably a lot more likely to shoot up a Diner because an “angel of the Lord” told him it was God’s Will then if a random “inter-dimensional being” told him to.

        • getz

          Extra-dimensional serves the same basic role as supernatural: it represents an explanation they don’t actually have(also: can never have, should they go through the appropriate steps for stifling inquiry). Do a quick search for “god is an extra dimensional being” and you’ll see that people use it in the same way as supernatural as well. The magic phenomena exists, apparently, but the people who believe in it don’t really know what it actually is.

          And in this comic, the people who know what the gods and angels really are… are the atheists.

          • JRB

            Well not necessarily. There may be a perfectly consistent and non-supernatural explanation for the existence of these extra-deminsional being (within the world the comic books are set in.)

            And sure, people in our non-comic universe try and explain gods as extra-dimensional beings but I don’t see how that relates to using a non-supernatural version of extra-dimensional beings in a fictional universe. There are people who believe god is an alien life-form but that doesn’t mean that every sci-fi story with aliens is suddenly a story about supernatural god like aliens.

            • getz

              It would be if the god-like not aliens were battling the alien visitation deniers squad(A.V.D.S!) You see, it’s not alien lifeforms in space ships who are visiting Earth, it’s nonliving conscious beings in universe pods,and people think they’re aliens.)

              If extra-dimensional ends up serving the same role as supernatural, then their clarification isn’t much different than someone pointing out how the things theybelieve in are spiritual rather than magical.

              Normally not an issue for fiction; honestly, it’s even pretty common for magic to be treated like another science in stories, and there would be no need to shy away from “supernatural” explanations either. If an actual explanation exists, then the religious barrier is basically broken anyways. Call it supernatural or whatever you want, the real strength of religion lies in being able to stare at whatever exists and say “I bet some other mysterious element is also involved.” That ability never goes away. You can do it when stumbling across some realm for people you thought had died. You can do it when meeting some dude who made the universe. There’s always room for imagined mystery.

              How the creatures are handled is only an issue here because the comic is being presented as addressing religious concepts as they exist in the real world.If it begins with a “supernatural” equivalent to explain away its targets, it’s a bad start. If it can avoid it; good.

              What did they actually do? I probably won’t find out, as I just checked the 6 page preview and it features a band of gun toting atheists fighting a fire demon. I’m quite fond of comics, but the desire to tackle any number of issues with punches and kicks will always seem silly to me.

    • JRB

      I kind of like it because I see it as a metaphor for a very real process.

      Take the Augur for example. A powerful figure in Roman culture. Battles were fought, cities were founded, and Emperors crowned on their advice. The source of their power? People BELIEVED that the gods made their will known through the behavior of birds in flight and the Augurs were supposed to be able to interpret that will.

      If I were to revive the ancient office of Augur today, I doubt I would have the power to convince my wife to follow my directions based on my interpretation of the flight of birds, never mind an entire nation.

      And the reason for this loss of power isn’t because Roman birds had a connection with the divine that they don’t today, it’s because people no longer believe in the bird/will of the gods connection.

  • WallofSleep

    S.H.O.O.T. Agent: “Stand fast outsider, or I’ll blast you with my Gun of Doubt!!!”

    Demon: “Er, your ‘what’, now?”

    S.H.O.O.T. Agent: “My, um, Gun of Doubt!”

    Demon: “Heh, I doubt it even works.”

    S.H.O.O.T. Agent: *click* :fizzle: “GODDAMNIT!!!”

  • Fred

    Sounds dumb as hell, and I like comic books.

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      Dark Horse Comics has a truly exceptional record for non-mainstream comic stories, setting aside most of their movie franchise work. If they took a chance on it, it’s worth a look.

      Mind you, I’m not looking, because I have no intention of getting back into spending all my money on comics or feeling the neverending disappointment of seeing good series go under after six issues. But DHC signs up bright, creative people by the dozen and isn’t hampered by the weight of genre history and the need to please sexist man-children with every page.

      • WallofSleep

        I recall reading Byrne’s Next Men back in the day. Started off pretty strong, but a bunch of shit happened in my life and by the time I got it all sorted out I was so behind on that series I gave up.

        • C.L. Honeycutt

          Byrne is seriously egotistical*, but he usually did very good work. I always wanted to give that series a try, and I really miss having a box of his Fantastic Four work. :(

          *He once did an interview where he gloated about how he supposedly manipulated Claremont and their editor into writing what he wanted on their X-Men run. Almost his exact words IIRC.

          • Randy Meyer

            His Fantastic Four run was easily one of the best. And he also made me like Superman.

      • God’s Starship

        Umbrella Academy is a good book from Dark Horse right now. Probably going to pass on S.H.O.O.T First.

  • Ian J. Welch

    Honestly, the artwork alone is enough to turn me off…

    • Katarn

      The art looks really boring. But it wouldn’t be the first Dark Horse book with plain looking art but really great writing.

  • Kellen Connor

    Halfway through the interview, and I was sold.

  • advancedatheist

    So will one of the atheist characters in this comic book point out the obvious fact that women and gays exist, unlike all the woo-woo things associated with religious beliefs; that we can observe them in the same way we can observe animals, rocks and stars; and that the allegedly “superstitious” prejudices and stereotypes about them which have accidental religious rationalizations just might also have a basis in empirical reality?

    • JRB

      Your obsession is unnerving but your rhetoric is inane.

    • Tainda

      Awww, did the comic book characters turn you down too? Do you have the sads?

    • allein

      I exist? Really?! Good to know.

      /just a feeble-minded little woman, after all…need a man to tell me these things

      • Tainda

        *snubs toe and twirls her ponytail* Wow, me too! Like, I’m so glad there are men like him to tell me how to breathe, eat, live, etc…

    • phantomreader42

      NotAtAllAdvancedAtheist babbled:

      So will one of the atheist characters in this comic book point out the obvious fact that women and gays exist, unlike all the woo-woo things associated with religious beliefs; that we can observe them in the same way we can observe animals, rocks and stars; and that the allegedly “superstitious” prejudices and stereotypes about them which have accidental religious rationalizations just might also have a basis in empirical reality?

      “Empirical reality”. You keep using those words. I do no think they mean what you think they mean.

      You keep babbling that there’s empirical evidence to back up your bigotry against women and gay people. People with brains keep calling you on it, and asking you to present said evidence. And every single time, you flee in abject terror, because you know your delusions won’t stand up to even a moment’s scrutiny. As I told you last time, and the time before that, and as others have surely told you countless times in the past, Claiming you have evidence is worthless unless you can actually demonstrate it. Put up or shut up. Or just run away and hide because you’re too much of a coward to even try defending your bullshit.

    • invivoMark

      By your usage of the word “advanced” in your moniker, can I assume that you are referring to the advanced stages of senility?

    • baal

      “e allegedly “superstitious” prejudices and stereotypes about them which have accidental religious rationalizations”
      When the bible says, “wives submit to your husbands” and the xtian right says that’s meant to be taken literally in as many ways as possible, it’s not stereotyping to say that the xtians are bigoted. That you think you’ve found another basis for your bigotry doesn’t make you more advanced or less bigoted.

    • getz

      Why would you say allegedly superstitious? The superstitious prejudices and stereotypes are claims that they’re disliked or have specific roles to perform as mandated by magical beings. There is no reason to say it has a basis in empirical reality unless it can be shown empirically that the magical beings(be they the “gay demons” people try to exorcise, or the gods telling women to know their place) actually exist.

      If you think you have some points to make that are based in reality, make them. They won’t represent a “basis in empirical reality” for the above mentioned superstitious claims any more than modern medicine shows that faith healing has a basis in reality. No matter what happens, the religious claims themselves are useless. If you want to cling to them, then drop the pretense and do it. If you have any actual claims about women or gay people to make, then make them without having to drag religion around.

    • Obazervazi

      Again with this? Do you learn anything from people’s responses? It’d be nice if you at least changed your speil to acknowledge and answer common criticism of your position, but it’s the exact same nonsense every time.

      Please, at least put some effort into your bigotry. This is just… sad.

      • C.L. Honeycutt

        What’s really confusing me is that he has condemned Libertarianism by name, but in other posts he has espoused its basic tenets.

        The bigotry is much sadder, but it’s consistent.

        • phantomreader42

          He seems to have a habit of talking out of both sides of his ass.

  • abb3w

    They sound less “atheist” and more “anti-theist” — or perhaps “anti-theos”?

  • C.L. Honeycutt

    In the 1980′s, Palladium Games came out with Beyond the Supernatural, a RPG about investigating and combating supernatural menaces. The primary character roles were different types of psychics, although it was clear that the game was better played with everyday joe characters. One psychic “class”, the standout of the bunch, was the Nega-Psychic. While other psychics focused their natural psychic energy into enhanced abilities such as faith healing, clairvoyance or genius aptitudes, the Nega-Psychic as a character was absolutely incapable of believing in the supernatural, up to and including his own powers. His powers of course supported his position, because nega-psychics channeled all their energy into dampening magical and psychic auras in their vicinity.

    In other words, if a nega-psychic goes into a haunted house, the ghosts become weaker and can’t manifest. If a nega-psychic is present during a magical ritual, she drains so much energy (as the cultists are voluntarily releasing it) that the spell fizzles.

    Nega-Psychics were easily the most strong-willed character type. Nobody could read their minds or control their thoughts with other powers. They were almost impossible to scare, because they knew, in a way that even the most skeptical among us can’t fathom, that noises in the dark were always mundane things. Even if faced with actual monsters, they could go toe-to-toe with them and make up rationalizations later: special effects, axe killers, mutated animals, hallucinogenic gas, undiscovered species, but absolutely not EVER “supernatural” events. This of course meant that some of the greatest heroes to play were, in the context of the world, completely delusional and seething with denial and whackjob ideas. And this was long before things like the Supernatural TV show!

    They ran a huge range of playable ideas, anything from a jaded scientist to a conspiracy theorist to a fresh-faced teacher to a stony mercenary. The two nega-psychics in the back of the book were partnered television hosts whose program specialized in debunking myths and legends. They’d promise to share with the world the dangers secretly stalking humanity, then show up to meet the players, cameras at the ready… and nothing would ever happen around them.

    Then they’d edit the footage to make the heroes look like idiots and charlatans. Just being nega-psychics who wanted the public to be smarter didn’t make them good. Being two-faced meant RATINGS.

    • Sindigo

      Wow. That was a blast from the past. I totally want to dig out my copy and have a game now.

      Or maybe TMNT/Heroes unltd.

      • C.L. Honeycutt

        The Palladium game system was gawdawful, but their worlds were engaging!

      • Iokobos

        Damn straight… cut my teeth on TMNT then moved into HU/N&S. Good times. Terrible system, munchkins reigned supreme… especially after Rifts. But who cared? It beat getting stoned or shot on a weekend night.

    • wmdkitty

      Gangs on PCP attacking people with barbecue forks…?

      • C.L. Honeycutt

        That took me a minute to recall that – I think – that was from Buffy. Yes, exactly! You could have so much fun making up “weather balloon reflecting light from Venus” stories. Heck, imagine the fun you could have with three or four of them who all have their own pet conspiracy theories that they cling to in lieu of just admitting, “Vampires.”

        The barbecue fork thing reminded me of another great trope from BtS and the Dark Conspiracy game: All the weird shit you’ve ever heard of does exists, but it isn’t actually anything like what you’ve been told. Alien abductions are actually performed by simpleminded telepathic energy beings that want to play with humans and make the humans have fun also, so as they descend from above, shining light on people, they read their minds so as to help them replicate what the humans expect… and come up with images of little green men in ships with anal probes. Most vampires are humans who are desperately ill and iron-deprived from repeated blood drainings performed by one “real” vampire… that is really an alien whose bite causes a reaction in people that makes them irrationally thirsty.

        The great thing about this is that even the “real” explanations for things sound like complex rationalizations made up by delusional people.

        • wmdkitty

          Ah. Sunnydale Syndrome.

          At this point, I’m glad our hellmouth just attracts the weird. And serial killers. A whole bunch have “just happened” to pass through Whatcom County. The Beltway Snipers stayed at the local mission, even!

  • Timmah

    I’ve often wondered in my nerdery how comic book characters could be atheists. Like Tony Stark is supposed to be one, yet there is Thor standing RIGHT THERE in the same room with him.

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      *joins in the nerdery* Well, Asgardians are a a physically powerful otherdimensional race, one of hundreds that are known. That’s not such a thing. But in the Marvel Universe, Stark and everyone whose opinion he respects has met things like Death and Eternity (and even a being who can and did destroy those concepts for a short while because they made him feel all existential and he couldn’t handle it.) Thaaat’s got to be a little unnerving.

      I guess when your universe has thousands of ideas that are only theoretical to us, but real to them, you have to build a new base for your identity. I mean, in their world, it’s common knowledge that intergalactic conquerors with hundreds of worlds beneath their heels know about and are interested in Earth. That’s pretty simple as comic book concepts go, but imagine what it would do to peoples’ mental stability here.

      Personally, I think that Stark gets by because he looks at everything as a technical issue instead of a philosophical one.

      • Raising_Rlyeh

        Well, the drinking could help as well.

        • Randy Meyer

          I was just about to say…. being drunk half the time usually helps take some of the weight off.

          • Artor

            That armor will be pretty snug when the beer belly develops though. Just sayin’.

        • C.L. Honeycutt

          I’d drink too if everybody knew that one of my first ideas when building the world’s most advanced weapons platform and personal defense system was to give it a giant handheld horseshoe magnet that hung on the hip like a six-shooter.

          And that one time he added a nose to the faceplate because it “made it more intimidating”. This before he became a heavy drinker!

          …and the roller skates NO I’M NOT KIDDING

      • Elvis & Bill McGee

        You know I have question. Why does everyone comic book universe so convoluted and overtly complex?

        • C.L. Honeycutt

          Comic companies had multiple writers who weren’t kept on short leashes at the start. One writer introduces an all-powerful being, while on another comic team, a different, unrelated all-powerful being makes an appearance. Then the editors have to make it all work, and they can’t even retcon the most awkward parts out of of existence, because ignoring them would weaken their claims to the trademarks. (That’s why every character in Marvel or DC, no matter how crappy, will make some sort of appearance once a year or so. It’s to maintain the trademark in case they have to go after someone in court.)

          The big companies grew very fast, so it took less than ten years for their respective mythoi to become unwieldy. Serious retconning just to consolidate DC’s universes began around 1986, and they’re still working on it.

    • Feminerd

      What I want to know is how Captain America is still a Christian! I mean, there’s actual physical proof that the Norse gods are real, standing right in front of him, and still no evidence for YHVH, Jesus, angels, heaven, the Devil, or any of that. What is with Captain America?

      • Matt D

        Well, the Super Soldier serum may have increased his cognitive dissonance to superhuman levels, along with the rest of him….or they just made him Christian to appeal to a wider audience.

        • C.L. Honeycutt

          Christian identity is natural to the character, really, but Cap would be a staunch secularist. It’s important to note, though, that Cap simply doesn’t possess recognizable prejudice (which of course means that he does have cognitive dissonance as regards the Bible.) There was actually a storyline where the mutant Magneto was trying to rig his own expected trial for war crimes before an international court with a powerful telepathic device that he was using specifically to “remove all prejudice” from the minds of of the judges,” on the assumption that they would otherwise railroad him for his genetics.

          He used it on Captain America, whose opinions on the whole matter didn’t shift at all, though Magneto had figured that Cap’s unconscious bias was preventing him from seeing that a trial would be playing into the hands of xenophobes. He shamed Magneto so much that the most dangerous terrorist on Earth just gave up and went along instead of claiming an easy win. Unrealistic, hey, but still great stuff.

          And Cap’s not superhuman, he’s at the limit of human potential. Well, limit of human potential in a superhero universe. #nerdwin!

          • Matt D

            Since my speculation is limited to what I’ve read in Wiki’s, and movies (I never read the comics), I concede defeat!

        • rtanen

          Maybe participating in things that haven’t changed very much at all since his time makes him feel better, as religious ritual remains fairly constant?

          • Matt D

            Very true!

      • Raising_Rlyeh

        Actually God and the angels exist and they have interacted with the marvel characters.

        But yeah the mere fact that the Captain doesn’t question his faith bugs me.

        To be fair though the asgardians are just super advanced aliens

        • Feminerd

          Well yeah, they aren’t gods. But at least they provide a rational basis for pre-scientific human cultures to call them gods.

          I’m not totally up on my Marvel-verse, but I don’t recall the Abrahamic god or angels or devils or Satan being around, at least not in the 616 universe. I could be wrong, of course, since as I said I’m not caught up on everything. Where do JHVH and angels show up, do you remember?

          • C.L. Honeycutt

            They have the Devil himself, Mephisto, and a host of godlike devils, but I think the most supreme entities are neutral embodiments of the universe itself. Mephisto is almost irrelevant to their function, which is to be expected since the mythology was built from unrelated chunks added by many people on whims.

          • Raising_Rlyeh

            Well, there is the One-Above-All which I believe has only been seen once by the Fantastic 4 and he happened to look like Jack Kirby. I know that there are angels in the Marvel universe and as was mentioned there is Mephisto. Lucifer himself does exist in the Marvel universe and his background is that of an archangel.


            • Feminerd

              Neat. Thank you.

            • C.L. Honeycutt

              *reads about the One-Above-All*

              Stronger than Squirrel Girl? UNPOSSIBLE!

              Oh, he’s fairly new, that’s why I never heard of him. Heh, the Yahweh articles make it sound like he’s about as powerful as the other pantheon heads. That’s an interesting way to play it.

      • C.L. Honeycutt

        I don’t have citable evidence for this theory, but I would guess if an answer exists, it’s that Captain America’s religious belief is that rare sort that, when he sees things not covered by the Bible, he expands his god’s breadth and depth rather than pulling a “God of the Gaps” and shrinking God to fit.

        Of course, past a certain point, that sort of automatically becomes Deism, but hey.

      • Iokobos

        It’s called ‘faith’

    • Artor

      Nobody can convince me they haven’t gotten drunk together.

    • James Nimmons

      Wellll “God” in the marvel sense as far as asgard is concerned are just powerful beings from another dimension..not what wed call gods..since Thor cannot drink the entire ocean…like the Mythical Thor..

    • Timothy R Alexander

      I remember seeing a meme some where that had a pic of Captain America, Iron Man, and Hulk. It reads for captain america “Met two gods, still a christan.” for Iron Man it reads “Met two gods, still an atheist” and for Hulk it reads “Met two gods, kicked both there asses.” I think for Tony Stark still being an atheist is cause he doesnt see Thor as a god, just as a possibly more advanced being. I can’t explain Cap.

  • Art_Vandelay

    a group of hardcore atheists


    So this is basically like Scooby-Doo?

    • baal

      My core is hard. I do sit ups, hanging leg raises, crunches and a few other exercises too.

  • I_usta_b_a_leader

    My first thought was, isn’t that kind of like Scooby-Doo? They are always solving mysteries by proving that the scary things don’t exist.

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      That’s why it’s a truly gorgeous cartoon!

      I still can’t believe that the original concept for the show didn’t have a dog.

      • cyngus

        They have a dog, just misspelled. It is god.
        Atheists are superheroes for fighting an almighty dog.

    • Artor

      Except when they do. I got pissed off with the show when I realized they weren’t being consistent. Real detective stories, you could follow if you were clever enough. But if sometimes the ghost haunting the abandoned mine is real, and not Mr. Smithers in a mask, then you can never figure out hoodunnit. Heh. Skeptical 10 y/o me. They would have gotten away with it if it wasn’t for pesky kids like me.

      • wmdkitty

        I kinda like the ones with real monsters. I mean, they’re all expecting the usual bad guys in rubber masks, but NOPE! ZOMBIES!

  • riddles

    I can’t get around that premise, they know these beings exist for a fact yet they still doubt it?

    • phantomreader42

      I read it as more that they know that otherworldly beings with strange powers exist, and are fraudulently pretending to be gods and the agents thereof to feed on human faith, and they do not believe the lies these entities tell.

  • Raising_Rlyeh

    I don’t know if I would describe them as atheists. If I were to suddenly find out that so many supernatural creatures existed I wouldn’t describe myself as an atheist. I wouldn’t worship said beings, but I think I would then consider myself either a maltheist or misotheist.

    • JRB

      I dunno. If tomorrow I were presented with concrete and undeniable proof that advanced alien life exists and is visiting earth, I would certainly believe in aliens but I don’t think my stance on gods would change.

      • cyngus

        If you were presented with concrete and undeniable proof that advanced alien life exists, you will not believe in alines, you will know that aliens exists.

  • Artor

    I listened to an audiobook recently where the main character was an atheist, but he was living in a world with real supernatural creatures and a powerful sorcerer running the country. In such a circumstance, being an atheist would be even more stupid than being a believer in our world.
    It’s not that atheists don’t believe in angels and demons, it’s that there is no evidence to indicate such things exist. If there was evidence, then we wouldn’t be atheists anymore. The comic book might be cool, but with the basic premise so severely flawed, the writer has a big hurdle to clear to make a good story.

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      This reminds me of the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter novel series. It has infinite flaws, but the most painful one is extremely common to the modern/erotic horror genre: the writer has no idea how to envision consequences. In the case of Anita Blake, the existence of vampires has become public knowledge. They appear on TV, they have a religion with its own churches, they’ve lobbied for legislation to improve their rights. People give them celebrity worship and join the “church” hoping to become vampires. But the thing is, crosses repel them and even set them on fire, and not one person seems to realize that this might mean something beyond vampires being allergic to groups of right angles.

      How in the hell do you see vampires get set on fire by brandished crosses every day and not think that Jesus might be real and want you to NOT become undead?

      • freemage

        Others have managed to thread that needle. The Anno Dracula series, FREX, posits an alt-timeline where Dracula escapes and ultimately triumphs (going so far as to get himself established as the Prince Consort of Britain by marrying Queen Victoria). He then sets about making vampirism fashionable.

        And yes, a lot of folks initially take this to mean that there’s something more out there–until it’s discovered that the vampires who burn from holy water, or are repelled by crosses, or poisoned by the crucifix… tend to be the ones who were devout Christians in their ‘warm’ days.

        • Artor

          The Dresden Files handles it interestingly. It’s not the symbol; it’s the belief that has power over them. Dresden uses the pentagram his mother gave him. A cross would work for a Xian who believed in it. Atheists are screwed I guess, but maybe a heavy physics text could do a vampire in? One of the minor characters is a Knight of the Cross, wielding a sword with a nail of the “True Cross” forged into it, and empowered with holy smiting abilities, yet he remains an agnostic.

      • Feminerd

        I like the Dresden-verse take on it.

        It doesn’t matter what the symbol is, so long as you have faith in it. So the vampires aren’t allergic to right angles per se, just the faith behind the idea that the right angles mean protection, and even then only when strongly presented (so a cross on a building, for example, wouldn’t matter). And not all the vampires either (there’s some complicated courts of vampires and at least 4 types of them: Black Court vamps are the kind we all know and love from Bram Stoker’s novel).

        • C.L. Honeycutt

          Bah, I should have replied to Artor on this.

          My issue isn’t the mechanics, but rather the perception. A friend pointed out that one could theorize in the Anita Blake setting that crosses and other religious symbols (IIRC any symbol can potentially work, and symbols the vampire believes in work even if they aren’t being wielded) are just other forms of “magic” like the necromancy and witchcraft that exists there. But in a way, the question is not “What could be the cause of the phenomenon?” It’s closer to, “What is everyone’s understanding of the phenomenon in the context of their prior knowledge?”

          Modern horror writers tend to be really, really unaware of the obvious consequences of what the public is taking away from any given supernatural event, rather than what actually occurred.

          • Feminerd

            Oh. Yeah. That’s all true. The consequences would be pretty far-reaching in all sorts of ways that a lot of authors just don’t touch.

  • Randy Meyer

    Here’s a link to the review of the comic over at Comic Book Resources:

  • ShoeUnited

    If these are literal angels, demons, and whatnot as in they exist in this universe, how do you disprove them?
    The premise makes my head spin. If they’re just extra alien outsiders I guess? But if they’re real then… they’re real. Our universe doesn’t work that way, but if their Universe works that way (like many comic universes) then the atheists have become the theists.

    It’s all well and good not to believe in gods when there aren’t any. That makes sense. It becomes a bit crazy when they can knee you in the balls. If your universe allows the supernatural to exist, then it’s no longer supernatural. You just need better scientific instruments to measure these things. This divisive wedge between “Outside Actor”, Alien, and Angel is paper thin at that point. So they’re not really dispelling demons if the demons are real to a certain value of true in said universe.

    You’re either dressing up aliens as demons, or playing three card Monty with labels.

    I dunno. I appreciate people giving it a shot to explore new ideas. The comics medium (even Dark Horse) could use something a little different from the usual. It just seems to have less of an impact than they intended. Then again, if some kid is able to think for himself and learns to by using this as an aide, good more power to her and the creation staff.

  • Ward

    Doctor Who has used a similar plot device in many of its episodes, where an apparently supernatural creature was actually an alien, or an unexplainable event was the result of parallel universes/time travel, etc. Most recently in episodes like “The God Complex,” “The Rings of Akhaten,” and “Hide.” One of my favorite Whovian concepts is “psychic residue,” the idea that ghosts or hauntings are leftover imprints of temporal events from both the past and future.

    The Ghostbusters are another example–they are scientists who use their knowledge to defeat beings that frighten, terrorize, and harm humans. I love shows like this because the message is that we don’t have to be afraid of, or grovel before “deities” to avoid their wrath. In the context of these sci-fi stories, the point isn’t that they exist, the point is that we can fight back. In other words, “I ain’t ‘fraid of no ghost.”

  • Timothy R Alexander

    Where do I find this? I just tried searching on Amazon and came up with nothing.

    • MurrayC

      Try your Local Comic Book Shop. Comics are nowhere to be found on the newsstands these days

  • JWH

    The premise doesn’t make that much sense to me. If I lived in a universe in which demons and angels were real AND I confronted those demons and angels on a daily basis as part of a paramilitary unit … I wouldn’t be an atheist.

    • JWH

      After rereading this, the premise makes a little more sense. If the angels and demons are aliens, it makes sense to believe in them and fight them.

  • MikeTheInfidel

    The title will center around a group of hardcore atheists who protect mankind from the supernatural threats that they do not believe in.

    ……………… What? How does it make sense to not believe in something you’re actively fighting against?

    • Guest

      Seriously. I appreciate that someone is trying to create comic book heroes to appeal to non-believers, but this series’ premise is kind of hard to swallow from a narrative standpoint. I’d turn into a believer in a heartbeat if I found myself shooting at supernatural beasties. I’d probably be pretty hostile to all of the angels and demons making my life hell, but I’d still believe that they exist.

  • guest

    The premise kind of reminds me of the Stargate series, where there were lots of alien species who pretended to be gods, using their superior technology to fool humans.

    It’s cool to have a writer exploring atheism and loss of faith in his stories, but this kind of thing just isn’t for me. I’m more a fan of hard science fiction and ‘extra-dimensional’ beings are a bit too fantastical for me. I also think that the idea that any creature can feed on faith to sustain itself is giving a special status to faith that it doesn’t deserve. Faith isn’t an energy, it’s an emotion in your brain.

    I think I’d prefer it if they were fighting islamic terrorists and mormons who had child brides. Maybe also scientologist thugs and sinister death-cults.

  • BobbyPFalcon

    Atheism isn’t a religion. It is a rejection of religion.

  • cyngus

    Christians are already feeling threatened by a simple expression of disbelief, no need for “atheist superheroes” nonsense.

  • GoodBerean

    No such thing as an “atheist,” as Paul tells us in Romans 1:18 following. All human beings KNOW there is a God. Some worship Him, some do not. God says those who do not acknowledge and worship Him are “fools.”

    John Lofton, Recovering Republican
    Director,The God And Government Project