Comic Books and the Gods

Comic Books and the Gods November 9, 2014

Comic books and the gods go together like peanut butter and jelly. Superman has always struck me as a Jesus-like figure. Alan Moore and Grant Morrison, two of the most lauded and fascinating storytellers in comics today, are practicing magicians and incorporate occult ideas into their works. I am not going to try to write a thorough essay on comics and the gods, because I am not remotely prepared to do so; besides, others have already done it!

What I want to do is highlight some comics I’ve started reading and share some thoughts with you.

The Morrigan.
The Morrigan.

The first is The Wicked + The Divine, published by Image Comics. This series features divinities and fandom. It’s also a bit of a murder mystery. The gods appear every 90 years for two years. Now they’ve taken the forms of pop stars. Sekhmet seems like Rhianna to me. Baal seems like Kanye West. Lucifer is a Robyn-ish female. The Morrigan is an underground goth star. There’s a lot of shapeshifting, gender fluidity, and commentary on how we approach the gods.

Are the gods “pop stars”? Are we collecting them? Who do we flock to and why? The Wicked + The Divine isn’t theological material per se, but I find a nuanced thought-experiment in its pages. Where do we find magic in our lives? What if the gods are real and embodied? They might look a lot like the “blessed” in our society. But that is tricky, for the gods don’t have a straightforward agenda, as we see in the pages of this comic. Do the gods even have their own agendas, or are they too in thrall to a “higher power”?

These questions are suggested in panels of bright and bold colors and witty dialogue.

The next fab comic that intrigues me is Kurt Busiek’s latest, tooth & claw, also published by Image Comics. The first issue opens with a ToothandClaw01_Cover_OPTdog-person (this is high fantasy with anthropomorphic animals) going through “the thirty-two-and-one daily obeisances” on behalf of his family. We learn a little about his gods; we learn that his society is supported by magic; we learn that magic is failing. This feels less theological than The Wicked + The Divine, and more a subtle commentary on modern civilization. I may be reading too much, too early, into this comic, but…. Well, no spoilers.

The first issue is 48 pages, no ads, half-price. The art and coloring are gorgeous. The world creation is beautiful. Hurry and get a copy before it sells out!

For those that wonder if I read, watch, or think about anything not related to the gods, magic, or spiritual practices (um, rarely), let me offer up this recommendation: The Lumberjanes. The description goes like this: “It’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets Gravity Falls and features five butt-kicking, rad teenage girls wailing on monsters and solving a mystery with the whole world at stake.” It’s more queer-friendly, feminist flag waving, with an Adventure Time-esque visual style. Of course, now that I think about it….. myth, magic, and the supernatural are also involved, so…. No. No, I do not ever read, think about, watch, or do anything unrelated to the gods!



PS – The Wicked + The Divine is not for kids. Maybe mature teenagers. Tooth & claw for middle schoolers or maybe a mature 10 yr old or so. Lumberjanes is good fun for all.

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  • Sarah Sadie

    There is something about the visual nature of the medium, don’t you think? Sensory, sensual, story and art…sounds like a great vehicle for religion to me.

    • It’s a great medium for story telling! And with the visuals, religious symbols can take on hidden or obvious, creative or standard meanings.