Sunday, April 12, 2015

Matthew Archbold on Catholic Comic Book Superheroes

"Justice isn't a sin, Father." "No, but vengeance is."

This is a great piece by a great Catholic writer. I never knew there were so many Catholic superheroes. Well, I knew there were many Catholic superheroes but not that kind...

Read the entire article at National Catholic Register. To entice you, I'm going to excerpt the first paragraph of each one:
Daredevil - There's a new Netflix show about the superhero Daredevil, who happens to be Catholic. And there's been a lot of discussion about how Catholicism is portrayed in the series...For those of you who don't know, Daredevil is like weaponized spandex. He's a bit...complex. He's blind but somehow he knows how to fight crime. He's a public defender and a vigilante. He's a vigilante and he's Catholic. And he can afford expensive suits but seems to like wearing spandex more. Hey, don't judge. There's a lot going on in this guy's life. His mom abandoned him in a Church and later became a nun. But don't worry she comes back sometimes and saves him. Sheesh. Forget about Daredevil I want to watch the exploits of the mother Nunja. (Yup. I just gave her that name.) 
Huntress - Her real name is Helena Rosa Bertinelli. With a name like that how could she be anything but Catholic, right?...On the plus side, she wears a cross pretty prominently. But if I'm being honest, she does tend to leave a pretty substantial body count behind however but nothing a little confession couldn't take care of. She's like Batman with less clothes and only half the morals. Even Batman thinks she's a little rough on criminals. Do you know how nasty you have to be to make Batman consider telling on you? 
Night Crawler -Sure he looks kind of demon-y (demon-esque?) but that's only because his father may have been...well...a demon. So there's that. But hey, he's inked up with all sorts of Christian tattoos and that stuff doesn't just rub away. That's a commitment. And he's been known to pray for his fellow X-Men. He speaks pretty openly about his faith which would be a great evangelistic tool if people weren't horrified at his visage. He's like Quasimodo with ninja skills. 
Gambit - Gambit is Catholic. He's not always...shall we say...a letter to the law type though. He gambles quite a bit. His superpower seems to consist of being able to throw exploding playing cards at people as well as wearing a headband and not being mocked for it. He doesn't even really have enough superpowers to warrant wearing a mask. It's pretty rare that someone says, "If only we had Gambit here." It's more like, "Hey Gambit's here too. So after we defeat these bad guys maybe we'll play some cards." But Gambit did once steal the "Cross of Redemption" from a bunch of mobsters and returned it to the Vatican. That's some major points right there, right? And then I think he played cards with an archbishop, a canon lawyer, and two deacons. 
The Punisher - If Francis Castiglione were punishing himself as a way of atoning for his own sins that would be one thing. However, Francis Castiglione doles out punishment to others like it's his job. And it kinda' is because he's The Punisher. As a youngster, he was studying to be a priest but gave it up because he found it too difficult to forgive those who did evil. And that's not a great trait for a priest unless you want penance to be headlocks and broken kneecaps. It is however an excellent qualification for being "The Punisher." So you see, we all have to find our niche in Catholicism. 
Hellboy - Going big with nurture over nature, this storyline sees a baby demon abandoned as an infant in a Church and raised by a devout Catholic. So the baby demon grows up to be a rosary-carrying trench coat wearing horn shaving demon who carries a rosary with him in the same pocket as his grenades. In an interesting way if you think about it, Hellboy is castigated and dismissed by the same world he is struggling to save. That's a pretty Catholic theme, right there.
Many post-Vatican II priests are nothing but glorified social workers. Not even glorified. If they believe in anything, it's sympathy. Big whoop. I can get that from my bartender.

But Traditionalist priests are different. How do I know? It's because they have a sort of Bat Belt. They have a cross, a rosary, holy water, oil to anoint the sick and the dying and, for all I know, a swiss army knife. Everyday for a few minutes during Mass, they become Christ. Unlike anyone else, they (through Christ) have the power to forgive any sin. If that's not being a superhero, nothing is.

The priest who catechized me and married me told us a story about physically stopping an assault by a drunken man on a defenseless woman. (If you knew him and had met him, you would know his story was true.) He laid the guy out on a car hood after wrestling away his razor. But if the drunken guy had asked for it, my priest would have been ready with the oil.

Why would anyone want to be a celibate social worker? Why would anyone not at least see the attraction in becoming a superhero?

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