As I was watching the whole Faith mess recently -- everything from forcing women to wear burqas to creationism in schools to denial of gay rights -- it began to seem strangely familiar.
What are we looking at when we observe any religion? We see a cast of imaginary characters, imaginary origin stories, imaginary backstory, lots of commentaries, followers, apostles, and a growing lexicon of argumentation.
Superheroes, the explosion of Krypton, the life of baby Clark Kent, fan mail, fans, and fan forums.
How is any religion different than arguing that Batman can beat Superman? I know I'm going to get fanmail on that one... "Batman only has gadgets! Superman has powers!" How is that a bit different than "Our god is smite-ier than your god!"
Admittedly, superhero fans and the faithful don't think much of women. They herd together and buy lots of strange toys and books, everything from the action figures and crucifixes and Hands of Fatima and Shiva posters to the Rapture series. If I left your religion out of the list, consider yourself included anyway. It's all one big revival tent or comics convention, anyway.
The one clear difference between superhero fans and the faithful is the kid in the costume cloak hasn't tied any heretics to a stake and burnt them. With very few exceptions, nobody's murdered anybody else over who gets to set up a comics shop. The darkest superhero fan may THINK he wants to ride around on a motorcycle with a flaming skull, but he's going to do it through some form of DVD or game, and not through the middle of his neighbor's house.
Both superheroes and religions are directed at kids. They both try to teach morality with a simplified story partly based on reality, because the kid's brain won't be up to speed 'till s/he's around 25. The superhero fan grows up, and the worst he'll do is buy too many boxed collector's sets; I doubt any 40-year-old Punisher fans think their hero is having a Philly cheese steak in the street outside Pat's. The faithful grow up physically, but not only do they continue to believe their fairy stories, they can and are willing to use them to keep your life partner and your children from visiting you as you're dying in a hospital.
I could go on and on with more comparisons -- add your own! Fun at parties! -- but you get the idea.
Are you slapping yourself in the forehead now and going: "OMG! I should have seen that before!" ?
Cred and background:
I've been in the comic book industry since 1986. That's right, the hardest, most labor-intensive writing form there is -- and I not only complete the entire project, art and writing, I own it (see http://www.desert-peach.com for some examples).I'm also a recovering Christian. The only reason I'm posting this in a Reader's group is that it displays my writing history. And I'm looking for an agent. Or any writing project that needs a fast writer with lots of research experience -- or even illustrations of any sort. I've never missed a deadline and I can read contracts. Yada yada.