The reading for this week can be found here. Note that the link in the syllabus is outdated.
Batman Crucified: Religion in comics
Some random notes:
Religious language and imagery - why might it exist in comic books? Religion continues to provide resources for those engaged in quests for meaning or for those caught in struggles of good and evil.
What are comics?
- An art form - an aging readership has caused comics to become collectibles, with speculation driving up worth and price guides guiding prices
- sequential art - pictures in sequence to tell a story
- Stations of the Cross - a sequential retelling of the crucifixion of Christ
- stained glass windows as sequential art for the education of an illiterate people
Why religious images in comics?
Comic books raid iconography from general culture. Battles between good and evil are the basis of comics. There exists the humanizing of comic book superheroes, resulting in a superhero with personal doubts. Another note: a superhero is basically a redeemer figure.
Batman as a “human” figure
Frank Miller’s miniseries in 1986, "The Dark Knight Returns," explores the psyche of an obsessed vigilante; it is an exceptionally dark story (with a female “Robin”). Batman is so dark that he fights, and basically beats, Superman
The superhero as redeemer
The common American (or Western) mythic pattern is a story of redemption. What are some examples of this?
“the American monomyth secularizes the Judeo-Christian redemption dramas that have arisen on American soil, combining elements from the selfless servant who impassively gives his life for others and the zealous crusader who destroys evil.” (Forbes 5)
Batman as a Christ figure
The symbolism of a Christ figure includes both superheroic aspects (“divinity”) as well as humanity (Batman’s shortcomings). To serve as a Christ figure, one has to be vulnerable: “Comic book superheroes, especially when humanized, are redeemer figures.” (Forbes 6)
The Dark Knight film
How does this new movie (or the subsequent sequels) reflect these ideas or does it? What do you think might be lost in the translation of something like this from one medium to another, that is, comics to film?
More about the movie:
“The film feels dangerous, risky, terrifying.” (Todd Hertz in Christianity Today) This is a kind of “new media,” but in a different sense of the word than has been used here thus far. This is a new kind of movie making. Perhaps the new Bond follows this: action not necessarily for pleasure but rather as a violent act . . . against the viewer. This violence is accompanied with thoughtful dialogue, a questioning of allegiances and roles. Care to comment?