ReligionLink Targets Comics, Misses a Lot is, by its own description, “a non-partisan service of Religion Newswriters” that is “by journalists, for journalists.” So, it’s understandable that they encourage religion writers to think further on the intersection of the comics-based genre of superheroes and religion in recognition of Superman’s 75th anniversary and new film. Clearly, Rao endorses this viewpoint, too.

However, the “background and expert sources” they claim to provide prove sadly lacking; though lengthy and exhaustive-looking, it reads as the result of Google searching and Amazon browsing rather than an actual, knowledgeable resource. Their list of recommended books leaves out any title that isn’t Judeo-Christian, and, similarly, their article list includes one mention of Islam in regards to coverage of The 99; likewise, their manifest of three dozen experts seems to only include one focusing on Arabs (the esteemed Fedwa Malti-Douglas) and one on occult practices (the weirdly unattributed Christopher Knowles). They even get Professor Malti-Douglas’s URL wrong!

ReligionLink on Superheroes

But it’s easy to criticize. What else should have been there? Well…

To start, their books list should have provided any and all of the following:

  • Chopra, Deepak and Gotham Chopra. The Seven Spiritual Laws of Superheroes. New York: HarperOne, 2011.
  • Kripal, Jeffrey. Mutants & Mystics. Chicago: University of Chicago, 2011.
  • Lewis, A. David and Christine Hoff Kraemer, eds. Graven Images: Religion in Comic Books & Graphic Novels. New York: Continuum, 2010.
  • LoCicero, Don. Superheroes and Gods: A Comparative Study from Babylonia to Batman. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 2007.
  • McLain, Karline. India’s Immortal Comic Books: Gods, Kings, and Other Heroes. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2009.
  • Saunders, Ben. Do the Gods Wear Capes? New York, Continuum, 2012.

Any of those authors could have been considered “experts,” as could Beth Davies-Stofka, Hussein Rashid, Grant Morrison, or the infamous Bosch Fawstin.

Super Commando Dhruva in action

Moreover, some pursuit of the topic rather than a cursory search might have yielded additional, compelling news stories on comics & religion over the past few weeks:

And let’s not let Rao off the hook, either. Where are the representations of Shintos? Where are the discussions of Scientologists? Where are Coptic Christians in comics, and how might Buddhists use the medium toward their own aims?

We don’t have the answers to those questions yet. But, unlike, Rao never stops looking.


2 responses to “ReligionLink Targets Comics, Misses a Lot

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