Monday, July 14, 2008

[comics] Justice Society of America: Drastically lame atheism portrayal

Justice Society of America #17, page 12, written by Geoff Johns and drawn by Fernando Pasarin
Right, so this is from Justice Society of America #17 (written by Geoff Johns, drawn by Fernando Pasarin). And I'm really digging the current JSA storyline; it's about this giant, god-like entity called "Gog" who's walking across Africa performing miracles and being awesome to people, while the superheroes all hang around wait for the other shoe to drop. I'm hoping against my own judgment that they've got a more interesting resolution planned than "Ha ha ha! Now the people worship me and I will conquer the world!", but it's definitely a cool ride at the moment.

But, damn, this scene between Michael "Mister Terrific" Holt and Pieter "Doctor Mid-Nite" Cross is just cringe-worthy. I think the setup hear is that the blatantly god-like Gog didn't respond to the atheist Mister Terrific's attempts to communicate. Now, I'm gonna ignore how deeply bizarre it is for anyone to be an atheist in the DC universe when they've got actual damn angels flying around in public as members of super teams, but the way they're portraying Holt's atheism here pretty grating.

They've got him saying "I don't have faith in God because I don't want to." in one panel, and "I wish I had faith . . . I wish I believed in this with all my heart." in the next. I'm not alone in seeing a contradiction here, am I? Was there a word omitted from that first line, maybe? Like "lack"?

And they end with Holt angsting about how he can't "understand" spirituality. Shit, man, he was just wishing he believed he'd see his dead wife again in the panel before that! I'd say that's about all you need to understand.

Maybe I'm expecting the wrong kind of belief system from a world where "atheist" kind of can't mean the same thing it does to me. And I'm almost certainly expecting too much depth and logical consistency from a character who runs around with the words "FAIR PLAY" written on his sleeve. But, damn, this scene just rubs me the wrong way.

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