Apr 04 2012

Six Interesting Interpretations of God in Comic Books

Published by at 10:00 am under Columns,Comics,Lists

God in The Invisibles

Comic creator Grant Morrison is equal parts insane and genius. I guess you could just call him an insane genius. He takes psychedelic drugs for inspiration, practices magic and speaks to the dead. You can pick up any Grant Morrison book and be guaranteed at least five moments where your mind is blown. But he reached new heights of the bizarre and surreal with his book about a secret society fighting other secret societies called The Invisibles.

Egomaniac? Maybe. Insane? Probably. Talented? Definitely. Honest? Unabashedly.

There really is a LOT more to The Invisibles than that, but I was afraid I might lose you if I talked about the alien Gods and time travel and the enslavement of the human race without their knowledge. Some of that stuff can turn people away. Me, I just embrace it. This book manages to change your perception of what comic book writing can be, and just how deep and surreal some of these stories can get.

This is another one of those books where I am willingly going to avoid telling you anything that may ruin the book for you in case you decide you want to give it a read. I will tell you this, though, in the book, John Lennon is God.

You know, the psychedelic, floating, talking-head type of God?

And the most amazing part in all of this is that it mirrors a surreal moment when Grant Morrison sat in the center of a circle of Beatles records and claims that he contacted the spirit of John Lennon, who then “gave” him a new Lennon song from the afterlife. A song which Morrison plays live, if you catch him at just the right time. Well, you think I would deny you guys this? Nope.

httpv://youtu.be/VP22pAOVlVI

Safe to say no one saw THAT coming.

It is great when you can look back on a paragraph and realize “God as John Lennon” is one of the more normal sentences.

Savage Dragon

Alright, this is probably the most literal version of God on the whole list. Savage Dragon is an openly silly comic book,  but much like a cheesy action film or a really enjoyable B movie performance, there is something undeniably likable about it, and it sure as hell is not the Erik Larsen art.

There is so much cheese on this page, I scooped it up with a nacho.

There really was a time in the nineties that Image comics LOVED sending their stars to hell. No joke, it was an actual “thing” they did. And the end result was usually just like the Spawn story turned out, all convoluted and confusing and collapsing in on itself. But this version was far more tongue in cheek then those other Image comic moments, and that made this more enjoyable.

This is a giant, long haired God in a white robe and a flowing beard fighting a red, hairy Satan, while a man, who is part dragon, and part of THAT dragon is SAVAGE, stands by and watches. Heck, he even makes some Spiderman-esque quips between rounds. kooky stuff, you could say.

Wow, how delightfully understated.

It is a massive dose of the surreal, and a wonderful satire on the idea of good versus evil epitomized. And don’t forget, this was long before Savage Dragon got all pseudo-political and featured Obama on the cover. A move many would deem jumping the shark, had it not been done by a bunch of OTHER comic books as well.

Johnny the Homicidal Maniac

And we have to end with my personal favorite interpretation of God, as imagined by the wonderfully twisted mind of Jhonen Vasquez for his epic comic book: Johnny The Homicidal Maniac.

Johnny is one of the most enjoyably twisted characters ever created.

Johnny the Homicidal Maniac reads exactly as you figured it would, based on the title. Johnny is crazy, and hears voices, and kills people. But you realize over time,  he has his reasons for doing what he does, and though he comes to learn it is wrong, there are times when you will see him do something that is utterly incomprehensible, and you kind of understand why he did it.

Over time, it is revealed JTHM is far deeper than one would have initially expected, but again, in refusing to spoil the book, I will tell you (slight spoiler) that Johnny does go to Heaven at one point, and meets up with God. And my, what a God he is!

Note that the chair is a Laz-E-God chair. FTW.

So in this tale, God is more than a little bit lethargic, it seems. Apparently, creating the universe in a weeks time can take a lot out of a guy, and as a result, this God has done, literally, nothing, since then. He sort of feels like he did his “big thing” and can just kind of rest on his laurels (and his ass) now.

What makes this particular interpretation of God so wildly original is that he is the opposite of how we have been taught to imagine him, yet, to some nihilists, this type of God would make sense. Like Pacino says in the Devil’s Advocate : an absentee landlord. A voyeur, and nothing more.

It was a brave and bold direction to go, and the end result is a genuine laugh, especially when read in the context of the entire book.

One of the greatest things about well written comic books is that they do not fear to tread where most would. Whether it is sex, religion, or death, nothing is too taboo for a comic book. And for a medium that started off aimed solely at children, that is a huge distance to have come. From a fat God to a dead pop star AS God, in comic books, nothing is sacred. And frankly, that’s the way we like it.

Legally, we are not allowed to discuss this book, which is why it did not make the list.





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19 responses so far

  • http://www.mandyatlarge.com Mandy

    EXPLODING HEAD ACTION! Nny <3

    My boyfriend's favorite comic hero is Adam Warlock, who basically played out the role of 'Jesus' to a different planet.

  • HarshReality79

    That WWII comic cover just made my head implode.

  • trashcanman

    Dude. That last cover is the greatest thing man had created. Pure, distilled awesome. “Hitler crucified my son!!” WHOO! Check out “Testament” too. Amazing comic. And it doesn’t just have our God, it has all of ‘em! Jesse was a great protagonist and Preacher was a great book, but no way in hell does that story get adapted properly unless someone at HBO is looking to start a shitstorm of controversy and bomb threats.

  • https://www.facebook.com/asleepinsidemysoul Remy Carreiro

    @ Mandy, all I need to say to you is Squee.
    @HarshReality79, am not really sure, but I THINK the Unreality store has replacement heads at reasonable prices. LoL
    @trashcanman, Yeah, I printed out the last cover and am bringing it to kinkos to make a full size poster for my office, so I feel you. Agreed on Preacher, too. Kids would be trying to emulate arseface and botching their suicides on purpose. Hahaha

  • Darren

    WHEW! I was so scared that you were going to gloss over JTHM’s version of the small-a-almighty. Thanks for remembering him!

  • Charlie Ward

    God is not just a concept. He may be or He may not be, but you can’t definitely say that He “is”. That’s just as arrogant as stating that He DOES exist as if it’s an absolute fact, which I’m sure would rile some people up around here. It’s funny how the door never swings both ways. . . .

    Also, numerous people have claimed to see Him. You saying that no one has might be true or it might not be, but you don’t KNOW, so don’t pretend that you do.

    Sorry. The non-believers’ double standards are just a pet peeve of mine and my OCD insisted that this could not go unchallenged.

  • Chris Taylor

    Charlie you do understand that He talking about the concept of God, you can’t argue the concept of God doesn’t exist(literally talking about it proves it)

  • https://www.facebook.com/asleepinsidemysoul Remy Carreiro

    I was waiting for that^

  • code

    Yeah, dude, God as a concept IS true, whether or not God does exist.
    Also, no proof that those where anything more than hallucinations, so for all we know, if God exists, maybe he looks like the floating baby head from the Teletubbies, or maybe Gir from Invader Zim.. Hell, even an earthworm!
    But I do have a question. Why are you unable to talk about the last comic? It looks badass.
    Thanks for the great list. Love JTHM. :)

  • willroyboy

    what about the Chronicles of Wormwood’s god? a masterbating metally challenged old fart? or in Hellblazer? where satan also descibes god as a crazed freak who shit and pissed himself after reealizing that the ramifications of creating the universe.

  • https://www.facebook.com/asleepinsidemysoul Remy Carreiro

    @ Code, Nice counterpoint, thank you. And as to why I couldn’t talk about that last GOD comic, well, I couldn’t actually find a copy of it, and trust me, I looked. Good chance it is just some pulp art someone made, unfortunately. And all praise Nailbunny!
    @willroyboy, AHHHHHHH. *kicks self in ass* I rarely regret my lists, but awesome call on Wormwood. Slipped my mind completely.

  • Charlie Ward

    “Yes, that is what God is, ultimately. A concept.”

    That statement implies (through use of the word “ultimately”) that God is not ANYTHING MORE than a concept. That might be true or it might not be, but none of us actually know. I didn’t say God as a concept wasn’t a thing (Where’d everyone get that idea?), I was just saying that he’s not necessarily JUST a concept. Which is correct insofar as it can’t be disproven.

    If you didn’t actually mean to say that that was all God definitely was, okay, but then you shouldn’t have used the word “ultimately”. It was bound to needle. I’m a case in point.

    As for the “GOD” comic I think that’s the work of Erik Larsen. I remember it being a big thing back when I was reading Wizard as a kid.

  • R.J. Moore II

    There are two potential meanings to the word ‘god’.

    One, the one used by most people over almost all of human history, is the one that makes logical sense. A ‘god’ is a heavenly or at least inhuman being with super-powers. Thor is a god. So is Superman. Saying that Superman isn’t a god is just ‘no true scottsman’.

    There is another definition of god, which I will call Thomistic or Buddhist. This definition involves a bunch of undefmined and contradictory superlative forms thrown together. This ‘god’ does not exist because it is rhetorical nonsense and anyone defending it is a crank.

    Either way, god does not exist.

  • Grebo

    You forgot the God in the Chronicles Of Wormwood. He was a floating old guy who was constantly masturbating under his robes, who eventually gets spiked togethere with Satan by their sons the antichrist and the 2nd incarnation of jesus who hate their dads

  • assablanca

    Speaking of The Walking Dead, the actor that plays Shane in the tv show looks a lot like a real-life Jesse Custer to me. (You know, before he shaved off his curly hair. They also have the same nose, imo.)

  • https://www.facebook.com/asleepinsidemysoul Remy Carreiro

    @ Charlie Ward, I respect your opinion and did not intend to offend with that line. Well, that is a small lie. I do respect your opinion, but I think I realized when I put “concept”, which I battled with a little bit, I knew it might draw some controversy, and I did it anyway. But in doing it, I am not trying to undermine anyone’s beliefs. And I knew, if nothing else, it would spark some decent conversation in the comments, so I have no regrets, and I do appreciate you sharing our mind.
    @ RJ Moore, If I could have seen the future, I would have opened this article with that comment. Haha. You got a genuine LoL out of me when I reached the end.
    Grebo, Yeah, that is my one regret, I LOVE that book.
    @Assablanca, I want to tell you I agree with you about Shane and had never made that visual connection, but your name is making me laugh too hard….

  • zoezoewriter

    I came here because of JTHM.
    Now I’ve got a few more comics to read.

  • Jen

    I’m a big fan of the mini series Dawn: Lucifer’s Halo by Joseph Michael Linsner. It depicts God (Ahura Mazda) as one of many Gods. In the story, he and Lucifer were lovers. And when Lucifer disobeyed him he cast him out of Heaven and gave him Hell. He requests the help of the Goddess Dawn to retrieve Lucifer’s Halo and bring it back to him…but she has bigger plans.

  • Krazyjoe

    No Wally the Godboy from Peter David’s run on ‘Supergirl’ in the 90s?

    Shame on you for your blasphemy.

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