What Paganism can learn from comics

There’ isn’t a definitive narrative for the Marvel universe. People keep re-writing Batman, Superman, Spiderman, retelling their origin tales. The X-Men have had more re-boots and parallel universes than most of us could keep up with. Some people only ever see the films. People keep telling new stories about these characters because they are popular. The stories keep up with wider social changes. None of these stories ever is or ever should be considered the ‘real’ version.

Imagine that as a person far into the future, you had some of the surviving comics to draw on. You had the middle bit of a film, a book review, three comics, seven fragments of fan fiction and the script for a crossover project. You don’t know which ones came first. You don’t know that you have fan fic in the mix, much less which bits fall into that category. Whatever sense you made of the content, it would not seem to you as it did to the people who created it.

When we look at what writings there are about myths, legends and ancient histories, it is of course tempting to think there’s an underlying truth to uncover. A real version. We look for coherence in stories about Gods and heroes. Coherence is generally in short supply. It occurs to me that we have something in mythology that has more in common with modern comics reboots and re-imaginings than it does with the agreed and fixed texts of book-orientated religions.

There may never have been a fixed, original story. There may be no single coherent truth to uncover. When we’re talking about figures like King Arthur, or Loki, the modern treatment of them in films and books may simply be a continuation of what’s always happened – people tell stories about characters they like.

About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, polyamourous animist, ant-fash, anti-capitalist, bisexual steampunk. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

4 responses to “What Paganism can learn from comics

  • lornasmithers

    ‘When we’re talking about figures like King Arthur, or Loki, the modern treatment of them in films and books may simply be a continuation of what’s always happened – people tell stories about characters they like.’

    I see things a bit differently. I think that our myths and perhaps even our fiction are inspired by real deities and persons who have inspired our ancestors and continue to inspire us. I recall having a strange experience when I was writing fantasy writing a sylph called Thorel who came into my dreams and was very real. It turned out he’d inspired others as a comic book character. Plus one of my scenes turned out to nearly mirror a scene featuring sylphs in Alexander Pope’s ‘The Rape of the Lock’.

    I’d say all versions of myths and stories are real and valid for their times.

    • Nimue Brown

      I think these two possibilities can sit alongside each other, I see no conflict between them. I’m always uneasy for myself about suggesting I’ve tapped into anything, for a whole host of reasons, but I’m very comfortable feeling that other people have. We get a lot of this around the Hopeless Maine project.

  • eberis

    I offer with the retirement and somewhat failing health of Stan “the man” Lee and his medication related to aging and a disorder I could give You information on but would be lost in his thought of True Believers . . . the new form of comic books in acquisition seems to be a form of telecom with more real life heroes in the role of communications and the super heroes of the example of Secret Wars being another honest accord of a myriad of written information not as the comic books but the blogs of what seems like a literary rather than scholarry .. work of the beginning of Marvel 2 in a setting of telecom instead of super human . The one thought I’ll try to explain is .. summed up in a reduction of cinematics with a setting like public access which bothers apparently the line of business of a port selection on oracle but prevents the misuse of restricted access to LOB such as NASA . I’m not interested in the BiPartisan having an ethic of bad computing , rather digital computing as the way of autonomous cloud without the fallacy of augmented being in reduction of networking called automated . thanks , hooray .

  • Meredith

    I had a whole bunch of thoughts while reading this, and then forgot them as soon as I got to the comment section xD Very interesting post, thank you. I’m really fascinated whenever I find these characters that have somehow survived through so many iterations. Thor and Loki in the Marvel films are really interesting examples of this, and equally interesting (to me) is when people in the fanfiction arena start mixing the versions of them. I’ve come across some fanfics that have been written mixing Marvel Loki with some very very detailed knowledge of Norse Mythology and it’s really interesting how those things sit alongside each other. I even found one once which was Joanne Harris’ Loki meeting MCU Loki and being gatecrashed by Neil Gaiman Loki………… I like to imagine people in the future trying to make sense of all that!

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