Comics inspired by the Bible are nothing new -- heck, pretty much any work of Western literature in the past couple thousand years is going to have some sort of religious reference worked in -- but like most things that inspire comics, scripture can lead to some very strange results. Case in point: Magog, the Biblical nation turned Justice Society member who makes his solo series debut this week. After all, while there are plenty of interpretations of the Word out there, we're pretty sure that the prophecies in Revelation never hinted at a stand-in for Cable who hangs out with the Golden Age Flash.
Before he was repackaged to fit into the preset-day DC Universe, Magog made his first appearance in Mark Waid and Alex Ross's Kingdom Come, a mini-series that, as you might expect from the title, draws heavily on the book of Revelation to tell the story of an apocalyptic battle between super-heroes. And if that wasn't enough, the story itself follows Norman McKay, a preacher charged with passing judgment on the superheroes who was based on Ross's father, a real-life minister.
2. DEVIL DINOSAUR
In the text page to Devil Dinosaur #1, the legendary Jack Kirby avowed that he was trying to present a tale of pre-history that was as close to the unknown facts as possible, but since it's about a caveman teaming up with a super-Tyrannosaurus born in the heat of a volcano, it's safe to say that it went off those rails even before the aliens showed up in the third issue. Starting with #6, Kirby -- who was no stranger to creating gods in the "Fourth World" and "Eternals" comics -- gave us his own version of the Creation story, when a cavewoman named Eev is lured into a deadly garden by a "Tree of Knowledge" that's actually a sentient alien computer that she later destroyed, ditching the garden to live with her caveman beau, Stone Hand.
Basically what we're trying to say here is that Jack Kirby's Sunday School class was freakin' awesome.
With his status as the very first murderer, Adam and Eve's son Cain has lent his name to a whole slew of characters, including Batman-training assassin David Cain and his daughter Cassandra (the remorseful killer who would become Batgirl), the "brother" of the WWE's Undertaker, Kate "Batwoman" Kane (whose name made her a target of sacrifice to Darkseid's Religion of Crime), the villain of RoboCop 2, and even Cain himself, who hosts DC's "House of Mystery" and occasionally pops over to the "House of Secrets" to murder his brother Abel in new and entertaining ways. Our favorite, however, has to be...
Kaine, the pink-caped, long-haired, revenge-crazed clone of Spider-Man who used his powers to stick his hands to dudes' faces and then totally melt their faces off. Trust us, when we were 13, this was the jam.
4. THE SPECTRE
For most of his career, the Spectre was simply a super-heroic "Spirit of Vengeance" known for doling out ironic, occasionally graphic punishments to criminals, but in the early '90s, it was revealed that he was the literal embodiment of the Wrath of God. Under John Ostrander and Tom Mandrake, the Spectre was shown to be a fallen angel who atoned for his role in Lucifer's rebellion by, among other things, slaying the firstborn of Egypt during the Ten Plagues.
5. ROB LIEFELD'S TESTAMENT
Though the project itself remains sadly unfinished and unpublished, readers of a limited sketchbook that came out a few years back got a glimpse of--and we are not making this up--a re-imagining of the Bible by Rob Liefeld that includes EXTREME MOSES, a spaceship-building Noah, and most awesome of all, David on a hoverboard fighting mecha-tank Goliath. We're not gonna lie: We'd read it.
6. BATTLE POPE
Before they hit it big with "The Walking Dead," Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore made their debut with "Battle Pope," which was about... well, exactly what it sounds like, actually. Demons overrun the Earth and, to punish him for his wicked ways, God sends the corrupt, hard-drinking, womanizing Pope Oswald Leopold II back to battle the forces of Evil with a new Schwarzeneggerian body and Jesus as his sidekick.
7. TALES DESIGNED TO THRIZZLE
Most comics inspired by scripture just borrow a few characters from the Bible, but Michael Kupperman did one better in "Tales Designed to Thrizzle" by creating his own nemesis for the almighty: Jesus's Evil Half-Brother Pagus!
8. SAVAGE DRAGON
God Himself has appeared in several comics over the years (He's pretty much the villain of Garth Ennis's Preacher, after all, and ends up about like you'd expect a villain to), but our favorite portrayal comes from Erik Larsen in Savage Dragon #31, when He delivers the sage advice cited above after He lays a smack down on the Devil over the title character's soul.
9. FANTASTIC FOUR
When the Thing was killed by Dr. Doom (well, he was actually killed by Reed Richards, but it's a long story), Marvel's First Family journeyed to the afterlife to bring him back and came face-to-face with their creator in a quite literal sense: Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo portrayed the Almighty as -- who else? -- Jack Kirby, the co-creator of the Marvel Universe (not to mention a good chunk of the rest of comics). Even better, he took a phone call from his "collaborator" (Stan Lee, natch) while the FF was hanging out at his studio.
10. RICK VEITCH'S SWAMP THING
Rick Veitch followed up Alan Moore's legendary run on "Swamp Thing" by crafting a story about the Swamp Thing traveling back in time to different eras, including a World War II team-up with Sgt. Rock, a World War I appearance by Enemy Ace, a trip to the Old West with Jonah Hex, and a journey back to Camelot to team up with Merlin and the Demon that was meant to culminate in a story that involved Swamp Thing becoming the wood on which Jesus Christ was crucified -- until DC got skittish and pulled the plug.
Veitch left the book in protest and the story was completed by Doug Wheeler, who opted to end the story with the less controversial cavemen, but one has to think that if he'd only been on the book a few years later, once DC had established the Vertigo imprint that gave us religion-charged series like "Sandman," "Lucifer," "Hellblazer"and the outright blasphemous "Preacher," there most likely wouldn't have been a problem, and we would've gotten the most awesome time-travel story ever.
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