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Yeah, but can he fly? – The Life of Pope John Paul II

September 11, 2010

This is a strange little comic, though I suppose the Pope is an appropriate subject for the medium. He has a direct line to the most powerful being in the universe, he’s a head of state much like Doctor Doom, and he wears a red cape. He fits right in.

I’m not a Catholic, but I certainly bear no malice to Catholicism or those who practice the faith. And I hold no grudge against John Paul II — he always seemed like a decent enough person. That all needs to be said. So if any Catholics read this and find me insufficiently reverent, please don’t pray for my eternal damnation.

The story (written by Steven Grant, pencilled by John Tartaglione, and inked by Joe Sinnott) is told from the perspective of a reporter who covers the Pope. Kind of a specific beat, but okay. The comic is bookended by a Mass that the Pontiff celebrates at Yankee Stadium in 1979. In between that we see the highlights of Karol Wojtyla’s life — his youth, his time as an actor, his entry into clergy, his experiences under the Nazis and Communism. All along he’s portrayed as the most wonderful human being who ever lived. That’s not hyperbole. Seriously. He’s depicted as nothing less than goodness personified, never uttering a cross word, never wearing any expression other than one of calm benevolence.

It really goes over the top when the story returns to that mass at Yankee Stadium. The reporter is disgusted by some young punks in the crowd:

I didn’t realize that papal Masses could have bleacher bums. “Hey! Pope! You suck!” But fear not, because all John Paul II has to do is speak, and evils are righted and hearts opened:

This life story strays too far into hagiography for my tastes. It’s not odd to me that such a thing exists, but it does strike me as a little strange that it would come from Marvel Comics. Those of us looking for an explanation are in luck, though — the comic actually has a page on how this book came about:

Even with that background it’s still a little too heavy on the adulation for my blood. Then again, I guess that they couldn’t have gone in this direction:


7 Comments leave one →
  1. September 11, 2010 4:41 pm

    Wow, I never would have suspected that Marvel would publish a comic like this! Was it a one-time thing, or did the Pope have his own ongoing series?

    • September 11, 2010 5:56 pm

      It was a one-time thing. But the thought of an ongoing Pope comic book (Web of the PontiffLegends of the Bishop of Rome… the possibilities are endless) is stupid enough that I’d actually read it.

      • September 11, 2010 6:38 pm

        Well then lucky for you, Robert Kirkman had an ongoing comic about John Paul II a few years ago. It was called Battle Pope!

  2. September 11, 2010 5:15 pm

    I am not Catholic either but I don’t think it’s part of their practice to pray anyone suffer eternal damnation. Other than that, nice review.

    • September 11, 2010 5:52 pm

      My tongue was planted firmly in cheek with that comment, which I realize is hard to convey with the written word. Or, at least it is with numbskulls like me. Though I have met a few touchy Catholics (and Methodists, and Baptists, and Mormons, etc.) in my day that might ask God to rub out someone’s soul.

  3. September 11, 2010 5:41 pm

    You know you’re in trouble when one of those 80s gangs shows up dressed like the Dead End Kids. It’s always the one in the Charlie Brown shirt who’s most dangerous.

  4. September 15, 2010 1:14 pm


    I haven’t read this one yet, but Lord knows I probably will. This Bronze Age comics thing can be a curse. Sigh.


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