Superman Comic Books
Point/Counterpoint: Superman as Satan?
Date: December 24, 2003
Hello, everyone! Neal Bailey, here. Welcome to an exploratory article in to the nature of the Man of Steel, both in etymology and in intent. In other words, we examine what the nature of Superman is, from its historical roots to its present meanings.
Through the Superman Homepage I received an email from a man who wants to be called Thyroros, postulating some rather hard to take-in ideas... my first reaction, I'll have to admit, was "What the heck?", but after a little bit of reading, the guy had me quite pulled in. Great research, good words, and a persuasive style. It was the topic of the article that had me boggled...
It postulated the idea that Superman was an allegory for the Anti-Christ.
Now, now, now, before you start sending me hate mail, realize that at no point have I said that Superman is the Anti-Christ... far from it, in my opinion. But having read the article, and having found it quite entertaining and more than a little informed, I contacted Steve, the webmaster, and asked if I could make this into a bit of an article for you all...
Steve Younis is a good man, people. He doesn't want politics, religion, or anything controversial on this site, and I applaud that. He wants only Superman, which makes sense. But this article skirted both fields, religion, politics, AND an angle on the Man of Steel. So here's a cautioning paragraph that I expect you to read before continuing:
You, right now, can hit the exit button on this window and leave this article. If you are easily offended, I encourage you to. What follows is at least controversial, if not anger provoking if you are less into inquiry than say, someone like me, and don't love hearing alternate theories when backed up by evidence. This article is brought to you by me and Thyroros, and any discussion you have, any objections, and death threats, whatever, they should go towards me. This article was my idea, and I stand by it as intellectual exploration.
That said, enough of a prelude, and into the articles at hand:
First, we have the article that Thyroros sent me, about the nature of Superman and where he perhaps fits into the general scheme of allegory.
Begin the words of Thyroros:
I know you're gonna hate me for this one, so let's just get started shall we?
The Superman Mythos
The term superman first entered into modern usage through the writings of Friedrich Nietzsche. This late nineteenth-century German philosopher was vehemently anti-Christian and never tired of condemning the faith as weak, absurd, even detrimental to human development. While Hitler admired him, and the Nazis are said to have made use of some of his ideas, Nietzsche did not actually share their racist and anti-Semitic views. (1) Thus it is not entirely incongruous that two young Jewish men from Cleveland, Ohio would have adopted the term for their own use. While many assume Superman is merely a work of science fiction, I do not believe this to be the case. I too grew up amid all the movies (the first film starring Christopher Reeve came out the year after I was born), cartoons, and TV shows, believing the Man of Steel to be nothing more than a slightly stale and out-dated comic book hero. However, after watching various episodes of Smallville, a very different interpretation of the American icon began to impress itself upon me.
As nonsensical or offensive as some people might think this to be, the tale of Superman represents an allegory of another well-known supernatural, extra-terrestrial being: Satan.
Before delving into some of the more specific correlations, and often glaring similarities, between these two legendary immortals, there is an important point which needs to be made regarding the nature of angels. Angels are extra-dimensional and other-worldly travellers who make infrequent appearances throughout the Bible and other related texts. They usually do not have wings, and they almost always appear just like men. The Seraphim and Cherubim are the only two celestial orders consistently described in the Bible which bear wings. While most angeaologies consider both orders to be angels, the highest orders in fact, neither the Old nor New Testaments refer to them as such. But this is really just a semantic argument that needn't be fully addressed here. Anyway, the English word angel is derived from the Greek angelos which simply means messenger, as does the Hebrew mal'ach, which is used in the Torah, the prophets, and other Hebrew writings. (2) These terms can be used to indicate human or divine beings. Many times the humans with whom angels communicate are not even aware of it until the supernatural visitors perform some act obviously beyond the capability of mere mortals. After closely examining all the Biblical references, I was forced to conclude that there is no overwhelming distinction between angels and what modern mythology refers to as aliens. Both are extra-terrestrial, and both seem to exhibit powers and/or technology beyond what might traditionally be considered human. Now, Satan, if standard Christian doctrine is correct, is a fallen angel, while Kal-El, or Superman, is a stranded, immigrant alien.
Objections may arise as angels are said to dwell in heaven while aliens inhabit the supposedly innumerable worlds located in the vast reaches of space. But again, the only difference between the concepts of heaven and space lie in the minds of people who refuse to acknowledge the simple facts. Both exist above and outside the earth, and both are impossible to visit for the majority of living human beings on this planet. Even now, after thirty-some years of manned space-flight, it still requires the pinnacle of human technology, and the availability of monumental resources, to even consider such undertakings. We haven't been to the moon in over thirty years according to official sources. Moreover, space remains extremely dangerous. It is a notoriously hostile environment; the slightest mistake or malfunction can bring about instantaneous death for even the most well-trained astronaut. So, heavenly realms and intergalactic space, not that different, right? Okay then, hopefully that matter is settled, and we can move on to Krypton.
As most of us know, Kal-El's homeworld, Krypton, was completely obliterated due to a nuclear reaction at its core, which resulted in the infant Kryptonian's emergency flight to earth. Now, some theorize that the asteroid belt in our solar system was created when a large, terrestrial planet located between Mars and Jupiter (often referred to as Astera/Astara) exploded some time in the past. (3) It's possible that this same cataclysm was also responsible for the destruction of the Red Planet's atmosphere and its civilization. Satan may also be connected with Mars and Astera, depending on one's interpretation of certain Old Testament books such as Ezekiel. Ezekiel states in chapter 28, verse 14 that the former anointed cherub, Satan, "walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire". It's not a very far stretch of the imagination to connect "the stones of fire" with planets. Please examine the following verses for more details:
Ezekiel 28:15-17 15 Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee. 16 By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. 17 Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground (Hebrew 'eretz is also often translated as land or earth), I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee.
So Satan may have ruled a physical civilization spanning Mars, Astara, and perhaps several moons as well. But he rebelled against his God and King, and was cast to the earth along with a third of the Heavenly Host (See Revelation 12:4).
The aforementioned information thus allows us to have a much clearer understanding of the scenario presented in Smallville 1961. While I don't disagree with Chloe about the possibility of genetic memory being stored in the DNA, I don't accept that this was necessarily true in Clark's case. I believe it to be more likely that Jor-El and Kal-El are one person, not father and son. Here's how it works:
I. Jor-El is Satan. II. The father who exiled Jor-El/Satan to earth is actually the Father, as in Yahweh, the God of the Bible. III. Jor-El/Satan returns to space to continue the "War in Heaven" (See Revelation 12:7).. IV. In order to eventually assume the role of Anti-Christ, Satan devises a seemingly foolproof plan. Just as Yahweh/God limited himself in power when He assumed the form of Jesus/the Christ, Satan formulates a a similar device. He clones himself and denies this clone access to certain segments of his memory and powers. This way he will more easily deceive humans into believing that he is a righteous savior rather than evil incarnate. But he makes messages and recordings beforehand which will remind him of certain things at planned intervals. This will enable him to develop in the most ideal way in order to fit the role of the Christ more perfectly. V. Satan and his angels are defeated in the heavenly realms, Mars and Astera/Krypton is destroyed as a result. Satan transfers his consciousness/spirit from Jor-El to the infant clone, Kal-El and rockets off toward earth.
As additional support for this concept, let us explore the meanings of the principal character's names belonging to the Superman mythos:
Clark - Old English - Clergyman or learned man (4)
Kent - Welsh - Bright white, white or bright (5). Another interesting possible derivation of this name is from the Biblical Kenites (first mentioned in Genesis 15:19 as enemies of Israel), who may have been descended from Cain (for in Hebrew Cain is more accurately transliterated as Qayin, and Kenites as Qayini. Adding an "i" to the end of a name in Hebrew indicates the people or descendants of that personage. Israel/Israeli, Qayin/Qayini. See the pattern?) (6)
Kal-El - Can be translated as destruction or completion of God in Hebrew (or possibly 'all that is God/totality of God'). (7) El is the Hebrew word for God.*
Jor-El - J is actually pronounced Y (the letter Yod) in Hebrew. Possible translations are: Yare'-el - fear of God, Yarah-El - God teaches, taught of God, Yeru-El - God is a foundation, Yeri-El - founded of God; God will see. (8)
Krypton/Kryptonite - From the Greek words krypto - To hide; kryptos - hidden unseen, secret; krypte - hidden place (9)
Lex - Latin for law (Just in case 'Lex' is actually short for Alexander, Alexander is Greek for leader of men, alex (leader) + ander (men).10
Luthor (Luther) - Teutonic- famous warrior/ famous in war
Old German - Warring ones
German - warrior/famous people?. Martin Luther was a Catholic monk and theologian turned Protestant reformer (1483-1546). (11)
*If one is inclined to doubt that Kal-El and Jor-El may actually be Hebrew names, allow me to you remind you that both Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, the original creators of Superman, were Jewish. Maybe I'm wrong, but I think it's highly unlikely they would give their characters Hebrew-sounding names by pure chance. (12)
There are just a few more items of interest which may possibly be connections between Kal-El and the Red Dragon/Satan. Since Superman derives his powers from the sun, that would make him a kind of 'sun god'. Satan has sometimes been compared with the sun gods of ancient mythology such as the Egyptian Ra, the Greek/Roman Apollo and the Persian Mithra. The 'infinity serpent' burned onto Clark's chest in the second season finale of Smallville is another fascinating correlation, as Satan is often recognized as being or controlling the serpent in the Garden of Eden (Genesis chapter 3), and one of his titles in Revelation (12:9) is that "that old serpent". Finally, it would be quite simple to draw a pentagram inside the five-pointed shield emblazoned on Superman's costume. Pentagrams are used in ceremonial magic and Satanism the world over. Not that such a detail is conclusive, but I just thought I'd include it for the sake of being thorough.
So what does all of this mean? The reader, of course, is free to draw his or her own conclusions But here's what I believe; Superman comics, movies, and TV shows (and everything else in between) are Satanic Propaganda. Superman is the Anti-Christ/Satan and Lex Luthor, representing Christianity, is desperately trying to defend the earth against him. As the story is told from Satan's perspective, Lex is falsely demonized and portrayed as an insane criminal. In the words of Friedrich Nietzsche from Thus Spake Zarathustra, "God is dead. I teach you the superman." This is the lie that the father of lies is eager for us all to swallow down between mouthfuls of French fries and jelly-filled breakfast pastries.
- Thyroros, December 2, 2003, Redlands, CA.
1. See Friedrich Nietzsche's Biography.com
2. Information gathered by using the King James Bible (1611 Authorized Version) and The Strongest Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. James Strong, L.L.D., S.T.D. Fully Revised and Corrected by John R. Kohlenberger III and James A. Swanson. Grand Rapids Michigan. Zondervan. 2001
3. Click here for the standard line on the Asteroid Belt formation. Go here for more information on the possible link between Mars, Astara, and Satan, maybe even Venus?
4. Name definition for Clark (Any standard name/baby-name book should provide this information.)
5. Name meanings & Name origins (Any standard name/baby-name book should provide this information.)
6. See footnote 2. Most Biblical scholars don't make the connection between Cain and the Kenites. This is probably due to the long-held view that the Flood of Noah/The Great Deluge (as related in Genesis chapters 6-8) was worldwide and no one survived except Noah and his family. However, a gr owing number dispute that the Flood was regional rather than global (which is possible based on certain interpretations of the passages in Genesis), and therefore, Cain's progeny could have survived.
7. From the Strong's Concordance Hebrew Dictionary (contained within the same volume), Reference numbers 3605-3607, 3615-3617
8. From the Strong's Concordance Hebrew Dictionary (contained within the same volume), Reference numbers 3372, 3384, 3385, 3400. Incidentally, yerah is the Hebrew word for moon, ref. # 3391.
9. From the Strong's Concordance Greek Dictionary (contained within the same volume), Reference numbers 2926-2928 10. (Any competent Latin-English and Greek-English dictionaries can be used to find these definitions. Also standard name/baby-name book should provide this information.) Here's a couple of websites just in case you want them. For Alexander. For Lex & another for Lex. Just for fun, here's website containing excerpts of Plutarch's Alexander the Great (who was not a good guy) bio.
11. "Luthor/Luther" name meaning.
12. "Jews are the true comic book heroes", article from the Chicago Sun Times and here's a History of Superman article from Superman.com.ar in case your interested.
End the words of Thyroros.
Neal Bailey's Counterpoint:
Superman is a Republican Presidential Candidate
by Neal Bailey.
When I first read this, I was intrigued by the sheer amount of information presented here, and the thought put into it. It impressed me. The work is well done, as well, with sources, strong words, and a persuasive style.
In this, I have a great deal of respect for Thyroros, as a writer, he did a good job.
As the defence for the Superman Homepage, I have to point out my version of the other side of the argument. I want to try and do that logically, using things learned in years of study of philosophy, including writing books, personal study, and a long and unending quest for God.
To do this, we have to establish Thyroros' basic tenets and examine them. For the sake of argument, his article assumes God, so I will assume God as well. My theism or non-theism aside (and that's a WHOLE other article, folks), I will give this argument the benefit of deistic doubt.
That said, my basic understanding of the above article is are the following tenets:
I: Angels are corollary to aliens, as they both come from beyond our understanding of the terrestrial... I. E. Space, some definable Heaven we can't see in our own terran view, or even the ever-unknown "beyond".
II: Satan's war against the armies of Heaven took place in a region of Heaven located somewhere near what is now the asteroid belt.
III: Jerry Seigel and Joe Shuster created Superman as a Satanic allegory, based in the following pieces of evidence, most strongly:
A: Kal-El and Jor-El can be interpreted to mean "Totality of God" and "Fear of God", respectively.
B: Kryptonite means a hidden place.
C: Lex means leader of men.
D: Luther was the leader of a church reform movement.
IV: Superman is an allegory for Satan, and Lex Luthor is an allegory for Christianity, fighting against the forces of Satan to save the Earth.
Now that we have this plain and laid out, we can examine each tenet respectively for its individual merit...
I: Angels are corollary to aliens, because of their similarity to our understanding of Heaven and Space.
This I cannot dispute. There are aesthetic differences, and there are many obvious differences in the realities of their existence based in logic, but they ARE corollary. The problem? Corollary is not a logical means of causation, even given God. For instance, logically speaking, if you want to, you can create a very obvious and real corollary between a dog and a cat. Both are mammals and have four legs, after all, and therefore must be similar. They are. That doesn't make them the same. Corollary is a common tool of equivocation. But it bears noticing that sometimes, in some instances, corollary can bring about logical conclusion, for instance, seeing a Doberman and then a Labrador and assuming that they were both dogs... assuming that they were the same breed, or even held the same temperament, however, may be folly.
II: The War in Heaven took place around the asteroid belt.
This I cannot dispute either. But then, it is pure theory based in etymology of a word, and a society's reverence for the stars. We see common recurrences of many themes in literature and religious texts... floods, fires, plagues, and wars. And many occurred in the stars. This makes they possible, but not necessarily real.
The previous two points are interesting, very interesting, but lack a degree of plausibility based in their corollary and their basis in theory rather than fact. Nonetheless, the third tenet is perhaps the most defensible:
III: Siegel and Shuster created Superman as a form of Satanic allegory.
Thyroros' evidence here is again, interesting, but perhaps inconclusive. Maybe Luthor does mean a leader of men. And maybe Jor-El is representative of a fear of God... I myself might fear a God that destroyed my home planet, even if I were at war with him... but still, I want to take his position in order to show how while the idea has merit, and is certainly interesting, it makes as much sense to assume Superman Satan to me as to assume him the Republican candidate for the presidency.
Allow me to elaborate:
Superman, like Satan, is a powerful being, often defiant of those in control with regards to matters of authority. He regularly fights against the most authoritative figure in the world, President Luthor, a man whose dictums are obeyed unless one wants to experience severe consequences, like with the God of Christianity.
Metropolis is a beautiful, euphoric place before Superman arrives, and after he comes, chaos ensues, much like the apocalypse. Villains and murderers crowd to the city to have a shot at usurping power from the Superman Satan, and as prophesied in the Bible, Superman Satan has the sway and belief of almost all of the people in the world.
Sometimes, as in apocalyptic revelation, the moon turns red as blood, people disappear suddenly, taken by aliens beyond the asteroid belt, only to be brought back by Superman or his comrades at arms.
And, of note, Superman's religion is never really elaborated upon, much like the Anti-Christ, opting instead for an Agnostic front to please the will of the people and maintain power.
I've dug a pretty good hole for myself here, haven't I, strengthening Thyroros' evidence and setting myself up to look foolish?
Well, yes, perhaps. But through aforementioned corollary, which falls to logical examination save by those with utmost faith of conviction based in personal experience.
And hey, I don't knock that. I just live MY life by logic, you see? Nothing wrong with Thyroros at all, that's not what I'm saying. I'm just saying, to logical examination, well...
Superman tends to be a little pro-life. When someone falls off a bridge, Superman will fly down there, save them, and bring them back to the top of the bridge. Maybe even fry the guy who tossed them off with his heat vision. And what does that tell us?
Superman's a little more gung-ho about the careful and co-ordinated application of violence to achieve an end than other parts of society.
You know what else? Superman, though he doesn't really need them, advocates the use of guns. He doesn't ever say anything against it, he doesn't advocate regulation, and once, when he was low on power, back after he came back from the dead, he armed himself with some HUGE alien weaponry and said, I quote, A boy-scout is always prepared.
Superman prefers to let individual governments control their own decisions rather than having a dictator or an overarching Federalism make the decisions for the people. That's why he fights Darkseid, Luthor, and anyone who tries to make everyone in his fair city do what the rest of the world is doing when the world is being taken over.
Thanks to Luthor, he also buys into smaller government.
Thanks to Our Worlds At War, he buys into a strong military.
And when someone commits an act of terror... that boy is ALL OVER IT. I mean, look at Action 775 and what he did to Manchester Black.
What do all of these things have in common? Pro-life, anti-gun control, letting a government maintain its sovereignty, small government, strong military, strong on attacking terrorists unilaterally?
Well, right now, (and I'm not condemning or condoning these beliefs EITHER way, understand that) those are the stereotypical associations brought to bear on the Republican Party.
Given that Superman has a leadership role in the JLA, and given that he wants to remove Luthor from office, it is then my corollary assumption that Superman wants to become the Republican candidate for the United States Presidency.
That said, don't expect him to run, for obvious reasons... and THIS is why though the ideas are interesting, much like my citation for Superman's republican belief system, and though Thyroros has interesting ideas, in that Superman WAS created in a time of intense religious oppression and might have come to mean something Satanic as a stretch for several of DC's future star players, it just isn't likely.
The simple reasons?
Superman has never consciously thirsted for power and destruction, as the Anti-Christ almost universally does.
The Rapture did not occur in DC comics, a key event announcing the coming of the Anti-Christ.
The Jews are hardly even mentioned in the pages of Superman, save in passing stereotypical reference to the fundamentalists walking down the street I've seen once or twice, in passive stereotypical reference to the Jews of New York city, and the Jews, as a Biblical scholar will tell you, are absolutely KEY to the Christian view of the end of times, where many Jews are converted by the hand of God as the ever-present Anti-Christ moves to enslave the last peoples of the world.
Perhaps most importantly, Superman has never held or moved towards offices of leadership save in the JLA, and this is a key element of the Anti-Christ. He is seen as a leader of men, but he has no hand in policy, nor would he if he could. He believes sternly that mankind must survive or fail on their own... he postulates non-interference.
Although I have to say... it is VERY suspect that he controls an outlet of media, and the most powerful outlet of media in his Universe...
Even beyond all this, however, is the potent truth of the matter. All religious preferences aside, at least in modern day, Superman has become less of an allegory for a Nietzsche Superman and more a modern-day version of the embodied principles of the Biblical Christ.
In fact, God-beings as opposed to common heroes is a commonly debated flaw and/or benefit to the entire DC Universe depending on how you look at it, as exemplified well in the JLA/Avengers crossover. Mutants are hated and Spider-Man is always on public trial, whereas Superman is a benevolent watcher, a man above us all who will swoop in and tell us what is right and wrong when we have our occasional failings. He gives sermons, he lives among us as a common man, and heck, there is the undeniable fact that he did die and rise from the dead to save us all from... well, Mongul, but you see my point. He's all powerful, beyond death, and he's out to protect us from our sins rather than instigate them in devious manner. In this, Lex is more of the Morning Star, an intelligent, Superman bucking type of guy not above killing in order to bring about what he believes to be better than the God-Man, a new world order at his own hands.
There's a whole Master's thesis there, if you want it. I don't. I like enjoying the comic for what it is, as well. ;)
Here's the lightning round:
Jesus made water into wine. Superman made coal into diamonds.
Jesus is killed by brainless monsters for no real reason save to exploit their own raw power. Superman is killed by a brainless monster for no real reason save to exploit its own raw power.
Jesus has twelve disciples who listen to his leadership and follow him as he spreads the good word. Superman has a JLA who listens to his leadership and follow him as he spreads the good clobber on unsuspecting do-badders.
Jesus rose from the dead after three days and spoke to people about how to solve their problems. Superman rose from the dead after three days and spoke to people about how to solve their problems with Mongul.
Jesus was tempted with power by Satan in the desert. Superman was tempted with power by Luthor on the roof of the Luthorcorp building.
Jesus loves everyone. Superman loves everyone, except Zod. Everyone has a money lenders moment.
Jesus had God's powers. Superman has God-like powers.
God sent his only son to Earth. Jor-El sent his only son to Earth.
That's... that's about all I can come up with. But the point? Superman has, to my mind, a lot more in common with Jesus than Satan...
All of that said, I leave the conclusions to you. Far be it for me to disparage Mr. Thyroros, because his ideas, while perhaps hard to take in, are far more original, irreverent, and rebellious than my own, and I have to have a great deal of respect for that. And he's taking a very strong and hard position to take with a hostile crowd, something I also have the utmost respect for... it's hard to take a stand on something in the midst of many disparaging voices, and I encourage him for that. Even though I disagree. And even if you do, I hope you encourage him as well. Such is the nature of furthering knowledge and discourse.
And if we have this much fun looking into something that's usually so general, imagine where we can go from here?
I leave that to you. At least, until my next article.
PS... in the process of researching this (though admittedly I used no footnotes, just my common knowledge of Christianity from research for my second novel) Steve Younis pointed out a site for those of you interested in pursuing the Christian or Satanic aspect of Superman further, in yet more well researched work by others...
Hollywood Jesus, shows a compelling argument for the first movie's sake, not without humor, that Superman: The Movie, shows Superman as Jesus.