Tag Archives: DC Universe

Ancient To Modern: Borrowed Gods (6)

Poseidon

In Greek mythology, he is the god of the sea. His name in Roman mythology is Neptune. Here are some representations in painting and sculpture from various centuries:

Shown on a Corinthian plaque (550-525 B. C.).
Shown on a Corinthian plaque (550-525 B. C.).
Poseidon from Milos, 2nd Century B. C. (National Archaeological Museum of Athens).
Poseidon from Milos, 2nd Century B. C. (National Archaeological Museum of Athens).
Andrea Doria as Neptune by Angelo Bronzino.
Andrea Doria as Neptune by Angelo Bronzino.
Neptune and Amphitrite by Jacob Gheyn II.
Neptune and Amphitrite by Jacob Gheyn II.

He has been borrowed and modified for inclusion in the Marvel Universe where he interacts with Namor, the Submariner…

Credit: Marvel Comics
Credit: Marvel Comics
Credit: Marvel Comics
Credit: Marvel Comics
Credit: Marvel Comics (Personally, I'm cheering for the Hulk.)
Credit: Marvel Comics (Personally, I’m cheering for the Hulk.)

… as well as the DC universe. Of the images I examined, I didn’t like the mean-spirited tone of most of them (Poseidon going rogue, hitting Wonder Woman, bloody noses, bloody mouths, etc.), so I included only one for this post. This is the best I found for my purposes, and it shows an angry Poseidon battling an angry Aquaman.

Credit: DC Comics
Credit: DC Comics

DC characters are so angry so much of the time. It strikes me as rather one-dimensional. This is definitely not the DC comics of my childhood.

More examples of shameless borrowing continue next week.

Graphic Mythology: An Impersonal God

Allow me to jump back into the DC universe and a graphic novel which was a critical sensation. Watchmen was highly regarded (perhaps too highly) and garnered all kinds of superlatives when it came out. The artwork for this limited series now seems dated, but it is good enough to stimulate the imagination and move the story (a strong one) forward. It’s a bit dark and violent for my tastes, but it was well-written and different, especially for the time it was published. I could see what at least some of the excitement was about.

docmanhattanass

For the purposes of my blog, I will focus on one character and leave the rest of his dysfunctional cohorts to struggle with their humanity. Doc Manhattan was once a man named Jon Osterman until a nuclear accident at the research facility where he worked turned him into a god. He is no longer bound by time, space, or mortality. He can control energy and matter, has mastered the quantum universe, and can change his dimensions at will. He is invulnerable. As can be seen, he has many of the characteristics one would attribute to God. His character is another matter.

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Doc is detached to the point of indifference. Though he has the power to prevent it, he watches in bland astonishment as another “hero” called The Comedian kills a pregnant Vietnamese woman. In his post-human state, he has sexual relations with first one woman (Jenny Slater) and then another (a fellow superhero named Laurel Juspeczyk, a.k.a. Laurie Jupiter) but feels nothing for either of them. Selfish preoccupation and insensitivity are among his hallmarks, and he is a god the U. S. government mistakenly thought they could control.

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This is not the God of the Judeo Christian tradition. His behavior squares more with that of the male members of the Greco Roman pantheon – most notably Zeus (Jupiter). The graphic novel was a good, albeit uncomfortable, read for me, but if you’re shopping for a god or even just a hero with whom to identify, I prescribe someone other than Doc Manhattan.

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