<i>By <a href=http://www.twitter.com/graemem>Graeme McMillan, Newsarama Contributor</a></i> <p>Those familiar with their Bible will doubtless find the lead of Dan Didio and Brent Anderson's new <b>Phantom Stranger</b> series very familiar. <p>It's never stated outright, but there are more than enough hints, suggestions and pointers to the idea that the Phantom Stranger is Judas Iscariot, the man who sold Jesus out for 30 pieces of silver. While this may be one of the more high-profile cases of a Biblical character showing up in a mainstream comic book readers prefer their mythical figures a little less Judeo-Christian, usually but it's certainly not unique. <p>Here are 10 other examples of comic book characters who may or may not have appeared earlier in the Good Book. <p><i>Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's <a href=http://www.facebook.com/Newsarama><b>FACEBOOK</b></a> and <a href=http://twitter.com/newsarama><b>TWITTER</b></a>!</i> <p> <p>
On the one hand, it seems ridiculous to speculate that the four super beings created by X-Men villain Apocalypse are the same four horsemen mentioned in the Bible. Clearly, they just share the same names (Death, Family, War and Pestilence), right...? After all, there have been <em>multiple</em> characters taking on each role at various times (at various times, Angel, Wolverine, Gambit and Psylocke have all taken up the "Death" persona). <p>And yet... the Bible never actually explicitly said that its horsemen weren't genetically-modified super beings who were working for a self-important arch-villain with a massive mouth, did it? I think you see my point.
A literal guardian angel not the only one on this list, either who came to Earth to save the world (well, and also profess his love to a mortal woman whom he'd fallen for, but that didn't exactly work out too well), Zauriel acted as unofficial Hawkman during Grant Morrison's <em>JLA</em> run, sacrificing himself as Mageddon threatened the planet purely as a strategic move to get back to Heaven and lead an army of angels to bring peace to the planet... or else. <p>We knew that a lot of them like to <a href=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/How_many_angels_can_dance_on_the_head_of_a_pin%3F>get together to have dance parties on the head of a pin</a>, but who knew that angels could be so bad-ass?
So, we all know the origins of Vandal Savage: Caveman who got too close to an irradiated meteorite, and ended up immortal as a result. Nothing very Biblical about that, surely... <p>Except that, as revealed in <em>Final Crisis: Revelations</em>, somewhere along the way, Savage became the "inspiration" for Cain, the son of Adam who became the first human to kill another. If you accept that idea and, considering that DC actually has a "real" Cain and Abel in the Dreaming, it's definitely something you could dismiss if you wanted to then that means that Savage is one of the first humans to show up in the Bible. Bet you didn't see <em>that</em> one coming.
The second of the two guardian angels on this list, Liandra the title character from Peter David's creator-owned series <em>Fallen Angel</em> was tossed out of Heaven after killing the man who murdered one of her charges, ending up on Earth and taking up the role of defender of the city of Bete Noire, the one city on Earth that God has no control over. <p>It's almost as if there was some kind of Divine Plan going on or something, isn't it?
The Bible's Strongest Man well, as long as he's having a good hair day has made numerous appearances throughout the years in DC Comics, most recently trying to woo Lois Lane in <em>All-Star Superman</em> using his incredible strength (somewhere, Delilah is jealous). <p>Before then, he'd shown up in the Silver Age, usually in a Superman family title like <em>Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen</em> or <em>Superman's Girlfriend Lois Lane</em>, to challenge the Man of Steel and, of course, end up beaten by our hero's intense goodness.
File alongside the Four Horsemen for ambiguous connections to the Bible. On the one hand, how would the Biblical character from the Books of Genesis, Ezekiel and Revelation end up in a future DC Universe, bringing about a temporary end to the age of superheroes? <p>On the other, the origins of <em>Kingdom Come</em>'s Magog (as opposed to the one in <em>Justice Society of America</em> and the regular DCU years later) were never <em>really</em> explained, so if you can somehow come up with a way for the Biblical Magog to travel through time and end up an "extreme" cyborg psychopath, you should feel free to go with that.
One of the greatest and most ridiculous characters to appear in a Marvel comic ever, "A Friend" showed up in <em>Ghost Rider</em> #9 back in 1974 and was, very clearly, writer Tony Isabella's attempt to redress the balance in the fight for Johnny Blaze's soul by introducing Jesus into the series. <p>That's not a metaphor, by the way; although unnamed, the character was unmistakably Jesus Christ, turning Satan and his minions back at every opportunity and giving Blaze chances to reclaim his soul. Well, until #19, where the rewritten-at-the-last-minute (by Jim Shooter) story revealed that it <em>wasn't</em> Jesus, but was actually a <em>fake</em> Jesus created by Satan to mess with Blaze's head. Well, he <em>is</em> known as the Prince of Lies; I guess "Archduke of Pranks" is a lesser-known title.
Speak of the Devil! No, literally; although Marvel has a tendency to downplay whether or not Mephisto is <em>the</em> devil (he's officially just one of numerous pretenders to that throne, and his "Hell" is apparently "just" another dimension), there's little doubt that this particular crimson demon is the closest thing the Marvel Universe has to the traditional Devil himself: He barters for souls, tricks good people into doing bad and generally just makes the world a worse place. <p>Not to mention, he's got that whole "undoing Spider-Man's marriage" thing to deal with. Seriously: This guy is, without doubt, comics' second-most devious devil incarnate. <em>Second</em> worst, you say? Well, yes. Click on...
While Mephisto plays it safe with his choice of name in the Marvel Universe, DC's Satan has no such problem. <p>Appearing as the Big Man in Hell in Neil Gaiman's <em>Sandman</em> before leaving Morpheus holding the keys (literally) for a new life in a piano bar and later his own title, courtesy of Mike Carey and Peter Gross Vertigo's Lucifer is without doubt intended to be the very same Lucifer from the Bible, just continuing his adventures some years after that book was released. <p>Given the success of <em>Before Watchmen</em>, I wonder if we can convince DC to reissue the Carey/Gross series under the new title <em>After Bible</em>?
Other comics play it safe by having minor characters from the Bible show up in veiled forms, but only Erik Larsen was bold enough to just bring God in as a special guest star for the <em>Savage Dragon #31</em> series in 1996. <p>To make matters even better, the cover featured a giant God punching a giant Satan, bringing the masses what they'd wanted since the Bible was first published centuries earlier: A slam-bang no-holds-barred showdown between the two long-standing enemies. <em>Phantom Stranger</em> may seem sacrilegious to some, but as <em>Savage Dragon</em> demonstrates, it's got a whole lot further to go before it can top where comics have already gone with the Christian faith.