Observance of Superhero: Trivial Pursuit Ancient Religion?

[21 April 2010]

By Andy Smith

You may be able to recall a few characters, like Kitty Pryde and The Thing, who are Jewish. Flagship heroes like Captain America and Superman have extensively been debated on being Protestant and Methodist, respectively. Nightcrawler and Daredevil are Marvel’s go-to Catholics, as well.

But have you ever heard of a superhero of the Aztec religion?

Justice League fans surely have. The character Aztek debuted in 1996 with Aztek, The Ultimate Man #1. Created by Mark Millar and Grant Morrison, the hero sports a sponsorship by the Aztec diety Quetzalcoatl.

Somehow, multiple religions can exist within any of the Big Two’s universal planes. Just when you thought your faith was kind of an exclusive deal, you found out you were living in the DC Universe and that just doesn’t happen here.

Either way, on to Aztek.

The secretive Q Society raised Aztek, or Uno, to be the one, true representive of Quetzalcoatl in the battle against fellow god Tezcatlipoca. The actual power of Aztek lies within his magical armor. It gives him the ability to do pretty much whatever you would want to do with a magical suit of armor, including but not limited to X-Ray vision, flight, power beams and whatever else writers feel like throwing in at the time.

Tezcatlipoca is also a character that made an appearance in another DC comic, Wonder Woman, more than a decade before. This version of Tezcatlipoca was of the trickster variety of deities. He gave Wonder Woman a few headaches until she eventually gave him the business.

Tezcatlipoca made yet another appearance in the form of Chama Sierra. Sierra made a deal with Neron (or otherwise known as one of demon from Hell) for power and ended up fancying himself the great Tezcatlipoca.

So, what does any of that have to do with the Aztec religion?”

Absolutely nothing. In fact, this all simply shows that even the Aztec religion is prone to be warped, altered and added to in an attempt for a solid superhero story.

The first instinct may be to angrily curse comicbooks for trivializing and perhaps degrading a religion with its own canon and dogma. These are nothing but silly superhero narratives, after all. But if comicbooks stayed out of religion, what kind of relevance would they have? There’s a strong argument to be made for the popularizing of religions outside the cultural mainstream. Comicbooks, by this argument, would take on an almost pedagogical role.

That’s an interesting question in itself—far more interesting than wondering why the Aztec gods would design such a stupid looking helmet for Aztek to wear.

Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/post/124400-observance-of-superhero-trivial-pursuit-ancient-religion/