Is America's Mythology actually our comic book characters?


A friend and I discussed European Mythology and Middle Eastern mythology.  We also talked about Native American Indian Mythology.  I posed the question:  Is that North American Mythology?  My friend staked the claim that American Mythology is found in every character within our Comic Books.  I agree.  How about you?
27 Comments
27 Comments
Posted by BiteMe-Fanboy

Nah

Posted by aztek_the_lost
@Wilderness Academy: no, American mythology is their classic literature IMO
 
perfect example of American mythology is in this trade:
 
  
 
but at the same time Native American mythology is North American mythology but if we're just talking about USA I'd stick characters like Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn and what-not
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Posted by junkmasterzero

It would be strange for a society to start their mythology almost two hundred years after the founding of their country.  I would say early American literature is closer, but I think the settlers brought mythology with them from wherever they came from.

Posted by ~The Wanderer~

Nah.  Comics aren't exclusively American.  And it's not like a reasonably large group of people actually believe (or believed) in the existence of the comic characters (save for comic characters based on figures in already existing mythologies, but that's a borderline case and beside the point anyway). 
Doesn't North America already have lots of Native American tribes with their own mythologies?

Posted by Aronmorales
@Wilderness Academy said:
" A friend and I discussed European Mythology and Middle Eastern mythology.  We also talked about Native American Indian Mythology.  I posed the question:  Is that North American Mythology?  My friend staked the claim that American Mythology is found in every character within our Comic Books.  I agree.  How about you? "
Y'know, that's a very interesting question, but I'd have to say "no", since our comic heroes aren't in the same reverence as the Greek, Egyptian, or anyone else's Gods.
Edited by LT1085
Seriously.   
...or big foot and alien anal probing.
Posted by aztek_the_lost
@junkmasterzero said:
" It would be strange for a society to start their mythology almost two hundred years after the founding of their country.  I would say early American literature is closer, but I think the settlers brought mythology with them from wherever they came from. "
yes, this or my answer...I can't believe I forgot all about one of my favorite books of all time
 

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Posted by Night Thrasher

There are a lot of American myths. Johnnie Appleseed, Davie Crockett, Bigfoot, etc. Most came about during the Revolution on through the Industrial Age.

Posted by BiteMe-Fanboy
@Night Thrasher said:
" There are a lot of American myths. Johnnie Appleseed, Davie Crockett, Bigfoot, etc. Most came about during the Revolution on through the Industrial Age. "
HEY. Bigfoot is real.

Posted by aztek_the_lost
@BiteMe-Fanboy: 

Bigfoot, is that you? I'm not like the others, Bigfoot. I see through the monster coating to the gentle loner inside. I bet you have a wounded raccoon friend that you tenderly nurse back to health while you go, "Rooh! Rooh!" But in the end they shoot you, but you teach us about things. 

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Posted by BiteMe-Fanboy
@aztek the lost said:
" @BiteMe-Fanboy: 

Bigfoot, is that you? I'm not like the others, Bigfoot. I see through the monster coating to the gentle loner inside. I bet you have a wounded raccoon friend that you tenderly nurse back to health while you go, "Rooh! Rooh!" But in the end they shoot you, but you teach us about things. 

"
'Fry it's me, Bigface! Come comb my mangy fur!'
 
'Bigfoot!? You taught yourself english?!'
Posted by Mr.Q

i think there is a lot of similarities between comic books and the myths of the past more so than some of our earlier literature. stories of epic adventure and epic people. it is easier to compare say Iron man to any number of armored heroes in myth than say Huck Fynn. even superman has his similarities as a powerful being coming down to earth from the sky. he is often compared to and referred to as a god. many of them also form groups or families that almost resemble pantheons. in some incarnations the justice league even sets up shop in space station orbiting the earth even. i don't think the fact that MOST people don't worship them or treat them with reverence or believed they were real really matters. when people worshiped zues and Ra they believed they were real and called their worship religion. but now we know it as myth, not real. if we were debating if comics were american religion then i would so no they are not but mythic stories of adventure and heroes good and evil and everything in between then yes there is much to compare. i think there are even classes taught on this.     

Edited by cbishop
@Wilderness Academy:
It's been suggested before that comic characters are the new mythology, but I don't really agree.  To me, "mythology" suggests that people once believed it and worshipped it, but it's passed into history.  Other than mythologies that settlers brought over from "the old country," I'd say that Americans don't have any mythology.  We have tons of folklore, but that's a little different - sort of inbetween mythology and fiction.  We generally acknowledge that our folklore is just stories, but we might hold the belief that some of those stories might have been true.  A good example is Virginia Dare.  We can verify historically that Virginia Dare was the first English child born in the New World, and that she disappeared along with the rest of the 116 settlers, from the Roanoke settlement.  The only clue to their disappearance was the word "CROATAN," carved into a tree.  After that, everything is speculation.  Some say they were massacred by Indians (Native Americans), some say they joined with native tribes to survive.  Some say that Virginia Dare was turned into a white stag, and could still be seen from time to time.  That's folklore - more of a tall tale, extrapolating from history. 
 
However, I have seen at least one instance of a tale in American folklore that had parallels to a tale in Norse mythology.  Basically, I think our folklore is like everything else - a mishmash of other cultures. 
 
P.S.  American Gods is a novel by Neil Gaiman, and not representative of any true American mythology.  It was an interesting take on how our belief systems might work, but pure fiction. 
 
As for Jesus... Christianity is still a practiced religion, so whether you believe in Him or not, He doesn't qualify as mythology.  While Christian beliefs have spanned a couple thousand years of history, they haven't passed into history yet.
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Posted by MrFantastic
@cbishop said:
" As for Jesus... Christianity is still a practiced religion, so whether you believe in Him or not, He doesn't qualify as mythology.  While Christian beliefs have spanned a couple thousand years of history, they haven't passed into history yet. "
  Mythology is the stories of a religion, not a religion that has passed into history.  I know plenty of pagans who worship gods you would probably consider mythological.  Whether you like it or not, the new testament  is the collected mythology of Jesus.
Posted by cbishop
@MrFantastic said:

"Mythology is the stories of a religion, not a religion that has passed into history.  I know plenty of pagans who worship gods you would probably consider mythological.  Whether you like it or not, the new testament  is the collected mythology of Jesus."


Okay, I was defining "mythology" myself, so just to be clear, the dictionary definition (Funk & Wagnalls) is:  
 
"mythology - The collective myths and legends of a particular people, person, institution, etc." 
 
"myth - 1. A traditional story, usu. focusing on the deeds of gods or heroes, often in explanation of some natural phenomenon, as the origin of the sun, etc. 2. A theme, motif, character type, etc., in modern literature.  3. Myths collectively.  4. An imaginary or fictitious person, thing, event, or story.  5. A false opinion, belief, or ideal." 
 
"legend - 1. An unauthenticated story from earlier times, preserved by tradition and popularly thought to be historical.  2. A body of such stories, as those connected with a people or culture." 
 
"folklore - the traditions, beliefs, customs, sayings, stories, etc., preserved among the common people." 
 
Jesus of Nazareth is a historically verifiable person, from sources outside of the New Testament.  I don't know that any of the NT stories about him are historically verifiable, so those could justifiably be considered to be "legend" (and therefore "mythology"), if you don't consider the New Testament to be a source of  authentication.
 
However, the first four books of the NT are accounts of Jesus' ministry from four different people.  There are some slight discrepancies between accounts, but they're up for debate.  They could either be differing accounts, or accounts of different but similar events.  Either way, it's four different people writing about the same man at the same time in history.   So, if you'd consider that authentication, then I'd say the New Testament doesn't qualify as mythology.  If you don't believe anything from the Bible, without some corroborating source, then they are "legend," and therefore "mythology."  I think four different people's accounts are pretty good authentication.  If they were anywhere but the Bible, four different written accounts would be considered not just verified history, but a historical find of great significance.  So I'd say it depends greatly on your perspective of the New Testament, as to whether it's mythology or not.  I say "not."
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Posted by MrFantastic

Doesn't using books from the bible to corroborate the bible make for a circular argument?

Posted by batman_is_god
@Wilderness Academy:

Yes it is! Superman is our Hercules, Batman is our Odysseus, Captain America is our Achilles.
Posted by Vance Astro

America's Mythology is our Holidays,Religions, and Traditions.

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Posted by OmegaTheDestroyer

Paul Bunyan & Babe the Blue Ox, John Henry, Johnny Appleseed, John Wayne, Chuck Norris, Sasquatch, Jersey Devil, Daniel Boone, Pecos Bill, Wild Bill Hickok, Billy the Kid, Davy Crockett, Zorro, Babe Ruth, Jim Thorpe, Jesse James and the James Gang, Wyatt Earp, Butch and Sundance, Annie Oakley, Calamity Jane, Jedediah Smith, Grizzly Adams, Lewis and Clark, Bonnie and Clyde, Dale Earnhardt, Geronimo, Crazy Horse, John Dillinger, Al Capone, Pretty Boy Floyd, Edgar Allan Poe, Brigham Young, P.T. Barnum
 
 
all are just a minor part of  American mythology.

Posted by Jotham
@MrFantastic said:
" Doesn't using books from the bible to corroborate the bible make for a circular argument? "
It would, but there are other historical sources that corroborate parts of the Bible. For Jesus, I'm referring primarily to Tacitus. I wouldn't argue that one could call the Bible mythology, though (depending on the definition of mythology used).
Posted by golvellius

This is a very interesting and delicate topic.  I believe that comics and the heroes we know are myths......in the sense that they bring the values and characteristic of today's men and woman into a graphic and literate media.  If a hundred years from now someone would read a comic from our time they could discern what we thought about heroism, values, villiany; and many more. However they lack the other characteristic of mythology which is having a sacred sense.    The main characters in myths are usually gods or supernatural heroes.  As sacred stories, myths are often endorsed by rulers and priests and closely linked to religion. In the society in which it is told, a myth is usually regarded as a true account of the remote past.  In fact, many societies have two categories of traditional narrative, "true stories" or myths, and "false stories" or fables. Myths generally take place in a primordial age, when the world had not yet achieved its current form, and explain how the world gained its current form and how customs, institutions and taboos were established.   
 
Regarding the Bible, I believe its a sacred document, because it is deemed sacred by those who believe in it.  It is not historical for it lacks the proof to be historical and even though it is believed to have been inspired by God we do not know exactly who wrote it and if truly they were inspired by God or by other interest.  For example it is clear that there are social controls within it.  However those of us who believe learn to discern the good message within its pages and apply it for living a better life.  Jesus far from being a myth is truly Legendary for we can not entirely deny his existence nor we can entirely prove the truth behind the claims of his feats.  Because of this we believe by Faith...without reason for proof but discerning the message writen for we know that it ultimately was brought by men and men do mistakes.   
Edited by Alladin Sane
@cbishop said:

@Wilderness Academy:


 
As for Jesus... Christianity is still a practiced religion, so whether you believe in Him or not, He doesn't qualify as mythology.  While Christian beliefs have spanned a couple thousand years of history, they haven't passed into history yet.

I guess  you're not aware that people still worship Zeus
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hellenic_Polytheistic_Reconstructionism
 
I saw a documentary on it, which was real surprising.   
yet we call their religion mythology how disrespectfull.....
Edited by EdBlank

Yes. We sit around all day wondering if Superman can beat Thor AS IF THEY ARE OUT THERE SOMEWHERE. Jimmy Olsen can beat Thor... all the writer has to do is say he can, but in our minds it's clear that the "real" Juggernaut is not that bs they put in the movie.

Posted by DocFatalis

I have to agree with that, it is also probably why the comics industry has "recycled" most of the European (after all Europe is America's cradle) myths. You find in comics all the north and greek pantheon gods and lots of characters share their supernatural capabilities with the aforementioned gods or heros. I think America needs a mythology, and considering the fact that most comics heroes abide by high moral values and are willing to do good, I have really nothing against the idea of American children being inspired by such role models.

Long live to America and long live to comics.

Posted by cbishop

@MrFantastic said:

Doesn't using books from the bible to corroborate the bible make for a circular argument?

Sorry, never got back to this - connectivity and financial problems kept me from the site for quite some time. I don't think it's exactly a circular argument. The Bible is a collected anthology of books/ letters by different authors, which is why I say the four gospels authenticate each other - four different authors writing about the same man. Regardless of the gospels though, Jesus has been historically authenticated by scholars. He's a fact. Simply being a real person disqualifies him from being mythology. But when I add the gospels - four different eyewitness accounts of the man's life? I've got to call it believable.

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Posted by cbishop

@Alladin Sane said:

I guess you're not aware that people still worship Zeus... I saw a documentary on it, which was real surprising...

I was not aware of that (other than assuming there were a few random folks who probably still believed in mythological pantheons somewhere). So I'll call my original comment "bad example." My response to MrFantastic is more what I was trying to say.

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Edited by COBRAMORPH

I do think 1,000 years from now, people reading about USA mythology will have a god of the sun who shoots beams of solar fire from his eyes & be super strong, weak only to green rocks, & his half brother will have the form of a bat.

When you think about it, the heroes of myth are probly just cultural super heros, and are a different type of hero just like super heroes were different from mystery men. Or the golden age from the silver age etc.

The argonaughts was just a summer crossover event.

The american god of Ice cream had no face, & his cult would kill & eat anyone who thought there were more than 31 flavors. Yet, the initiated knew of a 32nd flavor.