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Religion and Comics – A Top 10 (Part 10)

Midnight Nation

Midnight Nation #1

Publisher: Top Cow (2000-2002)
Creator: J. Michael Straczynski

ln this final top 10 entry, we consider J. Michael Stracynski’s Midnight Nation, a road trip comic with supernatural and religious dimensions.

Midnight Nation is one man’s story to recover his soul from ‘The Other Guy’, a Satan analogue. The central character, David Grey, is a police detective who witnesses a supernatural murder in Los Angeles, and in the process of investigating that he “loses his soul” and starts to fade from this world and become a nameless figure. He encounters, Laurel, an angelic representative of God, who explains what is happening and who accompanies him on a cross-country road trip to recover his soul. Along the way, he meets demonic forces and Lazarus (the Wandering Jew) and is taunted and challenged by ‘The Other Guy’ who seeks to undermine God and his agent, Laurel, and turn Grey to his side.

Straczynski’s work covers a wide range of popular culture, including television, books, comics, and film. What is interesting about his work is that, while he is atheist, he often works substantial religious themes through his writing. Babylon 5, for example, differs from Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek in that it sees religion continuing to play a significant role in humanity’s future, and so introduces religious characters that play significant roles in the show’s story arcs. In the third season episode, Passing through Gethsemane, we see:

Similarly, in season 2 of the TV show Jeremiah, the character of Mr Smith, a divinely directed figure, is explored sympathetically.

Midnight Nation brings questions around theodicy (if God is good and all-powerful, why does evil and suffering exist?) and themes of redemption and sacrifice to the fore. The final part of the story poses Grey with the dilemma of whether he will choose to reclaim his soul or to sacrifice that in order to save Laurel.

So, an interesting story and some interesting locations for doing theology. The irony is that Christian writers often don’t do this as a well.