Superhero creator Stan Lee was a titan of comic book history. The 95-year-old former editor-and-chief of Marvel Comics was known for his powerful writing and unlimited imagination.
“Stan Lee was as extraordinary as the characters he created," Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger said in a statement. "A superhero in his own right to Marvel fans around the world, Stan had the power to inspire, to entertain and to connect. The scale of his imagination was only exceeded by the size of his heart."
To help remember Lee and his incredible talent as a comic book writer, we have compiled a list of Latter-day Saint characters mentioned in Marvel comics and more you should know about.
Latter-day Saint Superheroes and Villians
Outside of comic book characters with Latter-day Saint creators, there are also many Latter-day Saint characters found in the comic world.
Take, for instance, Mallory Book, an attorney who earned the title of Miss Utah while graduating at the top of her class from BYU and whose path continually crosses with that of Jennifer Walters (a.k.a. She-Hulk). Or Jacob Raven, a Latter-day Saint police detective who begins looking a little too closely at Peter Parker (a.k.a. Spider-Man) and arrests him for murder.
And let’s not forget about Dr. Denholm (a.k.a. Dr. Deseret) from Marvel’s Captain Confederacy, the Latter-day Saint “special agent of God” who originates from the independent nation Deseret, formed out West after the South won the Civil War. Or the time when Joe Smith Sr. enters the Captain America series, bent on taking revenge on Martin Harris for the part he played in the death of his son, Joe Smith Jr.
Or maybe you’ve heard about the Salt City Strangers—the first-ever team of Latter-day Saint superheroes, with characters like Golden Spike, Den Mother, Deputy Deseret, The Gull, and Son of Bigfoot. While the team’s creators are not Latter-day Saints, there’s no doubt that Latter-day Saint myth and culture power this series.
Though never explicitly labeled as Latter-day Saints, the Power Pack siblings—the youngest superhero team to appear in the Marvel universe—are also widely presumed to be members of the Church because of their similarities with Latter-day Saint culture.
Famous Latter-day Saints Seen in a New Way
Latter-day Saint celebrities have also taken their turn in the comic spotlight, appearing as characters such as the villain Eel, who clashes with Spider-Man, Iron Fist, S.H.I.E.L.D., Daredevil, and other heroes in the Marvel universe.
Eel, whose real name is Edward Lavell, is loosely based on beloved BYU football coach LaVell Edwards. But his villainous powers are matched by those of the Dearth Vapors—obvious parodies of Donny and Marie Osmond from a 1978 Howard the Duck, whose oppressive niceness and sickening sweetness spew from their mouths and encase Howard and the Man-Thing in saccharine.
And let’s not forget Cypher—a mutant from the X-Men with the uncanny ability to understand any language. Cypher was modeled after Latter-day Saint Jeopardy! master Ken Jennings, who won 74 Jeopardy! games in a row, a fact revealed in an obscure reference to Cypher’s own incredible 70+ wins on the show.
And while we are at it, Godzilla and the Italian comic protagonist Martin Mystère, who stars in a popular U.S. cartoon series, deserve honorable mentions. Though not a Latter-day Saint, Godzilla did nearly destroy the Salt Lake Temple while on a rampage through Salt Lake City and Martin visited the Family History Library during one of his investigations into enigmatic and supernatural events.
Latter-day Saints have also helped shape the world of comic strips and online comics. Church member Floyd Gottfredson drew the Mickey Mouse comic strip for 45 years, turning this iconic mouse from a mischief-maker into a heroic character who represented good values. And Brian Crane regularly draws pictures of temples or the Ensign in his award-winning, syndicated comic strip, Pickles. In the world of online comics, Latter-day Saint themes are gaining traction with 30+ artists dedicating their work to demonstrating humorous aspects of church culture. Even in print, you can find many wonderful series based on the Book of Mormon, Church history, or Latter-day Saint life. For example, Brittany Long Olsen recently turned her missionary journal into a graphic novel called Dendo, showing a glimpse into the life of a sister missionary in Japan.
No doubt, Latter-day Saint mentions in comic books are too many to count, providing hidden gems readers can discover while exploring the world of superheroes and the supernatural.