Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

Writer: David Michelinie
Penciler / Colorist: John Tartaglione
Inker: Joe Sinnott
Letterer: Rick Parker
Story: Father Roy Gasnick, QFM
Editor: Tom DeFalco
Editor In Chief: Jim Shooter

Every so often, Marvel Comics turn their talents to championing a real-life super hero.

Blessed Teresa Of Calcutta, as she's now called, is world-famous, and her lifelong service of others legendary, so what better public figure to celebrate in an educational biomic?

Everyone does a fine job in this 1984 publication - David Michelinie's tight dialogue enables Father Roy Gasnick's story to cover a tremendous amount of ground in the 48 ad-free pages available. (all her international travel probably kept Michelinie happy too)

John Tartaglione's pencils and Joe Sinnott's inks convey an intensity and bleakness throughout the nun's life, cramming a huge amount of detail into the environments in which she existed. There are crowd-scenes a-plenty in this, and Sinnott's attention to facial muscles and shadows do a tremendous amount to bring out the real-life high emotions.

And yet, it is still a Marvel comic. Perhaps the style of the Marvel genre was a hard thing to shake...

For example, every Marvel Comic super-hero needs a new name, and mild-mannered Gonxha Bojaxhiu is no exception.

With the new identity of course comes a costume, and just look at the awesome way in which Marvel can't resist introducing it: (I can hear Stan Lee™'s voice narrating it now...)

And the nature of The Menial Mother Teresa™'s uncanny super powers?

And the general public who she serves so tirelessly? What do they make of her? Well, unusually enough (irony intended) for the Marvel Universe, some of them actually consider her a menace.

Once she has procured a different top public hideout, the amazing missionary continues to follow the well-trod path of the typical all-American, sorry, all-Albanian super-heroine. She makes the cover of TIME Magazine, teams-up with another hero (the Pope), and even has a stand-off in 'the third world' against Dr. Doom. Well, apart from the bit about Dr. Doom.

The most extraordinary thing about this comic though is that, barring no-prize material like the Pope's identity, it is generally all true. I could write something here about the real-life lady, but if I'm honest, I know little more than what's in this comic.

What I do know that is not covered in here, is her lifelong struggle with whether or not God actually exists, which I think is evidence of someone sincerely searching for the truth. As a Christian, I can certainly identify with that, and her early angst (portrayed here) regarding just what on Earth God wanted her to spend the rest of her life doing.

I did hear the story a few years ago of how she'd once stood-up at a meeting of several world leaders and got them all to pray together. None of them had the guts to refuse her. Her humility, in having given up so much, was apparently too powerful for them to resist.

I find a profoundly inciteful lesson in that anecdote alone, and it's nice of this comic to put it into some context for me.

Still gutted that it didn't all happen following a paper-cut from a radioactive Bible though.

Available here.

2 comment(s):

At 4:45 am, Blogger KlownKrusty said...

One thing that leapt out at me from that cover...

This is one of perhaps only a half dozen pre-2000* Marvel comics that does not carry the seal of approval of the Comics Code Authority. What did Mother Teresa do that brought the ire of the Comics Code Authority? Inquiring minds want to know!

(* Marvel introduced their own code around 2000)

Also, in this issue does the Marvel phrase "True Believers" ever get used?

At 5:10 pm, Blogger Steve Goble said...

Actually, I'd say that most of my Marvel Comics are disappointingly missing that seal...

On the other hand, maybe it's because she refers to abortion as "The greatest destroyer of peace today".


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