When Pope Benedict XVI shocked the world with the media bombshell that he would step down from his seat of power, we—unable to go five minutes without making an analogy to comic books—couldn’t help but be reminded of all those times when some of our favorite super heroes hung up the cape and cowl to tend to more personal affairs. In fact, with their ability to garner worldwide devotion and the Vatican being somewhat analogous to the Super Friends’ Hall of Justice, popes are, in a manner of speaking, kind of like the costumed heroes on the colorful pages of Marvel and DC. But what if they actually were? Show some pious reverence for the five popes The MindHut’s esteemed nerd-clergy has canonized as super heroes!
1) Pope Peter: The Indomitable Rock
Though it’s considered a moot subject among most biblical scholars, there are those that attest to the notion that Jesus named Peter—having previously gone by the name Simon—after the Greek word for rock (“petra”) given his unwavering stability and leadership. But that’s what those out-of-date history books say. In actuality, Jesus dubbed Peter with the geological nomenclature because of his innate ability to transform into a hulking rock monster, not too removed in appearance to the Fantastic Four’s Thing! Fighting crime as the Indomitable Rock, Peter laid the smackdown on both nonbelievers and his greatest nemesis, Emperor Nero. It’s clobberin’ time!
2) Pope John I: The Holy Spirit of Vengeance
Compared to the cushy and decadent lifestyles of today’s popes, those crazy days when Anno Domini was still in the triple digits were rough for those trying to keep the faith. Case in point: Pope John I. When the Arian King Theodoric the Great suspected ol’ Johnny boy of conspiring with an enemy leader known as Emperor Justin, the Pope was thrown into a dank prison cell and died from gross mistreatment and neglect. Going by our knowledge of comic book hero origin stories of the ghostly variety, that sounds like the recipe for revenge, with Pope John I seeking retribution as the Holy Spirit of Vengeance! Fueled by righteous anger, King Theodoric has nowhere to hide from an undead holy man carrying a massive chip on his ethereal shoulder.
3) Pope Joan: The Sensational She-Pope
Her legacy may have been expunged from the Vatican’s historical archive, but there’s no denying that Pope Joan pulled the greatest prank on the male-centric clergy by being the first and only woman to ascend to the papacy. Unfortunately, Joan’s fraudulence was discovered, meeting her violent end at the hands of an angry mob... or so they claim. We’re going out on a limb to say that she, for lack of a better word, no doubt survived the grueling ordeal by hulking out into The Sensational She-Pope, making those angry townspeople regret ever raising their pitchforks and torches!
4) Pope Julius II: Furious Maximus
Pope Julius II went by two colorful names throughout his tenure as the Bishop of Rome: “The Fearsome Pope” and “The Warrior Pope.” Common knowledge of Catholic history states that these nicknames were a reflection of his tenacious foreign policy and conflict with the Borgia family, among other aggressive qualities, but as per usual, historians overlooked his more super heroic side as Furious Maximus! When in battle, Furious Maximus tapped into an esoteric, extra-dimensional energy known as “the Rage Force,” causing him to enter a berserk state that granted a fleeting moment of inhuman invulnerability. As such, many of his foes learned the hard way that 1) any offensive measures essentially equated to tickling Furious Maximus with a feather and 2) unconditional surrender was a far better option than disembowelment.
5) Pope Honorious III: Papa Demonica
The Catholic Church typically frowns upon the ceremonial activity of summoning a demonic entity from the nether regions of Hell, but back in the 13th century, Pope Honorious III threw that religious principle out the window, dragging demons from their fiery realm merely to test his own faith threshold. With the ability to summon and control demons at his mere whim, it really doesn’t come as a shock to learn that he hit the medieval streets of Rome as the anti-hero Papa Demonica. While his means to an end weren’t exactly approved by his fellow heroes, sometimes you just have to buck up and fight pure evil with pure evil. If it weren’t for the efforts of Papa Demonica and his horde of subservient demons, Vatican City—heck, the entire world—would not be here today!
Which other popes should be canonized as super heroes?