A new villain debuting in the pages of DC's Batman comics over the next few months is one inspired by one of the world's oldest institutions: the Catholic Church.
While religion and the Dark Knight may not seem like a fit, he's often been presented in comics as someone raised as a Christian - sometimes even as a Catholic, if you've read Frank Miller's version of Batman.
In the new comic book series Batman: Gargoyle of Gotham, author Rafael Grampá is pulling on his own upbringing in the Catholic Church that inspires this book, and specifically a new villain named the Virgin.
"The first feeling that I try to connect to when I’m creating villains is fear and evil. My first impressions of evil was in the church because I had a very Catholic family and we went to church every weekend," Grampá tells Popverse's Sam Stone. "I remember how horrified I was when I saw, for the first time, Jesus on the cross with blood. I was very young, like three or four years-old, something like that. I used to see Jesus on little crosses, but they weren’t colored and I didn’t see the blood."
Grampá tells Popverse of a particularly "huge" crucifix near the altar at his family's place of worship, and how that influenced him as an artist.
"I remember seeing those little paintings of Jesus being tortured that they have in these Catholic churches," says the writer/artist. "I remember seeing that and being mesmerized by the beauty of that and terrified by what was happening there."
Fast forward to 2023 and Grampá conceiving Batman: Gargoyle of Gotham, he says he aims to create similar kinds of work - something beautiful and simultaneously terrifying.
"I’m trying to deliver something that people can be interested in but feel kind of strange from liking that," says the artist. "Maybe that can have an impact on opinions about other things, like why I don’t like death, death has its own beauty and this is an artistic goal that I have."
For this upcoming new villain the Virgin, it's based on the Lord's Prayer.
"One of the things in the church is a particular prayer, the Our Father. I remember that the ending of this prayer is 'deliver us from evil.'" says Grampá. "When you’re a kid, you see Jesus on a cross bleeding, and everyone is saying together “deliver us from evil,” it’s like you’re going to watch a horror movie."
"For the Virgin, it was based on that experience and that character would take 'deliver us from evil' literally. Depending on who is judging the evil, it could be a big mess," says the author. "This character, I can’t spoil too much because every character is connected to the mystery. The inspiration for The Virgin is from my experience with religion. I’m taking those experiences that molded and sculpted me in a way that is very deep and serious."
Read Popverse's full interview with Rafael Grampá here.
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