Mormons haven’t gotten the best rap in recent years. Mitt Romney, the first serious Mormon candidate for president, went down to defeat, pilloried as a soulless plutocrat. The church’s vocal opposition to same-sex marriage set its followers at odds with a growing trend of acceptance throughout the United States. Now, however, one enterprising comic book artist is looking to flip the script on that narrative with a gay Mormon superhero. Stripling Warrior, named for the heroic figures of traditional Mormon theology, chronicles the adventures of Samuel Douglas Shepard, who is called upon by an angel to fight for justice.
The comic was created by Brian Andersen, a former Mormon — though he says he’s yet to be excommunicated — who said he was inspired to create the hunky hero after his own experience with the church.
“It dawned on me that I should explore my own Mormon background in a comic book,” Andersen told Mic. “Having recently gotten married to my longtime boyfriend, who is also Mormon, and having also recently welcomed our daughter into our lives, I knew the time was now to do something different and fun.”
While Andersen was keen to show a gay romance between two Mormons as mainstream and not a “sin,” the Stripling Warrior is himself on a hunt for sinful behavior wherever he found it. In the series’ first issue, he battles two villains prominently seen smoking and drinking.