IS IT a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s the Flying Friar, a real life 16th-century monk who has become the latest addition to the world of comic book superheroes.
Joseph of Copertino, a Franciscan priest renowned for his ability to levitate, will join the world of costumed crusaders next week when a new graphic novel is published in Britain and America.
The Flying Friar, by Rich Johnston and Thomas Nachlik, is based on one of the Church’s most extraordinary saints who, although canonised for his extreme modesty and patience, is more remarkable for his apparent ability to fly and demonstrate supernatural strength.
The story of St Joseph, according to sources such as the Oxford Dictionary of Saints, bears a startling resemblance to modern fictional heroes such as Batman or Spider-Man. Joseph Desa was initially an outcast, born into such extreme poverty in 1603 that he was delivered in a shed. He seemed to be a simpleton and was nicknamed The Gaper because of his habit of wandering around open mouthed.
Here's the best part:
Mr Johnston, a British author of graphic novels, attempted to keep his character faithful to the saint, but has embellished his adventures by creating a fictional adversary in the style of Superman’s enemy, Lex Luthor. The story involves Joseph’s struggle with Lux Luther, a ficticious childhood friend and great nephew of Martin Luther, the founder of Protestant Reformation.
In the final act, Joseph must use his special powers to avert Luther’s plan to rain
fiery death on Copertino, his home town.