In this week's All-New X-men #5, Henry “The Beast” McCoy is dying. A lot of people go to a lot of trouble to make sure that doesn’t happen, with the big reveal of the issue being a new look for the perpetually mutating founding X-Man. But Beast’s new look wasn't the issue's standout. No, the standout was this exchange:
Okay, so Hank McCoy is an atheist. He doesn't believe in Heaven nor does he believe in Hell. On the surface, this should make perfect sense. An adventuring, furry blue mutant he may be, but he’s also widely hailed as one of the top scientific minds in the Marvel Universe, right there behind Reed Richards, Tony Stark and Hank Pym. He may spend the bulk of his time fighting evil mutants and training kids in the danger room, but first and foremost, he is a man of science, not faith.
But he's not a scientist in our world. Hank McCoy is a scientist in the Marvel Universe where things like Heaven, Hell, and the presence of an all-powerful creator aren’t matters of faith. They’re actual scientific fact. In fact, I’d argue that as both a scientist AND superhero in the Marvel Universe, Hank McCoy should have absolutely no reason to doubt the existence of the hereafter.
Not only have a growing segment of his colleagues died and returned (multiple times even), but as a former Avenger, Hank has fought side-by-side with not one, but two gods in Thor and Hercules. He’s directly interacted with numerous Asgardians and Olympians, both pantheons having given unquestionable evidence time after time that their respective afterlives are legit. Multiple superheroes have been to Valhalla, Hel, the Elysian Fields and Hades and interacted with the dead there.
Hank McCoy has worked side-by-side with folks like Doctor Strange, Brother Voodoo, Ghost Rider and Son of Satan. He’s seen spirits raised, demons bargained with and even met Mephisto. No, Mephisto isn’t THE devil, but he runs his own hell filled with souls of the dead.
Then there’s the fact that two of his scientific peers, Victor von Doom and Reed Richards, have not only acknowledged that the afterlife does, in fact exist, but have even physically explored it. Reed's even he met and conversed with God.
No, not a god. God.
In the Marvel Universe, the questions of whether or not there’s an afterlife or not and whether or not there’s a God aren't metaphysical questions. They're proven fact. Given that Hank McCoy is a man of science, isn’t it a bit counterintuitive in the face of such overwhelming evidence to the contrary to be an atheist in his particular reality?