Freemasonry in Popular Culture
Freemasonry in Popular Culture
Freemasonry has been the subject of satire and lampooning since its inception in the 1700s courtesy of cartoonists such as Hogarth and Gilray but the 20th century gave it far more prominence in popular culture. Artwork, comics, books and then mainstream media such as TV and music, have all featured references to the Fraternity either factually or in a fictitious capacity and are more often than not – anti-Masonic. Editor Philippa Lee explores some examples of the most overt references to Freemasonry in Pop Culture.
COMICS AND GRAPHIC NOVELS Several comics produced in the 20th century featured references – oblique or overt – to Freemasonry or similar ‘secret’ societies and organisations. More often than not, the references to or appearances of Masonic characters and symbols are in a derogatory sense – much of it is explicitly anti-Masonic or ridiculously wrong but very occasionally, the Organisation is featured in a good light.
Batman In Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight ‘Conspiracy’ (DC, 1996, vols 86-89) there is reference made to Batman’s supposed ‘memory’ of Masonic ritual and the Hiram Abiff legend. After a string of ritualistic murders, Batman finds the trail for the serial killer leads
Graphic Novelist Alan Moore, author of From Hell and The League of Extraordinary Gentleman. Image By Fimb, CC BY 2.0 Wikimedia Commons to Los Angeles and a mysterious Temple of the New Dawn. He discusses his thoughts on the manner of three of the killings with Alfred, positing that he ‘remembers’ certain things that with further research, Alfred confirms that his memory is of Masonic ritual and that the murders correspond to the Hiramic legend:
Alfred: I’ve found the information you requested, sir, and it does indeed corroborate your memory... ...although how you remember such grisly details is beyond-Batman: Just read it, Alfred. Alfred: Well, as you said, sir, the three murderers of the master mason Hiram Abif [sic]-- architect of the Temple of Solomon--
In Batman: The Scottish Connection (DC, 1998), Bruce Wayne attends a family reunion in Scotland and foils an attempt to murder the clan. On page 25, he visits Rosslyn Chapel and demonstrates his knowledge of the Hiramic Legend and the Apprentice Pillar to the group of tourists and guide:
Bruce: Enraged, the master killed the apprentice with a single blow from his mallet…in an astonishing parallel with the murder of Hiram Abiff, builder of Solomon’s legendary temple in Jerusalem! Guide: You know of such things, Sir?
Superman On page 21 of Superman Adventures #34.’Fighting Fate’ (DC, 1999) our hero is depicted launching himself into the sky, with a member of the crowd below shouting after him: ‘Go now, and may the Great Architect of the Universe protect you on your journey!’
Dr Strange Dr Strange features the ‘Book of Cagliostro’, supposedly the work of Count Cagliostro, a renowned Freemason from the 18th century. In the comic, ‘Cagliostro was one of the many aliases through history of a sorcerer who achieved immortality…He was also known as Giuseppe Balsamo, an Italian alchemist, and was a teacher of Victor von Doom and an enemy of Doctor Strange. Cagliostro was also an alias used by the time travelling sorcerer Sise-Neg’.
Graphic Novels Alan Moore (1953–) is regarded by many as being the best graphic novel writer in history. Regardless of whether you like Moore’s style,
December 2018 • The Square 7