What exactly is the Guide to the Mythological Universe?

The Guide to the Mythological Universe is the kind of mythology site I always wanted to find. Bios of gods and goddesses with complete notes on their family trees, characters, histories and attributes and their appearances in modern media. It is not meant to be a comic book site. Although I follow many of the godly characteristics from Marvel and DC Comics, I chose to use the format of the original Marvel Universe handbooks only as a format and plot device. This website is dedicated to fans of mythological characters as they appear in the comic book and motion picture industry and to all mythological purists who twinge when myths are altered or warped in the name of "artistic license." 

What exactly is a god?

A god by the strictest definition is a being or entity that has been worshipped by a civilization, race or tribe with common ethnic origins sharing cultural, geographic and religious beliefs. On this website, all known gods show common characteristics, such as:  1)  showing ancestry to similar beings and/or a primeval couple such as Uranus and Gaea, 2) has actually been worshipped and considered a deity or religious figure and 3) has a perceivable family tree and/or connections to others of their ilk. 

In the strictest sense of the Marvel Universe,  and to a lesser degree in the confines of the DC Universe, the Gods of Earth seem to be a common singular race of beings ("Immortals") descended from Gaea ("Mother Earth") with each pantheon identified either by their worshippers or by the worlds they inhabit. However, as seen in numerous fantasy novels and pulp fictions, it is obvious that a "god" can range from being almost anything from an ancient computer (Star Trek, Lost in Space...) to a demonic entity (The Conan the Barbarian pulp novels...). While some fictional immortals have the potential to appear on this site (Snowbird, Fandral, Hogun, Volstagg...) and several of the most iconic heroes ("modern gods") of the comic book universes (Superman, Spiderman, et al.), I'm not at all interested in the majority of characters passed off as gods. (Darkseid, Perrikus...)  

How accurate is the myth info?

As accurate as I can get it. There are whole regions of research in mythology that just cannot be found or has just never been published, but I have enough books written by qualified experts and on-line resources to create previously non-existent bios on gods and goddesses. However, there are holes and incomplete facts in Egyptian hieroglyphs and Sumerian cuneiforms completing the histories and relationships of their deities to make them as complete as a scale to be comparable to the well-known Gods of the Graeco-Roman Empire (a region that covered Greece, Italy, Spain, much of Southern Europe, the Western Rim of Asia and Northern Africa). Plus, several cultures just never bothered to a comprehensive pantheon as defined as the Greek, Norse or Egyptian Pantheons. Even where the research consistently contradicts itself, I try to go by the most official or recurring version or at least by the recurring themes that are prevalent through so many cultures who lived in close proximity to each other. Sometimes, I get the best info by shifting through a given deity's numerous names and titles and as long as the attributes of his spouse remain constant, I can come up with their parentage, history and progeny. Where there are holes on the history itself, such as how a character came from Point A to Point B, I do resort to a bit of literary license. I'm a big fan of the "Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe" handbooks, and I try to create these profiles to be as close to their style as possible. This site is not meant to be an inventory of every appearance of that character but to provide likely biographies of mythologically characters and as close to a scenario incorporating their myriad universe counterparts.  

Why does your information different from the Marvel/DC sites?
Because you can't license a mythological character and both Marvel and DC  tend to skew actual mythology so they can license their particular version or likeness of these characters. It is pretty much the same thing the movie industry does when they adapt mythology into big-budget motion pictures. At one time, Marvel seemed to want to stay faithful to mythology, but if their recent handbooks are any indication, they have developed a tendency to convert the characters from myth into highly personalized licensed characters. Personally, as a purist, and as a writer of fiction myself, I think the characters are much better as they are. The guide you are here at now is an effort to give faithful bios to these mythological characters as accurately as possible with just the right skewing of the comics to be more faithful to the mythology, and a bit less to the comics. What you see here is 80% consecutive research, 15% logic and assumptive research and 5% creative license merging  to fill in missing info not found in the research or to better explain the legends in a more coherent easy-to-follow sense. Bottom line, in order to configure many of these deities into compatible biographies, some of but not all of their cultural and religious traits have been re-examined and re-deciphered into becoming more three-dimensional beings. 

Did these figures really exist?

My opinion is that several of these figures were based on lost and forgotten god-kings and warriors. If you read the Saxon Genealogies or poured through the ancestry of the Royal Family of England, you will find Odin was based on the ancient Saxon King Wotan who predates King Arthur. Zeus, on the other hand, possibly could  refer to an ancient pre-Hellenic ruler whose history was connected to his descendants and other similar rulers. The Hindu, Chinese, Japanese and Mexican cultures deified their ancient divine ancestors while incidents like the Trojan War were possibly based on real events glorified and embellished through oral retellings until finally inscribed for all to read. The Celtic and Finnish myths were repeated mouth to mouth for thousands of years and when they were finally written down, the Early Catholic Church had them rewritten as they were finally recorded.

Where did you get the idea for the site?

I've been supplying mythological info for the Marvel Appendix website from basically the same month I was introduced to the Internet as a valuable tool for research until it was decided "mythological-faithful" was no longer a prerequisite, but it's not my site and I can't give the characters the full details they deserve there. I've also got a post at All Experts for answering mythological and paranormal questions. I've seen a lot of wonderful myth sites out there, and some very weak ones, and I wanted to create the kind of site I wanted to see. It hasn't been an easy job because I'm just not that bright at times and I make a lot of dumb mistakes. I've been helped and supported along by several friends such as Stephanie Pennington (web design), Diane Amantea and Amanda Collins (emotional support), Michael Hoskins (tech support), Matt Burton (DC Comics History), Galen Blackpool (Legendary Journeys expertise) and Stuart Vandal (pics). 

Marvel Gods vs. DC Gods vs. Legendary Journeys Gods.....

In my opinion, Marvel formerly did the best job in portraying the scope, power, relationships and likely modern histories of the gods of Earth. The gods in the Hercules/Xena TV series were just as wonderfully adapted, and highlighted by remarkable costumes and talented actors. When it comes to playing gods in motion pictures, Hollywood seems to be stuck on the belief that the gods only wore togas, but Rob Tapert and Sam Raimi tossed out that notion in the "Hercules: The Legendary Journeys" TV-series (and Hollywood picked it up up again with remakes of "The Odyssey" and "Jason and the Argonauts"). However, Kevin Sorbo's portrayal of Hercules was of a big boy scout while the mythological Hercules was very much like as he is in the Marvel Universe, brash, head strong and a bit self-centered. There are several things I find at fault with the gods in the DC Universe. One,  they're often reduced to Wonder Woman supporting characters,  two, they are no where near as powerful as their Marvel Comic counterparts (but then neither were the Legendary Journeys" versions) and three,  the writers and creators often rewrite whole myths and plot points to fit their stories. Their Circe acts and behaves much more like the witch Medea than the actual deity. Another thing, the current DC Universe was been built on characters obtained from Fox Features Syndicate, Charlton Comics, Fawcett Publications and others so there is no way of truly figuring how just how many appearances its gods have made in the still expanding and still being altered continuity. The "Crisis of Infinite Earths" and "War Of the Gods" storylines have tried to address these changes but have actually contributed to an even more convoluted and contradictory timeline.   

How do you choose photos to pose as the likeness of the gods?

First off, I decided to do this to be universe neutral so that this site wasn't specific to Marvel, DC or anyone else, although I did choose some significant "Legendary Journeys" actors and some of these faces are inspired directly from Marvel Comics artwork. I usually try to go to the actor or actress who has been the most faithful to the character (classic Steve Reeves over Kevin Sorbo for Hercules, Isabella Rosselini as Athena from "The Odyssey"), or I get inspiration from the given artwork to that character (which explains why some of the Mesopotamian Gods so far have Semitic characteristics). Sometimes I get influenced by actors who have already played nearly identical TV/Movie roles (Linda Gray from "Dallas" as the beleaguered wife Hera). With all the fair to weak actresses that have played Aphrodite over the years, I went with Reese Witherspoon whose "Legally Blonde" character, Elle Woods, was one goddess degree off, and because she is a genuine natural beauty who doesn't use excessive make-up. (Same reason I chose Sienna Guillory ("Helen of Troy") as Helen over Diane Kruger ("Troy") ). When I was in high school, I used to make lists of the best actors and actresses to play the super-heroes, and I still kind of use that same sort of non-specific "casting call" to choose the best possible celebrities (preferably obscure or forgotten actors over major stars)  to create the best visual depictions of the deities that will appear on this site. Unfortunately, I'm sometimes limited by the amount of decent pictures of an obscure actor versus a more popular one and sometimes the type of characters a given actor plays gravitates him to a given deity (Orlando Bloom as Lugh), and, no, none of the celebs seen here have commented to me on their likeness on this website.

Why didn't you include a god's appearance in a certain TV Series/movie/book/comic?

Because I'm trying to create bios based on the format of Marvel Comics' original "Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe" series rather than an inventory of every appearance out there. I'm sure there are even appearances out there that I'm not aware of. It is far more easier to to explain a character's motivations to another than it is to describe every encounter involved.

Another point, several writers usually use mythological names to name characters of their own creation without expecting them to be the same beings. This is very obvious in the Conan novels by Robert E. Howard and the "before written history" adventures in the Marvel and DC Universes. In this case, I may give the history of the pretender or imposter and leave the link between the god and imposter unconfirmed (as in the Dagon and Anubis profiles), or I may just clarify the distinction under "Clarifications." It just depends on the likelihood and probability of the two being one and the same.

Why merge the universes in one timeline?

It's cleaner and less confusing. (And don't we wish everyone did live in one consecutive timeline.) What's odd is that the different continuities and franchises don't contradict each other and rather compliment each other very well.

The comparison of One True God to "gods?"

My take on this is rather similar to that of the Marvel Universe: that there is an all-powerful guiding force to the universe and that the beings worshipped as gods by mortal man are aware of His presence, His prominence and His power. In some instances, a retired deity can become religious and believe in Him and His son. My fictionalized interpretation in the Marvel and DC Universes is that the gods are physical beings that were worshipped by mortal man and that "god" (small "g") is the occupation of these beings nor the name or title of their collective races, but a title belonging and owned by the figure from Judeo-Christian faith.  

How do the "Percy Jackson and the Olympians" compare with the mythological versions?

I'm not completely familiar with the Percy Jackson books. I've got nothing against them; I just don't read that much fiction, but going by the movie, I think Richard Riordan has his own take on the myths or he's tweaking details to create situations and plot points. A few examples:

How do the "Legendary Journeys" compare with the mythological versions?

Like I said, Sorbo's Hercules is a boy scout, a far cry from the myth. Another thing, Sorbo's Hercules was not time period specific; he was meeting characters like Caesar, King Arthur, Morrigan and Gilgamesh who lived several millennia apart while being contemporary with Xena whose existence was nearly preclusive to the reigns of Julius Caesar and Claudius. However, like Hercules, Xena's "life" was stretched even further across time to include the time periods of King David, Goliath, Helen of Troy, Beowulf, Cecrops, Queen Boudicea and Odysseus. However, the "Legendary Journeys" episode, "Yes, Virginia, There Is A Hercules" confirms that the timeline of the series can be a fictional TV series in a fictional reality so I'm not taking all these all these appearances at face value. The Hercules in the Marvel Universe can't even recall major details in his own myths so it is possible, but not unreasonable, to suppose some but not all of the "Legendary Journeys" could have appeared in the boundaries of the timeline of the Marvel Universe. 

Are Xena and Gabrielle real/lesbian undertones?

Xena ("avenger") is a name that did come from Greece, but Gabrielle's name ("heroine of God") comes from the Hebrew religion. Neither of them exist in mythology and are both copyrighted to Renaissance Pictures, the motion picture agency connected to Rob Tapert and Sam Raimi. As far as the "big" question, my take is that they had a very "close" relationship that had "lesbian" traits, but they both preferred members of the opposite sex instead of each other.

What's with the Superhero profiles?

Why not? After the first original "Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe" series, I had created several more-detailed and elaborate "Handbook"-style entries for Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and others in order to challenge my resourceful muscle. The "Who's Who in the DC Universe" series was interesting and informative, but it wasn't very in-depth, it strayed often to non-canon characters and it didn't give a true picture of the DC Universe. It was basically a reference series to  the characters of DC Comics than a true handbook guide of the DC Universe. As much as I would like to divulge more detailed histories like this for more DC characters, I'm sticking to the more iconic characters and a few cursory characters influenced by mythology. Check my links page for sites on more DC Universe devoted profile sites.

Can you help me get some of the books you have listed?

I haven't the time or finances to get all the books that I want. Your best bet is to check with a local top book retailer for some of the more current books and sites like Abe Books for obtaining out-of-print books.