Oh, My Pop Culture Religion: Sky Doll’s Spin on Institutional Religion

Cover Art for Sky Doll, Vol. 1

Cover Art for Sky Doll, Vol. 1

A few years ago I came across the comic Sky Doll. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to finish it because it was overtly sexual, and that’s not really my cup of tea, but the story and the characters were interesting so I read it all anyway. One of the most fascinating topics the comic addressed was the religious war between the two female popes (papesses), Agape and Lodovica. They were both meant to represent aspects of religion, yet they didn’t unite people together. Their church tried separating the spiritual side of religion from the carnal side, and it caused pandemonium and chaos for everyone on their planet. Sky Doll shows what happens when people misinterpret the letter of the law versus the spirit of the law (and vice versa).

Spoilers ahead! Also trigger warning for blood and nudity.

On the planet Papathea, there is one main religion that’s practiced, but unfortunately no name is given. It heavily resembles Catholicism, except they have two papesses as officials that are supposed to balance each other. Agape was meant to represent the meaning and intentions behind the discipline and rules of the religion (the spirit of the law), until she was killed by the other papess, Lodovica. Lodovica was meant to be the person who decided which certain actions and conduct were allowed (the letter of the law), but now she uses her religious power to showboat herself for attention.

Having two different papesses isn’t a bad idea; in this case, it would have continued to work if one didn’t get jealous and kill the other one. Sadly the story never explains what exactly Agape did differently over Lodovica, but they both marketed their image as trinkets. Their council staged their miracles to gain popularity amongst people as well. So how did they influence people so differently?

Lodovica on an apparition day.

Lodovica performing a staged miracle.

Lodovica became more of a negative influence because she was too focused on dictating what was considered sinful or okay to do in public life. In the beginning of the comic, she lifted the sex ban by saying Sky Dolls (A.I. robots) were a sin-free way of satisfying your needs. Not much is mentioned about what other kind of rules are implicated, but her constant presence/image is seen everywhere from pubs to car washes. She became far too obsessed with people worshiping her, and she became more of a brand name than a papess of a faith. We don’t see her going out in public to help anyone; rather, she briefly shows up to be praised, then she disappears. There are no scenes of her speaking to anyone outside of her council, or her leaving her palace-like church. The letter of the law does deal with what behavior is deemed okay, but there also needs to be an example shown by the religious leader. No one knows what Lodovica’s personality is like, let alone if she even believes in the faith she’s supposed to be teaching. Any community based structure will fall if the leader isn’t a part of the community.

There was a good point in the beginning of the comic, where a previous drug addict said that people need a moral code to follow, or else there’d be chaos. While that might be true, in this instance, there was chaos because Lodovica tries too much to control the situation. Violent uproars were caused by Agape’s acolytes, and Lodovica uses her soldiers to stop them. It’s understandable that a leader would try to stop this, since innocent people could get hurt, but she doesn’t try to resolve what issues the acolytes had. They say that they’re attacking Lodovica for Agape’s “disappearance”, (which was caused by her…) but she doesn’t try to deny it publicly, or to gather the revolters and peacefully talk about their grievances. No responsibility is taken for the greater good of the planet, or for her own followers. Rebels continue to attack randomly, but Lodovica just tries to control them instead of either admitting her guilt and resigning, or trying to work with Agape’s followers. When you lose concern for the people of your faith, you start to lose those in your favor, and the religion will quickly end. Lodovica’s story is an example of what happens when people only pay attention to the letter of the law, not to what it’s meant to represent.

Art of Agape.

Art of Agape.

On the other hand, even though Agape is dead, she still has people willing to kill Lodovica in her honor. As mentioned before, she originally started the same way as Lodovica, so how did she gain such faithful acolytes?

Not much of Agape’s history is revealed, so we don’t know what kind of a person she was specifically, but we know what she stood for. When an image of Agape appears in the story, she’s often seen with the Sacred Heart in Catholicism. The Sacred Heart is meant to represent Jesus Christ’s compassion and love for humanity. Since Agape is meant to represent the spirit of the law, it makes sense why she’s almost always seen with one. Understanding the lessons and meaning behind actions and having compassion is part of what she stands for. Someone with sympathy for people could easily gain people for the religion, and would balance out Lodovica’s nature. Even the definition of her name, Agape, refers to the love of God for man and of man for God.

Agape was known to have at least visited another planet, Aqua, where she learned about a different religion and spiritual practices. The leader of this planet says how Agape intended to add parts of their religion into her practices. This shows that she was not only open-minded, but willing to admit that she (and her religion) were not the absolute way of being. She’s a papess, but she’s also imperfect, and willing to learn new ways of practicing faith. Because she was relatable and open to another person’s ideas, she would appeal to many others, and gain new followers as well.

Both papesses could have the same personalities, but they treated the public and their followers very differently. Religion is meant to inspire people, and give examples of its teachings. To motivate people to become better, and help others as well. It’s sad that Agape’s followers ignore what kind of example she was trying to make, ignoring the letter of the law, and start a war in her name. Maybe if Lodovica admits how vulnerable she is, she can start to earn people’s respect instead of controlling others to gain admiration.

Have you ever read Sky Doll? Have any other points to add? Be sure to give us your opinion in the comments below!

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