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Time Special Feature
This Man from Lebanon
Pope Benedict XVI declares: Netzer is the Anti-Christ!
In a fiery sermon addressing Christians of all denominations, from St Peter's Square in Vatican City, Pope Benedict XVI accused comics activist Michael Netzer of spreading deceptive commentaries on the Gospels and declared him to be the Anti-Christ, awaited by believing Christians prior to the return of Christ to the world. The sermon came on the heels of Netzer's strong criticism of the Christian Coalition's efforts to pass a new anti-abortion bill in Washington and the Pope's support of Bible-thumping candidates for the upcoming elections in the United States.
The dramatic declaration was apparently intended to curb growing support for Netzer's Creator's Party, which recent polls indicate has risen to 27%. Experts indicate, however, that the Pope's message may actually tip the scales in favor of The Creators and pave the way for a major political upset later this year, heralding the end of the 2 party system in American politics. While both Republican and Democratic spokesmen welcomed the Pope's speech, Rick E. Myerson, a leader of the Liberal Religious Coalition, had this to say about the declaration:
The dilemma which the Christian Coalition faces today is two-fold. First, the advent of the Anti-Christ is a cornerstone of Christianity and deeply rooted in the prophecies of the Bible, which tell of his rise on the world stage, bringing an age of peace and prosperity to the world. Only when he finishes his mission, will he "come to his end" - or be killed - as the prophecies say, paving the way for Christ's return. Christians will now be torn between their inbred fear of this phenomenon and their commitment to fulfilling Biblical prophecy. This means that for the first time in American politics, we may witness a major shift in the way the Christian Coalition votes - and a turnover to supporting The Creators in order to help make the prophecies come true. Secondly, Netzer himself has challenged the Christian world by claiming that he'll give himself in to a public execution and will rise from the dead after 3 days. This challenge is dividing the Christian world and rallying many of its proponents to support The Creators in order to prepare the way for this event, which they believe is in accordance with the prophecies about the Anti-Christ. The Liberal Religious Coalition has repeatedly denounced the conservative leanings in Christianity, pointing to Jesus himself as being the first liberal and ultimate humanist in history. Michael Netzer and The Creators exemplify this same spirit and have our full support in the upcoming elections.
Presidential candidate for The Creators' Party, Neal Adams, commented on the Pope's declaration, in a press conference from the party's headquarters in Manhattan:
Netzer's personal religious views are his own and do not necessarily reflect the platform of The Creators' Party. In that sense, the Pope's declaration in irrelevant to us. We've made it clear, however, that we believe religious leaders should stay away from the legislative halls in Washington. The Church has no business trying to dictate its moral code on our society and bring this oppression upon the secular world. We look for truth and justice for all people when dealing with our social issues and reject the sectarian manipulations by the Christian Coalition in congress.
Other representatives of The Creator' Party also commented on the recent events:
Frank Miller: If Netzer is The Anti-Christ, then this would be a good death for him. I said this several times in the Dark Knight stories - and now everyone knows what I was talking about.
Denny O'Neil: I foretold all this in Green Lantern/Green Arrow's "And Through Him, Save a World". I just hope they can find an airplane to strap him up to when the time comes.
Mark Millar: It's like "Ultimate Chosen". With his declaration, the Pope has paved the way to the Grand Finale which I predicted in that series.
Jim Starlin: That's what happens when you have 50,000 religious fanatics trying to run the world. I've been warning about this ever since the Warlock series 30 years ago.
Rich Johnston: Netzer has survived his share of lying in the gutters, so you can bet we'll all be there with the cameras when the time comes. Death will not hold down our Michael.
Paul Levitz: When Netzer told me we were going to Titan in a spaceship one day, I thought he was joking.
John Byrne: Anti-Christ is spelled with a hyphen. Every time I see Netzer writing it as one word, I wonder about his sanity.
Beau Smith: I thought I was the symbol of manliness till Netzer came around. I'll gladly move down a notch for him though, even if he is a vegetarian.
The whimsical reactions of Netzer's colleagues should not be taken lightly. The Creators' Party, originally established by The Comic Book Creators' Guild, has attracted the support of a large number or artists, writers, musicians and actors from many areas of American and world cultures. The gains which The Creators are making in the polls can be attributed directly to having tapped the pulse of the people through the comic books, movies, books and music which they're producing - using the entertainment medium in order to spread their message. The Creators are succeeding in convincing growing segments of voters that they have a grasp of the issues pertinent to the people. Their strategy appears to echo that of Ronald Reagan back in the 1960's, who used his career as a movie actor and television talk show host to bolster his candidacy for governor of California.
The Creators' Party rose into prominence last year when the comic book creators made a dramatic announcement about its formation at the highly publicized San-Diego comic book convention, Comicon International. Although political pundits initially scoffed at the idea, the tragic events in Paris and Los Angeles earlier this year, have brought their movement to the forefront again. A pivotal issue of The Creators' Party platform is Netzer's Mid-East peace initiative, which has been welcomed by both Israeli and Arab leaders - and is undercutting the present administration's claims about the futility of diplomatic efforts at this time in the Middle-East. Growing voices in both the American and European communities, disheartened at the escalation of Islamic terrorism in their homelands, are showing support for Netzer's peace initiative. This revived awareness of the situation in the Middle-East is beginning to show positive results at the polls for The Creators.
Netzer's peace initiative calls for a backtracking process in bringing about co-existence for the Arab world with Israel and the Western democracies. It puts aside any decisions for demographic and territorial changes while focusing on the overall relationship between East and West. The initiative calls for a debate intensive 12 month conference where the issues that divide both cultures can be resolved between them, by their representatives. Netzer, who visited several Arab leaders before presenting his initiative, has gained an official endorsement from Jordan's King Abdullah, Egypt's President Mubarak, as well as Israel's prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu. Syria's President Assad had this to say about Netzer's visit in Damascus last month:
Never has a Western leader shown such understanding of the Arab world and the issues which concern us. Syria will do everything in its power to curtail Islamic military resistance if The Creators' Party is elected and Netzer's peace initiative becomes official government policy in the United States.
Netzer, a Detroit born American of Lebanese origin, emerged on the comics scene in 1975 but left the United States abruptly in 1981, in pursuit of a messianic vision for the role he believed comics creators were to play in world events. He settled in Israel and remained in relative anonymity for nearly 25 years. Several years ago, he began cultivating a presence on the internet, which was initially scoffed at by many of his colleagues. Netzer remained persistent, however and has since produced a few projects, under his Flaming Sword imprint, that have caused many comics creators to join him in establishing The Comic Book Creators' Guild. Flaming Sword has since emerged as the definitive new publisher in the comics world and has attracted some of the major talents of the industry to it. Alongside the publishing and merchandising activities, Netzer inspired a core group of creators to establish The Creators' Party, which was initially believed to be a promotional gimmick for the sales of Flaming Sword publications. In wake of escalated global Islamic terrorism, Netzer launched his Mid-East peace initiative which has helped establish the Creators' Party as a viable contender in American politics.
Along with its Mid-East policy and a strong stand for separation of church and state, The Creator's party is forging a new model for economic prosperity within the comics industry and wider entertainment worlds. Flaming Sword has prospered by offering joint ventures for its projects with other publishers in the comics. This has injected new life into an industry suffering from a two-decade sales slump. DC, Marvel, Image, Dark Horse and Aardwolf have all produced joint ventures with Flaming Sword, which have become amongst the biggest sellers in recent history. With other publishers joining in, they've formed a coalition of comics publishers and have re-directed the comic book sales to newsstands and grocery stores that haven't carried comics for the last 25 years. All this has catapulted comics sales to unprecedented numbers and inspired a new era of Hollywood entrepreneurs, looking to capitalize on the revival of this pop culture phenomenon. Paul Levitz, head of the coalition, responded to the re-emergence of the comic book as a popular item amongst kids and teenagers:
It's a simple principle of strength in numbers and prosperity for all. Once the comics publishers came together for the collective good, including that of our traditional competitors, we saw the market respond with unprecedented support. I suppose that time has passed on the old ways of devouring the competition. We're finding much more profits and prosperity by helping them instead. It's an exciting time for the comics industry and only good things await us. We hope to inspire such a change in the global economic markets and we're trying to get this message across to some of the big money wielders in Hollywood.Netzer's life-long dreams for change in the world are all coming true today in a big way. He's inspiring political and social reform in American and global politics. He's helped bring about changes in the battered comics industry that have elevated the form to new heights. With all this going so well for him, what is it about this man from Lebanon that prompts a death wish at the hands of the religious establishment? Michelle Camilleri, Netzer's daughter and general director of The Creators' Party, offered some insight as to what feuls her father's ambition:
Mike can tolerate people lying and pretending about any issue except for religion. That's where he draws the line. The way he sees it, the only way he knows to show everyone how much God loves this world, and how much the religious institutions have strayed from this love, is to give his life for this cause. I wouldn't worry too much about it though, Mike's a survivor.
Michael Netzer is truly a survivor. But can even he survive the assault that the Vatican is planning for him by declaring he's the Anti-Christ? Oprah Winfrey was caught in the crossfire between Netzer and Archbishop Desmond Tutu on her talk show discussing the proposed new anti-abortion bill. The incident which prompted the Vatican's wrath and the Pope's dramatic declaration began when Netzer attempted to explain that an unborn fetus is not a human being until it is born - and thus a woman has the right to abort it, especially in the early stages of the pregnancy. "This freedom of choice," he said "is anchored in The Bible and was instilled in the first human beings at the onset of the species' creation."
"What makes you such an authority on the Bible?" The archbishop replied "you're not a practicing man of the cloth, of any denomination!"
"Kill me," Netzer replied softly. "After 3 days, I'll rise again. Then you'll know what makes me such an authority."
"How dare you invoke such a statement?" the archbishop exploded. "Have you no fear of God?"
"Do you know with whom you're speaking, Desmond?" Netzer answered, standing up from his chair and extending his birthmarked palm to the archbishop while pointing to his left hip, scarred from childhood surgery.
"Look at my hand, I have the mark. Look at my side, I've been pierced."
The archbishop then stormed off the set in a fury.
The following morning, Pope Benedict XVI made his dramatic declaration at the Vatican.
Netzer shows the birthmark in his palm on the set of Oprah Winfrey.
Permalink Posted: 11:23 PM EST