Growing up in a religious environment leaves a lasting impression, with people using religion as comfort or as justification. Believing in a higher power can provide a positive experience, but it can also become a prison. There are a variety of religious superheroes and Wolfsbane is a character that’s struggled with her faith. As a member of the X-Men, Rahne Sinclair’s mutant powers have conflicted with her religious beliefs. But over time she was able to reconcile who she was with what she believed in.
Wolfsbane was born in Scotland and raised by pastor named Reverend Craig. She was brought up to be protestant, specifically Scots presbyterian. The pastor was abusive, beating religion into Rahne from a young age. As the abuse formed the basis of her faith, Rahne became emotionally repressed and withdrawn. She was made to feel guilty about herself. When her mutant powers were activated, Reverend Craig led an angry mob against her and intended to burn Rahne at the stake. She was rescued by Moira MacTaggert and eventually joined the New Mutants.
Attending Professor X’s school allowed Wolfsbane to be around people who were like her, but she still felt shy and ashamed. She managed to form a strong friendship with Danielle Moonstar, who established a psychic link with Rahne’s wolf form.
Wolfsbane’s Christianity led to her feeling uncomfortable with herself. She saw herself as an abomination, as her wolf form was considered demonic by the people who’d raised her in childhood. Rahne’s mutant ability is a type of lycanthropy that isn’t magical in nature. She can turn into a humanoid wolf or a traditional wolf. In either form, her senses are increased to superhuman levels. Rahne found it extremely difficult to reconcile being a good Christian with a side that she considered to be monstrous.
This belief also manifested in the way she dealt with supernatural and mythological creatures. For example, she didn’t get on with her teammate Magik and found it hard to accept the presence of Asgardians. Her beliefs were also at odds with the joy and freedom she felt when using her powers.
As she matured, Wolfsbane grew to accept herself and take comfort in her religion. She came to understand that her powers weren’t a curse and could be used for good. Where once she was ashamed of being a wolf, Rahne took pride in her appearance. She became attracted to the shapeshifting wolf prince Hrimhari, and though this disturbed her at first, he eventually became the father of her child.
Rahne’s journey to accepting herself culminated in reuniting with Reverend Craig, who turned out to be her father. He condemned her again, but she chose to rise above his hate. At the time, she’d been recovering from being brainwashed, but the conditioning kicked in again and she devoured her father. When she awoke, Rahne had no memory of what she’d done, and the X-Men decided not to remind her for fear of causing psychological damage.
Wolfsbane’s character development can be applied to anyone who has suffered from a crisis of faith. She was able to move on from the abuse she’d suffered and develop into a confident mother. At the same time, she took strength from her religion, using it as motivation to help people.