The Religious Affiliation of
Richard Rennselaer

Religion: anti-nuclear arms activist CBR Scale: S

Name: Overrider

Alter Ego: Richard Rennselaer

Classification: villain villain  

Publisher(s): Marvel

First Appearance: Captain America Annual #8 (Sep. 1986): "Tess-One"

Creators: Mark Gruenwald, Mike Zeck, John Beatty, Joe Rubinstein

Super? (Has Super Powers/Special Abilities/Technology): Yes

Number of Appearances: 4

Teams/Affiliations: S.H.I.E.L.D.

Enemy of: Captain America, Nick Fury, Wolverine, Reggie, Adametco

Ally: TESS-1

Gender: male

Richard Rennselaer wanted to eradicate America's nuclear arms arsenal. Although anti-nuclear arms activism is often associated with broader peace activism and pacifism, it is not clear in this peculiar case, that Rennselaer was a pacifist or peace activist in the true sense. His concerns seem to be more narrow than that.

Richard Rennselaer is a former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent whose son developed nuclear psychosis, a total withdrawal from reality due to a fear that the world will end at any moment due to nuclear destruction.

Desperate to help his son, Rennselaer decided to dismantle the nation's entire nuclear missile system. He was secretly a mutant with the power to control machinery, and he really thought he could accomplish his goal.

For the purpose of this discussion, we're ignoring the precise method Rennselaer planned to use for ridding America of nuclear arms. He wanted to launch all of the weapons simultaneously and bury them in the ocean. He seemed not to consider the very likely possibility that Russia would interpret such a launch as an attack and would immediately launch a nuclear counter-attack. Rennselaer's plan, whatever its merits, was ultimately thwarted by Captain America and Wolverine.

Although Richard Rennselaer (who dubbed himself "Overrider") can be classified as a "villain" because his illegal actions brought him into conflict with two super-heoes, he probably can't be regarded as "evil." His actions were really only motivated by a desire to help his son. However misguided his actions were, the simple truth is many people around the world would agree with his end goal, and even those who disagree with him can understand his desire to help his own child who was in great suffering. Rennselaer might be called an "anti-nuclear arms activist," but it is interesting that unlike most such activists, Rennselaer was driven less by ideology than pragmatism. The existence of nuclear arms has little or no actual impact on the lives of most people, including those who argue for their eradication. But for Rennselaer, the existence of these weapons of mass destruction had a very real, very personal negative impact.

Does the fact that Rennselaer's actions were motivated by a personal situation rather than purely ideological concerns make him more or less noble than other activists? Individual readers will decide the answer to that question for themselves. But what is clear is that being an anti-nuclear arms activist wasn't a long-time part of Rennselaer's identity and probably wouldn't be considered his "religion" except in a loose, tenuous sense. Had Rennselaer been unable to attempt any direct action and had his son simply outgrown his nuclear psychosis, it is likely that Rennselaer would have forgotten about his desire to eradicate nuclear weapons and simply moved on this his life.

This character is in the following story which has been indexed by this website:
Captain America Annual #8 (Sep. 1986): "Tess-One"

Suggested links for further research about this character and the character's religious affiliation: