Yes. Jewish Superheroes Do Exist

Published: March 31st 2010

Magneto, Sabra & The Thing
Pic: Jim Lee, Scott Willam, Mike Perkins, Andrea Di Vito
Strip from Remembrance of Things Past
Pic: J. H. William III

When I was a kid I loved my comics. I was, and still am, a Marvel kid. Spiderman and Wolverine were my favourite and I build a pretty complete, and valuable, collection of The Amazing Spiderman comics starting at issue 6 till well over 300. Unfortunately those were given away by my mom when she decided, without discussion, that I’ve outgrown them. But that’s a conversation for another day and another psychiatrist.


Having been engrossed in this world of radioactive spiders and adamantium claws, I never once thought about the background of the characters. Their beliefs and religion. Only once I was introduced to Magneto, and his background story, did I realize that I can’t think of a single other superhero that’s Jewish. And the only one I knew of now was a villain.


Of course, since I was strictly a Marvel kid, and never went near anything resembling a DC character, I was missing one half of all superhero and villain characters. So maybe there was a chance that DC stood for David Cohen, (it doesn’t. It stands for Detective Comics), or that Superman, which I knew of but didn’t know well, was a Jew since there is evidence (created by Jews, found in a basket like Moses, his father’s Hebrew sounding name, Kal-El). Alas, there is no concrete proof.


But how could it be that an industry dominated by Jews: Stan Lee, Bob Kane, Jack Kirby, Jerry Seigel, Joe Shuster, and many others, created so many characters and none were Jewish?


With Comic-Con here last week it got me thinking again about this question. So I decided to do some light research, and found a list of characters from both Marvel and DC Comics, who are actually Jewish. Now there are a lot of other characters, more than I expected, who are Jewish under different comic book brands, but I decided to focus on the more known ones:


Batwoman: Real name Kathy Kane, is the counterpart to Batman and was created by Bob Kane and Sheldon Moldoff of DC Comics. While there was no mention of Batwoman being Jewish when she was first created in 1956 until she “retired” in 1964, when she was re-introduced in 2006 her character was prominently featured as Jewish and lesbian, in efforts to connect to modern day readers. So while we can’t have Batman, we do have his better half. And no, I don’t mean Robin.


The Thing: Real name Benjamin J. Grimm, is a Marvel character who is the founding member of the Fantastic Four. Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, he first appeared in 1961. Unlike Batwoman, The Thing was conceived as a Jewish character from the beginning, but there was no mention of his Jewish background until August 2002 in Fantastic Four (Vol.3) #56 in a story titled Remembrance of Things Past.


Related articles: (Comics, superhero, batwoman, magneto, marvel)
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