Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Famous Jewish Superheros

When I was a kid there used to be a joke that the shortest book in the library was entitled "Famous Jewish Sports heroes." Of course, we know there are more than a few names in that book including Sandy Koufax, Mark Spitz, and the Houston Astros' Brad Ausmus to whom I am somehow distantly related. My own grandfather Sam Friedman is in the Candlepin Bowling Hall of Fame.

Lately, I have been reintroduced to the universe of comic book superheroes by my soon-to-be five year old. It is almost impossible to follow the history of any one superhero in any coherent way. Although the editors seem to make an effort to keep some sort of continuity, they often fail. Sometimes, they simply reboot a character with a new story line or a new identity. This process is known as retconning from "retroactive continuity." I was shocked to find out that there are at least three guys who have donned the red Flash suit in the DC universe.

The other thing I have discovered is the staggering number of minor characters. These range from the inexplicable Blue Beetle and Lightning Lad to Elongated Man.

Recently, we received an action figure of Atom Smasher. On checking Wikipedia to get his back story, I discovered that Atom Smasher's secret identity is Albert Rothstein who acquired the ability to control his molecules. Unfortunately, it seems that Albert has had a rough time of it and has dabbled in vigilantism.

More important, though, is that he is Jewish and there are actually a number of Jewish superheroes. The most notable being Benjamin Jacob Grimm (AKA "The Thing") of the Fantastic Four. Magneto, who generally torments X-Men turns out to be a death camp survivor. Magneto is generally seen as a villain although he is really a misunderstood anti-hero. So, I'll claim him as a member in good standing. The others listed here are generally lesser known. I have not investigated who might be orthodox or who reform. I'm guessing you would need to be reform to be a superhero as it is often necessary to work weekends. Nor have I seen any of their names in the annual JUF Book. I suspect being a superhero does not pay all that well.

Now, when I say "It's clobberin' time," I'll do so with an extra bit of pride. Happy Hanukkah, Ben.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Another famous Jewish superhero is Katherine "Kitty" Pryde of the X-Men, codename "Shadowcat". Her grandfather was a holocaust survivor like Magneto. So Magneto isn't the only superpowered Jew in the X-Men stories, there's one on the other side too :)