The Jewish Daily Forward had a great article this morning in honor of Superman’s 75th birthday offering 10 reasons why Superman is really Jewish.
We’ve blogged before about the ‘Jewishness’ of superheroes and comic books, and of the creators behind them. What many people may not be aware of is just how much the Jewish backgrounds of many of the creators inspired the figures themselves and their stories. A great example is Captain America, created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby. The very first Captain America comic debuted in December, 1940, a year before the attack on Pearl Harbor, and a full year into World War II. The comic’s first cover featured the protagonist punching Nazi leader Adolf Hitler in the jaw; and according to Wikipedia, that first issue sold nearly one million copies.
Simon and Kirby were deeply disturbed by what they were hearing about Hitler and the war in Europe, and comics became for them, as they did for many Jewish young people at the time, an outlet for their emotions and feelings. It gave them a way to participate, and at times, depict their own patriotic fantasies of involvement in the defeat of Hitler. That is why those first issues all have Captain America battling Nazis, and the very first issue featuring Captain America giving a super-zets to Hitler himself.
Anyway … check out the Forward’s article on the Jewishness of Superman. It contains some interesting background information, and just might change your perspective on the origins of one of the great superheros … or maybe not. But still fun to read, nonetheless!
Update – 6/16 – HaHaretz also released an article today regarding Superman and his Jewish origins. Check it out.