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Legendary Jewish Superheroes 

Do legendary Jewish superheroes need forgiveness for working on the high holy days?

By Geeks StaffPublished 7 years ago 9 min read
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In many respects you could say that the characters from the Torah were the superheroes of the previous century. Mythic figures like Moses, King Soloman, and Samson served as the superheroes for a generation over a millennia ago. It could be argued that Moses was the ultimate comic book hero who starred in the the second volume of the greatest comic book story ever written: the Jewish Torah. It should be no surprise that the entire superhero archetype was invented by Jews, and the genre has featured so many different Jewish creators. During the high holy days, do Jewish superheroes need forgiveness or have their names already been written in the book of life for their heroic deeds? Are they really judged on Yom Kippur like the rest of the tribe? If you believe any of this, then it's the time of the year to recognize the legendary Jewish superheroes.

Moon Knight 

While Moon Knight might have gotten his powers thanks to an Egyptian God, his true origin comes from a more Hasidic tradition. Born in Chicago, Marc Spector was a Rabbi's wayward son. When he grew up he pursued a life of combat training to become a heavyweight boxer, US Marine, and an international mercenary. On an mission to Egypt, Marc was injured in a fight and later discovered by Egyptians who took him before the statue of Khonshu. As he died he received a vision of the Egyptian god Khonshu who offered him a second chance at life if he becomes his avatar on Earth. Together they become the superhero Moon Knight but, despite trading one God for another, he'll always be a one of the most legendary Jewish superheroes in our hearts.

Magneto 

While mainly a villain, Magneto has also served as an antihero. He has, in many cases, joined forces with the X-Men, making him one of the most powerful and legendary Jewish superheroes. Magneto was originally born Max Eisenhardt in the late 1920s to a middle-class German-Jewish family. The persecution Max suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime came to form a great deal of how he would handle the future racial tension between humans and mutants. Max's father, Jakob Eisenhardt, was a decorated World War I veteran but despite this he still suffered persecution. Max and his family fled to Poland where they were captured during the German invasion of Poland and sent to the Warsaw Ghetto. Max's father, sister, and mother were executed and buried in a huge mass grave. Despite surviving, Max was captured again and sent to Auschwitz. He would eventually escape from Auschwitz and his mutant powers manifested not long after. He then dedicated to using his powers to ensure this kind of atrocity would never happen to his mutant brothers and sisters.

The Thing

The Thing is Jewish, but this fact was not revealed until four decades after his initial creation. It was an early taboo in comics to reveal a character's religion and Marvel Comics did not explore The Thing's religious background until many years after character's creation. The Thing's early life was modeled after creator Jack Kirby's upbringing on New York City's Lower East Side. While The Thing largely ignored his heritage, he did later come to embrace it. He even had his own Bar Mitzvah 13 years after his transformation to mark his Jewish coming of age in his second, more rocky life, becoming a fan favorite and legendary Jewish superhero.

Nite Owl

Technically speaking there's no canonical proof that Nite Owl is actually a Jewish superhero, but with a name like Daniel Dreiberg, how could he not be? Daniel was born in 1945 to an abusive father who often beat his mother. Daniel became an introvert who was fascinated by electronics and made numerous electronic gadgets. Using his technical prowess, Daniel managed to track down the original Nite Owl into his Owl Cave. Impressed with his technical skills, he allowed Daniel to inherit the title and become the second person to take up the mantel of Nite Owl. Using the fortune left behind by his father after he died from a heart attack, Daniel built a huge arsenal of gadgets and weapons to help him battle against crime.

Doc Samson 

Born as Leonard Skivorski in Oklahoma, Doc Samson was raised Jewish and even attended a yeshiva. Leonard growing up respecting his father for his pursuit of academia, but resenting him for his extramarital affairs. He would eventually wind up becoming a professor and psychiatrist. He became good friends with Bruce Banner after becoming his therapist, but after accidentally exposing himself to some siphoned gamma radiation from the Hulk, he was granted super strength with the length of his hair determining how much strength he'd have. So he adopted the biblical namesake of Doc Samson and has become one of the greatest allies of the Hulk making him one of the strongest and most legendary Jewish superheroes.

Sabra

One of the very few Israeli superheroes in the Marvel Universe, Sabra was born as Ruth Bat-Seraph near Jerusalem. When her mutant power manifested she was moved over to kibbutz run by the Israeli government so should could train to become the first super powered mutant agent for the Mossad. In addition to serving as a government agent she also worked as a police officer to subdue potential super powered terrorist threats. While Sabra mainly stays near Israel to patrol it's border, she has traveled abroad to help other teams of superheroes. Her mutant powers enhance all of her physical abilities like strength, speed, agility, endurance, and stamina to a superhuman level. She is able to withstand high caliber rifle fire with little injury and her Mossad training has only made her even deadlier.

Batwoman 

Batwoman was originally not Jewish, but when the character of Kathy Kane was reintroduced in the New 52 she was reinvented as Kate Kane. In order to update the character and make her appeal to a wider audience DC Comics made her into a lesbian and had her develop a relationship with Gotham PD officer Renee Montoya. They also revealed that she comes from a Jewish background and even celebrates Hanukkah with Renee Montoya. While the character has been criticized as being a pandering ploy for diversity, many people have lauded the updated version Batwoman as being a progressive way to add an LGBTQ and legendary Jewish superhero to the Bat Family.

Iceman

Iceman was born Robert Louise Drake, but prefers to go by the name Bobby. He grew up in Port Washington, Long Island. His father was Irish Catholic while his mother was Jewish. This dual identity would come to define him throughout his superhero career as a member of the X-Men. He would always be straddling the line between two worlds. Later it was revealed that Iceman was also gay and had been hiding his sexuality so he could better assimilate as opposed to fighting dual battles against mutant bigotry as well as homophobia. But Iceman has managed to embrace his many identities to become one of the richest characters in comics and one of the most legendary Jewish superheroes.

Kitty Pryde 

Magneto isn't the only Jewish mutant with Holocaust ties in the world of the X-Men. Kitty Pryde was born Katherine Anne in Deerfield, Illinois. She is of Jewish descent thanks to her paternal grandfather who was held in concentration camp by the Nazis in World War II. Kitty Pryde has become one of the most crucial members of the X-Men,appearing in numerous titles and becoming a defining fan favorite character. While her Jewish identity has not been a big factor for her character there was one especially stirring story where she discussed how a former boyfriend harassed a passing Rabbi with a anti-semitic slur and how angry it made her. Her fight for acceptance and battling against prejudice in all forms has endeared her to fans for decades. We can only hope she'll find a way to convert Colossus so we can see the world's first Jewish superhero wedding.

Volcana

Volcana started life as Marsha Rosenberg, a chubby middle-class Jewish girl who lived in Denver, Colorado. During her high school years she and her best friend Mary MacPherran were picked on by the popular girls. The two outcasts were best friends who stayed close to each other for comfort. But everything changed when the cosmic being, The Beyonder, teleported the entire city of Denver to the planet of Battleworld. The two caught the attention of Dr. Doom who offered them super powers. Marsha took the power of Magma and become Volcana. After the Secret Wars she aided the Fantastic Four and switched sides from Dr. Doom to start performing hero work, becoming one of the most legendary Jewish superheroes.

Ultra Boy

Image via DeviantArt user batgirl39

Ultra Boy comes from the far future and, while technically speaking he isn't defined as being explicitly Jewish, he's easily the most Jewish superhero ever created. His entire backstory is basically the story of Jonah and the whale adapted into a superhero narrative. Jo Nah comes from the planet Rimbor and gained his cosmic powers by being swallowed by a space whale or "ultra-energy beast." Essentially it's a space whale. While in the space whale's belly he was exposed to radiation. So Ultra Boy is the superhero version of the classic Jewish myth of Jonah and the whale. After emerging from the space whale's belly he was given the powers of superhuman strength, flight, and improved x-ray vision that could see through lead. He basically has the same set of powers as Superman with the catch being he can only use them one at a time. It's no wonder that he was created by Jerry Siegel, one of the creators of Superman.

Golem

The fabled Jewish clay monster of myth is also a Marvel superhero. Golem was created in the 16th century by Judah Loew Ben Bezalel. It was created in the 16th century to defend the Jewish people from their persecutors in Prague. After it finished protecting the people of Prague, Golem became dormant. But was resurrected years later thanks to Professor Abraham Adamson who used his life force to bring the Golem back to life. Drawing its power and strength from the Earth, Golem is nearly unstoppable. He became a member of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Howling Commandos monster force. Although ironically enough Golem has faced against The Thing multiple times and the two never become friends despite having so much in common with both being legendary Jewish superhero rock monsters.

Colossal Boy

Art via DC Comics

If there's one trait that Colossal Boy shares with his Hebrew tradition, it's survival. This guy has managed to survive not one, or two, but three reboots of the Legion of Superheroes comic series. Technically he wasn't conceived as Jewish, but because his civilian name is Gim Allon, writer Paul Levitz made him identify as Jewish because Allon is a common Israeli surname. After being mutated by a radioactive meteorite, Gim gained the superhuman ability to grow in size. Kind of like the DC comics version of Ant-Man. Ironically enough he maintained a longstanding crush on fellow superhero legionnaire Shrinking Violet, who's power is of course shrinking. Opposites do attract.

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Geeks Staff

The biggest bunch of geeks gathered in one 12,000 sqft warehouse in Northern New Jersey who spend their whole day just being geeks.

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