The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Character
The Acidic Jew
featured in Common Grounds
Moshe Chomsky is better known by his humorously pun-based code-name "The Acidic Jew." As this name implies, Chomsky is a Hasidic Jew.
The "Acidic Jew" was featured in the Common Grounds comic book series, which focused on the goings-on at a coffee shop frequented by many super-heroes and super-powered individuals. The series started out as a small, independent comic, and was later was published by Image Comics (one of the three largest comic book publishers in the United States).
Hasidic Jews are known for their distinctive manner of dress and long beards. They are sometimes known as "ultra-Orthodox Jews" because they are strict adherents to a strongly traditional style of religious Orthodox Judaism. The majority of Orthodox Jews are not Hasidic Jews, but by definition, all Hasidic Jews are Orthodox. Hasidic Jews as a community are known as "Hasidim." There are different sub-groups (which could be classified as "denominations" or "religious bodies") within Hasidic Judaism, although the distinctions between these groups primarily have to do with leadership, geography or organization and would have little significance to outsiders.
Although the Acidic Jew does not refer to himself as a "superhero," he does have a super-power and he is heroic in his actions and intentions to do good for humanity. Jewish superheroes (with varying degrees of religiosity, from devout to ethnic-only) are plentiful. The Acidic Jew, however, is the only Hasidic Jewis super-hero character we are aweare of.
From: Scott Mateo, "Hickman Writing on Common Grounds", published in The Pulse, 2004, posted on ComicCon.com website (http://www.comicon.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic&f=36&t=003069; viewed 12 April 2006):
Troy Hickman has accomplished what many indy writers can only dream of doing: he's gone from creating stapled mini comics to working with one of the coveted Big Three comics publishers. How that happened is like a dream come true. In a past interview with Hickman he told us it was like being in the "right place at the right time." Hickman was set up at WizardWorld in 1997 and [then] Wizard editor Jim McLauchlin discovered his comics, introduced other Wizard staffers to the minis, and featured them in a Wizard article. Then, six years later, McLauchlin was big man on campus at Top Cow and mentioned in a Dynamic Forces interview he'd like to work with Alan Moore, Kevin Smith, and Troy Hickman - among other people. McLauchlin said, "Troy, if you're reading this, get in touch with me!" Needless to say, you didn't have to tell Hickman twice to contact Top Cow. A short time later HOLEY CRULLERS was transformed into COMMON GROUNDS...
THE PULSE: For those who have never heard of your widely acclaimed series, can you tell them what COMMON GROUNDS is about?
TROY HICKMAN: Well, Common Grounds originally began in 1994 as my mini-comic Holey Crullers, a book I did with my old pal Jerry Smith. It deals with a series of donut and coffee shops largely patronized by superheroes and supervillains in a sort of "demilitarized zone." Given the rule against fighting, the stories focus mainly on interaction, dialogue, and characterization. As with most of my work, it's about half comedy and half drama, usually in the same story. All stories are self-contained (though there is a thread of continuity throughout), and there are at least two stories in each issue. I basically try to make it everything you never saw in a superhero comic, but always wanted to...
THE PULSE: OK, I have to ask ... the Acidic Jew. How did you come up with him?
HICKMAN: As you might have guessed, I have an affinity for puns, hence such characters as American Pi, Man-Witch, Volks-Wagner, and yes, the Acidic Jew. In his case, I came up with the name first, but the more I thought through the character, the more I liked the guy, and the more I thought I could do with him. I assume the readers must agree, as he's been one of the most popular characters from the first six issues of CG. Moshe Chomsky is a very decent, pious man, a former resident of a Hacidic [sic] community, who one day inexplicably found himself cursed/blessed with the ability to dissolve anything he touches. Through prayer and concentration, he can turn it off for a few seconds at a time, but it largely keeps him from having a normal life. He sees his "affliction" as a gift from God, though, and goes out into the world to try and do some good. He may be the most noble character in the series. I know he's the one I wish I were more like.
From: Mathan Erhardt, "Common Grounds #3 Review", 04.01.2004, pulblished in Inside Pulse vol. 2 (http://music.insidepulse.com/article.php?contentid=6566; viewed 12 April 2006):
Sanctuary [story title]
Written by: Troy Hickman
Penciled by: Chris Bachalo
Inked by: Aaron Sowd with Tom Bar-Or...
Publisher: Top Cow/Image
For those of you who aren't familiar with Common Grounds it is one of the best comic books being produced today. It centers on a chain of coffee shops that super heroes and villains frequent, as a sort of neutral territory. As a result we get to meet characters and see them when they take off their masks...
he first story in this issue is a nice conversation between the Moshe "Acidic Jew" Chomsky and Deb-U-Ton. . The Acidic Jew is cursed with the power to dissolve anything he touches while Deb-U-Ton is super dense. After a chance meeting while taking care of some muggers Moshe and Deb-U-Ton go to Common Grounds for a snack We learn how they are dealing with their abilities. Acidic Jew doesn't view himself a hero, just a man who is using his abilities to help others. He is a man whose faith has allowed him to temper and live with his acidic touch...
Hickman is a real talent. He has not only managed to take a refreshing look at the superhero genre, but he has managed to create some of the most human heroes to date. Moshe's plight is tough, and Charm and Strangeness' discover is eye opening, to say the least. But you really understand where the characters are coming from. We are witnessing moments in these characters lives, and these moments are priceless.
Acidic Jew is listed on the "Jewish Supers" list at: http://blaklion.best.vwh.net/jew.html. This listing reads simply: "Image . . The Acidic Jew (Common Grounds)."
David Thompson, "Secret Knowledge, Revealed", posted 1 March 2007 on "David Thompson: Culture, Ideas and Comic Books" blog website (http://davidthompson.typepad.com/davidthompson/comic_books/index.html; viewed 15 May 2007):
[A picture of Acidic Jew was included alongside this post.]
Zounds! The religious affiliations of your favourite comic book heroes have finally been documented in a disturbingly thorough database. This improbable cataloguing project may well define a whole new stratum of nerdish preoccupation. But, given the effort involved, it's hard not to be impressed and, dare I say it, just a little curious. I was vaguely aware that Spider-Man is sort-of Protestant, that Ben Grimm is Jewish and that Bruce Wayne seems to have that whole lapsed Catholic thing lurking in the background. And, being an ageless Amazon, Wonder Woman obviously leans toward the Greco-Roman deities.
But, shamefully, I didn't know the names of every prominent Hindu, Sikh or Muslim character, or the issues in which their faith plays a prominent role. And, even worse, I'd forgotten all about Moshe Chomsky, the Acidic Jew. Thankfully, these oversights can now be corrected, complete with sources, discussions and extensive supporting material. Ditto Shintoists, Taoists, Wiccans and adherents of Teutonic Paganism. Naturally, the database also includes extraterrestrial belief systems (e.g. Kryptonian metaphysics and Apokolipsian Darkseid Worship), along with characters who, via circumstances far too involved to relate here, came to meet God Himself.
Those secretly intrigued can search for particular characters by name or see heroes, villains and supporting characters grouped by religious subscription. Now where the hell's my copy of Kingdom Come...?
From: "Religion of Comic Book Characters" forum discussion, started 29 March 2006 on AllSpark.com website (http://www.allspark.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=4168; viewed 1 June 2007):
post Mar 29 2006, 08:38 AM
I found this great resource entirely by accident:
post Mar 13 2007, 06:17 PM
It cracks me up to no end that Image had a character called "The Acidic Jew". That's just wrong...
From: "The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Characters" forum discussion, started 27 June 2007 on "City of Heroes" website (http://boards.cityofheroes.com/showflat.php?Cat=0&Number=8576731; viewed 6 July 2007):
06/27/07 02:31 PM
The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Characters [link to: http://boards.cityofheroes.com/showflat.php?Cat=0&Number=8576731]
[reader comments posted in response to this, at:
Common Grounds. I have been trying to find the name of that series for a couple of years now. Thank you.
Posted by Brodie on Thursday, June 28, 2007 at 8:30 AM
You're a real mensch!
Posted by COMIC CRYPT on Friday, June 29, 2007 at 6:38 PM
From: "Sacreligious amd anti-Christian Comic characters" forum discussion, started 28 February 2007 on official DC Comics website (http://dcboards.warnerbros.com/web/thread.jspa?threadID=2000107545&start=30&tstart=15; viewed 19 July 2007):
Posted: Mar 1, 2007 11:32 AM
In response to: mrterrific: "I think it is implied if not explicitly stated that they are Christian, not Jewish or Muslim...
I would tend to agree with that one. I'm an Orthodox Jew. (Hair covered, long sleeves, keeping kosher, etc.) I often find myself torn between wishing that there were more Jewish superheroes in comics and wincing when TPTB write them as, essentially whitebread Americans whose sole affiliation with Judaism is a Star-of-David necklace and a menorah at Hannukah.
Actually, that's not as problematic for me. I realize that the majority of Jews in the US today are not Orthodox, and while I wish that the characters showed more knowledge of their heritage, I can understand that the depiction is accurate by today's standards.
What really bugs me (and I've seen this more in the movies and on TV) is when a character is written to be Orthodox and the writer gets it wrong. Or the writer tries to incorporate Judaism into an episode and messes up.
I think it makes me cringe more when they get the religious aspects wrong, then when they don't bother with them at all.
From: "Religious Affiliations of Super Heroes..." forum discussion, started 3 July 2007 on Fukushima Forums website (http://www.fujet.net/Forum/index.php?PHPSESSID=09a3ae0abf6efb8de2134680e092aee6&topic=815.msg7854; viewed 2 August 2007):
July 03, 2007, 12:11:58 AM
Now this is interesting...
July 03, 2007, 08:55:19 AM
I like how there's a Jewish superhero called "Acidic Jew."
Webpage created 12 April 2006. Last modified 2 August 2007.
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