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The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Character
former girlfriend of Captain America
From: "Who's Jews in the Marvel & DC Universe?", posted on Orthodox Union website (OU.ORG - Your Gateway to the Jewish Internet), (http://www.ou.org/ncsy/projects/kp/5763/kpwint63/thing.htm; viewed 20 December 2005):
The Thing may be the heaviest hitter to announce his Jewish roots, but he's far from alone. There are plenty of fellow Israelites in tights to join him at the Seder table... There are others. Marvel also has a Golem, plus Prime, Captain America's ex-girlfriend Bernice Rosenthal [sic], Volcana, Legion and more.
From: Jeanne Burch, "Bernie Rosenthal" page on "The Women of Marvel Comics" website (http://www.geocities.com/Hollywood/2855/bernie.html; viewed 21 December 2005):
Real name: Um...Bernadette Rosenthal, I guess.
First appearance: Captain America 248
Favorite quote: What is said without words in Captain America 276 (see insert).
Team affiliation: Although gregarious by nature, Bernie isn't really a team player. She was reported to be very good at organizing political rallies in college, but has since chosen the path of an individual, first as an artist, later as a lawyer. Bernie is loyal to her friends, even ones like Mike Farrel who, in Captain America 385-86, became one of the white supremacist group the Watchdogs and, in Captain America 426, as the Super-Patriot allied himself with the Dead Ringer and almost did in Cap. Both times Bernie was kidnapped and menaced by maniacs, but kept her head and forgave her friend.
Powers: A sharper mind than the hero's girlfriend normally tends to have.
Favorite Storyline: Let's see; Captain America 275, where Bernie figures out that Steve Rogers, her boyfriend, is also Captain America? Captain America 276, where she copes with the idea without having a hysterical hissy fit? Captain America 279, where her lack of superpowers doesn't prevent her from pounding on a supervillian? Well, these are all good, but...I really liked the time Steve took her to Avengers mansion, and she swatted at a mosquito that turned out to be a Wasp!
Least favorite storyline: Captain America 259-266; Captain America 318-322; Captain America 324-326; Captain America 328-331; Captain America 333-335; Captain America 337-354; Captain America 356-390. Why? Because Bernie wasn't in any of those issues! At least she's part of the supporting cast again, although between Heroes Reborn and Sharon Carter deciding to be alive again after two decades of death, everything between Cap and Bernie is really up in the air.
Wanna know more? Bernie has her own page [http://www.winghead.org/cast/bernie.html; now defunct]. (Although the site does have Captain America's name all over it. That guy has to muscle in on everything, doesn't he?)
Jeanne Sez: I like Bernie. I like Bernie a lot. Can you tell?
Sammy Bernstein: Bernie Rosenthal's zealously Jewish ex-husband
One Captain America/Bernie Rosenthal storyline with explicitly Jewish subject revolved around Bernie Rosenthal's zealously Jewish ex-husband Sammy Bernstein. From: "Sammy Bernstein (Captain America foe)" webpage, last updated 07/07/04, on "The Unofficial Handbook of the Marvel Universe" website (http://www.marvunapp.com/Appendix/bernsteinsam.htm; viewed 21 December 2005):
Real Name: Samuel "Sammy" Bernstein...
From: Jeffrey Weiss, "Comic-book heroes seldom reveal their faith: Recent revelation of the Thing's religion was a rare moment for pop culture", published in Dallas Morning News, 24 August 2002 (http://www.bluecorncomics.com/thingjew.htm; viewed 21 December 2005):
Occupation: Organizer for the Jewish Protection Organization...
Known Relatives: Bernadette Rosenthal (ex-wife)...
Base of Operations: New York
First Appearance: Captain America vol. I, #275 (November, 1982)
Powers/Abilities: Sammy Bernstein is an experienced protest organizer, and can handle himself in a fight.
History: (Captain America I#275) - Sammy helped organize an anti-Nazi protest in response to a rally held by Neo-Nazis, and met up with his ex-wife Bernie Rosenthal at the event, along with her friends Anna Kapplebaum, Josh Cooper, Mike Farrell and Steve Rogers, none of whom were aware that Bernie had once been married.
Sammy led his fellow members of the Jewish Protection Organization into riling up the crowd gathered against the Neo-Nazis, and finally broke past the police barricade to assault them. Captain America then intervened to end the violence, and took both Bernstein and Harry Todd, the leader of the Neo-Nazis to task for letting matters run wild. Bernstein then joined Todd in trying to attack Captain America, but he easily sidestepped them.
(Captain America I#276 [December, 1982]) - Bernstein and Todd each ran away in the aftermath, but Berstein returned in time to see Todd attempt to shoot Captain America, only to fail. Bernstein gave himself up to the authorities, ashamed of his behavior earlier that day.
(Captain America I#284 [August, 1983]) - Sammy was later invited to a party at Bernie's apartment building. He came up at Steve from behind and put him in a headlock as a joke, but Steve gave him a judo throw, thinking it was an attack. Sammy just assumed that Steve didn't like him because he was Bernie's ex.
(Captain America I#427 [May, 1994]) - Sammy later attempted to reconcile with Bernie at her law office, but she turned him down and told him to leave. He told her she was making a mistake, then left.
Comments: Created by J.M. DeMatteis, Mike Zeck and John Beatty.
So Bernie's married name was once Bernie Bernstein? There must have been a lot of jokes.
Sammy's sudden reapparance in Captain America I#427 was to serve as a red herring for the true identity of the Super-Patriot.
Over the years, the writers told readers all kinds of things about the habits and foibles of the characters. We knew about their taste in clothing, their troubles with relationships, their sense of humor. But we rarely discovered whether they followed any particular religion.
Selections from: Steven M. Bergson, "Jewish Comics: A Select Bibliography" last updated 28 June 2005 (http://www.geocities.com/safran-can/JWISHC.HTM; viewed 23 December 2005):
That seems odd in one way. Back in the dawn of the modern comic book, more than 90 percent of Americans self-identified with a particular religion, mostly some kind of Christianity. Why wouldn't reality-linked superheroes have a particular religion?
Explicitly Religious Comics Characters
[list of 20 characters features 10 characters under the "Jewish" subheading, including:]
Bernie Rosenthal, is the non-powered sometime-girlfriend of Captain America.
DeMatteis, J.M. "Bernie America, Sentinel of Liberty" Captain America #289 (2nd story) Jan. 1984 (NY: Marvel).
Captain America's Jewish girlfriend, Bernie Rosenthal fantasizes about what it woulkd be like to be a patriotic superheroine like her boyfriend Captain America.
DeMatteis, J.M. "Future Shock!" Captain America #287 (1st series) Nov. 1983 (NY: Marvel)
Bernie Rosenthal's parents complain to Bernie about her boyfriend Steve Rogers, who cancelled out on dinner at the last minute (especially since her mother cooked and cleaned all week for the occasion). Meanwhile, Rogers (as superhero "Captain America") is fighting a villain called Deathlok.
DeMatteis, J.M. "Someone Who Cares" Captain America #270 June 1982 (NY: Marvel).
Arnie Roth seeks the help of superhero Captain America. In flashback, Arnie is shown protecting his best friend Steve Rogers (Captain America's alter ego) from bullies and Steve becomes close to the Roth family after his father dies. Meanwhile, Bernie Rosenthal comes to the defense of a bag lady who is being harassed by street youths. While walking her home, she feels paranoid, thinking "[paranoia] is probably a normal reaction when a nice, middle-class Jewish girl comes face to face with this kind of poverty."
DeMatteis, J.M. "Yesterday's Shadows" Captain America #275 (1st series) Nov. 1982 (NY: Marvel)
In his civilian guise as Steve Rogers, superhero Captain America returns home from shopping with his Jewish girlfriend Bernie Rosenthal and his Jewish landlord Anna Kapplebaum. As they pass by Temple Beth-Or, they notice that it has been vandalized and that a Nazi swastika has been spray-painted on its doors. While cleaning up, Steve defends the rights of the neo-nazis : "A free society has to allow all ideas -- both noble and ignoble." Bernie invites Steve to a counter-rally to be held in a park where a Nazi rally will be taking place. Initially he declines, but changes his mind after an executive at a firm that hires him rudely dimisses Arthur Grossman (whom he calls "that old Jew"). The rally and counter-rally turn violent, with Captain America and riot police trying to calm the mob down. After Sammy Bernstein, leader of the Jewish Protection Agency (obviously meant to represent the Jewish Defense League) and the Nazi leader both fall off the stage trying to attack him, Captain America compares them to each other : "You two aren't interested in the truth ... you're [both] only interested in your own self-consuming hate."
From: "Jewish Heroes or Villians in Marvel Universe?" forum discussion, started 12 December 2005 on "Comic Book Resources" website (http://www.xmenindex.com/forums/comicbooks/t-97146.html; viewed 31 May 2007):
12-12-2005, 05:50 AM
Reading the " Black Panther thread" got me thinking. Are there any Jewish heroes or villians in the Marvel Universe?
12-12-2005, 09:21 AM
As far as other Marvel characters that haven't been brought up yet, we've skipped the first one, Izzy Cohen of the Howling Commandos, Achilles of the Pantheon, the original Sin-Eater, the Gaffer from SHIELD, despite the new-age hoo-haw, I'm guessing that Wiccan has at least Jewish roots, Dominic Fortune, Volcanna, the Two-Gun Kid, Iceman is non-practicing half-Jewish, Songbird, Cap's ex Bernie Rosenthal... and that's pretty much it off the top of my head. And a couple of those probably aren't very observant, if not practising altogether.
Webpage created 21 December 2005. Last modified 31 Maya 2007.
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