The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Character
Dr. Leonard Samson
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... Then there are characters who happen to be Jewish. From Marvel, this includes Hulk supporting character Doc Samson, who we know attended yeshiva (Incredible Hulk #373).
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):
David, Peter. "Revisionist History" Marvel Holiday Special Jan. 1993 (4th story) (NY: Marvel).
Leonard Samson (aka the superhero "Doc Samson") visits a Hebrew school to talk to the kids about Hanukkah. When they find the story too dull, he spices it up by inserting contemporary references and super-powered characters (e.g. Hulk, Wolverine, Elvis). Not unlike the Tick's version of the Hanukkah story.
From: "Jewish Comics Exhibit Notes" webpage, last updated 5 December 2004 (http://www.geocities.com/hadassahfink/comicexhnotes.htm; viewed 4 July 2007):
Marvel Holiday Special 1993
Doc Samson relates the story of Hannukah to a Hebrew school class, but makes it more exciting by introducing modern and superhero elements into it. In his version, Antiochus is an evil robot and superheroes Captain America, Wolverine and the Hulk were fighting alongside the Maccabees. This revision is similar to the one found in Arthur Teaches the Tick about Hannukah.
Marvel Comics editor-in-chief Joe Quesada identified Doc Samson as an important Jewish character in Marvel Comics. From: "New Joe Fridays Week 28", published December 2006 on Newsarama.com (http://www.newsarama.com/NewJoeFridays/NewJoeFridays28.html; viewed 8 June 2007):
RQ: ted_dahlman [question]: I can only think of three Marvel characters who are practicing Jews (Thing, Shadowcat, and presumably Sabra), two who are practicing Christians (Nightcrawler and Firebird, both Catholic), along with a few Muslim heroes who have figured into minor roles in several stories, and the thousands of "mutant-hating bigots" who have shown up dressed in clerical garb.
JQ [Joe Quesada, editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics]: Hey there, ted_dahlman. Marc Spector, Doc Samson, and Magneto are also practicing Jews and don't forget Matt Murdock is a practicing Catholic. I know there's more, but I just thought I'd mention these four as they seem like important ones to include.
[EDITOR: Joe Quesada here is answering a spur-of-the-moment question. Marc Spector ("Moon Knight") and Magneto quickly came to his mind as Jewish characters and he mentioned them, echoing the questioner's language by using the term "practicing Jews." Of course Joe Quesada is not actually trying to say that Magneto and Moon Knight are "practicing" or observant Jews. He simply meant to mention them as important Jewish characters.]
From: "Religion in Supergirl" thread started 30 March 1997 on rec.arts.comics.dc.universe newsgroup (http://groups.google.com/group/rec.arts.comics.dc.universe/browse_thread/thread/8b8c8c6ca5c7e92f/6740dc4bbcf08ef8; viewed 12 June 2006):
Excerpts from: "Are Superheroes Religious?" forum page, started 13 May 2004, in "The John Byrne Forum" section of the Byrne Robotics website (http://jb.24-7intouch.com/forum/get_topic.asp?FID=3&TID=558&DIR=P; viewed 9 January 2006):
From: Elayne Wechsler-Chaput
Date: Mon, Mar 31 1997 12:00 am
Peter once wrote a great Hanukkah story for a Marvel holiday special. It seemed VERY true-to-life to me, in terms of his background.
Date: Thurs, Apr 3 1997 12:00 am
It was hilarious. It was entitled "Revisionist Hisotry" Stared Leonard Samson attempting to tell the Hanukkah story to a bunch of grade school kids. Every time he got a sentence out, however, a kid would pipe up and asked how Spiderman, Captain America, or Wolverine figured into the story. When he started to explain about Antiochus the kids asked about Santa. The whole things causes Doc Samson no end of frustration. It really is funnier than my lame attempts to outline it.
13 May 2004
Yes... Kitty's always been Jewish. More Jewish folks... Doc Samson, Moon Knight, Volcana, Sasquatch, The Thing, Songbird... Sabra
From: "Jewish Comic Book Characters" message board page, started 15 May 2006 on IGN.com website (http://boards.ign.com/Comics_General_Board/b5033/117625205/?16; viewed 19 May 2006):
Date Posted: 5/15 8:38am
Subject: Jewish Comic Book Characters.
You think Magneto had a Bar Mitzvah? What about Quicksilver?
I definitely think Doc Samson did.
What other Jewish comic characters you can think of?
Date Posted: 5/21 9:06am
Doc Samson's Bar Mitzvah has been actually mentioned somewhere in a comic book. By Peter David I think?
From: "Passover Wave! Ragman and--?" message board started 13 April 2006 on official DC Comics website (http://dcboards.warnerbros.com/web/thread.jspa?forumID=29209087&threadID=2000071426; viewed 1 June 2006):
Posted: Apr 13, 2006 10:54 AM
...Marvel wise, Kitty Pryde, the Thing, Doc Samson, Moon Knight and Vance Astro/Justice are all Jewish...
Posted: Apr 13, 2006 9:15 PM
So far my League of [Jewish Superheroes] is as follows:
...Doc Samson ... Green haired hippy... Bet his parents are conservative doctors embarrased by his mashugenah antics. Reminds me of all those Jewish Guys in hair bands in the 80s... Dee Snyder and company.
[Seven other Jewish super-heroes listed, with comments about each.]
From: "The religions of comic book characters" thread started 10 February 2001 on rec.arts.comics.marvel.universe newsgroup (http://groups.google.com/group/rec.arts.comics.marvel.universe/browse_thread/thread/13590fda80c5d6e1/e5e0b094ced80f0b; viewed 12 June 2006):
From: "Atheist superheroes?" thread, started 21 September 1999 on rec.arts.comics.marvel.universe newsgroup (http://groups.google.com/group/rec.arts.comics.marvel.universe/browse_thread/thread/e8d686f0b20944a6/2f9353e0760b00e7; viewed 23 June 2006):
From: Terry McCombs
Date: Sat, Feb 10 2001 6:35 pm
For the most part you don't get much of an idea as to the private lives of most comic book characters. Marvelish soap opera not withstanding.
What I mean is you don't get much of an idea what their politics or religion might be. This is sensible enough I guess as they don't want to offend any of their customers... for the most part you just can't really say just what, if any religion or personal philosophy that or that comic character might follow.
What do you think?
Date: Sun, Feb 11 2001 6:05 am
...As far as Marvel is concerned, there are a few characters where you do: ...Doc Samson also has Jewish roots, but does not seem to be very observant...
Date: Wed, Sep 22 1999 12:00 am
Doc Samson is Jewish.
Betty Banner was Christian.
From: David O'Brien
Date: Wed, Sep 22 1999 12:00 am
Gah. Everyone forgot about him [Doc Samson], and he was kinda obvious.
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, 06:28 AM
...A few others I thought of:
Sasquatch (Walter Lagkowski) of Alpha Flight
01-30-2006, 10:09 AM
It just occurred to me that two Jewish characters have their own books -- the Thing and Doc Samson. Now granted, Doc Samson is only a limited series and the Thing is about to be cancelled, that's still never happened before. Now if they get out the Moon Knight book quick enough, that would make three.
02-01-2006, 05:05 AM
re: I have a feeling that there are more Jewish, or those who have Jewish characters in the Marvel Universe.
...Leonard Samson -- he went to yeshiva (Jewish day school) as a child
Actually, overt religious belief and practice among Marvel characters is pretty sparse...
No Jewish character has ever been shown to be devout, certainly not a super hero.
02-01-2006, 07:48 PM
Magneto is Gypsy. I've been reading comics since I was a kid and he's always been a Gypsy. Only in recent years they tried to retcon it, particularly with the movie.
Doc. Samson, Peter Parker, Ben Grimm and Moon Knight are not Jewish either. Stop pushing what you wish would be...
02-01-2006, 08:52 PM
Well, you are totally incorrect. Magneto has been back and forth since long before the movie, Ben Grimm is absolutely, in the comics, without question Jewish. Moon Knight I could agree with you, it is a matter of semantics. Jewish can mean of a Jewish family, or of the Jewish faith, and Moon Knight, while not a practicing Jew, is the son of a Rabbi. Peter David penned a story in a Marvel Holiday Special where Leonard Samson came to a Hebrew School to tell the story of Hanukkah to a class. In what way are posters pushing anything? These are established and in continuity examples, and there is no disputing it that Samson, Grimm and in one sense, Moon Knight are all Jewish, and I have no agenda to create any Jewish characters more than any other type of religious affiliation. If anything, I'm a pantheist, I would want more pantheist characters.
02-01-2006, 09:30 PM
Yeah, as seen by the poster above, Grimm, Samson and Moon Knight are all Jewish in continuity, no question about it, Magneto has been boucing back and forth long before the movie too, maybe you should do some research before you jump on people for just stating the truth.
02-02-2006, 02:29 AM
Doc Samson being Jewish goes back to pre-Peter David Hulk, actually.
02-02-2006, 04:46 AM
Magneto is Gypsy... Doc. Samson, Peter Parker, Ben Grimm and Moon Knight are not Jewish either. Stop pushing what you wish would be...
I guess you don't read many comics, do you.
Doc Samson was explicitly stated to be Jewish. He once spoke at his alma mater, a yeshiva (Jewish day school).
Ben Grimm was explicitly stated to be Jewish. It was written up in all of the Jewish newspapers.
Moon Knight was explicitly stated to be Jewish. His father is a rabbi.
Peter Parker is not Jewish, to the best of my knowledge. I've seen nothing to suggest that he is.
Nobody's pushing what they wish would be.
02-02-2006, 05:43 AM
To be fair, I can see someone not "getting" Ben Grimm being Jewish. It is a subtle retcon of sorts.
The others though? Samson's been Jewish since before his 8th appearance, as I recall.
02-03-2006, 12:02 AM
I think Samson being jewish would be pretty neat actually. It would make sense.
But Magneto I'm 100% sure he's not. Ben Grimm is a matter of "view him how you like" considering that Stan and Jack thought of him as such but never particularly adressed it. I like the Thing-Golem comparison (like in the Doc Samson case it's a nice continuity if you will)...
02-06-2006, 06:19 PM
re: Stop pushing what you wish would be...
...As for Doc Samson, for gosh sakes, of course he's Jewish. And Moonknight...
02-07-2006, 05:27 AM
All right, here's my view:
...Doc Samson's religion was not revealed in his first appearance, but he has explicitly stated that he is Jewish. And with a name like Leonard Samson, there's no reason to doubt him...
...I don't think anyone is seeing anybody just as they want. Only Magneto is questionable. (I don't think anybody REALLY thinks that Peter Parker is Jewish.) Clearly, if it says in a comic book that a character is Jewish, then he or she is Jewish. Is there a problem with that?
02-08-2006, 04:14 PM
re: I don't seem to remember that from those Stan Lee-Herb Trimpe stories. I just remember a scientist and machine and he getting bombarded by Gamma Rays.
Funny 'bout that, with Roy Thomas creating the character and all.
From: "New Joe Fridays: Week 49" forum discussion, started 1 June 2007 on Newsarama website (http://forum.newsarama.com/showthread.php?t=114952&page=5; viewed 8 June 2007):
06-03-2007, 04:58 AM
You brought up the issue of comic-book stereotypes and religions. Since I study religion (all kinds, really) this is something I've thought about a lot...
So, on to religion. What religions do we find represented in Marvel? ...Mainstream religions were generally unmentioned before the 1990's (though we do find Cap consulting the New Testament for inspiration during the 1970's... Then suddenly a number of characters were revealed as being of Roman Catholic background (Daredevil, Invisible Woman, Nightcrawler, Punisher), or occasionally Jewish (Thing, though he is predated by minor characters Doc Samson, Sabra, Kitty Pryde, and Justice)... What was the motivation for all this? ...Jack Kirby once drew the Thing with a prayer-shawl, and Jewish ethnicity seemed to reinforce the character's constant suffering and kvetching (and maybe his sense of humor too)...
From: "Stuart Moore's A Thousand Flowers: O Deadly Night" forum discussion, started 2 December 2003 on Newsarama website (http://forum.newsarama.com/archive/index.php/t-6949.html; viewed 28 June 2007):
12-04-2003, 03:29 PM
Don't forget that wacky Thanos/Gamora Christmas story from an old Marvel holiday special. :cool::cool: :cool:
I should [make] clear... Thanos was in the 1993 edition of Marvel Holiday Special which also featured an Art Adams Cover and a Peter David Hulk Hanukkah story. :cool:
12-04-2003, 09:55 PM
My favorite holiday story has to be the Young Justice one that was written as a poem similar to "A Visit From St. Nicholas" (aka "Twas the Night Before Christmas"). It involved the YJ kids going up against a Khund attack on Christmas Eve. Santa Claus ends up driving headlong into the attack causing an explosion that saved the Earth yet seemed to destroy Santa as well (don't worry, he probably came back). YJ then tried to finish Santa's run and it took them months. It's not as sentimental as most Christmas stories, but it was entertaining nonetheless.
I also have that 1993 Holiday Special. The Hannukah story was about Doc Samson (everyone's favorite gamma-powered Jewish psychiatrist) going back to his old Yeshiva and trying to tell the kids the story of Hannukah. He keeps changing it because of the questions the kids ask, though and ends up getting kicked out for upsetting them. I remember this because it was the only Hannukah story I've probably ever read in a comic book.
From: "Superman Was Jewish?" forum discussion, started 6 July 2006 on "Superhero Hype!" website (http://forums.superherohype.com/archive/index.php/t-241110.html):
07-10-2006, 08:42 AM
Nah, I don't think the Man of Steel either is or was intended to be Jewish per se... there aren't that many Jewish superheroes running around. (The Thing, Shadowcat, Moon Knight and Doc Samson all spring to mind), far fewer than say, African-American, Hispanic or Oriental!
Apparently an issue of Comic Book Marketplace inadvertently indicated that the Hulk had been revealed as Jewish when in fact the writer was trying to note that Ben Grimm ("The Thing") had been revealed as Jewish. This misprint prompted the following discussion. From: "What issue was the Hulk revealed as Jewish?" forum discussion, started 12 November 2004 on IMWAN website (http://www.imwan.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=999; viewed 31 July 2007):
Posted: Fri Nov 12, 2004 9:50 pm
What issue was the Hulk revealed as Jewish?
In the latest Comic Book Marketplace (116) it is stated that "the custodians of Marvel Comics revealed that the Hulk is Jewish"...
Posted: Fri Nov 12, 2004 9:59 pm
I think that's a mistake. The summer of 2002 was when The Thing was revealed to be Jewish, in The Fantastic Four #56 (Vol 3).
In the Hulk books, Doc Samson is Jewish. Peter David stated that the character had attended yeshiva in his youth, in The Incredible Hulk #373.
Posted: Sat Jul 21, 2007 3:54 pm
Just an aside, but I completely agreed with Peter David's reasons for making Doc Samson Jewish (namely no one had said otherwise, and the name "Leonard Samson" is pretty darn Jewish.)
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