Official website of the Jewish Hero Corps: http://www.jewishsuperhero.com/
From: "List of Jewish superheroes" page on Wikipedia.com (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Jewish_superheroes; viewed 22 April 2006):
There also exists a team of Judaicly themed superheroes known as "The Jewish Hero Corps", printed by Leviathan press. They include Menorah Man, Yarmulke Youth, Matzah Woman, Driedel Maidel, Magen David, Minyan Man, and Shabbas Queen. They are not commonly recognized as actual characters primarily because only one issue of the comic is known to have been produced at this time.
From: The OK (Organized Kashrut Laboratories), review of The Jewish Hero Corps comic book (original URL: The OK (Organized Kashrut Laboratories); viewed on "Archives/Reviews" page on official "Jewish Hero Corps" website (http://www.jewishsuperhero.com/reviews.htm; viewed 22 April 2006):
The Jewish Hero Corps star in this interactive comic book written and produced by Alan Oirich. Oirich's mission was to create something Jewish and entertaining for children without any violence. Despite what television and videos may show, Oirich espouses the theory that it is not violence that children are looking for, but conflict and resolution. The story opens and we are introduced to Earl Chandler who is on an airplane high above the ground. He is given a videotape by an air hostess and as he watches it, he discovers a devious plot to destroy Jewish knowledge. He hears about a terrible new weapon, a team of "Forget-me-Bots" who are capable of eradicating all traces of Judaism from the world by erasing memories of Jewish children in schools and shuls.
Earl Chandler jumps off the plane without a parachute, but no parachute is needed by his alter ego, Menorah Man. Menorah Man quickly burns up the tape and sets off for the base of the Jewish Hero Corps. There we are introduced to the other super heroes, Yarmulke Youth, Minyan Man (who turns into 10 men if needed), Draidel Maidel who spins like the wind, Shabbos Queen and Hyper Girl, a baalas teshuvah who becomes Matzah Woman. The Jewish Hero Corps, who get all their superpowers from mitzvos, work together to save the day.
Compelling and fun, the story itself is suitable for children between the ages of 5-12, but as an interactive game, probably best suited for 6-10. The story is interesting and the illustrations are done by Marvel comics artist Michael Netzer, complete with yarmulkes, tzitzit and tznius clothing.
Faster than a speeding yarmulke, endowed with microwave vision, capable of multiplying into 10 men at will -- these are not the credentials of just any superhero.
Instead, they describe the Jewish Hero Corps, a group of Jewish comic-book characters who are storming the high-tech world of CD-ROMs.
In "Jewish Hero Corps: The Menace of the Forget-Me-Bots," these Jewish heroes fight the menacing Fobots in a fast-paced interactive game.
Who are the Fobots? They're vile creatures who are using their powerful "Forget-me chips" to erase Jewish memory from every Jewish child.
Before the Fobots can achieve their sinister goal, however, they must defeat our gang of Jewish heroes -- a group that includes Dreidel Maidel, Yarmulkah Youth, Minyan Man, Shabbas Queen, Hypergirl, Magen David and Menorah Man.
The story begins as NASA is about to launch a new "culture sat," a satellite designed to teach other life forms about Earthlings. Before the satellite can be sent up, the Fobots attack it and erase the files of culture NO. 613 --Judaism. Next, the Fobots mount a series of assaults on various unnamed sites throughout the world, turning this digital comic book into a Jewish version of the film "Independence Day."
This may all sound a little unorthodox, but the Jewish Hero Corps actually display a number of important Jewish values. For example, the Shabbas Queen's "Electro Wand" contains an experimental "Seventh Rule," which helps her disable electrical and mechanical devices. The idea is that the wand forces objects to take a rest; its one weakness is that it must be recharged one day in every seven.
Minyan Man, too, has distinctly Jewish powers. When the need arises, he can produce nine more of himself, producing a minyan of 10 men to fight the enemy.
The Jewish Hero Corps is the brainchild of Alan E. Oirich, who dreamed up these Jewish comic book characters when he was young. Now, he wants to share these positive Jewish role models with Jewish kids, using modern media.
Oirich hopes kids will have fun, but more importantly, he wants them to gain a sense that being Jewish is in some ways like being a superhero in the modern world.
This is not a cheap comic book scanned on computer. The Menace of the Fobots was developed specifically for multimedia.
The story moves and sounds just like the old TV superhero serials but has a digital look.
It unfolds in chapters with an exciting original soundtrack that keeps players on the edge of their seats as they advance to the cliffhanger.
This CD-ROM has more than just the story. Other sections allow players to visit a press conference with three of the heroes, and there are teasers for upcoming episodes. Also, the game section includes puzzles, a game of concentration and a difficult memory game in which players try to repeat a long string of sounds from the Fobot ship in order to access the enemy fortress.
Jewish kids of all ages will find The Jewish Hero Corps entertaining. They'll also learn from its message. As Hypergirl saves the day, we realize that she wants to be known as Matzah Woman, which was her original identity before being exposed to radiation.
With her strength and wisdom she can now, like us, save Judaism for generations to come.
Move over, Batman! These caped crusaders come with tzitzit!
I have studiously avoided reviewing games and kids' stuff. But when I received an unsolicited copy of The Jewish Hero Corps (IBM/Mac, Jewish Multimedia Center, 914-426-0400, $25), the cover art looked so attractive I decided to install it for my children. It was a good decision.
"The Jewish Hero Corps" is actually the title of a series of CD comic books, only the first of which has been published. Everything about it has the feel of the "real thing." The music could have come from a feature film; the voices are varied and professional. Best of all, the visuals are exciting and a delight to any kid (and to some of their parents who may recall the comics they read as kids, if they will admit it!)
The quality is no surprise. Michael Netzer, the illustrator, worked on Spider Man, Batman, and Wonder Woman before he became observant. "Dreidel Maydel" is a product of his transition. She does quite well as a heroine in completely modest attire, and like all the members of the Hero Corps, triumphs over the bad guys (the dread Forget-Me-Bots, who have developed an "unmemory chip" which they use to get people to forget the richness of their Judaism) without glorifying violence. What they lack in the martial arts, they make up for in attitude. Yarmulkah Youth, Magen David and Menorah Man each find ways to push positive Torah values. Hard as it is to believe, JHC was put together so well, that it will be educational to the child with weak background, while still appealing to the one with much stronger education. My six- and eight-year-olds didn't really learn anything that they didn't already know, and they don't watch television. Yet they came back to the CD again and again, playing with some of the games that are included, and exploring different ways to make the story progress.
Much of the draw is the result of all the flexibility the CD medium allows. Space allows for the user to choose between different options, driving the tale in different directions. Future episodes aim at providing eight different choice levels.
Alan Oirich is the animating spirit behind all of this. He is full of enthusiasm for the project, as well as the know-how that comes with directing the Jewish Student Network for seven years. In that capacity, he learned the ropes of alternative and creative modes of Jewish learning. From the feel of this product, it looks like he learned well.
SOMEWHERE IN OUR EMOTIONAL ATTIC, next to dog eared baseball cards and yellowed Herald Tribunes, are comics from the 1950s and '60s. Look at the old Action Comics or Adventure Comics: In contrast to what's on sale today, the drawings were less busy, the stories more coherent, the themes more about human emotions and the problems of secret identities than about obtuse scenarios of world destruction.
There was more soul, less science fiction.
Back then you picked up pretty quickly that Clark Kent was Superman; he worked at the Daily Planet; Lois Lane was his sort-of girlfriend but he really loved Lori Lemaris; Lex Luther was bad; Lana Lang was the redhead. Today, anyone who can explain the post-1980 detours and restructuring of the basic Superman story deserves a can of New Coke.
Maybe the problem, as Lenny Bruce would say, is that comics used to be Jewish and now aren't. The early comic book creators were almost all Jewish, in a world of immigrants: the story of their lives was one of escaping from a destroyed world; fighting in their new world for truth, justice and the American way; having one identity at work and another identity in private. They never forgot where they came from. They never forgot their real names.
That these ideas elude modern comic book writers led Alan Oirich, a comics maven and Orthodox Jew, to create a new comic universe featuring "The Jewish Hero Corps -- sort of a Justice League of America except they wait six hours after eating meat before intaking dairy foods.
It's available in most Judaica stores.
But while the comic is old-fashioned in its themes and simplicity, it has high-tech delivery. The comic comes to you on a cd-rom -- both in PC and Mac format -- offering a half-hour story complete with interactive options, a press conference with the superheroes, and four after-story games and puzzles.
There's a good soundtrack by Oirich's brother Steven, who does soundtracks for TV and movies.
And the Jewish superheroes are drawn with classic muscle-rippling panache by Michael Netzer, who used to draw Spiderman, Batman and Wonder Woman before he became Orthodox and moved to Israel.
In this comic we get to meet, among others:
Minyan Man, a tough looking dude who can overwhelm anyone after he splits himself into ten.
Dreidel Maidel who, a la the Flash, can spin at super speed. She flies, sees, hears, thinks and reacts with computer quickness.
Menorah Man, he of metallic strength, can sprout eight flame-shooting arms, let alone fiery rockets from his feet. This fly-boy according to creator Oirich, "is impervious to the rigors of space travel."
Earl Chandler, Menorah Man's secret identity, explains Oirich, comes from the menorah itself: Earl (oil) Chandler (chandelier). Hey, it's a comic.
Yarmulkah Youth, the boy wonder, scoots around on a "Yarmaha" motorcycle. His yarmulke and gartel have more chotchkes than Batman's utility belt.
Shabbas (Sabbath) Queen wields a magic wand that manipulates or disables electrical and mechanical devices. This blonde's mastery over muktzah is limited only by her necessity to recharge her wand like Green Lantern has to recharge his ring. Green Lantern has to recharge daily; Shabbas Queen recharges one day in seven.
Then there's Hyper Girl who's, well, hyper. The cd-rom informs us that "after eating matzah accidentally baked with radioactive water in a microwave oven, she discovers that the molecules in her body have been charged with hyper energy." She has microwave vision, hyper strength, and hyper immunity. But she loses her power if, like matzah becoming unkosher for Passover, she spends more than 18 minutes underwater.
She also has "hyper senses" which, I guess, makes her super sensitive.
Remember "Who Framed Roger Rabbit"? Sexy "toon" Jessica Rabbit, with her come-hither eyes and naughty voice, seductively purrs like Bacall-to-Bogie: "I'm not really bad; I'm just drawn that way." But throughout the entire "Jewish Hero Corps," there is nothing like a dame: Dreidel Maidel, Shabbos Queen and Hyper Girl may be as curvy, leggy and perfectly complexioned as Betty and Veronica but they're drawn with the same modest long sleeves and long dresses that you'd see at fervently-Orthodox girl's school.
Are they really so modest in their secret identities or are they just drawn that way? Oirich actually asked artist Netzer to draw Shabbos Queen like the 1965 Supergirl, but with a skirt well below the knees.
The Jewish Hero Corps have more important things to worry about. Aliens, intercepting a NASA database of world cultures, are seeking to sap the planet of all Jewish memory. Unlike regular comics that are obsessed with the destruction of the world, Jews have already seen the end of the world: Auschwitz. Now our greatest threat is loss of memory. For us, that's the end of our world all over again.
In one upcoming story the heroes chase down Haman, who time travels from Persia B.C.E. into the 20th century.
Oirich started toying with these characters when he was 14, before hooking up a few years ago with the Israel-based Jewish Multimedia Center. Now living in Manhattan, Oirich's apartment is decorated with everything from a Batman alarm clock to a Chinese-language movie poster of "Indiana Jones & The Final Crusade."
He recalls that as a kid "it impressed me that Superman's cousin, Supergirl, came to earth and they had Kryptonian holidays that they would still observe, like strangers in a strange land. They would save lives and do good things, and then remember Krypton."
Then these "flying tzadikim (saints)," as Oirich calls them, gave way to Marvel's anti-hero concept, which now dominates the industry. If Oirich's comic "flies" he'll take Jewish kids back to the innocence of an earlier Marvel: Captain Marvel, whose famous "Shazam!" was an acronym for the best physical qualities of Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles, Mercury, led by the wisdom of Solomon.
"It's really quite a compliment," says Oirich. "For wisdom, Captain Marvel looks to the Jews."
We may have our secret identities, but we have that super power.
From: Leah Finkelshteyn, "Thwak! To Our Enemies", published in Hadassah Magazine, June/July 2003 Vol. 84 No. 10 (http://www.hadassah.org/news/content/per_hadassah/archive/2003/03_JUN/art.htm; viewed 19 June 2007):
Sometimes the Jewish influence is more subtle. According to Jewish educator and comics fan and writer Alan Oirich, artist Gil Kane based his design of the large-headed, balding Guardians of the Universe in DC's Green Lantern on David Ben-Gurion. The President of Earth was also Jewish - and a woman - adds Oirich. Her son, Colossal Boy from DC's Legion of Superheroes, identifies as Jewish, he says, and so does she...
...Another new title for kids, The Jewish Hero Corps (Electric Comics, www.jewishsu perhero.com), created by Oirich, will be out in August. The Corps' super team includes Minyan Man, who can duplicate himself 10 times; Kipa Kid, known as the Capped Crusader; and Shabbas Queen, whose wand causes electric objects to "rest"...
"There is a real connection between Jews and comic books for any of a dozen reasons," says Oirich, who is curating an exhibit on the subject with the New York City Comic Book Museum (www.nyccomicbookmuseum.org). "One is historical; another has to do with a...sense of tikkun olam, of what you might call Jewish mythic ideas and feelings that expressed themselves [through superheroes]."
From: "Up, up, and oy, vey!", posted 5 February 2006 on MetaFilter.com website (http://www.metafilter.com/39326/Up-up-and-oy-vey; viewed 19 June 2007):
posted by hifiparasol
February 5, 2005 7:28 PM
"After unknowingly eating an atomic matzah that was accidentally baked in a microwave oven with radioactive water, she was surprised to learn that she could fly..." [link to webpage about the Jewish Hero Corps: http://www.nusion.com/jewishsuperhero/jhc.htm] Take your radioactive spiders and your gamma bombs and shove them up your tuchus. I'm casting my lot with the Jewish Hero Corps! [link to: http://www.nusion.com/jewishsuperhero/] But seriously: Most [link to: http://www.marveldirectory.com/teams/fantasticfour.htm] (but not all [link to: http://www.spawn.com/comics/series.aspx?series_id=1]) of the most widely-known superheroes around are a bit on the WASPy side. Is it possible to address issues of ethnicity and identity via superheroes, given the fact that most folks think it's just a lot of punching and zapping? Or do we have to resort to doing via metaphor [link to Amazon.com order page for the X-Men graphic novel: God Loves, Man Kills: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0785100393/metafilter-20/ref=nosim/]?
This is great, thanks!
posted by 6:1 at 7:33 PM on February 5
Incredibly cheesy, but fun! (and i thought the Thing was Jewish?)
posted by amberglow at 7:38 PM on February 5
Nice post, thanks.
And amberglow, the Thing is clearly Irish. That's why he's orange and doesn't get along with the (clearly also Irish) Yancy Street Gang.
posted by interrobang at 7:46 PM on February 5
The Super Friends went ethnic at one point, trying out heroes such as Apache Chief [link to: http://fantasia.ncsa.uiuc.edu/Doug/superhtml/apache.html], Samurai [link to: http://fantasia.ncsa.uiuc.edu/Doug/superhtml/samurai.html], and Black Vulcan [link to: http://fantasia.ncsa.uiuc.edu/Doug/superhtml/blackv.html]. They get graded [link to: http://members.tripod.com/~MitchellBrown/grades/superfriends2.html] here. Marvel tried it in the Contest of Champions [link to: http://ape-law.com/GAF/Page32/] series (great article on a great site). Ireland had "Shamrock" (who had a tiff with "Captain Britain"). China's representative was "Collective Man" (yikes!). The Jewish one in C.O.C. was Sabra [link to: http://ape-law.com/GAF/Page32/contest19.jpg] "Like the spiny pear that is the symbol of the Israeli people from which I derive my name -- I am harsh to my enemies... yet sweet to my friends!" (yikes yikes!)
It's interesting from the usually dismissive attitude given to such attempts to see that people don't seem to like attempts to introduce diversity, even when nothing is really at stake.
Ok, time to take my nerd pills and go to bed.
posted by ontic at 7:47 PM on February 5
...when I was a youngster I used to get tons of Hassidic children's magazines, some of which featured a few panels of Super Neshoma (Hebrew: soul) battling the Yetzer Hora (evil intentions/temptation) in the cut-away view of some unsuspecting Hebrew School kid's heart. There was also a full-length comic involving the messiah and two lil' kids zooming around the galaxy in a cosmic red Volkswagen, performing miracles.
Of course, none of this holds a candle to Anne Frank Conquers the Moon Nazis [link to: http://excelsiorstudios.net/comic.html].
posted by soviet sleepover at 2:48 PM on February 6