The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Character
David Charles Haller
David Charles Haller, also known as "Legion," was the son of Charles Xavier, the leader and founder of the X-Men. David's mother was Gabrielle Haller, an Israeli ambassador to the United Kingdom who was, for a time, Charles Xavier's lover. David Haller was born in Haifa, Israel and was an Israeli citizen.
David Haller was raised entirely by his mother, Gabrielle Haller, a Jewish Israeli. David's father Charles Xavier was unaware of David's existence until David was in his late teens, and his mother sought help from Charles in dealing with David's emerging powers and multiple personality disorder.
While in Paris, David Haller witnessed the murder of his own godfather, Daniel Shomron, at the hands of a fundamentalist Islamic terrorist group, led by Jemail Karami. This trauma triggered the release of David Haller's innate psionic powers. He reflexively used his psionic powers to incinerate the minds of the terrorists. However, as he did so, he made telepathic contact with their minds, and he experienced their own thoughts and feelings. The horror of what he had done put him into a catatonic state. He also absorbed the consciousness of Jemail Karami, the leader of the terrorist group that. As a result, Jemail Karami became one of David Haller's 3 alternative personalities. Legion's consciousness could thus be said to be part Jewish and part Muslim.
David Haller's mind fragmented into distinct personalities, each of which manifest different aspects of his mutant psionic powers. Cyndi (a teenaged girl) controlled his pyrotechnic abilities. Jack Wayne, a handsome adult adventurer type, controlled David's telekinetic power. Jemail Karami controlled David's telepathic powers.
Legion is usually not regarded as a member (or former member) of the X-Men or the New Mutants, despite the fact that he was the focus of some prominent storylines in the comics featuring those teams. Technically, however, Legion was a member of a short-lived team of X-Men based out of Muir Island in Uncanny X-Men #254-255 (1989). This team was formed by Banshee after the regular X-Men were presumed to have been killed in "The Fall of the Mutants." The individuals who joined Banshee's "X-Men" at this time are now, however, usually regarded as "official X-Men." Other members of this "team" included Amanda Sefton, Sunder, Sharon Friedlander, Tom Corsi and Alysande Stuart.
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,... Volcana, Legion and more.
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):
Lobdell, Scott. "Auld Lang Syne" Uncanny X-Men #321 Feb. 1995 (NY: Marvel), reprinted in X-Men: Legionquest (NY: Marvel, 1996).
Lobdell, Scott. "The Son Rises in the East". Uncanny X-Men #320 Jan. 1995 (NY: Marvel), reprinted in X-Men: Legionquest (NY: Marvel, 1996).
Nicieza, Fabian. "The Killing Time" X-Men #40 Jan. 1995 (NY: Marvel), reprinted in X-Men: Legionquest (NY: Marvel, 1996).
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/p2; viewed 28 May 2006):
Date Posted: 5/21 9:06am
re: "You think Magneto had a Bar Mitzvah?... What other jewish comic characters you can think of?"
David Haller, Gabrielle Haller's illegitimate son by Charles Xavier, pobably did not -- he was suffering from Dissociative Identity Disorder prior to his powers manifesting, because he was so insanely powerful, and he probably was too ill and unstable to go through the studies and religious service.
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, 01:51 PM
I always thought that both Magneto and Charles Xavier were Jewish. I thought it added some real character depth to Magneto as a character. If I saw my parents slaughtered by the Nazi's then I might be looking to wipe-out human kind as well...
12-12-2005, 03:27 PM
Chuck [i.e., Charles Xavier] ain't Jewish. But his crazy homicidal, occasionally dead son is.
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):
The Thing isn't Marvel's only well-known Jewish character. In fact, I'd say the other one is better-known, and his ethnicity has always been known: the man who goes by the pseudonym Erik Magnus Lensherr, Magneto.
posted by Sangermaine at 11:02 PM on February 5
On another note, since comics are a written medium, you obviously never hear the characters speak. But if you think about it, Dr. Doom should have a thick Eastern European accent, and Magneto a Polish one, for example.
posted by Sangermaine at 11:04 PM on February 5
There's actually an entire section of the unofficial X-Men FAQ talking about whether Magneto was a Rroma (Gypsy) or a Jew [link to: http://www.faqs.org/faqs/comics/xbooks/main-faq/part6/section-2.html], backed up with more comic book citations and historical research into the Holocaust than is surely healthy for a fictional character.
Note that Israel also plays a big but largely overlooked part in X-Men continuity, as it's where Xavier first meets Magneto in the 1950's, It's also the first time he meets a fellow mutant, period; Xavier doesn't meet and help a young Jean Grey until the 1960's. And it's also where he falls in love and unknowingly knocks up Gabrielle Haller:
"David Charles Haller [link to: http://www.marveldirectory.com/individuals/l/legion.htm] is the son of Charles Xavier, who later became the founder of the two teams of superhuman mutants, the X-Men and the New Mutants, and Gabrielle Haller, who later became the Israel ambassador to Great Britain. Xavier and Gabrielle Haller had an affair in Israel nearly two decades ago, and Xavier was unaware when he left Israel that Haller was pregnant with his son...
When David was living in Paris with his mother, who was a member of the Israel diplomatic service, her home was invaded by a terrorist assassination team out to kill every Israeli they could find there. They murdered David's godfather, Daniel Shomron, before his eyes..."
The traumatized David consequently ends up becoming a supervillain known as Legion (quote taken from the Biblical "I am Legion"). He goes back in time to kill Magneto, but accidentally kills Xavier instead, so that the X-Men never get formed. This sets off a huge multi-book storyline dubbed "The Age of Apocalypse".
In other words, they take an Israeli-born male Jew with a Biblical-derived name, show him to be seemingly nice but really super-evil, and have him kill off a Christ-like figure, ushering in the apocalypse. Ooookay then.
I mean, it still wasn't as blatantly religious as DC's Kingdom Come storyline, which was Book of Revelations up the wazoo, but come on.
posted by Asparagirl at 12:02 AM on February 6
From: "Religious Super Heroes PC or otherwise" forum discussion, started 17 September 2003 on "HERO Games" website (http://www.herogames.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-8036.html; viewed 12 July 2007):
Sep 17th, '03, 09:38 PM
Another thread got me to thinking a bit about religious super heroes. They do occur in comic books. Some it barely gets mentioned, some few are quite devout in their faith...
How much or little does your typical super human in your campaign (or game if you are a player) let his/her faith affect his/her life especially AS a super hero?
Sep 17th, '03, 10:05 PM
I have had players play Christian, Wiccan, and Satanist characters. My characters tend to be either agnostic or Buddhist. Right now I'm working on some fanfic with Marvel's Legion, David Charles Haller Xavier, who is a devout Sunni Muslem and lassez faire Jewish at the same time. The wonders of multiple personalities.
Webpage created 21 December 2005. Last modified 8 August 2007.
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