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The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Character
Ruth Bat-Seraph
Sabra

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.

Several characters were created with the obvious intention of being Jewish heroes (as opposed to heroes who happen to be Jewish). On Marvel's side this includes Sabra, the heroine of Israel, who first appeared in Incredible Hulk #256 (1981). Not only is she an Israeli Sabra, her powers also resemble the fruit sabra (prickly pear) in that she shoots energy quills. Her costume is based on the Israeli flag.

From: Michael Gelbwasser, "Cool characters entice kids: Jewish superheroes work wonders in American comics", published 7 January 1997 in The Boston Jewish Advocate (http://www.jewishsf.com/bk970107/1bcool.htm; viewed 21 December 2005):

The Jewish community often complains that it's losing young people's attention. Have Jewish leaders checked the comic shops recently?

...Modern comic books -- lively keystones of American popular culture -- aren't afraid to feature numerous new heroes... who have clearly Jewish backgrounds. Nor do comic books shy away from topics of particular Jewish interest, such as interdating...

Marvel Comics, publishers of the Spider-Man and X-Men series, has at least one Jewish character. Sabra, Ruth Bat-Seraph of Israel, has superhuman strength, speed, reflexes, endurance and recuperative powers. Needless to say she is also less vulnerable than most humans.


New Warriors #58, featuring Jewish super-heroes Sabra and Justice, and Syrian Muslim super-hero Batal

From: "Jewish Comics Exhibit Notes" webpage, last updated 5 December 2004 (http://www.geocities.com/hadassahfink/comicexhnotes.htm; viewed 4 July 2007):

New Warriors #58
Israeli super-agent Sabra accompanies Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin to a peace conference in New York, where he is to meet with Syrian President Haffez al-Assad. However, someone manages to brainwash Sabra, making her try to kill both politicians.

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):

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.

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:]
Sabra, Ruth Bat-Seraph, another Israel-based superhero, has a star of David on her headband.

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):

...Shadowcat is far from the only Jewish superhero found in the pages of comic book adventures. Colossal Boy's problems include grappling with whether he should be dating an alien instead of a nice Jewish girl, and Sabra, outfitted in blue-and-white, is Israel's defender...

...And despite historical evidence, it is this image that is the most unlikely of Jewish creations. Perhaps the problem is the physical violence that is so much a part of comics; after all, Jews are considered cerebral problem-solvers. More likely the dissonance comes from characters like Batman celebrating Christmas but not a bar mitzva. The green-hued Hulk may have visited Israel and battled Sabra while he was there, but it wasn't exactly a Jewish outreach experience. So the question remains: Are comic books - and the characters who inhabit them - truly Jewish?

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):

David, Peter. "Little Hitler". The Incredible Hulk #386 Oct. 1991. (NY: Marvel).
A clairvoyant named Delphi has a vision of mind-controlling dictator Max Meer and of prisoners in a concentration camp marching in a desert in front of armed soldiers. Hulk (a superhero) is sent to Jerusalem to kill young Max so that the future can be altered. However, he is delayed by Israeli superheroine Sabra, who is unaware of the vision.

David, Peter. "Hiding Behind Mosques" The Incredible Hulk #387 Nov. 1991 (NY: Marvel).
Superheroes Hulk and Sabra continue their battle which takes them from the Israel Museum to the Western Wall to the golden dome. During the fight, Sabra compares herself to the Israeli state ("attack us and we endure ... and we give as good as we get"), which has the Hulk thinking "Terrific ... I'm fighting the Zionist Recruiting Board". After they call a truce, they try to stop Achilles from killing Max Meer. Achilles distracts them (by telling them about his family being killed during the Holocaust and how the Nazis failed to kill him in the gas chasmbers), while Max runs right into the mind-controlled mob he stirred up. Max becomes seriously hurt by them. The reader is shown that Max was just a medium being controlled and used by his friend Gretta.

Gelbwasser, Michael. "Cool Characters Entice Kids: Jewish Superheroes Work Wonders in American Comics" Boston Jewish Advocate Jan. 7, 1997.

Gelbwasser, Michael. "Look! Up in the Sky! Jewish Superheroes." Jewish Advocate Oct. 19, 1995, pg. PG.
Discusses the Jewish super-heroes Seraph, the Blasters, Colossal Boy, Ragman, Captain Marvel and the Marvel Family, Mindboggler, Ramban, Golem, Judith, Dybbuk, Nuklon, Phantom Stranger and Sabra.

Mantlo, Bill. "Power in the Promised Land". Hulk #256 Feb., 1981. (NY: Marvel).
Bruce Banner (the alter ego of superhero "the Hulk") befriends an Arab boy, who is killed in a Tel Aviv cafe by a terrorist bomb. Israeli superheroine "Sabra" mistakenly believes the Hulk to be an accomplice of the terrorists. Paraphrasing his friend Sahad, Hulk offers a simplistic view of the Middle East conflict: "Boy died because of two old books that say his people and yours must fight and kill for land." Belinda Glass is credited with coming up with the concept of Sabra.

T., Carly. "Why Sabra Kicks Butt: One Teen's Take on Whether an Israeli Female Superhero Should Be Fighting Violently for Peace" JVibe {Sep. 2003}.

In New Warriors #59, the New York-based superhero team the New Warriors are attacked by Sabra, who has been mind-controlled by an unknown enemy. Justice is a member of the new Warriors who, like Sabra, is Jewish. Justice snaps Sabra back to reality by getting her to think of her dead son, who Justice resembles. He does this by reciting the Kaddish, the Jewish prayer for the dead.

Discussion

From: "What religion do superhero's belong to? [sic]" forum discussion started 18 July 2002 on "Toon Zone" website (http://forums.toonzone.net/showthread.php?t=41332; viewed 21 May 2007):

07-18-2002, 01:02 PM
wonderfly

What religion do superhero's [sic] belong to?

I'd like to discuss what religious beliefs are favorite costumed hero's belong to. Everyone knows Daredevil is Catholic. But beyond that, what do we know of superhero's beliefs? I'm thinking of mostly the Marvel Universe, but you DC fans feel free to contribute as well...


07-18-2002, 04:03 PM
Ed Liu

...Kitty Pryde of the X-Men and Sabra, the superheroine protector of Israel, are both Jewish. I'm also going to stretch a bit and claim that Magneto's wife was probably Jewish as well, which would make the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver ethnically Jewish, although I've never seen them refer to their religions in the comics...

From: "Catholic Clix - Comic info needed!" forum discussion started 3 May 2003 on HCRealms website (http://www.hcrealms.com/forum/archive/index.php/t-40338.html; viewed 24 May 2007):

clixhunter
08/16/2003, 20:18

Other Jewish heroes are: Justice, Sabra, Magneto.

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):
Dana Smith
13 May 2004
Yes... Kitty's always been Jewish. More Jewish folks... Doc Samson, Moon Knight, Volcana, Sasquatch, The Thing, Songbird... Sabra

From: "The Corner" (letter column), published in National Review Online, 29 July 2002 (http://www.nationalreview.com/thecorner/2002_07_28_corner-archive.asp#85294045; viewed 12 May 2006):

ARRRRGGHH!!!!
[Jonah Goldberg]
Posted 2:08 PM

Email box ...filling with...comic geeknesssss...losing...consciousness. A few quick points... I've been told that "Sabra" was a nice Jewish girl too.


DOES THE THING OBSERVE THE SABBATH?
[Jonathan Adler]
Posted 2:53 PM

A reader asks whether there are any observant Jewish superheroes. Unless Sabra counts, I doubt it.

From: "Islamic super heroes: Are there any?" forum discussion, started 23 August 2005 on "Comic Book Resources" website (http://forums.comicbookresources.com/archive/index.php/t-76010.html; viewed 28 May 2007):

Crinos
08-23-2005, 10:06 PM

Well, anyways, I was thinking of an idea for a UN-sanctioned super hero team with represenatives from different countries, and one of them is a female telepath from Turkey... named Sultana. And I suddenly realized that for the life of me I can't think of a single Muslim super-hero from either Marvel or DC.

So, are there any? And please don't turn this into a political debate.


Calybos
08-24-2005, 01:11 PM

...In Marvel, the New Warriors (led by Justice, himself Jewish) have encountered Israeli superhero Sabra and Syrian champion Batal. Their religions aren't specified, but does anyone care to guess...?


Typo Lad
08-24-2005, 01:21 PM

Sabra's Jewish. In fact, the New Warriors story is the first one that established her as actually being non-secular. Justice snaps her out of hypnosis by recieting the Mourners Prayer.

From: "New Christian JLA member" message board, started 5 May 2005 on official DC Comics website (http://dcboards.warnerbros.com/web/thread.jspa?threadID=2000023085; viewed 15 May 2006):

kissmyringagain
Posted: May 6, 2005 3:09 AM

I am a Christian... There is a reason there is no Christian superhero. Same reason as there is no real Jewish [superhero]... that flaunt their religion or fight for religious belief specific notions. It's because they would be offensive to many, if not most, of the readership.

Besides -- Zauriel, Bloodwynd, Wonder Woman, the Spectre, the Quintet, etc., etc., are all based on or are slaves to religious beliefs, but none actively flaunt it, or debate which is correct, so a hard-line Christian super hero would probably not sit too well.


hellstone1
Posted: May 6, 2005 3:50 AM

Well, I'm gonna hit you. Nightcrawler, Daredevil, [4 other Christian superheroes] are all Christians. Sabra, Seraph, Ramban, Atom-Smasher and the Thing are Jewish... Many of them have debated their beliefs in the comics - as you say, not the hardline way, but that is definitely not the same as saying that they are not Christian superheroes [or Jewish superheroes], or that they are not devoted.

As far as I know, none of them are fundamentalists, against other religions or...

From: "Religious affiliations of comic characters" message board started 29 January 2006 in "Gotham After Dark" section of EZBoard.com website (http://p073.ezboard.com/fgothampmfrm37.showMessage?topicID=161.topic; viewed 27 May 2006):

Hitman Tommy Monaghan
1/30/06 5:51 am

...Seriously though there are a few heroes out there that have been id'ed [identified] as one religion or another but I kinda fall on the line of "none specified" as best. Not because I'm anti-religion, but because it makes these icons just that, ICONS and universally acceptable regardless of religion.

I understand Sabra at Marvel as a member of Mossad is Jewish and that kinda makes sense but to slap a belief on Bruce or anyone else seems to limit the character more than it broadens it IMO [in my opinion]. Then again I've been wrong before. Just tell me to go sit in the bar if I am Miss Kitty.

From: "an Asian as a major hero. FINALLY. but..." message board started 21 April 2006 on official DC Comics website (http://dcboards.warnerbros.com/web/thread.jspa?threadID=2000072443&start=15; viewed 31 May 2006):

ponypants
Posted: May 1, 2006 9:08 AM

Speaking of minorities...

The new Asian Atom isn't replacing a typical white male whom, as with most heroes, you'd presume to be Christian. Ray Palmer is one of the few Jewish characters in comics, and certainly one of the most famous and prominent...

The two most powerful Jewish heroes are Marvel's Sabra and DC's Seraph.

Sabra has gone toe to toe with Hulk, losing the fight of course, but doing well relatively speaking. Her appearances in X-Men also show her kicking @$$ big time. She has super strebgth, invunerability, flight, and energy sapping quills she shoots into her opponents skin...

From: "Religious Inclinations of heroes" message board, started 1 March 2005 on StarDestroyer.net website (http://bbs.stardestroyer.net/viewtopic.php?t=63632&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=25; viewed 8 June 2006):

Stravo
Posted: Tue Mar 01, 2005 6:38 pm

Post subject: Religious Inclinations of heroes

What about other heroes? I notice religion rarely plays a part in mainstream superhero comics (absent things like the Vertigo line) but have you ever picked up on hints or outright admissions by some heroes as to their religious inclinations?

Seems that atheistic heroes are as rare in comics as in real life. If they are religious it's a sort Judaeo-Christian wishy washy sort of religion... Any other examples of guesses?


The Dark
Posted: Sun Mar 20, 2005 12:01 am

...Jewish characters include... the Hayoth, Ragman, Sabra, and Rose (from Punisher)...

From: "Muslim characters in comics" message board, started 22 January 2006 in Batman discussion board area of official DC Comics website (http://dcboards.warnerbros.com/web/thread.jspa?threadID=2000059913&start=30&tstart=0; viewed 9 June 2006):

sandwraith
Posted: Jan 24, 2006 8:04 PM

Whoa whoa... easy now guys, this thread seems to be taking on a life of its own. As some of you said, there have been characters made with connections to their faith. I can think of a couple off the top of my head but for some reason Sabra (token Israeli superheroine... come on Marvel,you can do better than that) keeps coming to mind. Thankfully in comics nowadays religion isn't really played up except in the recent issues of Cap America where the Extremists just happen to be Muslim (come on, he can't be fighting Nazis all the time).

From: "Religion of the X-Men" message board started 15 May 2005 on Comic Book Resources website (http://forums.comicbookresources.com/archive/index.php/t-58362.html; viewed 13 June 2006):

Emerald Ghost
05-15-2005, 05:56 PM

Do you ever wonder what religion an X-Man is? I know they are just characters, but still, just for the fun of it.

I am wondering if you could guess their religion by their character, or what they've said, etc.


The Lucky One
05-15-2005, 07:38 PM

...As for [other] characters...
Kitty Pryde, Sabra - Jewish...


Dr. Killbydeath
05-15-2005, 07:41 PM

The saddest thing is how under-represented Jews are, and their portrayal.

Kitty might be the least religious Jew ever (plus I'm sure her family would love that she's going out with a guy who's grandparents probably muscled them out of Russia), Magneto is superevil. And Sabra shows up three times every twenty years.


The Fury
05-16-2005, 02:11 AM

The problem is that whether they are strongly religious or not.

While some like Nightcrawler, Storm and Sabra are obvious to their beliefs and faith, there are many that I don't think I've ever seen mention their beliefs or gone to church...

From: "X-Men religious affiliations" thread started 1 June 2002 on rec.arts.comics.marvel.xbooks newsgroup (http://groups.google.com/group/rec.arts.comics.marvel.xbooks/browse_thread/thread/78e6830d00083d2f/102a03cd2dab9fda; viewed 13 June 2006):

From: Chris Dodson
Date: Sat, Jun 1 2002 9:38 pm

I'm looking for information on the religious beliefs of all the current X-Men for a story I'm submitting to Marvel. The only one I know for sure is Nightcrawler (Catholic). I get the impression that Wolverine is an atheist or agnostic, but I have no in-comic evidence to support this. Any help you guys could give me would be greatly appreciated. Also, in your responses, could you provide titles and issue numbers of the comics in which the information is stated? Thanks.


From: The Question
Date: Mon, Jun 3 2002 5:17 am

...Sabra would be Jewish...

From: Michael, "No Sunday School In Smallville", posted 12 June 2006 on "Tales to Mildly Astonish" blog website (http://talestomildlyastonish.blogspot.com/2006/06/no-sunday-school-in-smallville.html; viewed 15 June 2006):
...There are precious few heroes of faith in comics, mainstream or alternative, and the more I think about that, the less I like it. Most heroes' religion is used as a type of shorthand characterization, something to fill space in the Handbook... As for other faiths, they're often reduced to embarrassing costume elements and stereotypes (c.f. Arabian Knight, Dust, any Amerindian character ever, any voodoo-themed character except for Empress, and even Sabra, Marvel's defender of Israel).

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/e46638dbdaa8a219; viewed 22 June 2006):

From: Dwiff
Date: Tues, Sep 21 1999 12:00 am

...Anyone care to post a list of those characters whose spiritual beliefs are on record? Of the top of my head:
Sabra: Hebrew (d'uh)
[6 other characters listed]

From: "Where are the Christian Superheroes?" forum discussion page started 22 August 2006 on Newsarama website (http://forum.newsarama.com/archive/index.php/t-81451.html; viewed 5 May 2007):

Mr Wesley
08-22-2006, 10:03 AM

...I pose the question to you, my fellow Talk@Ramanians: If Christianity is the most popular faith in the United States, why aren't there more openly Christian superheroes?


Thunderstorm
08-22-2006, 04:57 PM

I think characters like Sabra, who wears a Star of David on her chest, are more the comparisons this guy was looking for. There's not a Christian superhero I can think of who is that equal.

From: "Who's Catholic in the Marvel Universe" forum discussion started 5 February 2005 on "HCRealms" website (http://www.hcrealms.com/forum/showthread.php?t=123637; viewed 10 May 2007):

Shellhead
02/05/2005, 15:35

I know a lot of characters are Jewish, so I was wondering who is officially Catholic?

I know Daredevil is... I also believe Firebird from the West Coast Avengers... After that, I'm pretty much stumped...


[http://www.hcrealms.com/forum/showthread.php?t=123637&page=2]

venomeng
02/07/2005, 18:58

Which characters are Jewish? Shadowcat's the only one I remember.


Shellhead
02/11/2005, 20:16

Sasquatch is Jewish.

Sabra (she was an X-man for about a minute) is Jewish.

Apparently Ben Grimm, the... Thing is... Jewish now...

From: "Tonight I'm gonna party like it's 5767", posted 22 September 2006 on "SwanShadow Thinks Out Loud" blog website (http://www.swanshadow.com/2006/09/tonight-im-gonna-party-like-its-5767.html; viewed 21 May 2007):

Happy New Year and L'Chaim to all of SSTOL's Jewish readers! (You know who you are. At least, I hope you do.)

In celebration of Rosh Hashanah - which, for the benefit of my fellow goyim, begins tonight at sunset - today's Comic Art Friday celebrates heroes and heroines of the Hebrew persuasion. If you're an SSTOL regular, you've seen both of today's artworks on previous occasions, but feel welcome to enjoy them again on this New Year's Eve/Day (depending upon what time of day you read this)...

Probably the most identifiably Jewish heroes in comics are the two pictured in the following drawing by longtime industry stalwart Rich Buckler. Another of my Common Elements pieces, this one portrays a clash of titans: The Thing (real name: Benjamin Jacob Grimm), the rock-skinned powerhouse of the Fantastic Four, and Sabra (real name: Ruth Bat-Seraph), the national superheroine of Israel.

From: "Religious Characters In Marvel" forum discussion started 15 September 2006 on "Comic Book Resources" website (http://forums.comicbookresources.com/archive/index.php/t-143850.html; viewed 25 May 2007):

Nogs
09-15-2006, 09:01 PM

The other day I was thinking about religion and comic books... What I'm interested in is the way religious characters are portrayed in comic books...

I think the first step is listing what characters are what religion...


mattbib
09-15-2006, 09:03 PM

Shadowcat is Jewish, as is Sabra.

Firebird is Christian, though I don't know which denomination.

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):

furie
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?


spideyguy0
12-12-2005, 06:07 AM

The Thing, Kitty Pride, and Sabra come to mind, and I'm pretty sure there are more. I think I have a list somewhere.


Loki
12-12-2005, 06:09 AM

Off the top of my head, Magneto would mostly fall into the villain category. On the heroic side, Sabra, Shadowcat, Thing, White Tiger (Kasper Cole, not the others of that name).


CireNagoh
12-12-2005, 01:28 PM

...I do wish they'd do something MORE with Sabra.


mattx110
12-17-2005, 08:45 PM

...Sabra (think that's her name) is Jewish, and probably a few more of the unimportant random kid mutants in the X-Mansion, but oh well.


Citizen V
01-31-2006, 06:16 PM

Magneto is Jewish, but this is a fact that not many comics fans either know, or remember. Quicksilver and The Scarlet Witch are also half Jewish, because of their father, Magneto.

I sometimes think that Dr. Doom is Jewish, since his parents were gypsies. I may be wrong, though.

Sabra is the only Jewish hero i can think of who makes that statement clear. It's a shame, she is a character that has a lot of potential.

I have a feeling that there are more Jewish, or those who have Jewish characters in the Marvel Universe.


Sandy Hausler
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.

Kitty Pryde, when she first started appearing in the early issues of X-Men, wore a Jewish Star (Star of David) necklace all the time, which is a pretty clear statement that she's Jewish, though not of her religiousity.

Of course, Sabra, being Israeli, has a costume that reflects her Jewishness, though that is more a nationalistic thing, than a religious one, in my opinion.

Other heroes, whose Jewishness has been stated in unmistakeable terms are:

Moon Knight -- his father was a rabbi.

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.


Typo Lad
02-01-2006, 06:04 AM

They also made a point of Justice being Jewish a time or two.

I personally would have loved it if they'd had Sabra turn out to be an Israeli Arab or Christian. That would be awesome.


Haunt
02-05-2006, 12:11 PM

From what I recall, Sabra (Marvel's prototypical Jewish hero) did everything but strip for Vance [Justice] when she met him. I thought it weird at the time because of the age difference.


Typo Lad
02-05-2006, 02:37 PM

I thought it [the scene between Sabra and Justice] weird because it was just so damn trampy. "Look! A Jewish Mutant! LET US MAKE BABIES!"


Dermie
02-06-2006, 08:29 AM

Actually, the really weird--and disturbing--part is that Sabra said that Vance reminded her of her son... and then started hitting on him.


StoneGold
02-06-2006, 11:55 AM

re: ...Astrovik COULD be a Jewish name. Do we have proof the dad's not?

I'm pretty sure it was brought up at some point, although that's only if you're willing to accept what are probably decade-old memories.


Mr. Croup
02-05-2006, 08:02 AM

...People are Jewish only if their mother is Jewish.


Taskmaster
02-06-2006, 02:40 PM

re: People are Jewish only if their mother is Jewish.

Where the hell did you get that from? My mother is not Jewish, yet I was raised Jewish, had a Bar-Mitzvah, etc...


Frank
02-07-2006, 04:52 AM

re: As for Doc Samson, for gosh sakes, of course he's Jewish.

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.

re: And Moonknight.

Was this from the Doug Moech stories?

I just think people should see their favorite characters the way they want. It's like if they would start identifying Hawkeye as Irish and then Joe Q would say: "Yes, Clint is Irish! His creator wanted him that way!". The answer from fans would be: "Who the heck cares about what you think".


Sandy Hausler
02-07-2006, 05:27 AM

All right, here's my view:

...Sabra is Jewish. Not only is she Israeli (which, I have to admit, is indicative, but not definitive), but her name is Ruth ben Sera (later changed to Ruth bat Seraph, for reasons that I don't understand), a Hebrew name and one that is almost certainly not the name of a Christian or Arab. I believe she served in the Israel army, which would eliminate the possibility of her being an Arab. (Israeli Arabs don't serve in the military.) Also her first (and only) meeting with the Arabian Knight was not friendly, making it unlikely that she is Arab. Of course, someone could later come along and say that her name was changed, and she's really the daughter of a Nazi war criminal who came to Israel because it was the last place anyone would look for him, but until that happens, the evidence is that she is Jewish...

...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?


Typo Lad
02-07-2006, 05:45 AM

Plus [Sabra] she said Kaddish for her dead kid, you know.


Sandy Hausler
02-07-2006, 11:36 AM

re: Untrue. There are Israeli Arabs in the IDF.

You are correct. Arabs are not required to go to the Israelis army. Some do. But I think I can say without any chance of contradiction, most do not.

Oh, and the kaddish thing is definitely the clincher.

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
TheToileteer

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: "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/]?


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

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... Jews... I know there's more, but I just thought I'd mention these four as they seem like important ones to include.

From: "Please Help List Minority Groups" forum discussion, started 11-05-2006 on "Super-Hero Hype" website (http://forums.superherohype.com/showthread.php?t=255464; viewed 12 July 2007):

11-05-2006, 02:40 PM
Popo 85

Hey guys,
I'm doing a project for Ohio State University about subordinate group representation in Marvel Comic's superhero population (pretty awesome, huh?)

A subordinate group basically means a population that's not a dominant group. And I've got 7 categories to fill; ethnic, gender, religious, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, age, and physical or mental ability. ..though I think I'll cut socioeconomic status do to it's fine line-ish qualities in comics.

So, how about I'll give what I've got so far, and then feel free to add to my lists. I think I have a pretty good handle on the MU, but it's still huge and I don't want to forget anybody. Should be fun anyway...


11-05-2006, 07:03 PM
Kitsune

Sabra is Jewish, but I'm not sure that would count [as a minority character] since she's an Isreali hero.

From: "Who Wants to Be Mr. Mitzvah?", posted by arye on 13 July 2007 on Heeb Magazine website (http://www.heebmagazine.com/blog/view/225; viewed 13 July 2007):

The greatest television show in broadcast history was not The Sopranos, but rather it is Who Wants To Be A Superhero? The ultra-campy Sci-Fi Channel original series which begins airing Season 2 on July 26 makes John Waters look straight-faced. Who can resist the unbridled hilarity behind grown men and women well into their 20s and 30s living as real-life super powered heroes? With every episode watched last summer, I comparatively felt 13% cooler. By the end of Season 1, I was like an Upper West Side James Dean, albeit with seasonal allergies.

Last week, the Sci-Fi Channel debuted the cast of characters for Season 2 online and one of the personalities listed is Mr. Mitzvah. Mitzvah, whose real name - excuse me, whose secret identity is Ivan Wilzig, a 51-year old (?!?) recording artists and philanthropist carries a Star of David ping pong paddle that his father gave him on the day of his Bar Mitzvah. The blinged-out paddle complete with shiny sparkles isn't just any paddle, mind you: It's the very same one that was originally given to David after he defeated Goliath. Apparently, Wilzig's father made this story up to save from spending money on the ball, table and second paddle.

Alas, Mitzvah's profile is a tad too stereotypical for my taste. Here was the hero's opportunity to break free from the Seinfeldian perception of Jews worldwide. Nevertheless, Mitzvah lists "oy vey" and "mazel tov" as his catch phrases and non-kosher foods, such as pork, lobster and shrimp, as his vulnerabilities. Why not go even further and include "saving money" as a primary objective? Why wasn't his weapon a mohel's knife sharp enough to cut even the most villainous foreskin? Or perhaps one of his powers should have been the ability to feed matzoh to his enemies therein constipating them for weeks?

By all this, I'm simply suggesting that super heroes have always either been in the closet about being Jewish (the Thing) or way too obvious about their affiliation (Sabra)? Isn't there a medium here somewhere? Or am I asking for too much? Maybe I just need to start small by asking that our hero representatives carry something a tad more threatening than a glittering ping pong paddle.


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