A Jewish comedian claimed not long ago that he grew up thinking that all the comic-book superheroes were Jewish, because, like, say, Goldman and Federrman, all their names end in “man”: Spiderman, Batman, Superman…
A report on MSNBC this week examined more seriously the topic of religion in comics, which are growing more concerned with faith, according to the story. The American superhero’s origin in Judaism have been explored, both in fact (click here for an essay on Superman and the Golem) and fiction, most famously in Michael Chabon’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel, “The Adventures of Kavalier and Klay.” MSNBC’s reporter interviews several academics who point out the growing interest comic-book writers have taken in religion, to gratify an their audience that is increasingly adult, and, like the country as a whole, increasingly religious.
The theme pops up too on Progressive U., a national student blog, in an interesting essay about the essential religious nature of comics. The author portrays comics as modern pop mythologies—you know, the boogie-man stories equivalent to cave paintings that we flatter ourselves our society doesn’t indulge in anymore. Comic books, the essay claims, allows us to feel awe—mostly concocted but sometimes taking a share of reality, as in the nearly wordless 9/11 installment of “The Amazing Spiderman.”
For the record, with due respect to my Jewish brothers and sisters, Batman was an Episcopalian, and Superman a Methodist, as you can read here.