My brother, sister-in-law, and their four boys are “Justice League” and “Avengers” junkies. One year, for Purim, they each dressed up as a member of these elite crime-fighting teams (Nancy, of course, was Wonder Woman). Just ask any one of them about any character or story background, and you’ll get a megillah in response.
Comic book crime fighters and villains have been around since the late 1920s. Many publishing companies – and beloved characters – have come and gone over the decades, but there have been two major notable players (owned by Jews): DC Comics and Marvel Comics. DC gave us the likes of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and the Green Lantern. Marvel introduced us to Iron Man, Thor, the Hulk, Captain America, and Spider-Man. While I personally was never into reading comic books, I certainly fell in love with most of these smart and fearless men as they graced the big screen over the years.
Now, whether or not you know the intimate facts and details of each of these characters’ lives, you certainly have heard of them or have a sense of what they do and what they stand for. First, how do they do what they do? It’s important to note that, with the exception of Superman, most superheroes are human. They don’t possess actual super-powers; rather they have extraordinary skills and abilities – or a special “gift” – they strategically put to use to keep the planet safe. For example, Tony Stark uses special armored suits to become Iron Man; Bruce Wayne changes into Batman with the assistance of hi-tech mask and cape, car, gadgets and gizmos; and the bite of a radioactive spider transforms Peter Parker in a Spider-Man with ability to scale buildings and shoot out webs.
Why do they do what they do? Simply put: superheroes have a strong moral desire to protect the public from criminals, and save the world from super-villains who threaten humanity. They know right from wrong. Their mission is to take on the fight between “good” and “evil.”
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ISIS terrifies me. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria…what began as an extremist Sunni jihadist group has become a super-villain. This nemesis is growing in strength and numbers and territory. With today’s news, if Kobani is taken, ISIS could expand into Turkey. Then what? What does ISIS want?
In the world of superheroes, the adversaries range from aliens from other planets (like Superman’s General Zod from Krypton) to Nazis (Captain America’s enemies). The “bad guys” all want to achieve two things: kill the superhero and obliterate everything that does not conform to their particular belief system. The superhero, in turn, must do everything possible to neutralize the evil powers.
So, what does ISIS want? What every archenemy wants…control and world domination. Since Jews have always been persecuted and Israel gets such negative press, I didn’t pay much attention to ISIS at first. I frankly was relieved that attention was focused elsewhere in the Middle East. But now that thousands of Christians are being threatened to convert to Islam and are being killed (beheaded!), we ALL must be afraid…as Americans, living in a multicultural and capitalistic democracy, we all should be very concerned. First the Jews, then the Christians, and then who?
A bunch of Jews, working with others, created the fictional worlds – in comics, on TV, and in the moves – of superhero action figures and their archrivals. Their plots and stories — with all kinds of moral lessons — are playing themselves out in today’s non-fictional world.
We need a REAL superhero! Can we afford to wait for him or her to show up like Jews have been waiting for centuries for the Messiah to come? Can we create him or her by inventing a new technology or swallowing some super-pill that will give us the ability to successfully fight back? Can Jews, Christians, moderate Muslims, those of other faiths and even non-believers put their differences aside and come together for the greater good to overcome this evil foe?
We have to do something. Who’s with me?