Monday, January 28, 2013

The Man of Steel is Elderly and Jewish

I know you are kinda wondering what I'm getting at.  Well, this past Sunday I attended a 75th Birthday Party for Superman at the Center for Jewish History.  That's right, the very first issue of Action Comics came out in June of 1938.  Wowza.

There was a panel discussion about how Superman endured 75 years and whether he really was supposed to be Jewish.  The panel consisted of a group of experts in Judaism and Superman.

* Nicky Wheeler-Nicholson Brown, whose grandfather founded the company that became DC Comics
* Jenette Kahn, former publisher and president of DC Comics
* Sam Norich, publisher of The Jewish Daily Forward
* Jim Shooter, who sold his first Superman story as he was turning 13
* Larry Tye, author of Superman: The High-Flying History of America’s Most Enduring Hero
* David Weiss, whose father was, in the eyes of Superman co-creator Joe Shuster, a dead ringer for his Man of Steel.

What I learned is that while Superman's creators were Jewish, every religion out there has laid claim to our favorite superhero.  Larry Tye made a great argument for keeping him as a Jew, including connecting Superman's origin story to that of Moses.  Sam Norwich also added in that during the times that Jerry Siegel created Superman, many Jews were hiding their religion, just like Clark Kent was used to hide Superman.  Tye also showed off his Superman t-shirt, with the S inside a star of david.  Love it!

My favorite part of the panel was the great banter back and forth about their love of Superman.  Jim Shooter talked about how international Superman is.  Shooter told a story about a Superman comic that his father bought him abroad in a different language.  He remarked that he didn't need to read it because he wrote it!  Jenette Kahn also remarked about what makes Superman special;  "The one person who absolute power could not absolutely corrupt."

Paul Levitz, of DC fame, was also in attendance and got up to answer a question about the new Superman flick.  Levitz basically said this was the first Superman film he hadn't read and was excited to see it in the theaters.  So much for spoilers!

Still, this was a great event, with an audience ranging from kids, to super fans, to a gentleman celebrating his own 75th birthday.  To top off the fantastic afternoon, there was cake!  Great way to start off a year celebrating the Man of Steel!

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