Jewish Comicbook Superheroes and the Messiah

Will Eisner was a Jewish artist who skillfully crafted books using cartoon-style pictures to tell a story. He is known as the father of ‘Graphic Novels’[1] which are entire books where each page is full of pictures, like a comic book, but with serious subject matter. He called it ‘Sequential Art’. Not only did he give birth to a new genre, but he used his skills to speak up for his people.

Eisner, along with many other Jewish comic artists, rose to great success as they carved a new path. Rather than avoid cartoons altogether after the cruelty of Goebbels’ propaganda campaign which justified the holocaust, Jewish artists reclaimed the art form and made it their own. And became hugely successful. God’s hand of blessing can be seen upon his people throughout the ages.

During the time that the comic industry was really taking off, there were many Jewish artists leading in the field, and in the entertainment industry generally. As Jewish people emigrated to America and other places for safety, they found that they were denied jobs in the professions they had trained in, often due to discrimination[2]. Some had come as city professionals, lawyers, bankers and so on, but could not find work in those fields. They had instead found another way to make a living. In the entertainment industry.

The idea of the Messiah, someone with supernatural power to put the world to rights, is hardwired into Jewish thinking, so it should be no surprise that most of the creators of the superheroes we know today (Superman, Spiderman, Batman, Ironman, The X-Men, The Hulk, Thor, the Fantastic Four, the Avengers and Captain America) were Jewish!

When we look beyond the surface of the colourful cartoons, there is a great deal of depth to the ideas behind these superheroes[3]. For example, Superman is a classic Messiah type figure, based on the prototype of Moses.

“It makes sense that Superman would be so close to Moses. Moses had this double life – he was raised in a foreign culture, a foreign land, and as a child was put in a basket and sent away. He also had a double identity. And Moses was the voice of God, like ‘Kal-El’; it’s the Moses story,” Rabbi Simcha Weinstein.

Indeed, there are many intriguing aspects of Judaism to be found in the stories of superheros. But why were grown Jewish men inventing all these cartoon heroes?

The power of pictures for good or for evil

If you visit the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem you can see another kind of cartoon. The Nazis understood the power of pictures very well.  The story of how the comic book industry came to being starts at a time when cartoons were being used by the Nazi propaganda machine to vilify the Jewish people in the 1930s. Images of hook-nosed Jews trying to take over the world were commonplace, but many cartoon superheroes, like Captain America as a prime example, were created to fight the Nazis in comic books. The Jewish idea of the Messiah is often the valiant victor over Israel’s foes.

Accusations are continually flung at Jews that they are scheming to take over the world, and that they are plotting dastardly world domination enterprises. Antisemitism breeds through malicious cartoons which depict these ideas even to this day. The second world war showed us the power of propaganda, but the use of art to slander Jewish people didn’t start with the Nazis and it hasn’t ended there either. There are various false accusations flung at the Jewish people on a regular basis. See if you recognise any of these:

Jews are all rich, money-grasping or dishonest
Jews run a secret, powerful financial or political empire
Jews control governments through a powerful Jewish lobby
Jews killed Jesus
Jewish people use the blood of non-Jewish children in their ritual practices
Jews are animals, demons or lesser beings
Jews and/or Israel do not deserve the same rights as other peoples
Jews are like Nazis – an illegitimate regime of racial hatred [4]

Often in protests on our streets today we can hear same antisemitic ideas among the crowd, posing as “Anti-Zionism”:

“They control all the media and entertainment industry!”
“They control the banking and finance systems!”[5]
“They are trying to take over the world!”
“They callously spill innocent blood for their own purposes!”

The same sort of outlandish accusations are hurled over and over again, and have been for many years. These ideas come from none other than the Father of Lies, using a tiny bit of truth and twisting it out of all context and proportion. They prey on people’s fears and envy, so in a climate of social unrest and economic hardship they go down like a tasty morsel.

The Protocols of the Elders of Zion – a horror story

Will Eisner, a bit of a superhero himself, crafted one of his graphic novels to debunk the myth of “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” as clearly as he could in a book called “The Plot”. He told the story of exactly what had happened to lead to this conspiracy theory hitting the mainstream media, and how it was proven to be false. But people still continue to fall for it.

If I told you that a section of a fictional book – literally content taken from a novel – was read aloud in the Greek Parliament as if it was fact, you might find that a bit ridiculous. But it happened [7]. Henry Ford, the man behind Ford cars, was also fooled into thinking it was a factual book, and had 500,000 copies of this book printed in the US for distribution. Today this book is widely sold around the Middle East, and the title is regularly referred to in certain sections of the world’s media as commonly accepted “fact”.[8]

This is the terrible tale of a book called, “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion”.
It began its torturous journey as a French novel about a few bad guys meeting at a graveyard to plot world domination, and was later plagiarized by the Russian government for their own nefarious purposes, with a few tweaks to make the bad guys Jewish. But this twisted fabrication somehow became thought of as real. It was used by Hitler’s strategy to justify the Holocaust back in the 1930s, and astonishingly, people still talk about it as if it is true today.

At the beginning of the twentieth century, in a time of great social unrest in Russia, the leadership decided to act. What better way to divert the anger of the people than to find a scapegoat? And the Jewish community was their easy target. Maurice Joly’s novel [6] involving clandestine midnight meetings with the devil was seized upon by top level propagandists and reinvented as a Jewish conspiracy with Satan to take over the world incrementally and by stealth. In the dark and desperate times, the Russian people fell for the story – hook, line and sinker. The heat was off the Russian leadership and rage was diverted to the Jewish people instead.

What is astonishing is that even when the story was proven beyond doubt to be a pure work of fiction, people continued not only to believe it, but to circulate it all over the world.

We need the ultimate superhero

As valiantly as Eisner tried to fight until the end of his life in 2005 against this sort of slander, the battle continues. It seems that the ancient hatred towards God’s chosen people will never be resolved or stopped until the Messiah returns. The Bible tells us that the world will turn against Israel and is not hard to find times in history when nations have gathered against Israel, both in ancient Biblical times and the modern era. Revelation depicts Satan as a dragon who hates the one who brought the Messiah into the world, and that he is bent on Israel’s destruction. Satan will not stop generating these lies which appeal to the world’s fleshly tendency towards jealousy and hatred of God’s chosen people, but his end will surely come. The Messiah will see to that – he is the ultimate superhero all the cartoons are pointing towards. We know in the depth of our being that good will triumph over evil in the end, and this is why comic books and superhero stories continue to thrill us. We love to see the good guys win, because it is a true story written deep in our hearts by God – the ultimate author and the most supreme artist of all time. As Billy Graham said, “I’ve read the last page of the Bible, it’s all going to turn out all right.”

 

[1] A short biography of Will Eisner and his work
[2] To read about how discrimination led to Jewish prominence in the comic and entertainment industries, click here
[4] Anti Defamation Coalition website
[5] www.JewishHistory.org
[6] Maurice Joly’s The Dialogue in Hell Between Machiavelli and Montesquieu’
[7] HaAretz Oct 26, 2012: A representative of the Neo Nazi party, Golden Dawn, read from chapter 19 in the Greek Parliament
Norman Cohn, Warrant for Genocide: The Myth of the Jewish World-Conspiracy and the Protocols of the Elder of Zion (New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1966) 32–36.
[8]“Hamas Covenant 1988”. Yale.edu. Retrieved May 27, 2010.
“Today it is Palestine, tomorrow it will be one country or another. The Zionist plan is limitless. After Palestine, the Zionists aspire to expand from the Nile to the Euphrates. When they will have digested the region they overtook, they will aspire to further expansion, and so on. Their plan is embodied in the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion”.

ONE FOR ISRAEL (Messianic Jews in Israel)

We are an Israeli ministry composed of Jewish & Arab followers of Yeshua (Jesus) who are all about blessing Israel through sharing the gospel online, educating the new generation of born-again believers through our one and only Hebrew-speaking Bible College in Israel, and helping holocaust survivors by supplying humanitarian aid.

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