Jewish Super Heroes in Marvel and DC Comics!

Hanukkah is nearly here, and it’s time to celebrate the Festival of Lights. Personally, we like to celebrate with a stack of comics and super hero movies. There are actually more Jewish super heroes than you might think. Peter B. Parker in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Sabra in the upcoming Captain America: New World Order, and so many others. Why is that?

In the early 1900s, there was a great diaspora of Jewish people. They left behind their home countries because these places were becoming more and more dangerous. Some Jews had the American Dream in their hearts and on their minds, only to find that not everything was different in America. The influential jobs of the American Dream (like journalism, advertising, and so many others) were all closed off. Those jobs belonged to the people already in power and those that they deemed worthy. Jews were not.

And yet, though these creatives could not get prestigious jobs, they still had stories to tell. They flocked to any medium that they could, and the strange and new world of comics had its arms wide open. Marvel and Archie Comics were started by Jews! And through the years, Jewish writers left their mark on the world of comics. Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Bill Finger, Bob Kane, Will Eisner, and so many other Jewish writers have fundamentally changed comics and pop culture. Judaism is in the very DNA of super heroes.


Perhaps the most iconic super hero of all, Superman, was created by Lithuanian Jewish immigrants Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. Superman was a child born in another world, shipped away to live a better and safer life with a loving and supportive family. It sounds a bit like the story of Moses, doesn’t it? Or perhaps, it’s the story of an immigrant who comes to America to bring hope. The origin of Superman and his creators aren’t too dissimilar.

And while he’s known as Clark Kent on this planet, his Kryptonian name, Kal-El, can be translated to “Voice of God” in Hebrew. The same way that many families changed their names when they immigrated to America, Kal-El changed his name when he came to this planet. After all, secret identities are not rare in the real world either. Let’s not forget that Jack Kirby and Stan Lee are the pen names for writers Jacob Kurtzberg and Stanley Martin Lieber. So while Superman isn’t directly Jewish in the comics, it’s clear that Judaism was a major influence on his history and his character.


He has many names: Max Eisenhardt, Erik Lehnsherr, and of course, Magneto. He is an Omega-level mutant with the ability to control all aspects of magnetism. And while X-Men has always been a series that explores the plight of the oppressed and marginalized, Jewish writer Chris Claremont was the one who officially created Magneto’s backstory. Claremont told the story of young Max Eisenhardt and how he survived the atrocities of the the Holocaust. In fact, Claremont created the name Max Eisenhardt.

Magneto’s experience in one of the darkest times of recent history informs his decisions and prompts his righteous anger. He has seen what happens when the oppressed are not protected, and with his power, he chooses to protect all of mutankind. It seems that Magneto, in many ways, has let go of the religious and cultural impact of Judaism and placed all of his faith in the future of mutants. The future of mutants certainly includes his own descendants, who are all Jewish too!


Lorna Dane inherited her powers from her father. She inherited his Judaism too, though it’s not particularly explored in the comics. What is clear is that her father’s Judaism has a profound influence on her, from her philosophy to her connections in the mutant world.

Billy Kaplan

While it’s hotly debated whether or not Wanda Maximoff is blood-related to either Magneto (her sometimes father) or Billy Kaplan (her sometimes son), it is clear that Billy inherited his grandfather’s religion. During his wedding to Hulkling, a rabbi is present. Billy is also wearing a yarmulke, a Jewish cap that signifies one’s relationship with God. He even stomps on glass, which is another Jewish wedding tradition.


Over the years, there have been countless stories of super heroes celebrating the holidays. Perhaps more than most other heroes, Kate Kane of DC Comics has been shown celebrating Hanukkah consistently through the years. Batwoman celebrates with her father, she celebrates with her girlfriend, and this year, she extends the rest of the celebration to the Bat-Family.

Let’s follow the lineage of the Kane family. Kate Kane’s father, Jacob Kane, is Jewish. So Jacob Kane’s sister, Martha Kane, must have also been Jewish. When Martha Kane married Thomas Wayne, they had a child Bruce. And since Judaism is traditionally considered to pass through the mother, Bruce Wayne could be considered Jewish. That means Batman and all his adopted children can celebrate Hanukkah with us too this year!

The Thing

Ben Grimm is The Thing, a powerful protector made of rock. He’s strong, and perhaps brutish, but he is never unkind and he’s a valued member of the Fantastic Four. Some people might not know that Ben Grimm also shares quite a few similarities with a mythical protector in Jewish stories.

It would be fair to assume that The Thing is a direct allegory for the golem, especially since The Thing was created by Jews. In stories, the golem is a powerful creature sculpted from clay and brought to life by powerful rabbis. Again, the golem is not a vicious monster, but rather a protector.

And while the allegory makes them similar, Ben Grimm has also been shown to practice Judaism in the comics. Perhaps more so than many other Marvel comic characters, Ben actively engages with his Judaism religiously, not just culturally. We’ve seen comics where Ben has his Bar Mitzvah, a coming-of-age tradition. We see him praying and reading from the Torah, wearing a kippah, and (just like Billy Kaplan) stomping glass on his wedding day! Ben Grimm might be one of the best-known practicing Jews in comics.


While The Thing may be loosely inspired by the golem, Ragman in DC Comics is directly written to engage with the golem’s story. The legend goes that in the Jewish ghettos of 16th-century Prague, a rabbi created a protector. The golem was only there to ensure the safety of the Jews. Writer-artist Keith Giffen, co-writer Robert Loren Fleming, and artist Pat Broderick re-imagined Ragman’s powerful suit as a creation of that very same rabbi. His cloth can absorb evil souls, and give the wearer their skills.

The importance of Judaism in Ragman’s story is ever-fluctuating as different writers work on his character. Sometimes, he must speak in Hebrew to control his powers and his magical clothing. Other times, he simply meets with rabbis on rare occasions and gets together with Kate Kane for the holidays.

Kate Pryde

Kate Pryde is proud of her Judaism. She wears a Star of David around her neck, and she’s happy to discuss her religion with Nightcrawler as often as he’d like. In fact, after briefly dying in Jonathan Hickman’s House of X/Powers of X series, Nightcrawler holds on to her Star of David for her. Nightcrawler honors her and values her religion, just as much as he values his own.

And it might come as no surprise that Chris Claremont had a hand in developing Kate’s story. In Uncanny X-Men #199, Kate Pryde and Magneto go to the National Holocaust Memorial together. She mourns her grandfather, who was a Holocaust survivor just like Max himself. They mourn together and they remember together.

Which Jewish super hero is your favorite? Which ones would you light the menorah with? After all, we know Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy are celebrating this year, and we can bet that Moon Knight and his family will be too. Who else should be on this list? Connect with other Jewish comic book fans in our Local Comics Society Facebook Group!

Happy Hanukkah to all, and to all a good light. Oh, and as always, don’t forget to Let Your Geek Sideshow!