Chanukah In Comics!
This week Jews around the world celebrate Chanukah (sometimes spelled Hanukkah). The holiday is known as the “Festival of Lights” and honors the re-dedication of the Jerusalem Temple after the Jews defeated the Greek Army in 165 BC.
In the 20th century, Chanukah reached a greater importance in America because it usually fell in December during the Christmas season. With Christmas being such a huge part of American culture, Jewish comic book creators featured Christmas early on in the history of comics. It is very common to find great covers of Superman or Batman helping Santa Claus as early as the 1940’s. However the advent of Jewish Comic Book characters come much later in Comic history dating to the mid-1970s and so too does the inclusion of Chanukah in comics.
In truth it is still rare to find Jewish comic characters in comics and even harder to find mainstream comic stories about Chanukah. Although I must say that both Marvel and D.C. have been pretty good about including a one page Chanukah pin up in their holiday annuals since the 1990’s.
Below are the few examples of Chanukah featured in comics:
5) Justice League Of America #188 (March 1981)
Written by Gerry Conway, the story entitled “Miracle at 22,300 Miles” centers on a “Chanukah” miracle.
The Justice League of America’s satellite headquarters comes under attack from a rogue satellite. Meanwhile in Ivy Town, physicist, Ray Palmer, and his wife, attorney Jean Loring, attend a Hannukkah party. Hawkgirl barely has time to send out a distress signal, before the transmitter is destroyed.
The Atom, the Batman, and the Black Canary respond to Hawkgirl’s distress signal. The life support systems have been hopelessly compromised. The Atom, and the Batman, attempt to repair the satellite’s damaged systems.
Hawkgirl flies out to her spaceship, to garner replacement parts for the satellite’s life support systems. The Atom succumbs to the cold of space. Before collapsing, it seems the Atom did repair the satellite’s systems. The Atom returns to consciousness, revealing that he was unable to repair the satellite’s life support systems. Impossibly, the life support system remained active until Hawkgirl’s return. The Atom calls it a miracle, then shares the Chanukah story with his teammates.
4) Uncanny X-Men #143 (March, 1981)
Written by Jewish X-Men scribe, Chris Claremont, the story is entitled “Demon.”
Well not exactly a Chanukah story, Kitty Pryde is left alone in the X-Mansion on the first night of Chanukah while everyone else goes Christmas Tree shopping. Why is she left alone? Well she’s Jewish, so naturally she is left out of the festivities. Meanwhile a very close Alien Xenomorph looking creature arrives to hunt her down. She ends up defeating the Alien before X-Men return home with her parents and they share the evening together.
3) DC Holidays ’09 # 1 (February, 2010)
This predominantly Christmas Special has a lone Chanukah story entitled “Seeing The Light” written by Rob Levin. The story features Ragman (Rory Regan) a vigilante in Gotham City that is also Jewish. The story is buried at the back of the 64 page special.
The story basically retells the Chanukah story, including Judah and the Maccabees’ struggle. This is recounted by Ragman as he fights a Neo-Nazi terrorizing Jews. The story features a twist…namely that there was a Ragman to help defend the Jews during biblical times as well as current.
2) 52#33 (December, 2006)
Yet another Christmas story, entitled “The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year” by Grant Morrison and Geoff Johns. “Day 5” features a Batwoman story in which Alfred Pennyworth is in Gotham singing Christmas Carols with children. Nightwing gives Batwoman a gift from Batman. An actual Batarang, officially welcoming her into the “family”.
Later that night, Batwoman returns to share Chanukah with her girlfriend, Renée Montoya (The Question). They spend Chanukah/Christmas eve together.
Finally, a Jewish Super-Hero! Shaloman has been featured in over 45 comics beginning in 1988. There are several Chanukah themed comics. Our favorite is the “Chanukah Thief”, in which the nefarious Dr. Traif devises a scheme to travel back in time and ruin the final ounce of oil meant for the Temple Menorah.
Joshua H. Stulman
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