By Glenn Walker
As I write this, we have just entered the Hanukkah holiday season, eight nights of lighting candles and giving gifts. This is still fairly new to me, having married into a Jewish family only a brief sixteen years ago, but it's become part of our annual holiday celebration. So before I get started here, I just want to wish everyone out there, celebrating or not, a Happy Hanukkah.
The season got me thinking about a couple things -- Adam Sandler's "Hanukkah Song," and the growing concern that I had nothing to write about for this blog entry. It also had me thinking about what comic book characters would also be celebrating Hanukkah. So I decided to throw it all together in one pot.
The premise of Sandler's song is that there aren't many Hanukkah songs, and so he wrote "a song for all the nice little Jewish kids who didn't hear that many Hanukkah songs." It starts like this:
"Put on your yarmulke, here comes Hanukkah
It's so much fun-a-kah to celebrate Hanukkah,
"Hanukkah is the festival of lights,
Instead of one day of presents, we have eight crazy nights.
"When you feel like the only kid in town without a Christmas tree,
Here's a list of people who are Jewish, just like you and me…"
Adam Sandler goes on to list, to the tune of the song, celebrities who are Jewish (such as Henry Winkler, Kirk Douglas, William Shatner and the Three Stooges), so the kids don't feel so left out with all the Christmas stuff going on. It's comedy and good-natured fun all in one package.
Being the comic book geek I am, for all the other Hanukkah-celebrating fanboys and girls, I would add the following:
Let's start with The Thing. Ben Grimm was the pilot on the mission that turned his best friend, his girlfriend and her brother into the Fantastic Four all those years ago. In the time since, he's become one of Marvel Comics' best known characters, was a member of the West Coast Avengers, teamed up with everybody else in the Marvel Universe, was played by Michael Chiklis in the movies, and even has his own catchphrase, "It's clobberin' time!" Co-creator Jack Kirby has said in interviews that the Thing was even based on himself. It just doesn't get any better than that, folks.
Marvel Comics also has Sabra, the superheroic defender of Israel; Sasquatch, late of the Canadian super-team, Alpha Flight; masked Western hero and honorary Avenger, the Two-Gun Kid; gamma-irradiated psychiatrist Doc Samson who helps out the Hulk from time to time; triple threat Justice who is technically a member of the New Warriors, the Avengers and kinda, sorta the Guardians of the Galaxy too.
And then there's Kitty Pryde of the X-Men who has gone under a number of superhero codenames. One of her first and most memorable comic book appearances featured her alone in the X-Mansion on Christmas Eve stalked by an Alien-like monster. If she wasn't already Jewish, that might have gotten her to convert. While we're on the subject, Magneto, the X-Men's primary foe, is also, depending on which origin you're reading, half-Jewish.
There's Firebreather, created by Phil Hester (the new writer on Wonder Woman) and Andy Kuhn for Image Comics a few years back. This is the story of Duncan Rosenblatt, a typical teenage boy with typical teenage problems -- and oh yeah, his parents are a soccer mom and the fire-breathing king of the giant monsters. Teen angst just got harder. And if you saw the CGI movie recently on Cartoon Network, you know just how cool this character really is.
Also from the world of independent comics, there's Fathom of the Elementals; American Flagg; The Tick's sidekick Arthur; and Prime, the Captain Marvel wannabe from Malibu Comics' old Ultraverse. Most notable of the independent comics heroes is Judah the Hammer who appeared in Nexus as that character's frequent partner. Judah was the alien martial artist and fusionkaster named after the Jewish hero who actually first celebrated the festival of lights we know today as Hanukkah.
DC Comics also has a stellar handful of heroes enjoying the holiday. They include Colossal Boy (or Micro Lad, depending on which version of continuity you believe) of the Legion of Super-Heroes and his family, his mother being the former President of Earth in the far future; Ragman, most recently of the Shadowpact; the second Nite-Owl from the highly acclaimed Watchmen graphic novel; Ambush Bug, comic relief hero who currently appears in Outsiders; and Atom-Smasher, formerly Nuklon, who is involved with the current Justice Society teams.
The most famous over at DC is probably the Silver Age Atom, the Joker's sometimes girlfriend, sometimes henchman Harley Quinn, and of course. Batwoman, the newest addition to 'the Batman family,' soon to have her own ongoing series.
There are many others that could be included in this article, like Iceman, Moon Knight, the Golden Age Sandman, the Seraph, Dominic Fortune, Shaloman, the Golem, the second Doctor Fate, Go Girl, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch, even Captain Underpants. I'm sure they would all be wishing you and yours a Happy Hanukkah!