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Archive | 12:01 am

The Saturday Comics: Happy Hanukkah Ben Grimm!

15 Dec

December 15, 2012

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They truly are the First Family of Marvel Comics:
Reed Richards, Mr. Fantastic!
Susan Storm Richards, The Invisible Woman!
Johnny Storm, The Human Torch!
Ben Grimm, the Thing!

I am a big fan of The Fantastic Four and of them, I am first and foremost a fan of The Thing. He is easily in my top five, possibly top three comic book characters. And speaking of the First Family of Marvel Comics, Ben Grimm was created by two men who surely were the First Family, albeit a feuding family, of Marvel Comics, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.

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And while many of the legends of the comic industry, like Superman creators Joe Siegel and Jerry Shuster, Will Eisner, Stan Lee and Jack “King” Kirby were Jewish, it doesn’t necessarily follow that their famous creations are Jewish. Superman is not Jewish, The Spirit is not Jewish.

But Benjamin Jacob Grimm is.

From wikipedia, oy vey!:

In keeping with an early taboo in the comic superhero world against revealing a character’s religion, the fact that Grimm was Jewish was not explicitly revealed until four decades after his creation, in the story, “Remembrance of Things Past” (in Fantastic Four, vol. 3, #56, August 2002). In this story, Grimm returns to his old neighborhood to find Mr. Sheckerberg, a pawn shop owner he had known as a child. Flashbacks during this story reveal Grimm’s Jewish heritage, and he even recites the Kaddish, the Jewish prayer often recited over the dead and dying, over the dying Sheckerberg, who eventually recovers. In a later story, Grimm even agrees to celebrate his Bar Mitzvah, since it has been 13 years (the age a Jewish boy celebrates his Bar Mitzvah) since he began his “second life” as the Thing. To celebrate the ceremony, Grimm organizes a poker tournament for every available superhero in the Marvel Universe.

The story of the Thing was unusual for another religious reason, as well: the fact that the Thing was actually brought back to life in one story not by science, magic, or alien power or technology, but by the hand of God.

It is a fact that The Thing is in many ways just Jack Kirby writing himself on the page. while The Spirit may be what Will Eisner wished to be, in many was The Thing is what Jack Kirby was.

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Some personality traits of the cantankerously lovable, occasionally cigar-smoking, Jewish native of the Lower East Side are popularly recognized as having been inspired by those of co-creator Jack Kirby, who in interviews has said he intended Grimm to be an alter ego of himself.

So on this final night of Teh Festival of Light, it is only appropriate for Saturday Comics to wish both Ben Grimm and Jack Kirby a very

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thing

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