Happy Hanukkah Ben Grimm!

23 Dec

Updated December 23, 2016
from December 15, 2012

The 1976 Jack Kirby family Hanukkah card

The 1976 Jack Kirby family Hanukkah card

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 members of the First 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.

And here's his bar mitzvah to prove it.

And here’s his bar mitzvah to prove it.

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 who Jack Kirby really was.

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Remind you of anyone?

 

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 as we approach The Festival of Light, it is only appropriate to wish both Ben Grimm and Jack Kirby a very

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This has been

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5 Responses to “Happy Hanukkah Ben Grimm!”

  1. Matt Cowan December 23, 2016 at 9:09 am #

    The Thing is a fantastic character. I particularly enjoyed his solo series, which was excellent. Remember when he was a professional wrestler in the Ultimited Class Wrestling Federation.

    Like

    • bmj2k December 23, 2016 at 11:42 am #

      I loved both his solo series. The one where he was a wrestler was the one that included him staying on the Beyonder’s world after Secret Wars, right? I had that whole run. There was one where he encountered the Rhino, who wanted to go straight at the time. Years later Dan Slott did a series that only lasted less than a dozen issues, or less. That’s the one where he became rich when Reed told him that he’d set aside and invested a part of the FF’s corporate earnings for him. I hated Slott writing Spider-Man but I liked him on The Thing. I really can’t place them in any order, but he’s right at the top of my favorite heroes list, possibly as high as number two.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Matt Cowan December 23, 2016 at 12:15 pm #

        I’ve only read the first series and part of it did take place on the Secret Wars planet.

        Like

        • bmj2k December 23, 2016 at 1:41 pm #

          Yeah, he was human Ben Grimm there (full time at first, I think) so he wanted to stay that way (didn’t last.) She-Hulk took his place in the FF until he came back. But in the solo series, he didn’t return to the team right away. He had the wrestling stint, tried to get a job at The Vault (where he ran into the Rhino), and correct me if I’m wrong, worked with the West Coast Avengers for a short time.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Matt Cowan December 23, 2016 at 2:28 pm #

            He did hang out with The West Coast Avengers for awhile, which I loved, because I was a big W.C.A. Fan. He never officially joined the team, though. For some reason, I specifically remember he helped them fight a lame-looking villain named Headlock.

            Liked by 1 person

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