With Further Ado #170 : Is Superman Jewish?

In recent weeks, there was the hubbub about Superman’s sexuality that outraged, “Outraged”, I say,  much of the conservative media. Of course, the storyline they were focused on is how in recent comics, it has been revealed that Superman’s son is bisexual.

Editor’s note: See this article.

Somehow, trying to figure out if Superman is circumcised seems almost … pedestrian by comparison. But don’t let that fool you. Roy Schwartz’s new book, Superman is Circumcised?, published by McFarland, is an impressive work that is meant for hard-core, real-deal fans as well as the general public.

I’m reminded of the time when…

How the world has changed. Back when I was a kid, our family went to one of my dad’s college homecomings at Cornell.  Usually, the stop at the bookstore was an opportunity to buy Cornell swag, but I was perplexed and enthralled by one book on sale there. It was The Gospel According to Superman by John T. Galloway, Jr.  I had no idea who John T. Galloway, Jr was, but I could tell right away that the cover was illustrated by a “real” Superman artist – the legendary Murphy Anderson.

I begged my folks for this – who really needed a Cornell hoodie anyways ?  They were perplexed but eventually yielded to my fannish zeal. We were a Catholic family, and they were (rightfully) worried that this was going to be some sort of religious brainwashing.

I was overjoyed. I think my mom was more worried about me reading Ian Fleming James Bond books, with the brief descriptions of sex.  So how bad could a flying alien and a vanilla flavor of Christianity be?

The Real Deal

In contrast to that old book, Schwartz’s Is Superman Circumcised? is the real deal. It’s a scholarly analysis of Superman, Superman comics and Superman in other media. And there’s quite a bit of analysis of other DC comics too – Superfriends, Justice League of America and more.

One of the things I really like is how Schwartz is able to get deep into the weeds of Superman history, and then dissect and analyze what was going on. He does it with an eye towards proving or disproving his main point, but also taking fans by the hand for a fresh look at the behind-the-scenes planning as thoroughly as any Back Issue Magazine article.

Some of my favorite sections of this book include:

  • Phone Booth, Voting Booth and Confession Booth – detailing Superman’s religion and politics
  • Nazis in Space and Superman on the Screen – a deep dive into Bronze Age comics – touching the bases on everything from Kirby’s Fourth World saga to the Superman: Miracle Monday prose novel by Elliot S! Maggin to the cinematic debut of Supergirl.
  • Second Coming – focusing on the 1980s reboot as well as other media iterations, like the Lois & Clark TV

The whole book is well-written and engaging. What a delight. It’s clear Roy Schwartz is both a passionate fan as well as a focused researcher.

If only he had found a way to use a Murphy Anderson cover.


One thought on “With Further Ado #170 : Is Superman Jewish?

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