Reviewed by: Steve Younis
Author Roy Schwartz contacted me a few months ago to let me know about the release of his book “Is Superman Circumcised?”. The title obviously stands out and immediately intrigues, but I have to admit I was dubious about the book’s content and wasn’t sure what to expect. Eye-catching title aside, Schwartz’s book really is “The Complete Jewish History of the World’s Greatest Hero”.
I’ve read quite a few books on the history of Superman, some of them brilliantly written and very detailed and informative. I have to say that Schwartz’s book is right up there with some of the better ones. He really digs deep in to those early days of the comic book industry and brings to life those formative days in New York City.
“Is Superman Circumcised?” is not a read you should undertake lightly. It’s not a quick or easy read, and is definitely heavy on the religious connections. As a Christian myself, I have always seen the more recent connections creators have made between the Man of Steel and Jesus, but Schwartz challenges many of those ideas and draws some interesting parallels with Jewish teachings, especially in relation to Moses.
I consider myself an avid reader, and while Schwartz is a great writer, I will admit to finding this book a challenge at times. As I said, it’s not light reading material and, being that it does concentrate on the Jewish creators of Superman and the early comic book industry, I did get a bit lost in some of the Jewish references. However, that shouldn’t detract anyone from enjoying the rich subject matter. It is obvious Schwartz has a deep love of both his culture and the comic book industry it birthed.
“Is Superman Circumcised?: The Complete Jewish History of the World’s Greatest Hero” is definitely a book all Superman fans should add to their collection, especially if you’re interested in the stories behind the stories.
Is Superman Circumcised?: The Complete Jewish History of the World’s Greatest Hero [Paperback]
by Roy Schwartz (Author)
Superman is the original superhero, an American icon, and arguably the most famous character in the world—and he’s Jewish! Introduced in June 1938, the Man of Steel was created by two Jewish teens, Jerry Siegel, the son of immigrants from Eastern Europe, and Joe Shuster, an immigrant. They based their hero’s origin story on Moses, his strength on Samson, his mission on the golem, and his nebbish secret identity on themselves. They made him a refugee fleeing catastrophe on the eve of World War II and sent him to tear Nazi tanks apart nearly two years before the US joined the war. In the following decades, Superman’s mostly Jewish writers, artists, and editors continued to borrow Jewish motifs for their stories, basing Krypton’s past on Genesis and Exodus, its society on Jewish culture, the trial of Lex Luthor on Adolf Eichmann’s, and a future holiday celebrating Superman on Passover. A fascinating journey through comic book lore, American history, and Jewish tradition, this book examines the entirety of Superman’s career from 1938 to date, and is sure to give readers a newfound appreciation for the Mensch of Steel!
(May 5, 2021)
Paperback: 374 pages