18 June 2009

Up Up and Up as long as we keep Superman out of it.

Up, Up, and Oy Vey is how Jewish history, culture, and values shaped the comic book superhero. Weinstein talks about how many Jewish themes and ideas the are in both older and modern superhero comics. Weinstein discuss how every new generation of hero comics show themes found in the bible. Some examples of this are heroes such as Superman invoking integrity, Batman-justice, Captain America-patriotism, Justice League- teamwork and Spider-man responsibility and redemption. Weinstein then goes on to discusses Spider-man and how his struggle in particular shows a lot of Jewish themes. Such as Spider-mans guilt for the death of his uncle. Then Spider-man thinks he could have prevented the death merely by stopping the robbers. So Spider-man spends his life “trying to pay down his own guilt” The slight difference in this opposed to other Jewish stories is that this guilt is caused by his uncle not his mother. Another similarity is the physical appearance of Peter Parker, Weinstein says “he is drawn as a dark haired, spectacled, neurotic worrier...has a dry sense of humor.” All things you hear stereotypical Jews being noted for.
I found this to be such a fascinating read. I had recently found out that most of my family came from Germany in the late 30’s and early 40’s to escape Nazi Germany. My family is predominantly German-Jew so any time I come across something that can help me get a better grasp on the Jewish identity I’m in. However, this reading gave me more. Not only has my appreciation for comics grown in these last two weeks I even feel like I might be connecting with them even more now, never mind if Weinstein’s ideas or theories are correct, it still gave me a connection with a medium that until two weeks ago was nothing more than “kiddy fare.” I fully plan on finding the book this reading came out of and giving it another look.
Unfortunately, the second reading was not as enjoyable as Up, Up, and Oy Vey. I found myself getting lost over and over, and I never really grasped the idea or concept that Umberto Eco was trying to get across. I guess after reading Scott McCloud I expect everything on comics to have some kind of spice, or at least the ability to hold my attention for longer than 30 seconds.


  1. I'm glad you really got something out of Weinstein's work. I'm sorry to say that our library doesn't have it, but I do believe I've recommended it. The beauty of his ideas aren't that they have to be "correct" or "incorrect." In fact, he could be finding meaning where there is none, or simply pointing out that artists imitate what they know and Jewish boys know Bible stories. Regardless, the connection is there, and if we want, we can take something from that.

    I'm sorry Eco's not to your liking! I'm simply shocked! I was positive you all would appreciate his subtle arguments about the hero's journey into mythic and/or literary canon ;-) Still, you can't tell me anything about that reading?

  2. I feel the exact same way as you when it comes to the second story. It made zero sense to me. I do like your summary on Up, Up and Oy Vey. :]

  3. I think that having the connection of family ties to the origination will help you understand more of what the history is. It will also give you sense of where you come from and the mentality of your ancestors and what they went through.