Danny Fingeroth on ‘Disguised As Clark Kent’
Former Spider-Man Group Editor Danny Fingeroth has a new book out titled Disguised As Clark Kent: Jews, Comics, and the Creation of the Superhero, in which he examines the "cultural origins of the superhero" with special attention to the way Jewish creators and their experiences influenced the early years of the industry.
Over at CBR, Fingeroth explains how the book came about and provides a few examples of the Jewish influence in comics that forms the basis for the book:
“My favorite involves Marvel’s Mighty Thor, who I’d never seen in a Jewish light before. And why would I, or anyone? He’s a Norse deity! But in his early stories, covering the first several years of the character’s existence, a recurring subplot–that eventually became a main plot–was Thor’s love for his alter ego Dr. Blake’s nurse, Jane Foster. Odin, ruler of the Norse Gods, and Thor’s father, forbade him to marry her because she was a mortal and he was an immortal god.”
Fingeroth noted there are often prohibitions in Jewish and other ethnic communities against marrying outside the group, and that the modern tension of breaking away from this system can be seen in the story of Marvel’s thunder god. “Stan Lee and Jack Kirby could arguably be interpreted as having been using Thor and Jane to work out their own feelings about the taboos around intermarriage they had grown up with,” Fingeroth said. “I’m not saying they did this consciously–just the opposite. But in retrospect, I found it fascinating and worthwhile to discuss that kind of topic in ‘Disguised as Clark Kent.’”