In "When We First Met", we spotlight the various characters, phrases, objects or events that eventually became notable parts of comic lore, like the first time someone said, "Avengers Assemble!" or the first appearance of Batman's giant penny or the first appearance of Alfred Pennyworth or the first time Spider-Man's face was shown half-Spidey/half-Peter. Stuff like that.
Today, based on a request from reader Freedy J., we look at the surprisingly close decision between who was the first openly Jewish superhero.
It is weird to say "openly Jewish," but you all know what I mean. There are plenty of superheroes who were implied to be Jewish over the years, but it was never made explicit.
Perhaps the closest anyone came to being explicit in the old days was Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster's Funnyman character...
But, again, it was just implied.
No, it was not until the end of 1979 that we finally got a superhero who was explicitly Jewish.
In DC Special Series #21, from November 1979, Paul Levitz, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez and Dick Giordano saw Superboy travel into the future to celebrate the holidays with his Legion of Super-Heroes teammates. It is at this point that we learned that Colossal Boy was Jewish...
However, a couple of months earlier, in X-Men #129 (by John Byrne, Chris Claremont and Terry Austin), the newly reunited X-Men decided to actually go out and recruit new mutants for the first time in a long time and so they split up to see two different mutants. One of them was the mutant singer, Dazzler (who was not actually created by Claremont and Byrne despite her debut occurring in X-Men) and the other one was a young teen named Kitty Pryde. Note Kitty's Star of David necklace...
Wow, talk about a close call in time! Obviously, they were both done on their own, as it was too close for either one of them to be influenced by the other.
But in any event, it certainly appears as though the answer to the first Jewish superhero in comics was Kitty Pryde. Now, the Thing is a whole other story that I will get to in the future (he was not officially revealed to be Jewish until the 21st Century, but there were some fascinating outside comics stuff that I will get to when I answer a separate question from another reader as to when the Thing was revealed to be Jewish).
However, it turns out that I was too caught up with Marvel and DC continuity, so I totally missed an example that was OUT of continuity, but totally counts! Reader John J. suggested it.