Wednesday, July 5, 2023


Captain America #750 is out now. Happy to have made a small contribution to this celebration of one of my favorite characters. Writing Steve Rogers again, after all these years, was like having a reunion with an old and dear friend. Sara Pichelli's gorgeous art was the icing on the birthday cake.


  1. I read that story. Not enough Bernie Rosenthal. Not enough at all. Although, since most Captain America comics of the past 35+ years have not had enough Bernie Rosenthal, I can't really hold the complaint against you specifically.

    Besides, I know this is just to wet the beak of readers, and prepare them for the upcoming 27 part maxi-series, which takes place in your initial run. Where While Steve and Bernie are enjoying a night in, Arnie stops by,
    By the end of the first issue Arnie and Bernie begin a conversation about their relationship with being Jewish, both cultural and religious, The similarities as well as differences, in part experienced by their difference in gender, age, generation, and sexual orientations.
    This of course continues on for most of the series, only interrupted briefly when Steve interjects to say, "You know that is an interesting point, I was raised protestant and we..."
    Only to be shut down as the two stare at him and shake their heads for two pages, and then continue the conversation.

    It of course ends when Bernie suggests they get a Babka. Which of course Arnie is only somewhat aware of because both his parents were Jewish immigrants from Germany, where as Bernie's mother;s side is from Poland, and Babka's originated in the POLISH Jewish community. Of course when Arnie was growing up there was still more cultural division with home cooking, especially among Immigrants.
    Of course his boyfriend? Husband? feel free to tell me which it was... Michael Bech, based on his last name would most likely be Scandinavian, maybe German, but assuredly gentile. So, he would not have brought that knowledge


    1. You've nailed my future plans once again, Jack. How do you do it? It's eerie!

    2. Well Dematteis, it is actually surprising how obvious you made the whole thing to unravel.

      First, as I mentioned, not enough Bernie Rosenthal he knew Arnie, why would she not be there too? To allow an intimate moment between two friends, without the four pages getting too muddled? PREPOSTEROUS!
      While that may make sense form an artistic standpoint, this is commerce Dematteis. Bernie is what the people want, Marvel would never let you have so little Bernie without promise of more in the future. A Cap milestone comic completely without Bernie, that is leaving potential millions..billions...perhaps trillions on the table.

      Also, in this comic you refer to Captain America as "Irish-Catholic."
      Well, you being a self described Kirby disciple would certainly remember his Captain America run. Of course you do, YOU brought back his character "Mr. Buddha" in your run.
      So, you of course remember that Kirby established Cap's ancestor in the American Revolution.
      The vast majority of Irish in America in that time were SCOTCH-Irish. A group made up almost exclusivity of protestants and Quakers. Especially in Pennsylvania, where Cap's ancestor lived.
      Rogers is also a very English name, and no Irishman would ever take an English name, and the Irish did not get the same "Ellis Island handout" names other groups did, because they spoke English.
      Also, you worked at Marvel in the 80s...a decade... where a man you greatly respect, Denny O'Neil was writing Iron Man., IN this run, Cap tells Iron Man that his father was an alcoholic.
      You be a free-wheeling hippie would never play into the stereotype of a drunk Irishman.
      You were also working at Marvel in 1994, where Mr. Ostrander wrote a story where we find out Steve used to go and stay with his grandfather in the wooded parts of New York state when money got too tight as a child.
      It is also revealed that the cabin was a point where the Rogers Family used that home as a stop on the underground railroad.
      Given the presumptive age of Steve's grandfather, he would have been born around the 1860s, which tracks with how he talks about the underground railroad location, This actually tracks, with how Steve's grand dad talks of the stop being used by the family before his birth. However, it would also mean that it was used before the large influx of Irish American immigrants to America.
      You may remember this issue as he one where you wrote the Silver Surfer story "the Eternal Game."
      Now it is of course possible that Steve's mother was Irish, and his father wasn't.
      However, the few times we see Steve in religious scenarios it is usually protestants, not Catholic. Churches being more ornate, and and prayer being more ritual based. Your Hail Mary's and what have you.
      Also, Steve outright mentioning being Irish as being an "odd pair" with Jewish Arnie Roth. The very idea of a clashing would mean he would have to hold that up as a distinctive part of his personality.
      But why would a bullied kid opt to identify as something that would get him into more fights? After all, you have read Eisner's Dropsie Ave. trilogy. Ethnic kids gangs in 1920s/30s New York.
      Also, going back to his premiere in 1941, he is shown to be hateful of Nazis, even before the war. However, around that time very proud Irish Americans actually had very strong pro-Nazi sentiment, viewing them as striking at the colonizing English.

      See Dematteis, and child could have figured it out from your clues it was certainly,CERTAINLY not the product of a diseased mind that delved to far into basic choices made in a four issue story. Not that st all.

      Although the Babka thing was providence. Last week I picked one up at a 100+ year old Jewish Bakery that is closing. That was admittedly the stars aligning for a lucky guess,


    3. The only thing I have not been able to figure out what you will do about the Gabe Kaplan issue.
      As you well know, in the late 70s the whole of Brooklyn was taken over by a cult that worshiped Gabe Kaplan.
      A conversations about religion or spirituality would obviously have to include this, since at the time of your initial run both were living in Brooklyn.
      However, in the early 80s it would have been recent memory for both of them, but with the sliding timescale Bernie would have grown up in the aftermath, with Arnie perhaps living through it.

      I just don't know which of these two roads you will take in the series.


    4. You're mistaken. It was actually the Cult of Horshack.

    5. When you were at the bakery, did you run into the famous Yiddish spiritual master, Meher Babka?

    6. Now I'm imagining Jack Kirby doing a book called JEWISH HERCULES...

    7. I don't know. Jack Kirby was never ashamed of his Jewish heritage, but I don't remember much of his writing being overtly Jewish. Though I could be forgetting something.

      There were certainly elements. The New Gods deity, THE SOURCE was pretty much the Jewish interpretation of GOD, right down to not having a corporeal form, and speaking through burning implements, and semi-prophetic prophecy
      Not to mention chosen ones like Orion and Mr, Miracle being doomed to suffer like in both Judaism and Christianity.

      There is probably some fair comparisons between Machine Man, the golem, Adam and Eve, and even Moses.
      But nothing overt. Again, I could be misremembering.

      Maybe Eisner. However that would have been a more literal telling of Mr. Atliavak's life...likely in an anthology.

      Of course, that in some ways is even harder to believe. Eisner was certainly proud of his Jewish roots, no one would argue that. He was very big on fighting against Jewish stereotypes.
      Which, of course, makes it all the more ironic that at times he lived as a pretty good example of a stereotype. No NOT a Jewish stereotype, a New Yorker stereotype.
      I just find it hard to picture him writing a story that takes place in America that is not in New York or a retiree in Florida. Hell, I am not sure he ever wrote a story set in Brooklyn, Queens, or Staten Island, mostly just the Bronx.

      THAT was the biggest mistake made by publishers. Some one should have offered him a contract to write a story set in each state.
      I an see him starring bewildered at a wheat field in Iowa, or confused in Chicago thinking :"Wait there are other states with cities?"
      I love Will Eisner, and actually think several of his graphic novels..or at least stories in them, he loved graphic vignette collections... should be discussed more. But, let us not pretend his heart did not lie min one specific borough of one specific city.


    8. You might enjoy this article:

    9. Thank you for sharing.
      It is nice to know that I am not alone in my noticing of these. AS I said, Kirby never shied away form being Jewish, he just was not overt about it. I think in much of this it was a generational thing.

      That being said, there are some posit alternate takes on in the article's theories.

      First and foremost, the Houdini thing is wrong, it comic reader knows its. Mr. Miracle was inspired by Jim Steranko, that is not theory, it is form Jack Kirby's mouth,
      That being said, I think it overlooks two more obvious Jewish connections Daniel, entering the lion's den and coming out unscathed. However, also Joseph, who had been sold into slavery by his brothers and rising to greatness, I think you could also say perhaps Mr. Miracle's costume is reminiscent of the many colored coat.
      The coat was given to him by his father, Scott free had two father figures, Himon and the original Mr. Miracle, one of whom gave him his colorful costume.
      Scott also made a name for himself in the foreign land of Egypt, much like Scot made his name on Earth... a planet.

      Jack Kirby also notably said Himon was based on his father, I did not know about Detroit-boy Shel Dorf being in it as well, which adds a question. Himon was a resident of the fourth world portrayed as a literal ghetto. The article seems to lead to the idea that it was inspired by Nazi ghettoization of Jews. Maybe, but I think it is more ambiguous, since it could be from Kirby recalling his own youth on the Lower East Side. That is really more of a just or be considered thing

      It also overlooked the three way Cain and Abel parallel. Orion has such a relationship with Kalibak, especially with the violent fighting, and attempts to kill him. However, he also has a lest contentious version with Mr. Miracle. They may technically be allies, but they still have a similar dynamic on an intellectual level.

      I know, it was a short article, and they could not get into everything, but also worth thinking about...


    10. The Forever People and Lonar are both wanderers, symbolic of Jews as a nomadic people.
      The Forever people also go to a new world...Earth, where they are more readily excepted. Much like how Jews who came to America found a place to call home, and were able to weave themselves into the American dream, while still holding onto their own identity.
      Also, Beautiful Dreamer is the least hippie by design. Drawn to look like a nice Jewish girl, she is also the one Darkseid hates the most
      However, she associates with a very gentile looking cowboy, an American icon, a Black guy, and Big Bear...who likes like a mountain man mixed with a hippie. Showing that future generations will have less trouble accepting Jews, They even all must come together to create the more powerful Infinity Man. Beautiful Dreamer's powers is even illusion creation, the exact power that allowed Jack Kirby to enter the American dream.Also...perhaps more on a cosmic real world bend... the only person to give the Forever People a story outside of Kirby was G.N. Demarcus, not only a hippie, but the product of a Jewish and gentile relationship.

      The Mother Box is described in a way not too terribly different from how more mystical descriptions of the Torah are, BUT it is also called the MOTHER Box. The box is what connects someone to their roots on New Genesis, and in Judaism it is the mother who determines if a child is Jewish.

      Also, I guarantee Jack Kirby did not think of this, I guarantee it...Jimmy Olsen. Jimmy Olsen was the book that led to the Foruth World. The primer.
      Olsen is a scandanavian name. Many scandavavian countries acted as stop point for Jews before they could get to America during the Nazi rise, only in most cases to be overcome themselves. Jimmy Olsen comes form Superman THE American icon.
      Also, The Nazis were fascinated by Norse mythology,a dn as was said in Captain America; The First Avenger, Germany was the first country the Nazis invaded. JImmy Olsen, the first book to be a part of the Fourth World. Again, a guarantyKirby did not have this in mind.

      Also, 1st Word Jews in Egypt (a land of many OLD gods), 2nd word The Jews in the promised land of isreal, 3rd world Jews as wanderers, mostly in Europe, 4th world Jews as immigrants in America.


    11. That's what I love about the Fourth World: the more time passes, the more depths there are to be discovered and discussed. I know other folks prefer the 60s Marvel stuff, but, for me, those books are Kirby's absolute peak, Comic book masterpieces.

    12. Also, the relative age you were when the Fourth World comes out, a youngin' still with a fresh world ahead of you, experiencing it may have played a role as well. Just a theory. Like how no song will ever be as great as the one you couldn't stop listening to when you were 17.

      However, I am going to have to disagree with you, YOUR favorite Jack Kirby work is Silver Star.

      The thing about Kirby and his Judaism is complicated.
      Eisner was clearly trying to...if not mythologize, then romanticize... his life as the son of Jewish immigrants in Depression era Bronx, and the neighborhood he came from.

      Kirby however, like most genre writers, has it harder. While I think Highfather was inspired by Moses(specifically the Heston version), at least in design, is that because Kirby had an idea for a character, and saw that as an east cultural visual shorthand? Ten Commandments was a popular movie, and Moses is also in Christianity and Islam.
      If Daniel and Joseph DID play a role in the creation of Mr. Miracle, was it by design, or because it got stuck in the back of his head, and was just there under the surface, never actually being acknowledged? Like speaking lyrics from a song you don't remember hearing, because the words just fit in your mind.

      It is like the old joke about why a story has a blue curtain in it
      The Teacher: It symbolizes the the characters depression
      The author: Because my curtains are blue.

      Only Kirby really knew for sure.

      However, while we are on the over analyzing track. Kirby wrote about Gods. Churches are used for worship of Gods. Kirby means a town with a church

      Also, Jim STARlin and Ron MARZ both wrote cosmic stories. That is not really connected, I just always thought that was weird.


    13. It's a little known fact that Ron actually IS from Mars. He's J'onn's third cousin, twice removed. And you should see that guy eat Oreos!

    14. Well, that might explain why J'onn considers Ron Marz creation...and best Green Lantern... Kyle Rayner as one of his closest friends. At least that is how Ostrander told it.

      However, isn't J'onn the last of his kind?

      Also, I know the shift to chocos from Oreos was for legal reason, but I prefer to think chocos is the generic brand of Oreos. I think the whole joke works better if J'onn actually prefers the generic brands most people call inferior, but that is just me, your god-hero's view.

      One day, I will tell you how J'onn joining the JLI (Justice League International, if you were not sure) saved him and the Justice League satellite years crew from being deconstructionist super"heroes" on par with the cast of Watchmen or Injustice versions.


    15. Also interesting about the New Gods and Judaic inspiration..

      Most creators that followed Kirby stuck to that, even if not intended. Or at least kept a similar vibe. The basic structure, from Evanier to Pollack to Byrne to Simonson.
      The most it started was trying to connect it a bit with being a bit more superheroey or sci-fi-ish. The best example of this is the DCAU, where they did not necessary change anything, they just played somethings down.

      However, Grant Morrison actually tried to push them as being modern gods, equivalent to the Greek or Norse pantheons. Going as far as to say that the worshiping of technology is worshiping them. Having Darkseid literally start a religion around evil

      I am going to get into whether these stories are good or bad, that is personal opinion. However, what is less opinion is that those are the stories that people say they have trouble getting into eh Fourth World, because it is too esoteric.

      Unlike many other Fourth World fans, I am perfectly willing to admit it has its flaws. For instances, the characters often come off as a little flat. However, too esoteric is not one of the flaws. It is actually quite the opposite.

      This is actually an issue many UK writers have when they take on pure-Kirby works, to varying degree.

      So, perhaps the question is not about how much Judaism is in the Fourth World, but rather how much of the American psyche.

      It does seem like some times when talking of the contributions of Jewish Americas the American part is viewed as inconsequential.


    16. I never found the Fourth World to be too esoteric. I found it very accessible. I also never found the characters to be flat. For the most part, I found them to be deep and multi-dimensional. But that's what makes horse racin'!

    17. I think DC missed the boat not leaning into the J'onn/Oreos connection. They should have used him in commercials!

    18. You probably never did find the Fourth World too esoteric...because you started reading in the early 70s (a decade), when Kirby was writing the book.

      However, if your first experience with the property was when they spent years referring to the saga by saying "there was a war in heaven, and evil won" and were redefining Boom Tubes not as a form of transportation, but as a way to bring the New Gods from another dimension, which makes their naturally more ethereal bodies more akin to ours, and stating that every use of technology was akin to praying to them at an altar, you might have a different view on the matter. Especially if you were coming form being mostly a traditional Justice league reader.

      Or when they started talking about the Fourth World's end leading to the Fifth World, which is Earth, and that from Earth will be born the Gods, which will take the same roll s Kriby's New Gods,because mankind are becoming the gods.

      all things that actually happens in the comics...but got deadended, because readers had trouble wrapping their heads around it, or connecting to the ideas.

      Kirby was more interested as gods in a figurative sense. Very advanced aliens, who engaged in mythological epics, and represented parts of the human experience.

      While that idea did not catch on, it did LIVE on. However, the parts where people start to view it as a problem was when it was they started putting in language and concepts that made it seem like they were part of some religion that never was.

      Kirby was not creating the Fourth World because he wanted someone to explain Lightning as the Norse created Thor, he wanted to do his version of the epic tales handed down that involved Thor.

      Remember, he did not call Orion the God of War, Kirby referred to his creation as the DOG of War, being more akin to a cosmic Conan that the Greek Ares.
      Soldiers never prayed to Orion.


    19. Again, it is not so much whether those later Fourth World stories were good or bad, it is that they seemed to be harder entry points for those not already familiar.

      Also, I can't remember the last time I saw an oreos commercial. The company is doing fine without mascots.

      However, J'onn as the official spokesman for Hydrox... often referred to as the knockoff brand, despite being four years older than Oreos... that is a win for everybody.

      Just imagine if they had reached out in the days of teh Justice League Animated series. Carl Lumbly's voice in a commercial for Hydrox, would actually give Oreo some competition.

      Just imagine that somehow otherworldly, yet also very human voice saying "Oreo, Who? Reach for Hydrox, the only sandwich cookie endorsed by a Martian...they are out of this world."


    20. That's a commercial I'd like to see!

  2. I read this. I must say that your contribution, short though it was, is the highlight of the issue. It was great to revisit your original run and find out what happened to Arnie Roth. I would have enjoyed it being longer, but it did what it needed to do in the four pages that were given to you.

    I think it was a nice idea to look at the fact that Steve Rogers is one of the few characters at Marvel who are allowed to see the people they grew up with dying, even as Rogers stays eternally young. This is an unusual situation for a Marvel character, considering that the sliding timeline doesn’t usually allow for these types of stories. Rogers was a boy during the Great Depression who has survived into the modern age without aging naturally. So, his childhood friends would most likely now all be dead, even as he remains in his physical prime. I’m not sure if any prior Captain America stories have touched on this unique (for Marvel Comics) potential.

    1. Thanks so much. It was a short visit to Cap's world, but one I really enjoyed.

  3. Maybe for issue #800 you will right a follow up to Karen Berger asking Cap out on a date. Now there is the story action fans have been demanding for decades.


    1. If memory serves, the fictional Karen Berger was a high school maybe we'd better leave that one alone. Then again, maybe Cap's rejection turns her into a super-villain...

    2. ...Maybe the rejection pushed her intro going to work in comics and creating Vertigo as a way to try and impress him. "Cap don't you wand Neil Gaiman writing about your American DREAM? "

      Of course, did it say she was a student, or was that just assumed? I have not read it in a while, but if it is only implied, perhaps she was a teacher. I could dig it up and look but...I don't want to.

      If that is the case, perhaps she started gearing the whole curriculum to being about Cap.
      "alright class, this how the bay of pigs really happened, now give me a 70 page essay about how Captain America would have prevented it, in detail. Not including the mandatory drawings. Extra credit if you include some kind of supernatural philosophical side or melancholic introspection.'

      Now while you might think that would make her a bad history teacher, she was actually teaching math.

      Editing was probably a good career choice for her.


    3. Yep, there have always been a lot of B.S. complaints teachers have dealt with, but having a kid write historical fanfiction about Captain America, instead of teaching Geometry would probably be a fair one.