42 minutes | Jul 29, 2019

Episode 6 - Kitty Pryde - Part 2

Previously on Funny, They Don’t Look Jewish Your hosts, Brandon and Henry, explored the Jewish roots of Chicago’s own mutant superheroine, Kitty Pryde of the X-Men. Under the pen of creator and writer Chris Claremont, Kitty Pryde confronted demons, vampires, and the shadow of the Holocaust, with her Jewish identity always prominent. Now, we look at where later writers guided both the evolution of Marvel’s Merry Mutants and Kitty Pryde’s own Judaism. Excelsior! Marvel Holiday Special 1996 “Unto Others” Written by Evan Skolnik Drawn by Josh Hood Inked by Derek Fisher Lettered by Jack Morelli Colored by Chi Wang Edited by Tom Brevoort Page 1 Open on Kitty visiting her home in Deerfield, IL, staring at a church that has been burned Page 2-3 Phasing into the ruins, Kitty runs into a young girl of color, Anita Foster She left her locket in the pew before the burning, a gift from her now dead father Page 4 Kitty says she came home to spend Hanukkah with her family Anita says her mom said church was burned down because they’re black Kitty makes general statement about people who hate what’s different Anita says, “But you don’t really understand, anyway. You’re not black!” Page 5 Kitty tempted to say she knows about being different because she’s a mutant, but decides to say a Jew instead Anita: “Right. Same thing. Not.” Kitty: “Actually, A nita, this whole thing sounds a lot like the Hanukkah story itself.” Anita: “Whaddaya mean? The Jews burned churches?” Kitty explains the story of Hanukkah, saying Syrian Greeks drove Jews out of Israel and desecrated the Temple. Page 6 Anita: “Nice. Sounds like people have been burning each other’s temples for a long time, huh?” OUCH Kitty: “Underneath our skin, beyond all our differences, languages and customs, we’re all the same. Blacks, whites, Jews, Asians, mutants…” Anita seems to think mutants aren’t human Page 7 Anita finds the locket, but she can’t reach through the fallen beams. Kitty could phase, but… Page 8 She reminds Anita what she said about all being human. Phases through the beams, giving away her secret, and recovers the locket. Page 9 The two hug in tears “Merry Christmas, Anita. And happy Hanukkah.” Couldn’t find anything about a church burning in IL in the mid-90’s, but… More than 30 black churches were burned in an 18-month period in 1995 and 1996, leading Congress to pass the Church Arson Prevention Act, passed July 3, 1996 Professor Julius Lester, a Jew of color, said in a 1996 with the J, “Jews make the assumption that they have a lot in common with blacks. It's not an assumption that blacks share," X-Men Unlimited #38 (November 2002) “Yartzeit” Written by Greg Rucka Drawn by Darick Robertson Inked by Darick Robertson Colored by J.D. Smith Lettered by Randy Gentile Edited by C.B. Cebulski The issue is told through the narrative device of a yartzeit. Opens with Kitty lighting the candle, goes through the entire day, repeatedly checking back in to see how far the candle has burned Background: Colossus died in UXM #390 (March 2001) to cure the Legacy Virus, that took the life of his younger sister, Illyana. Kitty was best friends with Illyana, former lovers with Peter Page 2 Full page spread of Kitty, in an XAVIER t-shirt, lighting a yartzeit candle, noting it’s one year to the day since Colossus died Blue candle with a star of David on the glass Yartzeit is Yiddish for, depending on how you translate, “time of year” or “a year’s time” Page 3 After lighting, Kitty recites: “Sustained by words of faith, comforted by precious memories, we kindle the yartzeit light in remembrance. The human spirit is the light of the Lord. As this light burns pure and clear, so may the memory of the goodness...and...and the nobility of our dear Peter...our dear Peter Nikolievitch Rasputin...illumine our souls...Zichrono livracha. His memory is a blessing.” Then Kitty collapses onto her bed in tears No formal prayer associated with lighting the candle, but this particular reading can be found in Reform books published by the CCAR Jdoe Schwartz: Apparently it first appeared in 1977 in "Gates of the House: The New Union Home Prayer Book - Prayers and Readings for Home and Synagogue" edited by. . . Chaim Stern. Ding ding ding. Includes Proverbs 20:27 - ner HaShem Nishmat Adam, chofes kol chadrei-vaten - the soul of man is the light/candle of God, searching all the innermost parts. Textual source of lighting a candle Zichrono livracha - traditional honorific for the dead How can it be that reading two simple words in print can bring up so many emotions for me? Pride and amazement and a deep, deep sadness. I’ve cried every time I’ve read this issues Page 4 As Kitty leaves home, she admits she’s lied to herself when she claimed she had come to peace with it So very resonant. Jewish mourning process is divided into parts. Shiva, shloshim, the first year. Yartzeit marks the end, and it would seem that should mark a point of closure and healing. Kitty is angry Page 5 “Selfish, that’s what it is. I just want him back. Why is that wrong? To feel that? I just want my friend back. I just want my love back. God, I loved him and I want him back…” There go the tears again… Page 6 She sees a man she thinks is Peter, provides the plot for the rest of the issue as Kitty stalks this man, convinced an enemy has resurrected Colossus to mess with her. Pages 9-10 Phone call with Kurt, a yartzeit candle prominent at the top of each page Kurt wonders if Kitty is imagining it, given the anniversary, given Peter is on her mind The candle...yizkor. REMEMBER Page 11 Top left: The candle is going out Narration: “The candle is supposed to burn for twenty-four hours. I burn for longer.” Bottom right: the candle has gone out entirely. Dark, covered in shadow, but smoke still rising’ Page 12 Top left: the candle fully empty, reflecting bright light’ Page 16 Nightcrawler has come to visit her. As she brings him into the apartment, the yartzeit candle is prominent Pages 17-18 Kurt, a priest btw, talks Kitty down. Helps her come to terms with the fact she desperately wanted it to be Peter Page 19 Top left, empty yartzeit candle Top middle, Kitty is grabbing it Top right, Kitty throws the case in the trash Then see Kitty cleaning up, writing Kurt note, living a good day “Maybe the answer to all grief lies in a good cry. Religion and ritual, there’s always a reason. Grief in Judaism is broken into phases, and the Yartzeit is really the last one. There are rules what you’re supposed to do the first day after a loved one dies...then the first week...then the first month...all the way to the first year, the first Yartzeit.” “The idea, I guess, is that it’s supposed to take that whole year to come to terms with the loss. So the Yartzeit, it’s closure, ut it’s more. Because when someone you love dies, it never goes away. Some days are easier than others. Some days maybe you can’t think about it at all...but it never goes away. And that’s all right. That’s as it should be..” Thank you. Thank you, Greg Rucka, for writing this. This is one of the most special comics I think I’ve ever read. Page 21-22 Kitty introduces herself to the officer, a Polish cop. Tells him about Peter. Candle appeared in 16 different panels All New X-Men #13 (2013) Untitled Written by Brian MIchael Bendis Drawn by Stuart Immonen Inked by Wade von Grawbadger Colored by Rain Beredo Lettered by VC’s Cory Petit Edited by NIck Lowe Background So at this time, Rick Remender is writing a book called Uncanny Avengers, which features a “unity squad,” a team of both human Avengers AND mutant X-Men. Issue #5 (March 2013), Havok gives a speech I don't see myself as born into a mutant cult or religion. Having an X-gene doesn't bond me to anyone. It doesn't define me. In fact, I see the very word "mutant" as divisive. Old thinking that serves to further separate us from our fellow man. We are all humans. Of one tribe. We are defined by our choices, not the makeup of our genes. So please, don't call us mutants. The "m" word represents everything I hate. Unleashes a kind of backlash, both on online forums and within the comics In June, this issue of All-New X-Men is released Pages 7-8 Panels showing broadcast of Havok’s speech Page 12-13 X-Men hear the broadcast. Younger mutants have debate over whether or not the term is derogatory Page 14 “I don’t have a quote-unquote Jewish-sounding name. I don’t look or sound Jewish. Whatever that looks or sounds like...so if you didn’t know I was Jewish, you might not know...unless I told you. Same goes for my mutation. “...When I was 13, before my mutation kicked in, I was in love with this boy at school… “In love. And I followed him around like a puppy dog because I was an idiotic 13-year-old girl...and one day he saw a rabbi walking across the street and he made the worst anti-semitic comment...ever. I won’t even repeat it. “He just said this awful thing and laughed. Laughed and laughed. And...and my heart sank. And then my blood boiled. I mean boiled. I turned to him and I growled: I’m Jewish!” And he--just stared at me like he didn’t even realize he said something wrong. Or he didn’t know how to compute what I just said. But when I got home, after I was done crying my eyes out, my first heartbreak...I realized I was..maybe for the first time ever...I was really proud of myself. “I am Jewish. I am a mutant. And I want people to know who and what I am. I tell people because, hey, if we’re going to have a problem with it...I’d like to know. So, no offense to your brother Scott, but he sure as hell ain’t talking for me.” UGH, SO GOOD. SO GOOD. Let’s break it down… First of all, this is just so Bendis. More convinced than ever that the explicit Jewish content depends on the Jewish...pride of the author. Bendis and Rucka are both quite outspoken about their identities. Claremont’s Judaism is Holocaust-centric. Rucka’s is ritually based. And Bendis’ seems to be cultural, built on pride. Bendis manages to both acknowledge Jews passing for white AND the fact it’s kind of a problem to assume there’s a certain Jewish look Kitty doesn’t have a Jewish sounding name, whatever that means. Or a Jewish look, whatever that is. Implicit acknowledgment of Sefardi Jews, Mizrahi Jews, Jews of color, any type of Jew that doesn’t look Ashkenazi, which is what Americans envision as JEWISH And yet Kitty acknowledges this allows her to “pass” Crushes on random kids in school who weren’t Jewish - oh yeah I remember first year of college, I was absolutely smitten with a baptist Korean girl. So much so, I went to a Jesus festival for her Anti-semitic remarks at that age This HAD to be based on a true story. HAD to be The kid who threatened to beat me up? I was proud of myself Is THAT why she so prominently wears the star from issue 1??? Such a good retcon Of course, she’s NOT wearing the star of David here She wants people to know In an era of rising anti-semitism, where I read travel warnings saying not to wear yarmulkes in X city or Y city...I’m with Kitty. I wear this proudly.
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