Vampires and witches and commandos, oy vey:comic book approprations of lilith.
Recent scholarship has identified multiple levels of interplay between American Jews and sequential art stories (comics). Many comics are now widely understood to be artif acts of the evolving Jewisli American experience: this interplay is understood to have grown out of the cultural history, sociology, and social-psychology of the Jews who created, produced, and consumed these comics. But relatively little research has been clone on the appropriation and incorporation of Jewish Traditiot Mesomh) in comics and how this incorporation mirrors the changing relationship of Jewish culture to American (predominantly Protestant) culture.
Using textual and visual criticism, supplemented by the selective application of Jewish studies, mythological studies, sociology, and feminist theory, the authors offer insight into an aspect of that appropriation by tracking a single figure from Jewish folklore that comic writers and art ists have drawn on, again and again: Lilitli, first wife of Adam, hypersexttal transgressor, demon mother. infanticide, and evil personified. trajectory and revision through pulp visual narratives over the past fort years sees her evolve from the traditional demon harridan into a feminist antihero, a mother seeking redemption from her daughter, and. eventually, an American superhero teammate. Iler literary--visual transtbrma--tions offer a pop cult ure perspective on Jewish Tradition's evolution horn a despised to an accepted element in American culture. Moreover, the continuot is hybridization of [ii it It's story with Christian motifs. classical mythology. contemporary issues, and American history is a marker of a larger rapid and distinctiveh American assimilation of Jewish Tradition into the American intellectual and imaginative canon.
Seen in retrospect, many of the early comic book superheroes, starting in the 1930s and continuing into the 1960s, are the bearers of Jewish tropes, mostly of a sociological nature, but also religious. There are multiple 'kw-ish" subtexts that have been identified in association with these characters and their story arcs: the refugee/immigrant who must suppress his true identity to "pass" (Superman); the socially isolated man who trill phs over the irrational "mob" using exceptiotral ingenuity (Batman); a .ferventiv ani i-Nazi "weakling" empowered by America to act with strength (Captain America); the man imprisoned by his differentness, who strikes fear and revulsion in ol hers (The 'Thing); the urban "nerd" (Spiderman) or rational scientist (NIL Fantastic); even an entire persecuted minority offering different respcmses to cope with i heir perseciition (N-men and The Brotherhood of ii Mutants). fn particular, all st tperheroes bear I he trope of an "other," indeed. of a "doubly abnormal" Figure who stands outside the mainstream, but who sublimates the burden of his/her/its unique status, and irreducible strangeness, into the service and protection of the larger society he identifies with and desires to participate in.
All of these critically acknowledged themes reflect the social condition of their many Jewish creators and readers. In the later quarter of the twentieth century, comic books can be seen as parabolically encapsulating the continuing arc of this journey in the gradual appearance of explicitly Jewish comic book characters, be they st yet--normal (Magneto), paranormal (the golem)., eccentric--normal (Harvey Pekar), or crushingly normal (Julius knipl, Real Estate Photographer), reflecting the Lull:biding American--Jewish synthesis. Collectively, these comic characters, early and late, their siorvi ii les, and their preoccupations serve as a kind of pulp en neagram on the Jewish American psyche.
Less understood in comic book studies. however, is the comic book utilization of :1/cvnzth (Jewish Tradition): the religious literature. myths, theology, and artilacts of the Jews. Especially less understood is the repurposing oljudaism's myt hs, its internally directed master narratives, which once served as orienting stories Fir Jews of-an earlier and different circumstance. How have comics creators, Jewish or not, used the Mesarah to create new stories that, intentionally or not, reflect the changing standing of Judaism in America?
ACASE STUDY IN THE AMERICANIZATION OF THE MESORAH:LILTH
It is a cliff-let& question to untangle, particularly given that much .of ancient Israelite/Jewish myth was adopted by Western civili zation through the Bible. Angels, demons, words of power, divinely empowered strongmen, wonder-performing paragons, all these had become a shared treasure trove of legendary material long before the 1900s. Moreover, all of these figures had undergone some appropriation by secular literature and art well in advance of the advent of the mass-printed comic book. Thus, for example, many have pointed to the origin story of Superman--a baby secretly and optimistically launched in a high-tech ark into an unknown future, only to be found and raised by strangers who overlook his alien nature. Later he discovers his destiny" as a powerful defender of the weak and defenseless, champion to a nation--obviottsly this echoes the origin story of Moses. Rut does this typological narrative really mark Superman as "Jewish." or merely as a modern iteration of 21 common hero motif?
To answer the latter question requires going beyond biblical motifs, looking instead for material distinct to Judaism: themes, narratives, and symbols that are largely post-biblical, or at least reflect a counter-narrative to Christian interpretations of the Hebrew Bible. Thus, for example, while the utopianism implicit in the motivation of every superhero is a reflection of Western, scientific, and especially, science-fiction progressivism, there is at the same time a religious mythic element at the root of these characters. That religious myth is messianism: the particular brand .of utopianism that centers on the special individual, gifted with unique powers, an individual who can and will transform our reality for the better and advance all that is divine, just, true, and right. improving the human condition. The messianic myth, writ small, is arguable at the very root of the superhero as a genre. But, again, one must ask, how is this uniquely jewish? While the Messiah is the special invention of the Jews, messianism is i1so at the very heart of the Christian myth. Even so, Christian and Jewish messianisms are quite distinct. The uniquely Christian vision of the Messiah is the supernal empowered "chosen one" who surrenders and sacrifices himself and dies for the good of humanity. The Jewish Messiah, by contrast, is the empowered "chosen one who strives and struggles, who lives for the good of I iumanity, ultimately to triumph over adversity and evil, but withoui losing himself And so, too, is the comic book superhero. Christ-motifS will eventually appear in the story arc of virtually every comic book hero. Nevertheless, in. their earliest form, and in their overarching mythologies, comic book heroes conquer evil by defeating its minions, not by transcending it through their own deaths.2 The former is an archly Jewish myth, and arguably the master motif of the superhero. This Jewish myth is a foundational premise of all the early superhero mythologies.
Thus something can be learned about the changing status ofJewish Tradition, the religious civilization of the Jew, through its appropriation into the comics. At the beginning of the comic book erajewish Tradition was loudly and publicly held in contempt. Judaism was widely perceived among non-Jewish Americans as inferior. both as a tool tbr building morals and as a spiritual and intellectual enterprise. (3) That is no longer true today. (4)
The past forty years have seen sporadic glimpses of the Mesonth on display. The young Jewish mutant, Shadowcat, lights a yahrzeit candle for her dead fiance in Marvel's X-Alpir. Benjamin Sinnowitz, a rabbi with a flair for tapping occult forces, serves as the ally of a Korean tech no-superhero in DC's Xombi. Jake, a Jewish paranormal advent tirer, wielding the staff of Moses, does battle with Leviathan in the independent cotti ic 36. But is there a way to gauge the contours of this continuing transformation with more clarity, more continuity? We can, by tracking a single figure from Jewish folklore that American comic writers and artists have repeatedly appropriated: Lilith, first wife of Adam, hypersexual I ransgressor. demon mother, infanticide, and evil personified. Lilith's I rajectorv and revision through pulp visual narratives over the past forty years, from demon harridan into a feminist antihero, a mother seeking redemption througli her daughter, and even a superhero teammate, mirrors Judaism's changing status from despised to accepted and unremarkable American faith. Moreover, the continuous hybridization of Lilit Ii tory with Christian motifs, classical mythology, contemporary I ropes, and American founding myths is a striking example of the larger acculturation oflewish tradit ion into American pop culture.
Like the golem, another comic book favorite derived from post-biblical Judaism,' Li In I is a distinctly Jewish legendary creature. Unlike the golem, she is not in the least heroic. The golem is really a proto-superliero, not only for his feats, but also by Virtue of the nature of his literary history. Like comic book heroes, he was a figure of escapism, a way for Jews to leave the oppressive reality of their circumstances for a fantasy of rescue, security, and empowerment. Lilith, by. contrast , is the 'i'.()i fication of pre-modern Jewish fears, both the external threat that ccAnes by night., as well as the infernal psycho-sexual chaos that might break out from within.
Lilith has left a rather disjointed literary trail within Jewish folklore, not so different .from the con ft isi ng cOntinuities of some COM iC 1300k mythologies. Thus, among Jews of late antiquity litot (pl.) were evil spirits or Djinns, a class of illness--causing demons, of indeterminate gender, that are listed on Aramaic--language amulets. The Babylonian Talmud, by contrast, describes Lilith as a winged succubus (Niddah 24b; Shabbat 151b). Some later Jewish sources elevate her to one of the "ftur demon queens" (Thigton lob 1:15: Pardrs Rimmonim 186d)A tenth--century medieval work, the .Abf--
Bet de--Ben Sira 23a--b (henceforth Ben Sim), presents an at--the--time novel and elaborate explanation for Li lith's creation. In time, this would prove a highly influential origins tale. This Midrashic effort to reconcile incongruent biblical creation accounts explains that the unnamed wman created from the earth alongside man in Genesis 1:26-28 was LiIitli, Xclam's firstt) wife; the second woman, created in Genesis 2:18-24, is Eve. To explain why there are two women in Eden, the author of Ben Sim tells of how Lift h and Adam argue about which part ncr should take the dominant sexual position:
After God created Adam, who was alone. He said, "It is not good for man to be alone" (Gen. 2:18). He created a woman for Adam, from the earth, as He had created Adam himself, and called her Lilith. Adam and Lilith began to fight. She said, "I will not lie below," and he said, "I will not lie beneat h you. but only on top. For you are fit only to be in he bottom position, while am to be in the superior one." Hill) responded. "We are equal to each other inasmuch as we were both created from the earth." But they would not listen to one another. When Lilith saw this. she pronounced the Ineffable Name and flew away into the air. Adam stood in prayer before his Creator: "Sovereign of the universe!" he said, "the woman you gave me has run away." At once, the Holy One, blessed be He, sent these three angels to bring her back. Said the Holy One to Adam, "If she agrees to come back, fine. It: not she must. permit one hundred other children to die everyday." The angels left God and pursued Lilith. whom they overtook in the midst of the sea, in the mighty waters wherein the Egyptians were destined to drown. They told her God's word, but she did not wish to return. The angels said, "We shall drown you in the sea." "Leave me!" she said. "I was created only to cause sickness to infants. If the infant is male, I have dominion over him for eight days after his birth, and if female, for twenty clays." When the angels heard Lilith 's words. they insisted she go back. But she swore to them by the name of the living and eternal God: "Whenever I see you or your names or your fbrms in an amulet, I will have no power over that. infant." She also agreed to have one hundred of her children die every day.' Accordingly, every day one hundred demons perish, and for the same reason, we write the angels' names on the amulets of young children. When Lilith sees their names, she remembers her oath, and the child recovers. (7)
Though Ben Sira provided etiological explanation for many things that exercised the medieval mind--the narrative disjuncture in Genesis. why women's sexuality needs to be controlled, where evil spirits originate from, why men experience erotic dreams and nocturnal em issiot is--it still takes centuries for this account to become "canonized.' as the definitive Lilith narrative. Other Jewish texts discussing Lilith overthe next half millennium hard lyallude to this story at all.
Instead, in Seer ha-Zohar (thirteenth century), she is not on IV repre--sented in her etiologic role as the infanticide, the impish cause of child diphtheria, fever, and sudden infant death (Zollar 111:76b-77a), but she is also framed in more theological terms. She is the female personification of divine judgment, an evil doppelganger of Eve brought into existence by human sin. At the end or time, vile!" all evil and chaos will be destroyed, the angels Michael and Gabriel--tlie first super--squad--will all and subdue her once and for all.
While these conflicting nivt hic and metaphysical versions of Lilith continue to circulate among traditional Jews well into the modern era,9 she has not been a well known figure outside of ... Judaism until recently. This may be because the word 1110/ appears only once in the Hebrew Bible (isa. 34:14) and the term does not survive the various translations into the languages used by Christians.'" Consequently, she was little known outside academic circles until a few decades ago.
Lilith was introduced to English-speaking intellectuals in the nine--teenth century through her brielmention in translations of Goet he's .Faust. apparently inspiring the pre--Raphaelite artist William Rossetti to name his portrait ol an angelic--looking seductress, as well as his accompanying poem, Lady Lilith. The English poet Robert Browning also penned an ode, "Adam, Lilith and Eve," Despite this celebrity, Lilitli again faded into relative obscurity within a few decades. A limited general twentieth--century readership in Britain and America learned of Lilith via Robert Graves's The While Goddess" (1948).
Her contemporary afterlife as a person i heat ion of feminism, subversion, and irony began with the publication of Judith Plaskow's feminist manifesto, "The Com inc, of (1972), in which Plaskow celebrates the invihic Lilith for her assertiveness. rebelliousness, and refusal to submit to the male authority figures in the tale, despite their power to make her suffer for her independence.
Lilith (.mly burst into popular American consciousness some years later, when a Jewish feminist journal launched in 1976 opted to use Lilith 's name for its title. The subsequent prominence of Lilith magazine in the 1980s served to widely disseminate her legend among many non--Jews. It is in this milieu that Lint h began her journey into the American intellectual and imaginative canon.
BIBLE AND MYTHOLOGY MIDRASG AND RET--Com: SOME COMPAR ATIVE DEFINITIONS
The notion of a literary canon is central to Judaism. Jews speak of "written Torah," the divine teachings in literary form. The core of this canon is the five books of Moses, with multiple books" from the library of ancient Israel added on. Collectively these books are termed migra (scripture), what in English is called the "Hebrew Bible" or "Old Testament."
Yet this fbrmal, written canon is only a fraction of what makes up "Judaism."
The rest is "oral Torah," or Mesorah, "Tradition," a vast, somewhat ill-defined, corpus of teachings and customs that provide Jews with their unique theology, orienting stories, and distinctive practices. The Mesorah is central to this study because these features allow us to talk meaningfully about whether distinctly "Jewish" characters., themes, or symbols are present in a given sequential narrative.
Comics also (sometimes) have bibles, usually something called a "character bible."
This is a handbook of guidelines that allows the changing creative teams to create and maintain aconsistent "universe" over a number of issues or even years of issues. Character bibles are not created for every comic book series, an issue that impacts, for example, on the Marvel version(s) of Lilith, who has been used in an ad hoc fashion from writer to writer." We are interested here in the myths'' that appear in Jewish Tradition. One of this article's authors has addressed the issue of Jewish myths in more detail elsewhere," but for our purposes, this definition of a myth by the folklorist Howard Schwartz is sufficient: "Myths refer to a people's stories about origins, deities, ancestors, and heroes ... within a culture, myth also serve as the divine charter ... Myth itself is the collective projection of a people."" Myths are "orienting tales" that a culture tells and retells for the purposes of identity--building and self-undersanding. In corn ic book parlance, however, a comic character's "mythology" is a fan term that refers to his/her/its backstory, various nemeses, allies, and storylines over the decades of the character's existence. (15)
Finally, it was David Lewis who unpacked the structural parallels between the Jewish method of Bible interpretation known as Midrash and the comic--book phenomenon of "ret-con" (short for "ret roactive continuity)." Traditional NI idrashic commentary is generated out of a disjunction, contradiction. Or linguistic or logical oddity in the biblical text, known as the "homiletic occasion." These occasions inspire' the commentator to "solve the disjuncture bv creating convergence through witty wordplays and in-tertextual comparisons, or by providing expansive background and /or linking stories to the biblical narrative that serve to reconcile or account For the quirks. Thus, tile introduction of Lilith into the Eden narrative to resolve the problem of why there seem to be two conflicting versions of the creation of humanity in the Bible (Gen. 2:26-24 versus Gen. 2:18-24) is a Flue example of the Midrashic method.
In the same way. the ret--con efforts of comic book writers are attempts to smooth oyer continuity problems between past. storylines, or to allow for new narrative directions that have bccii precluded by the earlier established of the characters or t heir mythology, such as the character's cleat h in an a previous story arc. The inclusion and frequent revision of Lilith in the 1.r.impire11a tinivffse, for example. requires tilt th iple ret--cons over the course of the series.
NAKED CAME THE STR ANGER:FIRST APPEAR ANCES OF THE FIRST WIFI
Because of her slow. sputtering entry into the general culture, Lilith actually serves as a bellwether for gauging the 'acculturation of Jewish Tradition. One can also use her appearance in comic storytelling as a kind of prism through wilich to see changes happening in American popular culture.
So it is noteworthy that her first representation in pulp sequential art slightly predates her 1970s popularization. It is equally striking that her first public appearance was the work of a want of non-Jews: the writer Nicola Cud and the artist Jeffery (later Catherine) Jones. In 1971 they produced a simplified four-panel lute] Ii rig of (lie le/-Bet de-Ben Sim accotint in l'ampirella #9, where a black-haired. sloe-eyed Li lit h menaces the blond first family. It is a single-page feature tinder the title "Vampi's Feary Thies" (Fig. 1). This side feature was meant to introduce readers to Old World "vampire" tales from different cultures. In this "teary tale," the Eden ic setting also allowed the editors to include female nudity while maintaining an air of "educating" the teen reader.
It is perhaps telling that in an industry shot through with Jewish creative teams looking For new ideas, this explicitly Jewish legend with aiewisli-looking temptress should be first told by non-Jews. Mostiews in die industry at this stage were children of the immigrant generations, for whom assimilation, passing, and conducting themselves with a "melting pot" ethos still dominated. Just as it took Hollywood filmmaker Darrell Zanuck, a non-Jew in an industry heavy with Jews, to produce the ground-breaking expose on antisemitism in America, Gentlemail's Agreement, so too it required a non-Jewish creative team to push past subtext to text with one of the earliest comic stories overtly derived from the sources of post-biblical Judaism.
Cuti revisits the character of Lilith two Vears later with a three-part story appearing in Eerie #47 (1973). In this retelling. Cuti markedly chris-tianizes it compared to his first version. In this horror-story fantasy, Eve and Lilith are competing "designs" submitted to God (always offstage) by the angels Gabriel and Satan, the latter being drawn as a stereotypical devil. This motif of Satan proposing a test is a vell--known one from tlte first chapter of Job. Lilith is still dark-haired. but more desexualized (though still partially nude fir parts of the story), and instead of' fighting over coitus, she reveals her satanic origins through her vicious blood-lust. What follows is more akin to a gothic love triangle, with Lilith pursuing the first couple through the ages, seeking to kill Eve and reclaim her partner.
Cuti also adds a Christian theme with the angel Gabriel "falling" for Lilith. In the "surprise twist" ending, he adds a clever modernization of the Genesis "two--creations of rrum" d is) II flctti re that inspired the Ben Sim story. It turns out that the first version ol humanity, the descendants of Adam and Eve, are long gone. The second creation of man is through evolution, a fact that will prove disast roils, as this Lilith swore only to never kill the descendants of Adam. Let the bloodbath commence. fl us particular myth might still have seemed problematic to a jeNV of the 1970s yvl ten compared to, sax, the goletn, becat Ise of its overt sexual content, its superstitious underpinnings, its playful critique of the Bible, and t he fact that the blood-lusting arch-villainess might have been herself' construed as somehow lewish: reviving memory or the medieval blood-libel accusation against ... Jews. Once published, however, Marvel. a more mainstream comics publislier and a company dominated by Jews, would soon follow with its owl] versions of Lilith suitable to their vmtng target audience.
Marvel macle its first foray into t his Jewish myth with "Lilith: The First Vampire" in Vampire Tale.s. #4 (1974) by the creative team of rony Isabella and Ernie Chtra (Chan). Like the Eerie piece, this is a single-page retelling, One that remains closely tied to the Ben Sim story. But as we saw in the extended Cud story, bot h Christian and contemporary visual and narrative references are introduced. The most prominent of these is the single panel captioned "Lilith paid a tragic price for her liberated defiance. The angels slaughtered the children she'd had bv Adam."' The accompanying illustration shows starkly silhouetted angels, with a sword raised, towering over an infant Ivitig prone on a mound, while Lilith screams in a Munch-like post tire in the foreground. This very effective panel visually at t.o two biblical stories: the Akedah (binding) of Isaac (Genesis 22) hi the Hebrew Bible and the "Slaughter of the Innocents (Matt. 2:16-18) of Christian Scriptures (fig. 2).
In a single stroke the this image, combined with the text emphasizing God's hand in the tragedy, moves Lilith into the status of an Aristotelian "tragic hero" and a character the reader can identify with. (18)
EARLY MARVEL:AVENGER OF WOMEN
The "liberated defiance" of Isabella's Lilith .fore-shadoyved things to come. Within a year Marvel introduced the first fully developed serial character that drew on her name and story: "Li lith, Daughter of Dracula" by Jewish creative team Mary Wolfman and Gene Colan (fig. 3). (19)
In the story arc in her first appearance, Giant-Size Chillersjeaturing Curve (il" Dracula #1 (June 1974). this Nlarvel character is clearly drawn from I le myth, though it remains subtext, as it is radically revised to conform to the existing Dracula mythology. In Wolfrnan's appropriation, I .i lith is Dracu la's East European daughter (born le he was still human) by his first wife, Zofia, a woman forced on him by his father. Dracula violently drives Zofia and her (laughter away, causing Zofia's suicide. First raised and then later cursed by gypsies into a yam-piric state, Lilith seeks out her fat her to take revenge for her mother's exile and suffering. This is a parabolic retelling of the Jewish myth, yvit h Dracula, his father, Incl Zofia/Lilith replacing Adam, God, and Lilit It. Nloreover, Wolfinan amplifies the "Jewishness" of Lilith by lifting her from an overtly Jewish but obscure context and linking her to the popular, if oblique, Jewish stereotypes of Dractila. (20)
Wolfman had already given his vampire protagonist, Dracula, a strongly misogynist cast in earlier stories. (21) The Curse of Dracula storyline introducing Lilith is remarkable for its feminist subtext and violence--against--women themes. In this sixteen--page story. there are no less than four women who are victimized by men in some way, three of them being subjected to physical. mental., and--possibly--sexual violence.
More than just an immigrant vampire (Tomb of dracula 1 #25) with an Oedipus complex, Wolfman's Lilith is able to possess the body of an "innocent" woman "who hates her father" for inflicting abuse onher. Immediately upon entering one such victim. the pregnant Angel O'Hara, Lilith takes the opportunity to wreak bloody vengeance on Angel's paternal tormentor. From then on she relentlessly pursues and seeks to destroy Dracula, the man who beat and expelled her mother, the neglectful father who caused her to be cursed. the male monster that literally Feeds on women. (22)
While she exercises many of the powers ascribes to vampires by Bram Stoker, (23) Wolfman's Lilith is exceptional in that she "shall never cower from the crucifix," as does her fat her, but so too as would a pre-feminism woman or even an Old World Jew. Nor must she skulk in the night as does her Old World father, the secret killer; she can walk freely and proudly by the light of day with complete immunity. When men in a pub leeringly wager who can "make it wi' 'er," she boldly takes one of them hack to his flat. Lured by her flagrant sexuality, he becomes her next male victim, a gloss on Lilith 's succubus persona. Transferred to this narrative context, the would-be male sexual predator is her prey, just as women are her father's primary victims.
Site is, throughout her first story arc, a 1970s feminist icon; an angry, empowered woman, turning the tables on male cruelty and patriarchy.
As Wolfman explains, "Lilith was of course about reverse discrimination" (from e-mail correspondence january 15, 2013). It is an ironic, rather sympathetic twist on /114-Bet de-Ben S'ira, which cast Lilith as the archetypal rebellious, and therefore evil, woman. Dracula may be the protagonist of the comic series, but in this particular story arc, at least, we are invited to root for his daughter; she even haunts his dreams, an homage to her succubus origins (Madness of. the Mind #28) While still evil, this Lilith is no less than a k'iu iii ist ax.engingangel, pointedly highlighted by her alter--ego, "Angel" O'Hara. By making abusive relationships between the sexes the driving motivation of his she--demon, Wolfman,. like Isabella, invites the reader to identify with her,
The character remains a recurring antagonist in Marvel's Tomb of Dracula series, but except for the fact that Angel O'Hara has rendered the undying Lilith unendingly pregnant (an homage to traditional Lil" ith's curse of never-ending childbearing), the story arc quickly ceases to even obliquely reference her Jewish source materials. Moreover, her role in later plots is more conventional and less piquant; she loses her "roundness" as a character, to use E. M. Forster's terminology, becoming increasingly "flat," a figure that is introduced merely to create new (or returning, or complicating) jeopardy for Dracula. (24) Eventually, she joins the Marvel character pool of secondary superheroes and appears in "cross-over" stories, encountering the X-men, Spiderman, Dr. Strange, and Sgt. Fury's Howling Corn in andos. (25)
THE FIRST X-WIFE
In perhaps their most overt gloss on the rapidly grow itig visibility of. Jewish themes and characters in the 1980s, the Marvel team places Lilith in an N-Men story (1982) in which she posstr'sses the bodv of Shadowcat. aka Kitt Prvde, Marvel's niost openly and proudly jewish female character (fig. 4).
In a kind of homage to the then ubiquitous JAP (Jewish American Princess) stereotype.'" this Jewish superhero (and very nice teenage girl) wit() harbors inside her a.jewish she-demon, must have seemed an irresistible in-joke for the editor Louise Jones, the writer Chris Claremont. and the artistic team. (27)
Marvel was less than consistent in preserving the continuity Or narrative integrity of its characters. So it is not surprising that a decade after her last major storyline. Lilith reappears with a different look. (28) and a different mythology in the supernatural noir series, Ghost RIM; starting in #28, 1992 ("Rise of Midnight's Children") (fig. 5).
The writer Howard Mackie and the artist Andy Kubert (29) incorporate Until into the recently revived Ghost Rider franchise. Mackie, initially unsure how to build on the existing momentum the character then enjoyed, found the idea of a "mother of demons" adversary appealing. With the help of]) is fellow writer, Dan Chichester, Mackie appropriated Lilith. (30)
Whereas the Jewish Wolfman used his Lilith as a vehicle for speaking of and to contemporary social issues, Mackie's iteration intentionally made more elaborate and visible use of mythological source material, fusing Lilith with other myths, both biblical and post-biblical, as well as other ancient Near Eastern (ANE) mythologies. This Marvel villainess, like her Jewish counterpart, is a mother: "mother of demons." Swallowed up in prehistory by the sea-monster llama, she emerges from her entombment in the depths of the ocean to wreck havoc on earth with her army of Lilin minions.
Mackie largely jettisons the Ben Sim legend in favor of the Kabbalistic interpretations of Lilith, which treat her as a hypostatic entity, the personification of a cosmic force, evil incarnate. The allusions to Jewish myth in this series are legion, beginning with Lilith 's title "Mother of Demons" (ZoharII:267b). it also echoes the medieval characterization of Lilith as one of the four queens of demons (Targunt Job 1:15).
The frequent use of Jewish Tradition continues with the monster Tiamat, the cosmic sea-dragon and adversary of the Mesopotamia pantheon. Tiamat is a cognate myth to the biblical Leviathan. (31) But just to eliminate any doubt in the matter Mackie also has the dragon that imprisons Lilith called "Leviathan" (Ghost Rider II, #28). (32) The dependency on familiar biblical myth is obvious in the homage to Jonah. (33) But this is simultaneously in intertextual relationship with Kabbalah, for according to Stier ha-Zohar; long before Jonah's time, Lilith was "cast into the depths [the primordial sear at the advent of creation (I:19b;III:19a)
Lilith's lackeys, the Lil in, also derive directly from Jewish folklore. Mentioned in the Babylonian Talmud and Jewish-Aramaic translations of biblical legends (Eruvin 18b; Targum Sheni, Esther 1.3; Tagum to Jeremiah, comment on Deut. 32:3; Emek ha-, Melekh 140b), these imps also hearken back to the Jewish amulets and demon-bowls of late antiquity that regard liliths as a category or class of evil spirits. Mackie hybridizes these creatures with Lilit by making them her "children," whom she births constantly and treats as utterly disposable to her purposes, even going so far as to cannibalize some, a suitably grotesque expansion on the Ben Sira account, in which Lilith is cursed to give birth to one hundred demon children every day, while one hundred die in the same span.
This Lilith has enjoyed great popularity, appearing in Marvel titles, Ghost Rider, Night Stalkers, Captain Britain, Doctor Strange, and others, in scores of comic series. Taken en toto, the Mackie version of Lilith introduced a substantial number of overtly Jewish tropes, exposing a wide readership (Ghost Rider was on fire at the time, on the book shelf as well as on the page) to traditions derived from Jewish folklore, defensive magic, and mysticism.
LATER MARVEL: FRICTIONAL CHARACTER
Moving into the twenty-first century, a glossy new Marvel Lilith (34) joins the sci-fi continuity of the Paranormal Containment Unit of S.H.I.E.LD. (fig. 6).
Now living under the pseudonym Lily Drake, for Nick Fury's Howling Commandos, (35) Lilith, daughter of Dracula, is recruited to be a member of the titular team. In this story arc, Lilith is teamed up with part-vampire/part-werewolf Nina Price to battle against a magical nemesis, Merlin. The most "Jewish" subtext in the series is the hemovore classism that creates tension between Lilith and her teammate, whom she haughtily denigrates for being only half-vampire. Throughout the mission they continue to clash.
While the surrounding subtexts of personal authenticity and living with two identities have resonance for Jews, this conflict is utterly generic and can be read on any number of levels: ethnic, racial, or social.
In 2007 in Legion of Monsters: Morbius #1, Lilith returns to the leitmotif of her earlier iteration, seeking to slay her father. (36) In all these later stories, Lilith 's mythic back-story virturally disappears. Specifically Jewish tropes, or even allusions to the Bible, are entirely absent. She is deployed almost exclusivey for her flinty personality, her eye-candy appearance, and her deadly vampiric powers. Even as her glimmering, air-brushed physical representation becomes increasing three-dimensional. her "immigrant" back-story flattens and fades. This is a deracinated Lilith, now completely naturalized into the American imagination.
THE HARRIS/DYNAMITE LILITH: THE MOTHFR OF ALL BAD GIRLS
In 1969 Warren Comics, a second-tier label specializing in post--Comic Code titillation-tinged horror comics targeting male tweens and teens, introduced a character who is arguably I he first pulp "bad girl" art creation, (37) Vampirella, put together by the writer Forest Ackerman and visually conceptualized by the artists Frank Frazetta and Trina Robbins. Inspired by the campy-sexy French sci-fi corn ic and movie character, Barbarella, "Vampi" is a minimally clad vampire refugee from the dying planet of Drakulon. The series introduced a novel, stylish, and more frankly erotic visual vocabulary to their American audience.
Lilith was added as a principal character to the Vampirella bible by the writer Warren Ellis in the 1990s. after the rights to Vampirella were purchased by Harris Publishing.'s She is introduced in a wonderfull contrived bit of ret-con: it turns out Vampirella's rather limiting science fiction back-story (shades of an i inverted Wizard of Oz.) is only a dream. Her origins are now mythological, not alien. She is the daughter of Lilith, (39) who, closely adhering to the Alef-Bet de-Ben Sira myth, was Adam's first wife, expelled from Eden, where she craves to return. She now spawns the race of vampires while reigning as queen of Drakulon, which is no longer a planet, but a precinct of the Underworld (Vampirella Lives##1-3; [25.sup.th] Anniversary Sperial, 1995). If anything, Lilith is badder than her bad girl daughter, both morally and visually' (fig. 7).
Both women are the cartoon embodiment of women designed for the voyeuristic pleasure of "the male gaze.' While very powerful within their narrative mythos, their illustrated acts (and postures) are subordinate to the desire of the presumed male readership--female bodies in contorted motion, often bathed in blood; frequent full frontal, back-, and up-shots of the female form that fill the panel; chests leaning in toward the reader; and plot developments that involve languid reclining, bathing, being bound, imprisoned, and tortured. At the same time, this Lilith is perhaps the most theologically and morally driven of all the comic characters derived from the complex of Jewish traditions
The Vampirella mythology is expressly monotheistic. God is an important, if inert character, the dispenser of damnation and forgiveness, and Lilith has been repeatedly punished for her crimes. In the new ret-con, Lilith gives life to Vampirella specifically so the uniqueVampiress could redeem her mother by slaying her other vampiric offspring, thereby gaining God's forgiveness. This sets into motion a whole new narrative trajectory .for Vampirel la as fratricidal ultra-sexy vampire hunter. While she is prominent in several storylines, Lilith mostly serves as a background master-antagonist, a motivation for Vampirella's actions and character evolutions.
The idea that a demon, nay, a demon queen, can gain divine pardon is, quite frankly, a much more Judaic than Christian theological conceit, as is the parallel subtext that hell is not an eternal fate; like Jewish Gehinnom, Vampirella's Drakulon is more a kind of purgatory, a place of regret rather than of despair. Individuals enter and leave it constantly. It is also remarkably bereft of condemned humans, other than those of continuing characters, like Adam Van Helsing. Demons, angels, and monstrous denizens abound in Drakulon, but remarkably few dead spirits. In this regard, Drakulon bears more resemblance to the seven underworlds of medieval Midrash, such as Tevel and Arka, realms where the descendants of Cain and monstrous sentient beings dwell (Zahar I:253b-254a; Sitrei Torah; Seder Gan Eden), than it does to Christian conceptions of hell.
Allusions to Jewish mystical tradition continue to pop up throughout the series, though like the Marvel Liliths, they gradually become less and less common as the character is reused and undergoes her own "Flanderization."
In an early Lilith story arc by Ed Sneigoski (The Mystery Walk #16, 1995), Lilith struggles to redeem both herself and Eden, but "blossoms of forgiveness are consumed by dark shelled things." Though illustrated quite literally as Edenic trees ulider attack by bugs, this is an allusion to the mystical myth of the klipot, "shells of evil." that encase and trap divine sparks, preventing the rectification of creation.
In a later series (World's End ##13-15, 1998-99), the writer Mark Carey introduces angels and entities from Jewish mysticism, such as Metatron (God's chief deputy angel in early esoteric texts) and the evil female angel Malkuth, who, it is revealed, is the divine template for Vampirella. This is a rather sophisticated allusion to a key doctrine of Jewish Kabbalah, the Se-firot. In Jewish mysticism, Malkuth, also known as Shekinah, is the "lowest" and "darkest" of God's ten emanations, the location of the material world, as well the explicitly feminine, imminent aspect of divinity. Malkuth/Shekinah, it must be noted in passing, is also the focus of a great deal of Jewish erotic theology; she is divinity subjected to the mystical male gaze, as it were. (42)
Lilith, haying deceived her daughter (it turns out that she really is bad to the bone) with her maternal plea for help, act wally intends for Vampirella to pull out an angelic lance embedded in Malkuth's heart by God's deputy Metatron. This act of daughterly devotion will, ironically, trigger the destruction of the material world, granting Lilith her final revenge against God and the children of Adam and Eve. The irony derives from the well-known story of Arthur pulling the sword from the stone, the feat that initiates the world's (or, at least. England's) deliverance from chaos. (43) Vampirella, being the doppelganger of Malkuth, provides the key plot point that makes the extraction possible, for only the good sell may redeem the evil self. This conceit is built, on the Kabbalistic concept of the inherent dualism, "the right-and-left-handedness," of all things in creation.
This is all rather sophisticated mythology, a comic back-story that draws heavily on Jewish mystical theology as well as folklore. Thus, the major writers of Lilith (Dave Conway, Mike Carey, Ed Sneigoski, James Robinson) occasionally aim for epic visual storytelling, a startling evolution for a pulp fiction that began as a titillating amusement. Vampirella never embraces the zeitgeist of a "Jewish" comic, however, no matter how much recognizable Jewish source material is in evidence. At different points the writers draw amply from archly Christological and pagan mythologies, such as Vampirella's battle gauntlets, made from the True Cross (World's End##1, 3), or the revelation that Vampirella is actually the product of a kind of "immaculate birth," being fathered, not by Lilith 's consort Belial, but by the land of Drakulon itself (Mystery Walk #6). She was born, parthenogenesis, out the ground (and thereby sparing Lilith's fabulous figure). Of course, one could argue that the passage also contains echoes of the creation of humanity in Genesis 1:26-28.
RACHIIL RISINNG: JEWISH-AMERICAN PSYCHO
Lilith's appropriation horn Jewish tradition i into American pop lore would seem to have been achieved early in her pulp appropriations. with Wolf-son's feminist man-killer, and surely it was complete with her appointment to a superhero squad led by the hyper-American Sgt. Nick Fury. The other, myth-heavy creations of later Marvel and Harris seem merely a nostalgic backward nod to her Old World origins. But recently her elevation into the American pantheon has been taken to another level in the in the independent graphic-novel series of the writer-artist Terry Moore: Rachel Rising (2010--present). In this comedic-horror story. Lilith appears in the small New England town of Manson. There her path gruesomely intersects with the lives of: several twenty-something women. Well into the series it is revealed that this Lilith is the first woman of God's creation, but was also once the leader of a small coven of witches in 1700s Manson, where she, her coven, and scores of innocent girls and women were massacred in a Salem-like witch-hysteria. The young women of the town, it seems, are reincarnations (or corpses possessed by the spirits) of her coven, and their meeting sets into motion Lilith's plan for revenge, a reckoning centuries in the making.
This artful integration of a Jewish nightmare into a fictional version of the most iconic event of supernatural terror in American history finally makes Lilith an utterly American monster, even as Rachel Rising. more than any previous comic. explicitly highlights her "Jewishness." This is encapsulated in one prominent visual representation of Lilith, the cover of Rachel Rising #10. Lilith, viewed from the upper torso, is wearing a pseudo-colonial style "wench" dress. She is gazing at the reader with a smirk, utterly unfazed by the noose even now pulling up against her neck. And the reader's eve is immediately drawn to the medallion that is emerging from under the noose: a Star of David. In this one image Moore includes references to immigrants (the (tress), Salem (the noose), the Holocaust (the juxtaposition of the star with the noose), and "shiksa" eroticism (Lilith is a pixie-nosed blond), a truly and fully jewish America icon (fig. 8).
LILITH THE BAGEL OF POP CULTURE JUDAISM?
Since her first 1971 appearance, Lilith has been continuously appropriated and repurposed, in ways both respectful of Jewish source material and ironic, by the comic book industry. Her many appearances serve as a pop culture map of the Mesorah's entry into the popular pantheon of American ideas. In the past twenty years., especially, her acceptance has accelerated, and she has become something of a household name, being used in countless novels, appearing as a character in television series (Baffin .the Vampire Slaw, True Blood, Supernatural, Scooby Doo), as the title of an annual all-women's music festival (Lilithfair), and as an avatar in video games. In recent Years, "Lilith" has even become a name given to baby girls. Few Jewish artifacts have enjoyed such an enthusiastic embrace by American culture as has Lilith.
In the domain of American pop culture, perhaps the bagel is her closest parallel. As late as the mid-twentieth century the bagel was ajewish food of such obscurity that having any familiarity with it at all was taken as a signifiger of Jewish identity. (44) Since then the bagel has been thoroughly Americanized: frozen, repurposed as sandwich bread (an emblematic American food mash-up), and reengineered as a diet food. It has been combined with unlikely ingredients alien to its East European origins. And it has suffered the ultimate indignity of American industrial convenience--most bagel dough has ceased to be boiled, the very process that gave the "Jewish" bagel its most distinctive quality.
Lilith, too, has under significant Americanization. In most cases she is so far removed from her ethic and religious origins that she is no longer really a "bagel" that is, a unique artifact of Judaism alone" she has become the comic-character equivalent of a mere "roll-with-hole," an almost generic stock figure for any author desiring a vampiric-demonic female character. That being said, like the bagel, the embrace of Lilith as both a Jewish and American "brand" has been nearly total and, given the bizarre features of her mythic origins, remarkably uncontroversial.
Thus, Lilith mirrors a larger embrace of Jewish tradition in the American milieu. Indeed, considered among all the artifacts of Jewish tradition, because of her success Lilith almost approaches the word "Judaism" itself, which has achieved high status in American discourse as a pragmatic (in the semiotic sense) totem, commonly deployed today in the political trope, "ju-deo-Christian," a term that is as popular as it is Ifundamentally content-less. (45)
There are, importantly, other American appropriations of Jewish Tradition. Select Jewish rituals and objects have been adopted and "baptized" by non-Jewish Americans for their own purposes: the Seder, the prayer shawl, the shofar, and most recently, the bar mitzvah. (46) But these have not received the widespread popular embrace that Lilith, this seemingly eccentric a id indigestible bit of religious narrative, has. Fler frequent appearance in comics, along with the continuous hybridization of Lilith's story with contemporary tropes, classical mythology, Christian motifs, even American history, is a Jewish American success story. Li lith has become emblematic of the rapid and broad assimilation Jewish Tradition, itself increasingly Americanized in style and ideology, into the American intellectual and imaginative carton. (47)
Arisitotle. Poetics Trans. Gerald Else. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1967.
Baron. Lawrence. "X-Men as J-Men: The Jewish Subtext of a Comic Book Shefar 22, no. 1 (2003): 44-52.
Buhle, Paul. Jews. and American Comics: An Illustrated Hisrory of An American Art Form. New York: First Classics Inc., 2008.
"A Christian Bar Mitzvah" on The Sisterhood, TLC Channel. tlc.howstuffworks. com/tv/thesisterhood/videos/a-christian-bat-mitzvah.html.
Cook, Michael. "Christian Appropriation of Passover: Jewish Responses Then and Now. In Jewish History and Thought 5 (New York: Hunter College, 1998), 49-63.
Cohen, Arthur. The Myth of the .Judeo-Christian Tradition and other Dissenting Essays. New York: Schocken, 1971.
Davidson, Carol M. "Blood Brothers: Dracula and Jack the Ripper." In Bram Stoker's Dracula, edited by Carol Davidson, 147-68. Toronto: Dundurn Press, 1987.
Dennis, Geoffrey W. The Encyclopedia of Jewish Myth, Magic and Mysticism. Woodbury: Llewellyn Publications, 2007.
--"The Bride of God: Jewish Erotic Theology." In Jews and Sex, edited by Nathan Abrams, 11-27. London: Five Leaves, 2008.
--"What is a Jewish Myth?" Llewellyn journal online at www.11ewellyn.com/journal/article/1302.2007.
Dundes, Alex. "The J.A.P. and J.A.M. in American Jokelore." Journal of American Folklore 98, nol 390 (1985): 456-75.
Fingeroth, Danny. Disguised as Clark Kent. New York City: Continuum International Publishing Group Inc., 2007,
Forster, E. M. Aspects of the Novel. San Diego: Harcourt, 1956.
Kaplan, Arie. From Krakow to Krypton. Philadeliphia: The Jewish Publication Society, 2008.
Lewis, David. "The Secret Untold Relationship of Biblical Midrash and Comic Book Ret Con." International journal of Comic Book A it 4, no. 2 (Fall 2002): 261-75.
Mulvey, Laura. "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema."
Screen 16, no. 3 (1975): 6-18.
McCloud, Scott. Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art. New York.: HarperCollins, 1993.
Nathan, Joan. "A Short History of the Bagel." Slate Magazine, online at www.slate.com/articles/life/food/2008/11/a_short_history_of_the_bagel.html. 2012.
Patai, Raphael. Gates to the Old City: A Book of Jewish Legends. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1981.
--"Lilith."Journal of American Folklore 77, no. 306 (1964): 295-314.
Robinson, Sara Libby. Blood will Tell: Vampires as Political Metaphors before WW
I. Brighton: Academic Studies Press, 2011.
Schwartz, Howard. The The of Souls. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1964.
Stern, David, and Mark J. Mirsky, eds. Rabbinic Fantasies. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1990.
Voger, Mark. The Dark Age: Grim, Great [??] Gimmicky Post-Modern Comics. New York:Two Morrows Publishing. 2006.
Wandtke, Terrence R.. TheI Amazing Transformning Superhero! Digital Vision, 2007.
Weiner, Robert. "Marvel Comics and the Golem Legend." Shofar 29, no. 1 (2011): 50-72.
(1.) Danny Fingerot Disguised as Clark Kent ( New York: Continuum, 2007),57.
(2.) There is a second Way in which Jewish messianism is different. In Christian thought, there is and can be only one Messiah. All other contenders are antichrist. In Judaism, a Messiah is a role and a high office, a role not bound to one person one time in (or even the end of) history. Every king and high priest of Israel was a Messiah. Thus, the appearance of multiple superheroes in a single "universe" has a more Jewish than Christian resonance to it
(3.) Egal Feldman, "American Protestant Theologians On die Frontiers of Jewish-Christian Relations, 1922-1950," in Anti-Semitism in Amerrican History, ed. David A. Gerber (Chicago: Unisversity of. Illinois Press. 1986). 363-64.
(4.) Spenser Blakeslee, The Death of American Anli-Semitism (Westport., Conn.: Praeger, 2000).
(5.) Robert Weiner, "Marvel Comics and the Golem Legend." Shofar 29, no. 2 (2011): 50-72.
(6.) Though not stated explicitly in this narrative, Lilith's "children" alludes to the demon offspring she births using the semen extracted from men via their nocturnal emissions.
(7.) David Stern and Mark J. Mirsky. Rabbinic Fantasies (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1990). 183-84.
(8.) Raphael Patai, Gate's of the Old City (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1981), 483. This aothology has a fine selection of Lilith texts drawn from multiple time periods.
(9.) Raphael Patai "Lilith" Journal of American Folklore 77, no. 306 (1964): 312.
(10). The Greek Bible translates lilot as "satyrs"; the Latin Vulgate as "latnia"; and the King James Bible as "screech owls.
(11.) Unless otherwise stated, all references to the Bible in this essay are to the Hebrew canonical writings.
(12.) "Myth" henceforth will be exclusively used for a traditional Jewish religious narrative.
(13.) Geoffrey Dennis, "What is a Jewish Myth?" Llewellyn Journal (December 2007), available from http://www.11ewel1yn.com/journal/article/1302.
(14.) Howard Schwartz, The Tree of Souls (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1964). ix.
(15.) Henceforth. "mythology" will be used solely in this comic book connotation.
(16.) David Lewis. 'Hie Secret Untold Relationship of Biblical Midrash and Comic Book Ret Con," International journal of Comic Book Art 4, no. 2 (Fall 2002): 261-75.
(17.) The words "tragic" and "slaughtered" appeared bolded in the comic text.
(18.) Aristotle, Poetics, trans. Gerald F. Else (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1967), 59.
(19.) The illustrated Lilith is very much apiece with the "bad girl" art emerging in the early 1970s (more about that, later), and looks somewhat derivative of her then-rival at Warren Comics, Vampirella: a tall. voluptuous figure, reminiscent of Sofia Loren. This Lilith has long black hut, which serves as a sexual signifier, as well as making her ethnically ambiguous; wears high heels; and dons a body-contouring black unitard with a plunging decolletage cutout that reveals her naked torso from .just above the mons pubis to the clavicle. The sartorial effect. is completed with a bat-shaped tiara and bat-wing cloak.
(20.) Carol M. Davidson, "Blood Brothers: Dracula and Jack the Ripper." in Bram Stoker's Dracula: Sucking though the Ages, ed. Margaret Davidson and Carol Nfl. Davidson (Toronto: Dundurn Press, 1987), 147-68, Also see Sara Libby Robinson, Blood will Tell: Vampires as Political Metaphors before WW I (Brighton: Academic Studies Press, 2011).
(21.) "Tomb of Dracula Omnibus 1 (Review/Retrospective),"at The Movie Blog, October 10, 2012, available from hup://themOvieblog.com. Accessed January 2, 2013.
(22.) Compounding the dominant "abuse" motif begun in Giani-Size Chillers featuring Curse of Dracula #1. Dracula himself becomes the (deceptively) gallant protector ol Sheila Wittaker, a woman being exploited by her living employer, Lord Henry, as well as physically abused by the ghost of her Fat her. Even as he protects her from these male threats, he controls her. When she tries in leave him, he kidnaps her. justifying his act by claiming. "I was merely protecing what is mine
(23.) Wolfman even takes space along the margins of the panels to insert direct. quotes from Stoker Dracula, a kind of cartoon scholarly apparatus.
(24.) E. M. Forster. Aspects of the Novel (San Diego: Harcourt. 1956). It is worth noting there is a cartoon-specific version of this concept of a once-rich character devolving into a one-rich character devolving into a one-note topoi. It is called Flanderzation
(25.) Lilith. the daughter of Dracula. appears in these issues: Giant-Size Chillers #1 (1974, June): Tomb of Macula #23 (1974, August): Vampire tales #6 (1974, August); Tomb of Dracula #25 (1974. October); Dracula Lives #10 (1975, January): Dracula Lives #11 (1975, March): Tomb ol Dracula #55 (1977. April): Tomb of Dracula #60 (1977. September); Marule prebiew #12 (1977. Fall); Tomb Dracula #65 (1978, July); Tomb of Dracula #66 (1978, September): Tomb of Dracula #67 (1978, November ); Maryiew #16 (1978, Fall); Tomb of Dracula Vol. 2 #5 (1980, June); Uncanny X-Men Annual #I982 (1982. November): Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme #9 (1989. November).
(26.) Alan Dundes, "The J.A.P. and the J.A.M in American Jokelore" Journal of Americon Folklore, 98, no. 391) (1985).
(27.) Marvel Lilith also undergoes her first change in appearance. Her upper body is now entirely covered. But what the artist takes away, he also gives. Her black leggings have been replaced With fishnet hose, giving her a more distinctly dotninatrix-flavored appearance.
(28.) In keeping with the hyper-muscular characters of the time, this Lilith is a broad-shouldered, rather masculine figure. She has dead white skin. inspired by Neil Gaiman's goth-girl. Death, and a towering forehead featuring a dramatic widow's peak, with the exposed skin rising into two horn-like points. Mackie attests this was inspired by Disney's villainess Maleficent. Her black-green hair flares in wild tresses. Dressed in chrome-colored stiletto-heeled thigh-boots. a decolletage-to-the-navel gymnast leotard. all linked by stretches of fishnet, the overall effect is to deemphasize her generic sexual allure in favor of a menacing S-M fetish other-worldliness. thought the constant repetition of "V" shapes in her design is suggestive of genital imagery.
(29.) Andy is the son of the comic artist Joe Kubert. the co-creator of one the earliest. explicitly Jewish superheroes, Ragman.
(30.) "While comic book writers are not deeply read. they are widely read, especially when it comes to myths and legends." Interview with Howard Mackie, January 23, 2013.
(31.) The sea monster that undermines or opposes the formation of the cosmos is called Leviathan or Rahav in the Hebrew Bibie, Prince Yam in Canaanite mythology, and Tiamat in Mesopotamia.
(32.) Later (eighteenth century) Jewish additions to the Lilith myth actually begin to conflate her with Leviathan (Emek ha-Melekh 84b).
(33.) While the biblical book describes the creature that. swallowed Jonah as "a great fish," post-biblical Midrash incorporates leviathan into the Jonah narrative, when it, cartoon-like, attempts to swallow the fish that just swallowed Jonah ( Pirkei de Rabbi Eliezer 10).
(34.) Advances in comic book graphics allow more sophisticated use of visual effects and a wider palette of colors than the old black-and-white or four-color scheme that defined pulp illustration from its inception to the 1920s. The more sophisticated use of curved highlights, for example. that mimic the visual effect of airbrushing, stall to give both characters and their backgrounds a greater sense of depth. Moreover. Lilith now enjoys multiple wardrobe changes. In her new "military" persona. she has a science-fiction flavored combat suit. a utility belt, and fearsome, if uber teholchke. dagger added to her couture options. Through most of the Howling Commands story she Wears a pseudo-corset-dress with a pluniging neckline and a frilly lace cameo choker, camouflage well-suited for infiltrating fairy-occupied enemy territory around Stonehenge.
(35.) Nick Fury's Howling Commandos #3 (2006, February); Nick Fury 's Howling Commandos #4 (2006, March); Nick Fury's Howling Commandos #5 (2006, February); Nick Eary Iv Howling Commandos #6 (2006. May).
(36.) But once again her appearance gets an update. The new visuals for her reflect the ever expanding technical tools available to twenty-first-century comic artists. The new economics of mass-market comics also require more use of glossy full-color interior panels. Exploiting this, Lilith now has an airbrushed sheen to her every curve. She has returned to basic black, but her spandex-like bodysuit is gone, and she spends much of' her time in low-cut black leather hip-huggers and a rather improbable bustler. She has had breast augmentation surgery also. Like most comic women since the 1990s, her mammary glands are drawn in a way that suggests someone simply cut a cannonball in half and then implanted the hemi-spheres under the skin, mounted along the medial line of the clavicle.
(37.) Bad girl art is a comic-art style associated with strong, sexualized, and violent female characters, usually antiheroes. Mark Voger, The Dark Age: Grim, Great [??] Gimmicky Post-Modern Comics (NewYork: TwoMorrows Publishing, 2006). The illustrated Vampirella features Betty Page--style banged hair with long black tresses. She wears a minimalist blood-red unikini with a high white Dracula-like collar and a bat emblazoned over her crotch, which visually hinctions as her pubic triangle. Her naked hips and thighs taper into long, Barbie Doll--like legs (in the Frazetta cover, her legs reach arachnid-like lengths) sheathed in stiletto-heel black go-go boots.
(38.) Lilith features prominently in the storvlines Vengeance of Vampirella: The NI ploy Walk ##1-6 (1995-96); Vampirella Lives ##1-3 (1993); Sad of Destiny #1 (1996): Vampire/la: Blood Lust Books I [??] II (1997); lampirella: World's End ##13-15 (1999): Vampirella: Revelation #40-3 (2005-6). She appears as a background character in storylines from the 1990s forward.
(39.) Vampirella's mother in the War ren series is the "Conjuror."
(40.) The Harris Lilith. first illustrated by the artist Louis La Chance. is a slatuesque Woman to rival her daughter. barely dressed in what amounts to a brass-and-veils harem bikini. She is distinguished by her elaborate quasi Aztec/Egyptian headdress crown. an object that owes equal debt lo the comic book genius Jack Kirbv and Las Vega, floor shows. somelimes hey. trousscau includes brass greaves.
(41.) Laura Mulvey. "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema,". Screen 16. no. 3 (1975): 6-18.
(42.) Greoffrey Dennis. "The Bride of God: Jewish Erotic Theology." in Jews and Sex, ed. Nathan Abrams (London: Five Leaves. 2008).
(43.) There is a Jewish cognate legend nom the Middle .Ages: Moses first comes by the "staff of God" (Exod. 17:9). which he will wield during his salvific campaign on behalf of Israel. when he accidendtly extracts it from the garden of.jethro, a feat no one else has been capable of doing (pirke de Rabbi Eliezer 40: Yalkhut on Psalm 110).
(44.) "A short History of the Bagel." Slate Magazine, published November 12. 2008. Available from http: www.slate.com/articies/life/food/2008/11/a_short_historv_of_the_bagel.html. Accussed February 1. 2013.
(45.) Arthur Cuhen, The Myth of the Judeo-Christian Tradition and other Dissenting Essays (New York: Schocken. 1971).
(46.) Miclrael Cook, "Christian Appropriation ol Passover: .Jewish Responses Then and Now," in Jewish History and Thought 5 (New York: Hunter College, 1998). 49-63; "A Christian Bar Mitzvah." The Sisterhood, aired on the TLC channel September 13. 2012. available from http://tlc.howstulfworks.com/tv/the-sisterhood/videos/a-christian-bar-mitivah.html. Accessed January 30, 2013.
(47.) The authors would like to thank several helpers in this project: the UNT undergraduates Nathan Lloyd, James Cheek. Gabrielle Losoya, and Benjamin Auerbach helped resedrch: Jeremy Shorr, owner a Titian Comics in Dallas. found us mo st. of the comics discussed: when even Jeremy's scrounging talents failed. an old friend, Dr. Lawrance Bernabo, did not. finding that one last Tomb of Dracula monthly in his garage. Precious colleagues Dr. Marshall and Dr. Deborah Armintor materially improved this work their close readings, though sadly. some of their very best insights on Lilith took its beyond the scope ol this essay. We acknowledge all their enririching contributions. while any faults are the work of the authors alone.
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|Author:||Dennis, Geoffrey; Dennis, Avi S.|
|Date:||Mar 22, 2014|
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