Champion of the Oppressed: Redescribing the Jewishness of Superman as Populist Authenticity Politics
Abstract

Abstract:

Commentators largely agree that the character Superman is rooted in his creators’ Judaism. The present article supplements such research by historicizing Superman’s Jewishness vis-à-vis the populist politics of the left from which he emerged, namely the social movement known as the Popular Front (1934–39)—a leftist political coalition marked by significant Jewish involvement. Examining the first year of Superman comic books (Action Comics #1–12, June 1938–May 1939), this article will suggest that the creators of Superman may have deployed the Kryptonian hero to delineate the “proper” relationship between ethnic and religious Jewish identity in the context of the Popular Front. It will be suggested that the authenticity politics in these Superman stories subordinates ethnic identity to leftist populism under the aegis of a loosely Marxist conception of “history.”