Comic Book Master Frank Miller Wants Superman to Face WWII and His Jewish Roots

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Frank Miller is best known for his Batman comics. But it’s Superman that is the first superhero he fell in love with, and he has always wanted to write his story.

If he gets his chance, it’s sure to be controversial. For most of Superman’s existence, critics have argued that he has ties to Judaism. Miller wants to write the story with a focus on that aspect of Superman’s character.

Recently, Miller and his Dark Knight III co-writer, Brian Azzarello, were asked about Superman’s current state. Both agreed that he is too powerful as he is portrayed now, either in Henry Cavill’s portrayal or Tyler Hoechlin’s turn in Supergirl. To Miller and Azzarello, the Dave Fleischer cartoons in the 1940s are the definitive version of Superman.

“Superman, originally, was this character who’d grab the military leaders from opposite sides of conflicts and bring them together to hash it out. He has a history in WWII, and I’d like to put him there again.” Miller adds, “Superman needs to confront his Jewish roots, and I’d like to write that. I’d like to have him face a death camp.”

Those “Jewish roots” are notes written by co-creator Jerry Siegel. He was the original writer for the hero, and his notes show that he saw the character and his story as an allegory about anti-Semiticism. To him, Superman was Samson from the Jewish Torah. His birth name even has an Israelite sound to it. It’s modeled after Jewish words like Isra-el and Samu-el. “Kal” is similar to the Hebrew word for “vessel or voice.”

His escape from the planet Krypton as an infant echoes Moses’ escape from death in Egypt. Choosing the name “Clark Kent” to disguise his background is a metaphor for the way Jews assimilated themselves in foreign cultures in foreign countries by changing their names.

The first that Miller wrote Superman into one of his Batman stories, he was a strictly a black and white hero, who served as a foil to Batman’s more nuanced judgments of good and evil, Inverse reported.

Dark Knight III: The Master Race continues with issue #6 being released on October 19. For 30 years, it has been considered the definitive Batman story. Prior to Miller’s dark story, the most popular version of the character was Adam West’ cartoony take on the TV show.

If Miller was allowed to have the same freedom with Superman’s story, we could see a surge in popularity for the character. If anyone could pull off having him face Hitler and the concentration camps, it would be Miller.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE