Black Lives Matter. We stand in solidarity with those affected by generations of structural violence. You can help »

The Brooklyn Rail

FEB 2021

All Issues
FEB 2021 Issue
The Miraculous The Miraculous: New York

40. (330 West 42nd Street)

Some eight months before the country enters the Second World War, two New York comic-book artists create a flashy super-hero who vigorously defends the United States against all enemies. In the first issue he is shown beating up no one less than Adolf Hitler. The issue is an instant hit, selling millions of copies, which infuriates supporters of the isolationist America First Committee and members of the German-American Bund. As one of the artists later recalls: “We were inundated with a torrent of raging hate mail and viscous, obscene phone calls. The theme was ‘death to the Jews.’ At first we were inclined to laugh off their threats, but then, people in the office reported seeing menacing-looking groups of strange men in front of the building on 42nd Street and some of the employees were fearful of leaving the office for lunch.” At that point, the publisher puts in a request to the NYPD for protection. Somewhat unexpectedly, uniformed officers are soon making regular patrols in front of the company’s office on an upper floor of the McGraw Hill Building. The explanation for this quick, and reassuring, response comes a few days later when one of the artists receives a phone call from the city’s mayor, who tells him, “You boys over there are doing a good job. The City of New York will see that no harm comes to you.”

(Jack Kirby, Joe Simon, Fiorello La Guardia)

Contributor

Raphael Rubinstein

Raphael Rubinstein is the author of The Miraculous (Paper Monument, 2014) and A Geniza (Granary Books, 2015). He is currently writing a book about the Jewish-Egyptian writer Edmond Jabès. A Professor of Critical Studies at the University of Houston School of Art, he divides his time between Houston and New York.

close

The Brooklyn Rail

FEB 2021

All Issues