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Miracles and superheroes: Some thoughts on Batman: The Brave and The Bold #14

House Ad for 1976 Ragman series by co-creator Joe Kubert

As miracle-based winter holidays go, Jewish Chanukah suffers a bit in constant comparison to Christian Christmas, a fact that has to do more with a coincidence of the calendar than with the importance of the holidays to the respective groups who celebrate them.

That is, Christmas is the second biggest holiday of the Christian year, behind Easter, and the one that has been most widely embraced by secular culture. For Jews, Chanukah is a relatively minor religious holiday.

The two holidays are generally forced into contrast each winter as they are celebrated around the same time, though, and Chanukah can’t help but come across as the lesser of the two, in a miracle vs. miracle sense.

The miracle of Chanukah, beyond the military victory in which the Maccabees defeated the vastly larger  Greek army (Take that, Frank Miller and Zack Snyder!),  was that the one day’s worth of oil they had to burn in the temple menorah burned for eight days.

Christmas has a couple of miracles for Christians, including a virgin birth, a portentous star in the sky and angels visiting multiple witnesses.

From an outsider  standpoint, the Chanukah story has a lot more action, but the Christmas one inspires more awe.

Of course, neither the temple oil lasting a supernaturally long time nor a baby being born to a virgin and that event’s accompanying aerial phenomenon seem quite as impressive as this particular miracle: A magical suit stitched together from rags transforms the person who wears it into a superhero, granting him super-strength and invulnerability, limited flight ability, and, most, spectacularly, the ability to absorb the souls of truly evil people, transforming them into rags in his quilt-like suit.

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