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Avril Brown Presents:

Shana tova, my Jewish readers!

For those of you who don’t habla Hebrew, ‘shana tova’ essentially translates to ‘happy new year’ or ‘a good year.’ This week was Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. Or what I like to call one of the best meals EVER.

My father’s side of the family is Catholic and my mother’s is Jewish, so growing up there were plenty of family holiday gatherings to attend. Not having spent too much time in church or temple, holidays for me aren’t really about religion and rituals, but rather eating delicious food and spending time with the people I love.

I am one of the lucky ones; namely I have a pretty damn cool family. Both sides are sharp-witted, talented, caring people and a blast to hang out with. Some of the best times I’ve ever had have been during the holidays, surrounded by my family.

This week the maternal side is up as the High Holiday’s kick in gear with Rosh Hashanah dinner. Every year we gather at my aunt and uncle’s house for family, food and fun. That side of the family certainly has grown over the years to the point where even their sizable furnished basement is bursting with bodies. A swarm of little ones run around like they’ve been chugging espressos, and thus far have thankfully upheld their pinky promise to quit spitting in my hair. My uncle tells the same joke every year (“I keep writing 5768 on all my checks!”), and we all laugh every year, just happy to be there and hearing it one more time. Everyone marvels at my father, quite often the only Catholic boy at the table, heaping the horseradish onto his gefilte fish while my mother gives him a look that clearly shouts, “I can’t believe you’re eating that.” (Occasionally she bypasses the look and goes straight to vocal expression.)

Some of my favorite comic issues ever written are twenty-two pages of super-powered beings just hanging together at their state-of-the-art mansion. I don’t have to be on the edge of my seat in excitement, wondering if Wolverine and Colossus are going to use their trademark fastball special to bring down a fleet of sentinels. Seeing a tearful Rogue cling to her Cajun boyfriend, thanking him for a beautiful Christmas gift, can be as equally thrilling as tackling the latest mutant terrorist.

By all means a superhero book should have super people kicking ass and taking names, but time should be taken to tell a holiday tale of family wackiness. Many books do a Christmas special, but how often do they touch on other holidays? Kitty Pride from the X-Men is Jewish, but I don’t recall ever seeing her sit down for a Passover Seder or a Rosh Hashanah dinner with either her mutant or blood families.

Give me an issue where Marvel’s mightiest meshuggunahs break challah and barter for two matzo balls and no carrots in their soup. Show me which kugel Kitty goes for: raisins or plain. Put Wolverine in charge of slicing the brisket. Leave off the heart-pounding action once in a while and demonstrate that our beloved heroes are more than a team, they’re family, and a multi-cultural family at that.

Not everyone has a big, loud, colorful and slightly crazy family to have a laugh with on the holidays, which is why it is so important to include scenes like these in comics. To have an example, even a fictional one, that such scenes exist, can be comforting, familiar and even inspirational. So Happy New Year to all, and party like it’s 5699!


Avril Brown



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