Why Consider the Book of Judges as a Framework for Superhero Stories?
Judges could easily be turned into an exciting comic book, shows or movies. There is so much excitement with war, betrayal, murder, civil war, miraculous victories of weak over strong, few over many and at the root of it all is HaShem’s love for His People.
Have you ever heard of Samson, Gideon, Judith, Ehud the left-handed assassin or the Benjamite sharp-shooters? There are these characters and character-types that are powerful and evocative of all sorts of the human condition. They aren’t perfect people, but they are special each in their own way and used by HaShem  to save Israel. Most of them lived ordinary lives until the chance came for them to do something no one else could do. Reading Judges last time, these people felt like legendary heroes and that got me thinking about superheroes. Marvel and DC have this odd Mulligan Stew approach where literal gods, dinosaur men, other-dimensional demons and agents of HaShem, all interact with each other on a seemingly level playing-field. That just isn’t cool. The issue from my perspective stems from the many contributors to the Marvel Universe over the decades. I want to construct a singular superhero universe directed by my vision that will offer similar variety and tons of entertainment. I am standing on the shoulders of giants and I pray I can accomplish this task.
To sharpen my point, if there were a universe full of superheroes (and supervillains) there could be a way for all of them to have been empowered by the Almighty as I understand Him and the Judges demonstrate that in a way.
What is the Book of Judges About?
The book of Judges states that HaShem* responded to some disobedience of the people of Israel by allowing some of the people left in the Land of Israel to remain there after the death of Joshua. The narrative over the first 3 chapters jumps around a bit and it is a little unclear. There is something about how the generation that went in with Joshua was solid and they trusted in HaShem and were faithful, but their kids were less-than-wonderful. HaShem warns that these remnant peoples of Canaan and their false gods will become a snare to Israel and that, for their faithlessness, this subsequent generation will suffer and be oppressed by their enemies. However, because HaShem is merciful and loving and desires repentance, Judges will arise in Israel to defend the people from complete destruction. A Judge would be empowered by Heaven to defend, ward off and sometimes destroy enemies in a particular region of Israel at a time. I have not looked for a timeline of the book of Judges, but if I recall correctly, Steven in the Book of Act says the period of the Judges was about 450 years. I think that was more like the gap between Joshua bringing the People of Israel into the Land and Kind David taking the throne and finishing what Joshua had started, but I could be wrong.
Israel’s national history could be framed thus:
-Enslavement and Exodus
-Entering and conquering the Land of Canaan with Joshua
-The Period of the Judges
-King Saul to Kind David
-The Kingdom is split in 2: Northern Kingdom of Israel, Southern Kingdom of Judah
-Israel carried off into captivity
-Judah carried off, Temple destroyed
This isn’t wholly relevant, but as I am thinking as I type it is helping me flesh out my idea of how this story would unfold. If that 450 year era of the Judges is accurate, that means I could potentially plan for a universe that has a very full history. There are some things for me to consider. 1) my reading of Judges leaves me understanding that there were probably multiple Judges active at overlapping times in distinct parts of Israel 2) I was already planning on having my universe take place over about 100 years after initially creating about 20 “comic book title” ideas and I don’t think I like the repercussions of that. A quick aside to define “comic book title” ideas: Ditko and Lee’s “The Amazing Spider-Man” is a title focused on a single character (at least originally) while Kirby and Lee’s “The X-Men” is focused on a team of characters. 2B) Getting back on track, would I need to create many more “comic book titles” or “properties” to sustain that much story and fill out the timeline? 3) If I tried to make my superhero timeline match with the Judges’ timeline that could be difficult and possibly pointless.
In short the Book of Judges is about the strong defending the weak from those who would torment, exploit and destroy them. That sounds like heroes and villains to me.
Who is the Audience?
People like me. I plan to tell solid stories of universal appeal. I have in mind different eras and each era will have a title that offers something different. I am thinking one character in each generation will be very dialed into the fact that they are chosen by HaShem and the others will be more quiet about it. I don’t want the stories to be preachy, just steeped in culture and not hide from the fact that most of my heroes will plainly be religious folks. Essentially, being knights of the King of the Universe, they will be good moral people and will have a variance of their observance like the Judges did. CS Lewis, Tolkeinn are my literary influences, while early and select Kamen Rider as well as Spider-Man are my TV and comic book inspirations for these characters. Imagine a fusion of those elements without Lewis’ Pagan Syncrotism and that is pretty close to what I am aiming to create. So anyone who has enjoyed Lord of the Rings, Narnia, 70’s style live-action martial arts and special effects shows, even power rangers, as well as the 90’s Spider-Man TV show, the Raimi-Maguire Trilogy and the classic Ditko-Lee comics and even the MCU’s Avengers should find my universe quite enjoyable. I’ll leave out Stark’s lewdness and handle violence and any degree of sexuality in the most modest and subdues way possible. The text of the Bible clearly relays sensitive information involving both sex and violence in an honest, straightforward manner without ever indulging or delighting in them, I plan to do the same and feel like can handle a whole range of topics and scenarios without compromising my values.
To put it simply my audience is folks who enjoy action, adventure, drama, intrigue and characters who are moral, solid and deep all spiced with flashy visuals and pulpy goodness.
How Can Judges be Adapted?
I will have to take the ideas and concepts and figure out how to condense and graph them onto the modern era. Being the HaShem is the Father of all, His protection should extend to people all over the world. This sort of gets into a question of theology and cosmology. Why do I think HaShem allows bad things to happen now? Why aren’t there superheroes now to protect and save people? Ultimately it comes down to sovereignty. Everything is and comes from HaShem, even evil is allowed and sustained by Him for some greater purpose, which I believe we can not see or know at this time. I do know that if everyone followed HaShem, the world would be much better. The greatest commandments are love for HaShem and love for your bothers and sisters, your neighbors; this is true in Judaism and Christianity. If all self-proclaimed Christians and Jews alone would always chose to act out of love and kindness and care for others more than themselves, that would have a major positive impact on the world. We are daily presented with that chance and we can choose life (that is a command in the Torah, DEUT. 30:19) if we apply ourselves. Let’s say everyone or 99.9999% of people did that and the majority of the calamities were caused by accidents and natural disasters, the question remains how can a Just and Loving Creator allow that? I don’t know, but I accept it on faith. We are His hands and we can do something about the suffering in the world. The dub of Neon Genesis Evangelion has this great line, that I have always loved, “Acts of Man are better than acts of G-d.” The context is that people are waiting to be saved from a situation and a person chooses to take action and risk herself to save people instead of waiting for a miracle. The cool thing about that line is it almost a paraphrase of James 2:15-16 which advocates the individual believer to take ownership of a situation and see that the needs of someone suffering are met by the one witnessing the suffering.
I think I can apply the principle of the Judges being Jews and expand it to Jews and Gentiles who have an active love for the Most High in their hearts and who take action based on that. I want it to be planet-wide, so it can’t be exclusive to the land of Israel. I also don’t plan for this Era of Holy Heroes to end with a king unless it is King Messiah, but I don’t actually want their stories to extend the the last of the Last Days or End Times. That doesn’t appeal to me. I also can’t have displaced Cannanites be the enemy. The formula would have to be wicked people threaten innocent bystanders and a Judge rises up to save them. Maybe the wicked have to be super-powered as well to warrant a super-powered divine response. That could be OK. I have an idea for a common origin of all the super-powered villains in mind. What about purse-snatchers and the like? I have a radical idea. I believe the modern Criminal Justice system in America is sick, twisted, corrupt and wrong. What if my Holy Heroes partly displaced the police and Criminal Justice system? Could their presence be 2-fold? One aspect or reason for the Holy Heroes to exist is to stop the Unholy Evil arising and the other purpose could be to effect a repairing of the world by disrupting corrupt systems of power and inspiring people to take ownership of themselves and live as righteous, sovereign beings?
All that answers: who the Judges were, who they protected, where it happened and what were they defending against and why their collective narrative makes a solid inspiration for my own Superhero universe. My Holy Heroes will be people chosen by HaShem who know and love Him. They will protect innocents from oppressive systems and Unholy Evil across the globe.
The next step would be for me to think about my business plan and how I will market this project.
 – HaShem – This is not a thorough explanation, but it is solid. Feel free to ask me about this if you have any questions. “HaShem” is Hebrew for “The Name,” which is what G-d/the LORD is called by religious Jews and some folks like me who believe Jesus is Jewish and that he didn’t “start a new religion” call him. Why do I do things in a Jewish way? I am a disciple of Jesus. He told his disciples to go make disciples of all nations. A disciple learns to live and act the way their master did and that is what I am doing. I believe as the Bible says, that Jesus is Jewish and that he lived a Jewish life and will keep living a Jewish life when he comes as Messiah Son of David to destroy the enemies of Israel and G-d and bring peace to the world, my fellow Gentiles and myself included. Jesus, or Yeshua (which literally means Salvation, pretty cool, right?!) himself always used other names or titles to refer to G-d, such as Father, the Power, Heaven. Modern Judaism has some other approaches to guard against dishonoring and taking G-d’s name in vain, which I have adopted as my teachers early on as I learned this new way of life were Jews who taught me what they had learned from their Jewish teacher.
Project Holy Heroes Posts: