Name: Atom Smasher
Alter Ego: Albert Rothstein
Other Names: Albert Julian Rothstein; Nuklon; Atom-Smasher; Atom-Smasher II
First Appearance: All-Star Squadron #25 (Sep. 1983): "The Infinity Syndrome!"
Super? (Has Super Powers/Special Abilities/Technology): Yes
Number of Appearances: 223
Comic Book Appearances: 219
TV, Film Appearances: 4
From: "Superman Wedding -- why a Christian ceremony?" forum discussion, started 11 October 1996 on the rec.arts.comics.dc.universe newsgroup website (http://groups.google.com/group/rec.arts.comics.dc.universe/browse_thread/thread/4d17a1ff0ee9c715/d141c36005b90ea4; viewed 5 June 2006):
Date: Wed, Oct 23 1996 12:00 am
re: "Just out of curiosity, is there any major character in the DC Universe definitely shown as being Jewish? Several months ago, several people listed Jewish characters in other universes, but I don't recall any in the DCU."
Pre-Crisis, Colossal Boy (now Leviathan) of the Legion of Super-Heroes was portrayed as Jewish. Nuklon of the Infinity Inc. and the JLA is Jewish. Ragman is Jewish.
From: "Banned for using this nic" forum discussion, started 4 April 1999 on the rec.arts.comics.dc.universe newsgroup website (http://groups.google.com/group/rec.arts.comics.dc.universe/browse_thread/thread/f38288dc4e56542/8a873a0a53da3d0d; viewed 12 June 2006):
From: Robert Justus
Date: Mon, Apr 5 1999 12:00 am
To keep this on topic (sorta), why are most heroes not as religious as they could be? ...the only really religious person that's sane that I recall in DCU is Huntress, and I guess Wonder Woman... Anyone else...?
From: Chuck Burke
Date: Sat, Apr 24 1999 12:00 am
...Albert Rothstein (Atom Smasher, I think it is now?) is Jewish...
From: "He's strong! He's powerful! He's fantastic! And he prays!" forum discussion, started 1 October 2002 on the Toon Zone website (http://forums.toonzone.net/archive/index.php/t-50423.html; viewed 11 January 2006):
10-01-2002, 03:29 PM
I don't know that religion is really ignored in comic books. I'd say it turns up at least as much as it would in a regular series of novels or a TV series. More so, even.
Other characters whose religions I'm familiar with:
Fire is Catholic
Nuklon is Jewish...
[More are listed]
From: "Any Christian Superheroes?" forum discussion, started 22 April 2004 on the rec.arts.comics.dc.universe newsgroup website (http://groups.google.com/group/rec.arts.comics.dc.universe/browse_thread/thread/4e5839f075fecf76/8821b5db671e7ce1; viewed 20 June 2006):
From: Gustavo Wombat
Date: Thurs, Apr 22 2004 12:03 pm
I can't think of any major superheroes that strongly believe in any real faith, and that surprises me. Certainly not in the DC Universe. I think there are more minority superheroes than religious ones...
From: Dan McEwen
Date: Thurs, Apr 22 2004 7:24 pm
...Atom-Smasher is Jewish...
From: "Are Superheroes Religious?" forum discussion, started 13 May 2004 on The John Byrne Forum section of the Byrne Robotics website (http://jb.24-7intouch.com/forum/get_topic.asp?FID=3&TID=558&DIR=P; viewed 9 January 2006):
14 May 2004 at 4:19 am
Very little religion in the DCU - there seems to be a pervading non-denominational deist philosophy (Spectre is an agent of God, but let's not be specific about what religion for fear of alienating the others).
Nuklon/Atom Smasher clearly Jewish.
Huntress presumably Catholic by reference to crucifix.
Pre-Crisis Superman presumably nominally a member of the Kryptonian religion (whatever that was) by virtue of his frequent "Great Rao!"s.
A bit tricky to address religion in a universe where there is quite a high preponderance of actual Gods!
From: "New Christian JLA member" forum discussion, started 5 May 2005 on the official DC Comics website (http://dcboards.warnerbros.com/web/thread.jspa?threadID=2000023085; viewed 15 May 2006):
Posted: May 6, 2005 3:09 AM
I am a Christian... There is a reason there is no Christian superhero. Same reason as there is no real Jewish [superhero]... that flaunt their religion or fight for religious belief specific notions. It's because they would be offensive to many, if not most, of the readership.
Besides -- Zauriel, Bloodwynd, Wonder Woman, the Spectre, the Quintet, etc., etc., are all based on or are slaves to religious beliefs, but none actively flaunt it, or debate which is correct, so a hard-line Christian super hero would probably not sit too well.
Posted: May 6, 2005 3:50 AM
Well, I'm gonna hit you. Nightcrawler, Daredevil, [4 other Christian superheroes] are all Christians. Sabra, Seraph, Ramban, Atom-Smasher and the Thing are Jewish... Many of them have debated their beliefs in the comics - as you say, not the hardline way, but that is definitely not the same as saying that they are not Christian superheroes [or Jewish superheroes], or that they are not devoted.
As far as I know, none of them are fundamentalists, against other religions or...
From: "Barry Allen is Jewish?" forum discussion, started 13 May 2005 on the Comic Bloc website (http://www.comicbloc.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-4308.html; viewed 20 July 2007):
May 15th, 2005, 09:12 PM
I thought one of the most interesting aspects of Infinity Inc. was the way Roy Thomas portrayed the characters' various religions and how they influenced the characters lives.
Seeing the characters praying, lighting candles for loved ones, having Bar Mitzvahs, made them more human to me than characters in most other funny books ;).
Sure religion is controversial and people believe different things on both sides of the 4th wall but I find it interesting to see it having such a keen role in the lives of young people who might otherwise seem silly because they choose to run around in tights instead of trying to lead "normal" lives.
And even though I may never know what Roy Thomas' religion is, it showed me what an important role his beliefs had in his own life :).
From: "Religious Inclinations of heroes" forum discussion, started 1 June 2005 on the StarDestroyer.net website (http://bbs.stardestroyer.net/viewtopic.php?t=63632&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=25; viewed 8 June 2006):
Posted: Tue Mar 01, 2005 6:38 pm
Post subject: Religious Inclinations of heroes
What about other heroes? I notice religion rarely plays a part in mainstream superhero comics (absent things like the Vertigo line) but have you ever picked up on hints or outright admissions by some heroes as to their religious inclinations?
Seems that atheistic heroes are as rare in comics as in real life. If they are religious it's a sort Judeo-Christian wishy washy sort of religion... Any other examples of guesses?
Posted: Sun Mar 20, 2005 12:01 am
...Moon Knight, Sandman, and Nuklon are all Jewish by heritage though (IIRC [if I recall correctly]) non-practicing...
From: Edward Mathews
Date: Wed, Oct 23 1996 12:00 am
Nuklon, formerly of Infinity, Inc. and Justice League America, is Jewish.
Ed (there are plenty of characters, but he sticks out as the most recent in my mind, at least in 20th C. Earth)
From: Carolina Lithgow-Bertelloni
Date: Wed, Oct 23 1996 12:00 am
Email: Carolina Lithgow-Bertelloni
That's the only one I can remember.
Date: Thurs, Oct 24 1996 12:00 am
The Golden Age Sandman was just revealed to be half-Jewish. And I recall that Nuklon was strongly Jewish in the final issues of one of the recently axed JL [Justice League] titles.
Incidentally: If anyone out there is interested in starting a Web site devoted to Jewish spins on comic books, please e-mail. I have Web space I can make available for that purpose.
editor, Jewish Communication Network
From: "Need Help With A Research Project" forum discussion, started 9 December 2005 on the Comic Bloc website (http://www.comicbloc.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-16070.html; viewed 6 August 2007):
December 13th, 2005, 10:40 PM
Religon: Reform/Conservative Jewish (somewhere in between the two)
...5a. Atom Smasher represents redemption. He made a mistake and sacrificed his life to correct it, and then was brought back from the brink of death and is now serving his punishment...
December 13th, 2005, 10:57 PM
In relation to question 6: as a Jewish comic book reader, I look around a great deal for any sign of Jewish stuff in comics. It's a habit. Things like the upcoming Sgt. Rock mini about rescuing the rabbi in Eastern Europe are few and far between. Interestingly, the three highest profile Jewish characters at Marvel--Kitty Pryde, the Thing and Moon Knight--have a mini-series, an ongoing and an upcoming ongoing, respectively. On the DC side, Ragman is in the Shadowpact ongoing, but otherwise, Atom Smasher is in jail and... that's it. No one's heard from Seraph and Hayoth for years, and I think I'm the only person that considers Black Canary to actually be Jewish (I have my reasons). Atom Smasher could become a player in OYL considering his current imprisoned status and his apparent recruitment by Amanda Waller.
As for Jewish themes in writing, the legend of the Golem has influenced a number of characters, most notably Marvel's Thing.
From: "Passover Wave! Ragman and--?" forum discussion, started 13 April 2006 on the official DC Comics website (http://dcboards.warnerbros.com/web/thread.jspa?forumID=29209087&threadID=2000071426; viewed 1 June 2006):
Posted: Apr 13, 2006 10:54 AM
...Other Jewish heroes include Atom-Smasher (dunno if this makes the golden age Atom, his godfather, Jewish too) but I'm not overly familiar with the minutiae of DC lore...
Marvel wise, Kitty Pryde, the Thing, Doc Samson, Moon Knight and Vance Astro/Justice are all Jewish...
Posted: Apr 13, 2006 9:15 PM
So far my League of [Jewish Superheroes] is as follows:
Ragman ... A smelly homeless dude with possessed shmatas, great.
Atom Smasher ... Murderer, great...
Golden Age Atom ... A short little tough guy. Very much like the short little asskicking boxer (Jake Barnes?) in THE SUN ALSO RISES...I buy that he's a Jew.
[Five other Jewish superheroes listed, with comments for each]
From: "What Religion is Your Favorite Superhero?" forum discussion, started 20 April 2006 on the official DC Comics website (http://dcboards.warnerbros.com/web/thread.jspa?threadID=2000072337&tstart=0; viewed 8 May 2006):
Posted: Apr 20, 2006 9:30 AM
...What is the religion of the heroes we read about?... Don't get me wrong, not picking on anyone, just wonder what everyone thinks what our heroes believe... (maybe a moderater can have some imput..?) ....other threads touch on the subject in passing, time to discuss it!
Posted: Apr 20, 2006 9:49 AM
For the vast majority, it is deliberately left unsaid and any distinct belief system is never referred to. Unless otherwise indicated, I pretty much assume most believe in God, but don't attend service very often. Here are the ones I know about:
Huntress - Catholic
Blue Devil - Catholic
Atom Smasher - Jewish
Ragman - Jewish
Mr. Terrific - Atheist
Wonder Woman - Greek Gods
From: "An Asian as a major hero. FINALLY. but..." forum discussion, started 21 April 2006 on the official DC Comics website (http://dcboards.warnerbros.com/web/thread.jspa?threadID=2000072443&start=15; viewed 31 May 2006):
Posted: May 1, 2006 12:41 PM
...when was it established that Ray Palmer is Jewish? I know Atom Smasher (Albert Rothstein) is Jewish, but the Atom?
Posted: May 1, 2006 5:18 PM
Ray Palmer isn't Jewish. This was clearly established in the original JLA series where his Jewish friend invites him to a Hannukah celebration.
Atom Smasher on the other hand is Jewish.
From: "Religion in comic books" forum discussion, started 26 April 2006 on the official DC Comics website (http://dcboards.warnerbros.com/web/thread.jspa?threadID=2000072787&tstart=0; viewed 1 May 2006):
Posted: Apr 25, 2006 4:28 AM
Atom Smasher is Jewish (So am I. That's why I kinda keep track.)
From: "NY Times outs Batwoman. DUH SPOILERS!!!!!" forum discussion, started 27 May 2006 on the Comic Bloc website (http://www.comicbloc.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-27770.html; viewed 23 July 2007):
May 28th, 2006, 09:11 AM
I feel like DC is tying to be an advocate... Is DC just wanting quick media attention? If this were truly about diversity where is the devote Christian hero? What about a Pro-Life Republican? A priest that takes a vow of poverty to fight poverty?
For years people have praised or criticize liberal Hollywood. Are we now looking at a Liberal DC comics?
May 28th, 2006, 10:32 AM
They're out there. But, once again, as with your examples, they tend to be supporting characters. The Spectre is probably the best example of an overtly relgious hero that DC has ever had. Jim Corrigan's talks with Father Cramer and his worldview are clearly deeply (and sometimes disturbingly) religious.
But there are many other examples. Atom-Smasher comes to mind.
May 28th, 2006, 12:31 PM
Well here's some of the heroes I know with obvious religious ties:
The Spectre (Christianity/Catholicism)
Here are a couple I'm not sure about...
I know Atom Smasher is Jewish and Doc. Mid-Nite is Christian, but I'm not sure about anybody else and don't want to label anyone wrongly. Anyway, religion seems pretty well represented, IMO...
From: "Up, Up and Oy Vey!" forum discussion, started 19 June 2006 on the Justice League Animated Forum website (http://www.passfailstudios.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=8674&sid=dd2468fb558cd29c0667f991f8a127e1; viewed 4 December 2007):
Posted: Mon Jun 19, 2006 10:51 pm
Sure, they [Siegel and Shuster] were Jewish, but that doesn't make the character [Superman] Jewish.
The JL/JLU [Justice League/Justice League Unlimited] version is definitely not Jewish.
Oh hold on, I'll find that website someone pointed me to the other day...at this point, with everyone treating me like comics are the only thing I'm interested in, I don't even know if the link was given to me by someone off the board or on.
I got there from here:
which points out a few Jewish heroes that, y'know, SAY they're Jewish.
Atom Smasher is Jewish, too, right? And who is it in the Crisis that says they're Jewish? (TheMoosh is going to check it out...la la la... Ragman.)
From: Brad Meltzer, "Jewish Superhero Website Listing", posted 28 June 2007 on the Brad Meltzer's official MySpace website (http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendID=70196334&blogID=281610033; viewed 9 July 2007):
Thanks to Jack G. for this. And I so admire The Acidic Jew [link to: http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/AcidicJew.html].
Jewish superhero website listing:
Posted by Transit of the Earth, as seen by Mars. on Thursday, June 28, 2007 at 4:16 PM
I love that site. It's informative, and also in some cases funny. I love Ragman, though. Of all the Jewish heroes, he's probably my favorite, probably because of how horrible his name is, yet how awesome his power is (he's like a non-killing Spectre). It's somewhat sad that Ragman is competing with Atom-Smasher for biggest Jew in DCU, since Ragman's the only one in a title right now (Shadowpact)...
[Was accessible from: http://www.bradmeltzer.com/labels/Comics.html]
Suggested links for further research about this character and the character's religious affiliation: