The Adven­tures of Yaakov & Isaac

Joe Kubert
  • Review
By – August 20, 2012

Joe Kubert is well-known to read­ers of com­ic books; in his long career, he has drawn Tarzan, Hawk­man, Bat­man and oth­er super­heroes, pro­duced Sgt. Rock,” and worked as edi­to­r­i­al direc­tor at DC Comics. Kubert, along with the late Will Eis­ner, was one of the first authors to expand to a longer form of car­toons, now known as the graph­ic nov­el. Jew­ish themes are com­mon in com­ic books and graph­ic nov­els; take for exam­ple Eisner’s Con­tract with God and his recent Fagin the Jew, as well as Art Spiegelman’s Pulitzer Prize-win­ning Maus, in which he recounts his father’s expe­ri­ences dur­ing the Holo­caust. Kubert also explored the Holo­caust in his 2003 graph­ic nov­el Yos­sel: April 19, 1943.

Kubert’s newest offer­ing in the graph­ic nov­el genre is The Adven­tures of Yaakov & Isaac, a col­lec­tion of sto­ries which were first pub­lished from 1984 – 1993 in the Moshi­ach Times,” a mag­a­zine pro­duced by the Lubav­itch­er Hasidim. Kubert, togeth­er with his advi­sor, Rab­bi David Sholom Pape, select­ed the top­ics; he then illus­trat­ed each one using two obser­vant broth­ers as the pro­tag­o­nists. The illus­tra­tions are rem­i­nis­cent of main­stream com­ic books, with bold col­ors and large action-filled pan­els. Unlike those in main­stream comics, the mes­sage in each sto­ry is drawn from the Torah. Yaa­cov and Isaac face many tough sit­u­a­tions, such as bul­lies who make fun of their yarmulkes and tzitz­it, and res­cu­ing a lit­tle boy who is trapped in a car; they also explore famous moments in Jew­ish his­to­ry, such as the War­saw Ghet­to upris­ing and the Six Day War. Each sto­ry is pre­ced­ed by a page of Author’s Reflec­tions,” in which Kubert pro­vides back­ground mate­r­i­al as well as insights and morals that can be gleaned from the text. Fol­low­ing each sto­ry is an Overview,” which reviews the lessons learned, as well as a series of Ques­tions to Think About.” 

While many of the expe­ri­ences of Yaa­cov and Isaac may be famil­iar to main­stream read­ers, obser­vant read­ers will be most com­fort­able with the way these val­ues are pre­sent­ed. The book could have ben­e­fit­ed from a thor­ough edit­ing job; there are many gram­mat­i­cal and typo­graph­i­cal errors, such as when Isaac asks Yaakov to help him deliv­er matzah for Peach” (sic). Librar­i­ans who serve obser­vant pop­u­la­tions will find this book use­ful to encour­age boys aged 10 and up who are reluc­tant readers.

Wendy Was­man is the librar­i­an & archivist at the Cleve­land Muse­um of Nat­ur­al His­to­ry in Cleve­land, Ohio.

Discussion Questions