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by Todd Norlander
Art: Al Weisner

"OI-VAY! The sound of distress carries to Mt. Israel and the Shin Rock trembles... OI-VAY!... and slowly turns into the Kosher Crusader... SHALOMAN!"

Not since the Superman of the '60s has there been a hero so sincere. (Note that when Siegal and Schulster, two young Jewish men from the Midwest, created Superman they gave him dark curly hair. No aryan hero here.)

For more than five years and 25 issues, Al Wiesner of Philadelphia, Pa. has chronicled the legend of Shaloman. Clad in skintight white and light blue, gold belt and matching yarmulke, Shaloman sports the Hebrew letter Shin where Superman has his S. Over the years readers have thrilled to adventures like "The Porkees of Planet X," "Kipa of Doom," "The Cybergs (SCI/FI)" and "The Man From L.A.T.K.E." In my opinion, no issue has yet matched Volume 3, number 5, The Matzoh Chronicles. This issue contains a trilogy of Passover stories: "The Great Missing Matzoh Mystery," "The Destruction of HMZ" and "The Affordable Afikomen."

The first story of the trilogy begins with the bald Dr. Traif, having been defeated again, raising his fists swearing, "Someday, Shaloman, I shall overcome you!" Years pass and on the eve of Passover Reb Nussy is baking matzoh "with a beedle-deedle bum-bum." We next meet Brad Krumm, who along with young runaways Hoffy and Komen, steals all the matzoh in the town of Kutzi Petrik. Crafty Krumm hides his booty in a huge cave lined with 24K gold, for you see, Shaloman cannot see through this precious metal! Upon discovering the theft Rabbi Yom Tov utters "OI-VAY." Enter Shaloman.

Meanwhile, a young boy, Velvel, and his matzoh-loving dog, Mutty, follow an odd trail of crumbs in the woods. Stumbling upon Krumm's hideout, Velvel learns of the villain's plan to ruin Passover by dropping the roof of the cave, thus making "five thousand pounds of farfel of all this! HA HA HA HA HA." Mutty escapes, alerting Shaloman just as Brad Krumm pulls the lever on a large dynamo destined to bring down the ceiling. The Kosher Crusader's great strength burns out the machinery. He then tackles the fleeing Krumm, who hits the ground with a loud "ZETZ!" Off comes the mastermind's bushy blond wig and mustache: "Well, well, Dr. Traif!" Passover is saved. Fartig.

Story two, "The Destruction of HMZ" takes place in the year 2057, when the pollution of our planet is rocketed to the sun, "prompted by the Jewish custom of burning unwanted food to cleanse the house before Passover." Yellow peril villain Ho Metz captures the rocket and brings it to his cave (which lacks 24K gold lining). Ho demands a ransom, or he will detonate the missile, polluting "over three quarters of New Seattle." As his demands are not met, the rocket begins to stink up Ho's cave. Increasingly anxious, Ho Metz guards the front of his lair while Shaloman sneaks through a hole in the back, grabbing the stolen HMZ. It blows up "in outer space" with a thundering "KER-ZETZ!"

The third and final part, "The Affordable Afikomen," is a fable not involving our hero. An afikomen is the dessert matzoh hid and ransomed by the youngest son after the Passover meal. Al Weisner posits a time when afikomen are collected, bronzed and stored in monogrammed, non stick carrying cases. In this Gogolian world afikomen are sold by used car salesmen, swapped like baseball cards and traded on the stock exchange. But then comes the crash..." Grossman Afikomen down ten points."

In a shift, "with sincere apologies to O'Henry" (sic) we get "The Gift of the Magi." Here, Al and his son have the same birthday and Dad wants to get his son a video game, "a sports one, a comic one or a travel one...what about the money for it?" Dad pawns his silver Afikomen holder, while Ben pawns his "gamemaster deluxe" to buy a now rare bronzed afikomen. D'oh! This story abruptly ends with an ad for what I consider the ultimate gift, "a quality cotton/poly Fruit of the Loom T-shirt with a five color picture of Shaloman" - just eight bucks!

Shaloman comics and T-Shirts can be purchased from Mark 1 Comics P.O. Box 5097 Philadelphia, PA 19111 or at your local enlightened comic shop.

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