Abel and Rabbi Zayde Steinem are characters whose intertwined history unfolds and become part of the fabric of Sebastian Harlow’s life in the 2022 miniseries Sins of the Black Flamingo by Andrew Wheeler, Travis Moore, and Tamra Bonvillain.
Steinem married a woman whom he loved a great deal. However, the Rabbi was also deeply in love with Abel who, based on a photograph was college graduate during their relatiomship. According to Steinem family lore the Rabbi claimed to be a powerful mystic who felt a strong duty to remain in Nazi Germany to help fellow Jews. In order to ensure Abel’s life the Rabbi resorted to his mystic knowledge and abilities. Through these efforts and a string of serendipitous incidents Sebastian Harlow finds himself at the Palm Beach Jewish Community Center in Miami at the invitation of grandson Ben and wife Lauren. Contracted by Ben and Lauren, Harlow uses a mystical object fashioned by Zayde to restore his young lover to life, albeit eighty years after their final moments together.
After some initial disorientation, quite understandable after learning eight decades have transpired, the reasons Zayde fell in love with and protected Abel start to become clear. He is full of a love for life, enthusiastic, trusting and virtuous, loyal, and a fierce protector willing to risk his life. The latter being a trait that will prove to be a saving grace for Harlow. Conjecture on my part leads me to wonder if Abel’s protective nature is what put his life in danger — perhaps Zayde was at risk of detainment or arrest by Nazis.
While Zayde’s family name is Steinem, the reader is not told what Abel’s last name is. The Hebraic meaning of the name Abel means “breath” or “vapor.” Andrew Wheeler’s decision to name this character Abel is cleverly fitting given the context of Abel’s life and circumstances which find him in the present day.
Zayde Steinem makes for an interesting contrast to Hugo Tarn. Tarn was Harlow’s Sebastian Harlow’s archeology Professor and also a manipulative lover who introduced Harlow to black masses and sex parties and occasions which were both. It is through Tarn’s deceit that Harlow becomes cursed. On the other hand, Steinem appears to Harlow while he is in an unconscious state to express his gratitude for saving “[his] boy.” “Doing good is right,” and then continues with some advice. A closing “L’chayim” toast — “To life” from a dead man to man who for many years has not enjoyed living becomes a blessing to counteract the effects of a curse. If Steinem is Tarn’s antithesis then Able would seem to be Harlow’s opposite as well.
Abel first appears in Sins of the Black Flamingo #1. Zayde is mentioned in the first issue and appears only in the opening page of issue #3.
Abel and Zayde were created by Andrew Wheeler and Travis Moore. Art by Moore and Bonvillain from Sins of the Black Flamingo #3.
All rights reserved Andrew Wheeler and Travis Moore.