Wednesday, March 19, 2014

365 Days of KirbyTech, Day 78: Captain Okada's Sea-Dragon

The portrayals of Japanese sailors in this WWII-era Captain America comic are offensive and racist in their depiction. They are presented here as a historical document of a 1941 Golden Age comic book within the context of its contemporary history and perceptions of the time.

Panel from "The Gruesome Secret of the Dragon of Death!" in Captain America Comics #5 (August 1941), script and art by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby

Hey, wait a sec (you're no doubt saying), that's not KirbyTech, that's Kirby fauna! That's Kirbiology! (Which, what with Jack's cool-ass 1950s and '60s monsters, would be a dandy feature for 2015). Why (you might ask) am I suddenly abandoning the concept of technology for a creature feature? And that's a very good question! So stay tuned. And pay no attention to the sniper poking his head out of the dragon's eye socket for the moment.

Aboard a patrol boat in the Pacific, the young Lt. John F. Kennedy surveys the horizon with his binoculars. Yes, I know that isn't really JFK, but you know me with my little manufactured backstories about the comic panels I present you with, right? Okay, okay, that's not JFK. It is, in fact, Lieutenant Commander Quinton McHale. And he's just spotted a monster straight from Dr. Seuss's nightmares after he's eaten a very large order of toasted cheese.

Anyway: big-ass sea monster in the Pacific? There's only one Timely Golden Age hero you can call to save the day! That's right...SUB-MARINER CAPTAIN AMERICA! With his faithful companion, a canoe borrowed from the set of Hawaii Five-O! And, oh yeah, Bucky. Together, they enter the dragon's gullet and walk into the light. Yowza! I never knew Cap died in his fifth issue.

Thus, step into one of the coolest blueprints of the Golden Age!

Not pictured: self-destruct button. But I bet there's one of those in there somewhere.

Anyway, adventure, fight scenes, and an extensive amount of racist portrayals of Japanese (and yet not as offensive as comic books would offer following Pearl Harbor) ensue, and involve other ships, wacky escape plans, and a dormant volcano being set off by a ton of dynamite. Am I alone in wanting to see if that last stunt could be plausibly reproduced by Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman?

Anyway, after the Sea-Dragon is blown up to little pieces, Bucky blasts its escaping dastardly crew to kingdom come (no relation to the overrated comic book), in yet another one of those pre-World War II "incidents" in which an American superhero stops World War II from occurring...for a few weeks, at least. Oh, yeah, always remember this: Bucky don't take prisoners. Not many people know that the Geneva Convention was actually specifically drafted and put into action as a response to Bucky.

Hey, what do you know...Cap really isn't dead after all! Well, a few months into this comic book feature and they've already used the misleading "Cap is dead" subplot. They will never be able to use that again.

It all ends the way every single Captain America adventure in the Golden Age does...with Steve and Bucky peeling potatoes. Eh, that always happens to comic characters.

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