Saturday, November 18, 2017

365 Days of Defiance, Day 322: Search high and low / Follow every byway / Every path you know


...and Epilogue:

Panels from Daredevil (1964 series) #190 (January 1983), script and layouts by Frank Miller, finishes and colors by Klaus Janson, letters by Joe Rosen

Friday, November 17, 2017

365 Days of Defiance, Day 321: Pick Your Side

Panels from Poe Dameron #7 (December 2016), script by Charles Soule, pencils and inks by Angel Unzueta, colors by Frank D'Armata, letters by Joe Caramagna

Thursday, November 16, 2017

365 Days of Defiance, Day 320: Okay, go ahead, fear the Reaper if you need to

Probably the very first Golden Age Captain America story I ever read has stuck with me since I first read it, the delectably titled "Captain America Battles the Reaper! (The Man the Law Couldn't Touch!)". This relatively early adventure pits Cap and the Buckster against a Nazi villain who uses the power of lies to undermine the democracy of the United States. In other words, the Reaper was the first comic book villai9n whose power was...fake news! Now, as I'm not either Roy Thomas nor that Rockefeller feller, I don't happen to have a copy of Timely's Captain America Comics #22, but what I do have is 1976's Invaders #10, which reprinted the whole furschlugginer story in an attempt to battle the Dread Deadline Doom! (And thus you see why it was the first Golden Age Cap your truly's little shiny button eyes ever peeped at!)

Splash page from "The Reaper (The Man the Law Couldn't Touch)!" in Captain America Comics #22 (Timely/Marvel, January 1943), layouts by Syd Shores, pencils by Al Avison, inks by Al Gabriele;
as reprinted in The Invaders #10 (November 1976)

The story begins with a brilliant jab at Herr Schicklgruber — the self-own in the second panel is one of the moments that resonated and stayed with me — who champions the weapon of disinformation, misdirection, and outright lies. Heck, let's call 'em fake news., not in the way our current-day orange menace uses it, but to define the sheer war against provable facts we've gotta fight every day we look at the internet or pick up a paper. Stop callin' it "alternate facts," networks! Start calling it the way the Thompson Twins lyrically described it: "Lies, Lies, Lies!"

So Hitler dispatches one of his chief agents: Gunther Strauss, the deadly Mister the Reaper, to America to stir up doubt and discontent. The papers portray him as a preacher man with a vision (WRONG!) but natch Steve 'n' B3 (Bucky Buchanan Barnes) are suspicious. That's because they only get their news from The Stars and Stripes newspaper and from Edward R. Murrow personally!

Cap 'n' Buck wanna check this sinister-soundin' guy out, but...haw haw!...they've been delegated to K.P. duty, peeling so many onions their body hydration goes down about two quarts. Now that's a job with a lot a-peel!

The Reaper speaks, broadcast to the entire country and all the ships at sea, and everyone's taken aback by his bold statements that everything you know is wrong!, thus beating the Firesign Theatre to the punch by several decades. Look who's baffled: Farmer Clem Huckenshucker! The Grey-Haired Lawyer! Lovely Little Mary! Bazooka Joe! Brain-Head! Confused Connie! And, in his first Marvel Comics appearance, Doctor Druid! Lookit 'em all gobble up this tripe! It's easy to feel superior because we would never fall for such a blatant scheme of lies and untruths, right?

I love Syd Shores's layout of second panel below, showing one man's progressive interior decision that maybe that crazed unbelievablelunatic he's heard on the radio is actually our god and we must obey him! Boy, people were gullible listening to radio in those days, as can be proved by the period Jack Benny ruled the airways and everybody smoked Lucky Strikes, even the children. Lucky Strike means fine tobacco! Why, I'm smokin' one right now!

Not only are the Reaper's arguments persuasive, he also manages to encourage an entire upheaval of the moral code. Ah, I'm certainly glad this was in the 1940s and not today, where people would never feel emboldened by hate speech from a supposed leader to justify their crimes and bigotry.

Suddenly: Korea Captain America! he arrives in a flash of panel gutter and a bold ultimatum for the Reaper: cut the crap!

The Reaper calls on his goons (it's true, they all have goons, those bad guys) to dispose of the First Avenger and the Second Boy Sidekick, but it's absolutely zero contest in one of the most low-key, hilarious fight sequences I've seen of Cap and Buck.

Cap and Bucky have to flee for their lives to avoid being torn apart by the reaper's mob, and the angry assemblage convinces them to start goosestepping, sieg heiling, and what's that...praising Hitler? Gosh, that's scary, and under no circumstances would anyone be trying that today, you betcha!

Cap's stentorian tones, thankfully, remain the voice of reason, cutting through the bull and standing up for his patriotic beliefs of democracy and equal rights in a manner that it's good that Cap actor Chris Evans doesn't have to resort to in this day and age, huh?

While Cap's been facing off against the Reaper, Bucky's got evidence on paper that Herr R. is actually a Nazi spy. Yeah, I dunno...maybe a photostatic copy of his Captain Nazi fan club certificate or something. Whatever it is, the Reaper's now on the run, pursued by the dynamic duo Timely Two...

...down into the New York subway, where Reaper makes the same mistake every villain does: stepping on the electrified third rail. Thus perish all Nazis. It's true! The largest cause of death among homefront sympathizers of the Bund is electrocution in the subway. Look, I don't make up these statistics, I just read 'em, out of the back of comic books.

All's well that ends well, right, Captain America? "Which is why we should trust our leader and not listen to rabble-rousing troublemakers," he points out.

Er, Cap...what if our leader is the rabble-rousing troublemaker? For the answer to that question, please see 1974's Catain America #175:

Panels from Captain America (1968 series) #175 (July 1974), script by Steve Englehart, pencils by Sal Buscema, inks by Vince Colletta, colors by Petra Goldberg, letters by Artie Simek

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

365 Days of Defiance, Day 319: Batman vs. the 1%

Panels from Batman (1940 sSeries) #405 (March 1987), script by Frank Miller, pencils and inks by David Mazzucchelli, colors by Richmond Lewis, letters by Todd Klein

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

365 Days of Defiance, Day 318: I hate these guys

Panels from Batman/Hellboy/Starman #2 (DC/Dark Horse, February 1999), script by James Robinson, pencils and inks by Mike Mignola, colors by Matt Hollingsworth, letters by Willie Schubert

Monday, November 13, 2017

365 Days of Defiance, Day 317: Victor! Polo! Victor! Polo!

Panels from Secret Wars (2015 series) #7 (January 2016), script by Jonathan Hickman, pencils and inks by Esad Ribic, colors by Ive Svorcina, letters by Clayton Cowles

Sunday, November 12, 2017

365 Days of Defiance, Day 316: Stand for the place where you live

Korvac has conquered America! (Ah, he's always doin' that.) Who do you think is going to stand up against him? If you just Forbush Man Captain America, award yourself full points! And we all know what points mean, right? Points mean...*

Panels from Captain America (1998 series) #18 (June 1999); script by Mark Waid; pencils by Lee Weeks; inks and finishes by Robert Campanella; finishes by Jesse Delperdang, Bob McLeod, Al Milgrom, and Tom Palmer; colors by Christie Scheele and Gregory Wright; letters by Todd Klein

Go go Cap! Get 'im! Make Korvac surrender! Take back America! CAPTAIN AMERICA WILL WIN!

Oh. Whoops.

Still: the whole point of the story is that Captain America is inspirational. How inspirational, you ask? So inspirational that...

So, if you can't be Captain America, be like Captain America.