Archive for Beating Up Nazis!

Smashing the Klan!

It’s a great day to review a comic, isn’t it? Let’s take a look at Superman Smashes the Klan by Gene Luen Yang and Gurihiru.

There is, first of all, some actual history behind this, and you can read some of the details in this old review of mine right here. Back in the 1940s, the Anti Defamation League and the producers of the Superman radio show hit on the idea of using the character’s vast popularity to make a difference in some of the nation’s social ills, including racism.

The result was a storyline called “The Clan of the Fiery Cross,” with the Man of Steel battling a stand-in organization for the Ku Klux Klan. The KKK was infuriated about the program, but it was still basically the most popular show on the radio, and it helped significantly reduce the Klan’s power across the nation.

And that brings us to this comic, which is an adaptation of the radio show. It’s got some new or altered characters, some new or altered storylines — in other words, it’s an adaptation, not a transcription.

So our main characters — aside from Superman, Lois Lane, and Jimmy Olsen — are the Lee family, recent Chinese immigrants, particularly the two kids, popular and athletic Tommy and brainy but nervous Roberta.

The Lees’ first days in their new Metropolis home start out rough, with all too many reminders of the racism that plagued anyone who wasn’t white in the 1940s. Besides the occasional slur and rude remark, there’s also the rising threat of the Clan of the Fiery Cross, a hate group that burns crosses in people’s lawns, sets bombs in community centers, and tries all too hard to assault and kill as many innocents as they can.

But luckily, Superman is on the case. He saves plenty of lives, but is dogged by his own doubts and fears, including the strange alien ghosts that only he can see and who claim to be his real parents. Is the Man of Steel losing his mind?

As the attacks by the hate group grow bolder, more desperate, and more destructive, can Superman and the Lees come together to smash the Klan once and for all?

Verdict: Thumbs up. The story is energetic and engrossing, the art is absolutely glorious, and the message is desperately needed nowadays.

My lone criticism is that the story is really episodic, almost random, with the Klan repeatedly hatching various schemes and putting people in danger, just for the danger to be foiled in the nick of time before the next scheme is hatched. But of course, that’s very true to the story’s origins in the radio dramas of the 1940s, which were obviously episodic and often ended with a cliffhanger that would be resolved in the next day’s broadcast. Still, it can take a little time to get used to it…

I feel like the star of the comic is Roberta Lee, who carries most of the weight of the story. She gets to start out nervous and queasy, and she gets to grow in lots of ways, showing off more bravery and much more cleverness and wit.

And Superman is portrayed very interestingly. He has his Golden Age powers — leaping but not flying, less strength, no heat vision, etc. And he also has his first exposure to Kryptonite in this story — another nice nod to the radio series, where Kryptonite originated. And his doubts and fears are well articulated through the weird alien ghosts he starts seeing everywhere.

And Gurihiru’s artwork is just so dang great. The Japanese artistic team always does a great job, and their artwork in this book is just as fun, as beautiful, as wildly charismatic and engaging as ever.

And if you needed another reason to get this book? Listen, you love to see people smashing the Klan, right? Everyone loves to see the Klan get smashed! Smashing the Klan is what America has always done best — and we can continue smashing the Klan today! Huzzah! Klan smashing!

In other words, go get this book for great art and characters, for a fun throwback to classic tales of yesteryear, and for getting to watch hatemongers repeatedly getting beat up.

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Just Another Day in July

So it’s Independence Day, and that generally means I post a bunch of comics covers with flags on ’em, right? I really don’t feel like doing that this year.

Let’s be honest — it’s a rotten time to be an American. We’re ruled by a bunch of fascist dumbfucks. At least 70 million of our fellow citizens believe Nazis are Very Fine People and won’t hesitate to kill any of us when their Combover Pedophile God Emperor demands it. The Republicans in Congress know they’d get their ass whupped in a fair election, so they’re busy sending election machine passwords and the nuclear codes to the Russians. And 99% of the cops in this country are champing at the bit to go full Mindless Horde on the rest of the country if we won’t give them medals for committing crimes.

Not to say there isn’t hope for the future — but we’ll have to exterminate 70 million cultists who’ve been successfully converted into Nazi cultists. And the only people who have the stomach to kill that many people are the Nazi cultists.

Still, if you need some inspiration for a better Independence Day, let’s turn to comics.

Happy Fourth. Let’s hope it’s not our last.

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Americans Hate Nazis

Well, you know, in light of this little news item, I decided to channel my inner Captain America and see what he thinks of the whole thing.


(Click to Embiggen!)

Yes, indeed, real Americans do certainly love to beat up Nazis, don’t they?

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Friday Night Fights: Evil Wins!

Awright, kids, it’s time for another dose of Friday Night Fights — this week’s fight comes to us from October 1990’s Captain America #378 by Mark Gruenwald, Ron Lim, Danny Bulanadi, and Steve Buccellato.

The Red Skull is muscling in on the crime business in New York City. The Kingpin tells him to lay off, and the Skull challenges him to a no weapons fight to determine who takes over the underworld and who leaves town.

And to make sure they’re not hiding any weapons, they both strip down to their underwear. Because apparently, what we comic book fans want is Nazis in their skivvies and fat guys in their skivvies. No wonder the industry is dying.









So the bad news is that the Kingpin is a ruthless criminal mastermind, and since he’s won, he’ll continue to make life hell for New York’s superheroes. But the good news is that the Nazi lost, and he lost by being bearhugged and smothered under a sweaty shirtless fat guy — because everyone hates Nazis. Huzzah for our hero Wilson Fisk!

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Friday Night Fights: All-American Dictator Punching!

Well, now, I hope y’all all enjoyed Independence Day yesterday. I hope you ate hot dogs and safely blew up firecrackers and enjoyed parades and randomly screamed “AMURICAAA!” as we USAnians are, of course, prone to do. But it doesn’t mean it’s too late to commemorate our national patriotism with a little… FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS!

Tonight’s brawl comes to us from October 1941’s Fight Comics #15 by Dan Zolnerowich and an unknown writer. Here’s some cat calling himself Super-American beating up — I don’t know, Hitler? Mussolini? Hitlerlini? Anyway, FIGHTIN’ AHOY.





And if you don’t get a thrill out of watching a man in a gaudy costume beat up a fascist dictator, well, you best turn in yore Good American card and your Honey Boo-Boo DVD box set…

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Friday Night Fights: Nothing’s Ever Easy in Easy!

It’s been less than a week since the death of Joe Kubert, and I feel like spotlighting some of his work for this week’s Friday Night Fights. You guys up for it? Then let’s get rolling.

From May 1964’s Our Army at War #142 by Robert Kanigher and Joe Kubert, here’s Sgt. Rock and those Combat-Happy Joes of Easy Company vs. a Tiger tank!

Hats off and sound the bugle.

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Friday Night Fights: Patriotic Pain!

Okay, it’s way, way after Independence Day, but some stuff is just too good to pass up. You wouldn’t want me to save this a whole year for next July 4th? No way, we’re doing this right now. Buckle up, kids, it’s time for… FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS!

From 1976’s Marvel Treasury Special: Captain America’s Bicentennial Battles #1 by the King himself, Jack Kirby! For all the marbles: Captain America vs. Hitler!

Best way to start the weekend: beating the snot out of Nazis.

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Friday Night Fights: Memorial Mayhem!

It’s not too far past the Fourth of July, is it? I can still shoehorn in some properly patriotic pummelling here, can’t I? Then hold on to your stovepipe hat, ’cause it’s time again for… FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS!

Today’s battle comes to us from July 2011’s Secret Avengers #13 by Nick Spencer, Scot Eaton, Rick Ketcham, Jaime Mendoza, and Frank G. D’Armata. The scene? Nazi war machines have invaded Washington, D.C.! And there aren’t enough superheroes around to stop them? Luckily, we don’t need superheroes when we’ve got… THE LINCOLN MEMORIAL!

Stand up and salute, citizen! Any country so dedicated to beating up Nazis that it’ll spontaneously animate its memorial statuary is a country that deserves your unending loyalty! Now head over to Spacebooger’s place so you can vote… Vote… VOTE for your favorite battle!

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Superman Smashes the Klan!

Superman versus the Ku Klux Klan by Rick Bowers

I picked up this book a few weeks back, and I wasn’t expecting a lot — I know Scholastic Books publishes a lot of good stuff now, but when I grew up, it was strictly for kids’ books — and not particularly good kids’ books either. But I ended up liking what I read here.

This is basically a history book, with its initial focus on the history of Superman, from the early youths of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, through their initial failures in the comics biz, to the unstoppable success of the Man of Steel, and clear through the way Siegel and Shuster got screwed out of their rights to the character. There’s quite a lot of info about the years when “The Adventures of Superman” was one of the most successful programs on the radio, earning millions of dollars for his advertisers and enthralling legions of fans, both kids and adults.

The book’s other focus is a fairly detailed and warts-and-all history of the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazi organizations, and hate groups in 19th and early 20th centuries. And a lot of this is stuff that was definitely never taught to me when I was in school, mainly because textbooks have always seemed to put more emphasis on teaching kids the national legends instead of the actual facts. There were times when the KKK and pro-Nazi groups had a lot of political power — and a lot of times when they were mostly devoted to fleecing their members of every dime they could get. And a lot of the time, there were a vast number of people, ranging from everyday citizens to federal officers to Southern newspaper editors, who hated the stuffing out of the Klan.

And it all comes together after World War II when the advertising execs for Kelloggs — who also managed the Superman radio show — decided they wanted to try pointing the power of Superman at the nation’s social ills, particularly racism and intolerance. And what was interesting to me was that the radio producers didn’t just bang out some scripts for Superman to fight some Nazis — they did intense research on how to educate children about racism, and they interviewed people about what the Klan was like behind the white hoods. One of their interviewees was a man named Stetson Kennedy, a publicity-hungry Southerner with a serious mad-on against the Klan — he heroically infiltrated the organization while simultaneously campaigning publicly against it.

And what they came up with were a couple of storyarcs that infuriated the KKK and the rest of the nation’s racists. And that by itself is a pretty awesome victory.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s well-written, it’s detailed, it’s entertaining, and it’s filled with really interesting characters, including Siegel, Shuster, Stetson Kennedy, radio producer Robert Maxwell, education consultant Josette Frank, and even several of the Klan’s leaders, who generally come across as either charismatic lunatics or craven greedheads.

There were a couple of things that I knew already, being a longtime comic fan — but it was still nice to see them pointed out in a book designed for younger readers who probably aren’t as familiar with the history of Superman. The first was that in Superman’s earliest appearances, he was a very, very political guy — and he definitely came across as a liberal, since most of his opponents were greedy politicians, crooks, and factory owners who were making things hard for the common man. The second reminder — there were a huge number of Jewish people who had a hand in Superman’s success, including Siegel, Shuster, their publishers, and even their radio producer — no wonder they were so interested in putting the smackdown on the nation’s hatemongers!

I was pretty impressed that this book didn’t sugar-coat very much. These days, you read the newspapers and watch the news shows, and they’re absolutely devoted to never saying whether any group is right or wrong. If they mention the Klan these days, they definitely never say that they’re evil racist scumbags — that wouldn’t be properly Broderian or moderate — and they might offend some lunatic on hate radio. Rick Bowers really doesn’t do things that way — Superman’s the good guy, the Klan are the bad guys, and that’s really all there is to it. He also doesn’t mince many words about how Siegel and Shuster got mistreated after DC got its claws on Superman, and that’s pretty refreshing, too.

So there’s Superman versus the Ku Klux Klan by Rick Bowers. I liked it — go pick it up.

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Friday Night Fights: Beating up Nazis!

Hey, it’s the Friday before the Fourth of July! You know what that means? Yeah, it’s time for WILDLY PATRIOTIC FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS!

Now we could go with a superhero wearing red, white, and blue, but we’re gonna go with someone else instead — and it’s gonna be someone participating in the Great American Pastime — kicking Nazi butt! From July 1962’s Our Army at War #120 by Robert Kanigher and Joe Kubert, here’s Easy Company’s Bulldozer singlehandedly blasting through a Nazi machine gun nest:

Yeeeeaaaah! USA! USA! USA! Whooooo!

Merry pre-Fourth to youse guys, and careful with them firecrackers!

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