Archive for Beating Up Nazis!

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.

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(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.

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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.

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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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There's No Justice. There's Just Zombies.

Blackest Night: JSA #3

The bad news for everyone is that the Earth-2 Superman’s zombie is up and running again. The good news is… well, there’s not a lot of good news. Mr. Terrific has a plan to beat the Black Lantern, but it’ll require most of the Justice Society to charge into a hopeless battle against an undead demigod. Is everyone doomed or what?

Verdict: Ehh, thumbs down. I don’t mind a big slugfest sometimes, but this one just wasn’t entertaining enough to hold my interest.

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We’ve got a tale told in flashback from 20 years in the future — Mr. Terrific is in prison and due to be executed soon, so the new Nazi masters of the world want him to record some of his history for their records. He remembers Liberty Belle getting taken down by a Nazi speedster, Green Lantern getting killed by a bomb in a wooden crate (the Golden Age Green Lantern has a vulnerability to anything made of wood, which is the type of thing that turns a bunch of high-velocity splinters into lethal shrapnel), and the rest of the team has to deal with a large team of evil Nazi supervillains.

Verdict: Thumbs up, at least for now. It’s been a while since the JSA had a good time-travel story to deal with, and frankly, it’s always fun to see superheroes stomp Nazis into puddles. Something about the story, however, is bugging me. I can’t really say for sure what the problem is, but it’s making me a bit nervous about how the rest of the story is going to play out.

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The Best and the Not-So-Good

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Young Allies 70th Anniversary Special #1

Just about all of Marvel’s special issues paying tribute to their WWII Golden Age characters and the company’s 70th birthday have been outstanding, but this one is probably the best yet. The main story, by writer Roger Stern and artist Paolo Rivera, focuses on Bucky Barnes, Captain America’s former sidekick and the new Captain Marvel, as he discovers that some of his friends from World War II are still alive. The Young Allies were a bunch of normal kids — a stereotypical Brooklyn tough kid, a smart, bespectacled kid, a chubby kid, and a black kid — who occasionally teamed up with Bucky and Toro, the Human Torch’s sidekick, to fight the Nazis. Anyway, Bucky finds the two surviving Young Allies — Pat “Knuckles” O’Toole, the tough kid, and Wash Jones, the black kid — in a veterans hospital. Knuckles is on his deathbed, and Wash is paying him a last visit. They’re both overjoyed to see Bucky again, still young after all those decades. There’s some reminiscing over their WWII adventures and about their post-war lives. And in the end, Knuckles dies, and a few months later, Wash follows him. They close out the last few pages of the comic with reprints of ads, text stories, and comic about “Terry Vance, the School Boy Sleuth.”

Verdict: Thumbs up. Numerous thumbs up, along with several pinkies and even a couple of big toes. This has got to be the best done-in-one comic I’ve seen in months. The action sequences are fine, but where this story really shines is the small, personal moments, with a trio of old vets sitting around a hospital talking about how their lives turned out, and seeing one of their number through to his final curtain. It’s a beautiful, emotional story, and I hope like heck it wins some awards.

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Justice Society of America #28

The Spectre takes Power Girl, Atom Smasher, Damage, and Judomaster back into the past to save Green Lantern, Flash, Wildcat, Hourman, and Liberty Belle from the Hiroshima atomic bomb. Kung, a former Japanese assassin who died in the bomb blast, hopes to sacrifice the American heroes to return himself to life, but can anyone stop him and his army of Japanese spirits?

Verdict: I’m gonna thumbs-down it. The action sequences are fine, but this just felt too needlessly complicated, on several different levels.

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