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Super-Articulate: Marvel Legends Bring on the Bad Guys!

Hey! I know it’s out of order! And late!

Here’s the deal: I actually got the previously reviewed Iron Man/Ursa Major BAF wave ahead of completing the Bad Guys/Xemnu BAF assortment. Also, I live in Indiana, which is seemingly the last place to get anything that isn’t basketball. At any rate, it resulted in a situation where some venues got their Bad Guys weeks ago, and I didn’t complete mine that long ago. Plus, it’s been a little crazy over here for other writing and life reasons, none of which would interest you that much (except for maybe the inter-company crossover I wrote that I can’t talk about yet). Therefore, with no further delay, Bring on the Bad Guys!

Overview: I previously said that the Ursa Major wave was my favorite of the year. I think it’s now duking it out with this one. Eight (counting Xemnu) classic comic villains, some of whom have never been done before, and a couple of whom that have never been done before in their classic style for Marvel Legends, would have been an automatic get for me anyway. But the design team really outdid themselves here. There are great flourishes for each figure and some excellent accessories.

The Hood: I’m going to start with the much maligned Hood. First off, you guys must secretly love him if you’ve made him the star of memes without end. And I’ll give you, the face sculpt is an odd choice. His expression is that of a man that just stepped in a bear trap. But I’m honestly just happy that The Hood finally exists. Parker Robbins was a major villainous presence in the Marvel Universe for much of the 2000s, appearing in or impacting events like Secret Invasion, Dark Reign, Siege, and the Heroic Age.

I feel like the figure gets a number of things right, but I do think it’s a touch short for the length of the, well, hood. The pistols and their effects turned out really well, and I think that it’s great to have the character alongside members of the crew he assembled in comics. I don’t think it’s bad, but it’s a solid okay.

Red Skull: Okay, there’s no question for me. Of the two heads that come with this figure, it’s the smile version all the way. There’s some serious Kirby/Erik Larsen energy in that leer. I love it. Remarkably, this is the first time that the Skull has been depicted in figure form in the straight-up green Hydra costume. This is indeed a very classic Skull, and the sculptors nailed it.

In terms of accessories, I have to give a hat tip to whomever decided to make the grasping hand big enough to really grip the Cosmic Cube. That makes a ton of difference in posing, and opens up other options. The pistol looks perfect for this version of the character as well. The new Skull is pretty striking, and of all the different versions (including Iron Skull, Red Onslaught, etc.), this is my favorite.

Arcade: IT’S ABOUT TIME. Think of all the times that Arcade has appeared in Marvel video game media alone! That original X-Men PC game, Ultimate Alliance, etc.? And Arcade has figured into some truly memorable storylines; there’s his first appearance, his team up with Dr. Doom (Doombot, whatever), Avengers Arena. It’s crazy to think that there has NEVER been an Arcade figure. This is a huge character choice win. As far as the design, I think it’s great. It’s an extra mile figure, too, in terms of detail. Look at the lifts in his shoes. Check out the number of tiny paint apps here. The extra head (with the Arena look) is a welcome surprise. He looks so good, it makes me want to build death traps for my X-Men. Well done.

A.I.M. Scientist Supreme: This was the figure that I was least sure of, but I love this guy. It’s just a terrific realization of the overall look of one of my favorite costumes in comics: the A.I.M. “beekeeper suit.” But the great bits are how the figure incorporates the modernized elements of the look. The shiny finish, the belt, the joints . . . all look especially good. I really enjoy how poseable the head is, making it easy for the Scientist Supreme to look at his data pad and despair how much repeated Avengers ass-kickings are costing them. Sometimes, it’s just the look, y’know. This one just looks great.

Dormammu: I’ve always thought that the SDCC Exclusive “Book of the Vishanti” Dormammu was well done, and it still looked good when it reappeared as a BAF. However, I’d always wanted the classic look. The first book that I recall owning that included Dormammu was Marvel Feature #2, starring The Defenders. While this look isn’t exactly the same as that one, it’s the idea that I have when I picture classic Dormammu. Like Red Skull, I feel like this is a fairly definitive take on the comic version of the figure. That maniacal face sculpt just puts it over the top.

Lady Deathstrike: The Marvel Legends line had an early Lady Deathstrike and it, well, had some problems. Notably: the arms with the mechanical extrusions which drastically limited poseability. However, this one is just excellent. It’s one of those instances where it looks like it was just peeled off the page. And this is definitely a figure that benefits from updated and added poseability. It’s like night and day to the original version. The billowy sleeves are a nice touch, but it’s the outstanding hand sculpts and the vastly improved face that really make it.

Doctor Doom (Secret Wars): God Emperor Doom! Secret Wars was a sprawling story filled with some memorable scenes (not the least of which was an Infinity Gauntlet-wielding Black Panther and Sub-Mariner teaming up), but one of the stand-outs was Doom’s utter demolition of Thanos. If you’re into Mortal Kombat-fatality homages, this figure is for you. In what has to be one of the grossest and most hilarious accessories in ML history, Doom comes with the spinal column and skull of Thanos. It’s tremendous. As for Doom himself, the look is great, the finish is solid, and the eyes are very well done. However, I have seen some reports that the figure is fragile on the underside, so be careful with your leg posing. I wouldn’t say this is necessary for the casual fan that has other recent Dooms, but it’s a solid pick-up for the deep bench collector.

Xemnu BAF: Never in a million years did I think we’d see a BAF of Xemnu the Titan! The long-time Hulk antagonist was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1962, and he’s popped up a number of times over the years, including in The Immortal Hulk. I know that some were disappointed that this BAF was a more obscure character, but not me. I’m a huge fan of the “Universe” aspect of Marvel Legends, so any new inclusion is fine by me. It also makes sense to repurpose parts (like from Sasquatch) when the need arises. And honestly, I just love the look of it. Plus, we can always use more huge bad guys, right? I find this to be an extremely fun figure, and I’m glad they used the BAF slot on it.

Marvel’s Villains Get the Spotlight with Hasbro’s Marvel Legends

MARVEL LEGENDS SERIES 6-INCH DR. DOOM Figure

(HASBRO/Ages 4 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: $19.99/Available: Spring 2021)

Fans, collectors, and kids alike can enjoy this MARVEL LEGENDS SERIES 6-INCH DR. DOOM Figure, inspired by the character from MARVEL entertainment. This quality 6-inch-scale figure features premium design, detail, and multiple points of articulation for posing and display in a MARVEL collection. Includes figure and 4 accessories. Available for pre-order at Hasbro Pulse, Amazon, Big Bad Toy Store, and Entertainment Earth.

MARVEL LEGENDS SERIES 6-INCH-SCALE DORMAMMU Figure

(HASBRO/Ages 4 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: $19.99/Available: Spring 2021)

Fans, collectors, and kids alike can enjoy this MARVEL LEGENDS SERIES 6-INCH-SCALE DORMAMMU Figure, inspired by the character from MARVEL entertainment. This quality 6-inch-scale figure features premium design, detail, and multiple points of articulation for posing and display in a MARVEL collection. Includes figure and 6 accessories. Available for pre-order at Hasbro Pulse, Amazon, Big Bad Toy Store, and Entertainment Earth.

MARVEL LEGENDS SERIES 6-INCH MARVEL’S THE HOOD Figure

(HASBRO/Ages 4 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: $19.99/Available: Spring 2021)

Fans, collectors, and kids alike can enjoy this MARVEL LEGENDS SERIES 6-INCH MARVEL’S THE HOOD Figure, inspired by the character from MARVEL entertainment. This quality 6-inch-scale figure features premium design, detail, and multiple points of articulation for posing and display in a MARVEL collection. Includes figure and 4 accessories. Available for pre-order at Hasbro Pulse, Amazon, Big Bad Toy Store, and Entertainment Earth.

MARVEL LEGENDS SERIES 6-INCH LADY DEATHSTRIKE Figure

(HASBRO/Ages 4 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: $19.99/Available: Spring 2021)

Fans, collectors, and kids alike can enjoy this MARVEL LEGENDS SERIES 6-INCH LADY DEATHSTRIKE Figure, inspired by the character from MARVEL entertainment. This quality 6-inch-scale figure features premium design, detail, and multiple points of articulation for posing and display in a MARVEL collection. Available for pre-order at Hasbro Pulse, Amazon, Big Bad Toy Store, and Entertainment Earth.

MARVEL LEGENDS SERIES 6-INCH MARVEL’S ARCADE Figure

 (HASBRO/Ages 4 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: $19.99/Available: Spring 2021)

Fans, collectors, and kids alike can enjoy this MARVEL LEGENDS SERIES 6-INCH MARVEL’S ARCADE Figure, inspired by the character from MARVEL entertainment. This quality 6-inch-scale figure features premium design, detail, and multiple points of articulation for posing and display in a MARVEL collection. Includes figure and 2 accessories. Available for pre-order at Hasbro Pulse, Amazon, Big Bad Toy Store, and Entertainment Earth.

MARVEL LEGENDS SERIES 6-INCH A.I.M SCIENTIST SUPREME Figure

(HASBRO/Ages 4 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: $19.99/Available: Spring 2021)

Fans, collectors, and kids alike can enjoy this MARVEL LEGENDS SERIES 6-INCH A.I.M SCIENTIST SUPREME Figure, inspired by the character from MARVEL entertainment. This quality 6-inch-scale figure features premium design, detail, and multiple points of articulation for posing and display in a MARVEL collection. Includes figure and accessory. Available for pre-order at Hasbro Pulse, Amazon, Big Bad Toy Store, and Entertainment Earth.

MARVEL LEGENDS SERIES 6-INCH RED SKULL Figure

(HASBRO/Ages 4 years & up/Approx. Retail Price: $19.99/Available: Spring 2021)

Fans, collectors, and kids alike can enjoy this MARVEL LEGENDS SERIES 6-INCH RED SKULL Figure, inspired by the character from MARVEL entertainment. This quality 6-inch-scale figure features premium design, detail, and multiple points of articulation for posing and display in a MARVEL collection. Includes figure and 7 accessories. Available for pre-order at Hasbro Pulse, Amazon, Big Bad Toy Store, and Entertainment Earth.

The Marvel Legends Villains wave features a Xemnu build-a-figure.

It’s Captain America vs. Red Skull in this Funko Movie Moment

Captain America faces off against his chief archenemy in a movie moment every Marvel,
Captain American and Super Hero fan will remember forever. Will Captain America successfully defeat HYDRA or will Red Skull achieve his dream of world domination? With the movie moments figure in your hand, you get to decide.

Movie Moments: Marvel—Captain America vs. Red Skull is out now from Funko.

Unboxing: One:12 Collective Red Skull

Johann Schmidt AKA The Red Skull — evil super soldier and commander of the world threatening organization known as Hydra. Having aspirations of total global conquest and infused with a version of the super soldier serum, the Red Skull quickly became Captain America’s archenemy. With the militia force of Hydra’s army at his disposal and harnessing the untold power of the Cosmic Cube, the Red Skull is a constant threat to all of humanity.

The character has been captured in amazing detail by Mezco Toyz One:12 Collective. We open up and show off the figure and all that you get.

You can order yours!

Unboxing: One:12 Collective Red Skull NYCC Exclusive

The origin of the Red Skull has had numerous revisions over his nearly eight decade history. Likewise his appearance has also changed. Mezco presents the Red Skull in the classic green jumpsuit he wore during his 1st encounter with Captain America in 1941.

We open up and show off the One:12 Collective Red Skull New York Comic Con Exclusive, and we’re pretty impressed!

You can join the Mezco Toyz waitlist in hopes of getting one.

Mezco’s One:12 Red Skull Fall Exclusive

The origin of the Red Skull has had numerous revisions over his nearly eight decade history. Likewise his appearance has also changed. With this Fall Exclusive, Mezco presents the Red Skull in the classic green jumpsuit he wore during his 1st encounter with Captain America in 1941.

With the militia force of Hydra’s army at his disposal and harnessing the untold power of the Cosmic Cube, the Red Skull is a constant threat to all of humanity.

Featuring over 30 articulation points, intricate sculptural work and incredible costume detailing, the final product creates an iconic vision with a “real world” look.

The One:12 Collective Red Skull Fall Exclusive figure joins the One:12 collective with a comprehensively detailed outfit and unique character specific accessories.

This limited edition Mezco Fall Exclusive is only available via website and at the Mezco NYCC booth #1954 while supplies last.

The One:12 Collective Red Skull Fall Exclusive features:

  • Two (2) Detailed head portraits
  • One:12 Collective body with  over 30 points of articulation
  • Classic green jumpsuit
  • Hand painted authentic detailing
  • Over 16cm tall
  • Six (6) interchangeable hands including
    – One (1) pair of fists (L & R)
    – One (1) pair of  gun/ cannon holding hands (L & R)
    – One (1) Cosmic Cube holding hand (R)
    – One (1) posing hand (L)

Costume:

  • Classic green jumpsuit
  • Harness for fuel tanks
  • Sculpted belt with blaster holder
  • Sculpted boots

Accessories:

  • One (1) Cosmic cube
  • One (1) Blaster
  • One (1) Blaster holster (attaches to belt)
  • One (1) cannon
  • One (1) Cannon fuel tank (attaches via hose to cannon)
  • One (1) Harness (holds fuel tank)
  • One (1) One:12 Collective display base with logo
  • One (1) One:12 Collective adjustable display post

Each One:12 Collective Red Skull Fall Exclusive figure is packaged in a collector friendly box, designed with collectors in mind, there are no twist ties for easy in and out of package display.

This One:12 Collective Red Skull Fall Exclusive available for pre-order is only available through the Mezco Toyz website or the Mezco Toyz NYCC booth # 1954. For those who pre-order through the website it is expected to ship some time between October and December 2017.

Would Captain America Approve of Punching Nazis? (YES.)

As would surprise absolutely no one who’s followed my People’s History of the Marvel Universe series, I’m a strong believer in the idea that our pop culture is both influenced by our political culture and can have a strong influence on that political culture. Thus, it’s a major problem when the author of both of Marvel’s current Captain America comics gets all pearls-clutchy about whether it’s ok to punch Nazis.

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(credit to Shop5)

While people who’ve followed this spat on comic book twitter are familiar with this particular debate, allow me to clarify for everyone else: Captain America, as a pop culture icon, was designed to punch Nazis. And not merely in a cheeky, subversive symbolic, let’s-make-fun-of-Hitler way; the first Captain America comics were very clear in their argument that Nazis were a real threat to the United States both abroad and at home (with Jack Kirby and Joe Simon calling out real organizations like the German-American Bund, the Silver Shirts, and the America First Committee), and that we should go and fight them now (a year before Pearl Harbor). Nazis didn’t like this argument and they didn’t like Captain America as a pop culture icon – hence why they sent death threats to Jack Kirby and Joe Simon, threats that Jack Kirby met by being ready to punch Nazis at a moment’s notice.

Current Cap writer Nick Spencer’s stance doesn’t show a great understanding of the characters he’s working with or the spirit in which they were created, but that wouldn’t be so much of a problem…except that Spencer’s online conflicts with critics and fans are starting to bleed over into his comics, denying people a useful symbol for resistance in an era in which we really need them.

NaziCap and the “Alt-Righting” of HYDRA

Now, I’ve already talked about why NaziCap is a terrible idea – not only is it deeply insulting to the creators of Captain America and the various writers and artists who worked for decades to establish Steve Rogers as a consistent character, not only does the whole story only work by leaning on played-out non-mind control mind control gimmicks that relied on outright lying to your customers, but so far the only up-side is that Nick Spencer gets to write stories for months on end where Steve Rogers becomes a straight up supervillain:

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Now, it would be bad enough if Spencer’s problematic story resulted only in bad writing. But the problems go far beyond that, because Spencer’s Steve Rogers has an undeniable and inescapable political line. Take for example, Cap’s extended speech in Civil War II: The Oath:

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Let’s be clear: this is not just a comment on Marvel’s Civil War II; this is a blatant copying of post-2016 election hot takes blaming liberal coastal elites for the election of Donald Trump due to their lack of empathy for Trump voters in the heartland, bootstrapped into an anti-superhero and pro-HYDRA rant. Now, leave aside for the moment that this whole scene is jarring and awkward in the extreme in that Captain America is completely contradicting himself from Marvel’s first Civil War event – and remember, Nick Spencer’s non-mind control mind control retcon means that Cap still did and thought everything he did and thought in that series. (After all, Civil War II is absolutely cluttered with examples of characters from Tony Stark to Carol Danvers forgetting what they thought and did during Civil War I and before.)

The bigger problem is that Spencer is trying to have it both ways. On the one hand, he’s constantly riffing off of the rhetoric and imagery of present-day white nationalist and neo-Nazi movements to elicit controversy and give his story some “subversive” heft. On the other hand, Spencer constantly runs away from the implications of his own ideas by trying to de-Nazify HYDRA (which not-coincidentally prevents Steve Rogers from crossing a line that might harm his value as a brand):

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Once again, let clarify the comic book history: HYDRA was created as a Nazi organization, as part of an argument by Jack Kirby that the true believers in the Third Reich were still out there, ready to strike back against their enemies in the name of Nazism. HYDRA’s leader, the Red Skull, isn’t just a COBRA villain who hates freedom, equality, puppies, and sunshine in a generic Saturday morning cartoon way. From the beginning, the Red Skull has been not just a Nazi but a personal acolyte of Adolf Hitler:

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Indeed, the Red Skull is such a massive racist that he was once successfully distracted from his master plans by the fact that Peggy Carter was in an interracial relationship with another SHIELD agent:

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Likewise, the Red Skull’s chief subordinates in HYDRA were quite emphatic about the fact that they were actual and current believers in Nazi political ideology.

Now, Spencer isn’t the first person at Marvel to try to de-Nazify HYDRA – Brian Michael Bendis and Jonathan Hickman’s Secret Warriors story about HYDRA being an ancient organization that dates back to the Third Dynasty in Ancient Egypt set the pattern for fandom arguments that HYDRA wasn’t “really” fascist. But in the current political environment, it is especially tin-eared for Nick Spencer to “alt-right” HYDRA: we live at a time when we have actual Neo-Nazis in the White House working references to America First into Inaugural Addresses and dog-whistling to their fanbase by removing references to Jews and anti-Semitism from Holocaust Memorial addresses, all the while trying to use weasel-words to rebrand themselves as members of the “alt-right” so that they can normalize themselves in the media and the broader political culture. Indeed, Richard Spencer (who led crowds in throwing Nazi salutes at the alt-right’s election celebrations in D.C) was giving an TV interview about how the “alt-right” weren’t neo-Nazis when he got punched.

Sam Wilson as Sockpuppet and SJWs Are the Real Threat:

At the same time that Spencer has mired himself in a political quagmire in Captain America: Steve Rogers, we’re starting to see some of the same problems crop up in Captain America: Sam Wilson, which I used to enjoy because the book seemed to be grounded in a sincere love of Captain America comics from the 70s through 90s, what with Cap-Wolf and the Serpent Society showing up almost immediately. But given the tight-rope walk that always comes when a white writer is writing a highly political comic by speaking through a character who’s a black man, it’s a very bad sign when Nick Spencer’s twitter fights over the right and wrong ways to protest start coming out of Sam Wilson’s mouth:

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Leave aside that portraying Sam Wilson as the “both-sides-do-it” moderate clashes with the book’s raison d’être of Sam Wilson as the more militant political version of Captain America. Far worse is the actual content of the issue, which presents as its villains a group of campus left terrorists who use bombs to enforce “safe spaces:”

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Now, all of this would in normal times be painfully awkward, what with the white guy in his late 30s trying to do Tumblr-speak. But to push the idea that campus leftists are the real danger at a time when anti-fascist protesters have been shot by fans of neo-Nazi Milo Yiannopoulos, who deliberately targets critics for harassment and deportation, and when campus recruiters for the “alt-right” turn out to have past form for burning down black churches, comes across as pushing “alternative facts.”

Conclusion:

So why should we care, why does all of this comic book stuff matter when compared to the real-world political side of things?

As I said at the time, the “subversive” reimagining of Steve Rogers as a fascist was never ok, but there is far less leeway for it in a world in which Donald Trump is president. We have actual Neo-Nazis at the very top of the Federal government, directing government policy to enforce religious bans on Muslim immigrants, refugees, and permanent residents, to build border walls and prepare new offensives against young formerly undocumented immigrants given legal status and low-income immigrants. The “contrarian” fantasy of NaziCap has been lapped by reality and thus no longer serves any satirical purpose.

But on a more serious note: far from being emboldened by being punched in the face, Neo-Nazis are already emboldened by the fact that they have one of their own in the White House. Hence the burning of mosques in Texas and the Quebec mass-shooting , hence the constant drum-beat of bomb threats against Jewish Community Centers, hence the rise of hate crimes and random incidents of aggression from racist assholes who think that Trump has legalized bigotry.

A small part of this is an attempt by Neo-Nazis to claim cultural spaces and symbols, whether we’re talking about fights over Twitter access, the appropriation of memes like Pepe the Frog, the appropriation of language from sexual subcultures, attempts to recruit right-wing anime fans, Gamergaters, and furries, and most worrying of all, the attempt to reframe anti-corporate works like They Live to fit anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. And it’s not like Marvel has been immune to this: “Hail HYDRA” and HYDRA iconography has been a favorite of Neo-Nazis online as a way to get around bans on outright Nazi imagery, and defenses of the HYDRA secret agent Grant Ward on ABC’s “Agents of SHIELD” have sometimes blended into defenses of fascism more generally.

In the face of all of these, people really need anti-Nazi symbols to inspire and rally them. Captain America ought to be one of these symbols, but he can’t be as long as Steve Rogers is a HYDRA agent and Sam Wilson is more worried about the campus left – i.e, as long as Nick Spencer is the lead writer of all of Marvel’s Captain America comics. So here’s my pitch to Marvel Comics: hire Brubaker, hire Rucka, hire G. Willow Wilson, all writers who’ve shown a grasp on both storytelling and politics, or hire someone new with fire in the belly, and give us a Cap who will fight for us.

Entertainment Earth Spotlight: Red Skull One:12 Collective Action Figure

Johann Schmidt AKA The Red Skull; evil super soldier and commander of the world threatening organization known as Hydra. Having aspirations of total global conquest and infused with a version of the super soldier serum the Red Skull quickly became Captain America’s archenemy. With the militia force of Hydra’s army at his disposal and harnessing the untold power of the Cosmic Cube the Red Skull is a constant threat to all of humanity.

The origin of the Red Skull has had numerous revisions over his nearly 8-decade history. Likewise his appearance has also changed, but the One:12 Collective has perfectly captured the menacingly evil crimson death’s head that has remained  part of his trademark appearance.

Featuring over 30 articulation points, intricate sculptural work and incredible costume detailing, the final product creates an iconic vision with a “real world” look.

The Red Skull One:12 Collective Figure features:

  • Two (2) newly developed head portraits
  • Hand painted authentic detailing
  • One:12 Collective developed body with over 30 points of articulation
  • Approximately 16cm tall
  • Five (5) interchangeable hands including:
    – One (1) pair of fists
    – One open hand
    – One (1)  holding hands Each head sculpt is specially hand-painted

Costume:

  • One (1) faux leather black trench with red detailing and Hydra logo
  • One (1) black knit detailed turtleneck shirt
  • One (1) black woven pair of pants
  • One (1) pair of articulated black boots

Accessories:

  • One (1) scaled Cosmic Cube
  • One (1) adjustable belt with shoulder strap and holster detailed with Hydra buckle
  • One (1)scaled German Luger pistol
  • One (1) One:12 Collective display base with Hydra logo
  • One (1) One:12 Collective adjustable display post

You can pre-order the figure now at Entertainment Earth for $80.00.

 

 

 

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A People’s History of the Marvel Universe, Week 3: Making Cap Marvel

Face front, true believers!

Welcome back to People’s History of the Marvel Universe, where I explore how real-world politics (and weird bits of pop culture) was presented in some of my favorite bits of classic Marvel comics. In this issue, I’ll be discussing how Captain America made the transition from his Timely Comics incarnation to the Marvel era.

Timely Comics’s version of Captain America was (to be kind) rather crude, still in that stage where superheroes as a genre are still emerging from pulp, so there’s a lot of repetitious scenes where Cap and/or Bucky get tied to chairs because that’s the only way the author can think of to get to the plot exposition, most of the villains are pretty generic mobster types, and so on. However, Jack Kirby and Stan Lee were able to go back and sift through the old material to find the stuff that worked – Steve Rogers as Captain America, the uniform and the mighty shield, the Red Skull, Agent 13 – while ditching the stuff that didn’t work (the secret identity, Bucky to an extent, etc.).

At the same time, there were a number of strategies that Marvel used to make the transition work. First, in the very act of updating Captain America from the 1940s to the 1960s, Kirby and Lee made Steve Rogers a man out of time, giving a previously rather thinly-sketched individual a rich source of Marvel-style pathos and interiority. The Steve Rogers who emerged in the pages of The Avengers, Tales of Suspense, and Captain America is a veteran haunted by the memory of his losses during WWII, a rare example in which PTSD is given its place in that conflict. (Indeed, a lot of stories from this era involve Cap having vivid flashbacks or hallucinations that make him question his sanity.)

However, with Kirby there as the keeper of the sacred flame to ensure that the original spirit of Captain America wasn’t lost, Steve Rogers’ status as a man out of time was never an excuse to position him as a conservative or reactionary figure. Rather, Captain America’s position was that he would embrace these changes and fight for the same progressive change that he had back in the New Deal:

And that’s what I think people often get wrong about Captain America: while he was born into the “Greatest Generation,” he’s not an old man. Rather, because of his variable number of decades frozen in the ice, he’s a young man who’s traveled through time, bringing the passion and idealism of youth into a new era.

Second, Kirby and Lee kept much of the political edge of the original comics by making a foundational element of the new Cap comics that Nazism was not dead, but had continued into the present day as a hostile force that threatened liberal values, often hidden beneath reactionary causes and movements (hence the usefulness of HYDRA as a dark mirror through which to question and explore the national security state in Captain America: Winter Soldier). For example, early on in Tales of Suspense, they posited that Nazi agents were at work in modern Germany:

To argue that Nazis were hidden in German society, as if Himmler’s Operation Werwolf had really come to pass, was a pretty bold political statement in a Cold War world only five years past the construction of the Berlin Wall and in which the Western German government had yet to publicly grapple with the legacy of the Holocaust. But Kirby’s political acumen shines in these issues, grounding these stories in contemporary politics, as with this reference to West German laws banning the display of Nazi iconography:

Third, another thing that Marvel could bring to the table is a fully matured Jim Kirby. As I mentioned above, the Timely Captain America comics were too close to the pulp era to really be distinctively superheroic. But by the 1960s, Kirby was Kirby. And so what the Red Skull’s sleeper agents were out to awaken was not merely a coup against the Federal Republic of Germany, but a giant Nazi robot:

The Timely Comics version of the Red Skull had been a petty saboteur and sometimes assassin, very much within the wheelhouse of pulp antagonists. The new Red Skull (who’ll be explored in future installments) was reimagined as a full-on supervillain with a flair for giant robots, doomsday devices, world conquest, and grandiloquent speeches complete with cigarette holder. And so Kirby gave the world not just a giant robot menacing the free world, but a Nazi Voltron:

This was the secret alchemy that brought Captain America into the contemporary world of Mighty Marvel Comics: on the one hand, Jack Kirby’s larger-than-life visuals and Marvel’s attention to interiority gave Captain America new life, but on the other, the original political spirit of the Timely Comics was carefully preserved, so that what made Captain America unique is a superhero is that his power is essentially weaponized progressive ideology:

Graphic Policy’s Top Comic Picks this Week!

Midnighter #3 CoverWednesdays are new comic book day! Each week hundreds of comics are released, and that can be pretty daunting to go over and choose what to buy. That’s where we come in!

We’re bringing back something we haven’t done for a while, what the team thinks. Our contributors are choosing up to five books each week and why they’re choosing the books.

Find out what folks think below, and what comics you should be looking out for this Wednesday.

Brett

Top Pick: This Damned Band #1 (Dark Horse Comics) – A fun and trippy start of a series that mixes the fun of rock and roll with ghosts. This is Spinal Tap meets Ghostbusters, and it works in an awesome way. By the end of the first issue, you won’t be sure what is supernatural and what is drug induced, and that’s half the fun.

Bower Boys Our Fathers HC (Dark Horse Comics) – The webcomic is collected in print. The series focuses on Tammany Hall and Union busting, but it’s so much more, it’s about the relationships we have with our fathers. The fantastic story is backed up by beautiful artwork.

The Bunker #13 (Oni Press) – The time bending series continues its fantastic ways. In this issue we get some more info on what the deal with Heidi is including where she’s been the last three months, and more importantly who she’s been with.

Midnighter #3 (DC Comics) – Punching corporations! Seriously, this series is violent fun, that shows the struggle of a man designed to hurt attempting to figure out who he is. Steve Orlando is killing it (and a lot of people) in this series.

Nailbiter #15 (Image Comics) – One of my favorite series that has a few folks attempting to discover why a small town has produced so many serial killers. We’re getting closer and closer to finally getting an answer… I think and hope.

 

Alex

Top Pick: The Fox #5 (Archie Comics) – I picked issue #1 up on a whim, and this series has fast become one of my favourites. I love the fun, almost cynically innocent take on the superhero genre, and I cannot wait to get my grubby mitts on the final chapter of the opening arc.

Detective Comics #43 (DC Comics) – I’ve been surprised at how much I’ve been enjoying Mecha-Batman, and while I expect the original to return eventually, I’m enjoying this while it lasts.

We Stand On Guard #2 (Image Comics) – The first issue of this comic took me by surprise when it came out last month. I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this as much as I did, and whether it is the underdog nature of the story or the Great White North setting, this is a series I’m looking forward too.

 

Edward

Top Pick: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad #5 (Marvel) – This all ages comic has not been on many people’s reading list, bust it proves that some minds at Disney are still interested in creativity.

Morning Glories #47 (Image Comics) – The standout series continues by weaving in new plots to the old. Every answer continues to create five new questions.

Groot #3 (Marvel) – This series has only run two issues thus far but has been unexpectedly amazing. The story is simple enough, but executed flawlessly.

Ms. Marvel #17 (Marvel) – One of Marvel’s stand-out series gets the Secret Wars treatment. It is nearing the end before Marvel relaunches and it remains to be seen how that will affect this series.

Red Skull #2 (Marvel) – It is the Suicide Squad of the Secret Wars as Red Skull takes on the role of Deadshot.

 

Elana

Top Pick: The Humans #7 (Image Comics) – Apesploitstion biker madness continues! I love this series so much I have a lenghthy personal essay about it coming out this week. This month’s issue features even more sex and violence and drugs and rock and roll and vengeance and period accurate hair and the color orange and oh my god the lettering! The lettering!!! All the important things in art, really.

Top Pick: The Wicked + The Divine #13 (Image Comics) – At last an issue about the mysterious goddess Tara jokingly called “goddess of who knows what” because there are so many deities with that name that it’s unclear who she’s supposed to be. I’m not sure which real world pop stars the character was inspired by. Beyoncé?

One thing is for sure, the new art by Tula Lotay is stunning!

Kaptara #4 (Image Comics) – This charming sword and sorcery in space comic won my heart. It’s saturated in lurid colors and riffs on He-Man but it doesn’t get in the way of being a very human story about a scientist who really needs a hug. And a date. Do you know any nice single men for Keith to date? I worry that Manton the warrior may take a while to come around.

Midnighter #3 (DC Comics) – Last issue our hero started to square off with the corporate powers that be. I’m really looking forward to a comic that tackles Monsanto. At least that’s where I think this is heading. Also, Midnighter punched a steak through a killer’s head. A dinner steak.

This Damned Band #1 (Dark Horse Comics) – What if Led Zeppelin really did sell their souls to the devil? It’s a brand new series from the ever funny and inventive and very British Paul Cornell (art by Tony Parker). I simultaneously love over-indulgent boomer rock and I also find it hilarious and worth deflating. This comic seems to be doing the same– both reveling and lovingly mocking the 70s rock pretentious and conventions. But with the actual Devil.

 

Mr. H

Top Pick: Green Lantern #43 (DC Comics) – I’ve really been enjoying this Hal on the run as a bounty hunter storyline and now that they’ve thrown Black Hand back in the mix, it should only get even better. Proof that he doesn’t need the most powerful weapon in the universe to still be a bad ass, this title is still providing bright days!

Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows #3 (Marvel Comics) – Back in black and the marriage still intact? Let’s see if the removal of Spidey’s bright colors bring the foot out of the grave on this one. I really want to like this Mr. Slott, don’t disappoint me please. I’ve waited a long time for this.

JLA: Gods and Monsters: Wonder Woman #1 (DC Comics) – Having seen the movie, Wonder Woman was my favorite part. I hope they delve even deeper into her loss and betrayal. I really enjoy the twist on the New Genesis vs. Apokolips War. Should be a good one! Plus that boom tube sword is just epic. DC make a replica now!

TMNT: Color Classics Series 3 #8 (IDW Publishing) – Turtles, Shredder, April, Eastman, Laird. Isn’t that enough right there?

 

Paul

Top Pick: Age of Apocalypse #2 (Marvel) – Fabian Nicieza and Gerardo Sandoval took me right back into the Age of Apocalypse that I remember from so long ago; great story and fantastic art make this one of my favourite Secret Wars books, and I’m looking forward to seeing Magneto give Apocalypse’s forces the smack down!

Civil War #2 (Marvel) – Steve Rogers and Tony Stark; opposing sides in this world of Civil War have been pushed further apart after an assassination attempt has left a proponent for peace dead at their feet. I really enjoyed the first issue of this book, and I’m excited to see if the two sides come together…or tear each other apart.

Siege #2 (Marvel) – I really loved this story of the SHIELD, the wall that separates Battleworld from the zombies and robots that would destroy the planet. Not to mention Abigail Brand is calling the shots, so that alone has me hooked.

Spider-Island #2 (Marvel) – The Spider Queen has turned almost everyone in this area of Battleworld into human/spider hybrids…including the heroes…and they all serve her. Flash Thompson is one of the few not affected, and with his resistance force, has managed to help some former colleagues break from the Spider Queen’s control…but will what he’s turned them into be a help or a hindrance? This was a fun first issue and I’m excited to see how Venom’s newly freed friends help him out.

Almost American
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