Thursday, February 23, 2017
Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Fascism is marked by nationalism, militarism, sexism, racism, repression of labor, worship of corporate power, controlled mass media, contempt for intellectuals and education, religiosity used for political manipulation, rampant cronyism and corruption, fraudulent elections, obsession with national security and the destruction of civil liberties — all the flavors Fox News sells to fools all day, every day.
The elements of fascism I cited are not a matter of opinion, but of fact. They are the 14 identifying characteristics of fascism uncovered by Lawrence Britt in his study of fascist regimes of Hitler (Germany), Mussolini (Italy), Franco (Spain), Suharto (Indonesia), and Pinochet (Chile). Britt found these fascist dictatorships all had 14 elements in common.
I've gotten all kinds of ad hominem insults from Republicans when I've posted this list of fascist characteristics, but I've never heard a SINGLE ONE of them post any evidence to dispute it.
And now we have a president who will try to put across every one of these horrors. He’s about to prove that the Republican Party is now Fascist Party of the United States of America.
Monday, February 20, 2017
I never wanted a comic book more than the 25-cent DC giant Secret Origins, which was on newsstands in June 1961, the month I turned 7.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t alone. The comic sold out instantly at my newsstand in Effingham, IL, and I was so disappointed I burst into tears on the spot. Then I was ashamed at having cried.
But we almost never got to read characters’ origins in those halcyon days, and to acquire a bunch of those in one comic would have been a thrill.
I wouldn’t learn until years later than DC’s apparent discomfort with reprinting 1940s material would lead them to cheat a bit on the Secret Origins title, meaning that the real origins of the Superman-Batman team, Wonder Woman and Green Arrow would remain secret.
In fact, the only “Golden Age material” to be found in all 80 pages was an old copy of Flash being chuckled over by police scientist Barry Allen while he ate lunch in one panel.
The earliest story reprinted was the origin of the Martian Manhunter from Detective Comics 225 (November, 1955). The Silver Age characters Flash, Green Lantern, Adam Strange and the Challengers of the Unknown had all debuted in 1956 or later, and their actual first stories were included as well.
But instead of Wonder Woman’s real 1941 origin, we got a reconned version by Robert Kanigher, Ross Andru and Mike Esposito reprinted from Wonder Woman 105 (April, 1959).
Green Arrow and Speedy got even shorter shrift, merely a text page that summarized their origins from Adventure Comics 256 (January, 1959) and Adventure Comics 262 (July, 1959). In fact, of course, they had debuted 18 years earlier in More Fun Comics 73 (November 1941).
Even May of 1952 was apparently too “Golden Age” for the editors. That’s when Superman and Batman actually met in the pages of Superman 76 (although they’d teamed up even earlier on Superman’s radio series). Instead, DC reprinted the retconned Origin of the Superman-Batman Team by Edmond Hamilton, Dick Sprang and Stan Kay that had appeared in World’s Finest Comics 94 (May-June, 1958).
So that dark, sunny June day I had to content myself with the origin of a new superhero in Archie Comics’ Adventures of the Jaguar 1, Detective, the second issue of Charlton’s Gorgo, the battle between Batman and the super-powered Villain of 1,000 Elements in Detective Comics 294, learning The Secret of Tigerman from World’s Finest 119, seeing the debut of The Legion of Super-Villains in Superman 147 and the exciting third Superman Annual, featuring The Strange Lives of Superman.
That one was almost as good as Secret Origins.
Despite its deficiencies, Secret Origins remained The One That Got Away. I hadn’t learned, at 7, that desire often makes the unattainable seem more wonderful than reality can ever be.
Sunday, February 19, 2017
Thursday, February 16, 2017
Wednesday, February 15, 2017
He was almost the first superhero of the Marvel Age of Comics. But, appropriately enough, he took a wrong turn and vanished.
I first encountered Jack Kirby’s fascinating Invisible Man in the second and final Strange Tales Annual (Sept. 1963), but that was a reprint from Strange Tales 67 (Feb. 1959).
I Was the Invisible Man! is the first-person narrative of scientist Adam Clayton, who creates a device that will accelerate his atomic structure and permit him to move at invisible super speed.
Operating (credibly for once) through a secret identity, Clayton at first does good deeds, thwarting a bank robbery and saving a pedestrian from a falling safe. But his actions as what the headlines call “the Invisible Man” become more arrogant and erratic. He interferes with a prize fight and strips the tires from a “hot rodder’s” speeding car for fun.
Building up the Invisible Man’s reputation, Clayton intends to cash in on his powers and become rich and powerful — but never gets the chance. A glance in his bathroom mirror reveals, to his horror, that his super speed has aged him 40 years. He is nearly finished.
“It was too late to regret my foolish desires for riches,” he thinks. “It was too late to reach back and use the valuable time I’d wasted to perfect my formula for mankind’s benefit. Yes, that’s a job for a young man — a much wiser young man than I was.”
The morose old man is nearly run over by a truck because he’s distracted and slow.
“It was an ironic and somehow fitting end to my career as the Invisible Man — who could have weaved in front of a dozen speeding trucks!” he thinks. “A selfish man is a careless man who has lost sight of the values that count — and in turn, loses everything.”
In the 1940s or the 1960s, Adam Clayton might easily have become a superhero. But DC’s Golden Age Flash had vanished almost a decade before and the Silver Age Flash wouldn’t get his own title until that very month.
During the more conventional 1950s, several concepts that had once been used to springboard superheroes were recycled for use as horror or science fiction plots — winged aliens who recalled Hawkman, flaming monsters that resembled the Human Torch, invisible SOBs who were like the Whizzer.
The tale echoed, perhaps unconsciously, the myth of the Ring of Gyges recounted in Plato’s Republic.
Like Tolkien’s One Ring, this magical device permitted the wearer to become invisible at will. The point of the myth is that by freeing the wearer from the fear of punishment or disgrace, the ring would necessarily corrupt anyone who wore it, morality being merely a social construct. Superhumans could not be trusted.
But Socrates argued that justice is more than a social construct, and that the wearer who abused such a power would end up a miserable slave to his appetites. A wise person would refuse such a ring and, by remaining rationally in control of himself, be happier, Socrates said.
In other words, with great power comes great danger.