Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Captain Commie Resurrected from Ice

Buried under the ice and snow yesterday was a package from Edward R. Hamilton containing Walter Isaacson’s book on Einstein, the Green Hornet Chronicles, the handsome yellow hardcover Stories of Truman Capote and, joy of joys, Avengers Masterworks Vol. 5.
What a pleasure it was to see that great run of issues again, from 41 to 50, including the first annual reuniting all the characters who’d been on the team. In tune with the fans, Roy Thomas, John Buscema and Don Heck created a series of crowd pleasers.
The Red Guardian issue in particular is a series of delightful vignettes, whether I’m 14 or 59 — Quicksilver’s enthusiasm at learning to fly (something I wish they’d kept), Hawkeye in civvies showing the guys in the bar why it’s not wise to mess with a guy trained by Captain America, Cap schooling Hercules, the mysterious Black Widow, and finally the revelation of the Red Guardian himself – a communist Anti-Captain America, a character who fed into comic book fans’ deep, longstanding need for mirror images and polar opposites.
A decade later, my old pal David Anthony Kraft would refine a memorable and sympathetic female Red Guardian during his long stint writing The Defenders. 
And why the rather odd title of Color Him... The Red Guardian? It was a wink at Barbra Streisand’s seventh album Color Me Barbra, as well as the title of her 1966 CBS TV special (her first in color, when that was still a TV novelty). Then, as now, Marvel Comics was all about topical references.

1 comment:

  1. That's one of my favorite sequences from the Silver Age with Captain America and a much stronger opponent.As Muhammad Ali might say "Float like a butterfly,sting like a bee.Your hands can't hit what your eyes can't see." Would have been even better with Cap tossing Herc with a judo throw like he once did to the Hulk.