About political comments in comic books

Cover to Captain America issue 1, 1941.

If you view YouTube videos and other sources, you would get the idea that comic books making political statements are a source of controversy.

The thing is, comics have dabbled in real-life controversy for decades.

Captain America, for example, made his debut in 1941, punching out Adolph Hitler on the cover of his first issue. It was published months before Germany declared war on the United States.

In the 1960s, comics were published in the midst of the Cold War. Marvel’s Iron Man was a prime example. The Soviets kept sending out assassins to kill Tony Stark, who was supplying weapons to Western powers.

The Soviets, in fact, kept trying to create their own versions of Iron Man, including the Titanium Man.

In his first climatic battle with the Titanium Man, Tony Stark says, “You made the same mistake all tyrants and bullies make! You tought you’d just have to flex your muscles and show your strength, and your enemies would fall by the wayside! Well, you picked the wrong enemy this time, mister! You made the worst mistake any red can make — you challenged a foe who isn’t afraid of you.”

A few years later, 1968 to be exact, writer-editor Stan Lee apparently changed his outlook.

“If (George) Washington were alive today, we’d call him a protester!” Matt Murdock says in a Daredevil comic book.

Regardless, comics and politics have combined for controversy in recent years.

One Response

  1. I know the Post isn’t about Stan Lee. But I didn’t understand how the statement that referenced 1968 was being attributed to him (so I looked him up) and found this quote from Westword.

    Credit to: https://www.westword.com/arts/stan-lee-changed-the-world-in-at-least-seven-ways-10998306

    “He Defined Heroism for Generations. And it was in being the quintessential American that Stan Lee was able to affect American culture so deeply. He drew from it purposefully, and it fed the Marvel machine in turn. Captain America was able to speak to the disillusionment of the Watergate era [[ politics ]] in a way other media could not.

    Heroes helped the weak and opposed the corrupt. Justice was a matter of tolerance and acceptance and strength. We were all stronger together. Authoritarianism — the same authoritarianism from which his parents had fled and which Stan Lee fought in World War II — was the true enemy of the people. Journalists were heroes, education was valuable, and intelligence was one of the most important values we had as Americans.

    It is with this vision that Stan Lee created the Marvel Universe, [[ comics ]] and that universe has bled into ours. These are the values of twentieth-century America, and Stan Lee helped illustrate them for minds both young and old. Stan Lee was one of the architects of the twentieth century, and as such, the echoes of his mighty influence will linger in our films, our literature, and our culture, both pop and otherwise. He was indeed ‘The Man’” [End quote].

    If only our politics of today (the Twenty First Century) would ascribe to the values held high by Mr. Lee, we might have a more cohesive society.

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