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The Appeal of Empty Rhetoric – Daredevil Battles Hitler, July 1941

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About a month ago on a day off from work, I spent part of the afternoon watching the 1935 Nazi propaganda film Triumph of the Will. As a historian and film fan the movie is practically required viewing; Leni Riefenstahl’s cinematography (in the use of moving cameras, multiple views, and aerial shots) was groundbreaking and, in the case of the opening “flying through the clouds” sequence, breathtaking.

But for all of its visual beauty and pioneering technique, one can’t forget that Triumph of the Will was a propaganda film commissioned (and directly influenced) by Joseph Goebbels as a visual record of the events surrounding the 1934 Nuremburg rally, which was officially titled the Nazi Party Congress. And since the film was a Nazi propaganda movie, I don’t suppose I need to tell you who the star of the show was. In fact, the majority of the “Hitler giving a speech” footage you’ve seen in numerous documentaries down through the years is taken directly from Triumph of the Will; this is unsurprising when one considers that the film is in public domain (so no royalties have to be paid for the use of the material). What surprises the modern viewer when one watches the complete and unedited film is that Hitler manages to speak an awful lot, yet say absolutely nothing of any real substance. More

War devastation on the home front – Human Torch Comics #5, Fall 1941

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I’ve recently been reading Studs Terkel’s Pulitzer Prize winning The Good War: An Oral History of World War Two. Terkel interviewed dozens of people from all of the proverbial walks of life, gathering their reminiscences of the war. I was struck by the frequency of a particular observation offered by many of his interviewees who had been overseas during the war: that if anything like London, Dresden, or Hiroshima had ever happened in the U.S., Americans would not be so quick on the trigger when committing to military action and/or declaring war. More

A lynching is no laughing matter – Silver Streak Comics #13, August 1941

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The early 1970’s Green Arrow/Green Lantern teamups are among the most often republished comic books of all time. Written by Dennis O’Neil and drawn by Neal Adams, these “street level” tales found the heroes tackling a variety of contemporary social and economic injustices which included discrimination and drug abuse. These stories are often cited (in various documentaries, as well as in print) as being the first time that comic books addressed “real world” injustice, but that statement is wholly incorrect. As far back as 1941, costumed heroes were occasionally confronted with socioeconomic dilemmas. More

Sorry, kids, but your folks have to go

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I’m always hearing people saying these are tough times in which to be a child. Honestly, though, every generation says this same thing; people were saying it when I was a kid decades ago. It’s tough to be a kid, period, no matter what era you live in – I’m not disputing that. But I will propose the notion that the late 1930’s and early 1940’s were a tough time to be a parent, for one simple reason.

In order for a child to become a Golden Age comic hero, it was a requirement that his or her parents first had to die. More

BONUS BATTLE OCTOBER! Daredevil vs The Claw (Part 5) — Silver Streak Comics #11, June 1941

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[SPECIAL NOTE: Longtime readers of this blog may have noticed a sidebar concerning ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. A newspaper yesterday published a story about an ALS sufferer; I’d be personally grateful if you’d read it. The guy in the article is one of my oldest friends; we’ve known each other since elementary school. We just happened to wind up married to sisters, so he’s also my brother-in-law. This blog talks a lot about bravery and heroism, about stories and characters which show a lot of heart. When it comes to bravery and heart, one need look no further than Dave, who shows more far grace in the face of a life-threatening illness than most people do when confronted with a traffic jam or a long line at the supermarket cash register. It’s an honor for me to be able to call Dave both a friend and a brother, and I’d be grateful if you’d be kind enough to spend a few minutes reading his story. Thanks! — Steve]

With the eleventh issue of Silver Streak Comics the battle between Daredevil and The Claw became a whole new ball game. For openers, writer/artist Jack Cole moved on to other projects; this would be the first chapter of the series to not feature Cole as either the writer or artistic talent. Unbeknownst to anyone at the time, this would also be the last chapter of the epic struggle between the two comic titans. More

BONUS BATTLE OCTOBER! Daredevil vs The Claw (Part 4) — Silver Streak Comics #10, May 1941

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In the previous installment of Bonus Battle October the story (reprinted from Silver Streak Comics #9) ended with a cliffhanger: The Claw and his minions, working from their base hidden in a volcanic crater, managed to conquer the United States and capture Daredevil. Consequently, the fourth part of “Daredevil Battles The Claw” in Silver Streak Comics #10 picks up right where the previous issue left off. More

BONUS BATTLE OCTOBER! Daredevil vs The Claw (Part 3) — Silver Streak Comics #9, April 1941

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You’ll recall that at the end of the second installment of “Daredevil Meets The Claw” our hero captured the nefarious Claw and the villain was left cooling his heels in the slammer. When readers of the day plunked down their hard earned dimes a month later to buy Silver Streak Comics #9 (the book adopted a monthly publishing schedule with its ninth issue), they discovered a much tighter continuity than was seen in most comic books of the day; issue nine begins exactly where #8 left off. There’s also a reference to a previous meeting between The Claw and Daredevil about three-quarters of the way through the tale. More

BONUS BATTLE OCTOBER! Daredevil vs The Claw (Part 2) — Silver Streak Comics #8, March 1941

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Comic book readers who’d thrilled to the first battle of Daredevil versus The Claw in Silver Streak Comics #7 needed to exercise patience; the rematch would be two months in coming. But when Silver Streak Comics #8 finally hit the newsstands, kids (of all ages) snapped copies up with eager anticipation.

As part of Bonus Battle October, the Big Blog o’Fun today presents that second confrontation between these two iconic Golden Age characters. More

BONUS BATTLE OCTOBER! Daredevil vs The Claw (Part 1) — Silver Streak Comics #7, January 1941

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Welcome to Bonus Battle October and Part One of the five part epic battle between (the original) Daredevil and a real master of evil, the archfiend known as The Claw! More

Villains: The Claw – Silver Streak Comics #1, Dec. 1939

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In the 1970’s, the “big two” comic publishers (DC and Marvel) both tried the experiment of marketing comic books featuring villains as the protagonists – DC with its Joker series (which ran nine issues) and Marvel with Super Villain Team-Up (which lasted for seventeen issues plus two annuals). The idea might not sound terribly shocking today, being as the anti-hero seems to have been the primary stock in trade for comics since the 1990’s, but the idea of a comic based around a villain’s exploits was viewed as pretty controversial at the time.

I’m not sure why, though, because comic publishers were making villains “the star of the show” ever since the birth of the comic book medium. Go back and read some Golden Age comics and you’ll be amazed at the sheer number of ongoing features which feature a villain as the main character. More

Corruption! Exploitation! A really cool mask! – Daredevil Comics #3, September 1941

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It’s a crying shame that for most of Daredevil Comics’ first year the existing page scans are from microfiche instead of paper comics. While we’re certainly blessed to have what’s available (and I’m thrilled to have it!), the comics are sometimes very blurry and hard to read; if clearer scans were available some really cool, but obscure, characters might be better known to today’s readers – and there were plenty of these in Daredevil’s first year. More

The World’s Scariest Lawyer – Daredevil Comics #2, August 1941

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For more than a year I’ve been meaning to write about a really interesting Golden Age comics character from the pages of Daredevil Comics, but I keep getting sidetracked. Today I decided it’s high time I introduced you to none other than…The Bronze Terror! More

The adventures of Pat Patriot collected in one (electronic) volume

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It’s 8 AM and I’m still trying to pry my eyes open, but this little bit of cool news woke me right up. More

The Human Beast (conclusion)

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Last week we began an examination of one truly twisted tale from 1941’s Daredevil Comics #6: “The Human Beast”, in which a gangster’s brain was transplanted into a wolf’s body. If you need a refresher on Part One (or didn’t read it in the first place – shame on you!), go back and have a look – I’ll wait… More

The Human Beast

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It’s a tale so twisted that it will require two blog posts to fully relate its details. It’s a sick little story called “The Human Beast”, the headliner from Daredevil Comics #6 (December 1941). More

Pat Patriot tackles fifth columnists!

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After finishing that long post last night, I realized that I’m (again) straying from my original intent for this blog: an appreciation of Golden Age comics and comic-based roleplaying games. With that in mind, I now proudly present a recap of the fourth appearance of that gorgeous star-spangled defender of justice: Pat Patriot! More

“Good girl art” and Pat Patriot’s third appearance

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I’m a touch under the weather, so I’m going to get in and get out.

“Good girl art” was a pop-artistic movement which reached its peak in the 1940’s  and 1950’s. It had nothing to do with “good girls”; it was the art that was good, not necessarily the morals of the gal in question. It didn’t get the name “good girl art” until the “retro pop culture” wave of the 1970’s introduced an entire generation to the cool wonders of the pulp/Golden Age era More

Pat Patriot versus military saboteurs!

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A couple of months ago I wrote a post about the first “star spangled” heroine in comics: the lovely (and highly capable) Pat Patriot. I’d intended at the time to write about more of her adventures, but many gallons of water have gone under the bridge in the nine or ten weeks since that post: the end of the park season and a re-transition into my wintertime work, a change of computers, the holidays, and my discovery of (and subsequent fun with) “old-school retro-gaming”. Now that the smoke has cleared a bit, let’s get back to one of my original goals for this blog: an appreciation of Golden Age comics from the 1930’s through the 1950’s. More

The First “Star-Spangled” Heroine?

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It’s unclear today whether or not the comic Daredevil Battles Hitler was intended as a “one-shot” in 1941, but it’s usually credited in Golden Age comic indices as Daredevil Comics #1. Technically, though, the first issue of Daredevil Comics under that title was issue #2 with a cover date of August 1941. More

Daredevil Battles Hitler! (Part 4)

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Today we’ll take a last loving look at a real “lost gem”: the comic book Daredevil Battles Hitler, published by Comics House/Lev Gleason in mid-1941. I’d like to remind you that all of the stories from this and the previous three blog posts came from a single issue, not a series. More

Daredevil Battles Hitler! (Part 3)

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Continuing our look at a “lost classic”: 1941’s Daredevil Battles HitlerMore

Daredevil Battles Hitler! (Part 2)

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In the previous blog post we took a first look at a very unique comic from July 1941: Daredevil Battles Hitler. The book is remarkable for a whole host of reasons, the foremost being that the book was published over six months prior to the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor. More

Daredevil Battles Hitler!

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In the last blog post we met one of my favorite Golden Age characters: (the original) Daredevil. The 1940’s Daredevil was a pretty popular character. He wasn’t super-powered, just well-trained to the nth degree so that he was far more capable than the average guy. What separated Daredevil from regular people were tons of training, a really cool uniform, and a whole lot of heart. More

Daredevil: Another great Golden Age hero

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Comic House/Lev Gleason introduced a number of memorable comic book characters during the Golden Age. One of my favorites is Daredevil, who is not the same guy as the current Marvel Comics character. More

A bizarre Lev Gleason origin

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The first two issues of Silver Streak Comics (published at the time by Your Guide Publications, later known as Lev Gleason) didn’t contain a character named “Silver Streak”; that came later, in issue #3 (March 1940) to be precise. Silver Streak has one of the most bizarre and convoluted origins of any comic character published in any era. More

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