When Marvel Comics was Anti-Communist

By:  Bruce Walker
07/26/2011
       
When Marvel Comics was Anti-Communist

Although the reviews on the new Captain America movie have been good, according to us afficiandoes of the Golden and Silver ages of comic books, it would be very strange, but very welcome, if Hollywood took the next logical step and made a second Captain America film which showed his fight against Communism. It was easy, during the Second World War, to create gruesome and nasty stereotypes of Nazi and Japanese military and political leaders. The nastiness of Hitler and the gruesomeness of the Rape of Nanking were all too real.

But comics, of course, avoided all reference to the nastiness and gruesomeness of our “ally,” Uncle Joe [Stalin] or the unbelievable brutality of the Soviets towards everyone: Germans, of course; allies like Rumanians and Hungarians; but also victims of Nazi aggression like Poles and Czechs; and finally to the Soviet subjects and the Red Army itself. Captain America could fight Baron Zemo and Red Skull and other fictional fiends, but the Holodomor of the Ukrainian people or the tens of millions consigned to slow death in the Gulag were invisible in the Golden Age of comics.

Although the reviews on the new Captain America movie have been good, according to us afficiandoes of the Golden and Silver ages of comic books, it would be very strange, but very welcome, if Hollywood took the next logical step and made a second Captain America film which showed his fight against Communism. It was easy, during the Second World War, to create gruesome and nasty stereotypes of Nazi and Japanese military and political leaders. The nastiness of Hitler and the gruesomeness of the Rape of Nanking were all too real.

But comics, of course, avoided all reference to the nastiness and gruesomeness of our “ally,” Uncle Joe [Stalin] or the unbelievable brutality of the Soviets towards everyone: Germans, of course; allies like Rumanians and Hungarians; but also victims of Nazi aggression like Poles and Czechs; and finally to the Soviet subjects and the Red Army itself. Captain America could fight Baron Zemo and Red Skull and other fictional fiends, but the Holodomor of the Ukrainian people or the tens of millions consigned to slow death in the Gulag were invisible in the Golden Age of comics.

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Illustration: Marvel Comics #1 in October, 1939.

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