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Sunday, February 8, 2015

American Comic Book Propaganda Versus Japan - 14

This comic book is Marvel Mystery Comics #41 (formerly named just Marvel Comics), featuring the typical gross caricatures of the day of the Japanese by the U.S., thanks to their enemy status during WWII.

The strangely named Human Torch—he was an android creation of one Phineas Horton, that combusted into flames when exposed to air— is seen in this March 1943 comic book (probably at newstands in January that year) with his human boy sidekick, Toro, melting the walls of Japan's High Command office to thwart the evil plans to invade Australia.

I suppose if I was a western-ish kid back in 1943, I would think this is one awesome-looking comic book cover!

It's unfortunate that I am now older and jaded.

While I can (in 2015) ignore the squinty-eyed, bucktoothed, thick-glasses-wearing caricatures of the Japanese soldiers and politicos, what I find inexcusable are:
  • The Japanese High Command signage written in English;
  • The mission map reading 'Invasion Map of Australia' in English.
Why English? I know - so the kiddies can read it and know what is going on.

But do you know what would have lent a bit more authenticity (to the cover with a flying flaming synthetic being and mutant boy - ha-ha), would be to NOT having the signage in the first place.

Just have the heroes attack the same bunker/high command, but avoid the signage!

If a kid can't spot Australia on a map, writing it on a map isn't going to make any difference to him.

If you must have a map, create a map showing more of the Pacific-war theater... use fake Japanese words if you must - but show lines emanating from Japan to the country shaped as Australia, but place a large red X on Australia.

The comic itself is standard Human Torch fare, which is to say it is fun and violent.

In the earliest appearances of the misnamed Human Torch, he was portrayed as a monstrosity, a creation of a mad scientist, but after a few battles against the more devilish-appearing Sub-Mariner, he quickly became a hero after defeating a monster and rebelling against his evil creator—especially when he began battling the Axis of Evil in WWII.

Marvel Mystery Comics, was one of those comic books that was published by Timely Comics, that eventually became what we know today as Marvel Comics.

The Human Torch didn't really make it out past the 1940s as a comic book character, but he certainly was the inspiration for Marvel's Johnny Storm, The Human Torch, in the Fantastic Four in the 1960s on up.

If you actually look carefully at a particular scene in the first Captain America: The First Avenger movie, when Steve Rogers is visiting the New York World's Fair, the camera pans across a sealed tube containing the android Human Torch.

In the comic books, both The Human Torch and Toro are responsible for killing Nazi Germany's Adolph Hitler.

Just before Hitler was to have committed suicide, they burst into the bunker and offered Hitler the option of surrendering to the U.S., rather than the USSR (Russians). Hitler fired a gun at the heroes, and The Human Torch fired back, burning Hitler alive.

Lately, the character has made multiple appearances in the regular comic universe, but despite token homage, is not in any way similar to the heights he had back in the 1940s.

Other stories have The Human Torch as the CEO of the Oracle company owned by The Sub-Mariner, before running the Heroes for Hire team (coming to Netflix, probably).

Lately, the character has made multiple appearances in the regular comic universe, but despite token homage, is not in any way similar to the heights he had back in the 1940s.

Oh! Toro - the real boy human torch, was actually Thomas Raymond, whose parents were laboratory assistants to one Phineas Horton, creator of the Human Torch. Okay, that's fine... but wasn't he supposed to be a 'mad' scientist? What doers that make Thomas Raymond's parents then? I have a hunch, but that's from me overworking the keyboard so much.

I have read reprints of these books and have always enjoyed them for what they were and they certainly did not sway my post-war opinion of Japan and the Japanese in any way shape or form, as even as a kid, I was smart enough to realize that other people's wars and prejudices need not be mine.

Cover art is by the iconic comic book artist Alex Schomburg (pencils and inks).

Kanpai,
Andrew Joseph

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