Sunday, February 4, 2018

The Second Worst Comic Book Of All Time!

Of course, the worst comic of all time is Civil War: Frontline, by a large margin:

But that's not all! Everyone forgets that, in the back half of the issue, our intrepid reporters literally applaud Tony Stark for mind-controlling Norman Osborn into attacking the Atlantean ambassador in order to ramp up a threat of a war to convince heroes to register. No, that really happened.

But there's another abominable comic I stumbled across in the Quarter Bin the other day, and man, it's even worse than I remembered:

SPOILER ALERT: The Flash doesn't run in this story. And The Blackhawks don't fly. You never even see their planes.

So what does happen? Barry Allen is helping a scientist with a goofy experiment, and accidentally ends up thrown back in time to...

 Wait wait wait...

Now, since the Germans occupied Belgium from May 1940 till February 1945, it's hard to understand how Barry comes up with Germans in Belgium automatically equals The Battle Of The Bulge.

Well, it turns out that it actually is the Battle Of The Bulge. I suppose we could assume that Barry is lousy at history but got lucky. Or that JMS used a really lazy storytelling shortcut.

Oh, and Barry broke his leg in the accident, so he can't run super-fast (but conveniently, he can walk...?):

 Fortunately, he can still do super-speed stuff with his hands:

 This eventually leads to a meeting with...

It turns out the Blackhawks were on leave when the massive German counter-offensive left them stuck behind enemy lines. And after several pages of Blackhawk being a dickweed, he takes Barry to their temporary base...

 ...just in time to face a Nazi platoon!

 But Barry has a better idea than guns!

Now, this is the part where Blackhawk thanks Barry for ending the battle quickly, and saving ammo, and probably their lives, right? Right?




You can't incapacitate the enemy. You have to kill them, or you're a coward. (Leave aside the fact that bricks hurled at that speed may well have killed some of the Germans...) (Also leave aside that the story never establishes what was done with the incapacitated Germans. Did Blackhawk go out and execute them while they were unconscious?)

I imagine that if Superman had shown up and knocked out the Nazis with super-breath or something, Blackhawk would tear him a new one, as well. Super-heroes are all pussies!!

By way of contrast, though, how about normal soldiers? Like in Sgt. Fury #3 (1963)?

They take out a whole Nazi platoon. And instead of killing them, they capture them, and send them off to be questioned. And the prisoners get to ride in a truck while the Howlers walked back!! So according to JMS, Fury and company must all be cowards!!

Now, DC promoted JMS's run on Brave And The Bold pretty heavily. "If you love these Silver Age characters, JMS will remind you why you do!"

So how does Silver Age Barry Allen deal with his dilemma? When they come across some dead Americans...

...he takes the uniform and weapons off a dead soldiers body and proceeds to spends "weeks" killing people with guns and not using his super-powers.

Yay, Silver Age...?

Look, if you want to do a story about how great the "Greatest Generation" was, more power to you. If you want to tell us how heroic soldiers are, I'm down with that (although the "soldiers' only job is to kill" seems to belie that theme just a tiny bit). And if you want to make the point that super-heroes don't belong in war stories because their presence somehow ruins the realism and makes light of the heroism and sacrifices of normal joes, I hear you--and Roy Thomas took care of that decades ago, by using the Spear of Destiny to keep super-powered beings out of Axis territory during the war (which apparently JMS never bothered to look up...)

You also could have had Barry lose all of his powers (or chosen a non-powered hero...Batman? Blue Beetle?), so the choice wasn't "using a gun vs. using still pretty damn effective super-powers."

But no, they had t5 tell that story at the expense of humiliating super-heroes. By taking Barry Freaking Allen, who thinks his way around bank robbers using super-speed and science, and making him feel ashamed for using his powers, even when those powers were demonstrably more effective than anything the soldiers were doing!?! Is it necessary to denigrate super-hero comics in order to build up war comics? Did JMS seriously believe that the only way we could properly appreciate WWII soldiers and celebrate the anniversary of the Battle Of The Bulge was to make super-heroes believe they were cowards for not ditching their powers?

So a story, where the Flash doesn't run and the Blackhawks don't fly, that trashes super-heroes as cowards unless they pick up a gun and start killing as much as they can? Yeah, that's a terrible, terrible comic book.

Then again, this story was nominated for an Eisner award, so I probably don't know what the hell I'm talking about.


Warren JB said...

No, this is the first time I've heard of it, and I think it's pretty terrible.

I think - despite all that we hear of comics reflecting real-life issues and so on - it's a case of comic creators taking them (or at least one genre of them) too seriously; which too often leads to some level of 'grimdarkness = realism', and the writer revealing a tin ear for the way people talk and react, like Blackhawk here.

One of the things that pushed me out of comics. If this is what we come to expect from the big name writers...

Besides, maybe I'm being misled by the Bruce Timm Justice League stuff (I never took in too many actual comics from DC) but don't the various Flashes have accelerated metabolisms? Couldn't Barry have healed that leg in a few hours?

Or would that be too convenient? Can't have Barry plucking bullets out of the air when he could be shooting them into people instead. Bah.

SallyP said...

Holy Crap!

I...I am ar a loss for words.

snell said...

Warren--what I inferred from the story was that he was able to heal the leg enough to walk on, but not enough to withstand the stress of super-speed running. Too convenient by half.

George Chambers said...

I honestly wonder whether anyone edited that pile of garbage, but I think the same thing about lots of comics, then and now.

gummboote said...

"If you love these Silver Age characters, JMS will remind you why you do!"

By way of making you think "This is crap. I wish I had an old Carmine Infantino Flash comic instead".

Bill the Splut said...

Nothing says "American Hero" like looting corpses! And I have to wonder what the army thought when they found that dead soldier naked.