Tuesday, October 30, 2018

When Enemies Become Friends!

So, in the summer of 1941, many in America considered the Soviet Union an enemy on a par with, or even greater than, the Nazis.

Thus, this ad for forthcoming Young Allies #1, as printed in The Human Torch 5(a) (1941):

[NOTE 1: Yes, I said Human Torch 5(a). Somehow, Timely skipped straight from issue #2 to issue #4, and then followed that with two separate issues each numbered #5. This first of those #5s, actually the fourth issue published, is usually denoted as 5(a)]

[NOTE 2: I blacked out part of that ad, as it contained an insanely offensive racial stereotype, and did the same below. If you really need to know, you can go look at the unredacted version on Marvel Unlimited.]

So, yeah, the cover portrays Joe Stalin as one of the bad guys, on the same footing as the Axis leaders (and the Red Skull!). And that wasn't a crazy attitude, either--the USSR did take part in the invasion of Poland, and had a non-aggression pact with Nazi Germany, allowing them to run roughshod over the rest of Europe.

Except, of course, Hitler reneged on that agreement, launching an invasion of the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941.  So suddenly, we were on the same side as Stalin.

Well, Human Torch #5(a) hit the streets on July 11th. Presumably, either no one thought to double-check the ad, or there wasn't time to redo it.

But there was time to redraw the actual cover, because when Young Allies #1 hit the stands that same week:

Hey, no more Stalin! (And a much better cover, even though Jack Kirby must have had to whip it off extremely quickly!)

Since Young Allies was a quarterly, and would be on newsstands for a while, it made sense to keep advertising it. So when USA Comics #2 hit the stands in August, Timely was still advertising it--but now with the new, Stalin-free cover!
So, quick turnaround there.

Of course, Timely always was hyper-aware of the situation in Europe, compared to other comic companies, so it figures they'd be able to pull the big switcharoo and save Stalin's dignity.

For the record, I didn't notice this on my own--it was pointed out in the back matter of Marvel Masterworks: Golden Age Ypung Allies Volume 1 (2009). So a hat tip to whomever put it together, presumably editor Cory Sedlmeier.

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