Comics: when the heroes went to war

Published On February 6, 2013 | By Joe Gordon | Animation, Comics

The always interesting Retronaut site features a fine spread of World War Two era American comic covers, a time when not just every strata of society was called on to help the war effort, even the fictional characters ‘did their bit’, including a broad swathe of costumed heroes, tackling the evil Axis menace. As propaganda they are pretty obvious and not exactly subtle; indeed some are, to modern eyes, pretty racist (the depictions of the Japanese especially), but as with any works from a previous era they have to be considered within the context of their own time and the events of that period, and part of that (on both sides of the war) usually involved dehumanising the enemy. Others are simply cheesey – such as Captain Marvel Jnr spanking Hitler and Tojo with a leather belt (above), while a few, such as Catman strangling Hitler (below) or the Black Terror running a steam roller over enemy soldiers, are just plain vicious and nasty (just look at the expression on Catman’s face, he looks disturbingly like he is enjoying himself), a bit different for the most part from modern depictions of superheroes. I’m sure many of you will have seen some of these before, but it’s still worth a look as there is a decent spread of different comics covers from the era to take in. (thanks to Jamie Smart for the link)

Of course it wasn’t just the comics who joined in the war effort, so too did their big-screen animated cousins, with the likes of Bugs Bunny appearing in Hare Meets Herr and bamboozling the Nazis in his usual style and even loveable old Daffy Duck got dropped behind enemy lines:

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About The Author

Joe Gordon
Joe Gordon is ForbiddenPlanet.co.uk's chief blogger, which he set up in 2005. Previously, he was professional bookseller for over 12 years as well as a lifelong reader and reviewer, especially of comics and science fiction works.

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