This is an offical U. S. Treasury advertisement

Using shock for monetary gain or to sway public opinion is not a new concept, especially during a time of war. This tasteless ad for War Bonds appeared in the Fiction House pulp magazine Planet Stories #8 (Fall 1944). What is not clear is the identity or occupation of the victim in the ad. Is it a staged warning that Americans could be killed on U.S. soil or is it a photo of a deceased soldier on the battle field? It is open to interpretation, but it is pretty clear that the reader was supposed to assume the latter and that the figure in the field is a soldier who died because they did not support the war effort.

Mary Marvel: Ch-Ch-Changes

Quite a bit was said a few months ago about Mary Marvel, a symbol of purity in DC Comics, being “ruined” when she became the possessor (or was possessed by) the powers of Black Adam and Eclipso. Mary was no longer the avatar of all that was good and in fact all of the Marvels were dirtied up a bit for the contemporary comic book market. This is a sort of nonsense in my opinion and not all necessary as character development. I have always believed the squeaky-clean Marvels could show up in a Vertigo title with no problem or mis-characterization. They are the angelic force to balance against whatever evil nastiness was out there giving Swamp-Thing or Constantine a hard time.

So I waited a bit to see what reaction there would be to Mary re-gaining her goodness-based magic powers in Countdown. What I noticed was that there was very little mention of it aside from a few blog entries and forum posts glad that Mary had changed back to “normal”.

But did she?

What people may not have noticed is that after throwing off the skin-tight latex she is not quite back to her old self. Readers may have missed, or just don’t care because of the lukewarm reception Countdown seems to be getting, that Mary’s symbol is no longer golden and is now a shade of gray. This is probably permanent as the symbol has now remained gray (or even black, depending on the artistic license) over several appearances. While Mary was appropriately thankful to once again have the blessing of the gods she hasn’t really explored her newest self yet. Mary has now done too much, seen too much to be considered pure any longer. She is no longer of one side or the other and is instead a living Yin Yang symbol that is reflected in her costume. Plainly, the gray lightning bolt is her “Scarlet Letter” and serves as public notice and as a warning that Mary Marvel is no longer pure and perhaps is not to be trusted.

It is now up to the writers to make use of whatever new concept Mary is going to be a part of. The entire Marvel Family is going through some changes, some of which may allow them to support and sustain their own title. Hopefully, Mary will not be prone to “Hulking Out” in the future and forgetting herself and killing a few bad guys for a sense of hacked-out false drama. In the pantheon of DC heroes, especially in regards to the magical ones, I think that at least a few need to be the avatars of all that is good.

Nancy and Sluggo: The Final Chapter

While I can recognize the special and bizarre genius of Ernie Bushmiller I’ve never been able to take much of a liking to Nancy and her pals. So when I came across this horrifying house ad for Comics on Parade #69 I knew I had to share it. Any strip that depicts those miserable little urchins getting gacked is okay with me.
Sparkler #91 (Jan-Feb 1950).

Beware of Dog

My dog is cool and he is not like those other stupid pets a family members owns. His name is “LT” and my mom says it is after some San Diego football player but I disagree because they suck and are choking wussies and it really means “Lotta Trouble” or “Little Tyke” depending on what he is getting into.

“LT” is a smart Chihuahua who protects our house by hiding in the flowers and alerting us to evil-doers.

But “LT” does not work for free.

“LT” hears a cry for help from the open sewer line and investigates. Is Little Timmy trapped again?

“LT” slams the lid on the open pipe, muffling Timmy’s cries for help. “LT” is of the opinion anyone who falls down a small pipe is too stupid to have a TV Movie of the Week made about them.

Good dog.

Arthur C. Clarke: 1917-2008

I am of that age now that many of the people I consider my heroes from my childhood (for various reasons of accomplishment or wild talent) are in their 60s or above and I know that soon they will not be with us for much longer. The terrible morbid truth is that all my heroes probably have less time remaining on earth than they have spent walking it.

So it was no great surprise but it was with great sadness that noted author and visionary Arthur C. Clarke has died at the age of 90. I hope his remaining years were in comfort and were happy ones. I confess to being perplexed by his living arrangements in Sri Lanka, but from what I saw in a rare filmed interview a few years ago he seemed to be enjoying himself.

Of course, like many Science Fiction fans of my generation it was the blockbuster novel Rendezvous With Rama that got me hooked on Clarke at a young age. His background aided him in putting “hard” facts of science into his writings and gave a sense of authenticity to his work. It is hard to point out a better author and creator among his contemporaries. Even when his personal and religious beliefs were echoed by the characters and in the structured reality of his works it wasn’t a lecture as some writers are apt to force the reader to suffer through. Rather it merely added a sense of wonder to his created universes.

Rendezvous With Rama anecdote: When the book came out in paperback it was very popular among young readers. I often saw some well-worn and tattered library or personally-owned copy of Rama clutched in the hands of children as they rushed about to and from school. A good number of kids were deeply interested in the book and hopefully a love of reading stayed with them and grew. This unusual activity and enjoyment of books would again occur years later (though with much more media fanfare) as the Harry Potter series diverted children away from television and video games and children everywhere lugged around hardbound copies of the Rowling books. Once again, Arthur C. Clarke was ahead of the curve.