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CSBG Archive

A Year of Cool Comic Book Moments – Day 16

Here is the latest cool comic book moment in our year-long look at one cool comic book moment a day (in no particular order whatsoever)! Here‘s the archive of the moments posted so far!

Today we look at one of the best moments to appear in Marvel Fanfare, courtesy of one Frank Miller.

Enjoy!

Marvel Fanfare was an odd book – it was a deluxe direct market comic book, with really nice production values – and it published, well, inventory stories, basically! So it is really quite odd to see such a lavish design given for stories that were never got published during the time when they were actually produced. Of course, with all the great writers and artists Marvel had working for them over the years, that meant that they had unpublished stories from some legendary creators, so Marvel Fanfare was where those stories would go. The problem was that it was ALSO the place where unpublished stories from not-so-great creators would go, so the book would be madly uneven (the comic also would come with neat back-ups consisting of pin-ups by notable comic book artists at the time).

This time around, in Marvel Fanfare #18, we got a story written by Roger Stern and drawn by Frank Miller and Joe Rubinstein, so it was well worth the deluxe treatment.

I know Stern wrote the book, so I suppose I should be giving him credit for the cool comic book moment as well, but I just happen to think that the art carries this scene just so much that I tend to lean towards giving Miller the lion’s share of the credit here.

The story is a slight one about a group of raving loons complaining about paying too high taxes, and they’re going around burning down buildings to extort the city out of a bunch of money. Cap is brought in to help out, and he spends his time kicking ass and chewing gum (at the beginning of the issue, Cap runs out of gum).

Eventually, Cap corners the bad guys at their home base (where they have tons and tons of gasoline), and the lead bad guy tries to set fire to the Unites State flag. Cap lays him out.

Beaten, the guy decides to light himself on fire and soon the whole building goes up in flames.

Cap helps everyone there escape, but then shocks everyone when he runs back into the flaming building! “Where are you going? There’s no one left to rescue in there!” “You’re wrong. She’s still in there.”

And that leads us to the cool comic book moment of the day…

Over the top?

You bet.

Awesome?

You bet.

There’s some sweet Butch Guice pin-ups in this issue, too – anyone have a scan of them?

46 Comments

“I’m goddamn Captain America. Goddamn.”

I think that shows how much difference there is between you guys (Americans) and me (an Australian). Maybe it’s because our flag is a pig-ugly 19th century mishmash of half a dozen random symbols with no heraldic cohesion to it, but the thought of treating it as anything important always seems like redneck reactionary poppycock to me, and to most of the Aussies I know. Americans in the news seem to spend a lot of time mixing up the symbols (Old Glory, “In God We Trust”, the Ten Commandments on court buildings) with the things they symbolise (justice, freedom, yada yada yada).

All of which means: yes, I can see it looks awesome to you, but it made me laugh. Hey ho; different strokes for different folks. You’d probably think vegemite on toast is an abomination, so we’re all different.

What year is this? Anyone know? It’s amazing to me how -cough- DIFFERENT -cough- Miller’s art was without a certain inker to make him shine (at least at this point- mid 80′s, yeah?)

I agree with you on both points otherwise. Cheesy, but awesome.

I dislike jingoism, I’m not American, but I love Cap. Such a great character.

That’s one damn resilient flag. The whole building was going up, but it didn’t so much as singe.

The third panel in the second row really shows you how much of an influence Miller and Byrne had on each other in those days.

Joe Rubinstein is the inker (as noted by Brian above). The date on the book is January 1985. Miller’s work with Klaus Janson pre-dates this issue (the first DD run is 1981), but his collaboration with David Mazzucchelli started with ‘Born Again’ in 1986.

Speaking of Miller, ‘Born Again’ was just released in Premiere hardcover format this past week. Very cool presentation.

I guess this one’s just for the Americans as instead of being in awe of the coolness I’m just thinking it’s pretty dumb to risk your life for a flag. Though Cap doesn’t look like he even broke a sweat in the middle of a fire, so maybe it wasn’t much of a risk.

I don’t know. I never really understood the adoration for any flag. Maybe it’s just because I’m of a generation that grew up seeing the image used as cheap merchandise everywhere. I think of a flag as something easily disposable.

All kinds of lameness. I’m Canadian, of course, so I don’t have any kind of adoration or fetishism for physical objects that bear nationalistic symbols.

Anyone who thinks that symbols and the symbolized have no real relationship understands nothing about how symbolism works. Symbols are bundles of meaning that both concentrate and represent the things that they symbolize, such that capturing the symbol in the public imagination is effectively to capture the concept that it represents, which can be especially effective when the symbol is strongly identified with personal and cllective identity. I guess that, being Canadian, one “of course” has no attachment to this kind of representative thinking, which is why Canadians never get upset when something is written in a language other than the one with which they and their ethnic groups identify.

Good scene, although I can’t imagine anyone doing such a scene today. Modern creators and fans today seem too cynical.

Also, to the person who complained about inkers, I’m going to say something possibly sacreligious but I have NEVER understood the adoration Klaus Janson’s inks get. The thick, chicken-scratch lines and blocky ugly geometric shapes, and when you throw in his coloring, the excess pink, lavender and purple color everywhere, with huge swaths of the page colored in those tones.

I’d say it’s interesting how good Miller’s pencils look without Janson’s inks holding them BACK. I’ll never forget how excited I was when Jose Garcia-Lopez was hired to draw a recent Justice League story and then DC messed it up by hiring Janson to ink, immediately turning the lush pencils into thck, blocky chicken scratch.

Was this before or after Rick Monday saved a flag at Dodger Stadium? Because that’s what came to my mind reading the entry.

To paraphrase Cassandra Nova: “Yes, that was cheesy, but in a good way.”
On the topic of Janson’s inks I think it depends on the characters and the story. Janson is like Maleev or Aja, except he’s primarily an inker. I normally don’t like scratchy art, but they do it purposefully and in such a way that with certain characters like Daredevil it really works.

I have to agree with T. on Klaus Janson… I’ve just never gotten him.

I remember enjoying his *storytelling* in a couple of issues of Star Wars but the actual art was really sketchy and clunky to me… And his inks kept me from being really blown away by DKR (that, and the fact that I read it about 4 years after its original release, I guess).

I like Klaus Janson’s inks on certain projects (Daredevil & DKR, over Giffen on Defenders, the later Colan Howard the Ducks [although issues 14-17 or so were pretty rough], over JR Jr. on Punisher), but he can butcher a penciller’s work. The last complete Gil Kane story, on a Green Lantern & Atom team-up in Legends of the DC Universe, looked pretty bad. Janson can make a penciller’s work look dirtier and thicker, which suits urban characters. It’s not my first choice for other super-heroes.

I like Janson myself. His work with JRJR on PWZ was cool, and I tend to like the scratchy style of inkers my own self (Billy the Sink, Tex, Ted McKeever and so on). But I can see where people would think he overwhelms a penciller, and certain pencillers he just wouldn’t work with. I will say that his pencils and inks on Gothic are awesome, and the second issue is especially creepy. His Batman Black and White story is a nice one as well.

However, it is weird that he was the one who did DC’s guide to pencilling.

On this moment, this is very cool. C’mon, Cap WEARS the flag, of course he’s going to protect it. And Roger Stern himself is a nice guy. I see him just about every Ithacon. (Ithaca NY, where Cornell is, y’know).

To the Aussies and Canadians who don’t get it– you aren’t the only ones. I’m American and I don’t get it either. It’s a piece of fabric– albeit a nice looking one. Ironically, the flag was probably damaged badly enough by the smoke alone that it had to be disposed of after Cap left, and the proper way of disposing of a US flag is to burn it.

Did you leave out the part where Cap gives the speech in front of a giant magnifying glass, which concentrates the sun’s rays and sets the flag ablaze, leading Cap to, while weeping, clutch the last remnant of unscorched fabric while pointing to those gathered and saying, “Not a word about this to the Daily Bugle. Not a word…”?

Because otherwise that cover is kind of misleading….

If any other character were to appear in this scene, whether from comic books or any other medium, it would be stupid and jingoistic. But Cap? He not only pulls off this scene, he does it with style.

the cover screams
“you burned the flag? well you’re gonna eat this last piece. you copy?”

I’m with most of you on the flag. To me, at the end of the day, it’s just a piece of cloth, but see Roger Stern didn’t write a story about you or me risking our lives to go back into a burning building for the flag he wrote one about Captain America. While he isn’t a blind patriot and once found himself a Nomad without a country you do understand what the flag represents to him, right?

WOW but that’s a crummy cover. The ‘moment’ comes across more as parody to me, but that could just be me.

I think the fancy Marvel Fanfare has more to do with it than people think, because usually Rubenstein’s inking was about 500 times darker and more scratchy and messy looking than Janson’s. Check out a few panels from Rubenstien’s inking on Byrne’s early 80s Cap run, and it looks like part of the process was to spill a bunch of pencil lead powder on the page and rub it in. Janson used to be right on the borderline for me in terms of acceptable scratchiness/messiness in inking, and Rubenstein used to be way past it. The above panels bear very little resemblance to any other Rubinstein inking I’ve ever seen.

That should be “the fancy Marvel Fanfare printing and production process” not just “the fancy Marvel Fanfare”. Just to be a bit clearer.

I’m an American, and after Obama’s election I’m probably as patriotic right now as I’ll ever be, but this particular comics moment still strikes me as silly and jingoistic. I’ve met real people who idolize the flag in the same way Cap does in this story, and I wouldn’t call ‘em heroes.

I’ve met real people who idolize the flag in the same way Cap does in this story, and I wouldn’t call ‘em heroes.

But an inexperienced guy who people worship just for peppering vacuous speeches with the words “Hope” and “Change” over and over IS a hero, enough to make you more patriotic than ever? Yeah, you pretty much lost credibility there anyway as to what warrants patriotism.

Well it doesn’t take a lot to make me more patriotic than ever, ’cause I’ve never been that patriotic. My country is something I was born into, and I love its people, but I would love the people of any country I was born into. And if voting for a different guy than you did and being excited about it is “losing credibility,” I’m not interested in that particular brand of credibility. Obama’s not perfect, but he’s the only politician in recent history who’s been successful on a large scale that I find at all exciting. And the “more patriotic than ever” thing has to do with mroe than just that, as well, as he seems like such a striking change of pace from most of the politicians this country has elected, and that gives me a very genuine hope, not just for the guy in the oval office, but in the discernment of the American people and their willingness to change.

Guy Gardner would have run back into the building for an issue of Maxim.

What change is that Stefan? He’s already backed down from the few tangible promises he DID make and has pretty much hired a whole bunch of Washington insiders from the Clinton administration. Looks like politics as usual to me. Oh but wait, he SAYS the word “Change” a lot, so that must mean he is changing things, even if his actions are the exact opposite of change.

Anyway, if you’ve never been that patriotic, I can’t imagine you to be the target audience of that story.

If it was, say, Spider-Man or Thor running back in, THAT would be laughable. But, come on…it’s Captain America. He’s basically a flesh & blood American flag–I can see why he would risk his life to save it.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

January 19, 2009 at 8:42 pm

Anyone who thinks that symbols and the symbolized have no real relationship understands nothing about how symbolism works. Symbols are bundles of meaning that both concentrate and represent the things that they symbolize, such that capturing the symbol in the public imagination is effectively to capture the concept that it represents, which can be especially effective when the symbol is strongly identified with personal and cllective identity

Yeah, but anyone who thinks a symbol getting destroyed is the end of what it symbolizes either didn’t believe in much worthwhile,, didn’t have much conviction beyond putting on a show, or is a simpleton.

But an inexperienced guy who people worship just for peppering vacuous speeches with the words “Hope” and “Change” over and over IS a hero, enough to make you more patriotic than ever?

It’s true, all that experience of failure in the business world really came into play for Bush as president.

Yeah, you pretty much lost credibility there anyway as to what warrants patriotism.

So he loses credibility as a patriot because he supports the new President?
Fuck, you guys shifted the goalposts on what patriotism is pretty quick didn’t you?
What happened to supporting the President IS supporting the country?

Going to be a long eight years for whitey…

“the only politician in recent history who’s been successful on a large scale that I find at all exciting”

Successful at what- Being a politician?

Is it too much to ask to have at least ONE goddamn forum without race, political and ESPECIALLY new president wank (which this particular “whitey” voted for, not because of ‘ooh, history being made’ but because I plain and simple liked the guy better than his opponent.)

I KNOW it’s not impossible to simply talk about comics without having to read this stupid, off topic arguing. Let’s try it, hmm?

LouReedRichards

January 22, 2009 at 1:12 pm

Umm… call it corny, cheesy or stupid all you like, that’s pretty subjective. But it’s not jingoistic,

read his little speech again, where is the appeal to fervent nationalism, aggression or chauvinism?

Damn, just having some pride in what your country is supposed to stand for isn’t a reason to condemn him.

And as other people have pointed out – IT’S CAPT. FREAKING AMERICA, not Batman or Thor or Daredevil…

Also: I totally agree, Janson is extremely overrated IMHO. I also think Rubenstein was a perfectly acceptable inker.

Yeah, also agreeing on the Janson thing. I’ve never been a fan of his inks, and I tend to straight up avoid stuff he’s worked on more often than not. In a perfect world, Terry Austin, Dick Giordano, and Murphy Anderson would not only live forever, but would ink EVERYTHING.

FunkyGreenJerusalem, i feel you comment about ‘whitey’ awfully racist. Isn’t Mr. Obama about inclusion for us all?

I’ve met real people who idolize the flag in the same way Cap does in this story, and I wouldn’t call ‘em heroes.

You probably met people who claim to idolize the flag the same way that Cap does, but that doesn’t mean they actually do idolize the flag the same way. I mean there are a lot of people that claim to worship the flag and what it means, then want to enact an amendment (illegalizing flag burning) which goes completly against the first and most important amendment we have. If people who claim to worship the flag can’t comprehend the most important amendment then you can’t take their claims of idolization too seriously.

This is Captain America. He is a hero because he has a strong moral code and does not waver. Politicians, on the other hand, must compromise to affect change, and thus are subject to historical review. The President is a leader, and a big part of that, especially in a country founded on idealism, is setting a vision and convincing the public that said vision is right and good.
Of course, Hell is paved with good intentions…

After reading this I can see why Mark Gruenwald was asked to weigh in on the flag-burning issue when he was writing Captain America.

In the brazilian edition of this story, wasn’t the flag but the Human Rights book Cap’ was saving from the flames. Didn’t realize how different the original was until i saw this, and i think it does a whole more sense (at least to the non-americans) the changes done by the brazilians editors.

Either way, this moment is less cool/awesome/memorable to non-Americans. It’s nice, and something CA would do…but doesn’t he always do stuff like this?

One of the best moments.

As for those who don’t get it: if you place two objects on the ground, you collectively get number two. Now, two doesn’t exist, but it’s represented by the objects on the ground which convey the meaning to the observer. The relationship of the flag to the ideals it represents is mathematical. Forget that it’s an American flag, toss off your shackles of nationalism and interpret it as an act of passion for principles. To call it cheesy or the like is a direct admission that you simply don’t comprehend the meaning a symbol holds– it’s a product of a faulty positivistic world-view that should have died 90 years ago, but alas, Captain America, the cheesy one, written nearly 30 years ago, understands it.

Yank my doodle, it’s a dandy.

The fourth panel is so un-Miller like I always wondered if he swiped a John Romita drawing, but either way, it’s in that style, and it’s very well done.

There are a lot of people here who understand Captain America but don’t understand symbolism. Is that ironic?

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