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Comic Book Legends Revealed #468

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COMIC LEGEND: Fawcett Comics created a hero as a piece of propaganda for the government.

STATUS: True

Radar, the telepathic international policeman doesn’t really seem to stand out at first glance. He seems like your typical generic Golden Age superhero…

radar1

radar2

radar3

radar4

radar5

However, his origins were much more interesting. Will Liberson, Executive Editor of Fawcett Comics (who you might recall from last week’s Comic Book Legends Revealed), actually had Radar created as an offering to the United States Office of War Information (OWI) for propaganda purposes! He went to the organization in 1944 and suggested the comic would work well as anti-fascist propaganda for children. He had had them plot out a bunch of stories featuring the character.

radar6

Radar was a featured player in Master Comics from 1944 to 1948, all the while being clear to spread anti-fascism propaganda the whole time (even as Communism usurped Fascism as the most feared “ism” in the United States).

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57 Comments

So the Cap thing is an example of post hoc ergo propter hoc

I have nothing to contribute, other than wanting to drop in a Latin phrase I learned from Jed Bartlet ;)

Jeff Nettleton

April 25, 2014 at 9:49 am

Given the economics of making animated cartoons, I would hazard that a pilot might have been made, but not multiple episodes. Filmation never had large budgets, so I have trouble seeing them producing something, then sitting on it. The subject has never come up in any of the references to Filmation, such as Darrel McNeil’s Animation by Filmation, which covers all of their tv stuff, complete with model sheets and production art. Metamorpho would have made a great cartoon.

Personally, I was never a fan of the transition from Cap wearing chain-mail to scale-mail. It seems like Kevin Maguire started the ball rolling with The Adventures of Captain America, Sentinel of Liberty. There, it was something different; but, I always wondered if the choice was aesthetic or because he (and later artists) had trouble drawing chain mail. Guys like Wally Wood and George Perez were able to suggest it with a few lines and some shading.

So the Cap thing is an example of post hoc ergo propter hoc

I have nothing to contribute, other than wanting to drop in a Latin phrase I learned from Jed Bartlet ;)

Ha! I like it, Steve! I just added that to the piece.

Big Roth Dong-King

April 25, 2014 at 9:59 am

So in other words, they killed Cap, but never explained how or why he came back from the dead. Does that mean the previous story was non-continuity, or at least is after the fact?

Wow, the whole Marvel Knights Captain America series really was a train wreck from start to finish.

So nice to know that Ramona Fradon once “boasted a fairly fab form.” Nothing like the casual sexism of 45 years ago! :)

So in other words, they killed Cap, but never explained how or why he came back from the dead. Does that mean the previous story was non-continuity, or at least is after the fact?

Continuity-wise, I think the best way to look at it is to presume that there was a story between Cap #50 and Dead Men Running #1 where Cap shows up still alive. “Oops, sorry about that guys!” And we just didn’t actually get to see it.

I’ve heard that Metamorpho theme before! I had an album as a kid featuring audio stories about him, Aquaman, Wonder Woman and…2 others who’s names excape me at the moment (stupid aging process). Anyway, the Metamorpho story was preceeded by the above theme song!

Jon Hamm IS Dan Cortese!

Big Roth Dong-King

April 25, 2014 at 10:07 am

I think it makes more sense to view it as an Elseworlds story – Earth-6969, something like that. When Cap was “killed” during Civil War, nobody stood up and gave a Johnny Storm-style speech. “Listen, he died once before, and came back. So he might not really bad. Death isn’t the end for people like us.” I remember Storm saying something like that in regard to himself during Fraction’s FF run.

Big Roth Dong-King

April 25, 2014 at 10:07 am

‘Might not really be dead.” is what I meant to type. Need to learn to proof-read.

Back when Joe Quesada had a forum Stuart Moore had his own section. I asked him about this once the MK Cap relaunch happened, and he said that it was left up to the fans to decide what happened between stories. He added that it ended making it clear to the reader he wasn’t dead, but just that the MU thought so.

This was somewhat handled during the Kang Dynasty which was Busiek’s year long Avengers arc. Busiek said it was a hard story to write because he wanted to keep in synch with the MU, and one part he mentioned was Cap seemingly returning and dying. I’ve always wanted to go back and read this to catch what he was talking about.

Also when Robert Morales left the book, he did an interview chronicling his editorial struggles on the book, and said he was told the book wasn’t even in regular Marvel continuity. I private messaged Morales on Quesada’s forum to ask when the book stopped being part of the MU, since Cap’s unmasking in the third issue was acknowledged. His answer was that I know as much as he does, since he had several issues published upon learning that.

I would assume the book stopped being canon when Chuck Austen took over, because none of his massive retcons from Ice were mentioned beyond that story.

Given the economics of making animated cartoons, I would hazard that a pilot might have been made, but not multiple episodes.

Yeah, that’s where I end up, too.

The subject has never come up in any of the references to Filmation, such as Darrel McNeil’s Animation by Filmation, which covers all of their tv stuff, complete with model sheets and production art. Metamorpho would have made a great cartoon.

McNeill actually HAS written about it in the past. He isn’t sure, either.

Mike Gilbert-is this what you remember? http://runstop.de/powerrecords/jllarge.jpg

Hmmmmmmm…sounds like the lead singer on “Metamorpho Theme” has a Jim Morrison fixation!

I have a pretty good idea how the Cap death would have been explained:

Avengers: “Cap is dead. What will we do now?”

(faint voice from the background)-”I’m not dead.”

Avengers-”He has ceased to be…”

(voice)-”I feel happy!”

Avengers-”He has expired and gone to meet his maker…”

(voice)-”I think I’ll go for a walk…”

Avengers-”This is an ex-Cap.”

And THAT album was taken from this 1968 album:

http://www.dialbforblog.com/archives/249/jla_record.gif

OK, so it’s “false” to say that the 2002 Marvel Knights Captain America series was “launched in response to 9/11,” even though everything about the published series–plot, tone, antagonists–was a direct response to the 9/11 attacks. Plans were already afoot for a new Captain America #1. These plans were then swiftly altered.

You seem to be going to extraordinary lengths to find falsity in a simple claim. Even if Marvel was already planning to relaunch Captain America, the new series they eventually did publish WAS a response to 9/11.

Now if the legend were that the previous Captain America series was cancelled because of 9/11, I could see the point of correcting that.

Perhaps in a future column you could berate fans for referring to Amazing Spider-Man #36 as the 9/11 issue, since Marvel had definite plans to publish issue 36 of Amazing Spider-Man long before the World Trade Center attacks.

I’d go so far as to say that we need some kind of Truth Commission to investigate 9/11 connections in comics.

@Carl

@Brian

Yeah, I really have to side with Carl on this – yes, the original slated take on the Captain America relaunch had nothing to do with being a response to 9/11, but the book we actually got (first story arc anyway) was 100% a response to 9/11.

I love this column – it’s one of the highlights of my Friday mornings, seriously, and thanks! – but even seeing and reading those pages again for the first time again in a decade completely undermines the argument that you are trying to make.

Semantically, the way you have phrased the legend you have some measure of wiggle room – but it’s pretty narrow.

The pages alone prove that it certainly wasn’t a case of post hoc ergo propter hoc. You’d have to bend the true story behind this comic to the point that breaks to make it a case of post hoc ergo propter hoc, again because the comic we actually got was entirely the byproduct of a post-9/11 mentality.

post hoc ergo propter hoc could apply only if the argument/legend was “Captain America Volume One was cancelled to make way for a Captain America dealing post-9/11 themes” which, come to think of it – though my phrasing needs some further word-smithing – if you phrased your actual legend that way, your argument/essay holds together far better.

I actually (kinda) liked the MK Captain America, at least the first arc. I’ve reread it a couple times since publication and it holds up quite nicely. Things do take a drastic downturn about the time Thor shows up and declares to the tornado-causing villain that “the weather is my mistress, and thou art a rapist!” or whatever it was. So stupid.

But the first six or eight issues weren’t too shabby. It got dumb real fast, and I think the better issues were overshadowed by Brubaker’s excellent work that came later.

IMHO of course. I love Cap, and I like seeing how different writers interpret his character. Except the Heroes Reborn series. God that was dumb.

I used to have that record too. I took it to school for Show and Tell one day. For some reason I had it out of its jacket when I got home, and as I was walking through my front door I dropped it and it broke. True story.

On the mteamorpho song, it does come from the power records disc. I guess with no realtion with Filmation.
In thsi link is presented together with the plastic man song
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dz2liqSIHAo

I must be missing something….did anyone say that the theme that was put on (multiple) records was actually the theme to a cartoon pilot? Because not only does it seem odd that they’d come up with a 2 and a half minute theme song for a cartoon. The Marvel Superhero ones from the same era are all like 20 seconds long. Even Spiderman was only a minute. If the songs from that album were for tv theme songs, was there Justice League and Flash and Plastic Man cartoons planned? Or was Metamorpho unique?

Doesn’t really affect the legend, because it certainly seems like there was intent to make a cartoon even without the theme; just not sure how a song appearing on the album is evidence for it because I’m missing where the album is related to the tv show at all.

@JuanD, if you want to hear some of the other songs, they all seem to be here-

http://powerrecord.blogspot.com/2007/12/songs-and-stories-about-justice-league.html

One last post, for correction…Plastic Man and Metamorpho, as well as the JLA seem to be songs, where Aquaman, Wonder Woman, and Flash are the “Stories.”

I remember hearing that after 9/11, Ney Reiber and Cassaday chose to scrap plans and do their first story about 9/11, even going so far as to threaten quitting the title if Marvel didn’t allow it. Any truth to this?

@Carl
The legend reads “Marvel’s 2002 Captain America series was launched in response to 9/11″. Marvel was going to launch a Captain America book if the 9/11 attacks happened or not. Even having the first arc deal with Al Qaeda’s attack does not mean the series was a response to the attack.

Also, I fail to see where any readers are berated, although one could berate them for citing Amazing Spider-Man 36 as being a 9/11 issue. As vile as he was/is, the Looter is no terrorist.

@M-Wolverine:

One last post, for correction…Plastic Man and Metamorpho, as well as the JLA seem to be songs, where Aquaman, Wonder Woman, and Flash are the “Stories.”

Close, but not quite. Plastic Man and Metamorpho each get both a song and a story (more like a radio play, with full cast and sound effects)—at least on the version of the record that i owned as a kid. Otherwise, you’re correct.

As kdu says, the series was not launched in response to 9/11. The fact they decided to rewrite the initial arc and work in a 9/11 story instead doesn’t conflict with that and Brian’s hardly pulling a bait-and-switch.
Metamorpho would have made an amazing cartoon. His shapeshifting powers would be good for visuals (even limited as Filmation’s were) and the campy humor of the book would have worked for kids (it worked for me at that age).
And sexism aside, I agree with Haney that Fradon was a terrific artist.

given filmations history of making cartoons which is trying to do them as cheap as possible and reusing cells plus the fact that batman is a sure thing money wise can see why the cartoon never took featuring metaphormo. which is now like the power pack tv pilot and dr. strange tv movie. pieces of comic legend to be sought out by fans to see if they do exist

@Jack – Yeah, those recording do run longer than just the themes. Man, I’m going to have to find time to listen to them all at some point.

Meta-mor-pho, Metamopho.

Anti-fascism propaganda for children – because kids dig the fascism.

I read that issue where he died. Then later I found out he wasn’t. Good thing I didn’t bother reading how he didn’t or did die.

What?

Re: The Metamorpho theme song. In 2003, I went to a comic book convention that Gilbert and
Jaime Hernandez were at. I didn’t really know anything about Love and Rockets. As a DC kid, I asked for a
sketch of a DC character. Gilbert thought about it for a minute and then looked at his brother. He asked him if Jaime remembered the song Dan Clowes was always singing. Jaime started to sing “Metamorpho, Metamorpho”. Gilbert joined in. They only sang the name over and over, but it grew more exaggerated. After a few bars, Gilbert looked at me and said ” Dan Clowes wouldn’t shut up about that F$%&#ing song. So after all that, the very first sketch I ever got a conventionI was a Gilbert Hernandez Metamorpho sketch. It is just pencil, but still.

Patrick Lemaire

April 25, 2014 at 3:05 pm

I agree with Carl. The story published in Cap #1 was factually in response to 9/11. A better wording would be “It was 9/11 which prompted the cancellation of Cap v3″ or “Marvel decided to relaunch Captain America due to 9/11″

Cap’s post-9/11 comic was an inside job…

@ danno wow… You weren’t kidding… That is terrible dialogue…

“Following the attacks of 9/11, Marvel Comics relaunched their Captain America series with a new tone and focus that directly responded to the real-world tragedy.”

This is a statement I could imagine reading in a general-interest story about Marvel Comics of that period. Is it factually inaccurate? I don’t think so. Does it tell the whole story? No, of course not. Everyone in this thread knows that Marvel was already planning to relaunch the book for better sales. This does not mean that when the relaunch eventually arrived, it hadn’t by then morphed into a response to 9/11. (I am given to understand that not just the first arc but the first year and a half or so of this series was dedicated to heart-wringing examinations of terrorism and America’s place in the world.) (No, I have not read these comics.)

“Following the attacks of 9/11, Marvel Comics elected to cancel their fantastical adventure series Captain America and relaunch it with a new tone and focus that directly responded to the real-world tragedy.”

This statement would need correction, but again, this is not the way the “legend” was framed. Basically, I think we’re splitting the finest of hairs here. If the legend (wherever these legends come from) had been about Marvel’s motivation for canceling the previous volume or the timing of their decision to relaunch, rather than the simple fact that the relaunched series did respond to 9/11, none of this tedious argumentation would exist.

But since I’m already typing…

“Many comics readers falsely assume that Marvel Comics published Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 2) #36 as a direct response to the World Trade Center tragedy. However, internal memos and advanced solicitations clearly demonstrate that Marvel had been planning to publish issue 36 of Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 2) long before the 9/11 attacks. Indeed, while some of the contents were altered as a result of the tragedy, with the inclusion of additional demolished cityscapes and weeping super-villains, it nevertheless remains clear that Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 2) #36 would have been published even if the 9/11 attacks had never occurred. Thus, it is simply false to claim that Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 2) #36 was published in response to 9/11.”

Is any of the above factually inaccurate? Is it valuable myth-busting?

Brian from Canada

April 25, 2014 at 7:02 pm

@ M-Wolverine:

Filmation DID do a Flash, Hawkman, Atom, Green Lantern, Justice League of America and Teen Titans cartoon. All three episodes of each are available on DVD.

Given how much of the DC material has been on DVD *and* — more importantly! — been referenced, I think it unlikely that Metamorpho’s pilot episode was finished. Had it been, we’d have either seen it released or at least copied into other forms in some way to mark its existence. Plastic Man would be picked up by Hanna Barbara and turned into a series too — making Metamorpho now the only hero who may have been in animation (based on this level) never to have its cels recycled into other projects yet.

[…] Welcome to the four hundred and sixty-eighth in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous four hundred and sixty-seven. This week, did Marvel launch a new Captain America series in response to 9/11' Did they originally intend to address Cap’s “death” in the Captain America series preceding the Marvel Knights run' Was there a pilot made for a Metamorpho cartoon during the 1960s' Finally, was there a Fawcett comic book hero produced specifically AS government propaganda' NOTE: The column is on three pages, a page for each legend. There’s a little “next” button on the top of the page and the bottom of the page to take you to the next page (and you can navigate between each page by just clicking on the little 1, 2 and 3 on the top and the bottom, as well). Read full article […]

“Anti-fascism propaganda for children – because kids dig the fascism.” Scarily, some do. And in the post-9/11 fervor, some really horrible things were carried out by people who were still pretty young.

My recollection is that Aquaman (“Till the end/You can always depend”), The Flash (“The mighty Flash!”), and Wonder Woman (“How I wonder about the wonder… the wonder… the wonder… the wonde-e-e-e-e-e-er… of you”) have Power Records theme songs as well. I’d be more inclined to think the Metamorpho “theme” would have been Ted Knight telling the viewer everything they need to know about the character:

“Metamorpho!
Fab freak of a thousand-and-one changes!
Able to transmute his body into any element and form he can imagine!
Metamorpho!
Once soldier-of-fortune Rex Mason!
Now transformed by a mysterious meteorite, he uses his amazing chemical powers to fight evil!
Along with his beautiful girlfriend, Sapphire,
He travels the globe in search for a cure… and adventure!
Metamorpho! The Element Man!”

There was a Metamorpho & Plastic Man 45 record put out in the 70′s by Power records that had the Metamorpho theme song on it. I found this website with more information on the record (had one as a kid).

http://powerrecord.blogspot.com/2008/05/plastic-manmetamorpho-1975.html

I wonder if the record was actually the audio of one of the missing episodes? Maybe one of the scripts were used for the record. I wonder if there is a link of any sort other then the theme song between the record and missing episodes.

I remember hearing that after 9/11, Ney Reiber and Cassaday chose to scrap plans and do their first story about 9/11, even going so far as to threaten quitting the title if Marvel didn’t allow it. Any truth to this?

Yeah, like I say in the column, their initial story was later pushed back to their second arc (with some modifications, of course) since they decided to write a new first arc after the 9/11 attacks.

Timothy Markin

April 26, 2014 at 6:33 am

I vaguely recall that god-awful Plastic Man cartoon with Baby Plas, published around the same time he was appearing in the entertaining Marty Pasko/Joe Station issues of Adventure Comics. Can’t recall if Doiby Dickles appeared on the show. Wasn’t Plastic Man married to some girl named Penny? (Of course Eel O’Brien HAD to be married or the little monster would’ve been a Plastic Bastard!)
The Teen Titans cartoons appeared as screen captures in the 1999 Teen Titans annual “that never was” and Kid Flash had black hair! (Around 1999-2000, DC was reprinting old 60s 80-page giants and creating new annuals as they might have appeared in the Silver Age. These were a really cool idea.

I just want to mention: I love Radar the international policeman. I’ve gotten a bunch of Golden Age Fawcett comics over the years, and I find it amazing that such a fascinating character has been virtually forgotten by modern day comics, while many of his less interesting compatriots (like Minute Man) are at least somewhat known by comics super-fans. It’s a shame DC never chose to do anything with Radar.

But none of the Fawcett characters get much love at DC these days. Even Captain Marvel is constantly getting reinvented (never a good sign). They’ve even taken his name away from him.

Timothy: Plastic Man’s pal was Woozy Winks. Doiby Dickles was Alan Scott’s sidekick. But in any case, neither of them was on the TV cartoon. There he had a Hawaiian sidekick named (sigh) Hula-Hula. And yeah, Penny was his girlfriend in the early cartoons and wife in the later ones.

Did Bob Haney win some sort of “Write Like Stan Lee” contest?

Timothy Markin

April 26, 2014 at 2:57 pm

@buttler, you are soooooooo right and I’m smacking my forehead right now! I did know it was Woozy and maybe with both names being alliterative, that’s why I jumped the gun like that. It’s ironic that I recalled the girlfriend’s name from a cartoon I haven’t seen since 1980 but I forgot Woozy and I was just reading an old issue of Plas just last month. (And how racist is Hula-Hula!)

On that cover of MASTER COMICS #50, Radar seems to bear more than a passing resemblance to Ronald Reagan (who, early in his career, did a series of ‘B’ movies as government agent “Brass” Bancroft, who was sort of Radar without the telepathy). Using Reagan as a template wouldn’t surprise me any, as Fawcett had already based the look of Captain Marvel on Hollywood star Fred MacMurray, and I’ve heard it suggested that Captain Marvel, Jr’s look was based in part on a child actor, Freddie Bartholomew.

I really like the first 6 issues of Marvel Knight’s Spider-Man. John Ney Rieber wrote an interesting story and John Cassaday’s art was so amazing.

I reviewed those issues here:

http://artbyarion.blogspot.com/2014/04/captain-america-1-2-3-john-ney-rieber.html
http://artbyarion.blogspot.com/2014/04/captain-america-4-5-6-john-ney-rieber.html

Timothy, I agree those Giants were fun. The new Silver Age-style Titans story in their 80-pager did a remarkable job capturing the style and tone of the originals.

(Sorry if this was already brought up) Are you sure that Metamorpho song was done for Filmation? The pilots they’ve made at the time apparently either lacked openings or had crude ones that are pretty much just title screens:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6cTZHnwosXM
http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xstajm_king-arthur-filmation-pilot-1967_shortfilms
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QhZCW1Zmnew&feature=player_detailpage#t=2885

JC Lebourdais

May 6, 2014 at 1:38 am

@Carl
Whether the statement is actually true or false is mostly irrelevant, this column being essentially about presenting snippets of comics history in an entertaining fashion. Just an excuse to reminisce about old books we used to read when we were young and handsome (mostly). Very few of them are actual “Legends” or “revealed”, that’s beside the point.

“(And how racist is Hula-Hula!)”

Um… Not at all..?
Gosh you guys are sensitive.

“(Did you know the 60s Batman series was a lot like the comics of the time? Just thought I’d mention that before someone else might)”

That cracked me up.

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