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CSBG Archive

Cross-Hatchings for July 2014

By the time you see this, Julie and I will be away on our first road trip of 2014; we are off to the north for a long weekend of bookscouting and goofing off. So in the meantime, here are various items that struck me as interesting enough to give a little space here, but not worth a column on their own.

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“Sam Wilson is the First Black Captain America!” is a news item that blew up all over the comics internet this week. Except, many smug comics nerds are sneering in reply, you all are forgetting Isaiah Bradley!

I’ll see that sneer and raise it– because Mark Waid already did a story with Sam Wilson as “the first black Captain America,” and it happened five years before anyone had thought of Isaiah Bradley. It came out in 1998, a nice little two-parter in Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty #8 and #9.

I wonder if Mark Waid is gritting his teeth and muttering, “Sure, NOW it’s a news story. Where was all this press when we were kicking ass on Captain America Sentinel of Liberty and no one was buying the book? We could have really used some of that slow-news-day, mainstream-press-freaking-out-over-a-non-story publicity.”

In any case, it was a cool story. In fact, Sentinel of Liberty was a cool series, a nice throwback to the days when you could pick up a monthly book and get a full reading experience– most of them were one or two-parters set during different periods of Captain America’s career, written by Waid or Brian K. Vaughan and illustrated by a variety of artists.

The entire run is collected in a lovely oversized hardcover that is, of course, out of print, but you can still find it online if you look. For considerably less than I paid for mine, in point of fact. Well worth it.

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Parenting: Watching news footage of a screaming mob of protestors at the border yelling at a busload of refugee children, I wondered, who the hell raised those people that they could be so cruel to a bunch of scared kids?

Then I was reminded of who raised ME. It wasn’t my largely-incompetent parents. I got my moral code from these guys.

I grew up immersed in superheroes saying stuff like this.

Corny? Maybe. But I still think it’s good advice. I had ideas like that so ingrained into my psyche from reading comics that it never would even occur to me that it was somehow okay to go terrorize a busload of already-scared kids in the name of patriotism. Or something.

I’ve said it before– as ridiculous as it may seem, when I was growing up I learned more of my values and got better advice from fictional guys like Captain America and Superman than I ever did from my real-life parents. I enjoy ‘realistic’ superheroes as much as anyone but I occasionally wonder if maybe we’ve traded away something important in our mad stampede to get away from superheroes being dismissed as kid stuff.

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There’s a new Radio Vs. The Martians! podcast up! Link is here. This one’s all about the films of Hayao Miyazaki.

I had absolutely nothing to do with this particular episode, but it’s still always an entertaining show and worth a listen. My Cartooning students, old and new, all worship at the altar of Miyazaki and it was a fun way for me to find out a little more about his work. Check it out.

Also, Mike and Casey are looking for people to weigh in on the current Radio Vs. the Mailbag! question of “fantasy vs. science fiction,” a perennial fan wrangle with details that change every decade or so — the last time I remember getting into it was an argument at a con dinner a couple of years back over whether Star Wars was SF or fantasy, and if midichlorians were the fig leaf Lucas was using to try to restore his science-fiction cred, or something. It was uber-nerdy. Anyway, you can post your two cents on that, here.

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Speaking of Fantasy… the one upside of so many books on my pull list getting canceled is that it frees up some cash in my comics budget. So when Erin down at Zanadu Comics pressed this book into my hands giggling, “You HAVE to see this, it’s AWESOME,” I was willing to risk a fin on it.

And Erin was right. Princess Ugg is indeed awesome. And hilarious. And completely adorable.

It’s from Courtney Crumrin‘s Ted Naifeh, and only two issues in I am swooningly in love with it.

It’s the story of a Viking Princess, Ülga, who is forced to leave her mountain tribe and come to the city… to attend finishing school. Here’s the blurb: Within the fairy-tale kingdom of Atraesca lies the prestigious Princess Academy, where young royals from all the five kingdoms come to get their education. But they’ve never before seen the like of Princess Ülga of Grimmeria. Armed with axe and sword, riding her war mammoth through the city gates, Ülga has come in search of schooling. But this barbarian princess might just end up schooling the people of Atraesca before that happens!

Ülga soon learns that her idea of ‘proper’ is quite a bit different than that of her fellow princesses, and hilarity ensues.

Naifeh takes what should have been a really tired idea– country bumpkin girl has to deal with a bunch of snooty rich bitches– and makes it endlessly entertaining, mostly because Ülga’s go-to response in any difficult situation is Conan-the-barbarian levels of mayhem.

I can count the number of times a comic book has made me laugh out loud in the last decade on one hand… and both issues of Princess Ugg have made that short list. I have no idea if this is meant as a mini-series or an ongoing or what but I hope it runs for YEARS. All those bloggers who’ve been grumping about how there’s no good all-ages comics out there, or nothing with a good female lead, or how there aren’t any heroines who aren’t drawn like porn stars, or how humor comics are dying– my friends, I’m telling you, Princess Ugg is the answer to all your prayers. Go get those first two issues now. Especially if you have a smart daughter looking for something fun to read, but it’s perfectly okay for you to buy it for yourself, too.

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And that’s all I’ve got, this time out. With that, my bride and I are off to Canada in search of cool books and other odd out-of-the-way thrift-store finds… and possibly even comics. Which I probably will talk about here next week. See you then.

19 Comments

Amen to so many things here!

“No, Batman! If you kill the Joker, you’ll be just like him! And he wins!” I remember when comic books could deliver a strong moral message.

I’m more interested in how Captain America comics handle Steve as an 85 year old man than Sam Wilson as Cap, Could be cool, though I wish they had Sam in the traditional old-school Cap uniform. I think it would show more respect to Captain America, Sam and Steve.

was going to mention that sam the falcone becoming captain america is the second time marvel had an african american captain americ for Issia bradly was the first one . wonder how long marvel lets sam done the red and blue tights before they decide to change him back to steve rogers some how regaining the super solider formula and young again probly by the time for the next captain america film. and happy hutting for you and Julia greg on your trip

Thanks for introducing me to Radio vs the Martians. Not sure how appropriate it is for students though with the liberal use of the f-bomb…

She’s a Viking princess and she’s speaking with some sort of Scottish accent. I wish that wasn’t the go-to accent for brawler types. At least she ain’t Irish. Book seems interesting nonetheless. I’ll try to keep it in mind when I scrounge up some cash.

Sentinel of Liberty was a cool series and possibly my favorite overall Cao series. Also, I absolutely HATE how the media is making a big deal over Falcon being a temp replacement for Cap. As you pointed out, it’s been done and it’s a non-issue regardless.

Admittedly, we are rather potty-mouthed over at Radio vs. the Martians! I imagine the only people who probably top us for “per capita” profanity are high school students!

Thanks for supporting the show, Greg!

David Spofforth

July 18, 2014 at 11:35 pm

Lovely point you make about parenting. A comic that had an immense impact on me as a child is Avengers 113 by Steve Englehart (1973). It was about the relationship between the Vision and the Scarlet Witch being made public and the suicide bomber bigots who objected to androids.
I always remember a great scene of Captain America throwing a hate letter into the fire saying “I don’t know who your god is, but a God of Love is mine!” I was 9 years old when I read that and it has stayed with me ever since.

Princess Ugg does indeed look like loads of fun. The art reminds me a little of Hatke’s in Zita the Spacegirl (which I’ve finally started reading and which I highly recommend for some of the same reasons you point out for Princess Ugg: good female lead, no women drawn like pornstars, the humor, and most importantly: all ages!).

And speaking of all ages, and in connection with the conclusion to your parenting section, yes, I more than occasionally think a lot of superhero comics have lost something along the way – I’ll leave it at that, before I start sounding like one of those “get off my lawn” curmudgeons.

Thanks for introducing me to Radio vs the Martians. Not sure how appropriate it is for students though with the liberal use of the f-bomb…

Oh, I didn’t mean for THEM to use it as a learning tool. I should have clarified that. They already know all about Miyazaki. It’s for me. I’m the ignorant one. I’ve been playing catch-up with my students regarding manga and anime since I started teaching the class over twenty years ago.

I agree about superheroes as role models. I’ve been listening to the Superman radio series on the Internet Archive, and though there was some of the expected racism of the era in the pre-war episodes, and plenty of ugly Japanese stereotyping in the wartime episodes, starting around 1946 the show began taking a powerful stand against bigotry and hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan. Practically every other storyline featured villains who were hatemongers trying to turn Americans against other Americans whom they designated “foreigners” because they weren’t the right ethnicity or religion or because they were the children of immigrants. And this included politicians who were using racial and religious xenophobia as the basis for their power. Superman and his friends didn’t pull punches in their condemnation of these groups as un-American, as wannabe Hitlers who were knowingly stirring up these conflicts to divide and weaken the nation and facilitate their rise to power. The villains themselves often made speeches to their associates about how they knew their demagoguery was untrue but it let them control the unthinking partisans and xenophobes who were their power base, or trick them into donating money to line the leaders’ pockets. They’re even shown controlling news outlets that they use as propaganda engines to spread their hatemongering and stir up fear. It’s startling how strong a stand the show took against groups who so closely resemble the factions that dominate so much of American political discourse today. And the show wasn’t condemned as part of the liberal media elite — it was celebrated and honored for its contributions to society and the positive example it set for our youth. Of course, sometimes it does feel a little heavy-handed and propagandistic in its own right, and some of its rhetoric about vigilance against “un-American activities” is a little chilling considering that McCarthyism would begin to catch on in a few years’ time. But it had something important to say that isn’t getting said as much in modern childrens’ entertainment.

Jeff Nettleton

July 19, 2014 at 7:05 am

Add me to the list of people who formed their moral code from comics. Those Superman PSAs are part of the reason why I hated Man of Steel so much. To me, too much of it flew against the Superman I knew, not to mention the Jonathan Kent.

Princess Uga reminds me a bit of the old Al Capp comic strip Long Sam. It was essentially Li’l Abner, in female form, but there was a lot of the same sentiment (country girl vs big city snobs).

Andrew Collins

July 19, 2014 at 8:05 am

I haven’t made it to the store yet to pick up issue #2 of Princess Ugg but I had my retailer add it to my pull list after issue #1. Which, in hindsight, is ridiculous that I even waited until I read #1 because after Courtney Crumrin, Naifeh became a “must buy” creator for me on any of his titles. The first issue was hilarious and sweet and I am eager to read more. I am already anxious about it’s status though as the next Previews showed no listing for an issue #5 and a trade has already been solicited for the first 4 issues, so fingers crossed that it’s not done already!

I’ll second the praise for SENTINEL OF LIBERTY. It was a damn fine comic. My favorite story was the Roger Stern-Ron Frenz sequence in issues 6 and 7, with its flashback to Steve Rogers’ Revolutionary War ancestor, Captain Steven Rogers.

Glad to see that I’m not the only one who fondly remembers Sentinel of Liberty, or who thought of the story by Mark Waid when the Falcon briefly assumed the mantle of Captain America when the recent news broke.

Another two reason to pick up the Sentinel of Liberty hardcover: One, it features early work by Fearless Dawn creator Steve Mannion, who drew the incredibly bizarre issue #10! Two, that Roger Stern & Ron Frenz story of Cap’s ancestor was memorably inked / embellished by Roger Langridge, in one of his first American jobs.

some stupid japanese name

July 19, 2014 at 12:43 pm

Picked up that hardcover, thanks for the link!
I faintly recall when SoL came out, I was irritated that Garney got kicked to a “lesser” book (in my mind) so that…(was it Kubert?) or whoever could take over the main Cap. Anyway, I dropped Cap and never looked at SoL, thanks to the imagined snubbery I had concocted.

I absorbed the message from X-Men that people should be judged by their actions as individuals, and not by their classification as a member of a group–race religion, ethnicity, gender, etc. Of course, I was getting this message from my parents too. I distinctly recall being 8-10 years old and describing X-Men comics to my parents in these terms seeking approbation (usually in response to my mother decrying the violence in comics). I never did get them to read God Loves, Man Kills, but I tried.

David Spofforth

July 18, 2014 at 11:35 pm

Lovely point you make about parenting. A comic that had an immense impact on me as a child is Avengers 113 by Steve Englehart (1973). It was about the relationship between the Vision and the Scarlet Witch being made public and the suicide bomber bigots who objected to androids.
I always remember a great scene of Captain America throwing a hate letter into the fire saying “I don’t know who your god is, but a God of Love is mine!” I was 9 years old when I read that and it has stayed with me ever since.
====================================================================================

http://www.supermegamonkey.net/chronocomic/entries/avengers_113.shtml

Captain America should confer with the Sphinx, Moses’ opponent. The word ra?tsach in the Pentateuch, the story of Moses, does not prohibit all slayings. Moses in official legend ordered rape and slayings, in turn from Yahweh’s directives. Note that Passover refers to the slaying of first born.

============================================================================

http://www.religioustolerance.org/imm_bibl.htm#menu

http://www.religioustolerance.org/god_cana.htm

The conquest of Canaan, in which God ordered the Hebrews to completely exterminate the Canaanite people — again from the elderly to newborns and fetuses. This is described throughout the book of Joshua as occurring in Jericho and other Caananite cities.

The first three of the above genocides have at least three factors in common:

The Bible explains that God was primarily responsible.

Jewish and Christian conservatives generally believe in that the authors of the Bible were inspired by God and thus their writings are inerrant. They believe that the genocides *happened exactly as described in the Bible*.

In addition, the book of Revelation, as interpreted by Christian Dispensationalists, predicts that a *massive genocide will occur* at some time in our future, in association with the war of Armageddon and the end of the world as we know it (TEOTWAWKI). If it were to happen in the near future, on the order of *two billion people will die*.

Viz. the radio show

Christopher L. Bennett

July 19, 2014 at 6:49 am

Incidentally, the Superman radio show had some situations just as absurd to some as the Adam West show.

http://silverage.greatnow.com/reviews/Batmans_Great_Mystery.htm

“Better a mute Batman than Batman doing things like going into a bank to cash a check and saying “The name is Batman — with one ‘T’ “.

http://www.undermountain.org/monsterfans/viewtopic.php?t=49&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=60&sid=55c80894ec802a988630cac2fb67964c

Batman has shown up at a Metropolis bank to withdraw all his vast wealth. (Normally it’s Bruce Wayne who is the rich half of the double identity, but in Radioland, it seems Batman has a fortune in the bank *as Batman*, and is able to show up, mask and all, and collect it!

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