Showing 1 - 10 of 32 posts found matching keyword: seduction of the innocent

In promoting his new DC comic book series Martian Manhunter, self-professed DC Comics fan and professional comic book writer Steve Orlando recently told the Hollywood Reporter:

One of the reasons people have not connected to [Martian Manhunter] is that he was a perfect upright cop on Mars, and yes, his family died but it was no fault of his own, and then he came to Earth and he was perfect. Our favorite characters, that's not them, you know? Spider-Man let the burglar go. Bruce Wayne was too afraid to save his family.

He what now? I don't know Steve Orlando from Clark Kent, but may I suggest to DC that anyone with such a poor grasp of Batman's origin story probably shouldn't be writing your comics.

For reference, this is how Batman's origin story looked when it appeared for the first time in "The Batman Wars Against the Dirigible of Doom" in Detective Comics #33 (1939). If it looks familiar to you, that's because it hasn't changed AT ALL in the intervening 79 years.

Which 15 years ago?
How BACK TO THE FUTURE should have ended
Nothing says 'don't look over here' like the sound of a gunshot
And it's all your fault!

Somehow, according to comics historian Steve Orlando, that tragedy is all young Bruce Wayne's fault. What boy wouldn't jump in front of the bullets aimed at his parents? Coward! He deserves to be an orphan.

Orlando is correct to say that Martian Manhunter has always been kind of a bland character through "no fault of his own." That's no doubt due in part to his first appearance dating to 1955, the year after Frederick Wertham's Seduction of the Innocent called the relationship between Batman and Robin "a wish dream of two homosexuals living together." Yikes. You were wise to steer clear of that controversy, Manhunter!

However, trying to correct for over a half century of blandness by injecting entirely new and tragic elements to Manhunter's origin is a story I don't need. I happen to like Martian Manhunter just the way he is, a noble, rational, and compassionate champion for justice.

Unlike that crazy piece of shit, Bruce Wayne.

I guess it's a good thing he didn't spot that full moon first

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Chapter seven of child psychologist Fredric Wertham's infamous 1953 book Seduction of the Innocent is titled "I Want To Be a Sex Maniac: Comic Books and the Psycho Sexual Development of Children." Can you guess what it's about?

At the close of that chapter, after explaining how Batman and Robin "help fixate homoerotic tendencies" in young boys, he warns that young girls have similar examples.

The Lesbian counterpart of Batman may be found in the stories of Wonder Woman and Black Cat. The homosexual connotation of the Wonder Woman type of story is psychologically unmistakable. (pg 192)

To drive home his point, Wertham specifically calls out this panel from "Mr. Zero and the Juvenile Delinquent" in Black Cat #27, 1951:

What boy would want a girl in lingerie in his bedroom?

If I squint hard enough, I guess I can see where he was coming from. What girl would want to sleep with child abusing premature ejaculators named "Crowface"?

Wertham goes on to complain about another page in the same issue headlined "Black Cat Shows You How To Do Judo Tricks," a step-by-step guide to self-defense tips in the unusually specific case when "a gunman should surprise you from the rear and you don't feel the gun muzzle against you." Look out, girls! If you act in self-defense against gunmen, you might be a lesbian!

Even if I was inclined to believe that reading stories about Batman hanging out in a cave with his young ward encouraged little boys to love Dick — that's a Robin joke! — I remain unconvinced that empowering young girls to fight back against gangsters is the first step on the slippery slope towards tribadism.

I'm not going to say that Wertham was wrong about everything. He makes a good case that American superhero comics books were (and still are) incredibly, perhaps irredeemably, violent. However, in hindsight, it's hard to take anyone's word that comics are destroying society when he's overlooking panels like this, also from "Mr. Zero and the Juvenile Delinquent":

Me cringee!

Clearly, in Wertham's 1953 America, homosexuality was bad but racism was just fine. The more things change....

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Lady, why would you want to marry a guy who dresses like a bird?
from Brave and the Bold #36 (1961)

I knew marriage was a trap!

Is it any wonder that when you let little boys read comic book stories like this they grow up to be lifelong bachelors? (That's not a rhetorical question. I'm asking for a friend.)

For the record, Mavis' determination that Hawkman should leave his wife and marry her instead would one day lead her to be incinerated by aliens. I guess there's a moral in that. Somewhere.

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Another advertisement also spotted in the March 1, 1918 edition of The Newnan Herald:

My dear Mr. Sears: I have been waiting patiently to see my Chero Cola calendar pictures but as yet in vain. Please let me know the minute they are ready for distribution. Now I am going to ask a great big favor of you. Is it possible for me to have this original painting? Oh, I'd be just so proud and pleased if I could have it, and would give it the place of honor in my home. With my very best wishes for the continued success of Chero Cola and for you a very Merry Xmas and a Happy and Prosperous New Year. Sincerely, Ruth Roland

Pay close attention to that last part:

"THESE CALENDARS WILL NOT BE GIVEN TO CHILDREN."

Why not? Kids love cola. Kids need to know the days of the week.

What "special pose" could sweet, dear Hollywood darling Ruth Roland, star of The Matrimonial Martyr, The Devil's Bait, and The Neglected Wife, be showing that's so inappropriate for the little tykes of Newnan?

Suck it

Well, I never! Get that thing out of your mouth, you floozy! Scandalous!

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DC Comics has declared tomorrow, September 23, 2017, to be Batman Day 2017. (In 2016, Batman Day was September 17. In 2015, it was September 26. Seriously, DC, can we settle on one date already?)

This year, DC is cross promoting the event with Harley Quinn, a character celebrating her 25th anniversary. Harley was introduced in Batman: The Animated Series in 1992 as a comedic Joker henchwoman with romantic delusions. These days, she appears in comics and movies (but not television) as a psychopathic mass murderer who dresses like a stripper. Hooray for progress? (Thanks, feminism!)

It's probably not a coincidence that DC is combining the celebration of these two characters now considering that the company released a direct-to-video movie titled Batman & Harley Quinn late last month. Despite being made by the same people responsible for the all-ages Batman: The Animated Series, B&HQ is adults-only material. At one point, after mistaking him for a homosexual, Harley seduces Batman's adopted sidekick, Robin Nightwing. Personally, I don't need that much sex in my cartoons. That's why I have the Internet.

Anyway, if you go to your Local Comic Shop tomorrow, you can get your own free copy of Batman Day 2017 Special Edition #1. It's mostly reprints, but a free comic is a free comic.

And if that's not enough Bat-fun for you, you can download the official Batman Day Kit (including mazes, games, and sweet, sweet Terry Dodson and Jose Garcia-Lopez coloring pages) from dccomics.com. At least there's no creepy hero-on-villain sex in there. I promise.

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Today in Superman's library we see a demonstration of Superman's least known power: super-alphabetization. Let's see what's under the letter "n":

Ah, here it is, right between my Satanic Bible and Anarchist Cookbook
DC Comics Presents #18 (1980)

I appreciate that a good crime fighter has to keep informed of the criminal mind, but what is Superman doing with a copy of the Necronomicon in his Fortress of Solitude library?

No, Superman. Just no.

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It's pretty common for modern comic book fans to decry Fredric Wertham's seminal Seduction of the Innocent as a knee-jerk response to a misunderstood medium. But the more comics I read from the so-called Golden Age of comics, the more I think Dr. Wertham might not have been quite the wacko that the revisionists would have us believe.

That yellow bastard got what he deserved
Hit Comics #22, June 1942

Said the good doctor:

The injury-to-the-eye motif is an outstanding example of the brutal attitude cultivated in comic books -- the threat or actual infliction of injury to the eyes of a victim, male or female. ... The children of the early forties pointed out the injury-to-the-eye to us as something horrible. The children of 1954 take it for granted. A generation is being desensitized by these literal horror images.

Great shot, kid. That was one in a million!

It doesn't look so bad to me.

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I hate myself for watching the Suicide Squad trailer.

I hate myself more for liking it.

Sigh. 2016 is going to be a long year.

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From the We've Been Here "Bee"-fore Department:

As America entered WWII, Hit Comics cut back to a bi-monthly schedule. It also cut back on it's villains. In issue Twenty-One, Red Bee shows up to confront yet another in a never-ending string of protection rackets. Apparently, the shops in Superior City were very, very fragile.

Guns don't kill people. They don't kill bees, either.
Hit Comics #21, April 1942

If there is a highlight in this adventure, it's "gun moll" Mae Floss. She doesn't get a lot of time on panel, but she does makes the most of it. Smooching, feigning distress, knocking the hero out with her purse: she squeezes more into her four panels than most Red Bee antagonists get in an entire story!

Because if there's anything the Red Bee doesn't get, it's action

Since Miss Floss isn't seen after the Red Bee steers her getaway car into a brick wall, I like to think she escaped and will return to menace him again in the future. She'd make a good recurring villain for the Red Bee. It takes a special kind of man to train bees to sting on command, and that kind of man has no use for women. Who can blame him? We all know it's impossible to train a woman to do anything on command.

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From the Because Red Credit Hog Was Taken Department:

Michael deserves a raise
Hit Comics #17, November 1941

This story starts with a punk assaulting Superior City Assistant District Attorney Rick Raleigh in the showers of the local gym. Believe it or not, the motive of this attack is not explained. It has only the most tangential link to the adventure. Just a random assault on a naked superhero. That Dr. Wertham failed to mention this issue in Seduction of the Innocent must have been a clerical oversight.

Over the course of the rest of the adventure, Red Bee convinces a minor to join the mob, murders a man with a car, and then runs away from the police. Oh, and he's also a Peeping Tom. I've said it before: the Red Bee is my kind of hero.

What can Michael do if you fall off that fire escape?

This story makes it explicit that Michael, the Red Bee's bee, has been "trained to help in any emergency." I guess that means he can put out a fire by flapping his wings, defuse a bomb with his antenna, or dial a rotary phone to call a cab when the boss loses his keys.

Ah, the good old days. If the world of 2015 worked like the world of 1941, every teenager with a smartphone would be a costumed crime fighter. Come on, Siri, we've got work to do.

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To be continued...

 

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