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23 August 2010 @ 10:06 pm
Captain Marvel gets his hair mussed up  
If you're of high school or college age, then you are likely to be puzzled by many of the topics here at Retro town. One of them is the intense fear people used to have of Nuclear War. For the second half of the Twentieth Century, it was no joke. The two giant super-powers of that era glowered at each other and snarled like junkyard dogs, each with a finger on the button that would send thousands of ICBMs lifting off to blow a city into glowing rubble. Well, we made it through and with the fall of the Soviet Union that particular form of death by nukes seems to have passed. Not that a terrorist might not leave a "device" in a car trunk or that one or two neighboring countries might not panic at the thought of losing a conventional war and cross the line. But we have gotten sixty-five years since Nagasaki, *fingers crossed.*

CAPTAIN MARVEL ADVENTURES# 78, back in November 1947, showed the anxieties and trauma of the Atomic Age affecting even the good-natured World's Mightiest Mortal.

Incidentally, check out what a difference a slight redrawing of the same scene can do. In the splash page as compared to the cover, Mr Atom is much more menacing, leaning forward with his bludgeon raised threateningly. The mushroom cloud is clearer. And the figure of Captain Marvel is not only smaller in comparison to the robot, but he is standing still rather than rushing forward. Covers and splashes have always been reworked a number of times as a rule.

It's unusual to see Golden Age Cap get a workout like this, usually he was so superior in firepower that his foes relied on trickery and misdirection to get on with their schemes. In the return Mr Atom story, Captain Marvel even says (and I paraphrase from memory) 'This is going to be a pleasure, you're one enemy I don't have to hold back with! Usually, when I'm fighting someone, I have to pull my punch to avoid killing
them.' But Mr Atom is a fair match. For that matter, it seems to me that even the World's Mightiest Mortal is not above rationalizing a setback. Mr Atom knocks him through the roof and Cap says he was just riding with the punch. Yeah, sure (Pee Wee Herman voice: "I meant to do that.")

The allegory is a bit more blatant as Mr Atom cannot be destroyed, only contained. But again, in 1947 this would have carried much more impact.