dr_hermes (dr_hermes) wrote,
dr_hermes
dr_hermes

Can the Marvel Family handle some hillbillies?

You would certainly hope so. Three people with the powers of Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles and Mercury up against a few mountain folk with shotguns. And yet... This is from THE MARVEL FAMILY# 20, February 1948. The postwar period saw a concerted effort to link the country together with new highways, opening up areas formerly remote and little-visited. This seems to explain the interest in hillbillies, whose territory was increasingly encroached by new roads loaded with cars full of city folk bombing along and causing roadside diners, motels etc to spring up.

This story strikes me as odd and a bit unsettling. The usual approach for a tale of hillbillies in town would be to go for farce. The Kruggs come to the big city to continue a long-forgotten feud but no one really gets hurt, they shot into the air and scare city folk, maybe one or two punches are thrown. It could be light-hearted slapstick. But in spite of the simple cartoony art, there are a lot of murders in this story. Quite a conflict of reaction for me.



The problem with dismissing this as mere stereotypes is that there were many examples of feuding clans in Tennessee or West Virginia or elsewhere.
These were isolated communities mostly left alone by the authorities, and the people tended to make their own laws (much like the towns of the Old West). Clans almost always had an elderly woman as the grim matriarch (Al Capp got this right), and they ruled sternly. Not all mountain communities were like this of course, but enough were to keep the cliches believable.



That radio station obviously doesn't have any security or locked doors, nothing to keep you from walking in with a rifle and taking a shot at the newsman while he's on the air. Mighty lucky that Billy ducked just then, if he got his head blown open, that's the end of Captain Marvel. Gee whiz, Mary is getting rather nubile looking, don't you think? A few issues earlier, she looked like a twelve-year-old, puberty must have kicked in.



Twin lightning, a nice touch. A panel that spanking enthusiasts might want to save. "Let's kill them daid, and feed their bones to the hawgs!" Ack, these are not the Clampetts.



Okay, now are there police in this city or not? By now, the information person at the radio station must have reported attempted murder in the lobby, and now everyone on the street is watching a stolen ambulance running over pedestrians left and right. The phones at police headquarters should be ringing so hard they'd fall off the desk.



Not a comforting ending. Even Cap doesn't seem certain that everything has ended well. I suppose Warden Ryerson could move to have the Kruggs relocated to another prison until the trial. In 1948, Paw would likely get the chair and Elmer (if he's not a minor) might join him for murdering the hardware store owner. But what is the baby doing in a cell at the state prison, by the way?
Tags: captain marvel, captain marvel jr, comics, golden age, mary marvel
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