Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Red, White And Scarlet!


Of course it's only natural that here at the Dojo, Captain America and his WWII cronies would get a lot of love and attention since Marvel's Living Legend was almost certainly the inspiration for Judomaster's creation. Both battled during World War II and are distinct products of that conflict, both wore costumes which proudly display national themes. In the case of Cap he sports the classic red, white and blue he defends with each heavy fist and potent kick. With Judomaster, the irony is that he wears the Rising Sun on his chest the symbol his enemies seek to pervert in their efforts to dominate the Western world.


Both heroes are assisted by teenage sidekicks. Cap of course has Bucky to help him in battle and the Scarlet Smasher has Tiger, the last unironic sidekick created in comics in my estimation. Tiger is not intended as any kind of comment on the nature of sidekicks, but is merely one more creation in that venerable comic book tradition.


When Joe Simon and Jack Kirby co-created Captain America and Bucky in the days just before the entry of the United States into the second World War, they were creating a character who spoke to the era in which he lived, inspired patriotism and sadly even contributed a bit of jingoism to an era in waging war of the primary mission of most every American.

When Frank McLaughlin created Judomaster in the time of the Vietnam War, he was of course drawing inspiration from Simon and Kirby's creation, but also putting him into the context of a time when war was somewhat less romantic. Turning him on his head so to speak, making him sympathetic at some level with the enemy spoke to the conundrum of the time in which war seemed at best a murky proposition.

So the Scarlet Smasher is an echo of Captain America, with new moves and a slightly revised contextual reality, but part of that grand tradition nonetheless.

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3 comments:

  1. I always thought of JudoMaster's outfit as being symbolic of a "Setting Sun" (which he was working to bring about), as opposed to the Japanese battle flag's "Rising Sun" motif.

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    Replies
    1. That's a clever way to look at it. Whatever the case it's one of the most memorable superhero suits ever.

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  2. Nice post Rip! Even long before I discovered your dojo, I always thought of Judomaster as Charlton's Captain America. It's a shame he wasn't treated as more of a flagship character when he went to DC.

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