|Art by Will Eisner|
The first half of the 20th Century was how humanity found a way to work together to accomplish great deeds. The greatest and most dramatic was to send representatives into outer space, off the globe and into brand new environments. To put people in new and terrible circumstances for the sheer glory and adventure of it. Sure space will ultimately be exploited and its resources turned into capitol, but that's not what triggered the desire to get there. It was different, unknown, and we wanted a taste.
Combine that desire with a society which likes its citizens to fit in comfortably beside one another, and you had the makings of a unifying purpose which drove education and morality to seek to make the population buy into the goal. Captain Video is a strange blend of influences which showcase the contradictions in American society, the simultaneous celebration of the individual alongside the call for a shared cultural mission. A sense of adventure teamed up with a craving for financial reward, a calling linked with a career. These inherently divergent notions were bonded in the space race, a drive ever upward which unified a nation and made the folks at once proud of their nation yet suspicious of their neighbors.
And then it stopped. The goal was achieved to a very modest extent when man finally set foot onto the Moon. After that exalting moment the drive disappeared and was replaced by a cry for moderation and the mood shifted from the Moon to our own monotony. Hard economic times and the always ready individual greed got the better of us and the sense of shared mission vanished as malaise spread. We are still there, more fascinated by ourselves than the universe which expands in all directions beyond us.
Perhaps the weirdest legacy Captain Video has given pop culture was unleashed just last year in the Avengers - Age of Ultron movie.
Roy Thomas makes no bones about how Makino from the pages of the comic inspired the creation of Ultron and after reading the complete story there's little doubt.
So one of the more memorable pop culture villains of recent times derives from the pages of Captain Video and we hardly know it. But that's the case with so much of the influence of this not forgotten but little understood old TV show.
|Another juicy Will Eisner bit of artwork.|
For more on the legacy of Captain Video check this out.