Friday, September 2, 2016

Big Red Atomic Cheese!

Published in 1946, barely a year after the devastating Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs, the Fawcett comic Captain Marvel published a story which was truly chilling. A comic famous for its light-hearted adventures of a kid-friendly superhero offered up a bleak picture of a world demolished by the outbreak of global nuclear war.

The doomsday scenario begins with a single bomb dropping on Chicago and destroying the city. We follow Billy Batson and crew as they sublimely report the disaster then quickly Captain Marvel's investigations discover waves of V-2 rockets fitted with atomic warheads soaring over the North Pole. He stops some of them but not all. The enemy who launches the attack is not named and eventually the attacks expand to all corners of the world. Eventually only the invulnerable Big Red Cheese is the last being on Earth. Then we learn that the whole thing was fake, a scenario put on by the television station as a cautionary tale for the youth of America.

Pretty scary stuff, and not at all unlike the TV events of the 80's like The Day After

This rather grim vintage story of Fawcett's greatest hero leads off the first volume of DC's Greatest Imaginary Stories. Most of these misadventures are whimsy and frothy fare, but this story most definitely is something else again. It ain't the real world and thank God for that.

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