Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Losers - Ivan!


Joe Kubert takes over the cover art chores on Our Fighting Forces one hundred and sixty, but beneath that lush cover is another Jack Kirby effort, again inked by Mike Royer.


"Ivan" tells the story of a repulsive Hitler youth who cold-bloodedly kills those trying to escape the clutches of the Nazis. Ivan is a Nazi himself, someone who fully believes the tenants of the Nazi movement and who with the aid of his mother prey on those running from Hitler's forces by taking money to hide them but then turning them over anyway and even participating in their execution. Ivan is as ugly a character as I've run across in comics. The Losers have pretended to be Nazis and have infiltrated Ivan's town on a mission and discover Ivan's scheme. They free the refugees and help them to freedom while leaving Ivan and his odious mother to face Nazi justice in a firing squad.


This story is one of the more disturbing in this run, offering a portrait of a young sociopath who seeks the praise of a culture which promotes and celebrates murder. The depravity of the Nazi culture is well recorded, but in this story I found myself compelled to follow a young man who lies and cheats and kills and who seems to feel that this is the way a man lives, and the fact his mother is right there to assist makes it even creepier. The Hitler Youth ,a nightmare version of the Boy Scouts remains one of the truly frightening parts of a very frightening regime. And again we see that Kirby is able to present death in war with an emotional truth and power which often escaped comic book storytelling.


More to come.

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2 comments:

  1. Even as a kid, this one sent a chill down my spine. Ivan was truly a horrible human being, but his mother was even worse. That double page spread at the beginning stayed with me a long time. That was about the time of the mini-series Holocaust and for a young kid, it was pretty sobering to see what man could do to his fellow man.

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    1. Ivan is a small depraved man who is motivated by small emotional and personal needs and wants which make sense in the most simple ways. The banality of evil made manifest.

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