Saturday, September 16, 2006


Comic Art

At the kind suggestion of a reader we will now take a look at the teams that partnered with the "unteam" known as The Defenders. We will start with one of the more interesting developments in the history of comics - the Squadron Supreme.

They began life as the Squadron Sinister (see the Avengers cover above) and but, as is typical for so many, they ended up as good guys, though on an "alternative earth." Those in the comic know have always gotten a huge smile out of the SS. You see they are essentially a TOTAL rip-off of DC Comics Justice League of America. You must remeber that Marvel and DC have been, since the early '60's, locked in a deadly battle for comic publishing supremacy. In the initial appearance of the Squadron Sinister - pitted as they were against Marvel's uber-group The Avengers - it seemed like a classic case of poking fun at the competition.

Needless to say the characters, while direct superpower analogs to the JLA were just lame. One must remember that that Marvel burst on the scene in the early 60's by adding depth to their characters. No longer was it set-up the conflict, change into costume, protect the secret identity

and beat the bad guy. With Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, the Hulk, superheroes gained a humanity not previously experienced. Making the SS characters just flat cardboard was a way of rubbing salt in the wound.

But there may have been far more at play than just a little friendly ribbing between houses. This guy seems to think the SS, as it evolved, had a political message. He may be right, but I am not sure its the politics he thinks it is. DC, being much older, and much better established, at a lot at risk when it starts mucking about with its characters, thus the editors were slow to make the kinds of changes that Marvel had wrought. So does the SS have a "libertarian" message? Yeah. probably, but not about national politics, but about comic book editorial policy. For a while, guys wanted out of DC and into Marvel if at all possible. They wanted the creative freedom Marvel represented.

This may be the most "inside baseball" of these posts I have ever done. Next week we will look at another team that worked with the Defenders - one of my favorites, but one that has never really caught on witht he comic public - The Guardians of the Galaxy.

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