Armagideon Time

The Wikipedia page for Captain Marvel states that Fawcett Publications attempted to stave off the decline of its flagship superhero properties in the early 1950s by incorporating story elements from the successful horror comics of the era. While this assertion might technically be true, pharm it is an incomplete and misleading truth.

There were a siginificant number of “spooky” tales (or what passed for such in the imperfectly “wholesome” parameters of Marvel Family fare), cialis 40mg but the overall tone of the last few years of Captain Marvel Adventures was more notably defined by the wave of racially insensitive Korean War agitprop stories that appeared in the series during that period.*

Nor were the more macabre elements limited to the twilight years of CMA‘s run. At its peak, cheap Captain Marvel Adventures was one of the best-selling comics of all time. The format of the series — typically three short tales featuring the title character, plus a large dollop of filler material — required a steady steam of story ideas to keep the money train chugging along. As a result, the 150 issues of Captain Marvel Adventures have the Big Red Cheese squaring off against not only aliens, criminals, and mad scientists, but surrealist imps, absent-mindedness, and a pissed-off Planet Earth as well.

In comparison, the various ghosts, ghoulies, and other supernatural creatures encountered by the World’s Mightiest Mortal were among his more mundane opponents…as the following tale from Captain Marvel Adventures #82 (March 1948) demonstrates.

The title of the tale is “Captain Marvel and the Medieval Demon,” the temporal specificity of the demon in question being either a means of distinguishing the creature from contemporary abyssal dwellers or, more likely, writer Otto Binder (who later went on to craft these masterpieces of the form) didn’t want to rule out the possibility of stories featuring “Bronze Age” or “Restoration Era” demons when up against a tough deadline at some future date. In any case, the story begins with the financial woes of one Horace Stoker, a master of the dark arts whose livelihood has been ruined by the hyper-rationality of the Truman Era.

Not content with extorting pennies from his unusually tolerant and understanding neighbors, Stoker decides to stimulate the necromantic market through a spectacular (and vulgar) display of power. He dusts off his little black book of diabolic entities and summons a rather goofy-looking demon which he then instructs to kill Captain Marvel. Though the rather Boston Terrierish demon feels pretty confident about his chances, his long years of semi-retirement in a South Archeron planned golf community have hampered his game.

Even worse, the mortal world had vastly changed since the days when he used to taunt ingorant peasants with his barbed phallus. Not only is this brave new atomic age populated with such horrifying things like traffic lights and light rail transit systems, but its residents refuse to give a manifestation of demonic evil its proper due. (If he truly wanted to inflict massive panic in 1948, he should have assumed the guise of a non-white family and attempted to buy a home in the suburbs.)

The vile beast manages to escape both Captain Marvel and the local constabulary, only to fall afoul of an evil force which far outstrips his own prodigious powers….

…the inherent cruelty of children.

By this point, the harried creature desires nothing more than to return to Soulrender Estates and do a quick nine with Pazuzu on the fairway, but the terms of the summoning require that he must take a life before being allowed to depart this plane. (Demons tend to be sticklers about contract law, mostly because they invented — and still hold sway over — the process.)

With Marvel within his reach, and no turn-only lights to distract him, the demon figures all that’s required is a little hypnotic transfixion, a quick snap of the neck, and maybe a parting chortle for maximum effect…

…or maybe not.

Unable to harm Marvel and locked into an ironclad agreement, the demon is forced to do the unthinkable — record an album so self-indulgent and unlistenable that his label fall over itself to release him from his legal obligations.

No, wait. That was Joe Strummer.

He instead goes back to Stoker’s house and crushes the unfortunate sorcerer’s windpipe…

…before heading back to the underworld for a few quick brews before tee-off time and a request to be taken off the Legion of Hell’s ready-reserve list. Hey, he’s as evil as the next pit fiend, but he’s already done enough for his Circle.

Recommended listening:  Danzig – Am I Demon (from Danzig, 1988)

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It’s not that long a fall from retro 60s b-movie punk to retro 70s metal cliches.  I reckon we’re due for a gangsta rap album (with tracks about Dr. Giggles and Witchboard) featuring the Devilocked One’s unmistakable basso voice any day now.

*Not that Fawcett was above some hot two-way pandering in those days.

One Response to “Halloween Countdown: October 29 – Sympathy for a demon”

  1. Nick

    Hey, I like “Earthquake Weather”…

    This must be where the bassist for The Specials (Horace “Stoker” Panter) got his nickname.

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