They might want to avoid reissuing some of those Golden Age Wonder Woman comics right now, too.

§ August 3rd, 2018 § Filed under big red cheese, racial sensitivity § 10 Comments

So the word I got in an email from DC Comics this week was that the recently-announced collection of the Golden Age Captain Marvel story Monster Society of Evil, slated for release next Feburary, was cancelled. This is the second time in recent years DC canned a planned release of this story, as a hardcover solicited in mid 2009 was also taken off the schedule shortly thereafter. The reason given this time was “due to concerns over its contents,” or in other words “we don’t want news items about racism in Shazam comics during the month lead-up to the Shazam movie.”

And yes, there are some…unfortunate caricatures in this particular run of the Big Red Cheese’s adventures, as I recall. I did get a chance to read this story myself quite a while back, in an oversized slipcased hardcover reprint from 1989 loaned to me by a friend:

…That picture was taken from a recent eBay listing, by the way, where you can find several copies of the book for prices ranging from hundreds of dollars to too many hundreds of dollars.

Anyway, back to the racism. It’s hard to say outright that “oh yeah hey this story is great well you know except for that whole Steamboat business” because, well, c’mon. You can look at it as a historical artifact, a “product of its time” as they say (though real world events should tell you that time isn’t nearly as far away as people would like to think). I know it’s been suggested that it be released with some ginormous disclaimer on the book warning about the racial shenanigans therein (as has been done with the past with other archival comics and cartoon reissues on DVD), which would allow the publisher to cover its corporate butt while still making their mon–er, I mean, still preserving classic material for future generations. I know the earlier DC Archives reprints of Captain Marvel Stories had their fair share of similar problems, but, yeah, they didn’t come out with a multimillion dollar movie hot on their heels.

It’s also been suggested some other publisher take on the project so that DC doesn’t take the heat, but…yeah, if someone’s going to make a big public stink about it, it’s not going to matter whose business name is on the spine or how big the disclaimer is.

Anyway, it’s probably all just as well. I get why DC wouldn’t want to risk the bad publicity, and there are plenty of stories from the same period by the same creators that aren’t, you know, afflicted with related subject matter.There’s lots of later material, too…at the very least, let’s get color reissues of those E. Nelson Bridwell/Don Newton stories from the late ’70s/early ’80s:

I mean, they just fight Satan in those…that wouldn’t stir up any trouble, surely.

10 Responses to “They might want to avoid reissuing some of those Golden Age Wonder Woman comics right now, too.”

  • philfromgermany says:

    Imagine a shitstorm started by Satanists who think they are discriminated against by a 70’s kids comic!

  • Thom H. says:

    Just looked up some stories including Steamboat and…yikes. Also found this:

    Apparently, it was a group of kids calling themselves the Youth Builders who petitioned to retire Steamboat because he was a racist caricature. In 1945! That’s awesome.

  • >It’s hard to say outright that “oh yeah hey this story is great well you know except for that whole Steamboat business”

    …because then you catch yourself and remember, “oh, right, there are racist depictions of Japanese characters too.”

    But since anyone can read this story online for free, no one actually feels a sense of loss.

  • Mikester says:

    Yeah, I know, it wasn’t just Steamboat. Plenty of racism to go around in these comics!

  • Jeff R says:

    Makes me wonder if those “Detective Before Batman” collections planned to come out around the same time as #1000 will actually see print…

  • salamurai says:

    I have that book! I love that book!

    … as a physical object and a collectible. not necessarily the contents. lotta cringe worthy there.

  • Chris Gumprich says:

    I miss Don Newton.

  • Turan, Emissary of the Fly World says:

    Off-topic, but I have to state that I am surprised, and indeed even disappointed, that you have written nothing yet about the Swamp Thing movie that came out last week. I find impossible to believe that, however busy you may be, you have not found time to see this.

  • Mikester says:

    You mean the one guest-starring the Teen Titans?

  • David Thiel says:

    It would’ve been nice if they’d made this announcement BEFORE my FLCS charged my credit card!

    Honestly, I was surprised to see it solicited in the first place, given that the previous release was pulled for the exact same reason.

    I’ve also read that old hardcover, and the truth is that as much as I love old-school Captain Marvel (none of this Shazam! business, thank you very, very much), “The Monster Society of Evil” isn’t that good a story.

    It starts off well, with all of the Big Red Cheese’s fiercest foes (well, and Mr. Banjo) teaming up under the guidance of the mysterious Mr. Mind. I recall a particularly epic bit in which Mind has a titanic cannon on the surface of the Moon aimed at the US. But by the end the scope of it had dwindled to the point of it just being a bunch of random schemes by Mind and his crocodile-men minions.