Thursday, November 15, 2012

Retro Review: Blue Beetle #5 (1967 series)


I've talked about how much I love Blue Beetle on here before. I have a real soft spot for the Charlton Comics characters, and Blue Beetle and the Question are my favorite. This was the final issue of BB's silver age series and was the most philosophical of that run. Philosophical in a 'hit you over the head with our point' silver age comic book way, but still.

Our story starts out with Ted Kord AKA the Blue Beetle on a date with his girlfriend Tracey at an art museum. We see an art critic named Boris Ebar describing a statue called "Our Man" It's essentially the figure on the cover, although it's in a post of just standing, seemingly helpless, with it's fists clenched and head looking down. The art critic claims this statue describes man as he truly is, a helpless ugly overblown waste that can accomplish nothing. The message rings especially true to one man in the audience.

So this guy decides to go home and build an "Our Man" costume out of pieces of metal to destroy symbols of heroics, accomplishments, and beauty. This brings him into conflict with Blue Beetle. The have a series of fights before Blue Beetle finally defeats him, during which time "Our Man" becomes, ironically enough, a hero to a sub culture of disenfranchised people. The guy escapes during his final battle with BB, abandoning his "Our Man" costume in the process. At the end he decides he will never become "Our Man" again because he can accomplish nothing since he doesn't have "supernatural powers" like Blue Beetle. Again the irony being Blue Beetle has no powers.

Let's take a moment here to talk about the artist Steve Ditko. Steve Ditko belonged to a school of thought called objectivism. Without getting too much into it here objectivism is sort of like a marriage between libertarianism and secular humanism. Despite the fact that it is a strand of libertarianism, and therefore they are my natural political allies, I've never been a fan of objectivism or it's founder Ayn Rand. It at times feels like a parody of libertarianism, Ms. Rand even at one point went so far as to describe charity and selflessness as "immoral". But I'd still rather live in a country run by objectivists than one run by the socialist Gimmiedat party currently in charge, or the schizophrenic madmen that make up the modern conservative movement. Anyways, Steve Ditko was a disciple of Ms. Rand and her objectivist philosophy and while he didn't write this story I feel like he probably influenced it a great deal.

I mean this is basically the story of the Obama-phone Lady becoming a super villain. It's a character we are obviously suppose to see as a loser who lashes out at the world around him because he's a loser and hates anyone who isn't a loser. The politics of envy at work here. The interesting thing is that this guy DOES accomplish things. He made a metal "Our Man" costume. He must have some artistic talent, not to mention skill at welding. Then he went toe to toe with a fucking super hero and almost won. If he would have poured half that effort into more constructive things he probably wouldn't be a failure.

This is an interesting comic book here, not only because of it's message, but because of how counter this was to the message of other comics of the day. Where comics like Spider-man at the time celebrated the counter culture and it's constant gripping of how "the man" was keeping them down, here was a comic that told the counter culture essentially to shut the fuck up and go get a job.

Now it's not as if the counter culture of the time didn't have points, certainly there was real oppression and things that genuinely needed to be protested. But there was a certain victim mentality that was starting to really grow in the left at the time, and that I would argue as of now has all but swallowed the left, and this book calls bullshit on that mentality.

So is it worth reading? Well yes and no. To date I don't know of any reprints beyond the $75.00 Action Heroes Archives Vol 2, and the issue itself can be as much as $50, and at those prices I couldn't recommend it. But if you find it cheap or if you just got some money to burn I would say give it a read. It's an interesting glimpse into Steve Ditko if nothing else. 

2 comments:

  1. Actually, if you're one of the very well-to-do/rich people in this country, the Republicans are the "Gimmedat" party!

    Think about it. If the rich need a ballpark to have their employees perform in, who pays for it? Those of us who earn enough money to pay taxes, unless we earn enough to NOT pay taxes.

    Anyone who's been awake for the last 30 years can tell ya THAT. ;)

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  2. Corporate welfare is just as harmful and I am just as much against that. The treasury should not be a piggy bank for any group of people.

    And nobody pays no taxes. There are so many hidden taxes they are damn near unimaginable. Just one example at least a dollar out of the price of every gallon of gas.

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