Just like sitcoms had "very special" episodes that tried to build awareness of serious real-world issues (like the one where Punky Brewster decides to get breast implants -- no, seriously), comics have occasionally wandered into "after school" territory. And who better to handle serious and complex political issues than comic book superheroes?
#6. Captain America vs. Drug Dealers
Captain America seems like a perfect "Don't do drugs" spokesman until you remember that it was getting shot up with a "super soldier serum" that let him gain muscles the size of basketballs and become a superhero. So that makes him pretty much the Barry Bonds of superheroes and the second-worst person to star in a PSA comic about substance abuse after Pablo Escobar.
The "Captain America Goes to War Against Drugs" story is so epic it spans two comics, and it's so offensively stupid that the DEA might as well have tattooed DRUGS on their knuckles and punched all the kids who read this comic in the face instead. In the story, Captain America teams up with The New Warriors, a team of superheroes that includes a guy named after a mix of heroin and cocaine.
"Hi! Have you met my sister, Black Tar?"
They're taking on a team of supervillains who are sort of based on drugs: Weed, who has the power to shoot smoke; Crack, who punches things and makes Whitney Houston look like shit; Ms. Fix, who shoots needles; and Ice, who in a surprising twist ... shoots ice.
Wait ... shouldn't Speedball be a member of these guys?
These guys used to be common drug addicts but were taken by aliens and given powers, with the downside being that if they stop consuming the alien drugs, they will die. Speaking of dying, that pretty much killed any hope this comic had of making any good points against illegal drugs, because they don't work that way.
Unless your doctor has you on regular doses of crystal meth.
It's one thing to be a PSA comic that fails to get any kind of point across, and another to actually have everything you say be completely wrong. This brings us to the scene where Ms. Fix tells one of the heroes that the aliens can fix her legs, but the catch is that she will have to take painkillers.
OK, hold on a second here! Is this comic implying that it would be bad to go through major surgery if it means taking potentially addictive drugs, like painkillers? Because painkillers are something you have to take after almost any surgery. This is like a PSA on highway safety that just flat-out tells people to never get inside a car.
The hero accepts the offer, but it is only a ruse to smuggle her team and Captain America into the aliens' spaceship. And then the shit goes down, the aliens get defeated, the ship explodes and Cap and the New Warriors escape while the poor villains die in flames while trying to find the substance that keeps them alive.
Well, except try to rescue those poor drug addicts who got turned into monsters
and were forced to attack us to remain alive ... but fuck them junkies.
By the way, if you're wondering where the police are during this scenario, the first issue makes sure to introduce us to a pair of cops who apparently have no idea what cops do for a living.
"Man, I wouldn't want to be the poor assholes who have to stop that fight.
Let's go to the docks and get our cut from the hookers."
The War on Drugs, ladies and gentlemen!
#5. Superman and Batman Jr. vs. Feminism
Back in the 70s, women had come around to the idea that maybe walking around the kitchen barefoot was not all they could do with their lives. Feminism was in full swing, and since it was a difficult and emotional subject, DC presumably didn't want to attach its most famous heroes to it. Instead, it put the hypothetical sons Superman and Batman on the job (as part of the "Super-Sons" series). The result is a bizarre comic that hates women so much that it was last seen getting its face blurred out on COPS.
The story starts when Superman Jr. and Batman Jr. visit a town where women rule and men are scorned and subjected to random imprisonment.
Wait, what point is this making about feminism again? If you ignore the cover, you might think the writer is not against feminism per se but is just setting up some violent fringe faction as the villain. You want to believe the writers had good intentions. But in the next scene, a woman is fixing a roof when suddenly ...
That's right, comic book reader: When women try to do men's jobs, their frail female bodies wind up dead and broken.
Clearly it's up to the DC superheroes to find out what evil is making women climb up to dangerous roofs instead of making sandwiches for men. It turns out to be an evil, giant, ugly alien who wants all females in the universe to be as ugly and lonely as she is.
At this point we are convinced the writer made up this story only because of a gypsy curse that would make his penis explode if women touched it. In the end, Superman and Batman Jr. kill feminism, defeat the alien and stop her evil plan of making women ugly. Oh, and by the way, the protection against the alien's evil uglyfying space rays is to be near men.
Feminism is death. Now come and get your sexual harassment.
#4. Superman vs. Drug Dealers
Writing Superman shouldn't be very hard. He flies, punches asteroids out of orbit and shoots lasers out of his eyes; we're sure most anyone can come up with something fun to do with that. The problem is that a lot of Superman writers, instead of dealing with issues such as "how many times Superman has to punch a black hole so it stops stirring shit up" prefer to deal with "Do we really need a Superman?" and "Gee whiz, what is Superman's place in the world?" These questions become completely unnecessary the next time a robot army from the future shows up in Metropolis (by the way, the answers are "yes" and "at fist's length from the bad guy's face.")
The story titled "Grounded" has been the latest snorefest in the life of Superman, where, after a crisis of faith, Supes decides to stop flying and instead walks aimlessly around the U.S. to find his true self. So it's kind of like Eat, Pray, Love, but without the good food or random sex with foreigners.
So, what kind of adventures has Superman stumbled into during his walkabout? Well, he meets with the either the ballsiest or most brain-damaged crack dealers in the world.
Look, we don't care how much crack you have on the brain -- you do not taunt people who can grab your head and compress it like a Pepsi can. But Superman doesn't do that; instead, he uses his heat vision to burn all the crack stashes and the houses where they stand. That, while probably fun in a pyromaniac way, was probably less useful than flying at superspeed to the nearest police precinct and telling them there's a bunch of shitheads openly selling crack in the streets who keep their stashes inside their own houses.
So he's kind of a dick, but that's OK, because later Superman sends a kid to deliver a message to the crack dealers.
Yes, Superman sent a 10-year-old kid to talk to a bunch of crackheads, trusting that they wouldn't mess with a little kid if he is under Superman's protection, right after we just saw that they were too stupid to not mess with Superman when he was right in front of them. The thing that will come out of this is that science will finally be able to answer how many switchblades can fit into a child's torso.
Now, what Superman did was basically pointless, since the crackheads will just get more crack and set up shop in another place. Even the little kid knows how stupid the whole thing is, and he is not smart enough to know he has been sent into a suicide mission. Here is Superman's reply:
For those of you keeping score at home, crime is OK as long as it happens to someone else. The phrasing of Superman's reply is so tortured that it looks like it was just rescued by Rambo from a Vietnamese POW camp. All Superman did was relocate the crackheads and then declare them somebody else's problem. For real, Superman? Especially since we can't think of a good reason why he couldn't stop his self-discovery jogging for a second to have them arrested and make them nobody else's problem.