The 3 Most Ridiculous Forgotten Superheroes, Part 2
Previously in The Golden Agiest Comic Book Heroes, you marveled at the explosions of Dynamite Thor, The Exploding Man, took shelter under the balls of Kay McKay, Air Hostess, and swooned at the murderous rampages of The Dart. If not, go read Part One. It provides the context you'll need to understand 1940s literature. Without it, this article is going to look like (spoiler alert) hundreds of inexplicable dick attacks. So do it. It's not a suggestion. These next three comic heroes simply contain too much raw Golden Age, and unprepared readers could die from toxic radness exposure.
Dick Cole, The Wonder Boy
Dick Cole was a huge star for most of the 1940s, and part of his appeal was how each issue was different. He might get involved in a superhero adventure, a thrilling sports tale, or a gritty war story. Readers would pick up an issue and shout, "What will I find in my Dick Cole today?" You know what might be fun? Shout that yourself three times fast! Right now in your home, school, or office!
I definitely have more to discuss about the name "Dick Cole," but first I want to talk about his origin story. When he was a baby, Richard's mother abandoned him on the doorstep of Dr. Blair, a disgraced professor. Included with the baby was a note explaining how if Blair wanted, he could fill the baby with discredited science to see if it made some kind of superbaby. Nine universes out of 10, that story ends in tentacles forcing their way down a throat that's shrieking, "You can't do this! I CREATED YOU! I AM YOUR FA-AAIIIIEEE!" In this one, it made Dick Cole, an above-average baby.
"And in local news, a mother throws her baby in the trash, only more Hitlery than that sounds!"
The professor injected Dick Cole with "special vitamin serums" and exposed him to various rays. Some of them were harmful radiation, while others were ordinary sunlight. No one should expect a 1940 comic writer to be an expert on baby science, but two panels into this origin story, it becomes clear Professor Blair is just fucking around. He has all the scientific method of a cat researching an unexpected cucumber. The comic never says how Blair's work was discredited, but his easygoing smile implies it's not the first time he's filled a baby with random poisonous things to see if anything cool happens.
Now say, "Isaac Sofa King Much."
Dick grew up to be faster, smarter, and stronger than ordinary teens, but no one writing the comic seemed to know what that meant. In some issues he would lose a fistfight to a Japanese spy, while in others he effortlessly yanked the brains from dinosaur robot skulls. Comics have always been sort of like this, but Dick Cole was so outrageously inconsistent that I got suspicious. Was there some kind of coded message hiding in these adventures?
Or was Dick Cole's archenemy, Reggie, really some kid reading sorcery books and swinging cats? Oh, and the answer to question two is D'Brickashaw American Samoa.
Let's start by talking more about Dick Cole's name. He was created 76 years ago, but any history book can tell you that men still had dick holes back then. So these comic writers knew what they were doing. And for anyone who still thinks his name was an accident and not the Golden Age's most extravagant dick joke, let me show you Exhibit A: Dick had a brother named Rod. Any time they were in a scene together, the narration and dialog sounded like a lukewarm review of a gay porn movie.
"The action was slow and the boars never actually got dick and rod inside them. Two stars."
It's easy to pull something out of context and snicker at the words that meant something different back then. In fact, at the rate we invent fetishes, 40 percent of all English words, Latino names, and Scottish dog breeds will be hilarious sex acts to our grandchildren. So you might still think this "Dick Cole" thing was an accident. And I admire that. You live in a world of miracles, where a guy in 1940 can give two brothers the names of penises and not notice. But let me show you Exhibit B: Dick and Rod's best friends were named "Slip'ry" and "Carrot." Which brings me to Exhibit C: Carrot was their crew team's "cox." Is it still possible you think these are all coincidences? Because unless you've helped a boy scout file a police report, you've never seen this many cute euphemisms for penis in one place.
"Take off your shirt and stuff that hole because your name is, AND I QUOTE, Cox'n Carrot!"
You may have noticed that Coxswain Carrot is wearing what appears to be megaphone head gear. Maybe it's of some kind of canoe-screaming technology that's fallen out of use, but it doesn't seem very necessary. After all, Dick is holding up his end of the conversation with zero cones strapped to his face. So if it's not for carrying messages across one small boat, what's it for? Maybe I should ask that a different way. When I lurked into an adult store and whispered, "H-hands-free semen guzzling?" what exact product do you think they handed me? (It ... it was for a scavenger hunt.)
Here's an ordinary Dick Cole adventure, wherein he visits a torture museum and is immediately attacked from behind. In only four panels and 73 words, the comic manages to say "dick enters," "stool," "queer," "punish," "queer," "bongo," "ties dick," "stool," "leather thongs," "woodenhead," "...o-oh!," "gay," and "sorry." Anyone who's used the men's room at a Ted Cruz rally will recognize that as sex code followed by a safe word. And maybe it's all another amazing coincidence, but the entire plot of the story is "mysterious man slaps Dick at a queer torture museum." Is that a story worth telling? Would anyone write that if they weren't communicating to an underground orgy society? At this point, I'm 98 percent certain Dick Cole comics were how the Greatest Generation sent secret sex messages to one another.
Dick Cole is only slightly less subtle than The Adventures Of Abilene-Truck-Stop-Every-Wednesday-Night Man! (And His Sidekick, Always "Needmore" Tops!)
Not all of Dick's adventures were thinly disguised casual encounter ads. Some were very, very well-disguised. For instance, if you don't have the cipher, this comic won't seem like anything more than a jarring tempest of insanity and racism.
Wait, what? Fucking WHAT, Dick Cole!?
Jesus, there's a second waiter who talks like that? What's going to happen next?
Whoa! OK, this story is starting to get pretty good.
This is a gripping tale about a professor who thinks he's a goat who kills three identical waiters asshole-first while they're competing in the Hurtful Stereotype Olympic Finals. That is not anything close to a plot. That has no meaning other than something very secret to a very specific cabal of racist swingers. Is that you? If so, you are 76 years late to the big masked orgy.
Despite this being a comic about a genetically perfect white man, I didn't see Dick as a specifically white supremacist character. After all, "Dick Cole" means "urethra" -- a traditionally African-American name. So maybe I'm wrong. Maybe there are no secret sex messages here, no white power agendas. Maybe the only thing going on here is a couple comic writers who have no respect for minorities and also no idea that they gave everyone penis names. But let's look at one last Dick Cole adventure to see what happens when he leaps onto a Chinese warship.
"WHY FOR YOU JUMP OFF BLIDGE?"
Let's say you're this Chinese guy, and one night two men appear on your boat wearing Earth military uniforms. Uniforms you'd definitely recognize from general knowledge or minimal training. They are speaking English and traveling by an everyday method known as "jumping." Even if you're a comic book character being written by the world's most ignorant fuck, I find it hard to believe you'd immediately announce them to be from Mars in your second language, then commit treason, then prepare velly good soup. Look, I've asked enough Chinese waiters if their restaurant sells throwing stars to know a little something about racism, and those three things aren't Chinese stereotypes. The only thing those can be are encoded instructions on where to meet for discreet group sex, how to know who you can pee on, and also bring snacks.
After reading 30 issues of Dick Cole, I saw him get knocked unconscious 57 times, kill at least five men, and invent 209 all-new racial stereotypes. Today we'd call him "mentally unfit to stand trial," but in the '40s, they called him hero. Tell everyone around you, loudly and quickly, "There's nothing better than Dick Cole!"
Dick Cole! A perfect 6 Golden Ages out of 6!
The fastest way to explain Miss Victory is to run directly at the listener and punch them in the face. In fact, a full-power face punch actually means "Miss Victory" in sign language, which is why deaf people think boxing is two shirtless comic nerds having an agreement. It is inconceivable we will ever see a more efficient superhero than Miss Victory.
She destroys 1.5 men per panel.
The main reason for her efficiency was that she only starred in six-page stories. It took one page for an introduction, a second to establish her secret identity as secretary Joan Wayne, and a third to explain the plot. That left only three pages for Miss Victory to discover, investigate, and punch each mystery. And that is 2.9 more pages than she needed. Let me show you:
For confused alt-right members, this story took place back when "Nazis" were the bad guys.
This is how a typical Miss Victory story unfolded. She would meet an enemy, and if he seemed interesting, she'd give him four or five sentences to explain how his insecurities led him to be a Nazi vampire and give one last heil to Hitler. After that, she'd scream "Heil your grandmother!" then kick him in the ass and ask him how he liked it. Fucking fuck, Miss Victory was sweet!
If you didn't seem interesting, she silently threw you out a window.
And if you seemed stupid, she called you stupid while she punched you. These were the only three ways she solved problems.
One of the best things about Miss Victory was how terrible she was at anything outside of knocking people into comas. She was always in trouble at work, because she had no idea how to type and left whenever a Nazi was going unpunched. She also had no idea how to do ordinary superhero things. For example, most Golden Age heroes ended their stories by breaking the fourth wall to wink at the reader. This gave them and the reader a little shared secret and set up the narrator to plug the next issue. Watch how Dynamite Thor does it like a pro:
Time to leave Thor and Glenda alone, reader. The Dynamite is about to blow.
Miss Victory talked to the reader like this, but at completely random, inappropriate times. She would be talking to characters in her own universe and suddenly speak directly to the reader mid-sentence. In this absolutely-not-the-last panel-of-the-story, Miss Victory tells police she's not going to explain a pile of bodies, and then drops the bomb that their reality is nothing more than a story scripted by a deranged creator.
"We're in a comic? And you're not even the title character? B-but I'm real! I have a pension! A d-daughter! Oh god ... my daughter ... she's a lie?"
Miss Victory is historically notable because she combined Nazi punching with Nazi punching for an entire year before Wonder Woman came along with the exact same outfit and powers. The only significant difference was how Wonder Woman lost her powers when a man tied her hands together. Looking back, this was a conceit almost certainly developed by a psychologist as an early rapist detector.
As that copycat Wonder Woman started getting more and more attention, Miss Victory became more and more bitter. In 1941, Miss Victory was like a Golden Age "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, hilariously talking shit while she beat you. By 1944, she was more like a Stone Cold Steve Austin T-shirt worn to Thanksgiving, sleevelessly explaining how Obama let Mexicans ruin America.
Earlier, I emphasized how pragmatic Miss Victory was with her punches. Well, she brought that same efficiency to her intolerance. Watch how much racism this hatred dynamo could fit into two word bubbles:
"MISS VICTO- wait, what did she call us? Is this bitch inventing her own racial slurs?"
Right after that unfortunate outburst, Miss Victory was captured for the first time ever in her crimefighting career. The Japanese soldiers put her in a cell then discussed every detail of their plan outside her door. She listened, escaped, and killed every last one of them with her hands. The close call ended up being a learning experience for her, but not the way you think.
It occurred to Miss Victory that getting captured saved even more time than picking a direction and punching, so she made getting captured her new Plan A. And she revealed the first step of this plan in the following issue, when she debuted a costume perfect for being taken prisoner. Well, "costume" is a strong word. It was more like a collection of small arrows pointing out her erogenous zones.
It worked. From then on, the first thing everyone wanted to do was capture Miss Victory.
Miss Victory was a walking sex tank in a world in which no one else had super powers, so she didn't really need a complicated plan. She let herself get tied to easily escapable chairs and waited until one of her torturers revealed the U-boat codes or the photos of John Travolta's toupee at a bath house. And sometimes she'd pretend she couldn't break free for way, way too long if it made for a funnier escape. Like the time she waited for Japanese scientists to announce a secret formula, then stayed in her chair while she kicked over their supply of nitroglycerin.
"Got to blow myself up! Ha ha ha! It's my ONLY chance! Miss Victory RULES!"
I'm making it sound like she was some kind of mastermind. She wasn't. Not that it mattered, since she was invincible, but most of her plans backfired because of her own impatience. She would go into a situation with every intention of playing helpless prisoner, then give it all up if her captors' skulls were too enticingly punchable. The only unknown quantity in a Miss Victory story was when she would stop screwing around and end things.
"Oh no. Please don't capture m- actually, you know what? DOUBLE HEAD BONK INSTEAD!"
Miss Victory's only personality trait was fist rampage, so she scored very high in Maniacal Awesomeness, Casual Massacre, Stunning Stupidity, and, of course, Animal Punching. As for Double Head Bonk, if she was in the room with any two heads for more than a minute, those heads were getting smashed together. Hundreds of her enemies died in double homicides in which they were also the murder weapons. Unfortunately, she was a better puncher than she was a pornographer, and her career dried up when she tried beating Wonder Woman at her own game of getting sexily tied up. But in its own way, there's nothing more Golden Age than a woman having no goddamn idea what her role was supposed to be.
Miss Victory! A perfect 6 Golden Ages out of 6!
So far in these articles, you've seen a man who throws dynamite, a flight attendant, an unfrozen serial killer, a Dick Cole, and a woman who was every Steven Seagal movie combined in a bikini. But that's not indicative of the Golden Age at all. From 1941 to 1950, 70 percent of all comics were about slightly different men dressed as flags and their teen companions.
Or, sure, their "BOY PAL ASSISTANTS."
Captain Battle was the greatest of all the Captain America clones. He's so great that I'm not sure how to begin explaining him. His backstory of being the youngest one-eyed scientist soldier of the First World War was complicated enough to warrant half a page every issue. Before you could see what Captain Battle was getting up to that day, you had to get through a wall of text that read like fine print on a dildo warranty, in that most of it was boilerplate but a few things stood out as horrifying and bizarre. He had a Dissolvo, which was a gun that "melts down nerve and bone tissue into a gelatinous mass." I mention it because that exact wording is used a lot, and because it means the hero has a power that can only be used for ruining food and murder. If you have 20 hours, you can read more in this sample Captain Battle intro:
"Captain Battle also loves egg salad and bird houses! Captain Battle thinks you shouldn't tell a guy you want to see him again and then, like, not call. Captain Battle thinks, 'Why say it, then?' Am I babbling? It feels like I'm babbling. Captain Battle has one eye and a jetpack!"
The Dissolvo was maybe the most gruesome weapon in comics. Not only because it melted humans, but also because it did it slowly enough they could look down and howl as everything they were turned into pudding. And don't forget that it was also described, every time, as a color ray that "REDUCES ALL BONE AND MUSCLE TISSUE TO A QUIVERING GELATINOUS MASS!" It was so unthinkable for a superhero to carry something so grisly that a group of Nazis once shot themselves with it simply to prove it was a bluff:
"DISS VAS A MISTAKE! FOK! FOK!"
I kid, but comics are my favorite art form, and they're as deserving of thoughtful analysis as any film or painting. So let's take a break from dick jokes and talk to the art lovers. As you know, art lovers, in the early 1400s, Renaissance artists laid the groundwork for all future illustration. Brilliant ideas like linear perspective and foreshortening let painters create realistic depth and bold action. Today, it'd be unthinkable to draw without these rules, unless you're something called a "Pre-Raphaelite" or another thing called a "toddler." However, in the 1940s, "not knowing what the hell perspective was" had a Renaissance of its own. Most of the men with working fingers went to go use them to load rifles, and the ones left drawing comic books were smashing shapes together and hoping they looked like punches.
Art lovers, this combination of incompetence and uppercuts birthed a style movement that has gone undiscovered until today. Once you recognize this phenomenon, you'll start to see it in every piece of Golden Age artwork. See, if a penciller wanted to show Captain Battle punching a henchman's jaw, he'd draw the figures a moment after the hit connected. On rare occasions, the intent was communicated perfectly, but most times, sloppy use of perspective and burst effects led to a phenomenon I call Golden Age Dick Attacks. You've been tricked, art lovers. This whole thing is about dicks. In fact, the last nine letters of this paragraph are just 8=======D, and those weren't even them. In your face: 8=======D
A 15-act story of art history told with one part. Get it? Face again: 8=======D
Now that the art lovers are gone, I'll make my point: In most comics, all these thunderous punches to the junk seemed like misunderstandings in the artist/viewer relationship. I don't think that was the case with Captain Battle. Captain Battle and his boy pal assistant were straight-up punching dicks.
"Says which?" Captain Battle demands as he punches three penises.
With a mighty dick blow, Mummy Master's hash is settled!
Most superheroes die every few years. Captain Battle punched the Grim Reaper in the dick twice a month.
"That's not my chin," complains Satan. "That's my dick!"
73 years later, and still no one has broken his record of five dicks crushed with one headbutt.
Captain Battle had an entire Boys' Brigade, though his favorite was a lad named Hale, whom he called Hale Battle. Hale didn't appear until the 10th Captain Battle issue (out of 12), but he was the best. Hale embraced cock attacks with an almost suspicious enthusiasm, though he seemed to think something about it was wrong. He fell weirdly silent during a dick punch frenzy, and sometimes screamed things like, "I'M ONLY A LITTLE BOY!"
He really did! He really did scream "I'M ONLY A LITTLE BOY!" while he punched dicks!!!
Most times, he was fine with it.
Consider your hash settled, pal.
"Our helmets will protect us! No wait, it's Captain Battle and HaaiiiiieeEEE!!!"
Of all the superheroes to focus on the dick punch, Captain Battle and Hale should have been the last. Their main enemies were bird monsters, gelded cultists, and a mummy. You could not ask for a more smoothly groined rogues gallery. So why bother? I was hoping we'd get this question answered a few years ago with the film Captain Battle: Legacy War. It was a modern reboot which was made mainly because Captain Battle's film rights come free with every sixth sandwich purchased at full price. It didn't answer any of the questions I had about dicks. The only question it answered was "Are there enough illiterate comic book readers to make a movie a hit? Wait, I see the problem now. Never mind."
From the writer of Look, We're All Going To Die Anyway, So Fuck Everything.
Nobody did the Golden Age better than Captain Battle. He was awesome all day and settled every hash dick-first.
Captain Battle! A perfect 6 Golden Ages out of 6!
One of our most popular episodes from 2016 was when we invited Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark from 'My Favorite Murder' to talk about some of the best true-crime stories out there. So successful, in fact, that we're resurrecting it (get it?) for a part two! Metal Fang, the Strangling Executioner and the murderer living in the attic just weren't enough. So Jack O'Brien, Dan O'Brien and the Cracked staff welcome Karen and Georgia back for another creepy hour of serial killers and urban legends that are bound to make you terrified to go outside or talk to a stranger or do anything.
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