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Come celebrate Christmas in July with the World’s Mightiest Mortal – Captain Marvel Adventures #42

July 25, 2010

Boy, it’s hot out there. I have the AC on full blast and the cold glass of water I just poured is schvitzing like a rhinocerous. So, for a little “mind over matter” distraction, why not look at a Christmas-themed comic?


That wreath is cooling me off already.

There are about a hundred stories in this issue, as in all comics from this era — you really got your dime’s worth back in those days. Before we get to the holiday cheer, I should note that this issue was published while World War II was still raging, so we get a de rigueur Nazi-bashing inside. “The World of If” is a silly story, where a scientist invents a machine that shows various future possibilities and a Nazi sympathizer uses it to see if his plan to make Captain Marvel an Axis tool will work. His “plan” is to trick Captain Marvel into signing a document where he pledges his support to Hitler. I won’t go into any further detail, because the story’s thin conceit makes the logic centers of my brain ache.  The future machine shows that the plan works for a while, but it, of course, fails in the end.

And then we’re treated to this panel:

Knock that toothbrush moustache right off, Cap!

We also get some WW II themed ads. Here we have a semi-racist war bond promotion:

And here’s an exhortation to recycle paper — and in turn make old Golden Age comics even more rare:

Enough of that — let’s get to the cool down.

“The Plot Against Christmas” is a Dickensian short that has Captain Marvel showing an old curmudgeon the error of his ways:

Three brothers run a toy company — Happy, Jolly, and Gouge Smith. With names like those it’s no wonder that one turned into a grouch. Gouge — no surprise here —  is not enthused about giving toys to poor little orphans:

He puts the kibosh on his brothers’ kindly giveaway, but in the process he draws the disapproving attention of Captain Marvel. Our hero sets out mend Gouge’s cruel soul:

Marvel fills the Christmas Carol “three ghosts” role and carts Gouge to his brothers’ houses.  First we stop at Jolly’s, and Cap does his “Abominable Snow Monster from Rudolph” routine in putting the star on the tree — a versatile guy, this Captain Marvel!:

This doesn’t get to Gouge, so next Cap tries Happy’s pad:

Even the selflessness of the Happy Smith household fails to work, so Cap pulls out his trump card — the orphanage:

This finally does the trick, and Gouge repents. He agrees to dress up as Santa and give a heck of a Christmas to the orphans:

Norman Rockwell, eat your heart out.

I don’t have many Golden Age books, but I get a lot of pleasure out of them despite their generally weak stories. This issue is a prime example of why they work for me — Hitler getting puched, a nice Christmas Carol rip-off, war ads…it has everything. I only wish I could give solid information about all the writers and artists responsible. From what I could gather, the cover was drawn by C.C. Beck, “The World of If” was scripted by Otto Binder, and “The Plot Against Christmas” may have been illustrated by Pete Costanza.

But let’s not get hung up on the anonymity of some of the creators. Their book did the job — it cooled me down quite nicely. Merry Christmas in July to all!

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