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Dane Whitman




Someone below asked what was the worst issue ever and someone else below said it was the one with a child with a gun to his head on the cover. That got me thinking. I suppose the guy didn't like that book because of that image (I may be wrong, he might have just been identifying the book without knowing the number). Anyway, here's my feelings on the gun to the head thing...

I was a kid when I read that book (probably came out in the 1970s, around the 217 mark). If you look at the cover it kind of hints that if you want the attention of four superheroes you should threaten to kill yourself - so hey, you want your parents' attention, why not try the same thing? I never spotted that when I was a kid - but then I was a happy little chap.

Should the book have had that cover if there was a risk anyone would actually kill themselves because of it? Obviously not. Now I'm going to risk contradiction by guessing that no one ever put a gun to their head because they saw that image. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe the comic did result in some suicide attempts, which I never heard of. On the other hand, some suicide attempts could have sprung from that book and no one would ever know.

I don't think the book went out to shock. I think Marvel was quite naive back then, with stories and covers that were often simplistic. Cap fights the Trapster - put that on the cover. If they did it now it would be for one purpose only - shock value. Of course we are all so used to images like this now that I don't think anyone would really complain about it.

Wasn't there an issue where a kid got a hero's attention and then shot him/herself? Got a feeling that happened somewhere along the line. There was that time a boy killed himself trying to become the Human Torch. A very moving story, but it ended with the words: I think he was better off (or something like that).

So as you can see I'm not sure if I'm pro or anti the image, but I'd love to hear from the rest of you. Do you American's feel strongly that freedom rests with being able to put whatever you want on the cover of the Avengers or that children shouldn't have these kinds of ideas put to their heads?


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Wokdaddy




Kids killed themselves before television was ever invented. Or comics for that matter.
Freedom is being able to decide not to have kids in the first place, if you are afraid they are going to be adversely affected by ANYTHING.
Other citizens should not have to censor themselves, or have to live in a censorship loving society, just because other people choose not to keep their legs closed.


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Strangefate





I am anti-censorship on general principle although I thought the story Harlan Ellison tells about trying to get comics to pull bee-bee gun ads was pretty funny. (Recently reprinted in the Comics Journal Library).

As for that image, no idea, never seen it or heard the controversy. It's hard to judge comics nowadays anyhow. Back in the old days when the genre was clearly aimed at children and young adults, I think the industry was right to limit the graphicness of violence and sexuality.

Nowadays, however, do kids even buy comics? They're mostly fighting over a market of thirty-year olds and a spattering of teens. Given my own views on this audience (not a particularly flattering one) I think graphic violence and the like is what draws them in. Limiting it, from a market perspective, would be suicidal.

On top of that, even if we do assume young people are the principle audience, it's hard to see how anything in comics is much worse then what they now see daily through TV, film, and music videos.

So...no, comics can't really afford to be the only industry with high standards.

PS - I think you're wrong about Marvel being "naivete" back then or somehow less savvy then it is today. The Marvel of that era was much more of a thriving business then it is now. They sold far more books and wrote for a larger audience. Covers have always been about grabbing readers attention.




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pariscub




The twist of course, is that the child isn't quite a child...




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MarkTJohnson




> Someone below asked what was the worst issue ever and someone else below said it was the one with a child with a gun to his head on the cover. That got me thinking. I suppose the guy didn't like that book because of that image (I may be wrong, he might have just been identifying the book without knowing the number). Anyway, here's my feelings on the gun to the head thing...
>
I identified the issue. No, I didn't remember the exact number, I should have though it was the issue just before my subscription started. The reason I chose that issue was not the cover but the terrible story and art behind the cover.

The story revolved around the child who was actually a corporate type villain (the kind of guy who hires a scientist to build him some technology to allow the businessman to do unscrupulous things) who had appeared to have been killed in an accident in some other book (Marvel Two-In-One I think) but had actually been cursed with immortality but not eternal youth. I want to say the accident even sent the kid back in time but I can't be sure. I can't remember exact details but the "kid" climbs aboard a rocket that was to send up a satellite to study the sun. Since the rocket was to be unmanned there it wasn't designed to have a breathable environment so the "kid" is born, suffocates and dies multiple times as he tries to monkey with controls. Somehow another accident happens, turning the "kid" into a fire creature which returns to Earth and the Avengers fight it. I think that the fire creature explodes and the "kid" is reborn again but with no memories. All this in 22 pages. Stuff sure did happen in the good old days didn't it? Bad story, but then I have low standards so I did read the whole thing.

The art? Let's just say Al Milgrom was an upgrade.

Another strike against the issue, only 4 Avengers, the Big Three plus the littlest one. Personally, I like a big crowd in the mansion preferably with some greens and purples along with the reds and yellows.

More thoughts in line below.

> I was a kid when I read that book (probably came out in the 1970s, around the 217 mark). If you look at the cover it kind of hints that if you want the attention of four superheroes you should threaten to kill yourself - so hey, you want your parents' attention, why not try the same thing? I never spotted that when I was a kid - but then I was a happy little chap.

Never saw it that way but then it was during the period where a cover usually showed a scene that appeared in the book, or the villain surrounded by the floating heads of the heroes. There were also words on the cover to let you know what an important issue it was. I miss the days of an informative cover.

Mark "Watermelon, cantaloupe, watermelon, cantaloupe*" Johnson

*Simulated crowd noise from What If #34.




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Dane Whitman




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Dane Whitman




I didn't mean to suggest Marvel as a business was simpler than Marvel is today - although I really think it must have been. I'm sure times were easier back in the 60s and 70s and cut throat competition of the kind found today didn't exist. Look at old movies - often a whole load of time is 'wasted' on not much happening, films used to meander a little (both to the good). Now its all hype and explosives. It really feels dog eat dog.

What I was trying to say about the simplicity of comics in that era is that the stories were rarely complicated or very surprising (but sometimes they were). The art was basic, in my opinion, though it did the job. If you showed someone a book from the 60s and one from today I bet anyone could tell which was modern. I've always wondered how Marvel's 60s heroes have been the best received in the last 50 years. I guess the idea was the thing rather than the execution.


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