Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Silver Age Super Soldier by Dave Goode

More than a few years back Stan Lee had a brief Q & A in FHM magazine* in which he was asked "Can you fight in real life?" Stan replied "Not since I was in the army. I taught judo in the army. In judo , you use your opponent's strength against him. I was always skinny , but if a big guy threw a punch I'd grab his fist and flip him over." Hmm. Maybe this is why so many characters in the early Marvel Age of Comics used judo.

In TALES TO ASTONISH No.27 (Jan.1962) after research scientist Hank Pym shrinks to insect size and becomes THE MAN IN THE ANT HILL he uses judo to defend himself against an attacking ant. Later in TALES TO ASTONISH No.35 (Sept. 1962) when he adapts the superhero identity of Ant-Man he uses judo again to defend himself against an ant. In FANTASTIC FOUR No.17 (Aug.1963) Sue Storm uses judo in a fight against Dr.Doom.

In SPIDER-MAN No.10 (March 1964) comic book readers were introduced to a trio of strong-arm men working for a criminal mastermind known as the Big Man. The trio was known as the Enforcers. And one of their number was the diminutive Fancy Dan who is described as a judo black belt. This may have been a first in American comics. A villain who was an expert in judo. Other heroes ,like Daredevil , were seen using judo techniques. And of course there was Captain America.

About a year ago I had a "discussion" with someone who said back in the Silver Age Captain America was described as nothing more than a "glorified acrobat". I countered that he was sometimes called that by someone who ended up getting his behind handed to them by the American Super-Soldier. This is exactly what happened in TALES OF SUSPENSE No.59 (Nov. 1964). But the writers at Marvel  "described" him as the "world's greatest human fighting machine.

In AVENGERS No.4 (March 1964) in his first Silver Age appearance Captain America uses a variation of the tomoe-nage to topple the 10-ft. tall Giant-Man. In AVENGERS No.6 (July 1964) while fighting Baron Zemo who has mastered karate the Captain reminds the Nazi war criminal that he was "adept at every form of hand-to-hand combat known to man". And in FANTASTIC FOUR No.26 (May 1964) Captain America uses the tomoe-nage to unbalance the incredible Hulk. In other stories he would be seen using karate as well as American boxing and wrestling.

Obviously two of the forms of hand-to-hand combat the Captain was adept at were judo and it's parent martial discipline jiu jitsu. Judo had been taught at Annapolis,the U.S. Naval Academy since 1912. And jiu jitsu had been taught at West Point,the U.S. Army Academy since the 1890s. So it only made sense that Captain America would be an expert at these two martial arts. After all he wasn't just a "glorified acrobat". He was the American Super-Soldier!!
* July 2000, Vol. 1, Iss. 3, pg. 100-101, by: Paul Semel, "Quote, Unquote" 

Now for some retro comics
fun from Dave
Goode and Vance
Capley. Ladies and gentlemen,
Dr. Judo!!
 If you enjoyed this fantastic adventure, you can read more in our comic book available at lulu.com...JUDO COMICS..and now, a brand new JUDO COMICS TV

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