Monday, December 28, 2015

Number 1833: Evil eye

Mr Justice (also referred to as the Royal Wraith) was a supernatural hero who appeared in MLJ’s Blue Ribbon Comics. This particular story pulls out all the stops, and includes the evil eye, a soul being yanked from a body, Satan making a deal, and Mr Justice confronting Satan himself on the devil's own territory. It is one of the reasons that the early MLJ Comics were popular. They later got into the Archie business, and dropped their lurid fare for a more “wholesome” style.

The story is written by Joe Blair, and drawn by Sam Cooper. The name of the blind soul-seller, Ribo, is an anagram of Biro. Charles Biro worked for MLJ with the same sort of gusto as he did for other comics, particularly Lev Gleason, with Boy Comics, Daredevil, and Crime Does Not Pay. Besides being an inside joke, I see the name assigned to such a sinister and twisted character as a paean of praise for a master of early comics and exploitation.

From Blue Ribbon Comics #19 (1941).


Daniel [] said...

Well, yet another wholesale reworking of the mythology of the Afterlife.

The original idea of Purgatory is (unsurprisingly) very far removed from that in the story here. Much as some might have preached that humanity were all quite wicked and deserving of H_ll, the idea didn't sit well with those who felt that some, not accepting the Christ, still were people of merit, deserving better than eternal torment or annihilation. So the idea of Purgatory was introduced; it was basically a boot camp for souls, and those in it would ultimately reach Paradise.

(Origen, an early Christian, instead believed that H_ll itself were such a boot camp, and that eventually all, including Lucifer himself, would be saved. This thought resurfaces or is reïnvented on a regular basis.)

Limbo is yet another place, into which the unsaved souls of infants go, with no prospect of salvation, but no suffering either. (Still pretty grim, which is why the Roman Catholic church has begun walking that back.)

Billy Hamas looks … other than masculine in 9:4.

Brian Barnes said...

The thing about some of these ill-defined power stories is that there's no sense of danger -- they are fun to read because it's a collection of bonkers stuff just ... happens. But one of our heroes powers -- who fights evil -- seems to be being complete immune to evil! That's pretty convenient!

I love how the invention is completely forgotten, and suddenly, with his powerful evil eye, he's cheating on sport bets. Really aiming for the top!

Give Cooper a lot of credit on the art, usually 40s superhero stories have pretty stilted and static art. This guy is pretty dynamic.

Ed said...

Loved that adventure. Thanks for posting it, Pappy!

Russ said...

Mr. Justice's real name is Hamas? Does Dick Cheney know about this?

Daniel [] said...

Russ, “Hamas” is the name of the boxer; when Mr Justice is not in costume, he goes by the name of, er, “Mr Justice”. (Worst … secret identity … ever.)

The boxer has nothing to fear from Dick Cheney, whose super power is that of rising far above his level of incompetence, instead of stopping at the level of his first major failures. The people who bet on Cheney lose their shirts.

Pappy said...

Daniel, I have solved the problem I had when I was much younger of worrying about whether it'll be heaven or hell for me by simply not considering either. If after death I wake up to something, well, that will be a surprise for me.

A columnist in my local daily newspaper once wrote of those who claim a near death experience (NDE), who "die" and then come back, convinced of an afterlife. He said he wanted to meet someone who has had a full death experiences (FDE) of say, six months or a year, and hear their experience. Since there aren't any of those we just don't know. I found in conversations with friends and coworkers, plus listening to and reading of the opinions of what happens when one dies, that everyone interprets heaven and hell differently. Last summer I asked my nine-year-old granddaughter, a Catholic schoolgirl, what heaven was like. "It's real cloudy," she said. (Well, she is a funny kid, full of instant one-line comebacks and wisecracks...she also told her dad for Christmas she wanted comic books. Comic book heaven has always sounded good to me.)

Pappy said...

Brian, I think you have put it well: "bonkers stuff just...happens."

Four words that are as good an explanation of the charm of the early comics as any I have read. Thank you, friend.

Pappy said...

Ed, thank you for thanking me!

Larry Rippee and Molly Rea said...

Great stuff. I've only seen one other example of Sam Cooper's work to my knowledge. This Mr. Justice tales makes me realize I need to check out more of his work.


Alicia American said...

Pappy Y duz Mr Justice look so diffrent in a suit? Duz he work @ tha Mayors office? What is his job?

Alicia American said...

Is Mr Justice a angel? Is he dead? Is he a god? Is he a Ancient Alien?

How come nobody points out that Ribbo has green skin & pointery ears? Did lots of peeps look like that back in tha 1940s? If so, wear did tha green peeps go?

OMG Pappy I hope their R lots of more Mr Justice storys cuz I got lotsa questions yo OMG!!!!!

Pappy said...

Larry, Sam Cooper was doing comics in the can find a partial list of his work here and match it up to comics posted on the Digital Comics Museum or Comic Book + websites.

Thanks for your note.

Pappy said...

Alicia, oh good lord, such a lot of questions. Okay, I'll look up some more Mr. Justice for sometime in the future and hopefully they will satisfy your curiosity.

Thanks for the note!