Monday, February 08, 2016

Number 1851: Samson punked by Nazi saboteurs!

Samson, like his Biblical counterpart, gets his strength from his long hair. Here he is shorn of his locks and yet still manages to battle on. His haircut doesn’t last long, as he is able to grow his hair at will. A nifty trick.

This Samson is from Fox Comics, and this story is from Big 3 #4 (1941). It appeared several months before actual hostilities were declared between the Americans and Germans. In this fast-moving tale the Nazis are already up to their sabotage business at the direction of pinpoint-eyed Johann Sanf, who also involves an American mayor in the plot.

Credit for the drawing is given by the GCD to Pierce Rice, with inking probably done by Arturo Cazeneuve, both journeymen from the early days of comic books.


Daniel [] said...

Until the World-Wide Web and 'blogs such as yours developed, all that I knew about characters such as Samson was what I inferred from images of covers, reproduced in Steranko's History of Comics and in catalogues of comic-book dealers.

Of course, this is yet another of those early golden-age stories in which the plot does little more than string together a lot of over-the-top action.

Those shears must have been absolutely remarkable, or Samson's hair must have had a peculiar fragility.

Dana wasn't actually mayor; in 3:2, Sanf referred to a future time when Dana would hold the office. In any case, Dana was, at the least, an accessory to multiple murders. But, as every reader has almost surely noticed, the heroes of the early golden age tended to be Nietzschean supermen, directly deciding criminality and punishment. Samson might have believed that Dana were sufficiently reformed as not to have his rôle explained to the present authorities.

Tony Montano said...

Another cool comic book from the golden-age days. This is "chust" nice. :-->

J_D_La_Rue_67 said...

A superman called "Samson", with a sidekick called "David"...
What else can they do aside from fighting Nazi saboteurs?

Do you happen to know the name of Samson's hair tonic? I could really use it!

Pappy said...

Daniel, you make a good point about superheroes of the era, but isn't it also true of many superheroes of today? How many of them catch a crook in the act, then drop him off at the local police station so the cops can deal with him? Of course, do superheroes even deal with "normal" illegal acts anymore? Are the days totally gone when a hero like Batman would round up a local bank robbery gang? It seems that being a hero has become almost a supernatural calling, dealing with villains who can do damage on a cosmic scale.

It also goes back to vigilantism. The dime novel and pulp heroes had a strong streak of the vigilante in them. And who could blame them? Cops in many areas had reputations as crooked. Comic books just followed in the paths that had been laid out for them by generations of overcooked melodramas of masked men avenging wrongs.

You are the one, I believe, who has pointed out Sir Percy Blakeney, the Scarlet Pimpernel. That 1905 novel was very influential on characters who followed.

J_D_La_Rue_67 said...

"do superheroes even deal with "normal" illegal acts anymore? Are the days totally gone when a hero like Batman would round up a local bank robbery gang? It seems that being a hero has become almost a supernatural calling, dealing with villains who can do damage on a cosmic scale."

Funny, this makes me think of "Watchmen".

If I recall, in Watchmen's world cops go on strike against vigilante actions and eventually succeed in banishing masked crimefighters, in 1976 or 77. And the only one "real" superhero (Doc Manhattan) is indeed a "supernatural" entity of sorts.

You may well be called "The Anti-Alan Moore", Pappy.

Daniel [] said...

Yes, I'd not noted that, but the scale of villainy in comics has come to preclude deferring to established authorities!

The vigilantes in fiction tend to be of better character than those in fact, but the established authorities in fiction also tend to be of better character than those in fact.

In any case, there's a huge philosophical error in thinking that, by deferring to such authorities, one is not taking the law into one's own hands. One uses one's judgment of right-and-wrong in deciding whether presenting accusations or evidence to authorities is an acceptable way of seeking justice, and the act of invoking them is fundamentally a taking of the law into one's own hands. Sometimes, it is as inexcusable as would be the most awful lynching. («Hallo, ich möchte einen Anruf bei der Gestapo zu platzieren.»)

Pappy said...

J D, I respect Alan Moore's Watchmen too much to be anti-Alan Moore, but you make a point about Dr. Manhattan.

I also see many of Moore's comic book writing to be in the form of homage, where he takes someone else's character, changes the name, and gives it "Moore" of a spin.

Do you have the hair-growing product generically known as minoxidil in Italy? My son used it for several years on his bald spot and it worked well...then he stopped using it and all of his new hair disappeared. It's the problem with the product; it has to be used on a regular basis. I would like to use it for thinning hair on top, but minoxidil is a blood pressure medication (which turned out to promote hair growth as a side effect), so I can't use it. Like many of my generation, I am already on a blood pressure medication.

Pappy said...

Hey Tony Montano, thanks for the note. "Chust" what I needed to hear.

Pappy said...

Daniel, I think in these days of debates over gun ownership, where people in neighborhood watch areas sometimes pull guns on suspicious people, if "neighborhood watch" isn't a fancy word for vigilante. Sanctioned by law, in many cases, but often stepping over into that "taking the law into your own hands"-type behavior you mentioned. I think there is a gray area when a gun is used outside of one's personal residence. Under American laws a home is a personal, near-sacred space, and can be defended within the law, sometimes with deadly force.

J_D_La_Rue_67 said...

Daniel, I can decide to call the police, and this may lead to someone be arrested, but it's up to the "law" to decide if my accusations are well motivated. But you're right, if I shoot someone whom i think (or know) is a murderer, I do not "take the law in my own hands", I BREAK the law, because I'm not entitled to do such a thing.
And yes, calling the Gestapo would have been the "right" thing to do, in a way, for it WAS "the law", but then again, we all know that law (as any human invention) can be sometimes unfair and amoral.

Pappy, we had minoxidil (now it seems to be out-fashioned), but really, I don't care about hair-loss, I'm not that vain!

Besides, I tried it in the 90's and it didn't work.
Also, don't wanna mess with blood pressure. Too many problems in my family.

Pappy said...

J D, well, of course you have minoxidil. I only mentioned it because my son used it successfully, but like you say in your note, he decided he was not that vain.

I wanna mention one more thing about your note. You say "wanna" for want to. It has become common usage. Even the President of the U.S. says "wanna" and "gonna" for going to. Those things show me you are quite a linguist, and pick up those quirks and shortcuts of English. When comic books first came out they were criticized for that sort of colloquial language, but proper English doesn't sound correct anymore without using what are sloppy pronunciations. "Gonna" and "wanna" are now part of the language, even if they make English language purists cringe with dismay at their use.

Daniel [] said...

J.D., you're making a common error in your reasoning.

Setting aside whatever natural law might exist, all law is the rules that some person or group of persons actively seeks to impose. Without natural law, there is no entitlement; the only difference amongst these attempts are degrees of success. Very successful groups are widely seen as legitimate, while those who are less successful are seen variously as vigilantes, as rebels, or as criminals; but, though failure by one group is sometimes perfect, success never is.

The people who actively side with the more successful groups and the people who side with the less successful groups are each taking the law into their own hands in that active alignment. And, while omission is not equivalent to commission, still refraining from summoning one group or another of would-be law-givers to deal with someone whom that group would regard as a transgressor is itself a taking of the law into one's own hands. And those who impute legitimacy to some group of would-be law-givers have thereby taken the law into their own hands.

Natural law would be rules that aren't willed by anyone, but are somehow discoverable by the mind. A person who managed to make such a discovery and then sought to act on it would be different from some person or group who simply acted on his, her, or their wishes. But acting on that natural law would widely been seen as taking the law into one's own hands; and, to the extent that choosing to be an instrument of law is taking the law into one's own hands, that perception would be correct.

J_D_La_Rue_67 said...

"Natural law would be rules that aren't willed by anyone, but are somehow discoverable by the mind."

Interesting. Isn't self preservation a natural law? I will to stay alive as long as I can. Isn't it a key to Aquinas' moral theory? I tend to agree, but then again, the Aztecs and the Pharaoh's servants went to the sacrifice willingly, or did they?
I can't imagine rules that aren't willed by anyone.

Too difficult. I am a man of simple motivations, i stick to "don't do unto others".. etc.

Pappy, it's not that I'm a linguist, I've just read too many comics. :)

Daniel [] said...

J.D., while I happen to believe in natural law, I don't think that we want the discussion here to get into that question. My previous remarks are designed to hold, regardless of whether there is natural law or not. Without natural law, the successful vigilante, rebel, or criminal is as entitled as anyone else, because, really, there's no legitimacy and no illegitimacy.

The Confucian Golden Rule (“Do not unto others as you would not have them do unto you.”) is a pretty good one. I happen to think that it's a rough approximation of one part of natural law.