Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Number 1873: Captain Marvel takes time to find Benedict Arnold

Captain Marvel, to solve the “mystery” of what happened to General Benedict Arnold, travels to 1780. Can it be true that in late 1941 when this story was published, the fate of the famous turncoat Arnold was not known? CM could have traveled ahead to 2016 and read the entry on Arnold in Wikipedia.

Going back to the story, I like Captain Marvel’s can-do spirit in building a time machine. He tells Dr. Vanna, “. . . we’re going to work out a way to travel back in time, and find out what really happened in 1780.” That is followed by a panel with sound effects, BANG, POW, BANG. They must have used big hammers to build that time machine. When Captain Marvel travels to 1780 he arrives in France, meeting Ben Franklin, who looks just like his picture on the money.

Art credit goes to C.C. Beck. From Whiz Comics #26, January, 1942:


Daniel [] said...

One of the problems with time travel rarely addressed is the issue of location. Unless we believe that the Earth, ultimately, does not move relative to some absolute spatial reference-frame, there ought to be a problem of finding oneself relocated in the vacuum of space or perhaps within some larger solid body. So it's kind-of cool that Captain Marvel did not end-up in the same position relative to the Earth, though grossly implausible that he would find himself in Franklin's French quarters.

(BTW, some paradoxes of time travel may be resolved by presuming that the traveler cannot find herself located in the light-cone from which she left. That is to say that, if she travels ten years into the past, then she must find herself at least ten light-years away from her original location.)

It looks as if Franklin were a fellow of the sort that shot first and asked questions later!

By the time of Arnold's defection, the rebels had stopped referring to themselves as colonists and to the jurisdictions in which they lived as colonies. And, while it wouldn't surprise me if Franklin had developed a harmonica, the things were invented in Europe when Franklin himself was about 15 years old; likewise, the rocking chair was invented by others when Franklin were still a child (albeït that it was invented in North America).

More importantly, the whole business of how and why Arnold Benedict traveled to the time of rebellion and was set-up as Benedict Arnold is baldly left a mystery! And Captain Marvel simply chooses to trust him with a second chance as Arnold Benedict!

The suggestion that Sivana, in some distant future, were going to become a force for good is interesting. I assume that there were some sort of story about Sivana's return from AD 2442 … or did Jack just get out of the pit? But it doesn't seem that Captain Marvel should have been counting on the time machine to self-destruct, so that he'd have no reason to expect Sivana not simply install interior controls and then set the thing for a quick return. And, even if Marvel had somehow known that the machine would 'splode, still Silvana might retain enough understanding of it just to build another.

Kirk said...

It would seem Sivana has turned, or will turn centuries from now, a new leaf.

J_D_La_Rue_67 said...

Interesting story. I always like time travel stories, if they make sense.
This one made me think of Pharaoh Rama Tut, Kang, and Immortus: the same guy "scattered" in different timelines.

I never thought about it, but now I got the feeling that Beck's Billy Batson owes something to French-Belgian Bedé, in the way he looks and moves... could it be that Beck saw some of Hergé's early works? It's not exactly Ligne Claire, but it gives me that feeling. Maybe it's just nonsense...

Alicia American said...

Y didnt he just go 2 tha Rock of Internity if he needed 2 travelerize thyme Pappy?

Pappy said...

Ah, gee, Daniel, here you go ruining my fantasy of time travel as being able to: a) go back and change embarrassing moments, and b) put those damn early Marvel Comics in plastic bags and hang onto them rather than sell my whole collection in 1969.

Now according to you I know I will be many lightyears away in the vacuum of space, dead!

Pappy said...

Alioia, I think this story came before the Rock of Eternity stories in Captain Marvel. Thanks for thinking of it, though. You have learned your lessons well on comic book history, my dear.

Pappy said...

Kirk, what, Sivana reformed? No chance. It was some sort of aberration.

Pappy said...

J D, C. C. Beck, who helped design Captain Marvel's look, was a staff artist for Fawcett Publishing, which did mainstream magazines like Mechanix Illustrated. At least that is how I understood he got the assignment. I don't know if he saw Tintin or not, or if he just used a simplified cartooning technique to tell the story.

(P.S. I first saw Tintin in a 1959 or '60 Golden Press printing of Explorers On the Moon. I found the book in 1969 on a department store bargain table. Whitman publishing Americanized the dialogue, and attempted to make hardbound comic books available. They were years too early. I doubt that very many people of the time wanted to pay $1.95 for a comic book in hard covers, almost 20 times more than comics books on the newsstand priced at 10 cents. )

Alicia American said...

LOL This is a badass intervu w/ CC Beck, he was angry about EVRYTHING yo: Was TinTin in tha USA back B4 Capt Marvel? I dunno. We luv u Pappy! Gerald Casale of Devo axeded us 2 record 1 of his songz, its gunna B on our next record yo #XSIGHTING

Pappy said...

Alicia, wow, I am a Devo fan, so when that happens please let us know.

C. C. Beck was a man after my own heart, kvetching and complaining about things, including the state of comic art. In the '70s when reading the columns he wrote in various fanzines I agreed with his opinions.