Thursday, March 15, 2012

Comic Books And The Cold War: Essays On Graphic Treatment Of Communism, The Code And Social Concerns

In my not-so-secret-identity, I wrote an essay about Silver Age Flash comics. It was fascinating to see how the dominant political ideology of 1950s America manifested itself in stories about a guy who can run really fast (by the way, those stories were likely the highwater mark of the character--as much as I love him, he's been running on those fumes ever since). I kept finding the theme of containment in story after story as The Flash has to fend off one threat or another to the American way of life. Unlike some other superhero comics, The Flash stories rarely mentioned communism explicitly, but The Flash was a superb Cold Warrior (and not just against Captain Cold). I'm sure the creators of the stories weren't deliberately cranking out propaganda; they were just so enmeshed in the cultural atmosphere of the time that it couldn't help but appear in their work. It makes me wonder what we're so enmeshed in today that we can't even see. Maybe fifty years from now, scholars will be able to see it more clearly than we can. "'I Can Pass Right Through Solid Matter': How The Flash Upheld American Values While Breaking The Speed Limit" is now published in Comic Books And The Cold War: Essays On Graphic Treatment Of Communism, The Code And Social Concerns.

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