One Panel #175: Is Master Comics the Most Offensive Golden Comic Looking Back with 20/20 Hindsight?

From "The Origin of Master Man" by Newt Alfred, Master Comics #1 (March 1940)

The month we're currently looking at in One Panel introduced another title to Fawcett Comics' publishing schedule: Master Comics. And if that title kind of makes you squirm right now, it's no doubt because of its evocation of the "Master Race" (comics weren't yet punching Nazis as regularly as they soon would), and indeed its cover feature, the blond, blue-eyed Master Man seems to play into Hitler's ideal. With the rise of White Supremacists over the last year, the comic seems especially wrong-headed to contemporary eyes. And it wasn't just Master Man. The book also featured:

The White Rajah, a white man with "jungle expertise" given the run of an Indian kingdom. Not kidding.

Morton Murch, the Hillbilly Hero, who perhaps has more in common with the current Nazi than the historical model. Forgive the snark about Southerners. I mean no harm. Morton does make bullets for a peaceful society, arming them for war though.

And Rick O'Shay (ha! I get it!) who fights fanatical Arabs in Northern Africa when they dare to "revolt".

It's like this thing's editors had some kind of crazy mixed-up crystal ball!


Tony Laplume said...

You may check out a few Grant Morrison comics, including his early masterpiece Zenith (featuring a Nazi supervillain named Masterman) and his later Multiversity, particularly the Mastermen issue. I suspect the irony of this Golden Age character wasn't lost on him in the least...

Andrew said...

For those not in the know, in the 70's Roy Thomas took the name Master Man and gave it to a bona-fide WWII Nazi. This Master Man was one of a trio that (a) gave the Invaders some supervillains they could fight and (b) let Thomas riff on a handful of DC characters--the other two were Warrior Woman and U-Man, and MM had a powerset similar to the first couple years of Superman.

American Hawkman said...

The White Rajah gets bonus credit for being based on a real thing that actually is somewhat beloved by the people they ruled to this day because they treated the locals like people and protected them from exploitation.


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