During World War II, many American comic books were fervent in their patriotism - from slugging Hitler to selling War Bonds and Stamps
One comic book story blended a real life event with one of their super-heroes.
The event is the massacre at Lidice
When real people are dying - civilians, partisans and military - you just can't have Superman win the Battle of Britain or save the day at Dunkirk. Super-heroes in comics were in a world of fantasy, living out the fantasy to punching Hitler.
This is Zip Comis 31, from late 1942. The publisher, MLJ, would later change its name to Archie Comic Publications.
WWII comics in general, not just MLJ comics, often had a shocking amount of racist imagery and characterizations.
The story (pencils possibly Sam Burlockoff, writer unknown) begins in a Czech village.
A peasant fails to show sufficient respect and is punished - which leads to his daughter dying.
Notice the Nazi's name is very specific, Heydrich
The second strand of the Web is the grieving farmer deciding to help an American spy.
The third strand is the arrival of The Web himself, who confronts Heydrich in his office
All three strands come together at the farmer's house, and the Hero, the Spy, and the Partisan now form a plan to get the spy to safety.
The plan goes awry, and our partisan decides to draw off the pursuit and gain justice on Heydrich personally
Our heroic partisan dies, while the Super-Hero and the Spy (using the corpse of Heydrich) make good their escape over the border.
Just another WWII super-hero adventure, right?
As we see the Super-Hero and Spy report, we also see an irate Hitler exact retribution
Every man in Lidice killed
Every woman put in a concentration camp
Every child put in a reform school
The entire town razed
It was only at the very end I realized the comic was fiction wrapped around reality.
This was a fall 1942 comic about the summer 1942 massacre at Lidice
You can go back up and look at the splash page again. That image of execution could have been used or another put on that last page, but it was used as the splash page.
I came to the story looking for something else. The comic book then lead me to that Smithsonian Magazine article, including the haunting memorial there.
The Smithsonian Magazine article also looks at the intensity of the response to Lidice compared to the response to the ongoing Holocaust. The Lidice event was used by both sides to further their cause.