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#comicbooks history

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
#comicbooks history

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.
#comicbooks history

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.
#comicbooks history

The prominent character on the cover is The Web - he doesn't have any real super powers. Instead, he feels criminals will mostly trap themselves in their own web of evil.

Quite a splash page!

This 1942 comic is public domain from digitalcomicmuseum.com
#comicbooks history

When I was first reading this story, I was looking for something else. Like an #MNightShyamalan story, I didn't expect the ending.

Like a good mystery, one clue to the ending is right in that splash page.
#comicbooks history

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
#comicbooks history

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
#comicbooks history

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
#comicbooks history

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?
#comicbooks history

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
#comicbooks history

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
#comicbooks history

I'm not a historian, but here is an article on the Lidice Massacre by the @SmithsonianMag


Obviously Zip comic books no 31 is only loosely based on reality, Indeed, what happened to the children is worse than 'sent to reform school'
#comicbooks history

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.
#comicbooks history

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.
#comicbooks history

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.
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