Friday, February 19, 2010

Lost Universe: The Patriot

Here at Flashback Universe we’d like to start discussing comics in the past tense, in addition to our present and future tense articles. To that end we’re continuing a new feature we’re calling Lost Universes. We’ll discuss properties, imprints, lines, and characters from comic book universes that are no longer actively putting out books such as Valiant, the Ultraverse, Comics Greatest World and others. More to the point, we’ll be examining what made those publishers and their lines interesting, unique and great...

Today while narrowing in on the "comics boom" (bronze & iron ages) we'll be examining a unique phenomenon of the publishers in the LOST UNIVERSE: The fact that only one of them published a book centered around a patriotic character sporting the stars & stripes (or another nations equivalent). For such an iconic look, and powerful archetype filled with stories of characters standing up for all mankind to do what's right in the name of the nations we've built over time & those behind the flag being held to a higher standard as they represent "the best of us" doesn't it seem weird that only one publisher put out any books like these? Just one?

When you consider that lots of publishers were publishing one or two, and the bigger publishers had many more, the lack of such a strong dominating genre, which was being ill represented on the comic book shelves by these publishers, may have played a factor in one or two of their demise don't you think?

Then again, the one publisher who did publish a patriotic book also met their demise so who really knows how big a factor such a decision might play.

A bit of perspective:
  • DC: 23 patriotic styled characters (plus a team)
  • Marvel: 21 patriotic styled characters (plus a team)
  • Image: 5 patriotic styled characters
  • Wildstorm + Imprints: 6 patriotic styled characters
Lets examine this a bit further by taking a look at some of the LOST UNIVERSE publishers who didn't put out a patriotic book...

In the Ultraverse the government was largely represented by an organization known as ALADIN and their primary agent was WRATH.

There were nine regular issues & a giant size published of WRATH, all of them filled with twisted mysterious government secrets that WRATH was charged with protecting. The entire run put the man behind the mask (a genetically altered soldier by the way) at odds with his orders and kept the book really messy story wise as plots twisted and intermingled full of guest stars that would nearly overshadow the main character at times.

As you can see, WRATH does not wear the iconic colors or emblems of any nation and wouldn't be considered a patriotic character by any stretch of the imagination.

The Valiant universe, probably the largest of the LOST UNIVERSES, had plenty of government poking around in it's many titles. I think the closest thing they had to a patriotic character were the ARMORINES.

The U.S. Government took X-O Manowar as a threat. The Armorines were created by Dr. Phillip Zahn to deal with this threat. After they got the go ahead on the project from Senator Ackerman, Colonel Gardner recruited eight soldiers to function as the Armorines. Four would be trained as the field agents with the other four acting as their co-pilots from the base. Gunny Lewis, an aging war veteran, was chosen to be their field leader. Ackerman, however, made it perfectly clear to Gardner that he wanted Lewis out of the program as soon as the others were properly trained to function without him.

The Armorines are also not "star spangled" and if memory serves the standard Iconic American Dream type stories that one would find in a patriotic book were not to be found in this one.

Since the CGW series took place in three major cities, there's plenty of government here (or lack there of depending on your story view). The closest thing that CGW has for a patriotic character are the PIT BULLS.

The Pit Bulls aren't really even government. Instead they're a classified strike team of police officers set aside to deal with the costumed/powered ruffians of Arcadia (one of the CGW setting cities).

While they do have blue suits they are not flag wearers and the members are not iconic who represent the best of us as most patriotic superheroes often do.

To be fair I did leave out a few publishers that did publish patriotic character centered books like; AC Comics (Miss Victory & Yankee Girl) but AC Comics is technically publishing again from their website, Archie Comics ( Captain Flag & The Shield) who are technically still publishing as well, & Fox Features Syndicate (U.S. Jones & V-Man) who were not part of the "Comics Boom" but are golden age publishers.

TEKNO, CHAOS!, CROSSGEN, BROADWAY, & DEFIANT were all comic book publishers who didn't put out a patriotic character book (although I'm betting TEKNO'S would have been interesting if they had).

Who did?

Awesome Entertainment published The Fighting American/Agent:America & whether that did or didn't play a part in it's demise this blogger can't say for sure but AWESOME was the only LOST UNIVERSE publisher of the "Comics Boom" to put out a patriotic character centered book.

Was it a sign of the times (bad girls, big guns, trench coats, mutans & meyham) that made introducing new Patriotic characters more passe than Omnipotent, or Dark Vigilante characters? Would it be chalked up to "tone"? Maybe the smaller publishers where trying to do something a bit different than the big two? Maybe Captain America had that corner of the comic book shelf taken care of? Maybe the creators who went to work for the other publishers had all already done their Captain America story?

Did we cover your favorite lost universe in this post? Did we cover your favorite character (patriotic or not) from the Comics Boom? We want to so please let us know what you think about this article, this series, or anything else that may be on your mind concerning the Flashback Universe.

Have a great weekend!


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