Thursday, December 4, 2014

Discuss: The Red Menace, Plus Breaking Vision "Age of Ultron" Image

Doug: I saw the image below while eating lunch. Here's the text that accompanied the image, seen at
New concept art giving us a good look at the Vision from the upcoming Avengers: Age of Ultron movie has hit the net. The image originated from Instagram user Israel06 who apparently saw the concept art hanging as a promotional banner at an international Disney promotional event and took some pictures of it. Israel06 has since removed the image but of course that hasn't kept it from making the rounds on the Internet. Paul Bettany who also does the voice for Tony Stark's Jarvis artificial intelligence will be doing the voice for the android Avenger. 

Doug: It's really not different from the image we'd seen earlier, albeit a bit brighter. So, what sayest thou?


Edo Bosnar said...

The Red Ghost is awesome: an evil scientist with a troupe of super-powered apes, what's not to love?

Redartz said...

Then, of course, there was the Black Widow; starting out as a Russian spy.

The "Red Menace" characters generally arose during the height of the cold war. And as comics reflect the times in which they are made, later stories depicted some of the "thaw" that detente brought to East/West relations. I think of the Avengers story in Saigon, where Iron Man and Titanium Man end up walking away from confrontation. Then there was the inclusion of the new Red Guardian in the Defenders. Still later, during the Gorbachev era in the latter 80's, we find Rocket Red in the JLA.

Not having read many current comics in awhile, I wonder if the recent tensions with Russia have been addressed at all...

Doug said...

Redartz --

Avengers #130 was one of the first issues that I recall buying myself, and it continues to be a favorite. Granted, as the Celestial Madonna storyline was beginning I did not have a firm grasp on what was going on, but enjoyed the terror of the three Red Menaces (with the Slasher thrown in for good measure) as well as the tussle between Iron Man and Thor.

Reading through the early issues of the Avengers, and particularly the first 3-4 Kooky Quartet stories, the Red Menace became tired -- very tired -- for me. Once the Swordsman arrived, followed by Kang, Dr. Doom, Power Man, etc. the book really picked up some steam.

And Edo -- everything is truly better with gorillas (and orangutans and chimpanzees...)!


Humanbelly said...

Was DC, as a company, ever as invested in beating them dad-blasted Commies as Marvel was-?? Man, I don't have much of anything from DC early/mid 60's output-- but I reeeeeally, really don't think so.

Off the top of my head:

-Right there in FF #1, the WHOLE EVENT is set in motion because of the urgency to beat the Soviets in the space race. Even if it means stealing one's own rocket ship (and destroying it needlessly AND forseeably in the process).

-HULK #1, the whole reason Bruce gets gammafied is because Russian spy Boris (complete w/ radio transmitter thumbnail) doesn't delay the countdown, and lets Banner get blasted.

-IRON MAN (Tales of Suspense)-- it was. . . Viet Nam, wasn't it? Where Tony was injured and taken prisoner, w/ that piece of shrapnel poking into his aorta? I seem to recall that was a surprisingly direct Us vs. the Reds scenario.

But ya wanna get TIRED (even moreso than Doug) of a constant martial drumbeat of "Beat the dirty Reds! Beat the dirty Reds!"-? Man, a HUGE amount of the Hulk's entire Tales to Astonish run (and a few issues after) are just comically rife with it. Partly because there was an endless string of "weapons projects" that Bruce had been in process with (for Ross' Army/Air Force needs)before ultimately becoming debilitated w/ the green flu. Weapons, bombs, robots-- even a time machine. And they all managed to make it to the prototype stage-- all justified by the desperate need to keep up with, or beat, the "Reds". Emil Blonsky-- the Abomination? Dude was a deep-cover, Russian-born spy who was planted on the base as a guard. A LOT of writers lost track of that fact over the years.
There was a long kidnapping plot, there was a complicated mess w/ the Mandarin (on Russian soil, somehow), SHIELD, and Yuri Brevlov (the Soviet Nick Fury). And much of it is VERY difficult to read these days, as it's so comically shallow and shrill in its jingoistic fervor.

HBGirl popped up while I was looking at our title page, here, and was enthused 'cause they'd happened to mention The Red Menace in her history class, and she wondered if I'd ever heard of it. . .

(She then suggested-- and I swear it was in earnest-- that someone should make, like, a monster movie, and that the monster could, like, be an allegory-- a favorite word right now-- for Communism. . . )

Ah, kids!


Anonymous said...

Nuclear wessels!

david_b said...

As I mentioned in part to Sean yesterday.., I have a soft fondness for 'Cold War' stuff. Loved Strangelove, the Soviet space program, all that stuff.., and have met Soviet Artillerymen while stationed in Europe protecting the Fulda Gap region in the '80s.

Loved the Marvel tension and intrique surrounding the Reds, like in Avengers issue 18. I do believe we're slightly remiss here in not mentioning DC's Starfire. Not the ballooned-Titans member, but Kovar the Soviet superhero that tangled with the Titans twice, once in the Cardy days (again, Titans ish 18), then later in the more-classic NTT tale again in issue 18 (whaaaaat a coincidence..????).

david_b said...

And, as a sidenote, being in the armed forces for nearly 29yrs, whenever I go out to the ranges to fire my pistol, I STILL quietly lament (for good luck..).

'Kill a Commie for Mommy...'

Funny/sad perhaps, but oh so true..!!

Anonymous said...

Everything is indeed better with apes as Doug says, but a bit of nutty anti-communist paranoia is a plus too - the first time I encountered the Red Ghost was in a British reprint where he was renamed the Ape Master (the earlier UK Marvels tended to avoid any mention of communism). Great stuff, but I liked the character even more when I finally encountered the real thing.

Hard to explain exactly why... something to do with the inherent lunacy of red scare paranoia, perhaps? I enjoyed Steve Gerber's take on the Red Guardian in the Defenders, but his approach was too reasonable for maximum cold warrior crazy appeal.

Btw, that's the Yellow Claw above, right? Was he actually a red? I recall him as a fairly standard blend of megalomaniac supervillain and yellow peril stereotype. But maybe I missed something.


KevinFermoyle said...

Seems to me the battle against the Commies that was so prevalent in the early Marvel books was one of Stan's attempts to differentiate Marvel from DC. The Red menace was a connection to real world current events and was a big change up from the DC heroes confrontations with bank robbers and jewel thieves.

Doug said...

Sean --

That is indeed the Yellow Claw. Here's the current Marvel take on the character. And here's a more historical approach to the character, which does discuss some Communist activities. But you're right -- he's not totally a "Red Menace" as are the other baddies pictured.


Anonymous said...

Thanks Doug - to be honest, I couldn't really remember anything about the Yellow Claw other than that Steranko SHIELD stuff.

david_b - Check out the Freedom Collective comic if you haven't seen it. Its a pastiche of the early 60s Avengers - communisms mightiest heroes (what if Stan Lee and Jack Kirby had been Soviets?) Theres a short review that will give you the general flavour at


Doug said...

Sean, I think I remember him most from his appearances in the last few issues of Nova.


david_b said...

Yellow Claw is probably rated as one of the most unused, or underutilized great Silver Age villains.. And when he was used.., it wasn't thought out well at all, comparative to some heavy-hitters like Doom or the Red Skull.

My first view of Claw was in CA&F (ish 164-167) which was good, then I read the Steranko stuff many years later (better but a lousy ending..), then the 2-part appearance in Avengers, where it just seemed phoned-in.

Edo Bosnar said...

Actually, Doug, Yellow Claw appeared a little after midway in Nova - the baddies in the last few issues were Sphinx and Dr. Sun.

Sean, I've been wanting to read Freedom Collective since I first heard about it a few years ago, but man, is it ever hard to find unless you're willing to throw down some serious coin.

Anonymous said...

Doug - Didn't read much of Nova; that would be, what, mid to late 70s? I'd always thought that Marvel stopped using the Yellow Claw by then, due to concerns about the inherent racism of the "yellow peril" notion.

Now I think about it, they were using Fu Manchu regularly throughout the decade, so.... I am surprised they have a current take on the character, though.

Of course, that could be a more thoughtful take, but I fear that may be wishful thinking....


Anonymous said...

Edo - Definitely worth reading, but might possibly be a bit disappointing if you have to pay over the odds... Surprised to hear its hard to find, but that's easy to say having just seen their table at the Leeds con a few weeks ago (where they were selling rather stylish red hammer and sickle promo t-shirts)


Anonymous said...

There was also the Sons of the Serpent, a KKK-type racist hate group that first appeared in Avengers #32-33. They turned out to be agents provocateurs for an unnamed Asian (and obviously Communist) country led by a General Chen.

Heroes at Marvel and its predecessors (Timely/Atlas) did seem to get involved in wars, both hot and cold, more than DC. Captain America et al routinely fought Nazis in WWII and "commies" during the Cold War. DC was more apolitical, and their biggest stars seemed more concerned with domestic crime (bank robbers, gangsters) and/or cosmic menaces (space aliens, monsters).

(Naturally, there were exceptions; the Boy Commandos fought Nazis, and a Batman story in Detective #361 involved refugees escaping from East Berlin).

Marvel was probably aiming at an older audience than DC in the 1960's (not adults, but maybe adolescents), and the inclusion of real-world current events, including the Cold War, reflected that policy. By the Bronze Age, DC was emulating Marvel (more complex plots, character development, social and political commentary). By then, though, both publishers had begun to lean left. "Commie" villains seemed too simplistic, and became politically incorrect. And then the collapse of the Soviet Union made them obsolete, anyway.

Russia may be re-emerging as a major world power, but, given the comic book medium's "blame America first" attitude, I doubt if recent tensions will be addressed.

Edo Bosnar said...

Sean, yeah, ordering directly from the publisher costs about £10, and that's not including postage. Everywhere else I've looked (eBay or Amazon or Book Depository - when they have listings) is even more than that. A little steep for me.

pfgavigan said...


When Marvel was printing those large quarterly issues of comics, the Giant Size Master of Kung Fu to be specific, they reprinted the Yellow Claw stuff from the Fifties. Now my memory isn't the best but I believe this was one of the first times that the villain was the title character of the book.

The writing and stories were exactly what you would expect for the time, but the art, oh the art. Joe Maneely, I believe, was the first artist and he was followed by Kirby and both gentlemen knocked it out of the ballpark in their own respective styles.

Actually, the most surprising thing about this book was that the usual rock jawed, blond haired and blue eyed alpha male standing between Western Civilization and the Mysterious Orient was replaced by Jimmy Woo. And that was one of the first times that I can remember an Asian American in that role.


William said...

Can't add much to the conversation except to say that probably my favorite one-and-done issue of Amazing Spider-Man was #255, where he fought the Red Ghost and his Super Apes while wearing his spiffy new black costume. That was an awesome story with awesome art. Ron Frenz rules!!

Ever since then RG has been one of my favorite Marvel baddies.

J.A. Morris said...

I think the Kartoon Kommie plots badly date some of the Silver Age Marvel stories.

But like Doug, Avengers 130 was one of my first issues (albeit as a back issue) and it still holds up pretty well as a "battle" story.

Karen said...

Vision!! I am both excited and terribly worried about how they'll handle him. And I never ever would think of Paul Betany's voice for him...more a deep, resonant tone. But we'll see.

Doug said...

By the way, I specifically chose those particular iterations of the Crimson Dynamo and the Titanium Man, as that's the get-ups they were wearing in the oft-mentioned Avengers #130. That's how I "see" them.


Redartz said...

"So we went out...boom, boom,boom,boom...Magneto and Titanium Man.....and the Crimson Dynamo came along for the ride!". Never did understand why Macca teamed Magneto with those two Eastern Bloc menaces...

Anonymous said...

Yeah the Red Menace was certainly a reflection of the times, a time when the Cold War was utmost in the minds of many people, including comics writers! It seems that most of our heroes were battling those pesky Russians at any given time back then.

As for that image of the Vision, all I can say is bring him on! Maybe they'll digitally alter Paul Bettany's voice?

- Mike 'yellow menace' from Trinidad & Tobago.

Humanbelly said...

Although a touch snarky and British, Bettany's voice does have an echo of ol' HAL9000 to it, y'know?

I feel like it would almost be necessary to jettison the whole "unearthly, cold, emotionless voice" convention that was forever pounded into our minds. . . 'cause I just can't imagine it working in real life, y'know? It creates too large a hurdle for an audience to get past for a sympathetic character. Professional, clear, soft, and eerily calm and cool in all circumstances-- that would be the way to go.


Anonymous said...

Just a random side-note.....I recently got a Marvel Legends Radioactive Man's pretty frickin' cool. The "star" symbol on his chest in glow-in-the-dark! PEACE


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