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Heading to Europe, Captain America and Bucky Dress for the “Decadence” of the Continent.

Heading to Europe? Don’t forget to put a corset, wig, and dress over your costume, and to outfit your boy sidekick as Little Lord Fauntleroy.

This series of panels, from Captain America #2 (April 1941), is a great illustration of something that mainstream contemporary comics have for the most part lost, and to their detriment.

A lot of Golden Age comics really have this beautiful dream logic to them… It’s so uncalculated and absent of guile, too. A rich American, planning to give money to the British war effort, has gone missing, so (of course!) Cap and Bucky decide to go AWOL to find the abducted American millionaire.

They have to go AWOL because Captain America is really Private Rogers, and is supposed to be on base– remember that until December of 1941 US has not yet entered the War in Europe! Captain Rogers, while a patriot through and through, was never much of a rule-follower.

And they decide, to find the wealthy man, the best strategy would be dress up (over the Cap costume) as an elderly lady and her grandson. Because comics.

I’m not saying that every comics plotline would benefit from the strange dream-logic of early superhero comics, but I am saying that the superhero landscape would be richer if more titles continued it. There are some stories by Grant Morrison or Dan Slott that might fit the bill, but for the most part, it’s gone from modern super heroes.

I think I like it so much because it feels very much like the logic of a lot of children’s cartoons from the 80s that I grew up with– stories that go from plot point to plot point without ever asking if there’s logic to the sequence of events. It’s using plot simply as a glue to hold together a series of images or set pieces, and in exchange simply asks the reader for a little bit of extra suspension of belief. But, I mean, you already have super-strong men in tights who can shoot lasers from their eyes and fly… it’s not that big a leap.

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