How Silliness Gets Serious

From the blog Superconnectivity

by Charlie Esser for the Nuff Said Podcast


Last time we saw how a very important moment in the history of comics (the death of Hitler) can lead to a deeper and complex history for a wide range of characters and their stories.

But it’s not just epic events that connect through the history of comics. The silly ones do as well.  Most famously, this:

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I am not sure what the Geneva Convention would say about hypnosis and forced transformation of your captives into cows, but for a while, this was one of those wacky early silver age stories that people would chuckle about, and try to forget.

But of course, those cows were still out there, so what happened next?


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The great John Byrne dug up the Skrull Cows for Fantastic Four Annual 17 and told the harrowing tale of a town overtaken by the milk of the Skrulls that the “world’s smartest man” just forgot about.   You know, if this was a pattern for Reed, you can kind of see Ben’s hesitation about getting on the rocket all those years ago.

Anyway, as you may know, this story leads out to the Skrull Kill Krew stories, and has gone from wacky Silver Age silliness to central theme for a number of fairly serious books, even tying into the big Secret Invasion cross over series.

Of course, sometimes, the silliness doesn’t get buried and forgotten until some enterprising writer finds it again.  Sometimes, they hang a lampshade right on it.  For example, the weirdest super coincidence in all of comics: the identical sidekick.

It starts back in the Silver Age, and Captain America’s first meeting with a young orphan Adventurer named Rick Jones:

So this is a fairly common trope right?  Random people looking exactly like someone else? It happened in the silver age.  Like Sue Storm and Alicia Masters.

But where the Alicia/Sue comparison has been forgotten over the years, the Identical Bucky conundrum was kept around, and even expanded on:

That’s Jack Monroe, the Bucky of the 1950’s another dark haired orphan who wound up side kicking with a guy named Steve Rogers, and happened to look exactly like the Bucky from the forties.  There was an entire back story where the 1950’s Cap got plastic Surgery to look like Steve Rogers, but no such back story was presented for here, he just happens to be an exact double of the original Bucky.

So, how is it that three orphans, happen to look exactly alike, and all wind up associating with the respective Captain Americas (and in Rick Jones’ case, other heroes) of their day?  Well for a while it was just a weird coincidence, but now that Bucky’s back among the living as the Winter Soldier, with a back story that has him running around the Marvel Universe in deep cover the intervening decades, we have a possible explanation.

James Buchanan Barnes is the real father of Jack Monroe and Rick Jones.  

Jack was born in 1941. That said, part of the current Bucky story ages him up to 16 or 17 when he started running around with Cap. It is possible that in early 1941, he could have had a dalliance with a woman resulting in the birth of Jack Monroe in December of that year.  Given that shortly thereafter, Bucky becomes THE Bucky and disappears into the world of espionage, Jack’s mother might have found herself with few options but to place him up for adoption, which allows his story to play out as established.

With Rick, his first appearance as a late teen was in 1962, so his conception has to be well after Bucky becomes the Winter Soldier, a weapon so valuable because he could blend in unquestioned any place Americans were welcome.  And it’s not so much a stretch that on a mission either to get information or just out of loneliness he might find someone to comfort him again. 

Once you establish a value to these children via their parentage, it’s not hard to imagine that the local spymasters   might keep tabs on these kids.  Perhaps they arrange for a full ride scholarship to the exclusive school that other Steve Rogers is teaching at.  Likewise, the Russians might steer their heir close to the other covert projects in the Americas like those secret weapons tests that their man Igor is keeping an eye on.

None of that requires their handlers to make them into the heroic individuals that they became. That is just the genetic propensity to risk taking and desire for adventure instilled in them by their true father who likewise, sought out danger and took great risks when he became the ally of Captain America.

With that the weirdest super coincidence in comics can be super connected.



Posted on July 1, 2014 .