As part of a small bet, I am half-obliged to read a superhero comic. As I only feel half-obliged i did check out something I wanted to do for a long, long time. That weird Jesus story.
That goes a while back and was part of one of the first and last comicbooks I owned myself. Maybe it is interesting to note that in Germany in the seventies & eighties, Superhero-Comics were marketed as ultra-kiddie-stuff by “Condor-Verlag”. Very cheap paper & binding, available in newsstands. Also, most of the people I knew at the time would never consider buying a small magazine style thingy. If it did not come with a “Gimmick” or in pocket-book size, we would feel ripped off. We grew up on Lustige Taschenbücher, don’t you know? Also, continueing storylines were only rarely heard of.
So, what did the fine Condor-Verlag unleash upon little Settembrini’s mind, that haunted him for so long, you might ask?
Of course, back in the day, and in some ways I still do that, I bought the book for its cover.
Pretty nice color choice & composition for German supers edition, the others usually looked utterly terrible and cheap, as we even understood back then. I have read somewhere that Condor-Verlag did “atrocious things” with re-colouring original covers and re-composing as to include more characters in a single frame. Also not that Spider-Man is called “Die Spinne” Which is “The Spider” and actually pretty nifty, probably as respectful as “THE Batman”, whereas Spider-Man is pretty ridiculous when translated.
So in any case, where was I? Right, Weird Jesus story. Oh, before I come to that, did I mention that these cheapo-slightly too violent for decent people comic books were totally reserved for lower-class kids? Yes, as closer to social welfare your parents were, the bigger your stack of these Condor-Verlag books became. Decent people had LTBs or somesuch (see above).
Anyhoo, back to the Jesus Story. It had that creepy cube in it. And Captain America. And these ultra-awesome villains with these awesome uniforms, and Spaceships flying into a tree-stump!
That was basically all I remembered, until a few days ago, when I sought for it. As it happens you can get these pocket-books ultra cheaply (lower than the former retail value, after 25+ years). But the cover (s.a.) immideately struck a chord, so I thumbed through it…and BAM! JESUS & the Cube!
I do not really know how famous this thing is, but apparently there is quite a mythology about that stuff. So I reveal the story:
But, see, to me back then, it was just a short story in “Die Spinne”. What the fuck? WHAT THE FUCK?
I never could wrap my head around it: The German name was “his last transformation”. And it never said it was part of anything bigger. Apparently it is the big finale of some epic story line about the Cosmic Cube that becomes Kubik later on, a companion to the Shaper of Worlds. Man, this short story had like, a hundred different characters, fifteen plot twists, five major battles, and a RETELLING of the whole FUCKING pre-history of the Cosmic Cube in under 40 pocket-book pages! And to top it off, it had JEEEESUS! Who appeared for no reason, and especially, due to editorial cuts in the German version has the cosmic cube in his hand in the middle of a battle. As a kid, that confused me as hell, but as an adult it still does. Is there something missing there? Also, the translation DID NOT HELP: Cap has Wundarr the Aquarian (==Jesus) in an Aikido grip, which makes some sense, as Wundarrr has Nullifying powers:
But fuck, all the fine German translator gave us to work with was: “This grip is a transformation of YOUR power.” The. Fuck.
Man, I was so confused by this back then. So, what else was in that comic book? Stuff from Peter Parker the spectacular Spider Man issues 80-83, 5 stories in total. It has the Punisher in it, as well as a what if…story with another Über-being: Der BEOBACHTER (the Watcher?; he reminds me of Phase Worlds Dominators, btw). In that What if…Dardevil is revealed to be blind and stuff happens. The other three stories have Cloak & Dagger in it, as well as Felicia the cat-lady. But the Spidey stories are okay, “Terror in the Harbor” is nice plain low-key Vigilante-action with followable action scenes. The daily bugle paper roll scene haunted me visually through my GMing career. Reading it now, I think the paper-roll thing has been reused a lot, right? Also: no emo-crap!
The Cloak & Dagger stuff still confuses me as an adult, too much emo crap, too. Where did Frank Castle aka The Punisher go in the end? Also, was this his first appearance? He is so well introduced, or did the authors retell his story EVERY time?
Okay, so enough rambling, tomorrow I will go on and tell you about a Supers story that I actually liked when reading it some days ago. I’ll give the Supers-Genre that: confronting young minds with the likes of the Cosmic Cube is as close to confrontative art as you possibly get. I definitely now have a strong urge to revisit even more Phaseworld and probably even pair it up with HU2 to get that out of my system.
Fuck, in two panels a whole world (including idiosyncratic architecture) was created by that Pegasus lab guy and destroyed again, and I am not even speaking about the lizardman transformation. Holy shit. I also had nightmares about the tentacle transformation of the cube.
Spidey stuff was boring then and is boring now, in comparison to Jesus & the Cube. If anybody knows about the prequels to the Cap Am story if they exist in German, I would appreciate.
PS: When we were young, we really thought it was Jesus, and was only not called that way for copyright/translation/law reasons. I swear to…Wundarr! Wundarr sounds pretty stupid in German, btw…(= Mirracl)
To the original discussion