If I showed you a comic book starring Cat-Man, Ragman, Pied Piper, and The Hood, you’d yawn the entire time you were cursing the monkey’s paw that granted a DC/Marvel crossover, but only starring D-listers. Then I’d explain: these were the original monikers from the ’40s, and you’d ask, “How racist are their adventures?”
Oh! How to stuff a symphony into a box? Like society, Cat-Man Comics is a racism rainbow. Cat-Man faintly echoes imperialism through a Jungle Book childhood after his parents get themselves murdered in Burma. Ragman has a more vibrant White Man’s Burden, dragging his superstitious manservant Tiny into gangster brawls and the Nazi bullets—all for the good of a society that oppresses him.
Ragman’s a millionaire who thinks a cheap suit disguises him, and at that level of entitlement, ignorance comes standard. This sweet, stupid son of privilege fights foreign white supremacists who threaten the white supremacy at home that he never questions.
Tiny somehow infiltrated a submarine at sea, caught a bullet, and still took out the Nazi who shot him. Yet because he talks like the writer was secretly lampooning Black stereotypes, the clod who signs his checks is clueless who the real hero is. Ragman has never--not even once--asked Tiny about his pottery or favorite rainy day record.
Pied Piper mostly fights vampires and werewolves, so he mainly targets eastern Europeans, yet leaves the Nazis alone? Suspicious.
None of these amateurs can match The Hood, who embodies institutional racism on a cellular level. His right fist is hatred, and his left fist bears no name because it jabs faster than sound. He’s the fourth branch of government, and it’s a hickory switch.
The appropriately named Hood’s origins are as murky as his motive: “America, therefore FUCK YOU.” His only powers are short bursts of flight and universal aggression. That’s all the abilities of a turkey in mating season, if the turkey knew a lot of slurs for Asians. Like, any Asian. Take a look at his debut, in which he fights—no lie, The Yellow Horde.
Oh, that’s a relief. They’re just AIM scientists. Boy, this could have quickly gone grim—
Woah! Who is this masked racist with muscles of iron and prejudice of steel?
Depending which identity he’s using that day, Agent Major Craig Tom Wood Reynolds Williams was either an “FBI operator” or a war pilot, but all of the Hood’s aliases wait until an attack is in progress to prepare for battle.
When Horde saboteurs start lighting people on fire, his first move is to hide and change his underwear. As a superhero he’s neither super nor heroic. Two panels into his debut, he has absolutely revealed his secret identity. No way the plant owner will forget “Craig Williams, undercover FBI man” showing up the same time as The Hood. He just has to ask himself “Who’s the one person I’ve met lately whose face is so spiteful he’d hide it?” Craig looks like the kind of guy who has kids just so he’ll always have someone weaker to be mad at.
Yeah, wade back into the cloud of sleeping gas! Stop being a bunch of weak-willed oxygen breathers, says Dumb-Dumb Hood, from a girder high above the gas where he could have been secretly lurking this whole time.
That’s when things cross into “Racist even for the ‘40s.”
Look, dehumanizing our enemies is the only way we’re ever going to get this slaughter of our fellow man going, and The Hood debuted practically hours before Pearl Harbor. But Japan had been atrocitizing China for four and a half years at that point. Lumping those two nations together was a bold statement and it said: “Blow them all to Hell, and let Anglo-Saxon God be too busy to sort them out.”
At the Tong mission hall, he beats the hell out of several Chinese caricatures, despite knowing they’re slaves fighting for their lives. He insists he just wants to talk while mocking his outclassed victims, until a giant (also named Tong) hands his ass to him. Tong inadvertently founded The Special Olympics by hammer throwing The Hood, and prompting all decent human beings to cheer with joy.
Then comes the twist:
With the brains of the operation revealed to be a white man with a gun, Super-Lindbergh suddenly finds a gentler way, and literally pulls the rug out from under his foe. I think he only opposes Nazis because he considers their alliances with non-white nations weak.
The Hood also uses gentler insults with Nazis. Only once does he call them “monkeys” and that’s the least insult he slings at Pacific nations. Every Japanese agent he fights would be genuinely touched if he softened his invective to “Take that, you cackling hyena-men from before the Great Flood!”
No, if you want to see The Hood go full throttle on Nazis, you’ll have to watch him strangle dogs.
Sure, they were Nazi dogs, but can a dog really hold a racial ideologies? I refer you to the Nuremberg trial of WHO’S A GUT BOY? DU IST DIE GUT KLEINE KINDER, HUNDEN!
Also: Craig is dating women on both coasts, under at least one assumed name.
Now behold, the master plan:
The Teufelhunds devastate America’s key wartime industries of talkie films and Sunset Boulevard cosplay. An imitation Gene Autry gurgles his thanks as The Hood strangles as many canine windpipes as his little hands can grip. But no thanks is necessary. Craig hasn’t killed this many dogs since primary school. He was made for this. But a more efficient response is required:
Our champion slowly drives a van thirty miles to smash dogs through a Malibu mansion’s skylight. But he doesn’t do it for the medals.
If you think abusing animals is exciting, just watch The Hood unleash his fury on targets he esteems even lower: foreigners with epicanthic folds.
Japan is blitzkrieging, and it makes The Hood restless. His heroic super senses tell him that somewhere the crime occurs of two cultures mixing.
We find our hero escorting actress Rae Girlfriend home from dinner at Cresent Pictures, Inc. You can tell by Rae’s face what kind of plastic covers she’ll put on the couch where she mourns her sullen, xenophobic boyfriend. “That’s the Major,” she’ll caw. “My gentleman caller, he died fighting those sneaky [censored]s in Seattle in 1951. Do you know women are showing their bare shoulders on TV ads these days? Two Puerto Ricans moved in across the hall, but I don’t think they’re married. Disgusting.”
Yup, that’s an internment camp.
Golden Age comics moved fast: in three panels we went from Rae worrying tonight would be one of Craig’s extra-chokey sex nights to unfounded paranoia swaddled in hate speech, to presenting America’s third-biggest crime against humanity as a good thing.
The five escapees, who probably weren’t radicalized until FDR stole their homes and businesses, flee to a ranch in southern Idaho.
Ignoring Japan’s fiendish plot to insert a spy in the…back kitchen of a ranch? How did those cowhands not realize what they were dealing with the moment they saw he was fastidious? Haven’t they read Bokker’s Big Book of Racial Phrenology, 1938 edition? It says “Order is in the Japanite’s nature, as it is, too, to call everything honorable.” The entry went unchanged until 1987, when it was expanded to say, “Karate tentacle.”
Defying the natural democracy of the Western cookhouse, the four men (I guess one died in transit?) plot to steal a ridiculously dangerous explosive for coordinated kamikaze shenanigans.
Unfortunately for them, they’re stealing from Maj. Craig Wood, a.k.a. The Hood, a.k.a. The Grand Cyclops. The only things he lives for are explosions, racially motivated attacks and other, government-sanctioned racially motivated attacks.
Behind him, Rae (evening gown edition) looks at herself in the mirror with womanly concern. Her neck is free from sex bruises. Tonight will be a good night for justice.
Storing the equivalent of several nukes in a Western safe, Dr. Carson is set upon by six(?) Japanese agents dressed as cowboys. It’s 1941, and this comic thinks the outfit that will attract the least attention is the same one Billy the Kid died in.
America can’t afford to lose that formula even though Carson probably can reconstruct it, so The Hood orders our national defense not to shoot the bombers out of the sky. He flies to their farmhouse, spouting hate speech for no one’s ears but his own.
The Hood bravely attempts to do what an inexperienced pilot already did with a cargo of explosives. Fortunately:
Every one of these terrorists forgot their guns, so one of them changes the plan from coordinated destruction of a half-dozen cities to “Just the five of us die right now.” But unlike Craig’s fury at minorities receiving equal treatment, the Carlyte doesn’t explode!
He hit that dude so hard he knocked all four of their hats off. That’s the universal sign for defeat, but this is Hood’s America, and America doesn’t bow to the authority of the larger universe. When you battle The Hood, the punches are just there to distract you from the real attack on your humanity.
Back home, Rae subtly emasculates Craig, never knowing the iron fist that clutches the erotic edge of asphyxiation she craves is sitting right in front of her.
Which brings us to The Hood’s coronation as King Clod of Ignorance Mountain: the time he single handedly decimated Japan’s population. I don’t want to come out too strong against the guy fighting the Axis Powers, but for everyone who asked, “Why doesn’t Superman just go to Europe and end the war?” the creators of The Hood thought the answer was, “And spoil all this fun?”
Bokker’s Book claims “the skull of the Japan Man is paper-thin to accommodate his naturally obedient, honorable brain,” but even so, axe-punching a brainpan is risky. Hood only shattered his fist to prove he can repel the horde single handedly, but don’t let that distract you from the fact that “The Yellow Horde” now references an entire nation.
Because Craig never does any soldiering or investigating, he’s hanging out at an airfield, waiting to see if his pilot buddies want to get drunk and tell jokes about blindfolding POWs, when Hirohito’s grocers launch a sneak attack during peace talks. America’s heroes scramble to the air, and also so does The Hood.
Of all the times Craig has fled from danger to put on his special big boy suit, this has to be the dumbest. It’s an aerial battle, and everyone on duty already noted his presence before a previously unaccounted-for pilot clogged the radio channel with his gleeful kill count.
He chases them back to their aircraft carrier and lands with no plan to get home. Not knowing when to quit while you’re winning is such a Craig move, it’s amazing his parents didn’t name him America. Or maybe they did. He’s got so many aliases I can’t keep track.
In what must surely be his version of a real-life porno, Hood is trapped at sea with five thousand asses to kick and ten thousand ears to tear off.
His fist buffet is cut short when an officer “treacherously” fights back. Then the guy tells him to “Prepare to digest one honorable bullet.” It doesn’t make a lot of sense, but it’s still better repartee than “This will put you to sleep!” or "I'll tear your ears off!" Maybe we should follow this guy’s adventures instead?
Alas, they spare Hood’s hateful life and bring him to the emperor.
Oh, look at him. He’s so into it. He welcomes your pain. The Hood feeds on torture. Meaningless sacrifice is the butter on his unnecessary sadism bread. “Ungh. Please. Stop. I beg you.”
Hirohito wants to break the embodiment of American Yeehaw Johnny Cowboy’s spirit, but The Hood literally kicks his ass. This is the moment he’s been waiting for. It’s all coming to fruition. Glorious, unfettered violence at last.
I know you think that’s the world’s first Wheaties joke, but “beaties” are Craig’s morning flagellations with a rubber hose to prepare himself for the crucible of pain America asks of him. And he eats that shit dry.
Your guns mean nothing to him. None of this is real. He’s marauding through an illusion. World War II is just a video game, and Craig has entered the God Mode code.
The Hood leaps lustily towards an anti-aircraft cannon, and barely has time for racism before he—
—aims it at the POW camp.
Enslimed with the spattered tissues of his enemies, The Hood finds no more violence to be done here. All is destruction. And still, whispers Ares in his ear, still, he is not finished yet. No, he will never be finished.
A moment of horror at his actions comes over Craig. This goes beyond battle. This is war crime. Surely, allies are among the dead. He must flee. No one need ever know what happened here—
But it is far too late for him. Something dark takes the stick, and the plane banks south towards Yokohama.
They must be taught the lesson, these termites in the shape of men. They must become the lesson, so no nation, ever again, will look at the remains of what had been their families, and think it was sanity to challenge the United States…
He remembers all of it. Every single, glorious second, etched into his brain like acid lithographs. He has no regrets. There is no more need for the lies, the assumed names, the girlfriends, mere pageantry, the appearance of a mortal life. He will never take off the hood again.
This article was brought to you by our fine sponsor and Hot Dog Supreme, Topless Connection: who fights under the moniker THE TIE and uses a magical necktie to control the uppity- what? Why do I have to stop typing this joke? Oh, ohhhh. Right.