Friday, December 19, 2008

NOT TO BE SOLD







I got this comic in 1983 from a boy named Gyon Vjack. I don’t know why he gave it to me. The Vjacks lived in our town and had emigrated from what was then Yugoslavia. They were an extended family whose number I’d estimate in the tens of thousands all living in one enormous house. Soon, each grade level in school had at least three or four Vjacks. They were everywhere.


Added to this mystery of the Vjack’s is the stamp on this comic’s cover. You can see it right over Captain America himself - "COMPLEMENTARY - NOT TO BE SOLD" Why was this not for re-sale? How did Gyon get it? Why did he give it to me? Why, without provocation, did he later expertly punch me in the solar plexus? Had I not reciprocated my appreciation appropriately? Was this a local custom from his homeland? What the hell?

There’s something I’m unable to decode yet enormously symbolic that during the height of the Cold War, I should receive both a Captain America comic and a subsequent personal attack from a Yugoslav refugee. Maybe you have an idea what that all means because I sure don’t.

Captain America, of course, was the patriotic creation of Jack Kirby, conjured to fight Nazis and an array of villains who symbolized totalitarian fascism during the 1940’s. Later, Ol’ Cap would be frozen in an arctic tomb, only to be unfrozen by Marvel Comics and brought into the malaise of 1970’s America. Placing the ludicrously clad iconic figure amid the urban decay of the Seventies shows artistic genius on the part of Marvel Comics.


In this particular issue, an old army buddy from WWII has contacted Cap and asked him to help him find his son, who he believes has taken up with a neo-Nazi motorcycle gang. Cap snoops around and indeed the boy has taken up with a gang called The Huns. There’s a fantastic scene when Captain America arrives at their hideout, having to process the sight of Nazi paraphernalia donned by American longhairs.


Captain America is just about to get through to the boy when…whoa, Doctor Octopus shows up!! Hey, what’s he doing here??


At any rate, Cap fights Doc, Doc gets away…blah, blah, blah…


If you have any thoughts on why that malignant little Slavic bastard hit me that day, please post a comment. Thanks.

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