So I just discovered Rick and Morty last night.
It’s a good show, a bit dark, bleak, and incredibly pessimistic.
I bring this up because it provides a direct contrast with my love of superheroes.
Yes they’re bright, colorful, and probably have no place in modern society but that’s not the point.
Superheroes are supposed to be titans of morality and/or walking metaphors that can solve all their problems by punching them or blasting them with energy rays. Sure, sometimes they may a bit more complicated and complex, but in the end that’s what they are.
Superheroes did the right thing, ate their vegetables, said their prayers, and told little Timmy that doing the right thing came first, no matter what. They were uncomplicated lessons in morality for kids in an uncertain and dangerous time and that is something that the Golden Age of Comics did better than almost anyone else.
So let’s talk about a superhero named Atomic Tot, who was a superhero that was unquestionably for the kids,
and kind of dropped the ball in that regard.
Origin and Career
Atomic Tot made his first appearance in Quality Comics’ All Humor Comics #1 in September of 1946.
That joke on the cover of the issue? That’s as good as they would get.
He was created by comic book writer and artist, Ernie Hart. While I can’t find a picture of him, I can tell you that his most famous creation was the famous Super Rabbit for Quality Comics.
Pssh, the idea of talking anthropomorphic animals is so lame. Who could possibly make any money off of that?
Anyway, before Atomic Tot got his name he was originally known as “Mitymite”, the weakling son of a poor peasant living in a land being terrorized by an evil giant.
Yes the captions are in rhyme, to explain why I don’t have time.
Mitymite grows up wishing to meet this princess, but is blocked by the wicked giant. Humiliated, he swears revenge.
So what does he do? Does he subject himself to strange experiments? Find a magical artifact? Nope! He eats his cereal and works out.
Wheaties would love this guy.
Naturally he defeats the giant, by tossing him out a window…presumably to his death.
However, it turns out the princess isn’t all she cracks up to be and Mitymite acts like a total dick and abandons her.
It’s worth mentioning that he looks like he’s only six year old.
Mitymite was given a modern update in the very next issue. His new name was Atomic Tot and he got an alter ego of Tom Tot.
His second adventure saw him stopping an evil scientist that was kidnapping children and turning them into monkeys. Why? To sell them to the zoo of course.
How does he do that and wouldn’t it make more sense to sell them to laboratories as test specimens? I don’t know and the comic doesn’t care.
It’s worth mentioning that Atomic Tot could be incredibly cruel to his enemies. He even threatened to turn the scientist into a monkey if he didn’t help return the kids.
Atomic Tot would go on to have five more stories just like this one. There really isn’t anything else to say.
So what happened?
For some strange reason, Atomic Tot did not survive past the 1940’s.
Why he didn’t last long is a real mystery.
For some bizarre reason, Atomic Tot wasn’t fondly remembered enough to get a reworking in modern comics either, although he did make an appearance in an anthology title called Not Forgotten which was successfully funded through Kickstarter a few months ago.
The anthology has a website, it’s pretty interesting stuff and worth checking out.
Atomic Tot is a superhero boiled down to its most basic essence. There is no complicated backstory, no surprising plot twist about his parents, not horrifying life event that inspired him to become a superhero. He’s just a kid who has the ability to do great things and decides to use his talents for good.
Huh, come to think of it…that is pretty boring. Maybe all this straight laced morality isn’t quite for me than.
Happy Holidays everyone!
Since it is the week before Christmas, and since we plan on taking Christmas week off from the blog, I thought it would be nice to talk about one of the most powerful superheroes in all of comic books.
He’s big, he’s red, he knows if you’ve been naughty or nice, and he’s listed as one of the most powerful mutants in the entire X-Men franchise…it’s SANTA CLAUS!
Origin and Career
Unlike most of the characters we talk about on this blog, this guy has had a long and illustrious career, and he didn’t even start off in comic books.
If you want to learn about the history of Santa, there are a couple of things you have to understand. For starters, many people use the names “Santa Claus”, “St. Nick”, “Kris Kringle”, and “Father Christmas” interchangeably.
All those names are actually talking about different people throughout history.
The Santa Claus that we know was made popular in the 1930’s as a figure who was used to sell Coca Cola. This was where we get the idea of a jolly man dressed in red with a big white beard and a red nose.
But that image was based off of an earlier drawing by famed political cartoonist Thomas Nast for Harper’s Weekly in 1881, who drew an incredibly popular illustration of the famous poem “A Night Before Christmas”.
This is where we get the idea of Santa with his reindeer and his fascination with giving out toys.
But THAT image was taken from old European Dutch traditions about a jolly old man named “Sinterklaas”, a jolly old man who travels around on Christmas dressed in red and giving out candy to good little boys and girls.
This is where we get the idea of Santa and his elves, since this version of Santa was accompanied by two beings called “Zwarte Piet” who help Santa hand out candy to the children.
It’s worth mentioning that this version of Santa has his origins with the Norse god Wotan, who would ride around on his eight legged horse Sleipnir around this time of year.
It’s also worth mentioning that “Santa” and “Father Christmas” are actually two different people because Father Christmas looks like this.
He’s still a pre Christian figure, just a bit different from the tradition of Santa.
But the real origin of Santa comes from the early Christian St. Nicholas.
St. Nicholas was originally Nicholas, a 4th century Christian bishop of Myra in what is now known as Turkey.
In the Eastern Orthodox tradition he is the patron saint of children, the falsely accused, repentant thieves, barrel makers, and a whole bunch of cities and nations that are too numerous to count. He’s a pretty popular saint.
The legend goes that the bishop had a friend who had the bad luck of only having daughters. Back then, the family of the bride was required to provide a payment to the family of the groom called a dowry as a sign of good faith and friendship.
Unfortunately, if the bride couldn’t provide a dowry the bride couldn’t be married, and the life of an unmarried woman back then was a very difficult one.
When Nicholas heard this he decided to do something about it and late one night he baked a bunch of gold coins into a loaf of bread, climbed up to the chimney of his friend’s house, and threw the loaf down the chimney.
and that is where we get the origin of Santa sending presents via chimney.
So what happened?
Oh, Santa Claus is still around, giving gifts and spreading good cheer.
In fact, he has been so good at it that during WW2, Adolf Hitler had Santa captured in an effort to strike at the morale of America.
Thankfully, Roosevelt had Captain America and Nick Fury of the Howling Commandos rescue Santa.
It was later revealed that Santa is actually the most powerful mutant/superhero ever created. His abilities are widely varied from longevity, to super speed, to the ability to manipulate his size in order to fit down a chimney of any size.
Santa has appeared in several adventures with famous Marvel and DC superheroes,
but it’s worth mentioning that he hasn’t always been a source of good cheer over the years.
Probably the best example of this was when he sold his entire gift making operation to Hydra because he was fed up with all the anger and lack of faith, although it did give us this.
Despite all the misadventures and silly stories, Santa has remained a force for good in comic books and the world in general His friendliness, kindness, and generosity have inspired people to live better lives and to be kind to each other during the Christmas season,
something that is sorely needed in times like these.
Merry Christmas everyone, and see you all next year.