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E207: Superheroes are the new machine guns (Journey Into Mystery #116) -- June 1965

E207: Superheroes are the new machine guns (Journey Into Mystery #116) -- June 1965

In this episode:

Mike and Ed continue their discussions on what the original Avengers are doing in their post-Avengers lives. For instance, Thor now seems to be working for the American military in Vietnam. Was he drafted? Or did he consider deserting to move back to Asgard? Will super-powered individuals become the next weapon of war? Will heroes sell their services to the highest bidding country? Is there a way to stop the escalation, or is this just the new way of the world?

Journey Into Mystery (1952) #116 | Comic Issues | Marvel

Behind the issue:

Stan had Thor appear in Vietnam, but never had him coordinating with the US military. Comic books in the 1940s were practically US-propaganda, and the heroes were expected to be fighting against Hitler. But in the 1960s, the writers mostly kept the heroes out of real-world conflicts. It wasn’t until the modern era that writers considered the possibility of heroes fighting in Vietnam.

In this issue:

Thor is spotted in Vietnam and shot by a hunter. The hunter then comes across an ancient temple and, through the machinations of Loki, the hunger takes over the Destroyer armour with his mind. The hunter pilots the Destroyer in a fight with Thor. Meanwhile on Asgard, Loki is imprisoned.

This episode takes place:

While people are still adjusting to “Cap’s Kooky Quartet” - and missing their “old” Avengers.

Assumed before the next episode:

People are wondering what Thor was doing in Southeast Asia.

Full transcript:

Edward: All right, Mike. Continuing our, where are they now? Series. We now know where Thor has been for the last couple of months.

Michael: Yeah. He's decided to take his retirement to Vietnam.

Edward: Vietnam, you'd think with his hair like that, he would've been a conscientious objector, but no Siri, don't stereotype Thor. He is right there with the military. Right in the thick of things.

Michael: All kidding aside, it's pretty wild that this man, or this being Thor, who's associated with, the American military and the military industrial complex has gone to Vietnam, clearly on behalf of the Americans, and intervened in international affairs. Clearly as an agent of America, or at least on America's interest. Yeah, for sure. Doesn't that make it a little more complicated over there? Is that what we wanna,

Edward: I think it makes it less complicated. ANCO was clear before that the Avengers were an American superhero organization that had American interest at heart. Their leader was Captain America. It's pretty clear that they were into America and hey, they were supported and run by, stark Corp, who are like basically a big American company. They're an American team now, Thor leaves the American team that he leaves the Avengers.

What does he do next? He doesn't go back up to Asgard. He goes and works for American interests in a non Avengers way.

Michael: It seems a little, isn't it? I don't know. I find it uncomfortable that we would entrust, international diplomacy to, well, it's costume adventures.

Edward: Well, it's not diplomacy. He's not negotiating peace treaties. He's swinging his hammer and like on a hitting North Vietcong.

Michael: But this. But there's consequences to that though. Like aren't you worried that that's gonna lead to say, other Superpowered beings that might be drafted in by the Vietcong to fight American soldiers overseas in,

Edward: do the Viet Cong have a superhero?

Michael: Not yet. Well, there you go. Not yet, but there you go. But you don't think the Chinese might have an interest in this. Have a say in it.

Edward: That's, that, that is true. We know the Chinese do have their own superheroes. Radioactive man. Radioactive man. So, you're saying it's an escalation of the conflict. And maybe this means China sends in radioactive man, but China is not like US is directly involved in that war. China is only indirectly involved, right? They have plausible deniability. If they send in radioactive man, there goes their plausible deniability.

Michael: Well first of all, there hasn't been a military briefing or any kind of official report in that Thor is going there on the direction or in service of the United States. So, I think the United States is trying to do this if they're doing it under some kind of plausible deniability scenario, and China could do the same thing, like we don't control radioactive man.

He's just a guy who believes in our values and that's why he is fighting. He's just showing up and fighting. Showing up and fighting, and that's why he is fighting the Americans in Vietnam.

Edward: But there's no Chinese soldiers in the vie, they're supplying them with weapons and stuff, but they're not supplying them with people I don't think. Here's the question. That's an ex escalation though. Here's, here's the question. Was Thor just drafted? Maybe he was just part of the draft.

Michael: I don't know. Well, he might have been, but that

Edward: his number came up and he off he went.

Michael: He, had to go.

Edward: He had to go. He had no choice.

Michael: He was gonna fly away to Asgard. But No, but I'm still thinking about deescalation,

Edward: other deserters run to. Canada, but not Thor. He heads to a whole intervention, flies to another, another realm, a mystical realm. Yeah. But he knew he wanted to come back to America. So he knew that if he abandoned us, we weren't gonna let him back in.

Michael: So if I look at it and you look at it, the Vietnamese will probably look at it and the Chinese look at it that America has sent a superpowered individual to fight a battle on their behalf.

Clearly that what has happened. So I would think that the natural response would be that the Vietnamese through some kind of connection have one of their own. And then now we have, are we having our superpowered heroes and villains or people fighting each other?

Not just fighting each other, but fighting regular powered humans? Well, I think so. It's like if they think if they we're getting to a different era, I guess,

Edward: but I think, these people have powers and they're outta capabilities. It's almost like, if we had a really good tank, let's not use it because the other guys might bring in a big tank.

We have airplanes, let's not use airplanes cuz the other guys might have airplanes. We have an advantage over the Vietnamese right now because we have superheroes and they don't. Not using them, I think would be irresponsible. Americans would die if not for Thor. Thor is probably saving American lives right as we speak.

Michael: Yeah, but Ed, right now, America could use nuclear bombs in Vietnam, but they're not gonna, they're not, not,

Edward: we're not gonna use nuclear. But nuclear bombs have all sorts of like side effects that a lightning bolt from Thor, there's no radiation when he fires a lightning bolt and blows up a, nothing like a depot.

Michael: Lightning, basically Radiation?

Edward: No, it's, no, it's not radiation any more than the light is radiation.

Michael: Not basically, but I'm sure there is radiation that comes off of, there's certainly the light part of it and that part of the spectrum.

Edward: Yeah, but there's no radiation. It's not radioactive.

When you get hit by lightning, you're not gonna cause cancer when you get hit by lightning. Now you may die when you get hit by lightning, but it's not gonna cause future cancers.

Michael: But my point is that America could use nuclear weapons, but they don't because they don't, they know that that could lead to an escalation.

So isn't sending a superhero in kind of similar thing?

Edward: It's more than an escalation response. Yes. Yes. I think it's a big, we should not be using nuclear weapons. We don't want to go down that route. But a superhero is not a nuclear weapon. We use superheroes all the time. We use superheroes all the time for, we use superheroes when stilt man attacks New York City, we're not gonna drop a nuclear weapon on Stilt Man.

Michael: No, but the difference is that there's a difference between fighting crime in the city and then going to another nation. To affect foreign policy through, excessive force similar to a nuclear bomb sending, I think a superpower person's gonna do the, achieve the same result.

Edward: I feel that the Vietnam War is already at the excessive force stage. We're, we're not like, this is devastating. Let's have a, let's have a very stern conversation with them. Like there's people shooting at each other there there's war happening, there's helicopters and bombs and Tanks and so why shouldn't Thor be involved to, to help put an end to this thing

Michael: But this is a devastating next step. I mean the fact that you say it's irresponsible for them not to use Thor means, cuz you know, he's gonna be particularly effective. Much like individuals are bombed. Yeah, I think so. Why don't, so doesn't this lead to other nations around the world saying like, well better get some more superpowered individuals and then it gets into a bidding war. We've already talked about how the Avengers used to be a bunch of strangers who kind of got together very powerful and they've basically disbanded. And now it's like a bunch of former villains, you know, who are now with Captain America, which is pretty bizarre to say that they,

Edward: Maybe this makes even more sense now, right? If you have these people like. Quicksilver and the witch and the Hawkeye. And your choice is, hey, bring them onto the Avengers and make them part of our team. Or let them become free agents and join the Soviets. Maybe that makes the most sense that we brought them onto the team.

Michael: Maybe, but are we not getting to an era? Mercenaries, the superheros turning to mercenaries. What keeps them loyal to one particular ideology over another? I don't know, like is the American structure better than, the American democracy better than other forms of political philosophies in governments?

 You talk to every American I've ever spoken with, they'd say, no, it's the best. But other nations have different approaches to, policy, politics, and governments and structures and say, no.

Edward: We had this in World War ii, right? We were the most attractive there was a lot of scientists that said, oh, you know what? Let's help the US build the atomic bomb because we want them to have it not the other guys. And those, a lot of those scientists came from Germany, but they said, no. Mm-hmm We wanna work for America. Or they came from Soviet Russia with, no, we wanna work for America because we think that you guys. We are freedom loving and as problematic as the US has been over the years doing many, many things they probably shouldn't have.

The alternatives seem to be a lot worse and superhero superheros are lining up behind that. They're realizing that better to work for America than work for the other guys

Michael: for now. But what happens if , For instance, let's just pick our neighbor to the north, let's say in Canada. They just decide to say up the ante to get a superpowered individual that could lead to say, battling other nations. So they became more war monering because you know that America's, you know, might

Edward: Canada becomes the, the war Moner. Yes, the war moner. You can call me either their hockey sticks, you can call me captain. Boring. That's

Michael: not boring captain, but they go. But my point is that, is that any nation.

If they for the right price could get a superpowered individual who might think, you know, I like their philosophy too and we know that American might has led to American, financial benefits as well, right? I mean they, people don't just think America's great and that's why America does so well financially.

No, we're great because they make great movies. Make great movies and actually use their money and their might to influence world markets. And so who's to say that the long plan might be like, say, great Britain might just start building up their SUPERPOWERED individuals so that they can basically go and effect world affairs through the superheroes.

That that would then lead to increasing their financial, um, that's, that's

Edward: okay with that. Take America with that. They're not gonna take out Amer London is gay. This is not the American Revolution. America. If Britain, Britain, Britain is our ally, if Britain is more successful, now's good. That's good.

Michael: Thor just, Thor just got sent into Vietnam. I'm just saying that we're on the prey, I think of changing how, international affairs are structured and how disputes are resolved if we're getting into sending superheroes to other nations. To fight on a base, on an ideological basis against other nations

Edward: superheroes, adjust the next technology.

I feel like Mike, you'd be against using the airplane in World War I. You'd be like, no. If we use the airplane, maybe they'll use the airplane. Oh no. That'd be terrible. That'll be planes flying everywhere. That'll be the end of world order. No, as long as we make more airplanes than they do, we'll be fine.

And we're making more superheroes than everybody else in the world combined.

Michael: But I think one of the main things that came out, the difference between World War Well, sorry. World War I, what was a game changer was the machine gun, right? The mechanized instruments of slaughter and death and destruction.

Edward: Well, now you're just giving the machine gun a bad name.

Michael: I. Who would, right. But like, and it, and

Edward: it, it think of all the good the machine gun did, could like, but

Michael: it affected the world. It definitely affected the world and you might say, well, it's better. I don't know if it is, but it certainly changed it. I'm saying that we're the press p where we might be getting outta control because now wars are, so, the reason why we don't get into a war with the U S S R right now, is because it'll be so destructive. Because we've evolved our technology to the point that we could just destroy the world many times over.

Are we not just pivoting towards superheroes where we could destroy the world many times over through them? Frightened dead. I'm frightened.

Edward: All right. Well, I think it is what it is though, Mike. I feels, it feels like, just like we couldn't hold back the machine gun in World War I, I don't think we hold back superheroes anymore.

I feel like the cat's outta the bag or the Thor is out of the. Helicopter.

Michael: The hammers outta the clasp towards bells

Edward: the hammers outta the clasp. It's the new catchy phrase, and you heard it here first.

Michael: Kids. Kids these days and their sayings.

Super Serious 616 Presents: WHAT IF... Marvel was real
What If Marvel was Real?
What if... the Marvel Universe was real?
In 1961 the Fantastic Four revealed themselves to the world and everything changed. Mike and Ed discuss the in-universe implications of super powers, aliens, monsters and more. From how Avenger Insurance will pay for Thor's property damage to why Spider-man needs a new PR agency, its comic books discussions in a whole new way.
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