Sunday, April 4, 2021

Review of "Beware Volume One," Pre-code classic comics

 Review of

Beware Volume One, Pre-code classic comics, ISBN 9781786361349

Five out of five stars

Pre-code classics with all the gore

 In the history of comic books, the year 1954 was a fundamental turning point. That was when German-born American psychiatrist Fredric Wertham published his infamous book “Seduction of the Innocent.” In it, he claimed that comic books were a serious cause of juvenile delinquency. Congressional hearings took place and in response, the comics industry instituted a program of self-regulation called the Comics Code Authority. Gone were all depictions of anything not considered bland vanilla fare, where the good guys always won, crime did not pay, and violence was minimized.

  This book is a compilation of the issues of “Beware” from January 1953 through January 1954, right to the point where the code was activated. As such, it depicts gore, violence against people, horrific killing monsters, ghosts and hauntings, human dismemberment and even cannibalism. While the extreme censorship was unwarranted, it is easy to see where the simple-minded would be a little disturbed by the stories.

 Yet, when compared to the modern world of the killer/slasher, stupid and ultimately dead teenager movies, this stuff is quite tame. This book is an excellent look back to what was in many ways a golden age of comics. Mindless entertainment that spurred the imagination of young people but did nothing to twist them into the deviants that Wertham claimed they would become.

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