J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Friday, August 24, 2012

That’s Some Green Beret

From the NEREV email list I learned of the comic book Tod Holton, Super Green Beret! This magazine, published by Lightning Comics, lasted all of two issues in 1967. But those issues are preserved in full on Ethan Persoff’s website.

They include the story “Dawn of American Freedom,” which starts with young Tod at the local “teen canteen,” the Stomp and Chomp (also called the Chomp and Stomp, and for some reason having its name painted on its window so it reads backward from the outside). Tod recalls that he has to prepare a report on the Battle of Bunker Hill.

Instead of cracking a book, however, Tod dons his special green beret—the one which allows him to turn into an adult soldier with untold superpowers. It may not be a surprise that Super Green Beret was co-created by Otto Binder, who a quarter-century before had provided the origin of Captain Marvel.

In this version of Boston in 1775, the first people Tod meets are two men driving a wagon full of gunpowder out of town—without, however, going through the army fortifications at the Neck. So right away you might wonder if the storytellers were making a priority of historical accuracy.

The comic’s depiction of the Bunker Hill battle continues along those lines, with:
  • easy entrances and exits from Boston for rebel raiders. 
  • Gen. Israel Putnam commanding the entire American army instead of Gen. Artemas Ward
  • a British officer wearing checkered underpants at a time when men’s long shirts were their usual underwear.
  • no long British cannonade onto Breed’s Hill.
  • Putnam expecting Washington to arrive soon when news of his appointment hadn’t reached Massachusetts.
But the best moment is when the Super Green Beret volunteers to serve as a gun carriage.

He shouldn’t have been able to do that, of course—Super Green Beret turns back into young Tod Holton whenever he takes off his beret.

1 comment:

Chaucerian said...

Checkered underpants, always boffo. Authenticity, not always boffo.