Since World War II, The Nazi Party and those who share their ideology have been an ever-present source of villainy in all manners of popular culture, which of course, includes comics. Qualities like racism, an obsession with the occult and violent militant behavior make Nazi characters the perfect foils to the superheroic qualities we’ve come to expect from our caped crusaders.
Whether it was comic creators taking a political stance, war-time comics acting as propaganda, or modern writers and artists using Nazis as antagonists, superheroes have a rich history of fighting Nazis. Given the current political climate in America, it seemed like the right time to look back on 15 Times a Superhero punched (or otherwise fought) a Nazi.
16. HONORABLE MENTION: THE JOKER IS A PATIOT
Proving that even the most maniacal sociopaths can love their country, the Clown Prince of Crime himself — the Joker — showed his national pride when he turned on the Red Skull in “Batman and Captain America” by writer/artist John Byrne.
Though it wasn’t the first time the two companies had crossed over, in the ’90s DC and Marvel had an absolute field day with the idea. Their heroes fought, they teamed up to fight each other’s villains, and they fused mythos to make a new “Amalgam” Universe filled with fusion characters like Dark Claw (a combination of Batman and Wolverine). One such crossover saw a WWII-era Captain America and Bucky called stateside to team up with Batman and Robin to stop both The Joker and Red Skull, who had stolen “The Gotham Project,” a nuclear bomb Red Skull hopes will secure the Third Reich’s victory in the war. Upon realizing that Red Skull’s outfit isn’t “just some crazy disguise” and that he is, in fact, an actual Nazi, the Joker remarks that while he may be a criminal lunatic, he’s an American criminal lunatic, and attacks Red Skull with his Joker Toxin.
15. NAZI-FIGHTING KIDS
Though he may have been the first, Captain America wasn’t the only Timely Comics character to fight the Nazis before America caught up. His sidekick, Bucky, led a team of kids known as the Sentinels of Liberty (originally made up of his friends Knuckles, Jeff, Tubby, and Whitewash Jones) to assist Cap through a handful of fights in “Captain America Comics” before becoming popular enough to warrant their own spin-off title.
The team was redubbed the “Young Allies” and starting in issue #1, written by a young Stan Lee and drawn by Jack Kirby (under the Timely Comic’s shared pseudonym “Charles Nicholas”), the group was joined by the original Human Torch’s sidekick, Toro. Their first issue saw the team go up against the Red Skull, before needing some back up from Cap and Human Torch. Despite this rocky start, over the course of the book’s 20-issue run, the team personally beat up all three major Axis leaders: Hitler, Mussolini and Tojo (something neither Cap nor the Torch ever managed to do).
14. MIDNIGHTER KICKS HITLER IN THE BALLS
In 2006, Wildstorm turned into an alternate DC Earth during an event called “Worldstorm,” which acted as a soft reboot for the universe and its characters by relaunching a few of the marquee titles, as well as beginning a few new ones. One of the new books launched from the event, “Midnighter” by writer Garth Ennis and artist Chris Sprouse, followed the universe’s bloodthirsty Batman analogue on a time traveling adventure to kill Hitler in its first arc.
Issue #1 saw Midnighter being abducted by a man named Paulus, who replaces Midnighter’s second heart with a remote controlled bomb that he threatens to detonate unless Midnighter returns to the original World War and kills Hitler as a solider before he rises to power. Midnighter quickly finds himself in the trenches, being attacked by French soldiers who mistakenly believe he is a German. After quickly taking them out, a young Adolf Hitler attempts to thank Midnighter who tells him they “need to talk” before kneeing him in the balls. Before he can kill him though, a band of time cops rush in and order him to stop.
13. THE ATOM VS. JETPACK HITLER
As part of the 2006 “Brave New World” event, DC launched a new ongoing series starring the fourth Atom, Ryan Choi, a Chinese man who immigrated to America to take up the mantle of the Atom from Ray Palmer. After a string of incidents in issue #14 of “The All-New Atom” by writer Gail Simone and artist Mike Norton, beginning with visiting a city on his dog’s butt and ending with opening the gates of Hell, the Atom fights Adolf Hitler.
In an attempt to search for Ray Palmer, the Atom and a group of friends travel to the aforementioned dog-butt city only to learn from the citizens there that Ray is in a large stone called “Have-In,” which turns out to be a portal to actual Heaven where the group meets a number of then-deceased DC Heroes. While on their way to meet with Ray, Ryan is confronted by his Mother trying to warn him that the Gates of Hell have been opened. During the ensuing battle, Ryan gets tangled up in a fight with Hitler sporting some weird tech wings, but Ryan distinctly refers to him as “Stupid jetpack Hitler” before delivering a sweet roundhouse.
12. MAGNETO CRUSHES RED SKULL’S HEAD
The year 2014 was a tough time for the X-Men. Tensions were running high after the “Avengers vs. X-Men” event, and Cyclops, under the control of the Dark Phoenix, had killed Professor X, devastating the entire mutant community. In the aftermath of the conflict Captain America attempted to mend fences by creating the Avengers Unity Division, a team that graced the pages of “Uncanny Avengers,” and named Cyclops’ brother Havok as the leader of the team.
In the final issue of the book’s first volume, “Uncanny Avengers” #25 by writer Rick Remender and artist Daniel Acuña, members of the Unity Division Havok, Rogue and Scarlet Witch along with Magneto, awaken after a fight with the Red Skull (who has stolen some of Professor X’s brain, giving him some of his psychic abilities) and a team of modified humans he calls the S-Men. The team is being held in a mutant concentration camp the Red Skull has set up in Genosha and Magneto (himself a holocaust survivor) is understandably enraged. After killing the majority of the S-Men, Magneto beats Red Skull with his bare hands as he taunts him before caving in his skull with a brick.
11. SUPERMAN: MAN OF PROPAGANDA?
The day after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt announced that the United States had officially declared war on Japan. Just a few days later on December 11, 1941, Germany and the rest of the Axis powers declared war on the US. From then on, depicting comic book characters going toe-to-toe with Nazis was anything but controversial. By 1942, many comics were in full propaganda swing even if Nazis had little or nothing to do with the actual plot of the comics inside.
One of the finest examples of this is the cover of “Superman” #17, by writer Jerry Siegel and artist Joe Shuster, which shows Superman grabbing Adolf Hitler and Prime Minister of Japan, General Hideki Tojo by their collars (much to their shock and dismay), despite the stories inside having nothing to do with the war effort.
10. SUPERMAN & BATMAN WANT YOU
By 1943, the war effort was all-consuming, and America and the rest of the Allied forces had started to turn the tide of the war against the Axis powers. Meanwhile, the Golden Age of Comic books had hit its stride and countless characters born from the conflict joined the ranks of wartime superheroes and soldiers like Captain America.
However, much like our last entry, some of the most iconic Pro-War images from the period were just for the cover. While the draw of the DC anthology series “World’s Finest Comics” was the exploits of Batman and Superman (as well as less popular superheroes like the Green Arrow), during WWII, the book also regularly featured stories about soldier characters like Drafty or the Boy Commandoes. In what is arguably the most iconic cover from the series history, “World’s Finest Comics” #9’s cover, drawn by Jack Burnley, shows Superman, Batman and Robin throwing baseballs at the faces of Axis leaders Hitler, Mussolini and Tojo above a banner that says “Knock out the Axis with Bonds & Stamps,” despite the fact that none of those characters’ stories that issue actually dealt with the war.
9. NAZIS FRAME BLUE BEETLE
Of course, it wasn’t just the predecessors of the Big Two putting out comics about World War II during the Golden Age comic boom. The original Blue Beetle, a.k.a Dan Garret, who was at the time owned and published by Fox Comics, was an inconsistently-written detective turned vigilante, and eventual superhero (albeit with a constantly changing range of abilities).
However, during World War II, the character became a government agent who regularly assisted American forces in their fight against the Axis powers. In “Blue Beetle” #31, by Editor Victor Fox and artist E. C. Stoner, a group of Nazi spies commit a series of crimes in an attempt to frame the Blue Beetle. When the Beetle chases them to their U-Boat, the Nazis fire all of their torpedoes at him, which he effortlessly tosses back. We then see the submarine sink before Blue Beetle reminds the kids to buy more war stamps and bonds!
8. GREEN HORNET AND THE NAZI GHOST SHIP
Most readers are probably familiar with The Green Hornet because of the 2011 movie starring Seth Rogen, but the character originated as a radio program in the 1930s before coming to comics, movies and TV. The cover of issue #15 of Harvey Comics’ “Green Hornet” (artists uncredited) shows Green Hornet and his sidekick Kano fighting with some ghoulish looking Nazis.
In a text-only “Story Behind The Cover,” the Hornet’s alter ego, reporter Britt Read, is watching a news-ticker reporting in on American ships mysteriously vanishing. Determined to get to the bottom of the mystery, Green Hornet and Kano sneak onto a ship taking another reporter to England as a foreign correspondent. After hiding on the ship for three days inside a pair of tanks, the ship comes across what the Captain calls a “ghost ship.” After reasoning that it would be irresponsible to leave the massive unmanned ship adrift, they fire on it, intending to sink it. Without warning, the ship sprouts modern artillery, revealing itself as a Nazi Warship in disguise preying on Allied supply vessels. The Hornet and Kano sneak aboard and stealthily take out the Nazis, saving the displaced members of the crew and solving the mystery.
7. CAPTAIN MARVEL & BULLETMAN VS. CAPTAIN NAZI
Though comic fans today know him as a hero in the DC Multiverse and a member of the Justice League, Billy Batson, a.k.a. Captain Marvel, was actually originally the flagship character of the now defunct Fawcett Comics. It wasn’t until 1973 that he, and his contemporary Fawcett heroes, became an additional Earth, known as Earth-S in the Pre-Crisis DC continuity.
One of the characters that survived the jump to the DCU was the evil Captain Nazi. Originally appearing in “Master Comics” #21, written by William Woolfolk and drawn by Mac Raboy, Captain Nazi was Hitler’s answer to American Superheroes. When he comes to America to wreak havoc, Captain Marvel and Bulletman team up to meet his challenge. The pair successfully stop him from killing a ton of civilians. In part two of the story, on the pages of “Whiz Comics” #25 by the creative team of writer/inker Ed Herron, and pencilers C.C. Beck and Mac Raboy, Captain Nazi kills an old man named Jacob Freeman. However, his teenage grandson, Freddy Freeman, is saved by Captain Marvel and later becomes Captain Marvel, Jr., who seeks revenge for his grandfather.
6. CAPTAIN MARVEL JR. LIBERATES A NAZI WORK CAMP
Speaking of Captain Marvel Jr., in issue #1 of his own ongoing series, by writer Otto Binder and artist Al Carreno, Captain Marvel Jr. got his chance to take on Captain Nazi again. Hitler himself orders Captain Nazi to lead an attack on the coastal French African city of Dazaggar, so that the Nazis can cross the ocean and take the war to America. Captain Marvel Jr. learns about Hitler’s plan after failing to rescue an allied spy from a group of Nazi attackers, and immediately sets off to stop them.
By the time Captain Marvel Jr. arrives, the Nazis have already occupied the city, and Captain Nazi has ordered the men of the city rounded up for hard labor. After learning his nemesis Captain Nazi is the one leading the attack, Captain Marvel Jr. gets himself captured so he can learn more about the Nazi’s plans. Once inside, he learns the workers are building the planes the Nazis plan to use to attack America, so Captain Marvel Jr. leads a workers rebellion to destroy the hanger, free the people and once again defeat Captain Nazi.
5. HUMAN TORCH BURNS HITLER ALIVE
In the 1990 miniseries “The Saga of the Original Human Torch,” writer Roy Thomas and artist Rich Buckler retell the story of the original (robotic) Human Torch, and the Torch and his sidekick Toro’s role in WWII is a major theme of the arc.
Starting in issue #2, the Torch and Toro immediately get involved in the Allies’ campaign, fighting alongside Captain America, Bucky and former enemy the Sub-Mariner to defeat the Nazi supervillain Master Man, saving Winston Churchill’s life. Churchill subsequently dubs them the Invaders, and together, the unofficial team took on Nazi villains like Baron Blood, the Red Skull and even Thor, who had been tricked into temporarily fighting for Hitler. After FDR’s passing, the team is briefly split to work on individual assignments, and Torch and Toro are tasked with infiltrating Berlin and capturing Hitler alive. Torch and Toro get to Hitler’s bunker in time to stop him from committing suicide, but when he nearly escapes the Torch is forced to burn him to death. With his dying breath, Hitler tells one of his men to tell the world he committed suicide.
4. RAPHAEL PUNCHES ROBOT HITLER
Okay, strap in for this one. In the mid-90s, Archie Comics was publishing an ongoing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles book called “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures.” However, issues #62-66 of the series make up the five-part miniseries “Dreamland,” which follows time travelling future versions of the TMNT known as the Cyber Samurai Mutant Turtles.
In issue #64, by writer Dean Clarrain and writer/artist Chris Allan, the turtles Leonardo, Donatello and Raphael use a device called the “time-slip generator” to go back in time to WWII. After traveling back in time, the Turtles learn that the brain powering the generator is actually Hitler’s and that it has somehow created a robot body for itself and started searching the ruins of Berlin for its former self. The turtles end up in a firefight with a band of Nazis and both Robot and regular Hitler. Leo defeats Robo-Hitler, and as Adolf rushes to retrieve his brain, he gets a pop in the chops from Raphael, knocking him out cold.
3. WONDER WOMAN FOUGHT NAZIS WITH HER MOM
After leading a rebellion in an alternate dimension known as Skartaris, Wonder Woman (and her then-boyfriend Trevor Barnes) found herself transported back to America during the time of WWII on the pages of “Wonder Woman” issues #184-185, written and drawn by Phil Jimenez. Shortly after their arrival, Wonder Woman comes across her mother, Hippolyta, who at the time was acting as Wonder Woman herself, in a conflict with the Atlantean villainess Queen Clea and a group of Nazi soldiers over a set of Olympian artifacts.
When it becomes apparent that Clea intends to kill her mother, Wonder Woman takes on the look of another WWII-era superheroine named Miss America, so that she can help her mother without altering the timeline. Though she’s able to help her mother win, one of the Nazis escape with the artifacts, intending to deliver them to the Nazi villain, Armageddon. In issue #185, Wonder Woman and her mother track him down and confront Armageddon in a fight that culminates with Hippolyta cutting off the villain’s arm and the pair reclaiming the artifacts from the Nazis.
2. ISIAH BRADLEY FOUGHT NAZIS WHILE CAP WAS FROZEN
The 2003 mini-series “Truth: Red, White, and Black” by writer Robert Morales and artist Kyle Baker, tells the story of “Project Rebirth,” a secret attempt to replicate the Super Soldier serum that created Captain America, by using African American soldiers as test subjects for potentially fatal experiments, mirroring the real-life Tuskegee Syphilis Study. One of the five men who survived the experiments was Isiah Bradley, the black Captain America.
After field missions in Europe leave him the sole survivor of the experiments, Isaiah steals a spare Captain America costume and shield to partake in a suicide mission to destroy the Nazi’s super soldier experiments at the Schwarzebitte concentration camp. He is able to assassinate the scientist leading the program, but Isaiah is captured. After being liberated by German freedom fighters, Isiah returned home, only to be courtmartialed for stealing the costume, serving 17 years in solitary confinement. He was only released after receiving a pardon from President Eisenhower because of his wife Faith’s tireless letter writing campaign to the President. Unfortunately, by the time he’s been released, side effects of the super solider serum have caused his mind to erode, tragically leaving him in a childlike state.
1. CAP FOUGHT HITLER (BEFORE AMERICA DID)
Fans of Captain America will know that Steve Rogers became Cap during WWII and fought many a Nazi before getting frozen and becoming an Avenger. What fans might not know, is the character’s first appearance on the cover of “Captain America Comics” #1 by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby — which showed the now-iconic image of Cap punching Hitler — came out a full year before the United States entered the war (despite the book’s March 1941 cover date).
As our own Brian Cronin pointed out, at that time 75% of Americans were against the idea of going to war with Germany, and Simon and Kirby received a ton of anti-Semitic hate mail, threatening phone calls, and even reportedly had shady-looking people hanging outside their office over the cover. It got to the point where employees were afraid to leave the building, so the Timely Comics (Marvel’s name at the time) had police guards on regular shifts to deter any attacks. Simon even apparently received a personal call from the Mayor of NYC at the time, Fiorello LaGuardia (who was himself an avid fan of comics), to tell Simon he appreciated what they were doing and the city had their back.
Which was your favorite Nazi beat-down? Let us know in the comments!
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