Saturday, February 12, 2011

The only Golden Age story you'll read this week featuring Pancho Villa, Richard the Lionhearted and Robespierre

From Toonopedia:

The Kid's opening story was written by Otto Binder (Legion of Super Heroes, Supergirl) and drawn by Sheldon Moldoff (Hawkman, Moon Girl). Its protagonist was a boy whose name wasn't mentioned to the reader — in fact, having been addressed as "kid" all his life, he wasn't even sure he had one. He and his only known family member, Gran'pa, were at sea during the early days of World War II, and their ship was sunk by a Nazi submarine. The gatekeeper of the Afterlife passed Gran'pa straight through, but there seemed to have been a mistake about "Kid" — according to the records, he was supposed to live another 75 years. A supernatural entity named Mr. Keeper had committed the error (his first in 2,000,000 years), and so "Keep" (as Kid called him) became responsible for the boy.

Keep brought Kid back to Earth and gave him a unique super power. Using "Eternity" as a magic word, he was able to summon assistance from anyone who had lived in the past. With great fighters, wise counselors and even the occasional politician at his call, Kid Eternity, with Mr. Keeper (who had resigned his supernatural commission) at his side, handled menaces of all types, from world conquerors down to children having trouble with their neighbors.

There was always a goofy charm to Kid Eternity. The logic of the stories wasn't always compelling but the string of bizarre cameos always kept things moving. This particular episode was notable not only for its memorable guest stars but for its not-so-comically setting. The phrase 'banana republic' originally referred to servile dictatorships supported by U.S. fruit companies. They were corrupt, brutal and unstable, just like the one in this story.

The original chronicler of banana republics, William Porter (a.k.a. O. Henry) based his stories on the time he spent in Honduras hiding from the law. I doubt anyone involved with this story spent much time in the tropics, but they did remember to draw the bunches growing up; that has to count for something.

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