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Steve Ditko: Avenging World

[Steve Ditko drawing of an oozing, frightening Club of Evil.] Steve Ditko is, of course, best known for being the co-creator and original artist of Spider-Man. What most people don’t know, however (except serious comic-book nerds like Brakhage and me), is that in the early 1970s he went on a tear and produced a series of insane Objectivist independent comics/rants that are unlike any comics produced then or now.

The series of self-published comics featured an array of forgettable one-shot superheroes and one continuing series with his favorite character, Mr. A, loosely based on The Question, a superhero he had worked on for Charlton Comics a few years earlier. Mr. A was the Randian hero moved to a superhero setting; like Howard Roark in The Fountainhead, he was the uncompromising perfect man, set upon by the cowardly, mediocrity-loving elites, including a newspaper publisher (J. Jonah Jameson in Spider-Man was also right out of Rand; at one point in the early series he admitted he hated Spider-Man because he made him seem ordinary by comparison — the mediocre dragging down the perfect). Alan Moore would later base the character of Rorschach in his series Watchmen on The Question/Mr. A; Moore lacked the political empathy and understanding, however, to truly parody someone whose beliefs were so far from his own, and Rorschach became simply a fascist psychotic, albeit a memorable and oddly charismatic one.

My favorite of these, though, was Avenging World. Not a superhero comic, or indeed even really a narrative comic at all, it was more of a diagrammatic tract outlining all the movements he hated (Christianity, Communism, welfare, post-modernism, equivocation) and explaining what was wrong with the world. This style was perfect for Ditko; while his lecturing diatribes would often sound ridiculous in the mouth of Mr. A (who would frequently be seen saying something like “Why did you deny what truth you did know as true?… How did you expect your dishonesty to lead to an honest gain… a worthy end?” while pummeling a miscreant), they worked very well in the context of his more abstract, tract-like diagrams.

His art, too worked better in this format. When he needed to draw a club representing coercion, he drew a club; I submit to you that there isn’t an artist in the comic-book world that could draw a more evil club than Ditko. Not only is it twisted and knobbing in a menacing fashion, it literally is oozing evil. This is the most hideous, scary, abstract-concept–representing club you will ever see.

I picked a bunch of his comics up because I’m generally a fan of bizarre propaganda and ramblings, and from what I knew of this I was sure I find it terribly amusing. And I did, but…

Uh, heh, well.. (cough, cough)… I’m a bit embarrassed to admit this, but when I read Avenging World, I realized that I pretty much agreed with what he had to say (I probably would have made this discovery had I ever read any Ayn Rand, but I never had the attention span for that). I recognized the lunacy behind it, and yet… I dunno, I just couldnt find much to argue with. Quibble, yes. But since everyone knows Ditko is just this right-wing lunatic, what does that make me? (Don’t answer that.) Oh well. I hope we can still be friends.

In honor of Ditko’s 80th birthday last Friday, here’s the long-out-of-print Avenging World; take your pick of PDF or Comic Book Archive format.

[cover of

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Don’t worry. Many of us find we libertarian tendencies. It doesn’t mean we’re (capital letter) Libertarians or Objectivists.

Better to objectively (ahem) see the good points in some “right-wing” philosophies than to dismiss them all as fascism by following the overly simplistic left-right political model. In fact, fascism is merely nationalist socialism as opposed to the Soviets’ utopian “International”.

[...] I haven’t had time to look at this yet—expect some commentary when I do—but 741.5 Comics blogs about Steve Ditko’s Avenging World, which is available for download here. [...]

[...] around. Jack Kirby didn’t create or co-create Spider-Man. That task fell to reclusive genius/right-wing Objectivist crank Steve Ditko. Beyond drawing the cover of his first appearance, Kirby never had anything to do with [...]

[...] of Ayn Rand yourself, or you just get a kick out of Jack Chick-style political tracts, check out this post over on Dinosaur Gardens, where one of his full comics entitled “The Avenging World” is presented in PDF and [...]

[...] It’s not a single thought, so you have to read multiple authors, from Ayn Rand*, to this great comic by Steve Ditko. Although this is only one extreme of the position, I think ‘compassionate [...]

[...] can find a .pdf file containing the whole of Mr. Ditko’s “Avenging World” tract here. This entry was written by Adam Volle, posted on May 29, 2009 at 11:53 pm, filed under Culture, [...]

[...] Objectivist independent comics/rants (13MB PDF) that are unlike any comics produced then or now. – Dinosaur Gardens Related posts here and [...]

[...] Dinosaur Gardens » Steve Ditko: Avenging World (tags: Comics SteveDitko) [...]

[...] insider’s part of comics history: Jack Kirby’s Spider-Man,” in his book “Avenging World,” “In a discussion with me about Spider-man, Stan said he liked the name Hawkman but DC [...]

[...] superheroes entirely, then storytelling itself, issuing ham-fisted libertarian tracts like Avenging World to smaller and smaller audiences. Ditko, who could cash in on his iconic status anytime he wants [...]

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