What is even more intriguing, however, is the content of some of that imagery. Remember those quaint comic-book covers from the 1940s that featured light “bondage” with women tied up by a villain as the hero rushed in to save her? Well, apparently, as an artist finished the latest issue of, say, Captain America, they then took their pens to something a wee bit more extreme.
Below is a handful of illustrations from just one issue of a Martin Goodman pulp, Mystery Tales, from 1940. (Another connection to the Marvel Comics of the 1950s – Mystery Tales was a comic book that had a 1956 issue featured on the TV show, Lost; an issue that featured Steve Ditko’s second story for Marvel.)
These make even those 1960s Eric Stanton/Steve Ditko bondage (and temperate sexual sadomasochism) collaborations look like children’s books. The material below is not representative of all the imagery in our book, by any means, but it is a sub-genre that can’t be ignored because it’s not just limited to one issue or one famous Marvel artist.
Remember Stanley Kubrick’s last film, 1999’s Eyes Wide Shut, and that scene with Tom Cruise entering the mansion where all that open sexual intercourse is being played out amongst the upper crust of Manhattan? Below, that “Yield, Lovely Maidens, to the Blood-Master” double-splash page makes Kubrick look like Garry Marshall! Scantily clad women forced to jump off a raised, fiery platform, destined to be impaled by large spikes laid out in front of tables of laughing rich guys? “Get behind me, Satan!” indeed.
We posted these images (click to enlarge) because, as happened sometimes in those days, they are unsigned and Michael Vassallo, our art expert, is leaning towards Jack Binder. Binder was the creator of the original Daredevil character (the non-Marvel version), and older brother of comic-book writer, Otto Binder. Please use the Comments section below to weigh in with your opinions.
There are other images in the book not featured here by famous Marvel artists that display women being whipped, scars visible all over their bodies, an inch away from death by demons and zombie-like figures in human form; the extremes between the innocence of the Golden Age of Comics and this wing of Martin Goodman’s empire makes you understand why we called this book, The Secret History of Marvel Comics...