Day 38: Inter-Gang!

It’s appropriate that Jack, who had lived in the realm of real-world hoodlums as a kid growing up on the vicious mean streets of New York’s Lower East Side, had his greatest cosmic villain, Darkseid, not only ruling an entire planet of evil, but also serve as head gangster for an earthly crime organization, Inter-Gang. It brings the salient point home that despots and dictators are nothing but puffed-up gangsters, no matter what the fashionable accouterments or lofty-sounding rhetoric. Jack linked a high-tech Mafia to the dark god’s malevolent empire, expressing a fear-filled image that among us lurked an underground Apokoliptian Fifth Column, its rosters filled with thugs betraying their own planet motivated by (doubtless empty) promises of wealth and power from the Master of the Holocaust.

Yes, these are the same scoundrels Jack has portrayed since his beginnings in the art form, whether in Captain America Comics, “Newsboy Legion,” Justice Traps the Guilty, Fighting American, “Green Arrow,” or his innumerable Marvel tales: tough-talking, mean-natured, shallow, and murderous mobsters, a scourge to civilized life, grabbing what is not theirs and killing anyone who gets in their way. In other words, Jack always stuck with the Warner Brothers stereotype and, I strongly suspect, had real-life archetypes to contemplate, as a career in crime was a serious option to young Jacob Kurtzberg and the other youthful denizens of Manhattan’s slums.

Inter-Gang (International-Gangsters? Intergalactic-Gangsters?) was particularly active in the early issues of the Fourth World tetralogy, and as hackneyed and cliché as some of the goons are portrayed, they are all deliciously cruel and (of course) ill-fated in that indomitable Kirby style.

Jimmy Olsen had Ugly Mannhiem and the nameless killer of Jim (the original Guardian) Harper — and don’t forget the Scottish field office with Felix MacFinney and his “daughter,” Ginny; Mister Miracle had Steel Hand and even a secret Inter-Gang missile; The News Gods featured Badger, Sugar-Man, Country Boy and Snaky Doyle; and The Forever People? Well, they had this unnamed squad of Darkseid-connected racketeers, every-ready to to murder the unaware Super Kids and take out a certain Superman.

Want to get an inkling of Jack’s world view, at least a good portion? Load up your Netflix queue with the following Warner Brothers gangster movies (and then go read In the Days of The Mob as a chaser)… it’s all in there, pal:

Little Caesar (1931), The Public Enemy (’31), G Men (’35), The Petrified Forest (’36), Angels With Dirty Faces (’38), They Drive by Night (’38), Each Dawn I Die (’39), The Roaring Twenties (’39), High Sierra (’41), and White Heat (’49).

Non-WB productions, but well within the spirit (and they might have well been released by Jack Warner), include the must-see flicks: Scarface (1932) and Dead End (’37).

4 thoughts on “Day 38: Inter-Gang!

  1. patrick ford

    Is there anything closer to Kirby than James Cagney in White Heat?

    “Top of the World, Ma!!!”

    When the hell is DC going to publish In the Days of the Mob #2 anyhow?

    I read a quote from Vincent D’Onofrio, who played Private Pyle in Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket. D’Onofrio said Kubrick instructed him the day before filming the scene where Pyle has a breakdown in the latrine, “I want you to be big — Lon Chaney big.”

    Kubrick had previously told Jack Nicholson he wanted a Cagney-sized performance from Nicholson, who was playing the insane Jack Torrance in Kubrick’s The Shining.

    Kubrick, like Kirby, knew that on-screen or page events can’t match the visceral power of reality, so they used exaggeration to get closer to the emotional impact of reality.

    Kirby: “In the service of trying to get a real fight: I wanted to transmit the power of men in the ring. I couldn’t do that in a static way. I had to do it in an extreme manner. I drew the hardest positions a character could get into. I had no time to put fingernails on fingers. I had no time to tie shoelaces.

    I made an impression of things. I would draw as dramatically as I could. I felt I was a human camera trying to get events as they actually were. I was very sincere about that.”

    1. patrick ford

      Jon, Well you know there are just so many things they publish every month which are more popular. I mean have you seen comic book sales these days?

      “TOP OF THE WORLD, MA!!!”

  2. JonBCooke Post author

    Discovering the left-over Spiritworld #2 in the pages of Weird Mystery was a glorious moment. OMG… Royer inked most of that stuff, didn’t he?

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