Yeah, that Hansi sure loves the Swastika. Why, I don't think I've ever seen anyone who loved the swastika more than our girl Hansi. Boy, what a swastika-lover.

This chunky hunk of embarassment comes to us courtesy of Christian comic-book makers Spire Publications, who also brought us Hello I'm Johnny Cash and the comic-book adaptation of The Cross and the Switchblade ("I could kill you..." "Yes, you could Nicky! You could cut me up in a thousand pieces and every piece will still love you..."). Ideally, these stories are supposed to be inspirational and offer lessons in faith to the young reader. And with a cover like that, what kid wouldn't be inspired...?

Here's the story: 1938, the Nazis invade the Sudentenland and whereas everyone ELSE seems petrified and panicked, Hansi's absolutely thrilled that the Nazis have brought BOOKS ... cause they didn't have those in the Sudentenland, apparently. Inspired by that famous Nazi hospitality, Hansi partakes in, and wins, a competition which sweeps her off to Prague to study as a Hitler Youth leader. You go girl.

Now before taking off, Hansi's bedraggled mom reminds her "don't ever forget Jesus." Nonetheless, by the time Hansi's on the train, she wouldn't recognize Jesus if he were sitting next to her, still pinned to his sticks.

Hansi ends up as some kind of Gestapo Candy Striper, taunting injured German soldiers. "I lost MY ideals when I lost my eyes on the Russian front." says one poor kid. "We are nothing," snaps back Hansi, cheerfully, "The Reich is everything!"

Anyway, eventually Germany falls (my favorite line in the whole book "Germany surrendered! The dream ended! The nightmare began!" Unless you were a Jew, Communist, gypsy, homosexual or dissident, in which case, the nightmare had ended - the authors of this book, I can't believe 'em), and Hansi and her fellow nurses or schoolmates or whatever are captured by the RUSSIANS! And dig this - every night, the Russians invade the barracks of the female prisoners to RAPE THEM - except Hansi, cause ... she's too skinny. I can't make this stuff up, folks. Now, despite hearing that Americans were gum-chewing gangsters (Which is apparently worse than being a tyrant and rapist....), Hansi and the girls make an escape attempt across no-man's land (all the raped girls get shot to death. Hansi makes it across...the message here?), and then are greeted by Americans --- CHEWING GUM!

Eventually Hansi ends up as a teacher in the Bavarian Alps, meets up with her old love Rudy, and they settle down and get married. Unfortunately, the marriage is rocky until they introduce the Bible into it. Kay, whatever floats their U-Boat. Then, inexplicably, Hansi and her family (kids invisibly appear along the way) decide to emigrate to America, but it turns out to not be as near as great a place as they'd heard.

Anyway, she sets up some kind of ex-Nazi self-pride Christian study group in various jails around the country. Wouldn't you?

Here's a couple things to consider about this book:

First off, is Hansi really the role model most Christians would want to have? She's the most gullible girl in the world! She believes anything she reads, f'r cryin' out loud. She starts off believing the Bible cause it's the only book she has, then some Nazi gives her ANOTHER book so SHE becomes a Nazi, then she hears the Bible's cool again, so she picks that up, then she hears America's cool, and goes there, only it isn't .... MY GOD! Plus, the sublimated lesson here is "Read anything other than the Bible, and you'll become a Nazi." Nice, charming. Does that mean if I read Archie, I'll join a bubblegum pop band?

Secondly, Hansi escapes being raped. I puzzled this one awhile - after all, wouldn't it reinforce the wrongness of her abandoning Jesus and increase her reader sympathy if she HAD been raped? But then I got the message that all the girls who HAD been raped had gotten killed - you see, the comic's saying that Hansi could never have been a pure and good Christian if she HAD been. She woulda been tainted. And the girls who'd gotten killed escaping the camp were LUCKY to have been spared living with what was done to them.....

And folks wonder why I'm an atheist.....

Stan Lee Presents ... The CHAMPIONS

And stay down!

Actually, the "Champions of Los Angeles," and you can see by them running down a black man that they are indeed authority figures in L.A.

I really suppose this book doesn't belong here - most comic fans remember the Champions at least by name, if not having read the series altogether. Thing is, I was a big fan of this comic when it first came out - and it's sheer "D-List" quality still attracts my attention these days. The team roster included former Avengers Hercules (Marvel super-hero based on the Steve Reeves film version of the legendary Greek demi-god) and the Black Widow, former X-Men Angel and Iceman, and solo star Ghost Rider (to my knowledge, the only super-hero ever based on a common biker tattoo).

Right there is a great reason to love this team - it's got one Greek god, one female Russian spy, two mutants and a demon from Hell! Baby, these ain't your daddy's Fantastic Four! At the time, having a team without five male WASPs and their token girl was like having cake and no frosting. I, personally, loved it. Especially later when they added former Soviet Super Solider Darkstar to the mix, raising the roster to having TWO female Russian spies.And THEN Black Goliath palled around with them for a while, adding a black guy - dude, where have all the angry white men gone? (Black Goliath wasn't REALLY a team member, but he was in three consecutive issues and a cross-over, which totals like 20% of the total run of the Champions, so I'm saying he counts. By that logic, so does Godzilla.)

Along those lines, the Champions' two crossovers make my nose crinkle with hilaritiositude. Usually, crossovers are supposed to happen between a book that sells well, and a book that doesn't sell as well. So I don't know what went wrong at Marvel central, but they actually paired fourth-string book Champions with fifth-string book Black Goliath!! And then and then and then ..... oh, one of my favorite issues from Marvel's history, the Champions actually appeared in third-string liscensed property GODZILLA:KING OF MONSTERS! Bwa-HAHAHAHAHAHA.

Sadly, they didn't live long enough to show up in Shogun Warriors, Micronauts or Werewolf by Night.

Other fondly remembered moiments from the Champions - John Byrne, at the peak of his powers, drew them for a while. Plus, the Champions introduced one of Marvel's greatest villains - Swarm! The man made of bees! See, he was made of bees, and when he'd get angry, he'd shoot bees at you...heh. Also, there was RAMPAGE, the Recession Raider, who was basically a disgruntled-ex-employee-turned-villain stereotype, but with more psychoanalysis. Other great moments of the Champions included ... nothing whatsoever.