The Legion of (Missile-Riding) Superheroes
Of all the highlights from Stanley Kubrick’s classic Cold War satire Dr. Strangelove (1964), its surreal final scene remains its most memorable. While on a B-52 bombing run, the buffoonish Major T.J. “King” Kong (Slim Pickens) rides an atomic bomb rodeo style, whooping and hollering all the way down to nuclear obliteration (click on the screen below to watch it).
However, as memorable as Slim Pickens’ turn as an Atomic Age cowboy has proven to be, it should be noted that Major Kong wasn’t the first fictional character to fly the friendly skies while straddling a missile, bomb, or rocket. While researching previous Cover to Cover columns, I’ve come across several comic book superheroes who also rode the High Explosive Express, some of them several decades before Kong’s famous flight.
Our first bomb-riding superhero appears to be none other than Captain Marvel himself, seen here on the cover of the first (and only) issue of Special Edition Comics (1940).
Considering the United States wouldn’t enter World War II for at least another year, it’s not clear who the missile and its costumed rider were aimed at. In addition to that, despite the famous line that “sometimes a cigar is just a cigar”, one can’t help but notice the rather obvious…er…”Freudian shadings” of the missile-riding phenomenon.