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iApprove: “Judgment Day”.

June 13, 2009

Now lest you think I’m going to start yammering about some upcoming Armageddon or a fearmongering apocalyptic Christian film, let me clarify.

During the 1950’s, racism was still going strong.  Black people were considered, for reasons we now know to be completely bunk, to be inferior to white people; this was taken as an acceptable cultural and biological assumption.  Suggestions to the contrary were few, far between, and desperately needed.

Enter the comic industry, producing – among other comics with similar messages – Judgment Day.

The premise of the comic is as follows: On an alien planet ruled by robots, a human has just arrived.  His job is to tour the planet, check out its technology and social norms, and determine whether the robots’ society has advanced enough to join the United Federation of Planets Galactic Republic.

Initially, he is impressed – they have made great technological strides, and have very spiffy systems in place to allow new robots to be constructed and taught in a hurry.  They do appear to be ready.

But then the astronaut discovers something off: the robots are practicing segregation.  While the orange robots live in privilege in a clean and pleasant city, the blue robots are shuffled off, made to scrape out a meager living in a dingy, unpleasant area.

The astronaut is disenheartened by this discovery, and informs his orange-robot tour guide that until they abolish this practice, they will not be allowed to join the Galactic Republic.  He offers some advice to his guide on how he could begin to change things, then blasts away in his spaceship.

Safely in his ship, blasting back to Earth, the man finally removes his helmet.  It is revealed that he is black.

Almost as soon as it was written, the story began to make a stir.  The Comics Code Authority kicked things off, telling the writer that the hero could not be black – effectively proving that it needed to be published.  And published it was, in its original form, where it received a tremendously positive response from its readers.

“Congratulations to… the artist, and… the author, for the best story ever written by E.C.  We have never read a story in a comic with so much meaning and moral…”

“…The horribly accurate picture of the human race is drawn with bold, unmistakable strokes.”

“…Never have I seen the “race problem” handled so perfectly.”

You can read the comic – and the rave reviews, printed on a final page – at http://asylums.insanejournal.com/scans_daily/54803.html

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