Whupping on Nazis has been a hobby of most superheroes since the early ’40s. Even after World War II ended and the real Nazis were vanquished, a ton of comic book Nazis escaped by faking their deaths and/or transferring their brains into robots. Even today, there’s no shortage of them; they seem to crawl out of the woodwork any time a comic writer needs a bad guy who’s both elitist and evil.
None of this really explains why most comic Nazis are totally fucking bizarre. Maybe somewhere around the time of the war, comic publishers figured that regular Nazis weren’t threatening enough, so they started creating Nazis with stranger powers and goofier origins. Certainly newer writers took that ball of Nazi weirdness and ran with it — so much so that a former bellhop-turned-terrorist wearing a red skull mask seems positively banal. Here are 10 examples of truly weird comic book Nazis.
10) War Wheel
?While some Nazis were working on super bombs, others were working on amazingly stupid wheels that you ride in. And have spikes on the tires. It shot guns from the sides, as it defied the laws of physics and rumbled forward. Blackhawk fought it a few times, and it showed up in the Justice League cartoon, but it’s a silly, silly idea. Silly Nazis, those wheels were made to lose.
9) Hansi, the Girl Who Loved the Swastika
?Why is Aryan dreamboat Hansi on the list, while the Red Skull isn’t? Well, Skully’s weird, but he’s not weird enough. Hansi’s weird on a whole different level from the other Nazis on this list. The book was published by the Christian comic published Spire in the ’70s. She’s a Nazi who’s 100% for the Third Reich, until the war ends and she finds herself in the USA, where she gets married and becomes a born-again Christian. And teaches elementary school. Let’s go over the highpoints, slower so you can let it sink in. A former Nazi fanatic teaches American elementary school kids. It’s supposed to be about how finding Jesus is a good thing, but skips over the part where, you know, a Nazi teaches children.
8) Brain Drain
?In comic books, Nazis and aliens just go hand-in-hand. Brain Drain was a Nazi scientist who was too close to a meteorite when it hit, but aliens took his brain and eyes and put them into a jar and put that jar on top of a robot body and now he has hypnosis powers. Then he got an airplane shaped like a swastika and fought Alpha Flight a whole bunch of times, which shows you how much respect he gets these days.
7) Hitler’s Brain
?As geared for kids as they were, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures comics form Archie were oftentimes batshit insane. Such as when Hitler’s brain was used to make a time machine, but then became self-aware and created a robot body for itself. It went back in time to look for his real body, but the Turtles followed it and beat down, then actually punch Hitler, convince him that he’s in hell and they’re demons (as Hitler speaks English), then force him to commit suicide with a gun. Remember when you had toys of these guys?
6) Super Nazi
?While the name “Super Nazi” just screams ’60s underground comix feature starring Nixon with a mustache, the reality is worse. Super Nazi was the villain in a kids’ comic book starring the lovable Super Rabbit. See, America hated Hitler. And they wanted everyone else to hate him too, even little kids who didn’t know much about the war and only liked funny animal books. Super Nazi was a pig dressed like Hitler. That’s pretty much all you need to know.
?Savage Dragon has had numerous silly villains, and Hellboy has had his share of Nazis ones, but BrainiApe gets the best of both worlds. While he doesn’t go espousing Nazi philosophy often, BrainiApe is the brain of Hitler, implanted into a gorilla. Instead of getting the Reich back together, he gets involved in fistfights, joins the Vicious Circle, and somehow the brain part of him sprouts legs and runs around. A loser by any other name…
4) Armless Tiger Man
?Ah, the Golden Age, when names could be both descriptive and lunatic at the same time. Whereas Batman fought the Penny Plunderer, a thief wronged by pennies who swears revenge on pennies (I’m serious), Armless Tiger Man had his arms pulled off by machines in Munich and swore revenge on machines. The Gestapo found out and figured, hey, he’ll wreck all the machines in Germany, let’s send him over to fight Allied machines. His legs and teeth are really strong, but he’s handicapped both by his lack of arms, his stupid name, and a haircut that’s long in the front and shaved in the back so he looks like a fool.
?Even a giant blob of protoplasm can hate minorities! When a skinhead gets mixed up with some chemicals, the next thing you know he’s a sentient blob of goo who still hates black people. The blob of goo somehow lost his genitals, but kept the swastika scar on his cheek. He fought Spider-Man and Captain Marvel, but both times he was really brought to reality by his father… a rabbi.
?The opening two sentences about Swarm from his wikipedia entry say it all: “Fritz von Meyer was born in Leipzig, Germany, and became one of Hitler’s top scientists. Escaping capture after World War II, he became a beekeeper in South America and discovered a colony of mutated bees.” They ate him, then left his skeleton and became a sentient swarm of bees. So yeah, Nazi made of bees.
1) Arnim Zola
?Seriously, Captain America can’t punch this guy enough. He’s a Nazi robot with a giant human face in his tummy, and a little box for a head. Sure, Zola’s a genius, and you can make the case that he’s just a genetic engineer who hooked up with the Nazis for the cash, but we’ll always think of Paul McCartney from the Beatles first, no matter how many albums he did with Wings. Despite living as bits and bytes of data, he’s got a pretty good tenure as Marvel’s #1 evil geneticist.