Thursday, December 12, 2013

'You Wish to Be Anonymous?' | Marvel Classic Comics #36 (1978)

Index of other entries in The Christmas Carol Project

Before I get to Marvel's version of the charitable solicitors, I just want to acknowledge a couple of Christmas Carol adaptations that I'm not covering this year because they don't include the scene. Teen Titans #13 is only loosely following Dickens story as it contemporizes it (to 1968) and works in a criminal plot for its teenage superheroes, so it's understandable that it jettisons our charitable gentlemen. I was a little more surprised though to see them gone from Rankin-Bass' The Stingiest Man in Town. It's a shorter adaptation and we've already talked about how this scene is an understandable cut, but the even shorter Disney version manages to keep them in.

Anyway, Doug Moench and Friends offer a severely trimmed version of the scene in Marvel's adaptation. One notable addition to it is Scrooge's repeating the word "liberality," which drives home nicely for younger readers the humor of the solicitor's mistaken assumption. After that though, the conversation is so truncated that when Scrooge says that they can put him down for nothing, that's the first chance he's had to object. The gentlemen are understandably confused and offer him the opportunity to be anonymous. This is the second time we've seen the scene work that way (the Shower of Stars episode being the first) and I like it. It makes more sense than Dickens' version, frankly.

What doesn't make sense is the violence with which Scrooge finishes the scene. His response to the offer of anonymity is to shake his cane in the second gentleman's face and the panel that follows that one is a close up of Scrooge's face, enraged almost to the point of insanity as he shrieks about the surplus population. If Fred was acting a little inconsistently in the previous scene, Scrooge is even more so in this one. The problem is that the various artists are trying to add energy to the story, but are doing it in unnatural ways. Characters can't just be frustrated with each other, they have to be furious. All the reactions are extreme, including in the last panel of the scene where the two gentlemen literally run out of the office as if frightened for their lives. It makes for a visually exciting comic, but not for organic storytelling.

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