Archive for October 28th, 2011

The Universal Translator – Red Skull: Incarnate #4 (December 2011)


I’m not much of a Marvel fanboy (as if that weren’t already painfully obvious from the sheer number of posts about DC Comics in this blog), but the following cover for Red Skull: Incarnate #4 (December 2011) by Greg Pak and Mirko Colak caught my eye earlier today:

I'm digging the Heavy Metal Umlaut in "Red Sküll".

Maybe it’s because I’m so used to dealing with DC Comics’ atrocious translators, but I was taken aback by how astonishingly good the German was in this case. So, for those who’re curious about what it says, wonder no more!

German: Norddeutsche Ausgabe
English: North German Edition

German: 25. Ausgabe / 52.  Jahrgang / Einzelpreis: 20 Pf.
English: Issue 25 / Volume 52 / Price per copy: 20 Pfennig

A “Pfennig” was a German unit of currency (and, as the word’s spelling suggests, is etymologically related to the English word “penny”).

German: Berlin, Donnerstag, 16. März, 1939
English: Berlin, Thursday, March 16, 1939

German: Kampfblatt der nationalsozialistischen Bewegung Großdeutschlands
English: Fighting Paper of the National Socialist Movement of Greater Germany

While the name of the miniseries appears at the top (of course), since this phrase was the motto of the Völkischer Beobachter (“Nationalistic Observer”), the official newspaper of the NSDAP or Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeitspartei (“National Socialist German Workers’ Party” or Nazi Party for short) from 1920 to 1945, the cover is obviously intended to be a mockup of the publication’s front page.

German: Beförderung für den Roten Schadel
English: Promotion for the Red Skull

German: Agiert unabhängig als Ebenbild der S.S.
English: Operates as an independent counterpart of the S.S.

Can you imagine the level in badass the Red Skull must’ve taken in order to be declared an autonomous agent of the Nazi Party on par with the Schutzstaffel or S.S. (“Protection Squadron”), a frickin’ paramilitary force?

German: Als Auszeichnung für ausserordentliche Dienste, nun Himmlers Gleichgestellter
English Now Himmler’s equal in honor of extraordinary services rendered

“Himmler” is, of course, Heinrich Himmler, the Reichsführer-SS (“Reich Leader of the SS”). This means that, at this point in time, both he and the Red Skull reported directly to Adolf Hitler himself and were one step away from being king of the mountain. There’s a slight spelling mistake here, though, as the “ss” in “ausserordentliche” should actually be a “ß” (sharp s).

German: Der Rote Schädel
English: The Red Skull

German: Aja + Völkischer Beobacher & Der Stürmer
English: Aja + Völkischer Beobacher & Der Stürmer

The cover artist, David Aja, manages to slip a small self-reference in in the form of a picture credit. Also, Der Stürmer (“The Stormer”/”The Attacker”) was the name of a weekly Nazi Party tabloid published between 1923 and 1945.

German: Böhmen und Mähren wieder im Reich
English: Bohemia and Moravia (are) part of the (German) Reich once more

This is a reference to the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, which was established by Hitler on March 15, 1939, one day before this issue of the newspaper was released on Earth-616.

As a neat little bonus, here’s a reproduction of the actual front page of the Völkischer Beobachter from March 16, 1939 from our world courtesy of the Zentral- und Landesbibliothek Berlin (Central and Regional Library Berlin):

"Völkischer Beobachter" - Volume 52, Issue 25 (March 19, 1939)

Notice how the headline about the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia in the authentic version matches that of the fake word for word. Someone really did their homework on this one!

The mockup isn’t quite perfect, though. Aside from the aforementioned spelling mistake, while the font used for the cover of Red Skull: Incarnate #4 is damn close to the original one, it uses a modern “s” instead of the archaic “ſ” (the so-called long, medial, or descending s). Also, the contemporary German spelling of “nationalsozialistischen” appears in the motto instead of the period accurate, hyphenated one (“national-sozialistischen”).

But those’re extremely trivial details, all things considered. A tip of the hat to David Aja, Alejandro Arbona, and Sebastian Girner for putting that much effort into a miniseries front cover!

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