With the emphasis on superhero movies every summer these days I’ll periodically look at some of the stranger costumed crime-fighters who have come down the road over the years. The Black Condor will remain my blog’s Official Weird Superhero, so have no fear.
Career: Popular Comics 54 through 60
Years Active: 1940 into 1941
Comment: This bizarre superhero had the most convenient last name this side of Dr Stephen Strange. The good doctor was 75 years old before he perfected a special treatment that restored him to age 25, possibly for good. (His series got canceled long before the writers had to worry about retconning or sliding time-scales.)
Dr Hormone injected his own elderly self with special hormones he had been whipping up in his lab and followed that up with exposure to
Vita Rays “Angstrom Rays”, thus de-aging himself. With great hormones come great responsibility, however, and our intrepid hero decided to fight the forces of evil with his new youthful body and his scientific genius. His hormone chemicals allowed our hero to change his opponents’ height, weight and manipulate their anatomy in other weird ways. (This guy would have made a better villain!)
Doc noticed how Batman and other superheroes of the day felt no compunctions about endangering the lives of youthful sidekicks like Robin by letting them fight crime alongside them. He decided to one-up them, however, by taking on a sidekick who was not only very young but was also his own granddaughter, Janey!
That wasn’t Dr Hormone’s only questionable act, however. When called in to save a dying baby our hero used his hormones to age the infant into a man of 25, thus giving him the physical fortitude to survive the illness that was killing him. The hulking “child” still had the mind ( and presumably lack of bladder and bowel control) of an infant, but this was still considered a happy ending.
Dr Hormone’s weird name and peculiar pharmaceutical weaponry were about the only original things about him, as it turned out. He and his youthful sidekick went on to battle totalitarians who were clearly based on the Nazis of the day, just like every other superhero back then. Since the U.S. had not yet entered World War Two Dr Hormone’s foes were disguised (however thinly) pastiches of Hitler and Mussolini and their followers.
Doc and Janey moved to the fictional nation of Novoslavia to help the beleagured nation in its war against the fascist forces of Urasia, which had stolen some of Dr Hormone’s creations. Even worse, the Urasians had kidnapped Janey! Later, a country called Nazia (subtle, eh) became Dr Hormone’s biggest enemies. In Urasia, their dictator Rassinoff employed an army of human/ animal hybrids in his quest for world domination but the donkey-eared villain was soon thwarted by our pal Doc Hormone evening the odds by creating human- animal hybrids for Novoslavia’s use. Another adventure would see Dr Hormone transform thousands of young boy scouts into full-grown soldiers to replace the male population that had already been killed off fighting Nazia.
I have to give credit where it’s due, however, and point out that Robert Bugg (Dr Hormone’s creator) was edgy enough for his time period to depict his superhero fighting the Ku Klux Klan when the evil forces of Nazia teamed up with the Klansmen to bring America down. In an odd bit of poetic justice Doc used his hormone chemicals to CHANGE THE SKIN COLOR AND FEATURES of his Klansmen foes.
The good doctor’s final adventure was a real acid trip that was so incoherent and rushed it seemed like an early Fantomah story! A mysteriously powerful entity called the Thinker gave Dr Hormone added powers like super-strength and the ability to grow to extremely gigantic size. After Doc polished off the Nazians for good in that story the Thinker transported Dr Hormone and Janey to his temple on the outskirts of time. He put them to sleep until they were needed again.
Unfortunately for them, the world has apparently not needed them again for over seven decades now.
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