With superhero cosplay starting to take over Halloween what better time of year for a look at the neglected male and female superheroes of the Rural Home/ Croydon/ Enwil/ Orbit and McCormick conglomeration.
Secret Identity: Joseph Preston
Origin: Joseph Preston was unjustly suspected of a murder he did not commit. While fleeing the police he took shelter in a haunted wax museum where he encountered a wax figure who was really the magician Theophrastus.
The magician’s powers told him Preston was innocent so he gave the man a mystical cape, costume and mask which granted him superpowers. Calling himself Captain Wizard our hero caught the real murderer and went on to fight the forces of evil on a regular basis.
First Appearance: Red Band Comics #3 (April 1945). His final Golden Age appearance came in 1946.
Powers: Thanks to his enchanted costume Captain Wizard had super-human strength, could fly and was invulnerable. He also never required sleep. In addition he could switch from his street-clothes into his costume and vice-versa simply by saying “Abracadabra.”
Comment: Captain Wizard’s ability to function without sleep proved especially handy during an adventure in another dimension peopled by the dream-spirits of human beings. Since he needed no sleep he alone was able to overcome the menaces that lurked there.
Think of Captain Wizard as a mystical version of the Green Lantern with Theophrastus deeming Joseph Preston (who seemed to have no job) to be a “worthy” recipient of the enchanted costume.
THE BOGEY MAN
Secret Identity: Kendall Richards, wealthy author of murder mysteries.
Origin: The high-profile Kendall Richards often garnered publicity for his latest novels by helping the police solve a real crime here and there. Some criminals he exposed didn’t like it and tried to have him killed.
Richards survived the attempt on his life but chose to let the gangsters and the rest of the world mistakenly believe him to be dead. This charade gave Kendall the freedom of movement to don a mask and costume and fight crime as the Bogey Man.
First Appearance: Red Band Comics #1 (November 1944). His final Golden Age appearance came in 1945.
Powers: The Bogey Man was in the peak of human condition and was highly skilled at unarmed combat. He had virtually ninja-level stealth and burglary abilities and was a genius at solving even the most perplexing crimes.
With his alter ego considered dead, the Bogey Man could devote himself full-time to fighting gangsters and other criminals.
Comment: The Bogey Man was obviously a composite of Will Eisner’s iconic superhero the Spirit and the DC Comics figure Batman. Only a select few people knew that Kendall Richards was alive and well and fighting crime, so presumably among them was someone who enabled our hero to still have access to all the money he had made as an author.
Personally, I would have depicted the hero being married and his presumed “widow” could be the only person who knew his secret. There could have been a lot of teasing byplay between Kendall and his wife over the many men pursuing her since she seemed available and wealthy. (Especially since Richards’ books presumably sold even better after his “death.”)
This Merry Widow could put on a public air of mourning as the excuse to keep turning men down. Meanwhile Kendall could secretly be living with her in their mansion, pursuing his crusade while periodically engaging in Nick and Nora Charles-style banter.
*** This same conglomeration of publishers featured another of the many hat, suit and tie heroes, this one called CRIME CRUSADER (Jonathan Jones) who took on the forces of evil with his sidekick CUPID (Kewpie O’Toole).
CAIRO JONES, AXIS HUNTER
Secret Identity: Cairo Jones Von Tigron, but known publicly as a heroine.
Origin: In 1939 the 19 year old American adventuress Cairo Jones married a wealthy German named Saber Von Tigron, who had convinced her he hated the Nazis and was using his fortune to fight them.
After the war Von Tigron was exposed as a war criminal who had secretly been working for the Nazis all along in deep cover. Saber abandoned his wife and went into hiding in South America, but the infuriated and two-fisted Cairo tracked him down and confronted him.
Von Tigron hanged himself and Cairo Jones went on to track down other fugitive Axis war criminals, German, Italian and Japanese.
First Appearance: Miss Cairo Jones Comics #1 (July 1945). Her final Golden Age appearance came in 1947.
Powers: Cairo Jones was in the peak of human condition and was as physically strong as a human female can be. She was a master of unarmed combat and could defeat multiple male adversaries at once. Her skill with guns, knives and explosives was on a par with the most capable Commandos.
Cairo often employed various spy strategies, too, like infiltrating organizations by adopting cover identities. Her late husband’s fortune financed her crusade and furnished her with state of the art planes, subs and other equipment as needed.
Comment: Cairo Jones’ sidekick was American reporter Steve Racy, who was also her love interest. Cairo was originally intended to be a man but was changed before publication since there were so many male comic book heroes flooding the stands.
Secret Identity: Timothy Slade, steel worker.
Origin: When Nazi saboteurs broke into the War Industries plant where patriotic Timothy Slade worked, he single-handedly attacked them. During the fight a freak accident left Timothy with his right hand and part of his right arm made out of solid, living steel.
Realizing he could move this steel hand as readily as his flesh and blood hand, Slade took to wearing gloves in real life to hide his new super power. He donned a costume and began a career as the superhero called Steel Fist.
First Appearance: Blue Circle Comics #1 (June 1944). His final Golden Age appearance came in 1945.
Powers: A steel hand which packed an incredible wallop and was stronger than a vice. It could also punch through brick or metal walls.
Already in top physical condition before the accident which gave him his super power, Steel Fist trained to improve his overall fighting abilities and to make himself an even more formidable hero.
Comment: Steel Fist is exactly the kind of oddball superhero that I love about the Golden Age. It’s too bad none of this conglomeration’s heroes lasted very long.
Secret Identity: Rusty Adams
Origin: Adventurous Copy Boy Rusty Adams at the Daily Herald felt inspired to take on crime. He put on a costume and under the name Crash Kid he battled gangsters and Axis agents.
First Appearance: Cannonball Comics #1 (February 1945). His final Golden Age appearance came later that same year.
Powers: Crash Kid was in top physical condition for his age and was as lithe and agile as an acrobat. He was an expert street fighter and often swung into action on a long rope he took into action with him. In text stories Crash Kid wielded two pistols.
Comment: This hero used the Daily Herald’s vast records to research his cases and sometimes pretended to be a reporter instead of a Copy Boy to get information out of people.
Secret Identity: Judge Jim Lawson. Yes, it’s the most transparent hero name/ secret identity combo this side of Super President … or Holyoke’s Diana Archer as Diana the Archer.
Origin: Young Jim Lawson saw his father murdered by Rod Vicars, a hood who then walked free after threatening witnesses. From then on Jim devoted his life to the law, going from Lawyer to District Attorney to Judge with astonishing speed.
As an adult Judge he once again saw the man who killed his father get away with murder and decided he’d had enough. Jim Lawson put on a mask and some Judge’s robes tailored for action. (?) Calling himself the Judge he abducted Rod Vicars and assembled some of his victims as an impromptu jury.
After presiding over a vigilante “trial” of sorts the Judge dealt out his own brand of justice when the jury found Vicars guilty. He repeated this procedure whenever he saw a crook beat the system unfairly.
First Appearance: Red Circle Comics #1 (January 1945). His final Golden Age appearance came later that same year.
Powers: The Judge is in peak physical condition and is incomparable when it comes to unarmed combat. With a fanatic’s stamina and fortitude he engineers the abduction of one or more criminals, secures a random location to serve as a makeshift courtroom and transports a group of “jurors” to said location.
This hero’s robes concealed the ropes he used to swing around the city.
Comment: If only the Judge had had a sidekick called the Bailiff to help with the exhaustive heist-level preparation his M.O. called for.
I get enormous enjoyment out of this figure’s hybrid of superhero and supervillain attributes. Batman only THINKS he’s as emotionally scarred and unstable as the Judge really is.
Secret Identity: Patricia Layne, owner of the Lazy Bar M Ranch.
Origin: After her father is killed by treacherous employees Patricia Layne begins sporting a costume, mask and wig while getting revenge on the murderers. From then on she decides to continue fighting crime as Calamity Kate.
First Appearance: Westerner Comics #26 (April 1950). Her final Golden Age appearance came in 1951.
Powers: Calamity Kate is almost impossibly skilled with her six-guns and her lariat. She is also expert at horsemanship and is proficient at unarmed combat.
Comment: This heroine tangled with rustlers, bank robbers, train robbers, evil land barons, railroad tycoons, Mexican bandits, rampaging Native Americans and similar opponents. She had a flirty kind of Batman and Catwoman thing going with the Gaucho Kid, one of her frequent foes.
Like the Green Hornet, Calamity Kate was wanted by the law as well as by outlaws because of her vigilante activities. She used a hidden cave as the headquarters for her Zorroesque adventures.
Secret Identity: “Flatfeet” Fogarty, police officer. Specifically a beat cop.
Origin: Super Cop was from the fictional planet Brutus, on which everyone had super powers compared to the people of Earth.
First Appearance: Red Band Comics #3 (April 1945). His final Golden Age appearance came later that same year.
Powers: Super Cop possessed massive super-strength, could fly and possessed a large measure of invulnerability.
Comment: In an age where the Tick, Rocket Raccoon and other intentionally campy and WTF superheroes are thriving, the fact that nobody has tried a modern revival of the tongue-in-cheek Super Cop boggles the mind.
Secret Identity: Dennis Temple, movie star.
Origin: Dennis Temple, a hard-drinking former reporter, stunt man and short story author, has found his niche playing villains on the big screen. Like Erich Von Stroheim, Temple is often referred to as “the man you love to hate.”
Behind the scenes, however, Dennis Temple is really the costumed hero called the Menace. Temple blows as much of his cinematic earnings on financing his secret crime-fighting career as he does on his public partying.
As the narrative loves reminding us, though Temple gets only boos and hisses for his screen work, his alter ego is idolized by the public for his heroic escapades.
First Appearance: Triple Threat Comics #1 (October 1945). His final Golden Age appearance came in 1946.
Powers: The Menace is in the peak of human condition and is possessed of Olympic-level agility. He is also a master of unarmed combat.
Comment: In my opinion the Menace was a bit ahead of his time. His checkered past and less than sterling character may have upset many parents whose children began pretending to be a superhero who loved boozing, who went through his movie earnings like water and who oinked and boinked on the side despite having a fiancée.
Said fiancée, glamorous movie starlet Rita Wilson, made much more money than Dennis Temple did from his villain roles. Dennis took ribbing from her about that fact in a good-natured way. Rita did not know her man was really the Menace.
Some of the Menace’s adventures ranged from stopping Nazi war criminals from getting sunken treasure to shutting down a smuggling operation along the Mexican border. He also cleared the name of some Japanese-Americans who had been framed for war-time sabotage by Japanese Imperial Spies.
A sleazy movie producer using his studio’s resources to mount a fake lunar expedition and attack by Moon Men also got exposed and defeated by our hero.
Secret Identity: None. Her real name was very conveniently Maureen Marine.
Origin: Maureen stowed away on her father’s Europe-bound ship as it left their Gloucester, MA home port. The boat was sunk by a Nazi U-Boat killing everyone on board, including the teenaged Maureen.
Neptune realized that the girl’s courage and fighting spirit would make her the perfect new Queen of Atlantis. The reigning Queen was on her deathbed so Neptune resurrected Maureen’s submerged body, making her immortal and granting her various super-powers.
Maureen would use those powers to battle the Nazis at sea and to protect her domain of Atlantis from undersea monsters and from hostile underwater races.
First Appearance: Blue Circle Comics #1 (June 1944). Her final Golden Age appearance came in 1946.
Powers: Queen Maureen – or Queen Marine if you prefer – could breathe and communicate underwater and had enough strength to move freely despite the high pressure in the ocean depths.
She could move through the water more swiftly than any boat or submarine thanks to her Trident, which she could also use as a weapon in battle. In addition she controlled most of the creatures of the sea.
Comment: Let’s face it, a female version of Sub-Mariner and Aqua-Man is a breath of fresh air in Golden Age Comic Books. And Maureen Marine got to see a lot of action while simultaneously learning about the responsibilities of being a monarch.
THE GREEN TURTLE
Secret Identity: Ching Quai, professional pilot
Origin: Shocked at the atrocities that the Japanese forces inflicted on his fellow Chinese citizens, this hero donned a costume and called himself the Green Turtle so he could anonymously battle the Japanese occupation troops.
First Appearance: Blazing Comics #1 (June 1944). His final Golden Age appearance came in 1945.
Powers: The Green Turtle was a master of his specialized form of Turtle Kung Fu. That discipline enabled him to outfight several opponents at once, even when those opponents were armed with guns. Our hero also wore a bullet-proof turtle-shell cape which he could wrap around himself for protection even from hand grenades.
In addition, the Green Turtle wielded a turtle-handled jade knife and wore a belt holding grenades – both explosive and gas-filled. He and a band of followers had converted the Turtle Monastery – hidden in a cave in the mountains near Tibet – into a headquarters and hangar called the Turtle Shell.
The Green Turtle used that hangar for his Turtle-Plane, an advanced jet-rocket which sported mounted machine guns and whose engines could shoot flame or concussive blasts out the back.
Comment: This superhero was created by Chinese-American Chu Hing. The Green Turtle obviously had some unexplained mystical connection to his totem beast since a turtle-shaped shadow complete with facial features often hovered near him.
The Green Turtle had a teen sidekick called Burma Boy who donned a costume of his own and helped the main hero in his crusade against the cruel Japanese occupiers of both their countries.
Secret Identity: Joan Teal
Origin: When Joan Teal was a child she accompanied her parents on an expedition to Kolumbi, Africa in search of a rumored radium deposit. Deep in the jungle the explorers instead found a pit of unknown radioactive substances.
That pit was in the center of the Togoma Tribe’s village and was called the Pit of Death. Joan’s parents died at the hands of the Togoma, who guarded the Pit of Death to prevent it being used by outsiders. As a child, Joan was spared and raised by the Togoma.
Years of exposure to the mysterious radiation from that pit endowed Joan – who had been renamed Jun-Gal by the natives – with super powers which she used to fight the forces of evil in Africa.
First Appearance: Blazing Comics #1 (June 1944). Her final Golden Age appearance came in 1945.
Powers: The unknown radiation from the Pit of Death had no effect on the Togoma tribe, which had become immune to it over the centuries. However, that radiation endowed Jun-Gal with more strength than any two men as well as super-senses and mental control of jungle animals.
She also had superhuman healing abilities and immunity to snake and bug bites.
Comment: If not for her super-powers Jun-Gal would be just another of the countless Jungle Queens of the Golden Age of Comics.
Secret Identity: Len Stafford, inventor.
Origin: Wealthy inventor Len Stafford has been a huge help to law enforcement over the years. His inventions have revolutionized CSI and forensic procedures.
Using his considerable influence Stafford arranges for the pardon of seven personally selected criminal masterminds who have reformed. While those men seem to simply be fitting back into an honest life they are secretly drafted by Len Stafford to serve as expert advisors for his new costumed identity: the Blue Circle.
Len has decided he has enough money to live on for the rest of his life and can fight crime more efficiently through anonymity. To that end he has donned a costume and has assembled his own following of sidekicks, the seven former criminals.
First Appearance: Blue Circle Comics #1 (June 1944). His final Golden Age appearance came in 1946.
Powers: The Blue Circle is in peak human condition, surpasses Olympic gymnasts in agility and, under his costume wears body armor around his torso. His wealth and brilliance provide him with a variety of technical gadgets as needed plus he is a world-class criminologist.
The Blue Circle is a master of unarmed combat and has the advantage of his Blue Circle Council: seven former criminal masterminds who call upon their own expertise to advise the hero in his war on crime.
Comment: I like how the Blue Circle used a following of agents to help him out. To me that gave him some vintage Pulp Magazine Hero appeal, like Doc Savage and the Shadow and others.
His Blue Circle Council included:
Greg Stern, master counterfeiter …
Mike Tyler, expert vehicle hijacker …
Frank Craven, embezzler extraordinaire …
Saunders, master art thief …
and Fixer, a wizard at cheating casinos at every game of chance.
FOR THE MAIN LIST OF CENTAUR COMICS SUPERHEROES CLICK HERE
FOR MY ARTICLE ON THE MEMBERS OF INFINITE HORIZON CLICK HERE
FOR THE AUSTRALIAN SUPERHERO PANTHEON CLICK HERE
FOR MORE SUPERHEROES CLICK HERE: Superheroes
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