Another post for this superhero-crazed world. It’s a look at another forgotten pantheon of heroes.
Secret Identity: Jeff Larkin
First Appearance: Jumbo Comics #14 (April 1940)
Origin: Jeff Larkin, the son of an American Army General, secretly invented a belt which, when activated, gave its wearer super powers. He donned a costume and fought the forces of evil as the superhero called Lightning.
Powers: Lightning’s power belt enabled him to fly and to shoot lightning bolts from his hands. It also granted him a degree of super-strength.
Comment: When the U.S. entered World War Two Fred Larkin enlisted in a unit under his father’s command, but kept his identity as Lightning a secret.
Secret Identity: Never revealed but created by Jock Lawrence, which would have been a great name for him.
First Appearance: Rangers Comics #13 (October 1943)
Origin: Prior to becoming Commando Ranger in 1943 this man had been an Olympic boxer, had climbed Mount Everest, had helped against the plague in the Congo and had served as a fighter pilot in another nation’s armed forces before the U.S. entered World War Two.
He then spent two years studying under the Lamas in Tibet, mastering their disciplines. Returning to the war, he was assigned to serve as a masked and costumed operative against the Nazis on mainland Europe. This assignment was given to him by Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill.
Powers: Commando Ranger had perfect bodily control, could endure incredible levels of pain and was honed to the peak of physical condition. He had mastered all methods of unarmed combat and was an expert with guns, explosives and especially his winged knife.
Comment: Commando Ranger’s calling cards bore the sign of the winged dagger, the same logo on his costume. This hero’s love interest was a mysterious French woman who led the French Underground unit called La Bastille.
Secret Identity: Amazona
First Appearance: Planet Comics #3 (March 1940)
Origin: Explorer Blake Manners was the sole survivor of an Arctic expedition. He, too, would have perished if he hadn’t been found and saved by Amazona, a super-strong member of a Lost Race. Most of their people had perished in the last Ice Age and they’d been living in their hidden city in the far north ever since.
Amazona fell in love with Blake and returned with him to civilization, where she soon started using her powers to fight crime and other villainy as Mighty Woman.
NOTE: This story came before Wonder Woman debuted, so it’s not an Arctic imitation of her origin story.
Powers: Mighty Woman possessed incredible super-strength and invulnerability. She was also as lithe and agile as an acrobat.
Comment: This heroine was strong enough to single-handedly free Blake Manners’ ship from the ice so that the pair could start their trip south.
Secret Identity: Jeff Crockett
First Appearance: Fight Comics # 16 (December 1941)
Origin: High School athletic coach Jeff Crockett wanted to give the youngsters in his charge a heroic figure to look up to. To that end he adopted the costumed identity of Captain Fight and fought crime and Axis supervillains.
Powers: Captain Fight was in peak human condition and excelled at unarmed combat. He also had exceptional agility.
Comment: This hero joined the superhero fad for endangering youngsters by taking on his own teen sidekick, Yank, who was secretly the younger brother of Coach Crockett’s girlfriend Beth Adams.
Secret Identity: Unknown
First Appearance: Fight Comics #15 (October 1941)
Origin: Inventor Allan Bruce created a Chronopticon, which enabled him to view and communicate with the future. He contacted the U.S. President in the year 2350, when everyone has superpowers of some kind.
Citing 20th Century menaces like Hitler and Stalin, Bruce asked the president for help. The president sent back an average American of the time, but who had superpowers by our standards. That figure donned a costume and took action as Super-American.
Powers: This hero possessed super-strength, could fly and was invulnerable to most harm.
Comment: Super-American never adopted a secret identity in the 20th Century. If continuity-obsessed people are upset about the 24th Century president possibly meddling with the past by sending back Super-American to help us, we can assume that Top Secret records indicated to the Prez that it was supposed to happen, to ensure that his future America came to be.
Secret Identity: Clipper Kirk
First Appearance: Wings Comics #68 (April 1946)
Origin: Former World War Two fighter ace Clipper Kirk was targeted by Nazi war criminals when he was flying around South America. He was presumed dead in the subsequent plane crash, but had actually survived.
Kirk allowed the world to think he was dead and adopted the costumed identity of the Phantom Falcon to fight Nazi efforts to launch a Fourth Reich from their South American lairs.
Powers: The Phantom Falcon was in peak human condition and excelled at unarmed combat. He was an incredibly talented fighter pilot and an expert marksman with the handguns he used in his crusade. The jet plane he used in his war on the Nazi war criminals was souped up with high-tech weaponry and sensors.
Comment: This hero was aided by a French intelligence agent known only as “Marie” who was aware that he was really the presumed dead Clipper Kirk. The leader of the would-be Fourth Reich in Phantom Falcon stories went by the codename A1. (Adolf 1?)
Secret Identity: Glory Forbes
First Appearance: Rangers Of Freedom Comics #5 (June 1942)
Origin: Glory Forbes’ father was America’s foremost designer of bomber aircraft. An Imperial Japanese spy ring called the Scarlet Crab kidnapped her and used a drug to try to brainwash her into killing her father.
After that Axis plan was thwarted, Glory became a self-styled Vigilante, taking on evil spies and criminals.
Powers: Vigilante was as strong as a human female can possibly be and excelled at unarmed combat, even knocking out larger male opponents with one punch. She also became an expert at judo and jiu-jitsu. This heroine never used a gun.
Comment: Vigilante usually turned over her corralled foes to the FBI or local law enforcement. Her stories ran until 1949 so she battled assorted Communist foes after World War Two was over.
Secret Identity: Rip Regan
First Appearance: Fight Comics #3 (March 1940)
Origin: Scientist Dr Austin, a friend and former teacher of the famed explorer and daredevil Rip Regan, gave Regan his newly invented Power Suit. Wearing this suit gave Rip extraordinary abilities with which he fought the forces of evil as Power Man.
Powers: His high-tech suit was lighter than air yet stronger than steel, and while wearing it, Power Man was bullet proof, had super strength and could make incredible leaps. The suit also let this hero breathe underwater.
Comment: Dr Austin managed an “Anti-Crime Fund” through which he raised money for Power Man’s activities. In addition to fighting Axis supervillains and regular criminals, this hero fought the subterranean race of Termite Men, who wanted to wipe out humanity.
Secret Identity: Rita Farrar
First Appearance: Fight Comics #19 (June 1942)
Origin: When the fiance of Hollywood actress Rita Farrar was killed during the Imperial Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the starlet turned her back on fame and became an adventuress, fighting Axis Nation agents and sympathizers throughout South America.
Powers: Senorita Rio was in peak physical condition and was more agile than an acrobat thanks to her early career as a Hollywood stuntwoman before she became an actress. She was so skilled at unarmed combat that she could outfight several male opponents at once.
In addition, this heroine was skilled at fencing and in the use of firearms. Senorita Rio spoke several languages and always secreted implements for escape on her body in case she was captured.
Comment: Senorita Rio’s adventures continued until 1950, so she fought Communist agents after World War Two ended.
Secret Identity: Never revealed, but created by Taylor Martin, which would make a good name for him.
First Appearance: Jungle Comics #2 (February 1940)
Origin: A tribal chief in Africa rewarded a heroic explorer with a costume made from the skin of the legendary animal called the Red Panther. That costume bestowed super-powers on the explorer and from then on he fought the forces of evil in Africa.
Powers: The Red Panther had more than human strength and incredible agility as well as enhanced senses. He could also teleport over short distances, reappearing in a burst of red light upon rematerializing.
Comment: Sometimes this hero would use a gun or red bow and arrows in his adventures.
MYSTA OF THE MOON
Secret Identity: Ana Thane
First Appearance: Planet Comics #35 (March 1945)
Origin: Ana Thane, technician for the Safety Council, had been abducted by the brilliant Dr Kort and taken to his secret moon base along with her brother Nors for hypno-education.
When Kort and Nors were killed as part of an invasion by Mars, Ana thwarted the invasion and inherited Dr Kort’s moon base plus his other inventions and went on to fight criminals and interstellar menaces as Mysta of the Moon.
Powers: Mysta was in peak physical condition, was beyond genius level in intellect thanks to Dr Kort and his hypno-transmitter and was supernaturally accurate with her ray-guns. In addition she flew by means of a rocket pack and mentally controlled a large metal robot, which she used as a sidekick.
Comment: In her civilian identity, this heroine had a crush on her boss Dirk Garro. Among the technology she inherited from Dr Kort was a scanno lens which let her observe anything on Earth.
NOTE: Beginning in July of 1946 Fiction House also published the adventures of the very similar FUTURA – Secret Identity: Marcia Reynolds, secretary. Marcia was abducted by the Brain People of Planet Cymradia as one of the intergalactic guinea pigs they rounded up.
Reynolds had her mind filled with Cymradian knowledge, instead of the Earth knowledge that Mysta was instilled with. Adopting the nom de guerre Futura, this heroine fought her way free of the Brain People, stole a spaceship and flew off for further adventures while trying to find her way back to Earth.
Secret Identity: Professor Armand Broussard
First Appearance: Rangers Comics #8 (December 1942)
Origin: Armand Broussard was an expert on the occult and fought any and all kinds of supernatural menaces, including werewolves a few times. Because his first adventure involved lycanthropy the label “Werewolf Hunter” stuck to him.
Powers: Professor Broussard was in reasonable shape for an older man but mostly relied on his brains and his courage. He had an encyclopedic knowledge of occult lore from around the world and when he wasn’t teaching he was off fighting the supernatural.
Comment: Part Kolchak and part Doctor Who, Werewolf Hunter deserves to be better known.
Secret Identity: Princess Vishnu
First Appearance: Fight Comics #32 (June 1944)
Origin: Princess Vishnu was the daughter of an Indian Rajah and an Irish model. The Rajah was fond of hunting tigers and was accidentally mauled to death by one during a hunt with his young daughter Vishnu. From then on she was raised by Abdola, a Hindu aide of her late father and as she matured she took to adventuring as Tiger Girl.
Powers: Tiger Girl was as strong as a human female can possibly be and was more agile than gymnasts and acrobats. She wore an enchanted tiger-ring which could temporarily increase her strength beyond its normal limit.
This superheroine also used a whip as an often deadly weapon. Tiger Girl sported a knife and was accompanied by her loyal trained tiger named Benzali.
Comment: Yes, tigers are in India, not Africa. At any rate, the adventures of Tiger Girl ran until 1954, making her one of the longest lasting comic book figures from Fiction House.
Secret Identity: Unknown
First Appearance: Jumbo Comics #1 (September 1938)
Origin: ZX-5 was one of America’s greatest secret agents. Nothing is known of his life before he was assigned this codename and sent into action around the world.
Powers: This hero was in excellent physical condition and excelled at unarmed combat. He spoke several languages and was adept at shady activities which went with his job. In addition he wielded a cane with built-in weapons like tear gas, bullets and much more, all of which could be triggered by pressing the buttons on the cane’s handle.
Comment: ZX-5 was given his missions by Major Jason. After World War Two he became a freelance agent for hire.
Proving that you can never tell what heroes will last, ZX-5 was one of Fiction House’s most long-lived characters. He appeared in well over 130 stories starting in 1938 and lasting all the way until 1950.
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FOR THE AUSTRALIAN SUPERHERO PANTHEON CLICK HERE
FOR MORE SUPERHEROES CLICK HERE: Superheroes
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