HILLMAN PERIODICALS SUPERHERO PANTHEON

Balladeer’s Blog’s readers demanded another detailed look at superheroes from a forgotten publishing company. Here are the often neglected heroes of Hillman Periodicals.

Dash Dixon 2DASH DIXON

Secret Identity: None, but he was called Dash Dixon the Man of Might so some sources list him as Man of Might with Dash Dixon given as his secret identity. He was publicly known, however.

First Appearance: Miracle Comics #1 (February 1940)

Origin: When police officer Dash Dixon was guarding a scientist named Doctor Lorenz, he agreed to be a human guinea pig for the doctor’s “Perpetual Life Rays” in his enclosed Perpetual Life Cabinet/ Coffin, in which he was also fed chemicals intravenously. Those rays and chemicals gave Dash superpowers with which he fought crime on special assignments from the Commissioner.

Dash Dixon Man of MightPowers: Dash Dixon, the Man of Might, possessed the strength of fifty men, could leap incredible distances, was invulnerable to harm and could live forever. (Originally he had the strength of just three men but that was changed to fifty. You know comic books.)

Normally the Perpetual Life Rays would wear off after a period of 24 hours but Dr Lorenz provided a pliable metal uniform for this hero to wear. The uniform contained the rays within his body, making his powers permanent.

Comment: Obviously staying in his uniform all the time would present problems that young readers of comic books might be oblivious to. I’d have thrown in the development that Dash was mortally wounded by villains trying to kill Dr Lorenz, who used his Perpetual Life Rays on Dixon to save his life.

The superpowers would be a bonus but in order to stay alive he had to remain in the uniform all the time, allowing for lots of the angst and tragedy that modern superheroes thrive on.  

Black AngelBLACK ANGEL

Secret Identity: Sylvia Manners

First Appearance: Air Fighters Comics #2 (November 1942)

Origin: Wealthy and connected British society woman Sylvia Manners kept a secret underground hangar in her aunt’s castle. (What, you mean your aunt doesn’t own a castle?) When Nazi bombers began wreaking havoc on Great Britain during World War Two she adopted the costumed identity of Black Angel and took to the air to do battle with them.

Powers: Black Angel was in peak human condition and excelled at both armed and unarmed combat. She was also a deadly fighter pilot and commando. This heroine used a handgun and also wielded a blow-pipe that shot poison darts, which she called “silent death.”

Comment: Sylvia Manners pretended to be prim, proper and sickly in order to hide her identity as Black Angel. Her arch-enemy was the German pilot villainess called Baroness Blood.

Decades later this superheroine is still one of the best remembered Hillman characters.  

Micro-FaceMICRO-FACE

Secret Identity: Tom Woods

First Appearance: Clue Comics #1 (January 1943)

Origin: When radio engineer Tom Woods’ brother was slain by gangsters working for “Big Boston”, Tom dug out an old invention of his that was rejected by the government years earlier. Wearing this device he avenged his brother’s murder and continued fighting crime as the superhero called Micro-Face.

Powers: Micro-Face’s mask, helmet and shoulder gear were bullet-proof and granted him super-hearing, X-ray vision and night vision. In addition the equipment let him project his voice very loudly like through a microphone as well as make his voice appear to be coming from other locations. He could also hook up his tech to telephones and radios to communicate.

This hero was also skilled at unarmed combat and made a good detective. 

Comment: Micro-Face’s superhero name is a play on the word “microphone” and does not mean micro as in small.   

TwilightTWILIGHT

Secret Identity: Terry Gardner

First Appearance: Clue Comics #1 (January 1943)

Origin: When former Private Detective and former Marine Terry Gardner was serving as a bodyguard, Nazi agents tried to kill his latest client. Gardner donned a costume and from then on did battle with the forces of evil under the name Twilight.

Powers: Twilight was in peak human condition and was a master of unarmed combat. He was also as agile as an acrobat. He had a parrot sidekick named Snoopy who could be used to eavesdrop on villains and then repeat back what he had heard. (This was before the cartoon dog Snoopy.)

Comment: You have to love the weird “tail” on the back of Twilight’s mask. Or maybe he was the pioneer of the world’s first Mullet.

Electro ManTHE ELECTRO MAN

Secret Identity: Red Roberts

First Appearance: Rocket Comics #1 (March 1940)

Origin: Ace crime reporter Red Roberts knew too much about the leaders of organized crime, including the Mayor’s complicity with them. They framed him for murder and when Roberts was strapped to the electric chair a freak accident endowed him with superpowers. He used those powers to escape, prove he was framed and got a pardon. He went on to wage war on crime as the Electro Man.

Powers: Electro Man could shoot electric blasts from his hands and could deliver power-charged punches. He could also transform his entire body into electricity in order to travel through wires and cables.

Comment: This figure was one of the many, many “suit and tie” superheroes of the Golden Age.  

Iron Lady picIRON LADY

Secret Identity: Doris Parker

First Appearance: Airboy Comics #36 (February 1947)

Origin: Wealthy socialite Doris Parker, heiress to a tobacco fortune, discovered her father had been murdered over a pair of motorized iron gloves that he recently purchased. She donned the gloves to get revenge on her father’s killers then continued fighting crime as Iron Lady.

Powers: Iron Lady’s motorized gloves, designed centuries earlier in Switzerland, not only granted her powerful knockout punches against her opponents but also gave her hands vicelike grips which could let her crush guns and other objects. In addition she was a skilled detective and excelled at unarmed combat.

Comment: Because Iron Lady often concealed her gloved hands in a muff out in public she was also sometimes called the Muff. I’m serious. (You can insert your own sophomoric joke here.)

ZippoZIPPO

Secret Identity: Joe Blair

First Appearance: Clue Comics #1 (January 1943)

Origin: Private Investigator Joe Blair invented a high-tech apparatus to strap to his waist, legs and feet to give him superpowers. As Zippo he took on criminals who were too much for a regular P.I. to handle.

Powers: Powered by the energy unit called a Speed Belt around his waist, Zippo had wheeled boots which let him travel at super-speed. Those carborundum wheels were also sharp enough to cut through metal safes or walls or hurled projectiles. In addition, Zippo was in peak human condition and excelled at unarmed combat.

Comment: You can insert your own Zippo lighter joke here if you like.  

ConquerorTHE CONQUEROR

Secret Identity: Daniel Lyons

First Appearance: Victory Comics #1 (August 1941)

Origin: Pilot Daniel Lyons crashed his plane near the Rocky Mountain laboratory of reclusive scientist James Norton. Norton saved Daniel’s life by exposing him to his Cosmic Ray Lamp, which also granted Lyons superpowers. He adopted the nom de guerre the Conqueror and fought the Nazis in Occupied Europe.

Powers: The Conqueror had twice the strength, speed, intelligence and healing abilities of a normal man. In addition he was an expert with a knife and the handgun he wore as well as with the weapons he would take from opponents in battle.

Comment: No, I don’t know why James Norton didn’t use his Cosmic Ray Lamp to make an entire army of superpowered soldiers.

NightmareNIGHTMARE

Secret Identity: Bob White

First Appearance: Clue Comics #1 (January 1943)

Origin: Wrestler Bob White often witnessed wrongdoing in his travels, so he adopted the costumed identity of Nightmare to combat crime.

Powers: Nightmare was in top athletic condition and excelled at unarmed combat and acrobatics. His costume had phosphorous on its skeletal outline so that in the dark he would look like an animated skeleton on the prowl.

Comment: This hero adopted the superhero tradition of endangering youngsters by taking on his teenage manager Terry Wake as his costumed sidekick Sleepy.  

Jungle QueenJUNGLE QUEEN

Secret Identity: Blanda

First Appearance: Miracle Comics #1 (February 1940)

Origin: Blanda’s parents died exploring the African jungles when she was an infant. The fictional Aza tribe rescued her and raised her as their own. When she reached adulthood she was a skilled enough warrior to challenge others for leadership of the tribe and won. She leads her people against hunters, explorers and enemy tribes.

Powers: The Jungle Queen was as strong as any man and was incredibly skilled at unarmed combat and at wielding a knife in battle. She had the stealth of a panther and possessed heightened senses. This heroine also commanded a large group of gorillas who could fight at her side when needed.

Comment: The Aza worshipped a pride of blind lions which they kept and to whom they fed captured hunters and enemy warriors. Of all the white jungle queens from Golden Age comic books THIS one had a certain savage edge to her, more like Conan than Tarzan.

Iron AceIRON ACE

Secret Identity: Ronald Britain

First Appearance: Air Fighters Comics #2 (November 1942)

Origin: When fighter pilot Ronald Britain was shot down over France he took refuge in the castle of Doctor Lafarge. Hidden in the castle was an enchanted suit of armor dating back to the time of Charlemagne. Ronald suited up in the armor and battled the forces of evil under the name Iron Ace. 

Powers: Iron Ace’s armor was bullet and shell-proof and enhanced his strength to greater than human levels. The sword which came with the armor was virtually indestructible. Iron Ace designed a high-tech plane for himself which, with the touch of a button, would become armored as well whenever Iron Ace was needed.

Comment: This hero’s adventures lasted into 1947, so he took on Communists as well as Nazis.

Boy King and his giantBOY KING & HIS GIANT

Secret Identity: None. Publicly known as King David of Swisslakia.

First Appearance: Clue Comics #1 (January 1943)

Origin: When Nazis overran the Boy King’s fictional nation of Swisslakia and executed the rest of the Royal Family, he escaped and located a gigantic, Godzilla-sized robot constructed centuries earlier by Nostradamus. (It’s a comic book. Just go with it.)

David brought the mechanical construct to life by screwing a large bolt into its head and – after evacuating most of his people to America – used the giant against the Nazis for the rest of the war, usually as advised by the Allies.

Powers: Boy King excelled at unarmed combat and was also skilled with handguns and a sword. His robot servant had the massive strength that could be expected of such an enormous creation.

Comment: This hero eccentrically wore his crown and royal garb as his superhero costume. With the United States as his base, he and his giant battled Nazi armies as well as gigantic menaces unleashed by Axis scientists. After the war the Boy King fought crime and Communism in America into 1947.   

Masked AngelTHE MASKED ANGEL

Secret Identity: Steve Oakes

First Appearance: Miracle Comics #1 (February 1940)

Origin: When good-timing playboy Steve Oakes learned his father, Inspector John Oakes, had been killed by gangsters, he assumed the identity of the Masked Angel and set out for revenge. After avenging his father he continued to fight crime.

Masked Angel 2Powers: The Masked Angel was in peak human condition, excelled at unarmed combat and was more agile than an acrobat. He was also an expert, ambidextrous marksman with the handgun he took into action with him and had a number of underworld contacts. His old army buddy Jack Quinn served as the Masked Angel’s driver.

Comment: Because of his willingness to kill, this hero was hunted by the police as well as the criminals he waged war upon. His brother John was also a Detective Inspector and had sworn to capture the Masked Angel, little dreaming that figure was really his shiftless, good-timing brother Steve. This hero left notes signed with a drawing of an angel as a calling card.   

AirboyAIRBOY

Secret Identity: Davy Nelson II

First Appearance: Air Fighters Comics #2 (November 1942)

Origin: Young, blonde Davy Nelson II was given the wreckage of an experimental plane along with the unusual uniform of its late pilot, a Franciscan Monk named Brother Francis. Davy’s father gave him the items since even at his young age he was an incredible pilot and aeronautical engineer.

Davy repaired the bat-winged experimental plane, named it Birdie and took to the skies to battle the Axis powers as Airboy.

Powers: Airboy had what we would today call “video game reflexes” which gave him an edge in aerial combat. He thrived as a fighter pilot and was also in peak human condition, making him excel at unarmed combat as well. His aircraft Birdie was very advanced and exceptionally maneuverable, with wings that could “flap” when needed.

Airboy 2Comment: Airboy was one of Hillman Periodicals’ most popular and long-lived heroes, lasting until 1953 in his initial run. Since then he has appeared in occasional revival series either as the same hero or with his son Davy Nelson III as the new Airboy.

During his long run Airboy battled Axis villains, Communists, aliens, monsters, occultists and all manner of supervillains. The character aged a bit in the stories but was perpetually known for his youth, like Spider-Man. His sometime love-interest in a Batman/ Catwoman way was the Nazi villainess called the Valkyrie, who led a unit of female fighter pilots. 

NOTE: In addition to Airboy, Black Angel and Iron Ace, Hillman had these fighter pilot heroes:

Firebrand*** FIREBRAND – Jack “Bomber” Burns, whose plane was also called Firebrand. His gimmick was incendiary bullets and a flamethrower on his aircraft.

*** THE FLYING DUTCHMAN – An unnamed Dutch World War Two pilot whose family was wiped out by the Nazis. He would drop a white rose from his plane for each German he killed.

*** SKYWOLF – Fighter pilot Larry Wolfe who wore a wolf-head and wolf pelt while leading a trio of other airmen into battle against the Axis Powers.  

*** THE BALD EAGLE – Bald fighter pilot Jack Gatling, who flew his plane the Flying Coffin against the Imperial Japanese forces during World War Two. 

*** THE FLYING FOOL – Link Thorne, a World War II vet who was a mercenary pilot in the Far East during the postwar years. He ran an Air Expendable type of business.

*** THE BLACK COMMANDER – Barry Haynes, a British Pilot who waged a one-man air war on the Nazis while trying to find evidence to clear himself of charges of treason.

*** MOSQUITO – Steve Stanton, a pilot for the U.S. Border Patrol and Army Air Corps, was nicknamed Mosquito because of his ability to “sting” the opposition. He had a quasi-superpower in his ability to breathe at high altitudes because he had been raised on Mount Aconcagua in Chile.

*** THE FLYING CADET – Jack Dale, an Army Air Corps Cadet who accidentally saw major action against the Axis Powers.

*** TEX TRAINOR – A Texas cow-puncher turned Test Pilot turned flying ace in World War Two.

*** BLACK PRINCE – Colonel Prince of the RAF, an occasional love interest for Black Angel. 

FOR THE FICTION HOUSE SUPERHERO PANTHEON CLICK HERE 

FOR THE HARVEY SUPERHERO PANTHEON CLICK HERE

FOR THE FOX FEATURES SUPERHERO PANTHEON CLICK HERE

FOR THE NOVELTY PRESS SUPERHERO PANTHEON CLICK HERE

FOR THE LEV GLEASON SUPERHERO PANTHEON CLICK HERE

FOR THE PRIZE COMICS SUPERHERO PANTHEON CLICK HERE

FOR THE SPARK COMICS SUPERHERO PANTHEON CLICK HERE

FOR THE HARRY CHESLER PUBLISHING SUPERHERO PANTHEON CLICK HERE

FOR THE DELL SUPERHERO PANTHEON CLICK HERE

FOR THE AUSTRALIAN SUPERHERO PANTHEON CLICK  HERE

FOR MORE SUPERHEROES CLICK HERE:  Superheroes

© Edward Wozniak and Balladeer’s Blog, 2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Edward Wozniak and Balladeer’s Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

17 Comments

Filed under Superheroes

17 responses to “HILLMAN PERIODICALS SUPERHERO PANTHEON

  1. One of those posts you start out saying, “Nah, I’m not interested in that at all.” Then you read and suddenly…you…are…at…the…end. What happened? Why is it done? Good one.

  2. you know: your notes are the funniest part of the discussion 😀

  3. Meesha

    Iron Lady is my new favorite!

  4. Karen

    Black Angel was such an inspiration!

  5. Jayjay

    Is a Microface like Littlefinger?

  6. I’d always want to be update on new articles on this website , saved to my bookmarks! .

  7. Hello there! This post could not be written much better! Going through this article reminds me of my previous roommate! He always kept preaching about this. I’ll send this article to him. Pretty sure he’s going to have a great read. I appreciate you for sharing!

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