For this weekend’s light-hearted look at vintage superheroes Balladeer’s Blog will examine the characters of Fawcett Comics. They were another company whose heroes wound up absorbed into the DC black hole and mangled to fit in the new continuity of whatever “Crisis” DC is up to these days.
Secret Identity: Brian Butler
First Appearance: Wow Comics #1 (December 1940) His final Golden Age appearance came in 1948.
Origin: District Attorney Brian Butler grew disillusioned with how many criminals could slip through loopholes in the legal system. To fight crime more efficiently he donned a costume and took to the nighttime streets as Mister Scarlet.
Powers: Mister Scarlet could fly, was an expert at unarmed combat and was as agile as an acrobat. He also used a ray-gun which shot non-fatal energy blasts. Comically enough, no explanation was ever provided for this hero’s ability to fly or how he got his ray-gun.
Comment: This Fawcett hero had a very imaginative Rogues Gallery of supervillains, many of whom would periodically team up against him as the Death Battalion. Brian Butler’s secretary Cherry Wade knew about his dual identity. Mister Scarlet joined the superhero fad for endangering youngsters by taking on a costumed teen sidekick called Pinky.
Secret Identity: Mary Bromfield (really Batson)
First Appearance: Captain Marvel Adventures #18 (December 1942) Her final Golden Age appearance came in 1954.
Origin: One day Mary Bromfield learned that her wealthy parents weren’t her real parents. She had been adopted and separated from her twin brother Billy Batson. When she and Billy were reunited, she learned that, like him, if she said S.H.A.Z.A.M. she would transform into a superhero like him per the same magic spell.
Powers: Mary Marvel had massive super-strength, super-speed and could fly. She had a large degree of invulnerability and advanced intelligence.
Comment: In Mary’s case S.H.A.Z.A.M. stood for the grace of Selena, the strength of Hippolyta, the skill of Ariadne, the speed of Zephyrus, the beauty of Aurora and the wisdom of Minerva. Her arch-enemy was Georgia Sivana, the mad scientist daughter of Captain Marvel’s archenemy Doctor Sivana.
Secret Identity: Alan Armstrong
First Appearance: Whiz Comics #2 (February 1940) His final Golden Age appearance came in 1948.
Origin: Wealthy Virginia playboy Alan Armstrong was on good terms with his fiancee Eve’s father Admiral Corby. The admiral confessed that he was worried about spies and saboteurs striking in America. The adventure-loving Alan assumed the costumed identity of Spy Smasher and battled foreign spies and saboteurs.
Powers: Alan Armstrong was in peak physical condition and excelled at unarmed combat. He was an expert marksman with handguns and piloted a Gyrosub, which was a combined submarine, airplane, speedboat and auto-gyro.
Comment: After World War Two ended, Spy Smasher continued fighting fugitive or die-hard Axis operatives around the world. At last, in July 1946 (Whiz Comics #76), he changed his nom de guerre to Crime Smasher and used his abilities against organized crime.
IBIS THE INVINCIBLE
Secret Identity: Prince Amentep
First Appearance: Whiz Comics #2 (February 1940) His final Golden Age appearance came in 1953.
Origin: Over 4,000 years ago, Egyptian Prince Amentep, a noted practitioner of white magic, clashed with the Black Pharaoh, a noted practitioner of black magic, for the throne and for Amentep’s beloved Princess Taia. The Black Pharaoh was more powerful, so he defeated the prince, drained him of most of his magic, then imprisoned him. Amentep’s uncle secretly smuggled a magical wand called the Ibistick into the prince.
Thus armed, Amentep freed himself and battled the Black Pharaoh again. This time he defeated the villain, but with his dying gesture the Black Pharoah caused Princess Taia to lapse into an enchanted slumber for over 4,000 years. Amentep placed himself under a similar spell so that he and Taia would awaken in the same time period. In 1940 the pair were reunited and Amentep, now called Ibis for the bird insignia on his wand, battled the forces of evil.
Powers: Armed with his Ibistick, this hero had a plethora of magical abilities. He could project energy, teleport, fly, create, destroy or restore matter and similar powers. Ibis’ wand would glow in the presence of evil as a warning. If anyone but our hero tried to use the Ibistick its power would backfire on that party.
Comment: Since the Ibistick was the real source of the power I’d revise this setup so that Princess Taia is the hero. She would still be called Ibis since the bird picture on the wand is where the name comes from.
Other magic-powered heroes from Fawcett were El Carim (spell it backwards), Balbo the Boy Wizard and Warlock the Wizard.
Secret Identity: Susan Kent
First Appearance: Nickel Comics #1 (May 1940) Her final Golden Age appearance came in 1949.
Origin: Susan Kent was a secretary for her father, who ran the police department. (His rank was referred to as Sergeant, yet he was the head of the police for some reason.) When Susan discovered that her seemingly mild-mannered boyfriend was really the superhero called Bulletman, he granted her some of his powers. The two became a crimefighting duo from then on.
Powers: Unlike Bulletman, Bulletgirl did not have greater than human strength. She wore a helmet provided by that hero, which granted her the power of bullet-fast flight and ramming & burrowing ability, plus a magnetic force field which protected her from metal weapons and projectiles.
Comment: Like her beau, Bulletgirl belonged to the Fawcett superteam called the Crime Crusaders.
Secret Identity: Private Jack Weston, U.S. Army
First Appearance: Master Comics #11 (February 1941) His final Golden Age appearance came in 1944.
Origin: Private Jack Weston at Camp Blaine was selected by General Milton to secretly become America’s costumed operative Minute-Man, sent on missions of vital national security on a minute’s notice like the Minutemen called to action in the Revolutionary War.
Powers: Minute-Man was in peak physical condition and possessed the agility of an acrobat. He was a master of unarmed combat in addition to being well-versed in commando techniques.
Comment: Jack Weston was later promoted to Lieutenant in order to give his secret identity more flexibility, but General Milton remained the only one privy to Minute-Man’s real name.
Sometimes Minute-Man would wear a mask when he went into action (seen at right). I don’t know if he always looked that crazy when he wore it though. Pretty creepy.
Secret Identity: Never revealed.
First Appearance: Slam-Bang Comics #1 (March 1941) His final Golden Age appearance came in October of that same year.
Origin: A wise old man gave this hero a ring set with a diamond which was once the eye-jewel of the god Khor in a Far East temple.
Powers: The Diamond Eye of Khor set in Diamond Jack’s ring granted him super-strength, the ability to fly plus generate a protective force field and shoot energy bolts.
He could also use the ring to make objects by concentrating, like Green Lantern. In addition, the jewel granted Jack certain healing abilities.
Comment: Diamond Jack vowed to never kill women, but he did sometimes kill male villains.
Personally, I’d have had this character be a high-stakes gambler named Jack Diamond, who won the Eye of Khor ring in a card game from a soldier of fortune who stole it. I would also have had him wear a mask and a hat like a lot of other suit and tie heroes of the Golden Age. And I’d make his superhero name simply the Diamond.
Secret Identity: Roger Parsons
First Appearance: Whiz Comics #2 (February 1940) His final Golden Age appearance came in 1953.
Origin: In 1918 Roger’s parents were killed in a fake accident by Brand Braddock, a rival inventor of his father. The infant was found and raised by Nugget Ned, an eccentric prospector whose secret gold vein was incredibly rich but he still lived in a simple cabin. When Ned passed away in 1940 he willed his gold to Roger and told him that Brand Braddock had killed his parents. Adopting the superhero name Golden Arrow the young man got revenge on Braddock and continued fighting the forces of evil.
Powers: Golden Arrow was an uncannily accurate shot with his trick arrows, which he coated in gold leaf from Nugget Ned’s vein. In addition, this hero was in peak physical condition, excelled at unarmed combat, was more agile than an Olympic gymnast and was a trick horserider who had a well-trained horse named White Wind.
Comment: In the (then) modern-day West and sometimes in the cities, the mysterious Golden Arrow took on all manner of criminal foes.
Secret Identity: Allan Lanier
First Appearance: Wow Comics #2 (June 1941) His final Golden Age appearance came in 1942.
Origin: When wealthy playboy Allan Lanier grew bored with his life of luxury he decided to pursue the dangerous game of donning a costume & an ugly mask and fighting crime as the superhero called the Hunchback.
Powers: The Hunchback was an expert at unarmed combat and was fairly agile. He wielded a wooden club in battle and was not afraid to kill the criminals he targeted.
Comment: Only Betty Branton, Allan Lanier’s fiancee, knew he was also the Hunchback because he revealed his secret identity to her after saving her from the supervillain called the Scorpion.
Secret Identity: Jim Barr
First Appearance: Nickel Comics #1 (May 1940) His final Golden Age appearance came in 1949.
Origin: Jim Barr’s policeman father Pat Barr made Jim promise on his dad’s death-bed that he would grow up to become a cop. Unfortunately, the scrawny, bookish young man did not meet the physical requirements. Instead, he became a police scientist and eventually used his scientific genius to create a chemical serum and some tech which let him fight crime as Bulletman.
Powers: Bulletman could fly, ram and burrow at bullet-speed and possessed greater than human strength as well as telescopic vision. His helmet not only provided his power of flight but generated a magnetic force field which protected him against metal weapons and projectiles.
Comment: Bulletman had one of the biggest Rogues Galleries of foes at Fawcett Comics.
THE DEVIL’S DAGGER
Secret Identity: Ken Wyman
First Appearance: Master Comics #1 (March 1940) His final Golden Age appearance came in late 1941.
Origin: Wealthy Ken Wyman slummed it as a reporter for the Daily Blade rather than work at his father’s bank. Disgusted at the rampant crime in his home city of Carterville he adopted the costumed identity of the Devil’s Dagger to clean up the town.
Powers: The Devil’s Dagger was in peak physical condition and was an expert at martial arts. He was also extraordinarily accurate throwing his red-handled knives or wielding them in battle. His souped-up, high tech car Speed Ghost (Speed Ghost?) was driven by his ex-boxer chauffeur Pat Gleason, the only one who knew about Ken Wyman’s dual identity.
Comment: Rare for superheroes, the Devil’s Dagger had a fully self-contained saga. In his 20th story he finally brought down the villainous Mister H, the crimelord of Carterville, and retired from the superhero business.
Secret Identity: Chase Yale
First Appearance: Wow Comics #6 (July 1942) His final Golden Age appearance came in 1948.
Origin: War correspondent Chase Yale was recruited by Naval Intelligence to become the costumed Commando Yank and take on especially dangerous missions for the U.S. in Europe and the Pacific.
Powers: Commando Yank was in peak physical condition and excelled at unarmed combat. He was a marksman with all firearms and skilled with a knife as well as explosives.
Comment: After the war ended this hero battled Communists and other enemies of America around the world.
Secret Identity: Never revealed, but created by Newt Alfred and Harry Fiske, so Alfred Fiske would be a good name for him.
First Appearance: Master Comics #1 (March 1940) His final Golden Age appearance came in August of that same year.
Origin: When this hero was young, he was weak and sickly. A mysterious scientist gave him Vitacap, a super-powerful vitamin. The vitamin granted the boy superpowers and when he reached adulthood he took to battling the forces of evil as Master Man.
Powers: Master Man had Superman-level strength and invulnerability. He could run faster than the fastest automobile and appeared able to fly or at least levitate to some degree.
Comment: Master Man’s headquarters was a castle he had built for himself on top of the world’s highest mountain. From there he could observe the world and take action when needed. This hero and then Captain Marvel embroiled Fawcett Comics in a lengthy legal battle with DC over the two characters’ alleged similarity to Superman.
Secret Identity: Timothy “Pep” Pepper
First Appearance: Captain Marvel Adventures #35 (May 1944) His final Golden Age appearance came in 1948.
Origin: A probable mutant, Timothy Pepper’s father worked as a strongman in a circus and his mother worked as a mentalist. When Timothy Pepper reached adulthood he found he had inherited his circus-performer parents’ unusual abilities. Originally a soldier, he was recruited by Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, Joseph Stalin and Chiang Kai-Shek to be a global trouble-shooter.
Powers: Radar just naturally had greater than normal strength. He also had the power of telepathy and could sense danger in a clairvoyant way. In addition he could pick up radio transmissions in his mind and possessed x-ray vision or “radar” vision as he called it.
Comment: Since he had a secret identity I think Radar should have worn a mask along with his hat, trenchcoat and tie ensemble.
Secret Identity: Zyra of Saturn
First Appearance: Nickel Comics #4 (June 1940) Her final Golden Age appearance came in 1942.
Origin: Princess Zyra was the sole survivor of Saturn after it was attacked by Kag and Kashas. With no one else left on the planet she took to adventuring as Planet Princess after the two villains were dealt with.
Powers: Planet Princess wielded ray-guns and flew in an interplanetary spacecraft. Presumably she had greater than human strength, since she was bred to survive in Saturn’s greater gravity.
Comment: Wow! And some superheroes think they had a traumatic experience seeing one or two of their loved ones get killed! Planet Princess saw her world’s entire population wiped out! This heroine’s devoted sidekick was called Captain Venture.
THE RED GAUCHO
Secret Identity: Never revealed.
First Appearance: Nickel Comics #4 (June 1940) His final Golden Age appearance came in 1941.
Origin: Born in Argentina to American parents, as an adult the Red Gaucho took to combatting criminals, petty dictators and spies.
Powers: The Red Gaucho was in peak human condition and had the agility of an acrobat. He excelled at unarmed combat but was also proficient with a sword, a whip and a bolo.
Comment: In true swashbuckler fashion the Red Gaucho was always full of mirth and laughed at his enemies’ failed attempts to take him down. Rare for Golden Age superheroes, this character fought Communist spies in 1940 and 1941 as he roamed from Argentina to Venezuela.
Secret Identity: Zoro (No last name ever given, but I like to think it was “Astor” just for a cheap Zoroaster joke.)
First Appearance: Slam-Bang Comics #6 (August 1940) His final Golden Age appearance came in 1942.
Origin: Unknown. He was truly a man of mystery who was often sought out by those in danger. His catch-phrase was “Mystery Man … who he is, whence he comes, whither he goes, nobody knows!”
Powers: Mystery Man had greater than human strength and possessed supernatural reflexes. He was an expert in all forms of unarmed combat but was also skilled with using a walking stick/ staff in battle. That stick doubled as a sword-cane when needed and included wire to swing or climb on, like Daredevil’s billy club would shoot.
This hero also sported fake cigarettes which shot bullets when triggered by his tongue. Mystery Man owned a pet cheetah named Cheetah.
Comment: I may have been joking about the surname Astor but I genuinely wonder if Fawcett really was going for the possibility that this figure was THE Zoroaster, whose powers had let him live into the present day. Mystery Man was very well-versed in methods of fighting scientific and supernatural menaces and hinted at a long life. In one adventure he even saved fellow Holy Man the Dalai Lama. He was sort of a superhero/ horror comic version of the future tv character Doctor Who.
Secret Identity: David Scott
First Appearance: Master Comics #1 (March 1940) His final Golden Age appearance came in 1941.
Origin: David Scott’s father was an official in India, still under British rule in the 30s and much of the 40s. When David was a boy he got lost while out riding his horse and fell into a chasm. The horse was killed but David was eventually found and got free thanks to the proffered trunk of a huge white elephant he subsequently named Sin-Gee.
Lost, the boy was ultimately presumed dead and his grieving father returned to England. David and Sin-Gee traveled the jungles of India, and by the time he reached adulthood, the former Brit became known for fighting the forces of evil.
Powers: The White Rajah was in peak physical condition and could fight with savage ferocity. He was more agile than the traveling acrobats and was very skilled with swords and knives. He had developed an immunity to all the snakes and insects of the jungle and had also forged a strong link with his war elephant Sin-Gee.
Comment: Considered the “Rajah of the jungle” by the time he reached manhood, this hero became the official Rajah of fictional Ramistan when the elderly, childless incumbent Rajah crowned him as his successor.
White Rajah found lost temples, recovered stolen relics, rescued beautiful Indian princesses and had all kinds of Indiana Jones style adventures.
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FOR MORE SUPERHEROES CLICK HERE: Superheroes
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