MARVEL COMICS’ 1940s SUPERHEROES

AwsBalladeer’s Blog takes a look at those often forgotten Marvel Comics characters from the Golden Age, when the company was known as Timely Comics. Unlike Captain America, Bucky, Sub-Mariner, etc these figures never became big hits in the Silver or Bronze Ages. But Marvel did try retconning some of them to fit in with the modern day.

blonde phantomBLONDE PHANTOM

Created By: Stan Lee, Charles Nicholas and Syd Shores

Secret Identity: Louise Grant

First Appearance: All-Select Comics #11 (September 1946) Her final Golden Age appearance came in 1949.

Origin: Wanting to fight crime and foreign spies without endangering the lives of people close to her, Louise Grant, secretary for private investigator and former OSS man Mark Mason, donned a costume and fought the forces of evil as the Blonde Phantom.

Powers: The Blonde Phantom was in peak human condition and was more agile than an Olympic gymnast. She was a master of unarmed combat and was also incredibly proficient with her .45 handgun. In addition, this heroine was an expert investigator.

Comment: For a time, the Blonde Phantom was assigned to missions by a figure calling itself Father Time (no relation to the 1940s superhero of that name). That mysterious figure had Grim Reaper qualities and sicced the Blonde Phantom on evildoers whose deaths he had ordained.

Louise Grant’s boss Mark Mason had the hots for the Blonde Phantom but overlooked his secretary Louise, who downplayed her beauty in her secret identity.

blazing skullTHE BLAZING SKULL

Created By: Bob Davis

Secret Identity: Mark Todd

First Appearance: Mystic Comics #5 (March 1941) His final Golden Age appearance came in May of 1942.

Origin: Reporter Mark Todd was covering the war between China and the Imperial Japanese invasion forces before the U.S. entered World War Two. Taking shelter from a Japanese bombing, Todd entered a cave which was the entrance to the subterranean lair of the Skull Men, a mystic race of skull and flame-headed humanoids who kept their existence unknown to the world. The Skull-Men taught Mark Todd some of their secrets, which granted him superpowers with which he fought the forces of evil as the Blazing Skull.

Powers: The Blazing Skull was strong enough to lift 10 tons, could make his head appear to be nothing but a skull surrounded by flames and was immune to fire and heat. He could completely control flames and also possessed a healing factor which let him recover from almost any injury.

Comment: This figure was one of the Golden Age superheroes conjured up by a godlike Rick Jones to battle the Kree soldiers of Ronan the Accuser during the Kree-Skrull War in 1972.

challengerTHE CHALLENGER

Created By: Charles Wojtkoski

Secret Identity: Bill Waring

First Appearance: Daring Mystery Comics #7 (April 1941) His final Golden Age appearance came in 1942.

Origin: Bill Waring was a meek law student. When his father was murdered by organized crime for providing evidence linking a prominent politician with a mob boss named Mr Dram, Bill traveled the world learning all manner of martial arts and skills and physical fitness secrets. He then became the costumed hero the Challenger to avenge his father and continue fighting crime afterward.

challenger picPowers: The Challenger was in peak human condition and was a master of all forms of unarmed combat and martial arts. He was more agile than an acrobat and was skilled with all manner of bladed weapons and guns. In his wanderings he had learned secret physical fitness arts which let him ignore any amount of pain inflicted on him. The Challenger had such perfect bodily control that in one adventure he was able to “will” a wound to stop bleeding until he could get medical attention.

Comment: After avenging himself on Mr Dram, the Challenger went on to face many more villains, often outfighting them with their own choice of specialized weaponry. Anyway, it’s beyond me how Marvel missed the opportunity to make the Challenger be the father or grandfather of the Taskmaster.

marvel boyMARVEL BOY

Created By: Jack Kirby and Joe Simon

Secret Identity: Martin Burns

First Appearance: Daring Mystery Comics #6 (September 1940) His final Golden Age appearance came later that same year.

Origin: The Roman god Jupiter, encouraged by his son Hercules to do something about Hitler and Mussolini, granted a degree of superhuman powers to a gestating baby who was eventually born and named Martin Burns. On his 15th birthday, Martin was given a costume and was visited by a shadow messenger of Zeus who told the young man about his heritage and how he must fulfill his destiny by fighting evildoers in the world, beginning with Nazi spies in America. Burns did so as Marvel Boy.

Powers: Marvel Boy could lift 7 tons and could leap further than ordinary humans. He also had a limited degree of invulnerability.

Comment: It’s a shame that Marvel Boy wasn’t added to the Young Allies team alongside Bucky and the Human Torch’s sidekick Toro.   

Jack frostJACK FROST

Created By: Stan Lee and Charles Nicholas

Secret Identity: Never revealed

First Appearance: USA Comics #1 (August 1941) His final Golden Age appearance came in 1942.  

Origin: In 1941 the Arctic entity called Jack Frost by humans who sighted him over the years came across the dying Dr Forbes. The doctor had discovered a gold mine in Alaska and had been shot by the gangster Mike Zelby for refusing to reveal its location. With his dying breath Forbes begged Jack Frost to go to New York City to protect his daughter Alice, whom Zelby would likely target next. The hero did so and stayed among humans to battle the forces of evil.

Powers: Jack Frost could generate ice, sleet, snow & icicles and propel them at winds up to hurricane force. He could also create bridges, walls, igloos and other rough structures out of ice very quickly. He could freeze individual people or large crowds. His lifespan was unknown.

Comment: Though at first misunderstood and hunted by human beings in big cities, Jack Frost eventually got over his bitterness and settled in as a do-gooder in the early 1940s.

miss america timelyMISS AMERICA

Created By: Otto Binder and Al Gabriele

Secret Identity: Madeline Joyce

First Appearance: Marvel Mystery Comics #49 (November 1943) Her final Golden Age appearance came in 1948.

Origin: Sixteen year old Madeline Joyce was the ward of railroad magnate James Bennett. He showed her one of the outside projects that he financed, an electrical research center set up in what had formerly been a lighthouse. That night, during a violent thunderstorm, the fascinated Madeline snuck back to the laboratory to more closely examine the equipment. At one point a lightning bolt struck the lab and Madeline, destroying the equipment but granting her superpowers. Adopting the nom de guerre Miss America, she donned a costume and went into action.

Powers: Miss America possessed Superman/ Wonder Woman levels of strength. She could also fly and had x-ray vision. In addition she had a large degree of invulnerability.

Comment: For a time in the 1970s, Miss America was, according to Marvel Comics canon, the mother of the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver. The Whizzer was their father. That has since been retconned. Since Miss America was 16 when she became a superhero, maybe she, too, would have been a good fit for the Young Allies.   

destroyerTHE DESTROYER

Created By: Jack Binder and Stan Lee

Secret Identity: Keen Marlowe

First Appearance: Mystic Comics #6 (October 1941) His final Golden Age appearance came in 1946.

Origin: Keen Marlowe had an American father and a British mother. He was a reporter who went undercover in the Third Reich to obtain proof of the atrocities being perpetrated in Nazi concentration camps. He was caught and was cut off from the outside world and treated like any other suffering prisoner in the camp. One of his fellow prisoners was scientist Eric Schmitt, who, before he was killed, slipped Marlowe a chemical formula he had concocted which could grant superhuman powers. Keen ingested the chemical, avenged Schmitt and escaped, to plague all the Axis Powers as the Destroyer.

Powers: The Destroyer could lift 1,000 lbs and had greater reflexes than any athlete. He was very durable and could recover from wounds much more swiftly than a normal man. This hero was also superhumanly agile, could run faster than normal men and was skilled at armed and unarmed combat. 

Comment: The Destroyer worked largely behind the lines in the European and Pacific Theaters of Operation during World War Two. He often coordinated his activities with existing resistance forces. This hero’s romantic interest was a German woman who was part of the anti-Nazi Underground and was named … Flora Von Banger. (No, not Lilli Von Shtupp, Flora Von Banger.) The Destroyer was one of the Golden Age superheroes conjured up by a godlike Rick Jones to battle the Kree soldiers of Ronan the Accuser during the Kree-Skrull War in 1972.

blue diamondBLUE DIAMOND

Created By: Ben Thompson

Secret Identity: Professor Elton Morrow

First Appearance: Daring Mystery Comics #7 (April 1941) His final Golden Age appearance came in 1942.

Origin: Anthropologist Elton Morrow was on an Antarctic expedition searching for a theorized ancient civilization there. His diggings uncovered a glowing blue diamond which he was taking back to his university in the research ship. A Nazi U-Boat in the Atlantic Ocean opened fire on the vessel along the way, sinking the ship and causing the otherworldly jewel to explode, embedding countless shards of it in Elton Morrow’s skin like shrapnel. The shards gave Professor Morrow superpowers with which he fought Axis menaces as Blue Diamond.

Powers: Blue Diamond possessed nearly Sub-Mariner level strength plus complete invincibility to physical and energy weapons. He no longer needed the glasses worn by his alter ego Elton Morrow but kept using fake glasses to preserve his secret identity.  

Comment: In one of the best retcons in my opinion, decades later Marvel linked the gem that transformed Blue Diamond to Lifestone Tree jewels like the one in the chest of the hero Ulysses Bloodstone, the Power Prism of Iron Man’s foe Dr Spectrum and the gems that powered other villains like the Basilisk, the Man-Wolf, Moonstone and the Sphinx.

vision timelyTHE VISION

Created By: Jack Kirby and Joe Simon

Secret Identity: Aarkus, Keeper of the Law

First Appearance: Marvel Mystery Comics #13 (November 1940) His final Golden Age appearance came in 1943.

Origin: Aarkus, the first superbeing to be called the Vision in the Marvel/ Timely Universe, was a police officer or Keeper of the Law in the extra-dimensional realm colloquially called Smokeworld. He was human-sized despite the drawing to the left. Earth scientists like Enoch Mason and Markham Erickson had been perfecting devices able to see and open portals to, Smokeworld. Aarkus was inadvertently summoned to our world on one such occasion and – called the Vision by Earthlings – wound up destroying gangsters whom Mason had borrowed from to complete his experiment. Aarkus grew close to Enoch Mason and especially his daughter Sheila, and began visiting Earth for a series of adventures against evildoers here on our planet.

Powers: The Vision could teleport between dimensions and anywhere on a given planet via smoke or accumulated mists. Once he even emerged from the smoke coming from a villain’s lit cigarette. He could control and increase smoke or gasses to suit his needs. This hero could function in any gravity, breathe in any atmosphere and psionically understand languages spoken to him.

He could also fly, project mental images/ hallucinations, plus cause smoke and gasses to solidify. The Vision was bullet-proof and immune to poisons and gasses. He could, with a touch, slow down a being or object’s molecular activity to render them inert, a process which felt like “freezing” to living victims.

Comment: The Vision sometimes communicated with mystics in Tibet and elsewhere from his Smokeworld home dimension. Though there is no connection between this Vision and the android Vision, the cover of Avengers #57 (October 1968), which marked the first appearance of the new Vision, was drawn as an homage to the first illustrated appearance of the Aarkus Vision.

This character was one of the Golden Age superheroes conjured up by a godlike Rick Jones to battle the Kree soldiers of Ronan the Accuser during the Kree-Skrull War in 1972.   

sun girlSUN GIRL

Created By: Ken Bald

Secret Identity: Mary Mitchell

First Appearance: Sun Girl #1 (August 1948) Her final Golden Age appearance came in 1950.

Origin: Never revealed. Her very first story made it apparent that she had been active for years.

Powers: Sun Girl was slightly stronger than any adult male. She was extraordinarily skilled at unarmed combat and was more agile than an acrobat. She wielded a Sunbeam Ray Gun which shot solar light and heat. Her emergency pouch contained the cable/ lariat which she used to swing around the city like Spider-Man or Daredevil. 

Comment: Marvel still hasn’t clarified if Sun Girl was a human or was an alien using the name Mary Mitchell as an alias. She sometimes fought crime alongside the original (android) Human Torch in the late 1940s. I would rather they had used her instead of Toro in the All-Winners Squad. At any rate, Sun Girl once teamed up with her fellow superheroines Namora and Golden Girl.

finTHE FIN

Created By: Bill Everett

Secret Identity: Naval Lieutenant Peter Noble

First Appearance: Daring Mystery Comics #7 (April 1941) His final Golden Age appearance came in 1942.

Origin: An underwater accident in an experimental sub left Peter Noble its sole survivor and granted him superpowers. He battled the forces of evil as the Fin.

Powers: The Fin had the strength of 20 men and could swim as fast as a torpedo. He could breathe air or water but prolonged periods out of the water caused his super-strength to ebb until he was immersed again. This hero was also an expert marksman with the waterproof pistols and/or harpoon guns which he carried in a holster.

Comment: In his first adventure, the Fin explored sub-oceanic caverns and encountered a hostile race of mer-men called Neptunians. They looked like a combination of humans & fish plus sported bat-wings. The Fin defeated the hostile faction of the Neptunians and from then on served as the ruler-in-absentia of their undersea realm of Neptunia. This figure was one of the Golden Age superheroes conjured up by a godlike Rick Jones to battle the Kree soldiers of Ronan the Accuser during the Kree-Skrull War in 1972.   

whizzer timelyTHE WHIZZER

Created By: Al Avison and Al Gabriele

Secret Identity: Bob Frank

First Appearance: USA Comics #1 (August 1941) His final Golden Age appearance came in 1947.

Origin: While exploring Africa with his father, Dr Emil Frank, Bob came down with a rare tropical fever, was bitten by a poisonous snake, and saw his dying father inject his veins with a solution made from mongoose blood. The bizarre combination of all those biochemical elements granted Bob superpowers with which he fought the forces of evil as the Whizzer.

Powers: The Whizzer could run and otherwise move at super-speed like Flash over at DC and other super-fast heroes of the time. He had the attendant long-range stamina as well.

Comment: For a time in the 1970s it was Marvel canon that the Whizzer was the father of Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch, but that was later retconned. Miss America was their mother until that retcon. In the 1960s Marvel introduced a villain using the name Whizzer but he eventually changed it to Speed Demon.

black marvelTHE BLACK MARVEL

Created By: Al Gabriele

Secret Identity: Dan Lyons

First Appearance: Mystic Comics #5 (March 1941) His final Golden Age appearance came in 1942.

Origin: When the modern-day (1941) Black Feet tribe held a competition to see who would be the next to be granted the superpowers of their peoples’ greatest warrior, Dan Lyons was the winner. He was granted those abilities and, since it was the 20th Century, decided to be the first bearer of those powers to fight the forces of evil in the larger world outside the reservation. He did so as the Black Marvel.

Powers: The stereotypical paranormal abilities often attributed to Native Americans by silly beliefs of the time. The Black Marvel could move with complete stealth like a ninja, had slightly greater than human strength, plus enhanced senses and tracking abilities. He was also incredibly skilled with a knife, bow and arrows.

Comment: If anyone has a problem with the current possessor of the powers of the Black Feet Ultimate Warrior being a white guy, just retcon it so that Dan Lyons was instead a Native American member of the Black Feet tribe.

rockmanROCKMAN

Created By: Basil Wolverton and Charles Nicholas  

Secret Identity: Never revealed 

First Appearance: USA Comics #1 (August 1941) His final Golden Age appearance came later that same year.

Origin: Rockman was the ruler of the subterranean race which lived in the futuristic underground realm called Abysmia. The Abysmians were descendants of Colonial Age American settlers who explored extensive caverns and ultimately settled underground to build a peaceful civilization of their own. As their current ruler in 1941, Rockman, monitoring the surface world with a VibraGraph, emerged from time to time to battle potential threats to his people and their secret civilization.

Powers: Rockman could lift over 11 tons and had a degree of invulnerability. He also did not need to breathe, but like his other abilities, this superhero wasn’t around long enough for canon to be developed regarding whether or not his powers were natural or were provided by his Abysmian suit of armor.

Rockman also used a futuristic Digger Car to bore and mole his way through the Earth so that he could emerge on the surface world wherever he was needed. The helmet worn by Rockman could also project a flashlight, so presumably neither he nor his people could see unaided in the dark.

Comment: Abysmian technology was also capable of causing earthquakes on the surface world but the advanced subterranean people only used it defensively.

blue bladeBLUE BLADE, THE FOURTH MUSKETEER

Created By: Jack Alderman and Vince Alascia

Secret Identity: Never revealed

First Appearance: Comedy Comics #10 (June 1942) His final Golden Age appearance came later that same year.

Origin: Blue Blade, the Fourth Musketeer had been an actual French Musketeer in the 1600s. His ghost was motivated to incarnate in 1942 France because of his loathing for the occupying Nazi forces. Yet, despite that, the ghostly figure decided that “the hope of the world lies in America” so he mounted his ghostly horse and rode across the top of the Atlantic Ocean to fight Axis agents in the U.S. (?)

Powers: The Blue Blade, when corporeal, had the strength of a normal man but could not be hurt and could not tire. He could also make himself intangible and could fly but only on his ghostly horse. This hero was a supernaturally skilled swordsman.

Comment: While NOT fighting the Nazi forces in France, the Blue Blade fought bank robbers as well as German and Japanese spies on both coasts of the U.S. 

patriot timelyTHE PATRIOT

Created By: Ray Gill and George Mandel

Secret Identity: Jeffrey Mace

First Appearance: Human Torch Comics #3 (March 1941) His final Golden Age appearance came in 1943.

Origin: Jeffrey Mace, a ghost writer for a newspaper syndicate in Washington DC, was inspired by the proliferation of costumed superheroes to dress up as well and take on criminals plus Axis agents in the nation’s capital.

miss patriotPowers: The Patriot was very athletic, was as agile as an Olympic gymnast and excelled at unarmed combat. He wore a helmet which protected his head from injuries. 

Comment: For just one adventure, the Patriot had a female sidekick called Miss Patriot. The Patriot was one of the Golden Age superheroes conjured up by a godlike Rick Jones to battle the Kree soldiers of Ronan the Accuser during the Kree-Skrull War in 1972.   

NamoraNAMORA

Created By: Ken Bald and Syd Shores

Secret Identity: Aquaria Nautica Neptunia

First Appearance: Marvel Mystery Comics #82 (May 1947) Her final Golden Age appearance came in 1955.

Origin: Namora was the cousin of Atlantis’ Prince Namor, the Sub-Mariner (who pre-dated Aquaman). She was the sole survivor of a surface world attack on an Atlantean settlement and, like Namor, had a love-hate relationship with us surface dwellers. Inevitably she would protect humanity despite her distrust.

Powers: Like the Sub-Mariner, Namora could lift nearly 100 tons, could fly, could breathe in or out of the water and could swim at hundreds of miles per hour. She also had a degree of invulnerability.

Comment: Namora is sometimes confused with the 1970s female figure Namorita, who was much younger but still part of the Sub-Mariner family. A forgotten 1940s member of that family was Subbie, the nephew and teen version of the Sub-Mariner, who had a lesser version of Namor’s strength but could not fly. Subbie, too, should have been in the Young Allies.    

father timeFATHER TIME

Created By: Al Avison, Al Gabriele and Stan Lee

Secret Identity: Larry Scott

First Appearance: Captain America Comics #6 (September 1941) His final Golden Age appearance came in mid-1942.

Origin: When the criminals who framed Larry Scott’s father John prevented Larry from getting proof of his father’s innocence to the governor in the minutes before he was executed, Larry developed an unhealthy brooding fixation on time and the criminal justice system. Adopting the costumed identity Father Time he defeated the crooks who framed his father, then decided to continue fighting wrongdoers.

Powers: Father Time was in peak human condition and excelled at unarmed combat. He was more agile than an acrobat and expertly wielded his scythe in non-fatal and fatal ways during battle. Father Time would use the blade or just the concussive force of the pole as desired or needed. 

Comment: This hero was one of those characters who never quite lived up to their potential. The Larry Scott Father Time was not connected to the later figure who temporarily sicced Blonde Phantom on criminal targets.

marvex

William Shatner IS Marvex!

MARVEX

Created By: Hal Sharp

Secret Identity: None. His real name was Marvex.

First Appearance: Daring Mystery Comics #3 (April 1940) His final Golden Age appearance came later that same year.

Origin: Bolo, a scientist in the 5th Dimension, had been monitoring the Earth via some of his inventions. He designed Marvex as the first of his humanoid-looking robots that he intended as an army of slaves. Marvex developed independent thought and rebelled against his creator amid a battle which destroyed Bolo’s laboratory. The explosion hurled Marvex out of the 5th Dimension and stranded him on Earth. As Marvex the Super-Robot he would go on to battle various forces of evil.

Powers: Marvex could lift 10 tons and leap for several hundred yards at a bound. His body, made of 5th Dimensional fabri-steel, was nearly indestructible. Marvex could run over 120 miles per hour and was able to send radio broadcasts from his brain. That brain possessed a very high level of intelligence.

Comment: This android hero played for keeps, and the only one of the supervillains he did not kill personally escaped that fate only by leaping to his death. Marvex was befriended by Clara Crandall and fought criminals as well as foreign spies. 

black widow timelyBLACK WIDOW

Created By: George Kapitan and Harry Sahle

Secret Identity: Claire Voyant (really)

First Appearance: Mystic Comics #4 (July 1940) Her final Golden Age appearance came in 1943.

Origin: The psychic and medium Claire Voyant was murdered by a crazed client and found herself in Hell. Satan – apparently with God’s permission – began using Claire under the alias Black Widow to kill evildoers that were past redemption or were at the appointed time for their death. She started with her own murderer and continued her posthumous career from there. And this was decades before Faust AND Spawn!

Powers: The Black Widow could kill with the touch of her hand(s) or with a kiss and was bullet-proof as well as immune to other human attempts to harm her. Sometimes she would display other, “cheat” superpowers out of nowhere if the writers got lazy. After toying with and then killing her targets, the Black Widow would, in psychopomp fashion, take their souls to Hell.

Comment: This superheroine’s adventures were fairly dark for 1940s comic books. Satan proudly displayed suffering souls to her and she took a certain satisfaction from the punishments her “sire” inflicted on evildoers in the afterlife. Obviously this Earth Two Golden Age Black Widow should not be confused with Marvel’s Natasha Romanov Black Widow who was introduced in the 1960s.

angel timelyANGEL

Created By: Ray Gill and Paul Gustavson

Secret Identity: Thomas Halloway

First Appearance: Marvel Comics #1 (October 1939) His final Golden Age appearance came in 1946.

Origin: Thomas Halloway’s father was the warden of a prison and was apparently a very sick man. He raised Thomas in virtual isolation at that prison and had the boy learn every illegal trade from the inmates to better prepare him for a career fighting crime. (?)

Thomas became a freelance investigator/ trouble-shooter after reaching adulthood and serviced such an exotic and wealthy clientele that he became independently wealthy. Among his unusual cases was one in which he saved a woman from captivity in a 4,000 year old lost city. As a reward she gave him the Cape of Mercury, which granted its wearer superpowers, letting Halloway take action as the costumed hero called the Angel.

Powers: The Cape of Mercury let the Angel fly and increased his strength to such a degree that he was able to punch his fist through the metal hull of an airplane. This moustachioed hero was also as agile as a gymnast and was a marksman with handguns.

Comment: Obviously this Angel has no connection to the X-Men’s Angel, who was introduced in the 1960s. The Thomas Halloway Angel was one of the Golden Age superheroes conjured up by a godlike Rick Jones to battle the Kree soldiers of Ronan the Accuser during the Kree-Skrull War in 1972.   

defender timelyTHE DEFENDER

Created By: Al Avison and Charles Nicholas

Secret Identity: Don Stevens

First Appearance: USA Comics #1 (August 1941) His final Golden Age appearance came in 1942.

Origin: Don Stevens, United States Marine Corps, secretly adopted the costumed identity of the Defender in order to combat Axis secret agents in the Americas.

Powers: The Defender was in peak human condition, excelled at unarmed combat and was more agile than an acrobat.

Comment: This character joined the superhero fad of endangering youngsters with his teen sidekick Rusty, who wore a costume but did not bother using an alias. Some sources list Don Stevens as a regular soldier but in the actual comic book stories he’s referred to as a U.S. Marine. 

terry vance picTHE SCHOOLBOY SLEUTH

Created By: Ray Gill and Bob Oksner

Secret Identity: Terry Vance

First Appearance: Marvel Mystery Comics #10 (August 1940) His final Golden Age appearance came in 1944.

Origin: Terry Vance was a gifted teenage scientist and criminologist who displayed genius in several disciplines. Seeking challenges, he monitored police band radios and involved himself in solving mysteries for local authorities. Before finishing high school he had already started helping federal investigators and U.S. military intelligence as well against threats to national security during World War Two.

Terry VancePowers: Terry was a brilliant detective and picked up on clues missed by older, more experienced investigators. He was also a scientific whiz who invented many gadgets that would go on to be staples in crime labs around the world. He even came up with Q-style weapons for himself, like explosives that appeared to be molasses drops.

Among the Schoolboy Sleuth’s many inventions were an ultraviolet flashlight, incredibly sensitive electronic listening devices, specialized cameras and film, a gas-fueled, radio-controlled scale model plane, etc.

Comment: Vance had two sidekicks – 1) Dr Watson, his pet monkey that he trained to obey even the most detailed instructions as well as sneak in places to take photos for his master as needed. And 2) Deadline Dawson, an adult reporter who liked the scoops he could get from covering Terry’s brilliant, danger-filled investigations. 

venus marvelVENUS

Created By: Stan Lee and Lin Streeter

Secret Identity: Vikki Starr

First Appearance: Venus #1 (August 1948) Her final Golden Age appearance came in 1952.

Origin: The Earth Two Golden Age Venus was the alien ruler of the planet Venus. For centuries she ruled over a planetary paradise protected from human eyes by the perpetual cloud cover of that planet. Wearying of being revered, adored and obeyed she decided to start dividing her time between her homeworld and Earth, where she hoped to try leading a simpler but more challenging life.

She teleported to the Earth, where her beauty made her such a sensation that she was hired as a model and editor for Whitney Hammond’s fashion publication called Beauty Magazine. Venus had a series of adventures ranging from mild fantasy to world-saving as she learned Earth ways and battled sci-fi and horror menaces.

venus coverPowers: Venus could teleport at will between Earth and her home planet. She could levitate, walk through solid objects (but at times that was limited when she was on our world) and could transport herself into photographs or paintings to observe things without her presence being suspected. She could psionically understand any language. This heroine was immune to all diseases and could heal from almost any injury. She was stronger than any Earth woman and could run at 60 miles per hour.

Comment: Venus ruled her home planet from her castle on Mount Lustre. Many of the other inhabitants of Venus had names that paralleled figures from Earth lore (Cleopatra, Samson, Apollo, etc) but in the Golden Age those were simply pseudonyms used by those figures to approximate their identities in Earth terms. This was similar to the way in Iron Fist stories the inhabitants of K’un-Lun are not gods but use the names of Chinese deities like Yu-Ti, Lei Kung the Thunderer and others.

In the Bronze Age onward, Marvel created a mess of this comparative simplicity, with needlessly complicated explanations saying Venus really was the Roman goddess Venus and the Greek goddess Aphrodite, and also claiming she had taken over rule of the gods and moved them from Mount Olympus to the planet Venus. Further mangling the canon were retcons claiming that Sirens and other figures (probably including some Eternals) were often impersonating Venus in her Golden Age adventures.   

Venus occasionally teamed up with the Sub-Mariner in her Golden Age stories.

blue blazeBLUE BLAZE

Created By: Harry Douglas

Secret Identity: Spencer Keen

First Appearance: Mystic Comics #1 (March 1940) His final Golden Age appearance came later that same year.

Origin: In 1852 Spencer Keen was a college student at Midwest College. His father Arthur Keen was a professor there. Spencer was dressed in an odd blue costume for a dress-up party when his father showed him his latest discovery: a blue blaze which he had used to bring dead lab mice back to life, stronger than before.

A freak tornado then hit the town, causing the blue blaze to flare out of control, killing 85% of the town’s population. In the rush of the aftermath, townspeople were buried in the clothing they were wearing when their bodies were found, so Spencer was buried in his blue costume.

blue blaze picBecause he was at Ground Zero of the dermatic energies of the blue blaze flareup, he was not dead but was in a coma as his body developed superpowers like the lab mice did. In 1940, graverobbers came across his corpse. He came back to life possessing the powers he then used to fight evil as Blue Blaze.

Powers: Blue Blaze was bulletproof and could lift several tons. He could also generate power through a motorized vehicle to temporarily enhance its performance. While driving a roadster he could make the vehicle travel at hundreds of miles per hour. Presumably he could have done the same with airplanes, motorboats, etc. 

Comment: This superhero only lasted four stories. After each adventure he returned to his grave until his cosmic awareness of evil awakened him again. 

captain wonderCAPTAIN WONDER

Created By: Otto Binder and Frank Giacoia

Secret Identity: Jeff Jordan

First Appearance: Kid Komics #1 (February 1943) His final Golden Age appearance came later that same year.

Origin: A high school chemistry teacher named Jeff Jordan secretly invented a chemical he called the “wonder fluid.” When one of his students, Tim Mulrooney, was helping Jeff in the lab to serve his detention for misbehaving in class, he accidentally knocked over the fluid. Vapors from the substance filled the lab, with the result that Jeff gained superpowers and Tim a lesser version of them. They went on to fight the forces of evil as Captain Wonder and (wait for it) … Tim.

Powers: Captain Wonder had the strength of 12 men and could fly. Tim had only the strength of a few men and could not fly.

Comment: What was it with superheroes not only endangering so many youngsters by taking them on as sidekicks but letting them use their own first names? 

the terror timelyTHE TERROR

Created By: George Klein, Syd Shores and Phil Sturm

Secret Identity: Unknown, since he was an amnesiac.

First Appearance: Mystic Comics #5 (March 1941) His final Golden Age appearance came in 1942.

Origin: A partygoer of unknown name crashed his car on the way to a costume party during a horrific thunderstorm. He received such a severe head injury that he was rendered amnesiac. Dying from his injuries he stumbled to the only nearby building, the sinister castle of a mad scientist/ alchemist named Dr John Storm.

The brilliant but clearly insane Storm had a deranged affinity for conducting experiments on any living guinea pigs at hand. Recently one of his dark combinations of science and alchemy had transformed his dog into a malformed creature of such strength and ferocity that it was able to kill a huge ape, another of Dr Storm’s guinea pigs.

The dog died of its own wounds sustained in the battle, and Storm extracted some of its blood for further experimentation. The arrival of the dying amnesiac provided the mad doctor with his latest guinea pig, and he injected the man with a serum made from the mutated dog’s blood. When gangsters arrived to force the doctor into an alliance with them, he refused and was attacked.

the terror picThe amnesiac rose from his table, transformed into a monstrous man-figure called a “Terror” by one of the gangsters. The mutated man used his new powers to kill all the gangsters. Dr Storm had been mortally wounded by the criminals and willed his castle and everything in it to his avenger, who from then on battled evil as the Terror.

Powers: The Terror, when assuming his monstrous form, could lift 10 tons, was capable of prodigious leaps and could recover from nearly any physical injury. In addition, he grew a foot taller and his fingernails would become very tough talons. This hero also had superhuman reflexes and speed.

The Terror could turn back and forth into his superpowered form at will, and would also transform involuntarily when angry or in the presence of evil. Due to the dark supernatural nature of the serum with which he had been injected, his clothing would change into his costume at every transformation.

Comment: Decades later, Marvel would retcon the Terror’s real name to be Laslo Pevely. As of this writing they have not tried to tie the origin story’s Dr John Storm to Dr Franklin Storm, father of the Invisible Woman and the 1960s Human Torch.

Golden GirlGOLDEN GIRL

Created By: Syd Shores and Bill Woolfolk

Secret Identity: Betsy Ross

First Appearance: As Betsy Ross – Captain America Comics #1 (March 1941) As Golden Girl – Captain America Comics #66 (April 1948) Her final Golden Age appearance came in 1949.

Origin: After years of working off and on with Captain America in her capacity as a federal agent, Betsy Ross adopted the costumed identity of Golden Girl in 1948 to serve as Cap’s new partner when Bucky was out of commission after suffering injuries at the hands of the supervillainess called Lavender.

Golden Girl picPowers: Golden Girl was in peak physical condition and excelled at unarmed combat. She was more agile than an acrobat and wore a bulletproof cape which she could wrap around herself or innocent bystanders as needed.

Comment: In the 1960s, Marvel retconned events to claim that the original Captain America and Bucky were MIA after their 1945 mission to thwart Baron Zemo’s rocket attacks on England. From then on it was canon that Captain America stories after the end of World War Two and into the 1950s featured replacement Captain Americas who simply wore the costume while the original was frozen in suspended animation in the far north.

In this context, Golden Girl would have been serving as a sidekick to one of Steve Rogers’ successors in the costume of Captain America. In 1964 the Avengers found the original Captain America, who resumed serving as that hero.

electro timelyELECTRO

Created By: Steve Dahlman

Secret Identity: None. It was an android called Electro.

First Appearance: Marvel Mystery Comics #4 (February 1940) His final Golden Age appearance came in 1941.

Origin: Professor Philo Zog, whose inventions had made him a fortune, created a powerful android that he called Electro. Zog used the robot to fight crime, spies, aliens, etc. The professor also dispatched a dozen agents, who were identified mostly by number, who could remotely summon Electro to their location if they had uncovered some sort of menace it was needed to combat.

Zog

Zog

Powers: Electro could lift over 70 tons, run at 100 miles per hour, fly at supersonic speeds and was virtually invulnerable, able to withstand even repeated direct hits by tanks and missiles. The robot stood around 12 feet tall.  

Comment: The blank screen “face” of Electro was often occupied by an image of Professor Zog’s face when the android was in action. Obviously, this figure has no connection to the later Spider-Man villain Electro, who was introduced in the 196os.   

citizen vCITIZEN V

Created By: Ben Thompson

Secret Identity: John Watkins

First Appearance: Daring Mystery Comics #8 (January 1942) His final Golden Age appearance came later that same year.

Origin: John Watkins, a lieutenant in the British Army, was missing and believed dead during the evacuation at Dunkirk. Winston Churchill okayed a Top Secret operation under which the declared dead Watkins would sabotage German forces in Occupied France. He would blend in under various civilian identities but take action as the costumed Citizen V.

citizen v picPowers: Citizen V was in peak physical condition and was an expert at every form of armed and unarmed combat. Like his fellow Marvel hero the Destroyer he was adept at operating undercover in hostile territory and coordinating his actions with local underground forces.

Comment: Among his activities, Citizen V would covertly use phosphorescent paint on military targets so that they could be seen at night and get bombed by his colleagues in the RAF. The Destroyer may have had dual citizenship through his American and British parents but Citizen V was 100% British. 

human topTHE HUMAN TOP

Created By: Dick Briefer

Secret Identity: Bruce Bravelle

First Appearance: Red Raven Comics #1 (August 1940) His final Golden Age appearance came in 1942.

Origin: Bruce Bravelle agreed to be a test subject for Professor Raymore Davis, who was conducting experiments to see if human beings could draw sustenance from electricity like they do with food. Lightning struck Bravelle and the equipment, altering his physiology and endowing him with superpowers that he used to fight crime as the Human Top.

Powers: The Human Top could spin around at super-speed, letting him fly, drill through walls and floors, deflect bullets, punch out multiple opponents at once and similar activities. Bizarrely, he could even spin the top half of his body in one direction and the bottom half in the opposite direction at the same time. This hero activated his powers by crossing his wrists.

Comment: This superhero has no connection with Marvel’s later supervillain called the Human Top, introduced in the 1960s. That villainous Human Top, a foe of Giant-Man and the Wasp, eventually changed his handle to Whirlwind.

silver scorpionSILVER SCORPION

Created By: Harry Sahle

Secret Identity: Betty Barstow

First Appearance: Daring Mystery Comics #7 (April 1941) Her final Golden Age appearance came in 1942.

Origin: Betty Barstow, a feisty secretary for private investigator Dan Hurley, donned a costume and investigated a case her boss was refusing to look into, a case involving unusual activity at a graveyard. She wound up capturing a ring of counterfeiters and resolved to continue fighting crime as the Silver Scorpion.

silver scorpion hidingPowers: The Silver Scorpion was in peak physical condition and excelled at jiu-jitsu and other martial arts. In addition, she was as agile as an acrobat. 

Comment: Since the only things “silver” on the Silver Scorpion’s costume were her wristlets, boots and the scorpion logo on her cape, I think they should have made her wristlets into revolving bracelets which fired long silver needles coated in scorpion venom. Non-fatal scorpion venom, of course, but painful and inducing temporary paralysis. 

flexoFLEXO THE RUBBER MAN

Created By: Jack Binder and Will Harr

Secret Identity: None

First Appearance: Mystic Comics #1 (March 1940) His final Golden Age appearance came later that same year.

Origin: Brothers Joel and Joshua Williams created a robot made entirely of rubber and experimental gases. They used a remote control device to have this robot battle criminals and foreign spies.

Powers: Flexo could lift 10 tons, fly, stretch his limbs and torso and contort his body into various shapes to accommodate his missions. Bullets would pass through his rubber body, which would reseal itself. Knockout/ paralyzing gas could be shot from the robot’s chest to incapacitate human attackers without harming them.

Comment: Flexo could not speak and had no independent will.

secret stampTHE SECRET STAMP

Created By: Stan Lee and Don Rico

Secret Identity: Roddy Colt

First Appearance: Captain America Comics #13 (April 1942) His final Golden Age appearance came in the autumn of 1943.

Origin: Roddy Colt of Freetown was a teen who sold newspapers and, to help with the war effort, War Stamps. When criminals ran over his brother, putting him in the hospital with a broken leg, Roddy adopted the costumed identity of the Secret Stamp (as in War Stamps) to bring the crooks to justice. He continued fighting crime and Axis Spies from then on.

Powers: The Secret Stamp was in excellent physical condition and was amazingly talented at unarmed combat.

Comment: This odd superhero who was centered around a gimmick actually lasted for 18 stories.

dakorDAKOR

Created By: Unknown

Secret Identity: Never revealed.

First Appearance: Mystic Comics #1 (March 1940) His final Golden Age appearance came later that same year.

Origin: Dakor was a former stage magician who at one point gained genuine magical powers. He used those powers as Dakor the Magician Detective, a trouble-shooter for hire for $50,000.00 per case. (In 1940 money, so obviously that would be much more now.)

Powers: Dakor could control the weather, teleport, transmute metal and other substances. He was capable of telekinesis, telepathy, hypnotism, and conjuring up living beasts like lions. In addition he was mystically invulnerable to certain levels of harm and could sense when danger was near.

Comment: Dakor never caught on and only made three Golden Age appearances.

purple maskTHE PURPLE MASK

Created By: Maurice Gutwirth and Will Harr

Secret Identity: Dennis Burton

First Appearance: Daring Mystery Comics #3 (April 1940) His final Golden Age appearance came later that same year.

Origin: Assistant District Attorney Dennis Burton, who had previously made a one-shot appearance as the superhero called the Laughing Mask, assumed the new nom de guerre the Purple Mask for his two final Golden Age tales. His motive was the same: disgust with seeing too many criminals get away because of crooked judges and politicians.

Powers: The Purple Mask was in peak physical condition and was a master of unarmed combat. He was also a marksman with the pair of .45s he took into battle with him, blowing away villains with giddy abandon.

Comment: As the Purple Mask, Dennis Burton had a secret crime lab.

dynamic manDYNAMIC MAN

Created By: Daniel Peters

Secret Identity: Curt Cowan

First Appearance: Mystic Comics #1 (March 1940) His final Golden Age appearance came later that same year.

Origin: Dynamic Man was a very human-looking android created by Professor Goettler. When Goettler threw the switch to activate Dynamic Man, bringing him to life, the strain of excitement caused him to die of a heart attack. The android followed its programming to protect humanity and combat evil.

Powers: Dynamic Man could lift nearly 100 tons, shoot electric bolts from his hands and control magnetic energy. He was able to fly, had super-hearing and x-ray vision, was gifted with superhuman intelligence and could alter his facial features and hair at will. In addition, this hero could generate electrical and magnetic force fields.

Comment: Dynamic Man was vulnerable to the fictional substance “lantholum.” Just like Marvel’s original android “Human” Torch, this hero appeared human, and like the Novelty Press android hero White Streak, Dynamic Man had a secret identity as an FBI Agent – in Dynamic Man’s case, Curt Cowan. 

major liberty picMAJOR LIBERTY

Created By: Syd Shores and Phil Sturm

Secret Identity: John Liberty

First Appearance: U.S.A. Comics #1 (August 1941) His final Golden Age appearance came in 1942.

Origin: John Liberty was a professor of American History at Freedom University. Infuriated over Axis secret agents carrying out sabotage missions in the U.S. despite the fact that we weren’t even in the war yet, he adopted the costumed identity Major Liberty, donned a tri-corner hat, and did battle with Nazis and the Imperial Japanese.

Powers: Through his intensive, detailed knowledge of patriotic figures from America’s past, Major Liberty was able to conjure up solid Tulpas in the form of those figures to fight at his side, then make them dissolve when a particular adventure was over. In this way he summoned Tulpas of Paul Revere, Ethan Allen and others the same way a hyper-evolved Rick Jones created an army of Tulpas resembling Marvel’s Golden Age superheroes during the Kree-Skrull War in 1972.

It was never established if Major Liberty was conjuring up these Tulpas through mystic means or if he had some form of mutant psionic power which enabled him to create them.

Comment: This superhero based his nom de guerre on his reputation for taking major liberties with his female students. I’m KIDDING! It was his male students. Anyway, May of 1942 marked the last Golden Age appearance of Major Liberty.

zara of the jungleZARA OF THE JUNGLE

Created By: Newt Alfred

Secret Identity: None

First Appearance: Mystic Comics #2 (April 1940) Her final Golden Age appearance came later that same year. 

Origin: When Zara was a child, her father grew tired of how crime-ridden so-called “civilization” was, so he took her with him to live in the jungles of Africa. He taught her jungle survival skills and how to fight and when he died he charged her with fighting any evil that ventured into her jungle home.

Powers: Zara was in peak physical condition and was much more agile than any acrobat. She excelled at unarmed combat but was also proficient with a bow & arrows. She had acquired immunity to the bites of the insects and snakes of the jungle and had a rapport with the other animals.

Comment: Zara battled menaces like Muslim slavers and evil white interlopers trying to stir up war among the jungle tribes.

fiery maskTHE FIERY MASK

Created By: Joe Simon

Secret Identity: Jack Castle, MD

First Appearance: Daring Mystery Comics #1 (January 1940) His final Golden Age appearance came later that same year.

Origin: Young physician Dr Jack Castle was called in by the police to investigate missing persons who returned with green skin and as obedient zombies serving a mad scientist. Jack wound up captured by the mad scientist, whose experiments had turned himself into a 20-foot tall giant. (?)

Dr Castle resisted the high-tech treatment when the Zombie Master tried turning him into another obedient green-skinned zombie. The villain turned up the power, causing an explosion which granted Jack superpowers with which he fought crime as the Fiery Mask.

Powers: The Fiery Mask could lift 7 tons and make enormous leaps. His eyes and mask would emit a fiery aura at will. This hero could generate a bio-electrical/ fiery force-field around himself or around another person if he was in physical contact with them. The Fiery Mask could also shoot bio-electrical energy beams. In addition, this hero wielded a mace in combat, NOT a gun, despite the above picture.

Comment: What an odd origin and what an odd collection of powers.   

falcon timelyTHE FALCON

Created By: Maurice Gutwirth

Secret Identity: Carl Burgess

First Appearance: Daring Mystery Comics #5 (June 1940) His final Golden Age appearance came later that same year.

Origin: Assistant District Attorney Carl Burgess grew disgusted with the way so many criminals evaded justice and adopted the costumed identity of the Falcon to bring down such offenders.

Powers: The Falcon was in peak human condition and excelled at unarmed combat. Some unrevealed power or aspect of his costume allowed him to glide through the air but not truly fly.

Comment: District Attorneys back then apparently ALL freelanced as costumed vigilantes on the side.

MonakoMONAKO THE MAGICIAN

Created By: Larry Antonette

Secret Identity: Not revealed.

First Appearance: Daring Mystery Comics #1 (January 1940) His final Golden Age appearance came later that same year.

Origin: This hero was the child of religious missionaries in India. One day the child woke up to see that his parents had been slain by a cult of Black Magic users. They renamed him Monako and raised the boy as a practitioner of their dark mystic arts for over 10 years. When he was 16 the British Army at last brought an end to the evil cult and, given his youth, sent Monako for a conventional education. As an adult he would battle the forces of evil as Monako, Prince of Magicians.

Powers: Monako could levitate objects and people, conjure up objects from nowhere, shrink to inches high or grow to several feet tall and could send astral doubles of himself to spy on people without being seen. He used a cane like a magic wand to help focus his mystic powers. Plot-specific powers were manifested by Monako as needed.

Comment: This hero’s archenemy was Mr Muro, his sidekick was the muscular Pere and his love interest was Josie Nottington.   

victory boysVICTORY BOYS

Created By: Ernie Hart

Secret Identities: Kurt Erzberger, Gus Webber, Victor & Maxie Stein

First Appearance: Comedy Comics #10 (June 1942) Their final Golden Age appearance came later that same year.

Origin: When their anti-Nazi parents were killed, four German boys made a secret lair for themselves in the Black Forest. Donning costumes, they ventured forth periodically to combat the Nazi forces as the Victory Boys. 

Powers: The Victory Boys were in fine athletic condition and were skilled at unarmed combat. They wielded bows and arrows with deadly accuracy and were talented at improvising guerilla tactics.

Comment: There’s something appealing about the premise of a group of arrow shooting anti-Nazi Germans plaguing the Axis war machine while using the Black Forest as a hideout the same way Robin Hood and his Merry Men used Sherwood Forest as a hideout.

thundererTHUNDERER

Created By: Carl Burgos and John Compton

Secret Identity: Jerry Carstairs

First Appearance: Daring Mystery Comics #7 (April 1941) His final Golden Age appearance came in 1942.

Origin: Jerry Carstairs, an employee of the Federal Communications Commission, was also a dedicated Ham Radio Operator on the side. Concerned about rising crime, he rigged up some special technology and took to listening in on police radio bands, then rushing to fight wrongdoers as the costumed superhero the Thunderer. 

Powers: The Thunderer was very skilled at unarmed combat and was very physically fit. He invented and used a Lightning Gun to shock his foes. This hero had the mouth and neck area of his costume rigged with special tech that would loudly magnify his voice to such levels that he could shatter windows or cause his targets to cringe helplessly from the volume.

In addition he used advanced bugging equipment against criminals and could cause anything picked up on his bugs to be broadcast over the nearest radio station.   

Comment: This hero’s love interest was columnist Eileen Conroy, who often found her beau Jerry Carstairs to be kind of dull compared to the adventurous Thunderer. 

*** FOR MARVEL’S SUPERHEROES WHO ONLY MADE ONE APPEARANCE IN THE 1940s CLICK HERE .

FOR FAWCETT SUPERHEROES CLICK HERE.

FOR THE QUALITY COMICS SUPERHERO PANTHEON CLICK HERE.  

FOR THE HILLMAN SUPERHERO PANTHEON CLICK HERE

FOR THE HARVEY COMICS SUPERHERO PANTHEON CLICK HERE

FOR THE FOX FEATURES 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.

15 Comments

Filed under Superheroes

15 responses to “MARVEL COMICS’ 1940s SUPERHEROES

  1. Some really amazing characters were born from the onset of modernization. There is I know a big psychology behind all. 💞🍮🍮

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  3. The Whizzer had a small part in the “Jessica Jones” Netflix series, too! 😀

  4. Sam Seder

    The Fiery Mask is kind of dumb. What the hell?

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