As the 4th of July approaches, Balladeer’s Blog presents one last red, white and blue-themed superhero – Uncle Sam, from Quality Comics. For over 20 more Quality Comics heroes click HERE.
Secret Identity: Ezra Smith (assumed name)
First Appearance: National Comics #1 (July 1940) His final Golden Age appearance came in 1944.
Origin: During the Revolutionary War, a dying American soldier named Sam (last name unknown) felt such a fervent desire to continue fighting for the new country that he assumed supernatural status. Over the decades he incarnated as Uncle Sam whenever the United States needed him.
In 1940 he appeared to young Buddy Smith, whose father Ezra was just killed for opposing a Fascist organization called the Purple Shirts. Uncle Sam defeated that group and became Buddy’s substitute father, pretending to be his late father Ezra to legal authorities.
Powers: This hero had Superman-level strength and invulnerability. He could fly in a sense by making enormous Hulk-sized leaps. He had a mystic ability to know where he would be needed. Due to his supernatural nature, Uncle Sam could not be photographed or filmed.
Comment: When he was no longer needed in a given time period, this hero faded away, to once again incarnate during the next period of crisis for the country.
NATIONAL COMICS #1 (July 1940)
Title: The Coming of Uncle Sam
Villains: The Purple Shirts
Synopsis: The origin of Uncle Sam, including his “adoption” of Buddy Smith, the scrappy kid in short pants depicted on the cover. Uncle Sam wages war on the Purple Shirts army, which is being financed by an unnamed – but obvious – foreign power.
Our hero invades the Purple Shirts’ secret stronghold at Box Valley in the southern Rocky Mountains. Uncle Sam clobbers the villains and rescues the U.S. President, whom they kidnapped earlier in a commando raid.
NATIONAL COMICS #2 (August 1940)
Title: Smashing The Enemies of Free Speech
Villain: J.P. Potter
Synopsis: Candy company millionaire J.P. Potter is so vile that his cutting corners during candy production has caused illness in hundreds of children who consume his popular confections. Potter has his hired thugs beat up Senator Grover, who was introducing a bill about candy and snack safety regulations. Grover abandons the bill.
In Candy City, home to J.P. Potter’s candy company, Potter also has his goons rough up and intimidate news reporters who try reporting on the children made ill by his products. Uncle Sam comes to Candy City, takes on Potter’s goons, protects a newspaper while it prints out a special edition exposing Potter, then attacks the Potter Building, J.P.’s corporate headquarters.
Our hero thrashes all of Potter’s men, then flies up and grabs the private plane in which the tycoon was trying to escape. Potter is brought to justice and Senator Grover’s bill passes, after all.
NOTE: This is the first story which reveals that Uncle Sam does not show up on film.
NATIONAL COMICS #3 (September 1940)
Title: Yiffendi Invades The Philippines
Villains: Chancellor Mias and General Yiffendi
Story: Chancellor Mias, head of state of a fictional Asian power, stirs up Moros in the Philippines, then sends his General Yiffendi and his army to invade and annex the islands, using the “unrest” as a pretext. Yiffendi’s forces massacre civilians.
Uncle Sam takes it upon himself to go to the Philippines and wage a one-man war on General Yiffendi and his forces. In the days that follow, our hero: a) hurls boulders at Yiffendi’s soldiers in rapid-fire succession like an artillery attack to drive them out of a valley, b) takes back a mountain fort that was seized by the villain’s army, and c) single-handedly defeats an amphibious attack launched by Chairman Mias’ additional armed forces.
The Philippines are rid of Mias and Yiffendi’s troops as the story ends.
NATIONAL COMICS #4 (October 1940)
Title: Torpedo Islands of Death
Villains: An unnamed, fictional Pacific Nation
Synopsis: On his way back from the Philippines, Uncle Sam comes across six large islands which are really the secret war machines of a never-named fictional country. The huge islands combine the virtues of warships and aircraft carriers and launch an attack on California.
Between Uncle Sam and the United States Pacific Fleet, the floating islands are defeated, along with the fighter planes they launched and their torpedoes. Our hero relaxes atop the Golden Gate Bridge at story’s end.
NATIONAL COMICS #5 (November 1940)
Title: The Black Legion
Villains: The Black Legion
Synopsis: After a basic rehashing of elements of Uncle Sam’s origin, the story proper gets underway.
In the midwestern American farm town called Glen Valley, lurks a gang of masked, dark-clad men on armored motorcycles which sport mounted machine guns in front. They plan a campaign of terror on the area in the style of their unnamed “old country.” The Black Legion rides around the town, machine-gunning to death every person and farm animal they see. Uncle Sam shows up, defeats the villains and turns them over to the authorities.
Comment: So I guess the Black Legion’s plan was: Step One – Ride around killing everything in sight. Step Two – Profit … ?
NATIONAL COMICS #6 (December 1940)
Title: Sabotage (The Beastie Boys stole everything from Uncle Sam!)
Villains: Saboteurs from an unnamed country.
Synopsis: Uncle Sam inspects the damage of the second U.S. military center to be destroyed recently by a mysterious, high-tech bomber plane that seems to appear from nowhere.
Investigating further, our hero traces the plane to a collapsible steel landing strip at sea which can link up with a submarine and have the plane submerge with the sub after each mission. The sub is staffed by costumed men from an unknown country, captained by a man wearing a monocle. Uncle Sam corrals the men and destroys the sub and plane.
NATIONAL COMICS #7 (January 1941)
Title: Uncle Sam Leads The Way
Villains: A very Mussolini-looking leader of a fictional country
Synopsis: An unnamed dictator of a never-named European nation is facing public riots over the shortage of necessities. He decides to plunder the needed resources from America but his air attacks are always driven off by U.S. fighter planes. He has his scientists come up with a fleet of 50 amphibious vessels, as large as battleships and able to travel on tank treads across the ocean floor to suddenly emerge from the ocean after arriving at American beaches.
Uncle Sam heads off the approaching invasion force, fighting them under the sea, on land and in the air. Naturally our hero emerges triumphant in the end and turns over all the prisoners of war he captured.
NATIONAL COMICS #8 (February 1941)
Title: Son of the Empire
Villain: James Yoritomo Rawlins
Synopsis: James Yoritomo Rawlins, son of a British father and a Japanese mother, is an intelligence agent for the Japanese Emperor. He infiltrates British Aid organizations in the U.S. and uses them as fronts for his spy and sabotage network.
Uncle Sam clashes with the network as they blow up rail lines across the country. In the end he has exposed and captured the entire ring and saved a trainload of goods from another explosion.
NATIONAL COMICS #9 (March 1941)
Title: Boss McFlague
Villain: Political Boss McFlague
Synopsis: The corrupt political Boss McFlague resorts to violent gangster tactics when voters start to rebel against his pocket candidates and try to support Honest Bill Williams instead.
Uncle Sam intervenes when McFlague’s goons open fire on voters, burn down the homes of Bill Williams campaign staff and BLOW UP A BRIDGE in furtherance of their crooked plans. Wow. That’s not a political boss, that’s a madman!
NATIONAL COMICS #10 (April 1941)
Title: The Phony
Villain: A Heinrich Brun impersonator
Synopsis: Heinrich Brun, a political prisoner recently released from Germany, comes to the U.S. In reality he is an imposter and a spy for the Third Reich sent by Hitler himself.
He becomes the head of the Nazi Bund in America. Uncle Sam brings down the entire ring and frees the real Heinrich Brun from captivity in Germany.
NATIONAL COMICS #11 (May 1941)
Villain: Scalini the racketeer
Synopsis: Uncle Sam comes to the aid of a young architect who has plans to revamp and improve the company housing for steel workers who labor for the Vander Steel Company.
A racketeer and gang boss tries to take over the local chapter of the steel workers’ union, and since improved housing would make the workers more content, the rabble-rousing Scalini and his men try to sabotage the project. He also has his thugs use violence against the workers and to try sabotaging the steel plant itself. Uncle Sam stops all of Scalini’s efforts.
NATIONAL COMICS #12 (June 1941)
Title: An Epidemic of Destruction
Villains: A secret Nazi army in America
Synopsis: All across the country America’s defense industry is suffering one act of sabotage after another. Uncle Sam looks into the matter.
Our hero discovers an entire network of Nazi saboteurs who are disrupting the country’s defense industry as a prelude to launching an armed invasion from their secret California base which has an entire army, tanks and all. Uncle Sam hammers the saboteur network and then single-handedly defeats the hidden army.
NATIONAL COMICS #13 (July 1941)
Title: The Mine Slaves
Villains: A secret slave ring
Synopsis: Uncle Sam visits a historic American town which is noted for having a lot of families descended from Revolutionary War veterans. All the men are mysteriously missing and the women and children are too frightened to talk about it.
Investigating further, our hero discovers that a criminal gang has abducted all the men and are using them as chained slave labor in subterranean mines. Uncle Sam overcomes all the gang members plus their weaponry, including poison gas from the depths of the Earth. He frees all the slaves and sends the gang to prison.
NATIONAL COMICS #14 (August 1941)
Title: A Great Darkness
Villains: The Black Legion
Synopsis: All across America, defense industry workers are being struck blind en masse.
Uncle Sam learns that a new incarnation of the Black Legion is behind it all. Working for an unnamed foreign power they have biological warfare agents that cause blindness to everyone exposed to them. Our hero smashes the entire Black Legion, seizes the cure for the blindness and personally takes down the Legion’s secret air force.
NATIONAL COMICS #15 (September 1941)
Title: A Genius of Destruction
Villain: The Inventor
Synopsis: A mad scientist called the Inventor plans to take over the world. With so many of the global powers caught up in World War Two he intends to conquer America, then use the country as a base to bring the entire planet under his control.
The Inventor devises a huge, futuristic artillery cannon and rigs up a private train car. He and his thugs roam the country by railroad and use the super-weapon to obliterate an army airfield, then a navy yard. Uncle Sam is present for the second attack and saves the lives of several navy yard workers. The next day our hero arrives too late to stop the Inventor from destroying Camp Seely and the thousands of new recruits stationed there.
He does spot the villain’s private train car and pursues it, shakily surviving a direct hit from the weapon. Once on board the train Uncle Sam trashes the Inventor’s armed thugs, destroys his powerful super-weapon and turns the villain over to the authorities.
UNCLE SAM QUARTERLY #1 (September 1941)
Title: Forged Faces
Villains: Senator Northrup Bristol, Curwen the Sculptor and the Steel Helmets
Synopsis: Evil Senator Northrup Bristol has developed a formula that renders human facial features malleable. He has his army of goons kidnap over half the members of Congress and has the criminal Curwen the Sculptor mold the faces of several of Bristol’s men to impersonate the imprisoned members of the House and Senate. He also has the president abducted and replaces him with Curwen himself, with his own face transformed into the president’s.
In rapid succession, Bristol has the rest of his goons turned into his official private army called the Steel Helmets. He then has his fake congressmen and fake president rush through legislation creating a new corps for 12 year old children. They all MUST serve for a year in this youth corps, but Bristol rents them out as slave labor to his industrialist friends.
When citizens are rightfully outraged and show up in large numbers in Washington DC, Bristol has his Steel Helmets attack the protestors and lash them with whips. Bristol, his fake congressmen and fake president consider this an insurrection and prepare to use the armed forces against the rightfully rebellious citizenry, calling for an all-out war against them.
Uncle Sam had stupidly allowed himself to be arrested for interfering with the “legally enacted” new laws (not realizing they were passed by impersonators) but has finally had enough. He effortlessly breaks out of prison and discovers the imprisoned REAL politicians. He frees them and then leads the Marines against the Steel Helmets in a massive battle which routs the villains. Curwen gets away but the other conspirators are rounded up.
Title: The King of Crime
Villain: King Killer
Synopsis: Two twin mad scientists use a human guinea pig, the brains and body parts of 50 dead criminals, and a serum developed from gorilla blood to make the human guinea pig into a Juggernaut-sized, super-strong and murderous being they call King Killer. He turns on them and kills them, then sets up an all-criminal “kingdom” in the southwestern desert region, and criminals around the country flock there.
Uncle Sam fights King Killer and his army of crooks in his Everytown home, then he and the National Guard surround the King’s walled city-state called Rex. K.K. tells them he has had the area immediately around the wall filled with land-mines, so Uncle Sam insists on invading Rex alone.
After an entire day and a half of battle which levels Rex and scares away all of the criminals, Uncle Sam finally defeats the equally strong King Killer. He then helps construct a special cell in which to imprison him.
Title: The Man Who Sold His Country
Villain: Horatio Brown
Synopsis: Progressive politician Horatio Brown was one of the candidates who lost the presidential race to FDR in 1940. Since then he was approached by an unnamed fictional caribbean country and told that if he obtains and gives them the War Department’s plans for the defense of the Panama Canal they will give him an island to rule as a dictator. Brown takes the deal and sells them the plans in exchange for his island dictatorship of 20,000 people.
While Brown unleashes a reign of terror on his island nation, the regime he sold the defense plans to sends its fleet to attack the Panama Canal. Even with Uncle Sam’s help, our Navy is being defeated since the enemy knows every move our boys plan to make. Our hero shames Horatio Brown with a lecture and Brown betrays the fictional invader nation, blowing himself up along with the war leaders and the war plans.
Title: The Mad Poet
Villain: The Mad Poet
Synopsis: A supervillain called the Mad Poet uses poems which are really magic spells. He comes up with a very special poem which he circulates. That poem takes control of the minds of everyone who hears it and they immediately recite that poetry to everyone they encounter who has not heard it before. Soon he has thousands of people enthralled, including an army of thugs he uses against Uncle Sam.
Eventually the Mad Poet even exposes President Roosevelt to the enthralling poem and at his next Fireside Chat, FDR recites the poem to all listeners, giving the villain control of millions. Uncle Sam at last fights his way through all of the Mad Poet’s minions and forces him to compose a poem that breaks the spell of the first poem. With that poem broadcast, the nation is freed and the Mad Poet goes to prison.
Title: The Steel Helmets
Villains: Northrup Bristol and his Steel Helmets
Synopsis: No longer a Senator, Northrup Bristol is back with his army of Steel Helmets and a major newspaper in his employ. He uses that newspaper to start a J. Jonah Jameson sized Fake News war against Uncle Sam. At length the media campaign succeeds and the public believes Uncle Sam to be as crooked as Bristol paints him. Losing the faith of the American people weakens Uncle Sam to the point where the Steel Helmets are able to kill the hero with explosives.
Bristol and his Steel Helmets try to take over the country and install Northrup as a dictator. Meanwhile, Buddy starts a massive campaign to restore public faith in Uncle Sam. Once enough people believe in the hero again, he gains the strength to fight free from the monsters in the supernatural Swamp of Lies his essence was exiled to and return to reality. Uncle Sam then defeats the Steel Helmet army and they turn on Bristol, beating him to death.
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