Tag Archives: Golden Age Superheroes

THE FIRST 20 UNCLE SAM SUPERHERO STORIES FROM THE 1940s

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.

uncle samUNCLE SAM

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.

uncle sam againPowers: 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 1NATIONAL 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. Continue reading

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NEGLECTED DC SUPERHEROES OF THE GOLDEN AGE

With the bulk of Balladeer’s Blog’s light-hearted superhero blog posts featuring Marvel Comics characters, DC fans have been demanding some love. I previously looked at the Justice Society, so this time here’s my take on their overlooked Golden Age heroes.

air waveAIR WAVE

Secret Identity: Larry Jordan

First Appearance: Detective Comics #60 (February 1942)

Origin: District Attorney Larry Jordan became disgusted with the way so many criminals escaped conviction in the courts. He adopted the costumed identity of Air Wave and set out to fight crime on his own terms.

Powers: Air Wave was in peak physical condition and was more agile than an acrobat. He excelled at unarmed combat and wore special boots which let him glide or skate along power lines and phone lines. He also had radios in his costume’s earpieces. In addition, his trained parrot Static served as his mascot.

Comment: This hero appeared in nearly 80 adventures from 1942 to 1948. Continue reading

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FIRST 16 FIGHTING YANK STORIES FROM THE 1940s

fighting yank a picWith the big 4th of July holiday coming up, this weekend’s light-hearted bit of superhero escapism will combine some Revolutionary War nostalgia with some World War Two nostalgia. Balladeer’s Blog takes a look at the early adventures of the Nedor Comics hero called the Fighting Yank.

For many more Nedor superheroes click HERE.

THE FIGHTING YANK

Secret Identity: Bruce Carter III

Origin: See below

Powers: The cloak bestowed upon wealthy Bruce Carter III by the ghost of his ancestor, a Revolutionary War soldier, granted him a large degree of super-strength, made him bulletproof and let him run at over 60 miles per hour.    

startling 10STARTLING COMICS #10 (September 1941)

Title: Introducing The Fighting Yank

Villains: Nazi Spies

Synopsis: Wealthy Bruce Carter III is the spitting image of his ancestor, Bruce Carter I, a soldier who fought in the Revolutionary War. Unjustly accused of neglecting his duty Carter’s ghost has been wandering since then hoping to restore the family honor. He believes fighting in the expanding World War will provide that opportunity for his look-alike descendant, so he emerges from his life-sized portrait on the wall of the Carter home. The ghost leads Bruce III to the attic of the old family home and reveals to him a cloak which will bestow super-powers on the wearer.

              In his first adventure, the Fighting Yank rescues a Senator from Nazi spies who have replaced him with a lookalike. That lookalike has been using the Senator’s popularity to rally the people toward an alliance with the Axis Nations. Our hero exposes the deception and clobbers the spy ring. Bruce Carter III’s girlfriend Joan Farwell recognizes him under the domino mask and shares his secret identity with him from now on. Continue reading

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FIRST TWENTY SPIRIT OF SEVENTY-SIX STORIES FROM THE 1940s

With less than a month now until the 4th of July here’s a look at the first twenty stories of the Harvey Comics superhero called the Spirit of 76. For more than two dozen Harvey superheroes CLICK HERE 

Spirit of 76THE SPIRIT OF ’76

Secret Identity: Gary Blakely, West Point Cadet

First Appearance: Pocket Comics #1 (August 1941)

Origin: Gary Blakely, scion of an American family which had distinguished themselves on the battlefield in every conflict from the Revolutionary War onward, was a Cadet at West Point. By chance he uncovered a Fifth Column plot by Nazi agents to blow up the academy. He adopted the costumed identity of the Spirit of ’76, foiled the Axis plot and resolved to continue fighting evil afterward.

Powers: The Spirit of ’76 was in peak human condition, was exceptionally agile and was very skilled at both armed and unarmed combat. His costume was bulletproof and he wielded his saber expertly in battle. This hero lasted until 1948, so he faced Communist villains instead of Nazi villains after World War Two was over.

pocket 1POCKET COMICS #1 (August 1941)

Title: Cadet Blakeley, Spirit of 76

Villains: Nazi saboteurs led by Herr Hoch  

Synopsis: West Point Cadet Gary Blakely discovers a Nazi plot to blow up West Point. Donning a costume and armed with a sword, he calls himself the Spirit of 76 and takes down the spy ring. 

Comment: You have to admit, there’s something appealing about a superhero whose secret identity is that of a West Point Cadet.  Continue reading

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FIRST TWENTY BLACK CONDOR STORIES

Awhile back, Balladeer’s Blog examined a few dozen Golden Age superheroes from Quality Comics. Here’s a look at the first twenty stories of the number one entry on that list – the Black Condor.

black condor picBLACK CONDOR

Secret Identity: Senator Thomas Wright

First Appearance: Crack Comics #1 (May 1940)

Origin: Click HERE.

Powers: The Black Condor could fly at extraordinary speeds and was in peak physical condition. He was more agile than an acrobat and excelled at unarmed combat. In addition, he was a marksman with his handgun which fired powerful Black Energy rays.

black condor another picCRACK COMICS #1 (May 1940)

Title: The Man Who Can Fly Like A Bird

Villains: Gali Kan and his Mongolian bandits.

Synopsis: Using his power of flight to battle evildoers all over Asia, the Black Condor becomes world-famous, though some people doubt the veracity of the “sightings” of this flying man. At last, our hero gets the opportunity to avenge the death of his parents on Gali Kan and his men while simultaneously saving a city in India from their depradations. 

crack 2CRACK COMICS #2 (June 1940)

Title: The Man Who Can Fly

Villain: Rajah Ali Khan

Synopsis: The Black Condor saves Andrea Kent and her brother Denny from the evil plans of the Rajah Ali Khan, who seeks to seize their inheritance through a forced marriage to Andrea.

Our hero overcomes the Rajah and all his troops.

NOTE: In this story, which introduced the Black Energy ray-gun, the pistol’s rays simply paralyze large groups of the Rajah’s men and don’t destroy them. Continue reading

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MARVEL’S ONE-APPEARANCE HEROES FROM THE 1940s

A few weeks back Balladeer’s Blog took a look at over three dozen 1940s superheroes from Marvel Comics (called Timely Comics back then). This time around here’s a look at several of their one-appearance wonders from that same time period.

phantom bulletPHANTOM BULLET

Created By: Joe Simon

Secret Identity: Allan Lewis

Appeared In: Daring Mystery Comics #2 (February 1940)

Origin: Millionaire Allan Lewis often slummed as a reporter for The Bulletin when stories caught his eye. While investigating some unsolved murders committed by seven-fingered men he met a scientist who had developed a high-tech gun that he believed criminals wanted to steal from him. The scientist was killed but managed to pass along his invention to Allan Lewis, who donned a costume and took on villains as the Phantom Bullet.

Powers: The Phantom Bullet was in peak human condition and excelled at armed and unarmed combat. The experimental gun he wielded compressed moisture from the air into ice bullets which melted, evaporated and left no traces in the evildoers whom he shot to death. That was why the media dubbed him the Phantom Bullet.

Comment: The murders in the Phantom Bullet’s debut were masterminded by former explorer Alvarez Monez. As part of his extortion/ theft/ murder ring he commanded a Lost Race he had captured in Africa. That Lost Race had seven fingers and were part human, part ape, so naturally he called them … Bird-Men. (?)

Rather than wear a mask, this hero disguised his features with makeup when he went into action. That makeup included an exaggerated nose.

thin manTHE THIN MAN

Created By: Klaus Nordling

Secret Identity: Bruce Dickson

Appeared In: Mystic Comics #4 (August 1940)

Origin: Scientist Bruce Dickson was climbing Mount Kalpurthia in the Himalayas when he discovered a cave that led to the hidden, futuristic valley called Kalahia. Determining Dickson to be a noble and altruistic person, the valley’s Council of Elders instructed the man in their advanced science and taught him their mystic power of altering his physiology to make himself thinner and longer.       

Bruce and a Kalahian woman named Olalla fell in love and convinced the Council to permit them to go to the outside world where Dickson could use his new powers against the forces of evil.

Powers: The Thin Man could make his body thin enough to slip under a door or between cracks in a fence while still packing the strength of a heavyweight boxer. He could also stretch and bend his body into different shapes. He piloted a futuristic StratoPlane, which the Council of Elders permitted him to build with Kalahian technology. Among other features that plane sported video screens for observing anywhere on Earth. Continue reading

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ALL TWENTY ALL-WINNERS ISSUES FROM THE 1940s

Mascot and guitar

Balladeer’s Blog

Last week’s look at over two dozen 1940s superheroes from Marvel Comics (called Timely Comics back then) was very popular. This time around here’s my breakdown on several issues of All Winners Comics, featuring a mixed bag of their biggest heroes of the time. The one and only STAN LEE, already a master of self-promotion in the 1940s, makes cameo appearances in a few issues.

For information on the superheroes in these adventures click HERE.

all winners 1ALL WINNERS COMICS #1 (June 1941)

Story 1: Carnival of Fiends

Heroes: Human Torch (original) and Toro

Villain: Mr Matzu

Synopsis: The Human Torch and Toro clash with the espionage network of Japanese Imperial Spy Matzu when he tries to sabotage Chinese-Americans who are holding a fundraiser for their native land’s military efforts against Japan’s occupation forces.

Comment: America had not yet entered the war, so this is an interesting piece. It’s set in New York City.

Story 2: The Order of the Hood

Hero: The Black Marvel

Villains: The Order of the Hood

Synopsis: In Los Angeles, a cloaked and hooded gang of bank robbers use machine guns and a solar death ray to rob banks and slaughter anyone in their way. The Black Marvel repeatedly clashes with them and defeats them in the end.

Comment: After the villains capture the Black Marvel they do a pirate television broadcast to show them executing the hero, but he turns the tables on them. There were indeed television broadcasts at the time, but going out to thousands instead of millions like today.

Story 3: The Case of the Hollow Men Continue reading

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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. Continue reading

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FAWCETT SUPERHEROES

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.  

mr scarletMISTER SCARLET

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.

mary marvelMARY MARVEL

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. Continue reading

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THE SHIELD: HIS FIRST TWENTY STORIES

Balladeer’s Blog’s readers have made it clear they love these light-hearted superhero posts on weekends, so here we go with the first twenty stories of the MLJ character the Shield. 

ShieldTHE SHIELD

Secret Identity: Doctor Joe Higgins, a chemist.

Origin: On his deathbed Joe’s father Tom revealed to him the secret of a chemical formula he had been working on. That formula could bestow superpowers on a normal human being. As Joe grew older he got his PhD in chemistry, finished his father’s formula and used it on himself, gaining superpowers. He devised a special costume and fought the forces of evil as the Shield, a super-powered operative of the FBI. 

First Appearance: Pep Comics #1 (January 1940). His final Golden Age appearance came in late 1945. 

shield picPowers: The chemical formula that the Shield rubbed onto his skin followed by bombardment with flouroscopic rays endowed him with massive super-strength plus invulnerability and the ability to leap enormous distances. His name came from an acronym for the areas of the human anatomy affected by his chemical formula: S – Sacrum H – Heart I – Innervation E – Eyes L – Lungs D – Derma. The Shield also wore an indestructible costume which encased his torso like a shield.

Comment: The Shield was America’s first star-spangled superhero, beating Captain America into print by more than a year. He eventually had a youthful sidekick called Dusty and a private detective sweetheart named Betty Warren. His archenemy was the Vulture. His adventures continued until December of 1945. Only J Edgar Hoover knew the Shield’s secret identity. Yes, J Edgar Hoover was the head of the FBI, proving that even back then the FBI was a crooked and politically corrupt organization.

pep 1PEP COMICS #1 (January 1940)

Title: The Shield, G-Man Extraordinary

Villains: A Stokian spy ring

Synopsis: The Shield is given his first assignment. He must destroy a spy ring from the fictional nation of Stokia after the ring blows up a munitions factory, sabotages commercial shipping and assassinates U.S. military personnel. Our hero defeats all of the villains and survives their explosion of the Hotel Braganza. 

NOTE: This is the first time readers see the Shield attach wires from his earpieces to telephone wires so that his enhanced hearing can “bug” the room of his targets. Continue reading

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