Tag Archives: Golden Age Superheroes

THE WRAITH: HALLOWEEN SUPERHERO

Halloween month hurls toward its conclusion as Balladeer’s Blog takes a look at another vintage superhero ideal for the season.

Wraith rising picTHE WRAITH

Secret Identity: Gary Kennedy, dead policeman

First Appearance: Mystery Men # 27 (October 1941). His final Golden Age appearance came in 1942.

Origin: When police officer Gary Kennedy and his brother are shot to death by Silky Weaver and his subordinate gangsters, Gary dies swearing by Heaven above to avenge his and his brother’s deaths. He returns from the grave several nights later and makes good on his vow.

Afterward, the newly-christened Wraith continues to rise from his grave to deal out justice to evildoers on behalf of their dead victims, whose souls beg him to take action.

Powers: Continue reading

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DOCTOR MENSANA: AUSTRALIAN SUPERHERO

One of Balladeer’s Blog’s biggest hits was my examination of Australian-made comic book heroes like Dark Nebula, Vixen, Crimson Comet, Niteside and the super-team called the Southern Squadron. Here’s another, and for my full look at Aussie super-types click HERE

Doctor Mensana

Dr Mensana in one of his two super-powered forms.

DOCTOR MENSANA 

Debut Year: 1941 

Secret Identity: None. He openly used his real name, but the public often tagged him with nicknames like “the Samson of science” or “the man of Mind Plus.”

Origin: Sporting both an MD and a PhD the good Doctor Mensana used his unrivaled genius to create pills which could make him super-strong AND endow him with telepathic powers in addition to even greater intelligence than he already possessed. 

Powers: When our hero swallowed one of his M-Plus (M+) or Mind-Plus pills his already formidable brilliance was multiplied many times over. His cranium would grow and he would also boast telepathic and psionic powers. When Dr Mensana swallowed one of his S-Plus (S+) or Strength-Plus pills he would instantly bulk up with muscles and possess incredible super-strength. Continue reading

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CAPTAIN TERROR: MARVEL SUPERHERO OF THE SPANISH CIVIL WAR AND WORLD WAR TWO

Captain TerrorMarvel Comics rules the superhero roost right now, and with the movie business being what it is that means they pretty much rule blockbuster cinema, too. We have all seen Marvel’s superhero characters dominate the big screen in a way not seen since Cowboy stars of long ago.

Balladeer’s Blog has done plenty of articles about the 1970s comic book serials on which the 21st Century’s Marvel Cinematic Universe was based. I’ve also examined plenty of short-lived World War Two-era superheroes from now defunct comic book companies.

Not only that but regular readers here will remember that I’m an obsessive geek for the Spanish Civil War of 1936-1939. All that being said, I’m amazed that until yesterday I never knew about the existence of a Marvel Comics (Called Timely Comics in the World War Two Era) superhero who fought in the Spanish Civil War before making a comeback against the Nazis when World War Two broke out. Here’s his complete Golden Age saga.  

Captain TerrorCAPTAIN TERROR

Secret Identity: Dan Kane, millionaire playboy and yachtsman

Origin: During the Spanish Civil War, American millionaire and sport seaman Dan Kane adopted the costumed identity of Captain Terror to fight against future dictator Francisco Franco and his fascists. After the war ended in a victory for Franco’s side, Kane returned to his public life and let the world speculate on what had happened to his alter ego Captain Terror. Continue reading

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DELL SUPERHERO PANTHEON

Superheroes rule pop culture right now and readers demand more superhero items whenever I go too long without one. Here’s a look at yet another neglected pantheon of comic book heroes who don’t get the attention that Marvel and DC do.

PhantasmoPHANTASMO

Secret Identity: Phil Anson

Origin: A young American ran off to Tibet in 1915 and spent 25 years studying with the Grand High Lamas to learn some of their mystic secrets. After mastering them he returned to the U.S. to fight the forces of evil.

First Appearance: The Funnies #45 (July 1940). His final Golden Age appearance came in 1941.

Powers: Phil Anson only had superpowers in his astral body. He would go into a trance – during which his vulnerable physical form would be guarded by his sidekick, bellhop Whizzer McGee. While in this trance Anson’s astral form, Phantasmo, could fly, had massive super-strength and could grow to giant size as well as turn invisible.

Comment: Phantasmo had a kind of “Superman crossed with the Spectre” appeal.

nukla-good-.jpgNUKLA

Secret Identity: Matthew Gibbs, Air Force Pilot

Origin: While flying a U-2 spy plane over Communist China, Matthew Gibbs and his aircraft were hit by multiple Red Chinese experimental nuclear missiles. In the aftermath, Gibbs was able to reassemble his body, which now possessed extraordinary nuclear powers. He donned a costume and began working for the CIA as the superhero Nukla.

First Appearance: Nukla #1 (October 1965)

Powers: Nukla could shoot controlled nuclear explosions from his fingertips as well as render his body immaterial at will.

Comment: As was the case with Timely/ Marvel Comics, Dell went from having World War Two spawn many of their Golden Age heroes to having the Cold War spawn many of their Silver Age heroes. And since Nukla sounds like a female figure this hero could be a woman if revived today. Continue reading

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JUSTICE SOCIETY REVIEWS: LINKS

Wonder Woman and HawkgirlThank you to readers who reminded me that I did not follow up my examination of the World War Two-era Justice Society of America stories with my usual collection of links. I always did that after similar items like The Celestial Madonna Saga, Panther’s Rage, The Kree-Skrull War and most recently Adam Warlock’s encounter with the Magus, Thanos and Gamora.

In addition to examining these WWII stories I added detailed ways that I would have script-doctored them for a more sophisticated age.

All Star 3THE FIRST MEETING OF THE JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA (December 1940)

Gathered together for the very first time, the JSA members each share an introductory story about themselves (braggarts). The government informs them it has a vital mission for them in the next issue.

My Revision: Since it’s their first meeting I would have had the JSA – including the original female Red Tornado – recount their origin stories to each other. CLICK HERE  

All Star 4FOR AMERICA AND DEMOCRACY (March 1941)

The government sics the Justice Society of America on the Greyshirts, a Nazi-sympathizing group sabotaging America’s industries in case the U.S. enters the war.

My Revision: I had the heroes acting as a team, not on individual missions and once again used the female Red Tornado instead of the awful Johnny Thunder. CLICK HERE

All-Star 5THE MYSTERIOUS MISTER X (June 1941)

A masked man calling himself Mister X organizes America’s criminals into guilds and unions to make them more efficient.

My Revision: I had the JSA acting as a team in 3 adventures against Mister X and used the Red Tornado again instead of Johnny “Jar Jar” Thunder. Plus I used Hawkgirl instead of Hawkman. CLICK HERE Continue reading

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JUSTICE SOCIETY 26: WORLD WAR TWO WRAPS UP

Mister Terrific 2Balladeer’s Blog’s examination of the Justice Society’s Golden Age stories continues. FOR PART ONE CLICK HERE 

I will review the original issue and then detail how I would “script-doctor” the story for modern audiences.

All Star 27ALL STAR COMICS #27 (Winter 1945 – On sale date Nov 13th)

Title: A PLACE IN THE WORLD

Heroes: WONDER WOMAN (Original), DOCTOR MIDNITE, FLASH (Original), WILDCAT, HAWKMAN (Original), JOHNNY THUNDER, GREEN LANTERN (Original)

Villains: ASSORTED GANGS OF CRIMINALS (I would revise it to have PER DEGATON, the JSA’s Nazi foe, as the villain) 

Per DegatonSynopsis: In very late 1945 some superhero comic books featured their last few World War Two-centered stories, with the implication being that they had happened earlier in the year when the war still raged. Others moved on into the Post-War Era while others were a mixture, like this Justice Society tale. Continue reading

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JUSTICE SOCIETY 25: THE LOST PSYCHO-PIRATE STORY

Wonder Woman and HawkgirlBalladeer’s Blog’s examination of the Justice Society’s World War Two-era stories continues. FOR PART ONE CLICK HERE 

This blog post will cover the only “lost” Justice Society of America story to have definitive artwork and story elements recovered. It’s all in fragments since the story went unpublished so I’ll go with what is known and add my usual revisions for modern audiences.

Will of William WilsonPossible Publication Month: I’ve read anywhere from July to September 1945 so it may or may not have referred to World War Two still raging.

Title: THE WILL OF WILLIAM WILSON

Heroes: FLASH (Original), GREEN LANTERN (Original), HAWKMAN (Original), DOCTOR MIDNITE, THE ATOM (Original), JOHNNY THUNDER

Villains: PSYCHO-PIRATE AND ASSORTED THUGS

Psycho-Pirate 2Synopsis: Well the Spoiler comes right up-front since this story was apparently long known as “the lost Psycho-Pirate story.” In the original plan the fact that the Psycho-Pirate (Charles Halstead) was really the man behind the tale’s villainy was to be a surprise.

Just like when they used their superpowers to raise money for war orphans several issues ago, the Justice Society was drawn into this adventure for the sake of charity. The will of recently deceased eccentric millionaire William Wilson stated that all of his fortune would go to charities if the Justice Society of America could accomplish the seemingly impossible by securing some designated relics from around the world. Continue reading

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