I discovered this Golden Age action hero (created by Bob Powell for Hit Comics in 1940) via the Tumblr blog F**k Yeah Warrior Women and immediately fell in love with her. Attorney (later District Attorney) Betty Bates enjoyed a ten-year run (unusual for a non-superpowered, supporting character), and it's no wonder: in addition to her legal know-how, she was a skilled detective, knew jiu-jitsu, and was handy with her fists too. In the following story (public domain, scans courtesy of ComicBookPlus.com), we see her stand up to sexual harassment, speak truth to power, and foil a kidnapping. As if that weren't awesome enough, the story conveniently comes with a "context is for the weak" panel!
( 'Bates is the name--MISS Betty Bates!' )
( 'Bates is the name--MISS Betty Bates!' )
In 1949, the relatively unknown cartoonist Harvey Kurtzman, coming off a run of his one-page gag strip Hey, Look! for Timely, shopped his work around and received his first EC assignment. No, it wasn't on one of their horror titles; those wouldn't be launched until the following year. Nor were they publishing war or satire comics yet. Rather, Kurtzman's EC debut was as illustrator of Lucky Fights It Through, a giveaway 16-page educational comic about syphilis...with a two-fisted cowboy setting, since western comics were in then.
( 'That ignorant, ignorant cowboy' )
"Most superheroic pseudonyms are intended to be understood metaphorically. Iron Man isn't really a man made of iron. Green Lantern isn't a piece of verdant camping equipment, and, by and large, the Beast is in fact a lovely fellow. When it comes to superheroes whose names can be taken literally, or, better yet, at--ahem--face value, there's no more outstanding example than the Eye."
--Jon Morris, The League of Regrettable Superheroes, 46.
( Eye don't know how the writer-artist came up with this )
In this issue, Boy King and Giant--now assisted by the king's long-lost twin Richard aka "Muggsy" and his gang--return to what they do best: fighting Nazis!
( 'Precious records kept on the backs of living men!!' )
In the previous issue, Hitler ordered the construction of a mechanical T. rex to stop the Giant and wreak havoc on New York, and dispatched the Crane to pilot it. It seems Giant has met his match. Or...has he?
( 'Well--taste THIS chicken's wing!' )
In which the Nazis attempt to outdo Nostradamus in the golem department.
( 'You are not enchineers,' shouts Hitler in German-accented English, 'you are clumsy plumbers!' )
When we left off, the accordion-armed Nazi agent Crane had just tossed a bomb at our heroes. Now on with the story...
( In which Boy King proves himself better at fighting than thinking )
The votes are in, and while Nightmare and Sleepy put in a good showing, the Boy King and the Giant are, by one vote, whom you'd most like to see. So, from Clue #2 (February 1943), here's the continuing story of our brave Swisslakian refugees.
( 'If Nostradamus buried the giant, why it means he was buried for thousands of years!' Uhh... )
At last we come to the final story in the public-domain Clue Comics #1 (Hillman, Jan. 1943), starring a monkey-costumed superhero and his sometimes-sapient, sometimes-not parrot sidekick. No relation to sparkly vampires of any sort.
( 'I'm a little leery about takin' orders from a crackpot in a monkey suit...' )
Moving on from intentionally silly yarns about super-oafs with Venetian blinds for capes... we return to more ostensibly serious fare with the origin story of Micro Face, a hero who dons a mask equipped with a microphone and X-ray specs to stop the most sinister sweepstakes ever.
( Seriously, if you thought Powerball was unfair... )
Many Golden Age superhero, adventure and/or crime comics included a short humour feature every issue for a change of pace. This might be a "funny animal," "mischievous little kid(s)," or "generic goofball" story. Today's offering from Clue Comics #1 (Hillman, Jan. 1943) is the latter, but it's also a parody of the superhero genre, much like the Bugs Bunny short Super-Rabbit released a few months later.
( 'Now looka here youse fellas!' )
Story No. 2 from the debut of Clue Comics (Hillman, Jan. 1943).
( How about a magic trick? I'm gonna make this pencil, er, building disappear )
The other night, I was looking through the first issue of Clue Comics (Hillman Periodicals, Jan. 1943) for a particular story, when I found that all the stories caught my fancy to some extent or another. So because it's in the public domain, I'm gonna post the whole thing! (Minus the text story, ad pages, etc.) Over the next few days, wonder at the exploits of costumed crimefighters Nightmare and Sleepy, the bumbling but patriotic Stupid Manny, the high-tech (for the 40s) masked avengers Micro-Face and Zippo, the plucky Boy Rangers, and the proto-furry superhero Twilight!
But that's not all! Because all of the above features lasted five issues (and a few lasted longer), when I'm done with Issue #1, you get to vote on which feature you'd like to see more posts of. Ain't that swell? Yes.
( So let's get started with the lead story... )