THE BLACK HOOD (1)
Alter Ego: Kip Burland
First Appearance: 1940, Top-Notch Comics #9, Archie Publications.
Occupation: New York City police officer
Costume: Yellow bodysuit; black hood and mask
Tools and Weapons: The Hoodcycle (sometimes known as the Wondercycle), which can be converted into other vehicles including a snowmobile
Biography: While on his nightbeat, Burland comes upon a skeleton robbing a mansion. Before the officer can react, the costumed robber, named the Skull, slugs him unconscious, places some of the jewelry in his hand, and blows Burland's whistle before running off. Burland is arrested for the crime and stripped of his badge. Nonetheless, as soon as he is released on bail he goes after the real thief. Unfortunately, he finds him and this time gets shot and tossed from a car. Discovered by a hermit, Burland is nursed to health over a period of several months, during which time he learns that his savior was once the local sheriff who was also framed by the Skull. Together, the men build Burland's mind and body to physical perfection. They also make him a costume, so that Burland can move about disguised as the avenging Black Hood. Eventually, the Skull is captured and Burland is exonerated in the eyes of all but a handful of suspicious officers. The Black Hood was a member of The Mighty Crusaders during the 1960s, replaced without explanation by his cousin, The Black Hood (2). Kip's girlfriend is Elizabeth Rawlins, a talent agent.
Quote: "Not only the Mod Monster ... but the very fates are gloating over the dark destiny inflicted upon me by the fiend who walks like a man . . . Bulgy-Eyes!"
Comment: In a 1960s retelling of the story, Burland is framed for bank robbery and the murder of his partner.The character also appeared in the pulp magazines Hooded Detective and Black Hood Detective in the '40s, and on the radio, where his voice was provided by Scott Douglas. See Black Hood (2) for further data about Burland's ancestry.
THE BLACK HOOD (2) Alter Ego: Kip Burland
First Appearance: 1979, Archie's Super Hero Special Digest #1, Archie Publications
Costume: Black crash helmet and mask; black jacket, gloves, trousers, boots
Tools and Weapons: An anonymous armorer and electronics expert by the name of Damian has provided him with the following guns: the Pepperbox, a six-chamber revolver which is dust-proof, water-proof, and fires gas, explosive shells, syringe bullets, magnesium flare pellets, and rifle shot; the Destroyer, a one-handed shotgun that shoots scattershot; the Tranquilizer, which emits gas that will stun any living creature; the Stun Gun, which shoots a "beanbag" that knocks people out; and the Man Stopper, a .357 magnum four-shot gun which also fires concrete- and steel-penetrating shells with attached nylon wire for climbing. The Black Hood also carries the Bat, a snap-released spring attached to a handle, a variation of the traditional blackjack. The Bat also shoots out electronic bugs which will stick to whatever they hit and send audio signals to headphones in the Black Hood's helmet. The Black Hood rides a motorcycle which has a built-in machine gun, parachutes, gyro-stabilizer, and other devices. It can also be converted to an underwater scooter.
Biography: The Burland family has been fighting crime for centuries in the collective guise of the Black Hood. The first Black Hood was a European who donned a mask and black cloak and used his sword to battle intrigue in "a small European kingdom" in the 1700s. The next to wear the mask was that man's nephew, who became the Black Hood in North Africa in 1837 to break up slave rings. Matt Burland continued the tradition a century later, cleaning up "vice an' corruption" in Texas in 1937; concurrently, New Yorker Kip Burland reigned as the Black Hood (1) from the '40s to '60s. In the '70s, Kip's cousin, also named Kip Burland, became so disenchanted with his losing battle against organized crime that he took time off to visit his beloved Uncle Matt, a retired lawman. Learning that Matt was secretly a Black Hood, Kip is forced to face fact that "the law is hamstrung" and, accepting Matt's uniform as a gift, becomes the newest Black Hood. The Black Hood took his cousin's place as a member of The Mighty Crusaders.
Quote: "There's no way I can stay out of the fight . . .not as long as there are animals out there who murder meek little guys."
Comment: The mantle of the Black Hood is passed from generation to generation, reminiscent of The Phantom.
Alter Ego: Jack Jones
First Appearance: 1941, Zip Comics #20, Archie Publications
Occupation: Police detective
Costume: Red bodysuit; black ace-of-spades on chest and wrists; white gloves, boots, belt; black cowl
Tools and Weapons: None.
Biography: While playing his favorite card game -- blackjack -- at police headquarters, "Blackjack" Jones is pulled away to interview a wounded robber about his gang. Heading out to the old Larson Mansion where they're said to be holed up, Jones is captured and, as chance would have it, is walled up with a playing card: the Jack of spades. Managing to work the card through the concrete, Jack is able to breathe until Mr. Larson happens by. Larson, who is not part of the gang, suggests to Jack that he let the criminals believe he has died and adopt a vengeful new identity: Black Jack. Apart from being physically fit, Black Jack has no superpowers. A black Jack is his calling card; the hero's most noteworthy foes were, not surprisingly, named Poker Face and Black Seven.
Quote: "He's going to make a clean getaway! What a prize sap he's made me look like!"
Comment: An action-packed but otherwise ordinary strip which ran for 15 issues.
Alter Ego: Walter Whitney
First Appearance: 1939, Blue Ribbon #2, Archie Publications
Occupation: Broadway columnist
Costume: Green leotard, gloves, boots, cowl with large wings on the side; red cape.
Biography: Bob Phantom uses his powers of immateriality to fight crime, aided by his secretary Jinx Friday and police officer Captain Casey.
Comment: This character had no origin story. He continued in various MLJ titles until 1942.
Alter Ego: John Grayson
First Appearance: 1942, Pep #30, Archie Publications
Costume: Blue bodyshirt with button-up front; blue tights, cowl which ties in the back; red trunks; red belt with white "V" belt buckle; a white "C" on forehead
Tools and Weapons: None
Biography: Donning a flamboyant uniform, Grayson secretly works overseas against the Nazis. Devoid of any super powers, he is assisted by his son, Billy, and the boy's freedom- loving friends Gerald Sykes (English), Armand De Latour (French), and Erik Jansen (Norwegian) who, too young to join the military, banded together as the Boy Soldiers. The scruffy Flatbush joins later.
Quote: "A chariot . . . into it lads!"
Comment: This character, one of the many "Captains" cut from patriotic cloth -- viz., Captain America, Captain Courageous, and Captain Fearless -- lasted for four years.
THE COMET (1)
Alter Ego: John Dickering
First Appearance: 1940, Pep #1, Archie Publications
Occupation: Chemist Costume -- Original: Red jumpsuit; navy blue shirt with yellow stars and crescent moons; red arrow rising from waist to chest; navy blue hood with visors Costume -- Altroxian: Green bodysuit, shoulders, gloves; orange trunks, abdomen, arms, boots; beanie-like "rainbow helmet."
Tools and Weapons: In his Altroxian wardrobe, the Comet can fire rays from his gloves; the rainbow helmet allows him to fly
Biography: In the early 1940s, while working at his research lab in Manhattan, Dickering discovers a gas that is "fifty times lighter than hydrogen." Injecting it into his bloodstream, he finds that he can "make great leaps" through the air. Jekyll-like he continues experimenting on himself until, after many injections, the gas accumulates in his eyes and causes them to throw off two powerful beams. When they cross, whatever he's looking at will "disintegrate completely." Dubbing his power "dissolvo-vision," he finds that the only problem is that he can't control it except by closing his eyes. Fortunately, Dickering's vision can't harm glass, so he makes a pair of goggles which he raises to release his blasts. Inspired by the exploits of other costumed heroes, he becomes a crime-fighter, albeit an unorthodox one: he is one of the few who kills his adversaries. Though girlfriend-reporter Thelma Gordon writes him up as a hero, his thirst for blood makes the public uneasy. Not so the aliens of the planet Altrox who, after studying his exploits on earth, teleport him to their world to help Queen Naija wage war against invading robots. Barely surviving that encounter, the Comet is returned to earth-where he is promptly shot dead by friends of gangster Big Boy Malone, whose gang he had previously busted. Witnessing the tragedy, Queen Naija brings him back to Altrox, reviving and then marrying him. But bad luck continues to hound Dickering: less than a week later, robot survivors of the Battle of Annexia ambush the newlyweds. By this time, the Altroxian atmosphere has deprived him of his dissolvo-vision --something the Comet doesn't learn until he tries to use it against the assassins. The queen is killed, "her skull . . . crushed like a rotten bloodfruit." Creating a super-powered costume using Altroxian science, Dickering returns to earth, after spending the equivalent of several earth-decades on Altrox, only to discover that Thelma has married his brother Bob, The Hangman. Recovering, the Comet moves in with The Shield (1), and resumes his superheroic career. The Comet is a member of The Mighty Crusaders.
Quote: "I resolved that if I had to be a freak, I'd do so at the expense of those who preyed upon the weak and helpless."
Comment: A 1983 retelling of the Comet's origin blames his transformation on a lab accident in which Dickering, working with the unstable elements, inhales "the collective residue of a hundred different gases." The earlier version is considered canon. Likewise, the colors of the Comet's Altroxian costume changed slightly in 1983 without explanation.
Alter Ego: Perry Chase
First Appearance: 1940, Pep Comics #1, Archie Publications
Costume: Business suit, fedora, mask (full costume in first issue: gray bodysuit with cowl; scalloped, two-layer cape with bottom layer longer than top)
Biography: The son of the wealthy publisher of The Daily Express, Perry preyed on any individual or group which tries to undermine the freedom or effectiveness of the press. Along the way, he also battled other criminal activities.
Quote: "The Falcon does not take orders, he gives them!"
Comment: In the first issue, the Falcon is anonymous, coming to the aid of two-fisted Flash Calvert, a reporter for The Daily Express. Curiously, the strip wasn't called the Falcon but "The Press Guardian."
Alter Ego: Ted Tyler
First Appearance: 1941, Pep Comics #12, Archie Publications
Costume: Blue trunks, bodyshirt; yellow belt, wrist-bands
Tools and Weapons: None
Biography: Going into a laboratory which has been set ablaze by the Bug, Tyler is knocked out by the arsonist and left to die. While unconscious, he's bathed in a chemical which gives him the ability to control and even absorb fire. Deciding to become a crimefighter, "the sworn enemy of all those who use fire for evil purposes," he also discovers that if anyone tries to shoot him, he can simply melt their bullets.
Comment: The Fireball blazed his way through just eight issues of Pep.
Alter Ego: Harley Hudson
First Appearance: 1940, Top Notch Comics #8, Archie Publications
Occupation: Chemist and biologist
Costume: Bodysuit with "fireburst" on chest; domino mask
Biography: Devoting his life to the study of insects, Harley discovers that their proportionately great strength, leaping ability, and other powers derive from "wonderful muscular coordination." Mastering this talent himself, he decides to use it fighting crime. He chooses the secret identity of The Firefly when his lab lights fail and he happens to notice some fireflies flickering. Among his most nefarious foes are a mad doctor known as the Cat; the Shark Man; the Mummy; and the Pied Piper.
Quote: "At last! I've discovered the secret of the tremendous strength of insects!"
Comment: The character lasted through the 24th issue of Top Notch.
Alter Ego: Thomas Troy
First Appearance: 1959, Adventure of the Fly #1, Archie Publications
Costume: Green bodysuit; yellow trunks, gloves, boots, cowl; clear goggles; translucent fly wings on back
Tools and Weapons: Ring which transforms Troy into the Fly; Buzz gun designed by Turan, which uses compressed air to fire silver stingers that induce unconsciousness, and can also generate destructive sonic waves equivalent to the beating of the wings of thousands of flies, and calls the police.
Biography: Tommy Troy lives in the Westwood Orphanage, whose superintendent, Aaron Creacher, hires him out to raise money. Working for elderly Ben (aka Ezra) and Abigail March, Tommy learns that they are wizards and, late one night, tries on a fly-shaped ring he finds in the attic. It glows and opens a door to another dimension, from which steps Turan of the Fly People. He explains that millions of years before, Fly People ruled the earth. But they waged war with magic, reducing most of the population to common houseflies. Only a few of the Fly People were able to escape, fleeing to a dimensional plane outside the galaxy where they have waited patiently for "one person . . . pure of heart" to make war against greed and crime, which were their own downfall. Troy has these qualities. Thus, whenever he rubs the ring and says, "I wish I were the Fly," he is projected into the other dimension and returns as a costumed adult called the Fly. His powers include flight; muscles 100 times more powerful than those of a human; and the abilities to see in all directions at once, crawl up walls, generate huge winds by beating his wings, and radiate the light of "a million fireflies in one." For a few issues during the late 1960s, the Fly was able to become a giant, with proportionately great strength. At any size, gunfire can wound but not kill him. To become his civilian identity, all the youth need do is utter his name. Tommy continues as the Fly throughout adulthood, cleaning up crime in Capital City. The Fly is a member of The Mighty Crusaders as is his sidekick, Flygirl, aka actress Kim Brand, who received her powers from Turan in the 14th issue. Her costume and abilities are identical to those of Troy.
Quote: "Holy hornets! Is it possible that mightium radiation from his form is doing this to me? The wings of death are hovering to enfold me . . . !"
Comment: For a brief period during his run in the '60s, the Fly was known as Flyman. After a 17- year hiatus, the comic resumed publication in 1983.
Alter Ego: Paul Patton
First Appearance: 1940, Blue Ribbon Comics #4, Archie Publications
Occupation: Staff photographer for the Daily Globe; later, freelance for the Globe and World Weekly, as well as occasional models shoots
Costume: Navy blue bodysuit, full-face cowl with pointed fox ears, gloves, boots (which are "harder than steel"); white eye slits; sometimes portrayed with a yellow foxface emblem on chest.
Tools and Weapons: The Fox-car, with bumpers that extend into battering rams. It also contains a tracker for the Fox's tracers. Because it's constructed of "a newly invented secret alloy," neither bullets, flame, bazookas, nor acid can harm the vehicle. The car's roof slides back at the touch of a button.
Biography: Angry with himself for continually bungling shots of crime as it's happening, the Manhattan-based photographer designs a camera which will fit in his belt and he decides to become a crimefighter, just to be on the scene when the law is broken. Experimenting with secret identities of the Zebra and Ape Lad, he settles upon the Fox, setting up headquarters in the Fox Den, located in the hollowed interior of a huge park monument. Despite his extraordinary fitness, however, after several years of two-fisted action the Fox gets cornered, beaten up, and left for dead in a trash-can by henchmen of a villain named Dragon-Head. Found by FBI agent Dave Chambers, who becomes his fast friend, the Fox goes to a martial arts master to remake himself. Not only does he hone himself physically, but mentally as well, by learning how to tap "revitalizing energy from a metaphysical source" deep within him. Returning to crime-busting, the Fox gives up his Fox-car and Fox Den, and prowls the streets like his namesake. During his 1940s incarnation, Paul's girlfriend was reporter Ruth Ransom. In the '60s, he switched his affection to a go-go dancer named Delilah Monaco who, in the '80s, opens her own school and becomes a modern dance instructor. In 1985, Ms. Monaco became the Fox's sidekick, the She-Fox. The non-super heroine dressed in a red bodysuit with a deep "V" neck, and a white sash belt and gloves. The Fox is a member of The Ultra-Men.
Quote: "Perhaps some disciple of Freud could dissect the compulsions which enable me to crusade effectively only in this jazzy costume!"
Comment:Patton's use of a concealed camera to take news pictures of himself in action is reminiscent of the M.O. of Peter Parker, the Amazing Spider-Man, who came along 22 years later. The Fox's costume is quite similar to that of DC's Wildcat and Marvel's Black Panther, both of whom he predated.
Alter Ego: Ralph Hardy
First Appearance: 1961, Adventures of the Jaguar #1, Harvey Comics
Costume: Red bodysuit; black, stylized jaguar face on chest; jaguar-skin boots and belt
Tools and Weapons: Twin jets on belt
Biography: While fleeing a giant dinosaur released by an earthquake in Peru, Hardy enters an ancient Incan temple. There he finds a jaguar-skin belt, which he later learns was made by one of the great Primal Powers, gods who ruled the animals of earth before the coming of humankind. An inscription on the reverse side of its flying jaguar buckle reads, "To be transformed into a human jaguar with supreme power over animals everywhere in the universe, the wearer need only say "The Jaguar." Donning the "nucleon energy" girdle, Hardy utters the magic words, becomes the Jaguar, defeats the dinosaur, and says his own name to turn back into Hardy. Thereafter, he travels the world doing good. In his superheroic identity, not only can Hardy communicate telepathically with animals, but his skin is as tough as "a rhinoceros' hide intensified a thousand times," he has "the strength of a million elephants," the battering power of "thousands of buffalo," can endure cold like "a hundred polar bears-in-one," and has "a thousand times the swimming skill of the otter." Jaguar can also travel in space. On the other hand, his eyes are vulnerable, and he can be stunned by "a million volts of electricity." Back at Hardy's zoological lab in a large U.S. city, Jill Ross serves as his secretary and love interest. She is the only person who knows Hardy's secret. Jaguar is a member of both The Terrific Three and The Mighty Crusaders.
Quote: "Telepathic signals from space! Semihuman creatures from Sagitus want me to fly to their world immediately."
Comment: A very juvenile comic which had a modest 15-issue run, also appearing in backup stories in Pep, Laugh, and other magazines.
THE MIRACLE MAN
Alter Ego: Zambini
First Appearance: 1940, Zip Comics #1, Archie Publications
Costume: Yellow bodyshirt; blue shawl, baggy pants, turban; red belt
Tools and Weapons: Red amulet which allows him to work magic
Biography: The Miracle Man used magic to fight crime.
Comment: Zambini tapped into the supernatural through Zip Comics #35. See also Ibis the Invincible and Doctor Strange.
Alter Ego: Prince James of England
First Appearance: 1941, Blue Ribbon Mystery Comics #9, Archie Publications
Costume: Ice-blue skin; white gloves, boots, trunks, cape, and high collar
Tools and Weapons: None
Biography: During the Rogers Rebellion in Scotland in 1040, England's 20-year-old Prince James is lured to a tower of Castle Firth and slain by assassins. Because his destiny was thwarted by human intervention, James' spirit is not allowed to rest. Trapped in the castle, he kills those who slew him, then does little else for centuries. Finally, in 1940, with the onset of war, the British dismantle his castle and ship it to the United States for safekeeping. However, the vessel is sunk by an enemy submarine, freeing James' spirit. Making his way to the U.S., James comes to be known as Mr. Justice, using powers derived from "the spectral planes" to protect others from the kind of foul play that ended his natural life. Among these powers are flight, the ability to travel freely underwater, and the capacity to generate forces which blast apart souls and bodies alike. Mr. Justice can travel about as a hazy blob of ectoplasm or as a corporeal being, in which form he can be harmed by fire. He is a member of The Terrific Three.
Quote: "Show me your evil while trying to elude me! It can only add fire to my already raging fury!"
Comment: The character and adventures of Mr. Justice are similar in tone to those of The Spectre.
THE SHIELD (1)
Alter Ego: Joe Higgins
First Appearance: 1940, Pep Comics #1, Archie Publications
Occupation: FBI agent
Costume: Red bodysuit; white stripes on the abdomen, front and back; blue shoulders, mask, and ankles; white stars on shoulders, chest, shins, and wrists
Tools and Weapons: None
Biography: Joe is a boy when his father, Tom, an FBI investigator, is killed in an explosion. Before dying, the amateur chemist tells the boy about a secret formula he'd been working on, code-named SHIELD. Joe goes to school and becomes a brilliant chemist, completing his father's formula and learning that SHIELD stands for Sacrum, Heart, Innervation, Eyes, Lungs, and Derma. However, before he is able to get the formula into those portions of his anatomy, Joe learns from an agent the identity of his father's killer. Impulsively going after the man, Joe is beaten and left at the site of another explosion. Severely injured, he drags himself back to his laboratory, realizing that the next time he tackles criminals, he'd better he ready for them. To get the formula into the SHIELD areas, he rubs it into his body, then dons a special suit containing a catalytic agent that, when bathed in fluoroscopic rays, will cause the formula to be absorbed. After lying under the rays for 12 hours, Joe finds his genetic structure altered so that he possesses super strength -- he can snap machine guns in two and at one point, holds up the collapsing Hudson Tunnel -- has the power to leap incredible distances, and is able to withstand both gunfire and temperatures up to 2000 degrees Fahrenheit. Symbolically jazzing up the equally indestructible suit with a patriotic theme, and carrying it around in a briefcase, he adopts the alter ego of The Shield. Joining the FBI, he tells only J. Edgar Hoover and long-time friend Col. Henry Boyle, the FBI's East coast director, about his superheroic identity. Joe's immediate superior, Lisa Carvin, is kept in the dark, however. Joe loses his powers in 1942 and, because he's unable to duplicate the formula, the suit becomes his sole source of strength. Marrying and having a son named Bill, The Shield continues crimefighting until he gets turned to iron with an ion-ray device while battling the Eraser. He remains in suspended animation for nearly 30 years, until The Comet finally revives him with an ion generator. Learning that his wife had died in 1969, The Shield resumes his crimefighting career, after discovering that his body has retained some of its iron strength. He took his son's place in The Mighty Crusaders (see The Shield ).
Quote: "I got him to talk by dangling him out of his office window and telling him my arm was getting tired."
Comment: For a time during the '40s, The Shield had a sidekick named Dusty, whose father was killed at an airplane factory during one of the hero's cases. His costume was similar except that it lacked stars and had a cape.
THE SHIELD (2)
Alter Ego: Lancelot Strong
First Appearance: 1959, The Double Life of Private Strong #1, Archie Publications
Occupation: Army captain
Costume: Blue bodysuit; red trunks, boots, gloves; white stars and red and white stripes on chest
Tools and Weapons: None
Biography: Lancelot Strong was born Roger Fleming, the son of Cooper City scientist Malcolm Fleming. Fleming's career is devoted to tapping the latent powers of the human brain, to make men "more than mere men." Testing his theories on his son, Malcolm keeps the boy in a germ-free environment within a huge bubble, at the same time feeding him micro-electrical stimuli through a specially designed helmet. When fellow scientists threaten to bring Malcolm up on charges of mistreating his child, the scientist drives off with his son. But they're pursued by communists who want Fleming's secrets; trying to elude them, Fleming drives off a cliff. The child survives and is found by Fairfield County farmers Abel and Martha Strong. They raise him as their own and, years later, when he returns to the overgrown wreckage of his father's van, Lancelot finds a notebook which explains powers he never realized he had: the ability to survive extremes of temperature which would kill other living organisms, to see in the dark, to hurl self-generated bolts of lightning, to spend extended periods underwater, to leap as far as a cannonball, and to move with super speed so great that he can actually duck a bullet once it has been fired. Lancelot also finds a costume which his father intended him to wear when, according to a notebook, he "protects all mankind from the forces that would cause it harm." Drafted into the army, Lancelot becomes a career soldier. Assigned to the tank division at Fort Patton, he is later transferred to Fort Sherman in the Midwest, where he works his way up to captain. Strong was a member of The Mighty Crusaders -- along with the original Shield.
Quote: "A young hillbilly recruit can do little against an evil super mind like Doctor Diablo! I'll make better progress as the Shield!"
Comment: The origin of this Shield is a cross between that of Gladiator and Superman -- right down to his adoptive mother being called Martha, as in the latter strip. Originally drawn by Jack Kirby.
THE SHIELD (3)
Alter Ego: Bill Higgins
First Appearance: 1965, Mighty Crusaders #1, Archie Publications
Costume: Identical to that of the Shield (1).
Tools and Weapons: Chemicals to mix as explosives and corrosives; electronic "bugs" for eavesdropping.
Biography: Bill Higgins is the son of Joe Higgins, the original Shield, who was petrified by the Eraser. Donning a spare Shield costume, he vows to continue his father's work. Possessing no super abilities of his own, Bill relies entirely on his own brawn plus the suit's resistance to bullets and fire. Sadly, in his private life, Bill is a total washout and at times seems cursed. Genuinely clumsy, he can't hold down a job; when his girlfriend Nancy Zenith hires him to work in her employment agency, not a soul comes looking for a job and she is forced to fire him. When his father is revived by The Comet, Bill gives up super- heroing and joins the air force. During the '60s, The Shield was a member of The Mighty Crusaders.
Quote: "How cruel fate can be! I'm a maddening combo of fab hero utter shnook!"
Comment: Bill Higgins is a troubled character who slips into his Shield guise when he feels oppressed by life.
Alter Ego: John Sterling
First Appearance: 1940, Zip Comics #1, Archie Publications
Occupation: Private detective
Costume: Red T-shirt, blue trunks and boots
Tools and Weapons: The Sterling Scooter, which rides on columns of compressed air. The mini-car's gadgets include a heat ray, magnetic-attractor for disarming enemies, repulsion force gun, and seismo-dial for detecting earthquakes. He also possesses an antigravity belt for flying. Both devices were used only briefly in the '60s. Steel Sterling's costume is made of metallic fiber that is impervious to gunfire.
Biography: When his father was killed by gangsters, young John decided to become a crime-fighter. Studying chemistry, he searched for something to give him an edge in his battle; what he found was a formula which, theoretically, would give his body the properties of steel. Coating himself with the formula, he hesitated before taking the last step -- diving into a cauldron of molten steel. Mustering the courage, he jumped in and emerged with tissue as mighty and impervious as metal, with magnetic properties to boot. Rather than adopt a secret identity per se, John pretended that the superhero was his brother; this gambit proved cumbersome, however, and was abandoned after several issues in favor of John being Steel Sterling around-the-clock. Although John can be dominated by magic or dazed by a blow on the head, his greatest worries are solar flare-ups, which cause his powers to ebb. Otherwise, not even an artillery shell fired point-blank can penetrate his skin. His other powers include muscles of steel and the ability to rub his electrolized tongue against his teeth to tap telephone wires, the sound coming from his mouth. Sterling's companion is his pet dog Honcho. Steel Sterling is a member of The Terrific Three.
Quote: "As long there are evil master-minds, we super cats will continue our ultrafight to see that right always triumphs! Ye Ye!"
Comment:In a 1983retelling of the origin story, Sterling is hypnotized by a star, which compels him to walk through the flames at an iron foundry, whence he gets his powers. The star thereafter leads him to a garbage pail where his costume has mysteriously been planted.Like Superman, Steel Sterling is known in his adventures as the Man of Steel.
Alter Ego: John Raymond
First Appearance: 1942, Zip Comics #42, Archie Publications
Occupation: Professor of Criminology
Costume: Bodysuit, green on right, yellow on left; trunks yellow on right, green on left; gloves green on left, yellow on right; boots green on right, yellow on left; green mask; green mesh cape; green belt with web buckle.
Tools and Weapons: None
Biography: When John was a child, his brother Tom was a juvenile lawbreaker. Tom continued his wicked ways and ended up in jail while John, trying to understand what made his brother evil, studied psychology and criminology. Unsatisfied simply lecturing about crime, he became The Web, snaring criminals in events of their own making. He possesses no abilities beyond his criminology training and physically fit physique. The Web is married to the former Rose Wayne who, in the '40s, forced him to give up his superheroic career. But he compulsively returned to it in the '60s and, since then, his forays into crimefighting have been the source of frequent domestic squabbles. Rose deals with her husband's "hobby" by going home to mother, taking jobs, and on one occasion becoming a superhero herself, Pow Girl. For his part, Raymond is frequently undercut by his age and slowed reflexes. The Web is a member of The Ultra-Men.
Quote: "Spin your web of crime, you creatures of evil. Yes . . . spin it strong, spin it cleverly, spin it any way you will! But you can't escape The Web!"
Comment: At one point in the chronicles of The Web Raymond is referred to as a forensic doctor and as a mystery writer. However, these are not considered his "official" trades. The Web remains a part of the Archie superhero lineup.
Alter Ego: Blane Whitney
First Appearance: 1939, Top-Notch #1, Archie Publications
Occupation: Newspaper publisher
Costume - Original: tuxedo, top hat, cape and red mask
Costume - Second (issue #7): blue bodysuit; red trunks, cape, domino mask
Tools and Weapons: Dynamagno-Saw Ray Projector; H2-VX-0 Ray; Secret Formula F22X.
Biography: Training himself from youth to be a "Super-Brain," Blane reaches the point where he not only has a photographic mind extraordinaire, but can actually see events which are taking place miles away -- "super-sensory perception," as he christens it. Turning to crimefighting, he is blinded during one of his early adventures; after a successful eye operation which reinstates his sight, he resolves to protect himself and, in his lab, creates a costume which renders him invulnerable. The Wizard's sidekick, Roy the Superboy, was introduced in Top-Notch #8. A shoeshine boy, he happens upon some thugs working over a victim; when the criminals try to grab him too, The Wizard comes to his aid. Adopting and training him, The Wizard dresses him in a white- and red-striped shirt with blue trunks, and gives him his equally flashy new name. Among their most interesting foes were the Purple Mafia and the Jingler. The great-great grandson of Gen. Steven Whitney, a Revolutionary War hero, Blane also has a brother named Grover, Chief of Naval Intelligence in Washington. Blane's favorite game is polo.
Quote: "Ah! The Borentals plan to bomb the Panama Canal. I must get to the Canal before they do!"
Comment: The Wizard appeared in one magazine or another for a total of five years.
Originally published in The Encyclopedia of Superheroes by Jeff Rovin, copyright 1985.
Published by Facts on File Publications, New York, New York.
pp. 26-27 - The Black Hood (1)
p.27 - The Black Hood (2)
pp. 27-28 - Black Jack
p. 38 - Bob Phantom
p. 51 - Captain Commando
pp. 71-72 - The Comet
p. 106 - The Falcon
p. 111 - Fireball
pp. 112-113 - Firefly
p. 117 - The Fly
p. 118 - The Fox
pp. 157-158 - The Jaguar
p. 193 - The Miracle Man
p. 197 - Mr. Justice
pp. 261-262 - The Shield (1)
p. 262 - The Shield (2)
pp. 262-263 - The Shield (3)
pp. 284-285 - Steel Sterling
pp. 330-331 - The Web
p. 335 - The Wizard