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13 & Jinx

illustration copyright Richard Boucher


First Appearance: Daredevil Comics #3, September 1941
Created by Dick Wood & Bernard Klein

In a small town, buried in the maze of rising hills which cover New England's picturesque Vermont, Harold Higgins was born. And with his birth on Friday the thirteenth, the hand of Fate placed a bony hand against his throat and proclaimed him possessor of a fearsome plague to man -- the curse of "13", nemesis number of all time. Such was the beginning.

Time passed swiftly in the younger days of Harold Higgins. The curse had not gained power enough to strike hard and ruthlessly. True, the years were marked with numerous moments of bad luck. A broken leg on the 13th of the month, a failure in History when he turned in his thirteenth essay, these and many other minor tragedies studded his childhood. But they were insignificant, troublesome as mosquito bites, compared with what was to come.

Ironically, it was on his thirteenth birthday that the first great blow fell. Even the weather seemed to be fiendishly playing a part in the gruesome melodrama which took place that night. The skies were lashed with lightning, and solid walls of water pounded out of the heavens to forge miniature rivers which surged down the mountain side.

The Higgins home sparkled with light from every window ... For tonight was party night -- a gala celebration for Harold Higgins. No one was enjoying the evening more than Hal, as he and some thirty school friends frolicked the evening away. But that wasn't the only reason he felt brisker than usual. Tonight he was in the very special company of his best girl, Helen; and this was a rare treat, for Helen now lived in Boston, a good many miles away, which made it difficult to see much of her.

They slipped away from the festivities for a while and talked over old times on the closed-in porch. When they returned, a "guessing" game was in progress. Couples were seated together on the floor in a semi-circle around the room. One space was left open as room for Helen and Hal. Good-naturedly, they started to take their places. Then, suddenly, Harold Higgins paused and counted the couples slowly. He felt the blood drain from his cheeks and the cold prick of an icicle pierce his spine. HELEN AND HE WOULD BE THE THIRTEENTH IN LINE!

Quickly Helen leaped to her place and laughingly pulled him down beside her. The game began.

The turns quickly rotated around the circle. Now it was Helen's turn to make a guess. She rose to her feet, smiling -- prepared to guess right or pay the forfeit. But Helen didn't speak! Then, or ever again! At this moment, like a flashing juggernaut of death, the chandelier ripped loose from a damp ceiling overhead and hurtled downward ... The birthday party of Harold Higgins had ended, minus love and laughter.

After this, the trail of tragedy followed the life of Harold Higgins closely. "Thirteen" became an obsession in his mind as the years passed and death struck at his family one by one and all on this fatal date. Finally ... he lost his job as a newspaper reporter on this date. This, of course, was a very minor event compared to what he had suffered on the thirteenth at other times. But it wasn't an insignificant event to crime.

It was on this day that Harold Higgins decided to fight with all the might he could muster in body and soul and break the terrible jinx that ran his life. It was then that a startling new figure burst into the annals of crime and fought not only with his fists but with a strange new type of weapon ... FEAR. Twisting the ugly superstition of "13" into a boomerang, Hal Higgins has taken it as a name and instilled within the heart of every criminal the country over, a dread bordering on hysteria.

[text by Dick Wood]


First Appearance: Daredevil Comics #5, September 1941
Created by Dick Wood & Bernard Klein

The story opens in the Creig residence, where young Darrel Crieg, heir to his father's steel fortune, reads studiously ("How to Box", little knowing how useful this talent will soon become). He is unaware that the jealous mind of his uncle Moldon is conspiring to kill him, so that Moldon alone will inherit the Creig fortune.

Accompanied by Moldon's assistant, Travers, the trio visit the Statue of Liberty; Moldon bribes a guard to let them go up to the top of the torch. They have barely arrived and are peering at the spectacular view when Travers pushes Darrel over the edge!

With impossible luck, the heroic Thirteen suddenly swoops down, grabbing Darrel and spinning around a pinnacle on the statue's head. Appalled by his uncle's activities, Darrel assists Thirteen and the pair of them make short work of Moldon Creig and Travers.

Thirteen explains: "I got hold of a sabotage plan smuggled into the country in an Egyptian Buddha [an understandably rare artifact] -- the Statue of Liberty was to be blown up to destroy morale -- guess they were scared off -- I've a boat hidden off the reef -- let's get ashore!" Unmindful that they are now leaving the Statue unattended, the pair start out, unmindful that they are being watched through a pair of binoculars. The saboteurs had not been scared off, but have changed their plans: they are going to profit by assassinating Thirteen [these are clearly mercenaries rather than loyalists].

Darrel suggests that since he's now all alone, he assist Thirteen in fighting crime. Thirteen just says, "We'll see," but hurries along back to his apartment before someone notices his costume, entering it through the fire escape to avoid suspicion [obviously there's nothing suspicious about a man in a bright blue tunic and red cape and mask breaking into an apartment via the fire escape]. All the while, the news of Thirteen's true address has traveled through gangdom, and the district gang leader issues an order to polish him off.

Meanwhile, Darrel Creig is sporting his new duds: a blue tunic with a cat head on the chest, blue shorts, a red cape and eye mask. "Gee! This is swell!" he poses, displaying his lack of fashion sense, "Bet I could beat an army now." Thirteen decides that since Darrel is 13 years old, they will call him JINX. "Wow, that's great!" Darrel responds. "I sure appreciate your taking me in, Thirteen. But before we start out I think I'd better take a nap!" [after all, crimefighting is strenuous work]

Moments later, there is a knock at the door, announcing a telegram. Thirteen, still in costume, opens the door a crack for the message to be slipped through, but into the room surges a mob of revengeful gangsters. Thirteen battles strenuously but their superior weight and numbers win out. But just as the lead gangster is prepared to stab Thirteen through the heart, Jinx bashes him across the head with a desk fan hurled from the bedroom, and then hurls himself at the attackers. With the benefit of surprise, the pals finish off the mob.

Just then they hear police sirens (doubtless called by a neighbor), and decide to escape up to the roof, quickly plowing through another pair of gangsters on the way. They duck behind a chimney and don their civilian clothes.

Minutes later, they return to the apartment. "For gosh sakes, explains Harold Higgins (Thirteen), "what happened?" "Sorry Mr. Higgens," replies one of the policemen, getting his name wrong, "Some sort of gang war. They claim Thirteen was here!" "Looks like a tornado struck!" observes Darrel.

"I think this Thirteen stuff is all a gag -- aye kid?" Harold Higgins winks at his new ward. "It sure is," he winks back, "No one could be that tough!"

[I wonder whether the fact that Jinx is independently wealthy was ever touched on again in the series? Somehow I doubt it.]