The Many Deaths
Given the fact that the average super-heroine looks like she stepped out of a beauty contest swimsuit competition, one would think a character named Miss America would get some respect. No such luck. Some of the biggest names in comics, from Roy Thomas to Mark Waid to James Robinson, have tried to kill her!
There were actually two super-women named Miss America. The first, Joan Dale, appeared in the first seven issues of Quality's Military Comics during 1941 and vanished from the stands around the time of the Pearl Harbor. Late in 1943, Timely snatched up the name for Madeline Joyce in the pages of Marvel Mystery # 49. More successful than her predecessor, the new Miss America even managed five issues of her own title and membership in the All-Winner's Squad ( All Winners # 19, 21) along with stories in All Select # 11 and Blonde Phantom # 12-14. Her run in Marvel Mystery ended with a ten-part serial (# 76-85) and Sun Girl # 1 (1 948 ) marked her final Golden Age appearance.
The comic book that bore her name, transformed into a magazine with its second issue, survived Miss America by a decade and finally ended with its 126th issue (identified as # 93 thanks to a bizarre numbering system).
In 1974, Roy Thomas decided to revive the latter Miss America for use in Marvel's Giant-Size Avengers # 1...and immediately killed her. Thomas revealed that Madeline had married Robert (The Whizzer) Frank, another Golden Age hero, and given birth to a mutated son who grew up to become the villainous Nuklo in the present. Madeline died after a second pregnancy and an inconsolable Whizzer fled into the night, leaving his newborn twins behind.
According to G-SA # 1, the offspring of Bob and Madeline Frank were the present-day Avengers known as Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch. It seemed a logical deduction, given the facts that Quicksilver shared the Whizzer's speed and the Scarlet Witch, like Miss America, was an auburn-haired heroine dressed predominantly in red. A revisionist take on the the story in 1979's Avengers # 185-187, asserted that Madeline's second child had died with its mother. In an attempt to placate Robert Frank, an abandoned set of twins were presented to him as his own children.
As most Marvel fans know, the true parents of Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch were X-Men villain Magneto and his estranged wife Magda. In an interview in 1982's X-Men Companion II, John Byrne noted that "the first time I drew Magneto with his helmet off it struck me that he looked like Quicksilver and looking back over all the years at all the stuff that happened between them, it suddenly seemed a more logical thing, since I hated the Whizzer thing." Byrne and Mark Gruenwald had initially toyed with bringing up the subject in a Quicksilver episode in Marvel Premiere but ultimately it came to light in the Byrne-illustrated run of Avengers . Magneto's role in the scenario was hinted at in a cameo in the simultaneously published X-Men # 125 and effectively spelled out in Avengers # 192's text page. But all of that is another story.
Despite having perished in her first modern appearance, Miss America continued to make frequent appearances in the 1970s as part of Roy Thomas' World War Two-era teams, the Liberty Legion and the Invaders.
When Thomas left Marvel for DC in 1981, one of his first assignments was another 1942-based group, this one known as the All-Star Squadron. The team's membership was open to all of DC's Golden Age heroes as well as those DC purchased from Quality Comics in the 1950s. It was inevitable, then, that Thomas would use the original version. In what has to stand as a unique (if dubious) achievement, he became perhaps the only writer in comics history to revive two different Golden Age characters with the same name and kill them both in their first modern appearance.
In late 1983/early 1984's All-Star Squadron # 31-32, a flashback to December 7, 1941 (the very period that Joan Dale's final adventure in Military # 7 had appeared) related Uncle Sam's attempt to stave off an attack on Pearl Harbor on the parallel world of Earth-X. Gathering a group of minor Quality heroes (including Miss America), Uncle Sam watched as his squad perished in the ensuing clash.
Or so it seemed. One of the effects of DC's 1985 Crisis On Infinite Earths mini-series was the elimination of its parallel Earths. If Earth-X had never existed, then Miss America and company had never been killed. Crisis had also resulted in a revision of Wonder Woman's history that erased her from the histories of both the Justice Society and the Justice League. And therein lies a tale.
In 1988, DC had plans to do a Justice League episode for Secret Origins , a revised account of Justice League of America # 9's battle with the Appellax aliens. In plotting the story, Keith Giffen and newly-installed editor Mark Waid were attempting to deal with the absence of Wonder Woman when Waid recalled Roy Thomas' forthcoming origin for Miss America.
Waid later commented (in Secret Origins # 37), that "as she was a long-forgotten character, Keith and I talked about making her Wonder Woman's replacement in the League and doing the story pretty much as you read it -- up until the ending, which would have involved a far different battle with the aliens, one in which Miss America would sacrifice her life for her teammates, thus prompting the remaining four heroes to name the group in her honor.
"Well, this lasted for about an hour and a half, until a quick phone call to Roy revealed that Mr. Thomas had plans for Miss America in upcoming issues of Young All-Stars and Infinity, Inc. -- plans that kind of called for her being alive and all." In the end, Black Canary filled the vacancy in the League and Miss America dodged the bullet again.
Roy Thomas had his own set of Crisis -induced problems, of course. The Golden Age incarnation Wonder Woman had been a major player in the JSA and her daughter, codenamed Fury, was a member of the present-day Infinity, Inc. His solution was to create an earlier version of Fury (alias Helena Kosmatos), one who could both serve as member of the All-Star Squadron in the 1940s and as mother to the younger Fury. She was introduced in Secret Origins # 12 ( 1987 ).
Thomas was hesitant about revealing too much about the earlier Fury's post-war career and decided that the younger Lyta (Fury) Trevor was raised by adoptive parents. Enter Miss America. Joan Dale Trevor and her husband Derek were introduced in Infinity, Inc. . # 48 ( 1988 ), with # 49 filling in her background.
It was here that we learned that Miss America filled Wonder Woman's slot in the Justice Society and not the original Fury. After the JSA's 1951 retirement, Joan's powers faded away and she married Derek Trevor soon after. Several years later, Fury sought out the Trevors and asked them to take her infant daughter as their own before disappearing "to wherever she'd been all those years."
A month later, Thomas went back in time with that aforementioned story in Secret Origins # 26. In addition to Miss America's origin, Roy also retained her "death" on December 7, 1941 (minus the Earth-X angle). In this version, Joan survived and became a part of the All-Star Squadron ( Young All-Stars # 12-14).
Young All-Stars # 31 ( 1989 ) marked Miss America's final appearance in the current DC Universe although Neil Gaiman again related the story of Lyta's adoption by the Trevors in The Sandman # 57 ( 1994 ). It's doubtful that more than a handful of readers caught the significance of a subsequent monologue by an elderly woman named Helena in # 62.
During a discussion of abuses towards women, Helena revealed that "I spent two decades looking for the man who had killed a person I loved. I hounded him for year after year after year, across the world... I found him at last , in Brighton, in England in the winter: a gray, sad town. It is a cold place, England... Eventually, I killed him. First, though, I destroyed his life." Summing up, Helena concluded that "after my task was over, the life went out of me, and I came here" to a nursing home in the English countryside. Gaiman had revealed the fate of the original Fury and almost no one noticed.
In 1993, DC published James Robinson and Paul Smith's four-issue mini-series, The Golden Age . It was a gripping account of the post-war lives of the All-Star Squadron and one of its pivotal players was Miss America. In a cute touch, she wound up romantically involved with Tex Thomson, an old DC hero known as Mister America. This version of Thomson was anything but heroic, though. Now an influential politician, Thomson had an insatiable thirst for power that forced a terrified Joan Dale to seek out her old teammates.
At a special session of Congress, with dozens of costumed heroes in attendance, Miss America unexpectedly approached the podium and delivered a stirring oration on America as a segue into a horrifying revelation. The real Tex Thomson had been murdered and replaced years earlier by the Ultra-Humanite. Before she could speak further, Joan was gruesomely decapitated on the villain's orders. Now exposed to the world, the Ultra-Humanite was killed by Manhunter in the ensuing melee.
Robinson had written the story to be a part of the "real " DC Universe's history. Unfortunately, the story he delivered proved irreconcilable with said history. Given the errors, from minor details like spelling Tex Thomson's name as "Thompson" to the demise of Joan Dale that was a central part of the climax, DC chose to release the story under its "Elseworlds" banner. Miss America had cheated the Grim Reaper for a third time.
Enter John Byrne. Having previously excised Marvel's incarnation of Miss America from the origin of Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch, Byrne appeared to have undone Roy Thomas' handiwork again in the pages of 1998's Wonder Woman # 130-133. Over the course of the story, Queen Hippolyta, who'd temporarily assumed the persona of Wonder Woman, travelled back to July of 1942 and decided to stay there for an extended period as a member of the Justice Society of America. Upon her defeat of Dark Angel in November of 1950 (Adventure Comics 80-Page Giant # 1), Hippolyta returned to the present just hours after she'd left ( WW # 133).
A closer examination revealed that Byrne had contradicted nothing, having coincidentally set his story in July of 1942, just weeks after Miss America's appearance in Young All-Stars # 31. In the newly revised history, Wonder Woman and Miss America were both members of the JSA though Joan Dale would certainly have been overshadowed by the Amazing Amazon. Indeed, given the existence of the younger Fury, who regarded herself as a JSA offspring, Miss America's absence from the roster would create a void that Hippolyta could not fill. Phil Jimenez has singlehandedly supported Joan Dale's continued JSA ties in locations such as a dream sequence in late 1998's JLA/Titans # 2 and the cover of 2000's Titans # 18.
Representing the opposing viewpoint is current JSA co-writer Geoff Johns, who is on record as stating that Byrne's installation of Wonder Woman in the Justice Society effectively erased Miss America's involvement with the 1940s team. Consequently, Joan Dale was absent from the high-profile "JSA Returns" event of 1999, went unmentioned in the subsequent JSA Secret Files and has yet to be acknowledged in the current series.
Though Marvel's incarnation of Miss America continues to rest in peace, DC's version may have met a fate more permanent than any of those inflicted on her in the past. Her figurative death at the hands of a retroactive continuity implant may bring about the doom that Miss America has escaped for so long.
There She Is ... Miss America!
"Miss America, in reality Joan Dale, a reporter, is a typical American girl upon whom the spirit of the Statue of Liberty has bestowed magical powers ..." Well, not really. But in 1941, it made a good story. And that scenario was, in fact, precisely how the first installment of Miss America's strip began in mid-1941's Military Comics # 1 (illustrated by Elmer Wexler), a comic book that DC reissued as a Millennium Edition in 2000.
On a visit to Bedloe's Island in New York City, Joan Dale had patriotically wished for "the powers that the Statue of Liberty must possess" and, lo and behold, she went into a trance and found herself face-to-face with the spirit of liberty herself: "I heard what you said and I'm going to give you my magic powers so that you may give your country the help it needs!! Promise you will do her best!" The reporter agreed but was convinced that she'd dreamed the whole thing -- until she caused a tree to disappear with the wave of her hand ... and defended an old man who preached against fascism by transforming his attackers into doves.
"Girls like you are the real Spirit of America," the grateful patriot told her. "You're the real Miss America!" Inspired, Joan took the name as her own and put her skills to work as covered a story on industrial sabotage at the Burtis Airplane Company. Joan's investigation revealed that the aircraft firm's owner was secretly orchestrating the attacks but the local F.B.I. administrator (later identified as Tim Healy) dismissed her claims as fantasy. Forced to take action herself, Miss America blew up two saboteurs with their own bomb and then threatened to shoot the airplane exec in his home if he didn't write a confession. Joan Dale clearly took freedom of the press to the extreme.
Roy and Dann Thomas (along with artist Grant Miehm) put a slightly different spin on that sequence of events when they recounted the character's history some 47 years later in Secret Origins # 26 ( 1988 ). In this account, Joan Dale had visited the home of the Statue of Liberty in order to meet an anonymous source and she was a bit less starry-eyed when she lost consciousness and was endowed with the supposed powers of Lady Liberty. In fact, though Joan wouldn't learn the truth for another year, she'd actually been lured to the island and gassed into unconsciousness by an agent of a secret government super-soldier project. "Project M" hoped to use the reporter (whom they'd initially believed was a male named John ) as a subject in an experiment and, despite the confusion in gender, the project's Professor Mazursky chose to go through with the experiment.
Still unconscious, Joan was subjected to a Molecular Condenser only to have the unit erupt with feedback and electricity. Convinced that the reporter had been rendered irreparably brain-damaged, Mazursky hastily instructed Agent X to return Joan to the park bench where she'd lost consciousness. The professor had been wrong, of course, and a dazed Joan awoke after her imagined vision of the Statue of Liberty. "How could I know the machine had altered her somehow," Mazursky would rhetorically ask months later, "so that, instead of making her strong, she'd gained the ability to rearrange the molecules of solid objects just by focusing on them mentally ?"
In fact, Joan could do more than simply transform objects. She could also levitate objects, from the bomb that the saboteurs threw at her to the gun that the leader had held. She also had a degree of psychic ability and learned the location of the saboteurs by gazing into a metal fragment at the bombed-out factory. Once she'd ascertained the whereabouts of the base, Miss America teleported herself to New Jersey.
By Military # 2 (where Tom Hickey had assumed the art duties), Miss America's powers had settled back to simple transmutation. Or as simple as a power that animates everything from chairs to wax mannequins can be. For her second adventure, Joan was called upon to help Polish-American Hugo Wolsak defy the Fifth Columnists who wanted him to serve as a spy while, in the third, she exposed an engraver at the Daily Star as a forger of U.S. Defense Bonds. Though she was ambiguous with details, Joan took credit for the capture and got kudos from the F.B.I. contact whom she'd met earlier. Joan's editor at the Star was another story. He laughed that she'd just been lucky and, furious, she vowed to quit.
She made good on her promise in Military # 4 ( writer and artist unknown ) and stormed down to the local F.B.I. office in search of Timothy Jefferson Healy, who'd offered her a place in agency if she ever wanted it. Unfortunately, the position in question was secretarial. "Oh, well," she sighed in Secret Origins # 26, "Considering I've already quit my newspaper job -- I'll take what I can get ."
(Agent Healy's name and appearance, it should be noted, don't quite gibe in the original series and the subsequent Secret Origins tale. He was a black-haired man named Tim in Military but had tan hair and the name of Jeff in the latter.)
For her first unofficial F.B.I. mission, Joan confronted a group of Latin musicians whom she'd long suspected of fascism only to be captured, imprisoned in a trunk and thrown into the river. Up to this point, Joan had worn an unadorned red dress and operated strictly behind the scenes. Now, as she burst free of her bonds, she had a new look that gave Miss America a distinct identity.
The costume, the product of her transmutation power according to SO # 26, was composed of a blue cape, sleeveless red blouse, blue belt, red & white striped skirt and red slippers. Roy Thomas would add the retroactive tweak of a blue-black domino mask to hide Joan's features. Appropriately for a costume that was created from whole cloth every time it was worn, the outfit evolved to include a solid white skirt (# 5) and then a a red & white striped blouse with a blue, starr-trimmed skirt (# 6). Military # 6's costume was refined further in issue # 7 with the addition of sleeve's to the blouse and a conspicious eagle belt buckle.
In the remainder of the story, Miss America quashed the sneak attack on a miltary base that Ramon and his saboteurs were coordinating. Throughout the battle, she employed such tricks as transforming the Nazi planes into chickens (or, in the SO account, detonating the explosives aboard the bombers). In a final touch worthy of latter-day hero Firestorm, Miss America stripped the musical saboteurs of their clothing, leaving them with nothing but barrels to preserve their modesty. "Boys," she joked, "now you look like taxpayers!"
Buoyed by the success of her first public mission, Joan returned to Agent Healy only to find herself immediately shot down: "Well, well ... look who's here. Do you know that saboteurs have been running rampant ? A boat-load was just picked up. It's lucky the Sergeant's a friend of mine and called up."
Joan stormed out of the office, slamming the door and shattering the glass. "I don't know why I joined the F.B.I.! The newspaper game was such a swell business!"
In much the same vein, issue # 5 found Miss America dismantling a spy haven on the New England coast and, as Joan, doing a slow burn when Healy trivialized her own contributions. Alerted to his secretary's suspicions of a "crime school" for kids ( Military # 6), Tim sighed, "Easy, Joan -- that's not our department. Why don't you go out for a walk ... and cool off."
Joan was anything but cool when she marched out and, as Miss America, she ultimately linked the so-called "Anti-Crime Club" ("He shows us how to steal so we'll never be tempted.") to Nazis and confronted the saboteurs at a steel mill. In a startling display reminiscent of the Spectre, Miss America bathed the storm troopers in "white-hot steel," shrunk them into toy soldiers and had them march through a puddle of water where they evaporated into steam. Small wonder that the kids of the Anti-Crime Club shuddered, "No more crime for us!!"
Miss America continued to dispense rough justice in Military # 7, where she took on the Moth, a plainclothes bandit whose thefts of silk had stymied the F.B.I. In the space of seven panels, Miss America transformed a bundle of silk into a fireman's hose to extinguish a warehouse blaze and then converted the water from the hose into a stream of fire that she aimed at the escaping Moth's plane. In a ghastly (if symbolically appropriate) demise, the Moth died an agonizing death when he flew too close to the flame.
Military Comics # 7 hit newsstands on December 10, 1941, arriving in a United States quite different than it had been the Wednesday before. As her country entered World War Two, Miss America quietly made her exit, replaced in issue # 8 by a very different heroine, one more appropriate for a world at war -- the freedom fighter known as X of the Underground.
The fate of Miss America would remain a mystery for more than four decades before Roy Thomas finally revealed that the heroine had died in the inaugural mission of the Freedom Fighters. Alongside several other heroes whose respective series had ended around that time, Miss America made a futile attempt at preventing the Japanese invasion of Pearl Harbor on the parallel world of Earth-X and lost her life in the process (1984's All-Star Squadron # 31-32). Or so it seemed.
Despite the removal of parallel worlds from the DC Universe's history, Roy decided to retain the Freedom Fighters' doomed attempt to avert the Pearl Harbor invasion. This time around, Joan's comatose body had been retrieved by operatives of Project M, where Professor Mazursky vowed to "learn what we did to her -- and precisely how to do it to millions of young men. Until that day, Joan Dale, alias Miss America stays here -- and she stays officially dead " ( Secret Origins # 26).
And that was the case for six months. On May 20, 1942, the Project was brought to the attention of the Young All-Stars, who'd been desperately seeking assistance for their teammate Fury ( Young All-Stars # 12). Predictably, the visit to Project M was not without incident, with villains ranging from the Ultra-Humanite to Deathbolt to Per Degaton to Mekanique and even Fury's deadly alter-ego, the Blood Avenger, all figuring into the mix. And ironically, it was one of the marauders who finally, if unintentionally, succeeded in reviving the comatose Joan Dale. While escaping from his captors, Deathbolt unleashed an electrical discharge that awakened Miss America ( YA-S # 14).
Though disoriented and out of shape from her long sleep, Miss America was thrilled when the Justice Society of America offered her a position in their ranks. Until she found out that it would be in the capacity of secretary. Again. All things considered, though, it was a change for her to acclimate to a wartime United States and she accepted the offer with good grace ( Young All-Stars Annual # 1).
Her first priority, though, was dealing with the repercussions of Joan Dale's six-month disappearance. One might speculate that Joan renewed her ties with Agent Tim Healy, finally revealing the secret of her alter-ego and working with him to concoct a cover story that explained her long absence. Certainly, Healy would have been delighted to have someone affiliated with the F.B.I. in the JSA ranks, a role that Plastic Man had already filled in the All-Star Squadron. Whatever the case, after Miss America had been left in the dust following her first JSA meeting, she took off for Manhattan for a "late date with an F.B.I. man" ( Young All-Stars # 27).
Whether it was her gender or her F.B.I. ties, Miss America was never quite accepted by the Justice Society. Particularly painful was the team's installation of Wonder Woman as a full member ( Wonder Woman [ current ] # 133) only weeks after Joan had accepted the lowly secretarial position. Miss America persevered, joining the All-Star Squadron on a late June mission in Brazil ( Young All-Stars # 31) and a major conflict with Vandal Savage in Belgium during August of 1944 ( Damage # 12; also glimpsed in Action Comics # 516 and DCU Villains Secret Files # 1). More typically, though, Joan played spokesperson for the group or posed for publicity photos like a 1942 shot in which she converted a War Bond into a bomb ( Infinity, Inc. # 49).
On a mission in early February of 1945, the JSA discovered a stranded pilot Derek Trevor on a remote island near Australia. Joan found herself smitten with the pilot and decided to stay with him on the isle for a few weeks until he'd made a full recovery ( Infinity, Inc. # 48). Ironically, the decision cost Miss America her involvement in one of the biggest cases in the wartime Justice Society's history -- their battle with the forces of Stalker ( All-Star Comics [ second series ] # 1-2).
After the war, perhaps feeling guilt over their benign neglect of Joan in the past few years, the Justice Society finally named Miss America a member in full and she participated in at least a few notable cases, among them 1948's "Invasion From Fairyland" ( Infinity, Inc. # 50, based on All-Star Comics # 39) and 1950's "Circus of 1,000 Thrills" ( Infinity, Inc. # 49, based on All-Star Comics # 54). After Wonder Woman left the JSA in late 1950 to return to her future time period ( Adventure Comics 80-Page Giant # 1), Miss America imagined that she'd finally come into her own on the team. She couldn't have been more wrong.
In February of 1951, Joan learned that the Justice Society was going to be accused of being communists and called before a Congressional Sub-Committee. At the F.B.I.'s insistence, Miss America was forced to sit out the session. She flinched when she later read a transcript of the chairman's request that the team reveal their true identities: "Perhaps it would be best if you were cleared for security. The process is much like Miss America went through with the Federal Bureau of Investigation" ( Hawkworld # 21, with dialogue paraphrased from Adventure Comics # 466). Feeling like a traitor to the team, Miss America retired at that point and married Derek Trevor. She'd later claim that her powers had begun to fade away ( Infinity, Inc. # 49) but that may have simply been an excuse.
Joan and Derek had been unable to have children but were nonetheless content with their life together in Virginia. Ironically, they would unexpectedly become parents in the 1970s, by which point many of their friends were grandparents. Not long after her revival in 1942, Miss America had formed a friendship with the teenage Fury of the All-Star Squadron, rooted in their mutual love-hate relationships with men and their subordinate positions as secretaries for their respective teams ( Young All-Stars # 27). The friendship lessened as Fury formed a maternal bond with Wonder Woman ( Legends of the DC Universe # 31) but the Greek young woman never lost her respect for Joan Dale. Thus, decades later, Helena "Fury" Kosmatos brought her infant daughter Hippolyta to the Trevors and asked them to raise the child as their own while she embarked on a mysterious mission from which she might never return. Her one stipulation: Lyta must never know her birth mother's identity ( Infinity, Inc. # 49; The Sandman # 57).
Lyta's presence in the Trevor household proved a blessing of sorts. Many of the Justice Society members had recently become parents themselves and the former Miss America found herself renewing her ties with her former teammates as their children became acquainted. Joan was shaken when the adult Lyta took the heroic persona of Fury ( Infinity, Inc. # 1) but kept her silence until the mythological Furies revealed the truth about Helena Kosmatos to the young woman ( Secret Origins # 12). Joan and Derek explained the entire story to Lyta, who was actually relieved to finally know the origin of her super-strength, a power that Miss America had never possessed ( II # 49).
Though she was troubled by Lyta's marriage to Hector Hall, a man now consigned to an alternate dimension, Joan put on a brave face ( Infinity, Inc. # 51). Her fears proved justified when Hector was killed and a pregnant Lyta was exiled back to Earth ( Sandman # 12). The tragedy deepened after young Daniel Hall was killed and Lyta suffered a breakdown ( Sandman # 57-61, 63-67). The Trevors haven't seen their daughter since then.
Today, Joan Dale Trevor finds her greatest comfort in dreams, sometimes recalling the time she was most alive as Miss America, often basking in the deeper satisfaction she felt as a wife and mother. And, on rare occasions, she even imagines herself as a grandmother, playing games with a blonde-haired little boy, rocking him to sleep or telling him stories. But no, Joan reminds herself as she awakens, Daniel is gone. It was only a dream.
Looking For Miss X ...
Although she's gone on to become the standard by which all other costumed heroines are measured, Wonder Woman was not the first female in the mystery-woman business. Or the second. In fact, in pre-Crisis history, Princess Diana was the tenth such heroine, if one includes the Fawcett and Quality characters who were later folded into the DC Universe. She showed up around October of 1941 ( All-Star Comics # 8), arriving a few months after Miss America, Phantom Lady and Wildfire had made their collective entrance. Diana wasn't even the first to wear a red, white and blue outfit, having been beaten to the punch by USA ( Feature Comics # 42) and, by only one month, Miss America ( Military Comics # 4).
In recent years, much has been made of the fact that the Crimson Avenger was the first costumed hero in the 20th Century DC Universe (in truth, he was the second until Superman was edited out in the streamlined post-Crisis history) but the identity of the first woman to fight crime in costume remains far murkier. The very first mystery-woman in the DC Universe, exempting such retroactive additions as the Revolutionary War's Miss Liberty ( Tomahawk # 81), is a character now virtually lost in the mists of time. Perhaps fittingly, her name was Miss X.
1940's Action Comics # 26 represented a changing of the guard for Bernard Baily's two-year-old Tex Thomson strip. Gargantua T. Potts, the stereotypical black partner of Tex Thomson and Bob Daley had been written out (sent to the French army as a cook) and the boys found themselves with a new assignment. At the request of the state's Governor, a Special Prosecutor named Maloney sought out Thomson and Maloney and implored them to help break the grip that racketeers had on the city. The duo readily agreed.
Within twenty-four hours, the men had been marked for death. As he prepared to start his car, Tex jumped when an arm grabbed him from outside the door. A dark-haired woman, her features mostly concealed by a red hat, black sunglasses and a dark green trenchcoat, insisted they step out of the vehicle and had them raise the hood. "TNT!" she pointed out. "If you had stepped on that starter ..." Grateful (if suspicious), Bob asked the woman her name but she'd offer only the alias of "Miss X" before disappearing into the night.
As the investigation proceeded, Tex eventually captured a racketeer named Lefty, used make-up to impersonate the informant ... and immediately found himself at the end of Miss X's pistol. "Lefty" was escorted to a chauffeur-driven car and grilled about the attempted bombing of Thomson's car. Tex, she emphasized, was "a very close friend of mine. Seizing an opportune moment, Tex snatched the gun from her hand, forced the mystery woman and her driver from the car and bid Miss X a farewell. Recognizing "Lefty's" Texas accent, she stammered, "You're ... you're ..."
"Yes, beautiful -- Tex Thomson. I'll leave your car in front of my apartment."
Unfortunately for Thomson, once he'd reached the gang's headquarters, he was pegged as "a copper," bound and hauled to the pier. Before Tex could be shot and buried at sea, a police boat serendipitously sailed onto the scene, threatening to open fire if the captive wasn't freed. The rescue had, in fact, been anything but chance. Miss X had recruited Bob and, aware of their partner's destination, trailed him to the docks and summoned the police. "I don't know who you are," Tex told Miss X, "but I hope I can repay you someday."
Within a month, Tex and Bob found themselves further indebted to the mystery woman. A relaxing evening at the fights with D.A. Maloney and his daughter Janice turned to tragedy when one of the boxers died in the ring, the apparent result of murder. Following a lead at a florist's shop, Tex's car was sideswiped by a familiar vehicle that tossed a message into their laps:
"Look for the back room behind the flower case."
"So Miss X is playing guardian angel again," Tex murmured.
As predicted, the shop contained a hidden passage, one that led to Tex and Bob's old foe, the three-eyed genius known as the Gorrah. Strapping Thomson to an operating table, the villain intended to make him a sleeper agent, one who would eventually evolve into one of the Gorrah's mindless Rat-Men. As they left the shop, Thomson received a glancing wound to the scalp from a bullet but the assailant -- Miss X, who'd been aiming at the Gorrah -- escaped. As she'd done a month before, Miss X shadowed Tex to the docks before summoning the police. This time, however, Thomson had things under control, having faked subservience since the jolt to his head had broken the trance ( Action # 27).
Even as Tex prepared to embark on a new case, he continued to obsess on Miss X, poring over hundreds of photographs in police files in a futile attempt to spot someone whom she resembled. He scoffed at Bobs's suggestion that she'd never been photographed, insisting that "all women are vain. So for that matter, is everyone, as far as the camera is concerned." In this particular case, though, Miss X was nowhere to be found and Tex and Bob escaped death only thanks to the efforts of a mobster whose son had been saved from a car accident by Thomson ( Action # 28).
The mystery of Miss X began to clear up, at least in Tex's mind, when he and Bob
were dispatched to the State Department in Washington to locate the source that was leaking confidential information to enemy nations. Time and again, the duo crossed paths with Peggy Maloney, first on the train ride to the Capital, then at an embassy ball. And, when Tex linked the conspiracy to a high-ranking diplomat, he and Bob jumped the guard wall at the Syronian Embassy only to find Miss X pointing a gun at them. "The man you're looking for lives at 1194 K Street. Go immediately!" As they prepared to drive away, Bob insisted that he'd heard "a muffled scream."
Unfamiliar with Washington, Tex was finally forced to ask a policeman for directions and belatedly reached the address -- from which screams were erupting. There was Peggy Maloney, being manhandled with a knife by the Syronian envoy. With the element of surprise of their side, Tex and Bob made quick work of the spymasters while Peggy alerted them to a hidden camera on one of the villains that had enabled them to smuggle their data. Relecting on the heroine back in their apartment, Tex confided, "I'll tell you a secret, Bob -- I think I know who she is" ( Action # 29).
The subject of Miss X came up over dinner at the Maloneys but Peggy's face revealed no hints that she might be the mysterious vigilante. True to form, Miss X acted primarily in an advisory capacity in the ensuing examination of a protection racket. First, she called Tex to warn of an armed assailant in his office. Then, after he and Bob had been taken captive and threatened with death in a vat of boiling dye, Miss X stormed the makeshift chemical plant and waved a pair of containers. " Stop ! Or I'll blow this place to smithereens."
Tossing the tear gas grenades to the floor, the heroine freed Bob and Tex in the confusion but, gun in hand, refused to let them accompany her. "Sorry, but I work alone." Fearing for the lives of several policemen who'd been waylaid earlier, Bob was assured by Miss X that "they're safe ... I found them gassed and dragged them to the side of the road. Adios, gentleman!" As they watched her roadster speed away, Tex passed on the chance to follow her, recognizing that the remaining racketeers were the real priority ( Action # 30). He and Bob never saw Miss X again.
Only a few months later, after a final case for D.A. Maloney ( Action # 31) and a vacation in Colorado (# 32), Tex resigned from the Special Prosecutor's office to "undertake a special mission abroad for the War Relief Commissioner." On November 20, 1940, just two days before the first meeting of the Justice Society of America, a bomb was detonated on the S.S. Angelus, sinking the vessel and killing Tex and all aboard ( Action # 33).
The tragedy shook everyone who'd known Harry "Tex" Thomson but none more so than Peggy Maloney. As Miss X, she seemed to have operated as much out of an attraction to Thomson as she did a desire to fight injustice. With Tex dead, all the joy had gone out of her double identity. Unknown to anyone but Bob Daley, Tex had survived, dying his blonde hair black and taking the identity of Mister America to track down the saboteurs. Choosing not to immediately reveal his survival to the public, Tex holed up at Bob's apartment (# 33).
By Action # 43, Tex's survival seemed to have become public knowledge and D.A. Maloney made his final appearance in the series (save for a restrospective of the strip in 1988's Secret Origins # 29). Margaret Janice "Peggy" Maloney was nowhere to be seen, however. Miss X was gone for good.
Significantly, in the months preceding Action # 26, Jerry Siegel and Bernard Baily's Spectre strip was launched in More Fun Comics # 52 ( late 1939 ) and Baily's Hourman debuted in Adventure Comics # 48 ( early 1940 ). The Spectre had actually come at the expense of Baily's own swashbuckling "Buccaneer" series and, perhaps in a bid to protect the Thomson series from the ax, he hastily added a resident costumed character to the cast. And, after Miss X had failed to click, he went a step further and made Thomson himself a costumed hero called Mister America ( Action # 33).
But was Miss X, in fact, the first costumed heroine of the so-called Golden Age ? On the surface, she had neither the colorful outfit first represented by the Red Tornado or the special devices used by heroines like USA and Bulletgirl. But she had everything in common with the person designated as the first male costumed hero of the era. The Crimson Avenger wore a modest coat and hat, brandished a gun and travelled in a chauffeur-driven car ... just like Miss X.
On the surface, the matter of determining the chronology of DC's earliest costumed heroines would seem to be a simple matter of looking at the order in which their debuts were published. Unfortunately, there's a wild card in the mix in the form of Phantom Lady.
Roy Thomas established in All-Star Squadron # 41 that her decision to become a costumed heroine in the spring of 1941 inspired her cousin Ted to become Starman. Problem is, James Robinson's Starman Secret Files # 1 has Sandra Knight talking about becoming a super-heroine in 1939 -- a period when even the Crimson Avenger and Sandman were barely getting off the ground. The story also places Flash and Green Lantern as active in 1939 (and various Secret Files timelines have backdated their debuts from 1939 and 1940 to 1938 and 1939, respectively). The timeline in the issue says that Starman debuted on Nov. 20, 1939 but didn't go national until the Doctor Doog case of 1941. If all of this is accurate, then Phantom Lady evidently debuted in the latter half of 1939 rather than mid-1941.
For the most part, I've tried to adhere as closely to DC's post-Crisis/post-Zero Hero chronology as possible but, in this case, I'm forced to make an exception. From a historical standpoint, it seems rather unfair to elevate Phantom Lady to the position of DC's first costumed heroine, bypassing both the obscure and the well-known in the process. And, frankly, it's developments like this that tend to end up in the minds of many fans (and histories) as gospel, inevitably resulting in comics histories that state that Phantom Lady was the first published heroine in DC and company's pantheon. In the following timeline, at least, I'm treating Sandra Knight's transformation as if it still occurred in the spring of 1941.
The only Golden Age character in the chronology below whose debut deviates significantly from published history is Liberty Belle, who made her bow in late 1942's Boy Commandos #1. Desperate for strong female leads in his 1981 All-Star Squadron series, Roy Thomas found enough leeway in Libby Lawrence's backstory to justify an earlier debut. Thomas, who generally regards such revisionism as "muddying the water," recalled "the time I spent agonizing before I backdated Liberty Belle, whose origin at least (tied to Dunkirk in 1940) could stand it."
Here's how things line up (with the retroactively pre-1942 Liberty Belle also included). For the debut dates, I subtracted two months from the cover dates to match the period that the comic books went on sale.
May: Margaret Janice "Peggy" Maloney becomes Miss X ( Action Comics # 26).
September: Abigail Mathilda Hunkel becomes the Red Tornado although the general public is unaware the costumed figure is a woman ( All-American Comics # 20-21). Despite crashing the first meeting of the Justice Society only weeks after her debut ( All-Star Comics # 3), the Red Tornado was never a member of the team. Nonetheless, Mrs. Hunkel is fondly remembered by the heroes of that era and held in high regard by many who worked with her, notably Queen Hippolyta, who met the Red Tornado during World War Two ( All-Star Comics 80-Page Giant # 1). According to her daughter and son-in-law, Mrs. Hunkel has died ( Young Justice # 16).
January: USA, the Spirit of Old Glory debuts. The first heroine to wear a red, white and blue costume, USA wielded a "liberty torch" that fired bursts of flame ( Feature Comics # 42). She was last seen in July of 1941 ( Feature # 48).
February: Having discovered that Jim Barr was secretly Bulletman, Susan Kent (daughter of Fawcett City's police chief) acquires an anti-gravity metal helmet of her own and takes the persona of Bulletgirl ( Master Comics # 13). The super-powered career of Bulletman and Bulletgirl extends at least into the 1950s ( Power of Shazam! # 12) before the now-married couple welcomes a daughter, Deanna, into their family ( POS # 32). Susan Barr has since died of unknown causes ( POS # 43).
April: Seeking assistance on a Justice Society mission, Hawkman gives Shiera Sanders a costume, wings and anti-gravity belt that enable her to become Hawkgirl for the first time. Despite suffering a gunshot wound ( All-Star Comics # 5), Shiera returns to the costume in July at a costume party ( Flash Comics # 24) and assists the JSA on two cases during the summer ( DC 2000 # 1-2; All-Star Comics # 8). In December, Hawkgirl joined the All-Star Squadron ( All-Star Squadron # 5-6) and she continued to actively fight crime alongside Hawkman until the Justice Society disbanded in early 1951. In the past decade,Hawkgirl was active with both the Justice League and Justice Society before a supernatural incident caused her to merge with her husband and Katar Hol during the Zero Hour incident ( Hawkman [ third series ] # 13). Shiera's soul was reincarnated in the body of her adult niece, Kendra Saunders, and she is currently part of the JSA as Hawkgirl once more ( JSA # 22, 25).
April: Sandra Knight is inspired to take the guise of Phantom Lady ( All-Star Squadron # 41 and Police Comics # 1) and, in 1942, begins her wartime tenure with the All-Star Squadron and Freedom Fighters ( All-Star Squadron # 31-35). After the war, Sandra completed the term in office of her late father, Senator Henry H. Knight ( Secret Origins # 20). Phantom Lady and fellow Squadron member Iron Munro "were both recruited for a new branch of the O.S.S. -- a spy agency called Argent." The couple became romantically involved and impulsively married in the early 1960s. While in the early stages of pregnancy, Phantom Lady took an assignment that brought her into conflict with her nemesis, the former Baron Blitzkrieg. After holding the heroine captive for months, the Baron took her baby and left Sandra for dead. Phantom Lady escaped and sought the aid of her old friend, the Human Bomb, in getting "out of the spy game" ( Damage # 11). While continuing to search for her kidnapped child, Sandra Knight made infrequent appearances as Phantom Lady ( JLA: Year One # 11-12) before retiring altogether to serve as dean at the Universite Notre Dame des Ombres, a training ground for a new generation of female spies ( Action Comics Weekly # 636). Amidst all these activities, Knight continued to maintain a low profile and, for reasons of her own, kept her continued survival a secret from Munro for nearly two decades ( Damage # 11).
Spring: In Greece, the orphaned Helena Kosmatos is empowered by Tisiphone, one the Furies, and takes an aggressive gold-armored alternate persona. Convinced that her transformation and subsequent slaying of her Nazi collaborator brother were hallucinations, Helena received safe passage to the United States thanks to cameraman John Chambers, soon to be known as the speedster Johnny Quick ( Secret Origins # 12). In late April of 1942, a crisis caused Helena's alter-ego to manifest itself once more and she went on to assume the alias of Fury as a member of the All-Star Squadron ( Young All-Stars # 2-3). The latter half of 1942 saw Fury develop a maternal bond with the time-displaced Hippolyta/Wonder Woman ( Legends of the DC Universe # 31) even as one in the Furies (in their guise as the Fates) brought a second champion into being in the form of Captain Triumph ( Crack Comics # 27, as revealed in # 28). At some point during World War Two, Helena is speculated to have entered a "brief and disastrous marriage" to Arn Munro ( Damage # 11). In the 1970s, Helena gave birth to a daughter, Hippolyta, whom she entrusted to a retired heroine (Miss America) and her husband. The couple formally adopted the girl five years later when Helena failed to return ( Sandman # 57). Elsewhere, an aged Helena eventually ended up in an English nursing home, where she claimed to have "spent two decades looking for the man who killed a person I loved." After spending years stalking the man, Helena found him, destroyed his life and then killed him ( Sandman # 62). In recent months, Fury's has returned to her youthful alter-ego on a full-time basis. Emotionally disturbed to a profound degree, Fury was left in the custody of Queen Hippolyta on the isle of Themyscira ( Legends of the DC Universe # 30-32) but has remained a deeply troubled soul ( Wonder Woman # 168-169).
May: Joan Dale becomes Miss America ( Military Comics # 1; reaffirmed in Secret Origins # 26).
June: Carol Martin becomes Wildfire ( Smash Comics # 25). Born Carol Vance, she'd been granted "complete power over all flames" at birth thanks to the God of Fire. With her natural parents dead, Carol was raised by the affluent Martin family. Dressed in a revealing red-orange costume, the red-headed heroine was immune to flame and could create a variety of fire constructs ranging from a simple bow and arrow to a semi-sentient flame creature. Wildfire was originally intended to play a major role in the All-Star Squadron but DC objected on the basis of her name, which she shared with the Legion of Super-Heroes member. Instead, a female incarnation of Firebrand was introduced into the series. Wildfire made her final recorded appearance in September of 1942 ( Smash Comics # 37).
September: Miss America begins wearing a red, white and blue costume ( Military # 4).
Fall: Radio personality Libby Lawrence becomes Liberty Belle ( Boy Commandos [ first series ] # 1; All-Star Squadron # 61). The star-spangled ancestor of the United States' first costumed heroine, the Revolutionary War's Miss Liberty (revealed in All-Star Squadron # 45), Liberty Belle contributed to her own generation's World War Two as a charter member of the All-Star Squadron ( A-SS # 1). Liberty Belle's natural athletic prowess was enhanced through a link with the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia. Those abilities were amplified further in March of 1942, which resulted in her acquisition of sonic powers that were channelled through her hands ( A-SS # 46). Libby married photojournalist John Chambers (alias Johnny Quick) on April 1, 1942 ( A-SS # 50), a union that produced a daughter, Jesse, before ending in divorce ( Justice Society of America [ second series ] # 3). Liberty Belle occasionally returns to her costumed identity ( The Final Night # 2) but has largely retired since the death of her ex-husband, Johnny Quick ( Wonder Woman Plus # 1). Libby is presently attending classes at Hudson University and dating one of her fellow students ( The Titans # 26).
December: As an indirect result of being struck by an energy bolt from the sorcerer Wotan on December 7 ( All-Star Squadron # 3), Danette Reilly gained fire powers two days later. Upon discovering that her gravely wounded brother had been a costumed hero, Danette adopted her sibling's alias of Firebrand and, on December 10, was accepted into the newly-created All-Star Squadron ( A-SS # 5). In early 1942, she and the Atom became godparents to Terri Kurtzberger, the orphaned daughter of Danette's one-time boyfriend, Terry ( All-Star Squadron Annual # 2) and she presumably retained close ties with Terri and her son, Albert (later known as Nuklon and Atom Smasher) over the years. The Dragon King has implied that he killed Firebrand at an indeterminate point in the past but no definitive evidence exists to support his claim ( Stars & S.T.R.I.P.E. # 12).
April: Beautiful socialite Dianne Grayton dons the face mask of a crone and becomes the Spider Widow, initially using black widow spiders in her war against criminals and saboteurs ( Feature Comics # 57). That summer, she meets a costumed adventurer called the Raven (# 60) and they soon become romantically involved. During the spring of 1943, the couple briefly became entangled with the Phantom Lady, whom Dianne briefly feared was a rival for her lover's affections. The heroes parted as friends ( Feature # 69-71; Police # 20-22) and the Spider Widow and the Raven made their last recorded appearance shortly thereafter in June of 1943 ( Feature # 72).
May: Paula Brooks takes the alias of the Tigress and becomes a provisional member of the All-Star Squadron ( Young All-Stars # 6-9). On June 11, she died in battle (# 23) only to be revived thanks to a pact that "Iron" Munro arranged with the valkyrie Gudra (# 25). The following day, the Tigress rose from her hospital bed in a state of dementia and severed her ties with the All-Stars (# 26). By 1945, the Tigress still retained a tenuous hold on her heroic past thanks to the intervention of her idol, Paul (Manhunter) Kirk, who took the young woman as his partner ( Thrilling Comics # 1). As the decade wore on, the Huntress, a criminal believed to be Paula Brooks, became a foe of Wildcat ( Sensation Comics # 68). In 1948, the Huntress joined the Injustice Society ( All-Star Comics # 41), where she met her future husband, the Sportsmaster. The couple remained a force to be reckoned with into the 1960s ( The Brave & The Bold # 62, confirmed in Starman Annual # 2) and beyond. They were eventually joined in their crime sprees by their daughter, Artemis ( Infinity, Inc. # 35-36), and the Huntress continues to support her offspring in her evil endeavors ( Young Justice # 25).
May 22: Comatose and in the custody of Project "M" since December 7, Miss America is revived and rescued by the All-Star Squadron ( Young All-Stars # 14).
May 23: The JSA invites Miss America to be its recording secretary ( YAS Annual # 1).
June 10-12: Russian mutant Sonya Chuikov, capable of firing bursts of flame and flying for limited distances, accompanies an international delegation of super-heroes to the United States in her costumed persona of Fireball ( YAS # 22, 24-26).
Late June: Miss America is left behind when the JSA embarks on a mission in Europe to provide "food for starving patriots" ( YAS # 27; All-Star Comics # 14).
Hippolyta In The 1940s: A Timeline
And picking up where our timeline of early DC heroines leaves off is a chronology of Queen Hippolyta's most notable appearances as Wonder Woman during the eight years that she spent in the 1940s. Integrated here are many of the original Wonder Woman stories of the Golden Age, episodes from the 1976-1978 run of flashbacks inspired by the Lynda Carter TV show and, of course, the recent flashbacks that were explicitly stated to involve Hippolyta.
July: A time-travelling Hippolyta (as Wonder Woman) joins the Atom, Hawkman, Johnny Thunder and honorary members Flash and Green Lantern in a battle with Dark Angel, meeting Sgt. Rock and Easy Company in the process. Afterwards, Wonder Woman accepts an invitation to join the team ( Wonder Woman [ second series ] # 130-133).
July: Wonder Woman battles Doctor Poison and meets the Holliday Girls ( Sensation Comics # 2).
COMMENT: Sensation # 2 was published in late 1941 but is pushed ahead here to become Hippolyta's first major solo mission in the past.
July: Wonder Woman faces the threat of Armageddon, Kung and the Duke of Deception alongside JSA members such as Doctor Mid-Nite, the Sandman and the Flash ( WW # 233-240).
COMMENT: This nine-day sequence was placed within a month or two of the mid-June battle with Baron Blitzkrieg and the Sumo ( All-New Collectors' Edition # C-54; Current: Young All-Stars # 21-25), based on the Sumo's return in WW # 241.
July: Wonder Woman meets Fury and eventually takes her as a protege ( Legends of the DC Universe # 31).
August: Wonder Woman lectures Phantom Lady and Liberty Belle on "the way of the Amazon" and meets the Red Tornado ( All-Star Comics 80-Page Giant # 1).
August: Wonder Woman rescues Winston Churchill from Baron Blitzkrieg ( World's Finest Comics # 246-247) and meets Sgt. Rock while dealing with the threat of the Brain Wave and extraterrestrial allies he has duped into helping him ( WFC # 248-249).
COMMENT: Pre-Crisis, WFC # 246-247 was set in April of 1942 and Doctor Psycho (not Brain Wave) appeared in WFC # 248-249.
September: In an effort to mobilize girls in the war effort, Wonder Woman founds the Wonder Scouts, whose Amazon Oath reads, "Though war is never-ending, I shall stand by my sisters." A wave of memorabilia, from dolls to jewelry to comic books floods the marketplace ( Wonder Woman [ second series ] # 143).
November: A fictional account of Wonder Woman's origin appears in Sensation Comics # 1 ( Wonder Woman [ second series ] # 147).
January: Wonder Woman, Hawkgirl and others join the male members in helping to thwart the Brain Wave's latest scheme ( ALL-STAR COMICS # 15; Current: Starman # 69).
January: The Red Panzer attempts to change history ( WW # 228-229; briefly noted in WW: Donna Troy # 1).
February: Osira captures the JSA, imprisoning most of the team on the moon and sending the rest (the Atom, Johnny Thunder, Sandman, Starman and non- member Mister Terrific) into conflict with Wonder Woman ( WW # 231-232).
COMMENT: The presence of Mr. Terrific suggests that Osira probably had several members of the All-Star Squadron imprisoned on the moon, too
July: Wonder Woman battles Priscilla Rich's evil alter-ego, the Cheetah ( WW # 6).
COMMENT: Marston's Cheetah is radically different from Perez's version so it's reasonable to assume that they were two separate entities.
August: The Cheetah returns ( Sensation # 22).
October: Dr. Poison returns ( Sensation # 24) and Wonder Woman first encounters Zara, high priestess of the Cult of the Crimson Flame ( Comic Cavalcade # 5).
December: Priscilla Rich becomes the Cheetah once more ( WW # 230).
January: Wonder Woman discovers an undersea outpost of Atlantean descent ruled by the evil Queen Clea ( WW # 8).
April: Wonder Woman has the first of several encounters with Giganta ( WW # 9).
COMMENT: Another character revived in the present who is different enough from the original to allow both to exist. Given the radical brain surgery involved in her origin (not to mention the gorilla angle), Giganta's origin might to be altered to involve the Ultra-Humanite. In current DCU history, he had his ape body before the end of World War Two (see 1992's Justice Society of America # 4, page 6).
July: On a subatomic world of Saturn, Wonder Woman battles Duke Mephisto Saturno and Eviless ( WW # 10).
October: Hypnota threatens Wonder Woman ( WW # 11).
February: Nearly the entire active and reserve roster of the Justice Society turns out for an apocalyptic battle with Stalker, that includes a skirmish against the team of Wonder Woman and Hawkgirl ( All-Star Comics [ second series ] # 1-2; Sensation Comics [ second series ] # 1). Miss America, caring for Derek Trevor on an isolated island, misses the adventure.
April: The Cheetah resurfaces ( Comic Cavalcade # 11).
September: The JSA champions the cause of the disabled ( ASC # 27) while Wonder Woman defends Earth against the Cerebrons ( WW # 242) and meets the time-displaced visitor known as the Angle Man ( WW # 243). With the end of World War Two, the All-Star Squadron is disbanded and Wildcat leaves the justice Society.
COMMENT: WW # 243 set this story in the same time frame as V-J Day, right after September 2.
September: The Snow Man terrorizes a farming community until Wonder Woman unmasks "him" as the female Byrna Brilliant ( Sensation # 59).
May: Driven to madness, Nina Close becomes the Mask ( WW # 24).
November: The male members of the JSA are beaten to death but the quick intervention of Black Canary enables Wonder Woman to revive them with the aid of the Purple Healing Ray ( ASC # 38; Current: Starman Annual # 2).
January: Eviless organizes the Snow Man, the Cheetah, Doctor Poison, Giganta, Hypnota, Queen Clea and Zara as Villainy, Incorporated ( WW # 28). Doctor Poison dies at some point after this story, the result of her own creation, Reverso ( Wonder Woman [ second series ] # 151).
March: Prime Minister Blizzard imperils New York ( WW # 29).
October: At the request of Green Lantern and the Flash, Wonder Woman brings the Thorn to Paradise Island for treatment of her dementia ( Infinity, Inc. Annual # 1; Current: Green Lantern [ current ] # 108).
COMMENT: It's unclear precisely how long Rose (Thorn) Canton spent on Paradise Island in current continuity. Clearly though, the stay was far shorter than it had been on Earth-Two or she'd likely have crossed paths with the young Princess Diana. It seems probable that a "cured" Rose left Themyscira in the fall of 1950, not long before Hippolyta returned to the future.
November: Investigating the aftermath of the Seven Soldiers of Victory's battle with the Nebula Man, Wonder Woman meets the 1990s incarnations of Hawkman and Doctor Mid-Nite, sent to the past to retrieve the Nebula Rod. Hippolyta accompanies them to the present ( Stars & S.T.R.I.P.E. # 9). Though she's there for only a few hours, the mystic Oracle returns her to the past more than two months after she left -- ensuring that she not be tempted to change history.
December: Transport pilot Diana Trevor crashes on the isle of Themiscyra, helping the Amazons turn back the murderous creature known as Cottus before being killed herself ( WW [ second series ] # 12).
January: Wonder Woman returns to the 1940s. Priscilla Rich dies and her niece Debbi Domaine is brainwashed into becoming the new Cheetah. She fights alongside villains such as the Ultra-Humanite, Rag Doll and the Shade against the JSA and others ( Starman [ second series ] # 62).
COMMENT: Debbi Domaine was brainwashed (originally by Kobra) in Wonder Woman # 274. Her role in current DCU history was indicated in Starman # 62, page 13) and elaborated on here.
November: After Johnny Thunder helps her finally defeat Dark Angel ( Adventure Comics 80-Page Giant # 1), Wonder Woman returns to the future ( WW [ second series ] # 133).
COMMENT: It seems likely that the Amazons had their memories of the visits from the future's Hippolyta erased -- possibly by the gods -- after she returned to her proper time.
February: After defeating the leader of Eliminations, Inc., the Atom, Black Canary, Doctor Mid-Nite, the Flash, Green Lantern and Hawkman are called before Congress, who demand that they unmask and reveal their secrets. Refusing, the JSA disbands and vanishes from the session using Thanagarian technology ( Adventure Comics # 466; Current: Hawkworld # 21). In 1959, the Master Gardener of Mars implies that he had a part in ending the heroic age ( Martian Manhunter: American Secrets # 3). Decades later, Vandal Savage also takes credit for the scenario via "a few well-placed senators" ( JLA: Year One # 2). Wracked with guilt because her own F.B.I. ties exempted her from the hearing, Miss America avoids contact with her JSA teammates, claiming that her powers have begun to wane.
The Fighting Trevors
The Trevor family and the Armed Forces have been linked to Wonder Woman virtually from the moment the series began in 1941. Here, in a continuation of the previous issue of Fanzing 's War Heroes Directory, are brief sketches of the three major Trevors of the military in present DC continuity:
Diana Rockwell Trevor ( created by George Perez ) came of age in the 1930s and had a passion for airplanes. "While still a teenager," she recalled, "I became what was then called a 'barnstormer' -- and putting a PT-19 through its paces became the biggest thrill of my life! Only one thing ever matched that excitement -- the day a young lieutenant arrived to ask about purchasing my planes. Guess the poor guy got more than he bargained for -- because on November 8, 1940, I became Mrs. Lt. Ulysses Stephen Trevor." Diana gave birth to a son, Stephen, just weeks after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Both she and her husband soon went off to war, leaving Steve in the care of Ulysses' sister, Edna Aanonson. Diana served with the Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron during World War Two and, afterwards, she became a transport pilot for the military.
On a mission in December of 1948, Diana crashed on the isle of Themiscyra, helping the Amazons turn back the murderous creature known as Cottus before being killed herself. Diana was honored as a heroine and the tattered remnants of the flag she carried with her were used to create two uniforms, modelled after the costume worn by the time-displaced Queen Hippolyta during her 1940s visit as Wonder Woman. "One was worn by Diana Trevor on her fiery journey to the Underworld. The second -- as well as the mysterious weapon Diana had wielded [ a gun ] -- was sealed away in a place of honor until the weapon could ultimately be used to help determine one worthy to wear Diana's mantle." That person proved to be Hippolyta's own daughter, Diana, who was named after the great warrior and ultimately wore her coat-of-arms ( Wonder Woman [ second series ] # 12).
Significantly, Hippolyta's future counterpart was absent from the 1948 time period when Cottus struck, a consequence of her inquiry into the November clash between the Seven Soldiers of Victory and the Nebula Man in Tibet. Investigating the disturbance, Hippolyta encountered Hawkman and Doctor Mid-Nite, having come from the future to retrieve the nebula-rod. With Wonder Woman at their side, the heroes returned to the present ( Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. # 9). Following the Seven Soldiers adventure in the future, the mystic Oracle returned Hippolyta to a point after the tragedy on Themiscyra, thus ensuring that the Queen did not attempt to change history. (It also seems likely that the Amazons had their memories of the visits from the future's Hippolyta erased -- possibly by the gods -- after she returned to her proper time.)
Decades later, the spirit of Diana Trevor related the entire story to Princess Diana, and left to join her husband, Ulysses, who had just died ( WW # 12). Diana Trevor was destined to appear before her namesake once more, urging her on during the battle with the White Magician that took the life of Artemis ( WW # 100).
Admiral Derek Steven Trevor ( created by Roy & Dann Thomas, Vince Argondezzi and Tony DeZuniga ) was just a member of the Army Air Corps when he crashed his P-38 on an island within a thousand miles of Australia in early 1945. Trevor was astonished to find the uncharted land mass populated by giant kangaroos (which he dubbed Kangas) and had decided to claim "Trevor Island" as his own by the time the Justice Society of America rescued him. The meeting with the JSA also introduced Trevor to Joan (Miss America) Dale, whom he eventually married ( Infinity, Inc. # 48). Years later, JSA members Doctor Mid-Nite and Green Lantern encountered more prehistoric wildlife in a hidden valley near Trevor Island ( All-Star Comics # 48), leading one to speculate that the area contained a portal to the other-dimensional land of Skartaris.
Roughly a quarter-century ago, Derek and Joan Trevor became the adoptive parents of a baby girl named Hippolyta ("Lyta"), the daughter of absent heroine Helena (Fury) Kosmatos ( Infinity, Inc. # 49; Sandman # 57). Unable to have children of their own, the Trevors cherished Lyta and Derek developed a close relationship with family friend Albert Rothstein, whom he taught to fly when the future Nuklon and Atom-Smasher was a teenager ( Infinity, Inc. # 48). Derek and Joan were last seen at the wedding of their daughter to Hank Hall ( Infinity, Inc. # 51).
Colonel Stephen Rockwell Trevor ( created by William Moulton Marston and Harry G. Peter ) was born "just weeks after the sneak attack of Pearl Harbor." Both of his parents, Lt. Ulysses Stephen Trevor and famed aviator Diana Rockwell Trevor were active in World War Two and Diana continued to fly dangerous missions following the conflict's resolution. She was lost in a mysterious plane crash in December of 1948. Ulysses grieved for his wife for the rest of his life and passed away within the past decade ( Wonder Woman [ current ] # 12).
Inspired by his family's military tradition, Steve Trevor joined the Air Force and served in the Vietnam conflict. Years later, he fell from grace, ironically because of his efforts to do the right thing. After testifying before a Congressional Investigation Committee about abuses of power by a trio of Generals, including Gerard Kohler and George Yedziniak ( Wonder Woman [ current ] # 2, 32), Steve was repaid with a desk job -- assigned by Kohler. It was General Kohler, under the influence of the war god Ares, who manipulated Trevor into flying a bombing raid on the Amazonian isle of Themyscira and led to the Colonel's meeting with Princess Diana, soon to be known as Wonder Woman ( WW # 2). Though Kohler perished because of his actions, Colonel Trevor briefly stood accused of his murder and stood alongside Wonder Woman and others in ending the threat posed by Ares and his forces ( WW # 3-6).
The entire experience left Steve disenchanted with the military and, after his father's funeral ( WW # 12), he "resigned (his) Air Force commission" (# 15) . For a time, Steve worked as "a safety inspector and engineering advisor specializing in military aircraft" ( WW Annual # 1) while his girl friend Lt. Etta Candy continued to serve in the Air Force, eventually falling under the command of General George Yedziniak ( WW # 32). After a fight with Etta, Steve began to question his decision to resign ( WW # 52) and briefly reenlisted. After an unpleasant series of experiences with General Yedziniak, Steve chose to leave once more ( WW # 57-62).
Steve proposed to Etta ( WW # 62) and they were soon married (sometime after WW # 78, as seen in WW # 170). Steve briefly devoted his energies to launching a commercial air service ( WW # 73, 86) but he and Etta (now promoted to Captain) eventually moved back to Boston, where Steve now "does freelance consulting" on aeronautics issues ( WW # 170).
John "Mikishawm" Wells, the pride of Batavia, Iowa, is a lifelong comics fan, working his way forward from Disneys in 1969 to newspaper strips in 1973 to SHAZAM! and the rest of the DC Universe in 1974. During the 1980s, he began compiling a lists of DC character appearances, a massive database that he's tapped into when writing articles for publications such as the DC Index series, Amazing Heroes, The Comics Buyer’s Guide, Comic Effect, Comic Book Marketplace, It’s A Fanzine, The O‘Neil Observer and, of course, Fanzing. He is Kurt Busiek's unofficial reference guide, as the keen-eyed may have noticed in Power Company #2.
All characters are DC Comics
This piece is © 2001 by John Wells.
Fanzing is not associated with DC Comics.
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