Tuesday, February 18, 2014


World’s Finest Vol 1 No.131 February 1962 – THE MYSTERY OF THE CRIMSON AVENGER
Superman, Batman and Robin all glided out of National Periodical’s Golden Age and into DC Comics’ Silver Age without much in the way of cosmetic or substantive changes (as did Wonder Woman and Green Arrow, altho to not much acclaim), while other heroes got a complete revamp; you already know that Flash came out of his transition as a jet age speedster, Green Lantern a space cop, and the Atom as a size-changing scientist (which is, I think, also one of Stephen Hawking’s many accolades. Little known fact, that: Stephen Hawking can shrink to the size of an ant but retain his full human strength, thanks to the seemingly magic powers of his miraculous Wonder Chair. PS Neil DeGrasse Tyson has a ring that lets him turn himself into a sea serpent or to shoot lightning from his hands. Carl Sagan had death eyes. Check your library for more science facts), while Aquaman and Hawkman quietly adopted whole new backstories while maintaining a relatively unchanging cosmetic front.

Others, like the Black Canary, got a hall pass to Earth-1 and others were replaced with pale imitations (I’m looking at you, Red Tornado).

Like you can fuckin' talk, pixie boots.
A few – very few – other Golden Age heroes made the transition to post-war existence, with middling levels of success. Prairie troubadour cowboy hero The Vigilante, for instance, ca-a-a-a-asually strolled into Earth-1 a short while before his predecessor and the rest of the Seven Soldiers of Victory were rescued from time-tossed limbo , and Earth-1 Spectre and Wildcat just sort of appeared without much fanfare.

Preceding all of these, however, was a revamp of the Vigilante’s crimefighting comrade and DC’s first costume crimefighter, The Crimson Avenger, in the pages of World’s Finest.

In the midst of pursuing The Octopus Gang, a cadre of clever crooks who operate under a villainous mastermind wearing what appears to be fifty pounds of unwashed laundry as a costume, the World’s Finest team is interrupted by a brand-spanking new superhero calling himself The Crimson Avenger (after a “former lawman”, which he doesn’t specify if he meant the Earth-2 hero or mama Avenger’s little boy Crimson, a cop in his old neighborhood). Armed with a batch of bizarre weapons and decked out in a costume that resembles what you might get if you cross one of Santa’s elves with a Ku Klux Klansman, the well-meaning but only mostly-competent crimefighter gets on Superman’s and Batman’s mutual nerves almost right away.

Oh my god, Batman actually detectived something!
I’m not a hundred percent sure why that is, he’s actually surprisingly good at beating up criminals, despite being a doughy middle-aged inventor in his spare time. The only reason he ends up stepping on any of the established super-toes in the region isn’t really his fault, it’s because Robin steps in the way of one of his super-scientific weapons – and isn’t that what Robin is there for? There’s a reason Batman’s always standing behind him in all of those promo shots – “Shoot the boy!” he seems to cry.

The Avenger is loaded up with a terrific armament of weapons of his own invention, including a gun which shoots flame-rings, another gun which shoots restricting force bubbles (which Robin learned at his cost), yet another gun which turns people into Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons, a ring full of knockout gas, and a sedan-mounted battering ram cannon WHICH SHOOTS A GIANT FLYING ROBOTIC RAM’S HEAD and already he’s my favorite superhero ever, this guy.  Plus his insignia kinda of looks like a triple-A Baseball franchise logo and I admire his bold sense of graphic design.

C.A. unfortunately DOES end up getting kidnapped by sea-themed supervillain The Octopus, a baddie who resembles an old comedy villain from this Ed Wheelan strip I remember (Bear with me until this week’s Truly Gone&Forgotten feature on Thursday) and his weapons are turned against Supes and Bats, but isn’t it sort of their fault? If only they’d decided to work WITH the new Crimson Avenger instead of discouraging him at every turn, maybe they could have ALL gotten guns which turn people into fat floating babies.

This is hilarious.

1 comment:

Michael Hoskin said...

I suppose it's a decent reinvention, but does it compare to an African-American woman possessed by the Crimson Avenger's haunted guns? I think not! Now *there's* a character we can all feign interest in!

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