Thursday, April 16, 2015


She's really cleaning up on those tiny crooks.
Not for the first time, there's troubling parental oversight at work in the Jackson household. 

Demure, feminine Janie Jackson is the platonic model of the perfect little lady, from the pink bow in her hair to the shine on her mary janes. Unbeknownst to even her police lieutenant father, however, is that Janie leads a double-life as the fist-swinging, crimebusting Tomboy! Unassisted by any particular super-powers, Janie - in her binary-defying alter ego - nonetheless manages to clean up the criminal element in her town with admirable gusto.

Dude, that is your sister!
Janie's secret ID even has fans around the Jackson family dinner table; her cop dad admires and respects the preteen tornado, her brother Bill openly derides his sister for not being as dynamic as Tomboy, and Mom Jackson doesn't say anything because women aren't allowed to speak unless spoken to in this hyper-masculine suburb of Atom Age America.

You'd think Janie wouldn't be held to this weird double-standard, since brother and father are such fans of small women beating up full-grown men, but on the other hand Tomboy is living up to a long-standing tradition of the milksop secret identity; Batman pretends to be idle playboy Bruce Wayne, Superman pretends to be mild-mannered Clark Kent, and Tomboy pretends to be how the Fifties were for girls.

Her dual identity might actually be sibling self-preservation at work. Janie's brother Bill is ... how to put this ... straight up horny for Tomboy?  His ardor for the culotted crimefighter overwhelms all reason. In one story, he even abandons his adoring date upon glimpsing a figure he believes might be Tomboy. To be honest, Bill needs to do some soul-searching - Tomboy isn't the only one straddling genderfluidity in this book. The worst thing about Bill is that he's all talk. He wildly admires Tomboy, but is he dressing up as Tomgirl and fighting crime? No, because he's a buster.

Tomboy serves as the backup in all four issues of Captain Flash, handily facing villains like the paw-handed Claw, acoustics expert Soundwave, and a guy named Lard Vinson which I'm sure is some kind of rubric. 

I'm always fascinated by these golden age characters who defy the gender binary in some fashion, a taboo topic even in today's media. There aren't many, of course; cross-dressing Madam Fatal and non-gender-normative Tomboy here make up the lion's share of the roster, but they're also characters I think would be well-served by a contemporary revival. We'd have to figure out what to do with Bill, though, that guy's just pure trouble.

Let's not speak. Talking just ruins it.

1 comment:

BillyWitchDoctor said...

Re that first panel: I feel absolutely horrible because the first thing that popped into my mind was "There's a joke about upskirt shots there somewhere."

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