Thursday, November 10, 2016


"Come on down, we're just off Exit 231 on I-55 by the Wendy's"

There’s a lot to like about Lady Fairplay, a character who sounds like she came from the Neightborhood of Make-Believe and dresses like the mascot of a Midwestern furniture outlet chain. “You won’t believe our fair, fair, fair prices! Free hot dogs for the kids!” ::trolley goes by *ding ding*::

It must be ... The Swish!
“At the request of the brilliant scientist, Professor Amazo, Mary Lee, modest young school teacher, undergoes an experiment which transforms her into a slim, beautiful creature with unlimited energetic powers. Seeking an outlet for these unnatural changes, Mary assumes the role of Lady Fairplay, goddess of chastisement and dreaded foe of the underworld”

That is officially a tall order, PLUS it sounds like it was written by a guy who gets turned on by horses, but she nonetheless pulls it off with some aplomb. Schoolteacher Mary Lee fits into the tried-and-true Superman mold, masquerading as a meek and timid character during the day until trouble calls, and then dashing off to battle injustice in a costumed identity. The big difference is that Lady Fairplay endangers children along the way!

In her debut in Bang-Up Comics No.1 (1941), in the middle of a sedate school day, Lee overhears a passing police radio regarding a car in pursuit of crooks. Being able to hear radio broadcasts is a pretty good power, particularly in the Golden Age where it certainly wasn’t as common as flying or super-strength or what-have-you, and also it must have been hell on her students trying to whisper, frig or drink rubbing alcohol in the back row. I went to a tough school.

That's unfortunate if your foe can only be defeated by putting a lasagna pan in overnight to soak.

While her students dismiss Ms.Lee as a timid little mouse afraid of … another larger mouse, I guess, I didn’t plan this sentence out completely before I started it … she’s actually excitedly leaping into battle. But not without appointing a student monitor for her class! That poor kid’s gonna get eaten alive.

In a flash, Lady Fairplay is in his delightfully ridiculous costume and hauling ass in her souped-up science jalopy. This is another gift of Professor Amazo’s, a car “equipped with everything but the kitchen sink.” By this she means “binoculars,” which she has to use despite being about to hear radio waves. Getting telescopic vision would’ve been asking for too much, I suppose.

In fact, Fairplay’s powers are a mass of contradictions. Before hopping in her car, she proves to be able to move so quickly that no one can see her, even in that get-up.  She’s also strong enough to leap up to a plane immediately after takeoff and SHAKE IT AROUND IN MID-AIR. I know literally nothing about Physics, so I agree that this is a possible thing for what appears to be a woman who weighs about 120 pounds.

Lady Fairplay’s a pretty good character, particularly since I don’t know of too many heroes who stash an ermine coat and a tiara away somewhere before hopping into battle. I can’t even imagine where she keeps them, in a steamer trunk in the teacher’s lounge? And where does she park that car while she’s at school. A character who leaves as much mystery as she solves, that seems absolutely … fair! Ha! I did it!


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