Created by Martin Filchock
Appears in Wham Comics #2 (December 1940)
Who is … The Buzzard?
Well, according to his introduction in the pages of Wham Comics No.2 (Dec 1940), he is “The nemisis [sic] of the underworld,” and the enemy of the “snakes, rats and vermine [sic] who prey upon … good people!” Who is the Buzzard? Someone who’s too busy fighting crime to proofread a comic script is who!
But who is behind the bespectacled crimefighter whose modest frame belies tremendous strength and athleticism? It’s actually a complicated question!
The Buzzard’s true face is never shown, and his diminutive build is owed to an hallucinatory gas -- one of several gadgets composing the Buzzard’s bizarre arsenal of justice. In reality, anyone could be this man who appears as nothing more than a four-eyed, beak-nosed scarecrow, trotting around in an almost comically loose-fitting tuxedo. An essential three-panel prologue explains that the role of the Buzzard has been adopted by others in the past, and that only three people in the world are aware of the hero’s actual name and identity!
It’s strongly implied that one of these three is “Flash,” a broad-shouldered and tow-headed college athlete who certainly seems to have the physicality for the job. Additionally, as far as the Golden Age of Comics goes, he has one of the best possible motivations to suit up against crime -- he played varsity football. Go get ‘em, tiger! It’s worth asking about his on-field performance, however, since Flash seems to be -- intentionally or not -- a stupid klutz. This is only one of the reasons that his father, the Chief of Police, discourages Flash from hanging around the police station. In addition, he’s just plain afraid that being a cop would be too dangerous for his dimwitted boy!
But it’s just as likely that the Buzzard could be -- the Mayor! After all, it’s the Mayor who explains how the Buzzard’s powers and weapons work, who hands down the equipment to the new Buzzard, and who not only claims to have invented them, but seems to be in charge of the whole arrangement. He even exhibits the feature of the hallucinatory gas, transformed himself from roly-poly to willow-thin. Even though the prologue is titled “How the Buzzard Came to Be,” the Mayor makes it clear that the vigilante is already established in the city and his tools have been previously employed…
And then there’s The Mayor’s Niece, a quick-witted and resourceful young woman who has been cleverly named “The Mayor’s Niece.” Not only is she one of the three alleged people who know The Buzzard’s identity, she’s also quick to throw the cops off the trail when they get too close to the hero!
If that weren’t enough, there are also competing clues. Hanging around the station, for instance, is an unnamed newspaper reporter whose build and hair match the unseen figure from the prologue! Likewise, Flash went jacketless through the majority of the story, but the figure who was shown in the prologue is sporting a blue jacket -- like any number of police officers might be wearing around the station!
Regardless of who happens to be portraying the gaunt-cheeked do-gooder, they’re quickly given an opportunity to show off with their fancy new weapons. In this instance, at the very least, that includes a pocket-sized ray-gun which melts concrete, a pair of vicious claw-tipped gloves, and the uncanny ability to cast a shadow in the silhouette of a laughing buzzard! These are employed to rout a crook named Killer Pocci and his mob of henchmen from their refuge in a towering building, where they’ve retreated with $100,000 in stolen ash! The Buzzard ably fights his way up stairwells and elevator shafts in a sort-of reverse Die Hard, ploughing through a dozen tough guys before obligingly kicking the chief baddie through the window on his way out. Whoever’s behind the disguise sure can fight!
With all the potential suspects gathered at the site of the shoot-out, it’s impossible to say which one wielded the identity of The Buzzard. After one appearance, it’s a mystery that may never be solved...