MIGHTY CRUSADERS HANDBOOK: Shield
Irv Novick & Harry Shorten
Joined Mighty Crusaders:
In an untold story prior to Mighty Crusaders (vol. 2) #1
Pep Comics #1, January 1940
Joe Higgins, the son of scientist Tom Higgins, whose research had included a quest for a chemical to give super-powers to ordinary humans. With success within his grasp, the elder Higgins was killed by foreign agents. The son, an F.B.I. Agent used the process on himself, then made put together a skin-tight outfit based on the American flag to become G-Man Extraordinary, the Shield.
The legend of the Shield began around the tail end of World War I with the experiments of Lt. Tom Higgins. In between his duties for Military Intelligence, he dabbled in science on the side. In one of those experiments, he discovered a chemical formula that when coated on certain parts of the body would turn an ordinary man into a superman. But before he could complete his experiments, he was assigned to guard an ammunition shipment that was arriving on the Jersey Shore. But before he could reach the Jersey Shore, he was taken captive by a group of German agents.
When Tom Higgins regained consciousness, he found out that his captors not only wanted to prevent him from reaching the ammunition barges, they also wanted his formula as well. So after overpowering his captors, he managed to escape tried to reach the ammunition barges on the Jersey Shore to keep them from being destroyed by the spies. But by the time he reached those barges, the saboteurs had done their dirty work and were fleeing the barges just as Higgins rowed out to stop them. He was then caught in the explosion that destroyed the barges.
As the news of the explosion spread like wildfire, the press of the day laid the blame on Higgins for what the press of the day dubbed “the Black Tom Explosion”. Both Higgins’ friend J. Edgar Hoover and Higgins’ young son Joseph came to his deathbed just hear him tell what really happened. Before he breathed his last, Tom Higgins revealed to his son Joe the formula for his solution in the form of the anatomical formula that took the form of the word “SHIELD”. After Tom Higgins breathed his last, his son Joe vowed not only to clear his name but finish his experiment as well.
In the years that followed, Joe Higgins devoted himself to the study of chemistry. He worked hard those many years on his studies in this science, eventually earning a doctorate in chemistry. Shortly after earning his doctorate, he continued his father’s experiments trying to find the SHIELD formula. It was while going through an old anatomy book that he found the answer to father’s last words. He found that the SHIELD formula referred to six parts of the body that when coated with the chemical solution would turn an ordinary man into a superhuman. Those six parts of the body whose first letters formed the word “shield” were in order;
Sacrum; The Spinal Center of the body.
Heart; The Pump of the body
Innervation; The Nervous System
Eyes; The power of sight
Lungs; Control of respiration
Derma; The skin
After coating his body with the chemical solution, Higgins then donned a special fibro-metallic suit of his own invention to allow the chemical to be absorbed into his body. He then lied still on a table for 12 hours while being bathed in fluoroscopic rays to force the chemical in the organs of his body. Twelve hours later, he found that his father’s chemical solution had done what he intended it to do. Higgins found that his body could now withstand tremendous heat and was invulnerable to bodily harm as he found out that bullets merely bounce off his skin. He also found out that his strength was increased to superhuman levels and he could also leap tremendous distances and even his speed and endurance was increased dramatically.
But an unusual side effect from the chemical was how it affected the fibro-metallic suit which allowed him to absorb the chemical. It changed the plain white suit into a more distinctive costume of red, white, and blue with the area around his torso bearing a design created by the chemical which resembled a shield. It was from this chemical created design and the SHIELD formula that inspired Joe Higgins to take on the code name of Shield.
Joe Higgins’ first mission as the Shield was to find the German Spy leader who ordered the sabotage of those ammunition barges during World War I and clear his father’s name. He first visited J. Edgar Hoover and revealed his secret identity to him. Then, as Joe Higgins, he planted an item in a newspaper that stated that he had found the anatomical formula hoping to lure the spy leader, Hans Fritz (who also had Tom Higgins’ original chemical solution) out into the open. Fritz – now working for Germany’s Nazi Regime – sent two of his men to kidnap Higgins only to be caught by the Shield. After getting the information out of Fritz’s men, the Shield cornered Fritz only to have him escape through a trapdoor leading to an underground tunnel. As he tried to flee by plane, the Shield managed to leap up into the air and grab the plane as it was taking off. Grabbing the propeller of the plane in his bare hands, the Shield forced a confession from Fritz about his role in the Black Tom incident by threatening to let the plane crash to the ground. After getting the confession, the Shield then handed Fritz over to the authorities leading to the breakup of his spy ring. Thus began the career of the Shield (Shield-Wizard Comics #1).
Shortly afterward, Joe Higgins began cramming for the entrance exams that he had to take in order to for him to enter the FBI academy. After passing the written exams with flying colors, Higgins began his training under the tutelage of Agent JuJu Watson. After he completed his training, Joe Higgins got his first assignment as an FBI agent. This assignment came in the form of a woman named Ruby Ingot who alerted the FBI about the goings on at the steel mill owned by her father John Ingot. In this case, former convicts hired as security guards have taken over the factory and were holding the father hostage in order to steal the payroll.
Once they arrived at the factory; Higgins, Watson, and Miss Ingot were taken captive by the crooked guards. The gang then threw Higgins into a furnace and were about to dispose of the others in a vat of muriatic acid. Higgins escaped from the furnace and – as the Shield – succeeded in saving the others from being thrown into a vat of acid. Using his super-powers, the Shield managed to apprehend some of the gang by pouring a ring of molten steel around them. He then managed to free John Ingot from the rest of the gang and capture them at the same time. Thus ended Joe Higgins’ first assignment (Shield-Wizard #1).
Shortly afterward, Higgins got his second assignment as he and Watson were assigned to find the missing witnesses who were to testify against racketeer Lou Zefke. Joe and JuJu along with Ilia Morgan, the daughter of one of the missing witnesses, went to a graveyard to dig up a corpse that was found on a garbage barge. JuJu and Ilia were taken captive by Zefke’s mob while Joe managed to escape. As the Shield, he managed to save both Miss Morgan and Watson – both tied to a railroad track – from being run over by an express train by stopping it with his bare hands. Afterwards, he captured Zefke’s men and forced them to testify against their boss. Thus ended Joe’s second assignment (Shield-Wizard #1).
By the time of his first recorded case, Joe Higgins was frequently being assigned to cases that would eventually lead him to go into action as the Shield. Since J. Edgar Hoover knew that Higgins – who had become one of his top agents by then – was really the super-powered “mystery man” known as the Shield, it was practically a given. Higgins’ first recorded case as the Shield was to wreck a Stokian spy ring that was committing acts of sabotage around the East Coast (Pep Comics #1). His next mission was to smash a plot by the Nordics to hijack oil shipments around the Puerto Rico area (Pep #2). Afterward, he smashed the terrorist organization headed by Count Zongarr (Pep #3). In each case, he left with his defeated adversaries his calling card in the form of a small metal shield which bore four stars in a blue field and alternating red and white stripes. The four stars representing his creed; Truth, Patriotism, Courage, and Justice. But his greatest early mission was ahead of him.
In May of 1940, the country of Mosconia launched a series of attacks in order to destabilize America to leave it open to invasion from Mosconia. The Shield became alerted to this plot by the Wizard when he alerted the FBI to the Mosconian threat and vowed to help protect against any new attacks by the Mosconians (Top-Notch Comics #5). Shortly afterward, he was alerted by Hoover that the Mosconians plan to attack the Naval base at Pearl Harbor and was alerted by the Wizard about their base at Kuala. Taking a trans-Pacific plane to Hawaii, he spotted the Mosconian bomber planes about to launch an attack from the plane. After taking a ten-thousand-foot swan dive from the plane into the bay at Pearl Harbor, the Shield swam to the S. S. Manilla – which was docked at Pearl Harbor – and borrowed an anti-aircraft gun from the ship.
Using the high tower of a great suspension bridge as a perch, the Shield used the anti-aircraft gun in a one-man defense of Pearl Harbor. After shooting down much of the Mosconian air squadron, he noticed that one plane managed to let loose one bomb. He then leaped into the air and caught the bomb in mid-air. He also managed to maneuver himself and the bomb so it wouldn’t hit a battleship as he and the bomb plunged into the sea. But when the bomb and the Shield hit the water, the bomb releases a powerful gas that managed to incapacitate him long enough for him to be overpowered by a group of Mosconian agents.
After being chained by the Mosconians, the Shield was placed inside a huge cannon and was about to shot at one of the vessels at Pearl Harbor. After shattering his chains, the Shield managed to push a shell that was about to be fired into the firing mechanism, causing the cannon to backfire, destroying the cannon and the gun crew running it. After his escape, the Shield then learned of their plan to bomb the Luana volcano hoping to cause a calamitous eruption. After failing to stop the Mosconians from bombing the volcano, the Shield then tried to slow down the eruption by throwing huge boulders into the crater, hoping to dam up the crater. But as the crater was sealed, the edge gave way and he fell into the crater and was knocked unconscious by the fall. Fortunately, his peril was spotted by a cadet named Keith Kornell who was on assignment in the Hawaiian Islands spotted him as he fell and tried to rescue him. The Shield recovered consciousness and leaped with Kornell out of harm’s way. He found out that his actions stalled the volcano long enough for a mass evacuation to succeed, thus allowing him to smash one Mosconian plot against America (Pep #4).
to be continued….
Powers & Weapons:
The Shield has super strength, invulnerability, and wears an indestructible costume.
Miss Liberty 1
Pep Comics 1-65
Shield-Wizard Comics 1-13
Special Comics 1
Top Notch Comics 5 & 7
Mighty & Radio Comics:
Mighty Crusaders 1
Red Circle & Archie Comics:
Blue Ribbon Comics 13
Comet 1 & 2
Mighty Crusaders 1-13
Original Shield 1-4
The Shield TPB
Mighty Crusaders: Origin of a Super Team
New Crusaders: Rise of the Heroes 1-6
New Crusaders Preview Mini-Comic
New Crusaders: Rise of the Heroes TPB
New Crusaders: Dark Tomorrow Special 1
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