Wright Stuff #5: Golden Age Originals – DC Or Not DC, That Is The Question

“DC Or Not DC, That Is The Question”


DC Comics has the distinction of being the longest continuously running comic book publisher. Over the course of its history, DC has managed to absorb several of its competitors. Those competitors included Fawcett Comics, Quality Comics, and Charlton Comics and with each buy-out they absorbed the company’s stock of characters, giving them a massive portfolio of characters. Even so, there were still other companies who beat them to the draw with the names of characters.
black-orchidsBlack Orchid first appeared in DC comics in Adventure Comics #428 in 1973. However, thirty years earlier, another mysterious woman called herself Black Orchid. First appearing in Harvey Comics’ All New Short Story Comics #2, Black Orchid was the partner of a private detective. Neither she nor her partner were aware of the fact that the other was a costumed hero. While the story talked of their previous adventures together, it was the only appearance of Black Orchid and her partner Scarlet Nemesis. The following year another Black Orchid debuted in Tops Comics (an unnumbered book published by Consolidated Book Publishers). This Black Orchid was aided in her fight against crime with the help of a magic ring that emitted a black coloured knock-out gas.
captains-atomWith a very obvious nod to Buck Rogers, Captain Atom made the scene in Captain Atom #1. Published by Nationwide Comics, Captain Atom was an adventurer who used his scientific genius to create various inventions on his science fiction adventures. His stories were meant to increase kids’ interest in science and teach them lessons (in science). In 1960, Charlton Comics introduced their own Captain Atom in Space Adventures #33. Charlton’s Captain was a proper superhero with a shiny metal coating and atomic powers, a far cry from his predecessor. DC comics purchased Charlton Comics as it went under and absorbed the shiny Captain into their universe.
catmansOver the years, there have been many different different people who have gone by a variation of the name Catman. There was a cross-dressing crimebuster named Cat Man, an Australian answer to Batman called Catman, an American costumed hero named Cat-Man, as well as DC Comics’ roguish Catman. For the purpose of this article, I’m going to talk about the costumed hero Cat-Man who bears the strongest resemblence to DC’s Catman. 1940 saw the debut of Cat-Man in Holyoke’s Crash Comics #4. With an origin similar to Tarzan, young David Merrywether survived an attack by bandits in the Burmese jungles that slaughtered the rest of his family. He was found and raised by a tigress, and somehow gained the abilities of a jungle cat. Upon growing to adulthood, he made his way back to “civilization” and was horrified to find crime rampant everywhere. Donning an orange and red costume, he used his abilities as Cat-Man to fight crime. In 1963, a very similar looking Catman appeared in Detective Comics #311 to plague Batman with his cat-themed crimes, though no relation has ever been sited.
huntressesMy all-time favourite superheroine is DC’s Helena Wayne/Huntress. I’m not sure if it’s the cool costume, or the fact that she’s the daughter of the golden age Batman and the golden age Catwoman, but something about her just resonates with me. While many may know that Helena first appeared in 1977 in All Star Comics #69, and some may know her predecessor villainess Paula Brooks debuted in Sensation Comics #58 in 1947, not many know of another Huntress who appeared Quality Comics’ Doll Man #17 in 1948. Abused and scorned, Diana decided hunt down her ex-fiance like the animal he was. Skilled with a bow and arrow, Diana also was a deadshot with a gun too, making her a true Huntress. Alas, this was her only tale after Doll Man took her to jail we never saw her again.
mr-miraclesThe name Mr. Miracle is almost always associated with Jack Kirby’s New Gods, but before Mr. Miracle appeared in DC comics, there was another who bore that name. In 1941, Holyoke Comics published Captain Fearless #1, and one of the features therein was a magician/adventurer named Mr. Miracle. Granted cosmic powers by a dying scientist, a man whose real name is never revealed adopted a costume and the name Mr. Miracle and fought the forces of evil. After nly three appearances, this mystery mystic faded into the mists of time.
ravensFans of DC Comics’ Teen Titans are probably familiar with Raven, the daughter of an other-dimensional demon lord who first appeared in DC Comics Presents #26 in 1980. However, way back in 1940 there was another costumed crimefighter who went by the nom de guerre Raven. Debuting in Sun-Fire Comics #1 published by Ace Periodicals, Raven was a police detective who was fed up with criminals who used influence and money to get away from paying for their crimes. Creating a costumed identity, Detective Danny Dartin became Raven and adopted a Robin Hood-like M.O. by stealing from the rich criminals and giving to poor victims of crime. Possessing no powers, the Raven used only his quick wits and even quicker fists to fight crime and corruption wherever he found it.
superboysEveryone knows about Superboy, the adventures of Superman when he was a boy. However, before Superboy hit the scene, there was another by a similar name – Roy the Super Boy. Sidekick to the superhero The Wizard, Roy first appeared in Top Notch Comics #8 in 1940. While nicknamed “The Super Boy”, Roy possessed no super powers. It wasn’t until 1945 that DC came up with the idea of the boyhood adventures of Superman, and the character of Superboy didn’t get his own ongoing series until 1945.

“What’s in a name? That by which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” – William Shakespeare, from his play Romeo and Juliet.

About Author