Tuesday, May 15, 2018

The Crimson Avenger and Dick Tracy


I liked The Crimson Avenger when I was a kid, but he didn't really stand out among the other non-powered Golden Age heroes for me.  That all changed when I read his appearance in a Whatever Happened To... tale in an issue of DC Comics Presents.  In just a few pages, we were treated to the tale of his final, self-sacrificing adventure.  It made a huge impact on me, and I have always made a point to check out his appearances since then.

15 comments:

AirDave said...

Cool cover. That "Whatever Happened To..." backup was a great story. I picked up the Crimson Avenger mini-series later on. I'm wondering who copied who - Lee Travis is an awful lot like Britt Reid. I think I like cape and fedora version better than the finhead costume, though...

jackel said...

to Air Dave above
...the Green Hornet began on radio on 30 January 1936 and the Crimson Avenger comic character started in October 1938...
another classy and colorful cover, Ross!!!

-> Ray said...

I think that everyone who read that issue of DC Comics Presents became a Crimson Avenger fan.

Carl Cafarelli said...

The Crimson Avenger's inspiration The Green Hornet is in the current arc running in the Dick Tracy comic strip.

Cary Comic said...

I was a fan of the Crimson Avenger starting with JLA (vol. 1) #100! The awesome opening chapter to the summer-long trilogy that helped re-introduce the 7 Soldiers of Victory to Silver Age readers.*

As to the change over from imitation GH ensemble to fin-head costume? That was probably for the same reason the Golden Age Sandman was given a gold-and-purple costume. With the advent of WWII, most civilians must've thought only enemy spies wore trench coats, cloaks, and fedoras. So, to make their readers less paranoid, comic book publishers put their "mystery men" into more garish costumes. To show them openly defending the home front (against Axis espionage and sabotage) in bright, cheerful colors!

"That's my theory and I'm sticking to it." ;-)

*With, of course, my favorite installment occurring in issue 101. Namely, stage-costumed Zatanna helping Barry-Flash and the Red Tornado rescue Golden Age Speedy from the raven-haired Circe of Earth-2!

Bob Greenwade said...

Funny thing: Just this morning I was thinking about the Crimson Avenger's sidekick, and how it might be interesting to team him up with Doctor Strange's houseman: Wing and Wong! (Arguably a bit of racial ridicule, but please note that I've done similar things with names in many other languages.)

This idea came from thinking of my one (credited) idea to appear on this blog: Snow White and the Seven Soldiers of Victory. That, in turn, came from someone else's recent comment to me that DC had already teamed up some of its own characters with selected Loony Tunes characters (such as Jonah Hex and Yosemite Sam, or Bugs Bunny with the Legion of Super-Heroes), and my subsequent discovery that they'd done the same with Hanna-Barbera (most notably Green Lantern and Space Ghost). It made me wonder what Disney princesses and other characters they could (theoretically) team up with their heroes, the above being one possibility.

The only other idea that really stood out was Mulan and Katana, though Batman and Rapunzel (with frying pan in hand) might be interesting, and a "World's Finest" send-up with Captain Carrot and Darkwing Duck has, I think been suggested before.

Perhaps more interesting, though, would be a meeting of Belle's Beast with Dr. Hank McCoy. (Rapunzel and Medusa also comes to mind, but seems to me a tad less compelling unless they're sharing hair-care tips -- perhaps at a hair salon with "Uptown Funk" on the radio.)

AirDave: Going by the Wikipedia article on Lee Travis (with a little interpretation), I think that the Crimson Avenger was tacitly meant as a mashup between the Green Hornet and the Shadow. The costume change, like that of the Sandman, was prompted by the increasing popularity of superheroes over pulp-style vigilantes.

Wolfhammer said...

Nice one! You can't go wrong with these Golden Age team-ups.

Anonymous said...

@Wolfhammer: couldn't have said it better, myself, dude. :-)

---Carycomic

Cary Comic said...

P.S.---the only two baddies who could bring these two together might be...Pruneface and Iron Hand!

If you could make that official with a sequel cover, you could entitle it "Cleansing Face and Hands." Or, maybe even, "Anatomy of Two Murderers!"

Christopher Murphy said...

...or the Iron Prune!

Cary Comic said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cary Comic said...

@CM: sounds more like a dietary product.

"Try Iron Prune! The world's first nutritional supplement and laxative in one. Not available by mail order."

DeepSeaDawson said...

JLA (vol. 1) #100 was my introduction to the Crimson Avenger as well. But, I mistakenly thought the energy/magic powers were always his and so adopted him as my favorite magician-superhero. It wasn't until a couple of years later I found out the truth and he lost favor with me. But, that "Whatever Happened to.." brought him back to my attention and I've collected all of his appearances (that were affordable) that I could.

I always though he would've been a great team-up with a Batman. It takes talent to be grim & gritty while all in red with a yellow head-fin.

Anonymous said...

I remember the "Secret Origins" special where he finally got an origin! Since the gimmick had worked so well with the Silver Age Batgirl (Babs Gordon), they made his gangster-looking outfit a masquerade party costume. Though, in his case, the party was held on the night of Oct. 30, 1938. Yes, that's right. The same night as Orson Wells' Mercury Theater adaptation of HGW's WOTW!

To use Lee Travis' own words: "...I look like a cross between the Lone Ranger and the Phantom of the Opera!"

Anonymous said...

Looks like that "zero-tolerance-of-vigilantes" policy (alluded to in STF #1119) has softened to the point of zero enforcement!

Support STF: The Lost Issues!