Golden Age Showcase: Miss Masque

It’s been a while since we had a lady superhero on this blog that didn’t have a huge mainstream movie come out this year.

Let’s see…what femme fatale looks good this week?

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Okay, she looks good.

Today we take a look at the comic book superhero Miss Masque and no, she is not a Carmen Sandiago clone…although that would be pretty kickass.

Origin and Career

Miss Masque made her first appearance in Exciting Comics #51 in September of 1946 and was published by Nedor Comics, a division of the company Standard Comics.

Comic Book Cover For Exciting Comics #51

She shared the limelight with her slightly more famous superhero comrade, The Black Terror.

That was the cover of her first issue, this is the double page spread that introduced her to readers:

Comic Book Cover For Exciting Comics #51

I’m not going to lie, as first impressions go that’s a pretty good one.

As for creators, there are no author or artist credits on any of her stories.  However, artists Alex Schomburg and Frank Frazetta have been credited with supplying several covers featuring Miss Masque.  For anyone who might not know, Alex Schomburg was one of the most prolific and dynamic cover artists of the Golden Age of Comics.

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and Frank Frazetta is the reason why we think Conan the Barbarian looks like a chiseled barbarian warlord.

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Anyway, back to Miss Masque.  Her backstory is simple, she’s a socialite named Diana Adams and she moonlights as a superhero, that’s it.  No tragic event, no dead parents (that we know of), and no lab accidents.

Image result for golden age miss masque

She’s just an ordinary lady with her wits, two pistols, and a lot of time on her hands.

Her first adventure is a simple one.  After her car breaks down she attempts to get help from a greedy old farmer who is currently engaged in a water dispute with his neighbor.

Comic Book Cover For Exciting Comics #51

The farmer attempts to fix the problem by hiring a bum to burn his neighbor’s property to the ground but the bum attempts to steal from him, the farmer gets violent, and Diana changes into Miss Masque in order to investigate.

Comic Book Cover For Exciting Comics #51

The farmer knocks her out (this kind of happens a lot in the future) and attempts to ditch the evidence by burning his house down.

Comic Book Cover For Exciting Comics #51

All pretty standard evil so far, but he tried to kill the dog and that is unforgivable.

Miss Masque escapes and tracks the farmer down, only to have him drown in a cruelly ironic way.

Comic Book Cover For Exciting Comics #51

That…is not a good way to go.

Most of her stories followed a similar format.  Her stories would open with a massive double page spread,

Comic Book Cover For Exciting Comics #54

and then she would go on to solve the “case of the week” with little to know continuity between issues.

It’s worth noting that she was a pretty capable superheroine.

Comic Book Cover For Exciting Comics #54

She would find a problem that usually involved whoever she was dating at the time, discover some dastardly scheme, and kick all kinds of butt and have the situation wrapped up in a couple of pages.

The artwork is pretty good too.

The formula must have worked because Miss Masque turned out to be pretty popular.  She got a couple of cover appearances,

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and she even became one of Nedor’s top three characters along with the Black Terror and the Fighting Yank.

Comic Book Cover For America's Best Comics #24

It’s worth mentioning that she underwent a costume redesign around 1947 where she showed off a bit more skin.

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Sometimes it’s important to remember that stereotypes about women in comics exist for a reason.

So what happened?

Nedor Comics must have been undergoing the same troubles the entire comic book industry was suffering through in the late 1940’s because they were consolidated into their parent company Standard Comics in 1949, which went under itself in 1956.

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It almost seems like a broken record at this point but Miss Masque most likely suffered the same fate that befell most Golden Age superheroes in the fifties when the comic book industry was gutted by parents and lawmakers worried that comics were corrupting their children.

If I had to make an educated guess she was doomed from the start since her initial publication date of 1946 lines up with the decline of the superhero genre in American comics and it’s pretty safe to assume she was created as an attempt to boost sales.

However Miss Masque, along with most of the Standard Comics’ library of characters, would receive a reboot in the 1990’s when most of them entered the public domain.

She wound up becoming pretty popular at AC Comics, making a couple of cover appearances in their annual issues,

Image result for ac comics annual #2 miss masque

A team member of groups like Femforce,

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and she even got her own solo series.

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In this new continuity she retained her identity of wealthy socialite Diana Adams only this time her costume is the source of her power and her will to do good, since it’s possessed by a “spirit of justice”.

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I’d also say it was possessed by the spirit of 90’s comic book cheese.

She also appeared in Alan Moore’s Terra Obscura series in the early 2000’s,

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where she was engaged in a romantic relationship with another character named Fighting Spirit.

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Most recently Miss Masque was part of Dynamite Comics Project Superpowers series from 2008 to 2010.  In this series she got another costume change where she looks even more like Carmen Sandiago,

Image result for miss masque dynamite entertainment

she also suffers from amnesia and has actual superpowers this time.  She can replicate other people’s appearances, although her powers seem to be a bit ill defined.

Dynamite even gave her a spinoff solo series in 2009 which lasted for four issues.

Maybe it’s the red and the artists’ fascination with her legs that makes her so popular.

Miss Masque is one of the best female superheroes to come out of the Golden Age of Comics.  While we tend to look back at that time as a place where men ruled and women were considered to be side props, it’s important to remember that there were people out there who thought much differently and were willing to put a lot of time and effort into creating capable and well written female comic book characters.

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Golden Age Showcase: Catwoman

It’s no small secret that the world of comic book superheroes has been something of a boy’s club and that statement rings especially true for the Golden Age villains.  Although it was previously mentioned that Superman’s first powered villain, the Ultra Humanite, did transfer his mind to a woman’s body the world of Golden Age comics just couldn’t conceive of female mad scientists, gangsters, or Nazi soldiers.

In that case I do think it’s kind of ironic that the Golden Age would wind up giving birth to one of the most iconic female villains of all time, one who would prove to be one of Batman’s most intriguing and beguiling rogues: Catwoman.


Origin and career:

Selina Kyle was created by the original creators of the Caped Crusader: Bill Finger and Bob Kane.  She appeared in the very first issue of June 1940 in a short story entitled “The Cat”.


In her story Dick Greyson, the first Robin, disguises himself as a steward aboard the yacht of a wealthy socialite named Mrs. Travers.  After a drawn out showdown where a group of gangsters attempt to rob the passengers on board it is eventually revealed that Mrs. Travers was actually a famed jewel thief named “The Cat”.


While The Cat attempts to persuade Batman to join her in her life of crime Batman nobly refuses and vows to take her in.  However she manages to escape at Batman simply lets her go, thus starting one of the longest and most painfully drawn out love/hate relationship in comic book history.


The Cat would go on to appear in the very next issue, this time dressed in a hood and cape.  She managed to escape being caught by the Batman again by offering him information on the whereabouts of the Joker.

In the next issue she appeared sporting a cat mask along with her cape.


And Batman allowed her to escape on account of his feelings towards her.

Their cat and mouse game would continue and the two would develop even deeper romantic feelings towards each other as time went on and in Batman #10 Catwoman would adopt her more traditional black jumpsuit.


And Catwoman would adopt several personas and disguises to flummox the Dark Knight.  However, things would come to a head in Batman #15 when Batman learned that Catwoman had been impersonating a woman he liked named Linda Page, leading to the Batman actually arresting Catwoman for the first time.

For a while the two would follow a familiar pattern of Catwoman attempting to reform, reverting back to crime, Batman stopping her and letting her escape, and the two of them sharing a romantic tension that was almost unbearable. However, Catwoman accidentally hit her head in The Brave and the Bold # 62 in 1950 and reveal that her actual name was Selina Kyle and she was actually a former stewardess with amnesia who simply thought she was Catwoman.


Batman wanted to help her and Selina vowed to hang up her costume for good, even going as far as to help Batman apprehend one of her former criminal acquaintances.  Sadly it was revealed five years later that this had also been a ruse.

Catwoman’s final Golden Age appearance was in 1954.  After retiring as Catwoman Selina came roaring back after an unflattering article about her past life was published.  After making off with a shipment of diamonds she actually managed to catch Batman but eventually relented, let him go, and surrendered to the police.

So what happened?

The Comics Code happened.


Andthe Comics Code juuuust couldn’t stand having a femme fatale who was capable of being a bad guy with any sort of emotional complexity.

However all was not lost.  When DC comics re introduced the old Golden Age heroes and villains in a parallel dimension known as Earth 2 in 1961 Selina and Bruce re started their romantic relationship and in 1987 the two were actually married and had a daughter named Helena Wayne.


However, the two were heroes and it is verifiable comic book law that super heroes never get a happy ending.  Selina was found out by a former criminal acquaintance named Silky Cernak and black mailed her into helping him commit a robbery.  Batman managed to stop them but not before Selina caught a bullet and fell to her death.  She died in Batman’s arms.


Their daughter Helena would go on to become the costumed hero Huntress.


Catwoman would go on to become one of the most popular female figures in comic books.  She would undergo various re imaginings and various changes to her backstory as time went by that are far to numerous to talk about here but one thing still remains: she is and forever will be one of Batman’s greatest rogues and his first and greatest love.