Golden Age Showcase: Amazing Man

Well, last week was fun but I think it’s time for a return to form.  Let’s talk about an obscure comic book hero from an obscure comic book publisher who had more of an impact on the world of comics than he had any right to have.

Today we’re talking about the aptly named Amazing Man.

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Origin and Career

Amazing Man was one of the greatest and most noteworthy heroes to come out of a small publisher called Centaur Publishing, mostly because he was created by comic book super creator Bill Everett.

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Centaur was a spin off company created by two former employees of National Allied Publications, the company that would eventually become DC Comics.

They were actually one of the first comic book publishing companies in American history and in 1939 they debuted Amazing Man in the creatively named Amazing Man Comics #5.

Comic Book Cover For Amazing Man Comics #5

Now, I’ve seen some covers created by some of the greatest comic book talent and while this one isn’t as colorful or as action packed as most of them, it certainly does a hell of a lot to pique my interest.

In traditional Golden Age fashion, his backstory is explained in one page.  When he was a baby he was adopted by a group of monks and trained to be their instrument.

Comic Book Cover For Amazing Man Comics #5

I love how they call him an “ultra man” and how a group of Tibetan monks look so pale and white.

The monks put him through a battery of tests, Comic Book Cover For Amazing Man Comics #5

Comic Book Cover For Amazing Man Comics #5

I honestly don’t know which one I think is more awesome.

Almost as a side note, one of the monks injects him with a serum that turns him into a green mist.

Comic Book Cover For Amazing Man Comics #5

Why? How?  Who cares!

He goes out into the world and stops his first crime by uncovering a conspiracy by a greedy railroad president to wreck his trains but not before our hero uses his unexplained powers of telepathy to boost a moving train over a washed out bridge.

Comic Book Cover For Amazing Man Comics #5

It’s like the movie Speed, only with trains instead of buses.

It’s presumed that the President of the railroad company did it for insurance money, but the reason is never given and the story ends with the criminal committing suicide rather than being captured.

Comic Book Cover For Amazing Man Comics #5

There was an interesting plot point revealed early on that actually managed to separate the Amazing Man from the competition.  Early in the series it was revealed that one of the monks from The Amazing Man’s home turned out to be evil.

The monk’s name was “The Great Question” and he had the ability to control Amazing Man telepathically,

Comic Book Cover For Amazing Man Comics #6

What’s really interesting is that Everett didn’t shy away from violence, showing people getting beaten and even shot.

Comic Book Cover For Amazing Man Comics #6

The battle between Amazing Man and the Great Question would become the defining conflict of the series until it was cancelled in 1942.  Most of the adventures were pretty run of the mill, if it weren’t for the glorious covers that were featured on almost all of the issues.

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So what happened?

One of the defining traits of comic book publishers during the Golden Age was that, with the exception of Marvel and Detective Comics, a lot of them wound up either going out of business or folded into other publications.

Centaur Publications is a rather unique story because it’s shelf life was even shorter than most of its competitors.

Thanks to a bad distribution deal the company went out of business in 1942, they didn’t even get to see the end of the war.

Someone must have remembered them, because in 1992 a good portion of their characters were revived by another comic book publisher called Malibu Comics.

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Amazing Man was part of the revival and he found himself part of a superhero group known as the Protectors,

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complete with all the trappings and glorious excess that was a hallmark of superheroes in the 1990’s.

In a sad twist of fate, Malibu Comics would suffer the same fate as Centaur.  They fell victim to the skulduggery surrounding the comic book industry of the 1990’s and were bought out by Marvel in 1994.

Amazing Man would make another appearance in Dynamite’s Project Superpowers title,

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but what’s really interesting is how his legacy managed to live on in Marvel Comics itself.

John Aman would make an appearance in the Invincible Iron Fist #12 in 2008.

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Marvel kept the name, the ability to change into a glowing green mist, and his mystical connections to Tibetan culture by having him become the “Prince of Orphans” and being charged with hunting down a character named Orson Randall, the man who was the Iron Fist superhero before Danny Rand took over.

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Long story short, Orson and Aman are originally enemies but wind up fighting for the same side when Aman learns that his employers lied to him about their plans for their city and Earth.

The Prince of Orphans would also make appearances in Secret Avengers,

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the Marvel event comic Fear Itself, where he had to fight a possessed Iron Fist in order to save the universe, and most recently as an antagonist in the 2012 Defenders series.

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So what we have here is a revamped Golden Age superhero with ties to Tibetan mysticism, who is a brilliant martial artist who can turn himself into a green mist, and who winds up being a sort of assassin for the same mystical city that created Iron Fist.  Now, I don’t want to put thoughts in anyone’s head, but don’t you think a guy with a cool power set would be perfect for a certain set of shows on a tiny little network like say…Netflix?

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All I’m saying is that there’s a lot of history to go back on here, and while I haven’t gotten around to watching the Iron Fist show on Netflix, everything I’ve heard tells me that they could use something a bit more…amazing.

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Golden Age Showcase: All Negro Comics #1

So this show just came out on Netflix.

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I freaking love it.  The actors are awesome, the soundtrack is phenomenal, and while it’s probably the least “comic booky” of all the shows Marvel puts out, it is a fantastic homage to the 1970’s blaxploitation films that the comic took influence from.

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Luke Cage was a product of the 1970’s, a time when American black culture was really coming into its own, and comic books responded with a whole bunch of new and interesting black characters, including Luke Cage himself.

Luke Cage, Hero for Hire #1 (1972)

Black Lightning #1 (1977)

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While black people and culture would come into its own in the late 60’s and early 70’s, black people were actually part of comic book culture from its very beginning.

In a lot of the Golden Age Comics I’ve read over the course of this blog I’ve come across a lot of black characters.  The downside is that the overwhelming majority of these characters were not exactly culturally sensitive.

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However, that didn’t stop black people from looking at the racism and stereotypes prevalent in the early days of the comic book industry and trying to do something about it.

It a time when it was still illegal for a black man to use the same restroom as a white man.

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there were black people who took a look at comic books, this new form of mass entertainment that was capturing the hearts and minds of millions, and said,

“we deserve our own comic books and we’re going to make them ourselves.”

Today we’re going to look at the first comic book created by black people, for black people.

Comic Book Cover For All-Negro Comics #1


Despite what you might think by looking at the cover, this comic has a hell of a pedigree behind it.

The idea for the comic came from a man named Orrin C. Evans.

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Mr. Evens was a reporter from Philadelphia.  Not only was he a reporter, he worked for a paper called the Philadelphia Record

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and was the first black reporter to work for a mainstream newspaper.

When the Record went out of business in 1947 he teamed up with several of his former co workers from the newspaper and published All Negro Comics #1 in 1947.

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Evans was a member of the NAACP and a strong advocate for racial equality and it shows in the very first page of the comic, where he explains that the comic was created to educate people about the contributions and accomplishments of black people in America, celebrate those achievements, and “to give American Negroes a reflection of their natural spirit of adventure and a finer appreciation of their African heritage”.

 Comic Book Cover For All-Negro Comics #1

This was a comic written by black people, drawn by black people, for black people and the stories and artwork are pretty darn good.

It was a 52 page anthology comic that had a bit of everything.  Besides the introductory letter there were prose stories along with a collection of diverse stories from crime mysteries and comedies.  There were even some PSA’s and “crime doesn’t pay” advertisements.

Comic Book Cover For All-Negro Comics #1

Some of the more notable characters were figures like Ace Harlem, a detective who managed to chase down and capture a pair of thieves who held up a barbecue restaurant and killed its owner.

 Comic Book Cover For All-Negro Comics #1

the man was intelligent, observant, and capable of dishing out a beating when he needed too.

Comic Book Cover For All-Negro Comics #1

Another story was a single page comedy featuring a character named “Lil’Eggie” who suffered at the hands of his over bearing wife.

Comic Book Cover For All-Negro Comics #1

and then there’s my personal favorite: “Lion Man”

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Lion Man was an American college educated man who was sent to Africa at the behest of the United Nations in an attempt to safeguard a large natural deposit of uranium in order to prevent evil men from seizing it to make a bomb.

Comic Book Cover For All-Negro Comics #1

He had a sidekick named Bubba, who was often more trouble than he was worth.

Comic Book Cover For All-Negro Comics #1

He tried to be helpful.  After Lion Man stopped the evil Dr. Sangro from seizing the mountain,

Comic Book Cover For All-Negro Comics #1

Bubba tries to help by using a machine gun to attack the assailants.

Comic Book Cover For All-Negro Comics #1

the plot is foiled, but Dr. Sangro survives to fight another day.

What I really like about this comic is how it portrays the traditional “African savage” with a lot more respect than other comics from the time.  Granted, Lion Man is American and Bubba does fall into a lot of the tropes that belong to annoying, mildly racist sidekicks, but when all is said and done it is probably the fairest and most reasonable portrayal of black men in Africa in the 1940’s.

The comic had good writing, good artwork, and a heartfelt message behind it.  It was a great representation of what black people could do for comics and deserves a place in the history books as the first comic of its kind.

So what happened?

While there were plans for an All Negro Comics #2 but the title was doomed from the start.

For starters the comic was only distributed to segregated African American communities

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which meant that the audience for the comic was sadly limited.

Second, the price for the comic was 15 cents during time when every other comic was selling for 10 cents.

And finally, good ol’ fashioned racism reared its ugly head when everyone from the people selling the newsprint the comic was printed on to the distributors who put the comic on newsstands refused to do business with Evens and his business partners.

All Negro Comics would only last a single issue, even though we don’t know how many comics were sold it’s safe to say it didn’t sell very well.  However, I like to think that this comic represented an important moment in comic book history and the history of race in America.

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For the first time, a group of black people looked at an industry that was overwhelmingly created by and for white children and said “No, we can create comic books and stories that deserve to be told too” and they did.

There’s no way of telling what the impact of All Negro Comics had on the black community at the time, but it’s important to recognize and acknowledge it as a foundation for black people in comics.

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Golden Age Showcase: Patricia Walker

I know we just started looking at Golden Age super villains and I promise we’ll get back to them next week but over the weekend I decided to give some credit to another group that hasn’t gotten a lot of attention in the blog series, women.

Like many people who will probably read this article I spent the weekend watching Marvel’s new Netflix show Jessica Jones.

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For those of you who want my opinion on the show I like it.  It’s engaging, brutal, intense, the action is great, the acting is great, it has an amazing supporting cast (LUKE CAGE!!), and David Tenant is one of the most chilling super villains I’ve seen on screen


However, during one of the episodes something caught my eye about Jessica’s best friend and step sister Trish Walker.


Without spoiling too much of the show Patsy is a former child star who has her own talk show, plenty of money, and lots of fans.  During an episode one of these fans approaches her with a comic book for her to sign and talks about how she used to have red hair.  That got me curious and a quick Google search revealed that Patsy Walker was actually a Golden Age teen comedy comic book series that was first published in 1944


which technically puts her in the Golden Age but what’s really interesting is that she would later become the superhero Hellcat.


So we have a Golden Age comic book character who was originally part of a non superhero franchise donning a cape and mask to fight crime.  What happened?  Let’s find out.

Origin and Career

In order to understand the early days of Trish Walker we have to take a brief looking into post World War 2 comic book history.  After the Allies won the war and America finished kicking Nazi and Japanese butt the American public grew tired of superheroes and as a result many comic book companies either went out of business or started publishing comics in other genres.  Believe it or not there was a time when superhero comics weren’t the biggest sellers.  Instead comic book publishers started moving into other genres like horror

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and romance.


The original Patsy Walker fell into the teen comedy genre of comics, a genre that is nowhere near as popular as it once was but still lives on in one of the most enduring comic book titles the world has ever known


Back to Miss. Walker, Patsy was first published in 1944 in Miss America Magazine 


The character and comic was created by Canadian artist and comic book pioneer Ruth Atkinson


who was one of the first female artists and character creators in a genre that was (and still is) dominated by the guys.

Patsy Walker was created to be very much a “girl character”.

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She lived the American teenage dream with her suburban parents, had a boyfriend Robert Baxter, and a safe non threatening rivalry with another girl named Hedy Wolfe.  They went on dates


went to the beach


and engaged in safe, non threatening, hilarious hi jinks.


And it all sold like hotcakes.  When the Golden Age of comics ended in 1953 and the whole medium was under siege from angry parents who burned comic books due to fears that it caused juvenile delinquency


Patsy Walker continued to be published and sell until 1965, with several spin off series lasting even longer.  Fun fact: 1961’s Patsy Walker #95 


was actually one of the first comic books to be published under Timely Comic’s (they changed their name to Atlas Comics in 1951) new banner: Marvel Comics.  So thanks to this teenage girl who did little more than hang out with her friends and go on dates with her boy friend we may not have the Marvel comic book universe we know today.

So what happened?

The 1970’s happened.  By 1971 superheroes had come back in a big way and teenage comedies were on their way out.  Patsy and her rival Heady had made cameo appearances in the Marvel Universe in 1965 so it was established that they knew about heroes like the Hulk, Iron Man, and Spider Man.

Now here’s where it gets weird and kind of brilliant.  It turned out that Patsy Walker had merely been the inspiration for the teenage romance comics which had been drawn in universe by her mother Dorothy Walker


Dorothy had pushed her daughter into modeling and acting by acting as her agent (for those of you who haven’t watched Jessica Jones this factors heavily into the show) and her exposure to comic books as well as the stories of the heroes around her inspired Patsy to want to be a superhero.

She married her child hood sweetheart Robert Baxter who was assigned to work security for a government subsidized company called the Brand Corporation.  There she met Hank McCoy, also known as the X-man Beast,  and convinced him to help her become a hero.


She wound up ending her marriage and while tagging along with the Avengers she discovered a discarded superhero costume and named herself Hellcat.


Now here’s where it gets weird.  After a brief stint on Saturn’s moon Titan as the guest of alien princess Moon Dragon (no really)


she came back with enhanced abilities and extensive martial arts training.  She joined the superhero team the Defenders, which is like the Avengers but more down to Earth and is currently in the process of being formed in Marvel’s Netflix set of shows, and met Damian Hellstrom.  Damian was part demon and naturally the two hit it off.


The two were married despite the rather violent objections of her ex husband managed to live happy lives right up until the point where Damian reverted back to being a full fledged demon from Hell and scared his wife so much she went into a vegetative state and her soul was sent to Hell.


She spent quite a bit of time fighting demons in a hellish gladiatorial arena before she was rescued by the Defenders.  Her character started taking on more supernatural enemies after her salvation including an attempt by the warlock Nicholas Scratch to take over her home town of Centerville (which was home to a corporation that was founded on her old comic book fame and where her old rival Hedey worked)


and she helped defeat an extra dimensional ruler Dormammu.


Nowadays she’s still around in the Marvel Universe acting as an adviser, consort, and friend to other heroes.  And of course she shed her occult and mystical adventures to become the best friend and erstwhile sidekick of Jessica Jones on Netflix.

Although she may only have a small part to play in the comics and TV shows now, Patsy Walker exists as one of the most peculiar titles in all of comics.  She has one of the longest and most lasting reputations in the medium and has transitioned from teenage dream girl, to costumed superhero, to occult demon slayer, to live action hero supporting cast.  Aren’t comics great?