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Star Spangled Comics
& the Star Spangled Kid

by Gerald Wilson

Self-made superheroes have always fascinated me. In fact, the first comic I ever bought (The Brave and the Bold #71) featured two such heroes, Batman and Green Arrow, in "The Wrath of The Thunderbird."

Of course, Batman was not the first such hero in comics. The Crimson Avenger, to mention one, comes to mind, but it was the Batman feature that introduced a new concept - the superhero team, when Robin was introduced in Detective Comics #40.

I think the reason such heroes fascinate me is that they, if only remotely, could possible exist, whereas Superman and Green Lantern are ultra-powerful heroes that we can only dream of being.

The ultimate twist on the superhero team concept, though, first saw life in Action Comics #40 when The Star Spangled Kid and Stripesy appeared in a house ad for a new book, Star Spangled Comics. The Kid gave his name to the title at a time when only one similar anthology, Flash Comics, was doing so. DC's other anthologies had descriptive titles such as Action, Sensation, Adventure, and More Fun.

The Kid had three stories apiece in the early issues. Other heroes debuting in the first issue of Star Spangled Comics were Tarantula, Captain X of the RAF, and Armstrong of the Army.

Superman's co-creator, Jerry Siegel, wrote the early stories with Hal Sherman. The Star Spangled Kid's arch enemies included Dr. Weerd, a Jekyll-Hyde clone, and the Needle, a serial killer whose choice of weapon gave him his name.

The book's line-up remained fairly stable until #6 when Armstrong of the Army ended and Penniless Palmer began. Palmer also appeared in All Funny Comics.

However, the biggest change to hit the book in its first year came in issue #7 when the Newsboy Legion by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby debuted. They also took the cover spot that issue, which also saw the debuts of Robotman (also created by Jerry Siegel) and TNT & Dan the Dyna-Mite.

The Kid still saw cover duty, though, in Leading Comics where he and Stripesy belonged to the Seven Soldiers of Victory. They also appeared on the cover of World's Finest #10 which showed all the book's stars. They appeared in Worlds Finest through #18.

The duo actually outlasted the characters who took the cover from them as the Newsboy Legion ended in #64. Robin starred in the cover feature beginning in the next issue, issue #65. The Kid and Stripesy continued in Star Spangled Comics until #86.

Robin was the cover star of the book until #96 when Tomahawk (who haddebuted in #69) took over. Robin continued as a feature, though, as did Robotman until #82.

The last major change for the book under this title came with #122 when Ghost Breaker debuted and took over the lead spot. That lasted through #130, when Batman had a cameo in a Robin tale.

The comic which began as the home for The Star Spangled Kid became Star Spangled War Comics in August, 1952 (a month before this author's birth) and ran in that form until 1977 when it became The Unknown Soldier.

Gerry Wilson, a former stand-up comic and born again Christian, is the Golden Age humor expert for Fanzing. (Nobody else wanted the job.) He and his wife, Amy, have a pet cat--Jeremy--and a pet rat, Daphne.

 
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This piece is © 2002 by Gerald Wilson
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