Qui Vindicet ibit
Friend of the needy, foe of the underworld, THE CRIMSON AVENGER appears in this and every issue
Not exactly a household word up there with #1's Superman, next month's Batman, or even #3's Captain Marvel, once the world's best selling comics hero.
Yet, The Crimson Avenger (or just "The Crimson," as he was called in the early stories themselves) was DC's first modern-day masked hero, beginning in the 20th issue of DETECTIVE COMICS (Oct. 1938) - beating The Batman into DC's flagship by more then half a year, in fact, C.A. popped up only four months after Superman himself.
Of course, The Crimson belonged to an even older heritage then the Man of Steel. His ancestors were the pulp magazines' Shadow and radio's Green Hornet - and their ancestors, such as The Scarlet Pimpernet.
So far as we can tell (and this is based mostly on information supplied by Dr. Jerry Bails, fan-chronicler extraordinaire), the first C.A. stories were illustrated and perhaps even written by Jim Chambers, a ubiquitous writer/artist of the period, who went on to do Mr. District Attorney (for Dell) and many other features.
For the first two years of the strip itself, newspaper publisher Lee Travis simply threw on hat, cloak, and mask, picked up a weapon or three, and had his faithful valet Wing chauffeur him around into one adventure after another, just one step ahead of the police, who figured him for a criminal.
In fact, Travis' own newspaper once offered a substantial reward for information leading to the capture of The Crimson Avenger - and that little episode (including The Crimson himself) figures prominently in our origin of the first post-Batman DC hero, The Sandman, a very few issues from now.
Then, in DETECTIVE #44 (Oct, 1940), in the light of the over-burgeoning popularity of heroes with more of a costume then simply hat, cloak, and mask, The Crimson went the Batman route and became a full-fledged costumed hero, from then on, using both halves of the "Crimson Avenger" name.
And in LEADING COMICS #1 (Winter 1941-1942), the Avenger became a charter member of the Seven Soldiers of Victory (for more of which, see various issues of our companion mag ALL-STAR SQUADRON)
It wasn't untill DETECTIVE #59 (Jan, 1942) that his valet/chauffeur/confidant Wing donned a costume of his own, though he never had a separate super-hero name.
(As in most comics, movies, and other popular entertainment of the period, it must be addmitted that Wing - who started out fairly straight in the early DETECTIVE issues - ultimately became a sort of demeaning Oriental-style comedy relief. I like to think, though, that this was just a travesty of what the "real" Wing would have been like, without depriving the stereotyping mistakes that were made in those long-ago days)
The Crimson Avenger and Wing went out of business, comic-wise, after DETECTIVE #89 (July, 1944) and LEADING #14 (Spring 1945). Of course, in recent years the Seven Soldiers returned to action via JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA, in which Wing's death was revealed, and the Avenger himself perished in a memorable "Whatever happened to...?" story scripted by Len Wein for DC COMICS PRESENTS a couple of years back.
Here are scans of each and every cover to feature The Crimson Avenger.
(Click on these small pictures to download bigger ones)
|Detective Comics #22||Detective Comics #34|
|Secret Origins #5|
|Crimson Avenger #1||Crimson Avenger #2||Crimson Avenger #3||Crimson Avenger #4|
I want to know as much as possible about the Crimson Avenger - any help is appreciated.