Friday, February 20, 2009

DareDevil aka Death-Defying 'Devil aka Dynamic DareDevil

Silver Streak Comics was unique in two respects;
1) It wasn't named after it's lead character, like Flash Comics or Blue Bolt Comics.
(In fact, the hero known as The Silver Streak didn't even come along until issue #3, and then he was just a backup strip!)
2) The lead character was a villain!
And what a villain he was!
The Claw was the first great villain of the Golden Age!
He was a, literally, inhuman scientific genius with powers of size-changing, hypnotism, and numerous other abilities depending on the needs of the story! (In the Golden Age, these things tended to be a little, well, loose.)
In his first few appearances he was barely defeated by various international secret agents who would stumble upon his various operations, but The Claw himself would always escape to plot again!
While the foul fiend dominated the front of the book, several heroes made their debuts in backup features, among them a mute fellow in a weird half-yellow / half-blue costume who used a boomerang!

Created in Silver Streak #6 by writer / artist Jack Binder, brother of noted pulp sci-fi writers Otto & Earl Binder, this DareDevil was Bart Hill, rendered speechless as a boy when he witnessed the murder of his father!
The silent lad learned how to use a boomerang, and, when he became an adult, adopted a costume in order to avenge himself against evil in it's various forms. Not a bad origin tale, overall.

Jack Cole, who later would create Plastic Man, took over the strip in the next issue, tossing out everything except the boomerang and the name Bart Hill, creating the first comic book retcon!
He also modified the costume, making the yellow sections bright red.
Cole then decided that his revamped hero would make the perfect ongoing counterpoint to The Claw, so as of Silver Streak #7, he pitted the two against each other in an ongoing battle that lasted five issues, which ended with The Claw finally being captured!
At that point, DareDevil was given his own title, DareDevil Comics, with the greatest real-life villain of all as his first opponent--Adolf Hitler! With the aid of other heroes, including The Silver Streak, DD managed to stalemate Der Fuehrer.

Cole went on to other projects, and writer / artist Charles Biro took over the strip.
Biro gave Bart an entirely new origin, having the orphaned kid raised by Australian Aborigines and trained by them to use boomerangs!
Bart Hill settled down to a typical life of an acrobatic superhero whose new secret identity of a policeman enabled him to serve the law by day, and justice by night...until the Little Wise Guys came along in #13!
Jocko, Peewee, Scarecrow, and Meatball were a kid gang whom Officer Hill encountered while on patrol. Sensing they were inherently good kids gone wrong, he took them under his wing, guiding them into more socially-acceptible activities, like spying on saboteurs.
It was like having a whole team of Robins or Buckys (sans costumes) to help in his ongoing war against evil!
During one of their adventures against a rival gang, Meatball was killed.
A rival gang member, Curly, feeing guilty about Meatball's demise (though he didn't cause it) reformed, and joined the Little Wise Guys.

The kids gradually took over the book as DareDevil went from lead hero to mentor / advisor to occasional guest-star, disappearing altogether as of #80.
DareDevil Comics continued until #134 in September 1954. Ironically, it was the same month Showcase #4, featuring The Flash started the Silver Age of Comics!
Talk about "missed it by that much!"

Though the character missed the Silver Age, his influence was felt throughout it.
Marvel's Matt Murdock became an acrobatic hero with the same name.
Charlton's acrobatic ThunderBolt wore a very similar costume in tribute to the Golden Age character.

And now, the original hero has returned in not one, but two different incarnations:
The Death-Defying 'Devil in Alex Ross' ongoing Project SuperPowers series and his own self-titled mini-series which restores the original mute aspect of his character.
and
Dynamic DareDevil, guest-starring in Erik Larsen's Savage Dragon series

PLUS: we at Atomic Kommie Comics™ have digitally-restored and remastered several of DareDevil's koolest Golden Age covers , including his very first cover appearance, on an assortment of pop-culture collectibles in our Lost Heroes of the Golden Age of Comics™ line!
And, we'll be adding several more in the next month or so!

Don't forget to buy Project SuperPowers, Death-Defying 'Devil and Savage Dragon!
We wanna keep Bart Hill (and maybe even the Little Wise Guys) around for a while!

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