first superheroine, but she was the first to be created by a woman!
Conceived, written, and illustrated by cartoonist Tarpe Mills (who dropped her first name "June" from her published credit), Miss Fury started life in 1941 as a newspaper comic strip called "Black Fury".
Wealthy socialite Marla Drake was preparing for a costume ball when she discovered a friend was going to wear the same costume as her!
Horrors! Social ruin!
her maid, hastily suggested an alternative--she instead wear a black
panther skin sent to her by her uncle, which had previously been used as
a ceremonial robe by an African witch doctor.
Strangely enough, it fit Marla perfectly!
En route to the party, Marla encountered an escaped criminal and kicked his, well, you know...
Police and reporters initially referred to her as "Black Fury", but she called herself "Miss Fury" in notes attached to crooks she caught. (The name "CatWoman" was already in use! ;-) )
Two items of note:
1) The panther hide didn't give her any super-powers, as such items tend to do in comics*!
a gifted athlete, and, that combined with the visual shock value of the
costume, enabled her to defeat foes. (ask another wealthy socialite,
Bruce Wayne, about his similar, equally effective, strategy!)
2) Unlike most Golden Age heroines (Wonder Woman, Black Cat, Phantom Lady, et al), who seemed to wear skimpy swimsuits to battle evil, Miss Fury's costume totally covered her (but extremely tightly)!
The series spun off into comic books in 1942 published by Timely (Marvel's Golden-Age predecessor), but only as reprints of the newspaper strips (albeit with new covers by Mills).
Sadly, unlike most other newspaper adventure strips, there were no other spin-offs like movie serials, radio shows, or even a Big Little Book or two!
The book ended after 8 issues.
newspaper strip ended in 1952, but Tarpe Mills continued to work as a
comic illustrator for various publishers, including Marvel Comics! Her
last published work was a new cover for a graphic novel reprint of Miss Fury in 1979. She passed away in 1988.
Miss Fury is one of numerous Golden Age characters revived by Dynamite Entertainment, both as a solo book, and as part of the ensemble of Noir (featuring her with Black Sparrow) and both Masks and Masks 2, (which features a host of well-known characters including The Shadow, Green Hornet & Kato, The Spider, and Zorro).
We at Atomic Kommie Comics™ felt such a unique character would make a great, empowered role model for today's girls, so we gave her a section of her own in Heroines!™, where the so-called "weaker" sex RULES!
She'd make a cool pop-culture Christmas gift under the tree or in a stocking for your sister, daughter, or girlfriend!
Perhaps it'll inspire them to create a character of their own...
*Another Golden Age character, Cat-Man, whom Tarpe occasionally illustrated, did receive powers including agility, night vision and the gift of nine lives from his first cat-costume!
Villains would kill him, but he'd return to life by the story's end to avenge himself.
Someone figured out the "nine lives" idea would only work for nine issues, and it was dropped, but the other super-human abilities remained.