I saw over at Atop the Fourth Wall, a site everyone should check out, Linkara has a post about a kick ass Golden Age comic book hero called Tomboy. I enjoy reading those old Golden Age comic books from time to time, and thought I’d share one of my personal favorites. It’s not just that she kicks ass, it’s also that our hero’s name is totally blasphemous. You could never give a superhero a name like this in the later Silver Age, when the censorious Comics Code Authority completely neutered the entire industry.
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you…
Yes, that’s right. LADY FUCKING SATAN.
Lady Satan, who debuted in Dynamic Comics #2 in 1941, interests me for several reasons.
- She’s motherfucking Satan. (But not really. It’s just a name.)
- She debuted a month before Wonder Woman, whom people often mistakenly believe is the first female superhero. (She’s not. Not even close.)*
- She doesn’t have any superpowers, and has to use her wits to fight crime. But then suddenly she has superpowers in a later issue without any explanation. Let’s just say that continuity wasn’t on anyone’s mind back in the Golden Age.
- People in the comic rarely remark on the fact that she named herself after FUCKING SATAN. You’d think that would be the first question out of anyone’s mouth.
So, what made Lady Satan decide to give up her normal life and become a Nazi-killing fallen angel? You’d think one would need a compelling reason to start calling oneself “Satan”…
That’s all the origin you get, folks. Three panels. In the Golden Age they were nothing if not concise.
And if you thought Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru had it bad in Star Wars, check out poor Nameless Fiance here. He is never mentioned again. Hell, he only gets the one line, and we never even see the sonofabitch’s face. In fact, that one panel of wrathful vow is all the grief over his death we get, as the very next panel makes quite clear.
This comic doesn’t fuck around. Boyfriend dead? Moving on! Time to fight Monocled Nazi Lex Luther.
From here the story follows her as she manipulates the Nazis into leading her to the location of their plans for a sub-detector, which she hopes to deliver to the British. (Remember, America wasn’t at war yet at the time this came out.) Monocled Nazi Lex Luther (a.k.a Captain Fritz–I don’t know why they didn’t just go all the way and call him Major Sausage-Chomper) is quite shocked by this turn of events when Lady Satan’s plot is apparently foiled…
But of course, Lady Satan’s not dead! She gets the plans from them after incapacitating the Nazis (with non-lethal force–she’s not THAT satanic, you know). The British get the Nazi’s submarine plans, and everyone lives satanically ever after.
Seriously. This comic ends with a big joyful “Thank you, Satan!” You know what that is? It’s fucking awesome. That’s what it is.
(Also, why is the Air Ministry in charge of breaking a U-Boat blockade? And what exactly is “a much”?)
It’s actually a pretty standard story, but definitely worth checking out. It’s in the public domain, and can be found at the Digital Comic Museum. Go read the comic, and Hail Satan! 😀
* DC frequently plays along with this misconception, even though Wonder Woman isn’t even the oldest female superhero in their own roster. Phantom Lady and Bulletgirl both appeared before Wonder Woman (who hit the stands in Dec 1941, in an issue dated Jan 1942–Lady Satan hit the stands in Nov 1941 in an issue dated Dec 1941).
Not only were there literally dozens of female superheroes before Wonder Woman, Wonder Woman wasn’t even the first female patriotic superhero. She was preceded by at least 5 female superhero patriots: USA, Miss America, Miss Victory, Pat Patriot and War Nurse.
Wikipedia claims that Fantomah, who debuted in Feb 1940, is the first female superhero, but this is wrong, too. The oldest female superhero I know of is Ritty, who at 6 inches tall fought crime alongside her equally diminutive boyfriend Minimidget. Both debuted together in Sep 1939, just a few months after Batman.
None of this should be taken as me dissing Wondie. I like her as a superhero, and I think the stuff Bryan Azzarello is writing for her right now is fantastic. I just hate that DC sometimes represent themselves as being the first when it comes to giving women representation among superheroes, when nothing could be further from the truth.