Friday, April 13, 2018

Number 2167: Just a harmless old lady

Even for early comic books, Madam Fatal was a peculiar character. Richard Stanton, former stage actor, dressed up as an old woman. Anyone who thought Madam Fatal was a pushover soon found out she could handle herself and her enemies quite well.

Today we think of cross-dressing, but actually, it is an old stage tradition. Think Shakespeare in his era, as one example, when men dressed as women because no women worked on stage. (Stanton also had a parrot, Hamlet, who could recite Shakespeare.) However, Madam Fatal was another of those early comic characters who also met an early demise. This story, from Crack Comics #21 (1942), was M.F.’s next to last appearance. After #22 she, errrr, I mean he, retired and put the orthopedic shoes in the closet.

Drawn by Arthur Pinajian.


Brian Barnes said...

That's a really interesting plot! Normally these old super hero stories follow a pattern with the hero getting knocked out or hurt in the middle, but that doesn't happen. He pretty much just takes the gang out, only catching a bullet at the end.

How the heck did the doctor know not to mention it's a disguise?

I like this one, it's compact and moves fast. The very static panel layout works, too. The dressed as an old lady gimmick didn't really have too much of a use here, though.

Daniel [] said...

Outside of Richard Stanton and Norman Bates, I just don't encounter the combination of transvestism or transsexualism with an attempt to appear older, though I used to spend a lot of time in a coffee shop that welcomed marginalized people and in which a disproportionate share of the regulars were male transvestites or MtF transsexuals.

But, as I've said in the past, Stanton, like Bruce Wayne, is an example of a superhero who dons a costume as a disguise but as a revelation.

The art here is fun. I especially appreciated speed lines and clouds of dust in 4:6.

Pappy said...

Brian, perhaps the doctor was just being polite.

Daniel, I have probably gotten to the point where I don't really "see" speed lines and clouds of dust in comics. Thanks for pointing it out.