Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Number 2208: Here she is...Miss America!

Besides being the name of a beauty pageant, Miss America was a superheroine for Timely Comics in the 1940s. You can read her origin story by clicking on the link below. This Miss America was created by Otto Binder and Al Gabriele. As drawn, she was a cute young woman, and I assume meant to bring female readers to Marvel Mystery Comics, where she first appeared.

You can read more about Miss America in Don Markstein’s Toonopedia.

Since I have nothing better to do than sit around and think of stuff like this, at the time Otto Binder was writing scripts for Fawcett Publications, turning out a steady stream of stories about Captain Marvel and the rest of the cast of that comics universe. I have always wondered if, when going from publisher to publisher to turn in scripts, someone would give Otto a nudge and ask about the competition. Perhaps Otto thought of the wartime poster, “Loose Lips Sink Ships!” But then, people are apt to gossip in work settings, and I think it would be at least one way to keep up with what the other guys were doing. Call it an early and primitive form of hacking to steal trade secrets.

Written by Otto Binder, drawn by Charles Nicholas. From Marvel Mystery Comics #54 (1944).

The origin of Miss America. Just click on the thumbnail.


Daniel [] said...

If a writer or artist would tell Timely what Fawcett were doing, then he or she would probably tell National what Timely were doing, &c. So, sure, an editor or publisher would try to learn something from a writer or artist who freelanced across firms, but if that writer or artist provided any information, then the publisher or editor would subsequently be more reluctant to offer to the writer or artist any jobs about which another firm would wish to learn. Some writers and artists would see this point fairly quickly. Others might learn by instruction, by observation, or by direct experience.

I first encountered Miss America in Fantasy Masterpieces #10 (Aug 1967), reprinting a story from All Winners #19 (Fall 1946). I don't recall when next I saw her. Her costume seemed quite tame!

One might ask why the Admiral had something desperately important insecurely transported, but his doing so added an element of verisimilitude to the story.

An argument could have been made for rescuing the falling fascist, as he might have proved a valuable source of information and all that. But the US was in the business of executing spies, so perhaps it just wasn't worth the struggle for Maddie.

Pappy said...

Daniel, how would you like to be the guys in charge of that plutonium when it was stolen? I assume they went through stringent interrogation to make sure they hadn't sold or given it to agents of a foreign power or for domestic terrorism. I also assume they were either fired from their jobs, or at the very least transferred to other jobs of a non-critical nature with no chance for advancement. I would have hated to be them.

You say you thought Miss America's costume was "tame"? Does that mean it covers everything but her face? Shame on you, Daniel, she is a teenager!

Daniel [] said...

I'd hate to be the fellows who lost the plutonium, but more for the sense of having failed so terribly than for the poor career prospects.

When I read that issue of Fantasy Masterpieces, I was nine years old, and not imagining sex with anyone, let alone with Miss America. If I had been, I don't recall anything in that issue that would have identified her as of less than the age of consent. In any case, I was used to female superheroes, including teenaged female superheroes, who wore what amounted to glorified cheerleading outfits (the exception being Saturn Girl).

Brian Barnes said...

Marvel re-used Miss America during the 2000s (might have been earlier) and did her right. I will say that these are much better superhero stories than a lot of 40s stuff (As expected of the lineage) for the sheer fact that her powers are relatively well defined. Super strong and can fly. There's no mysterious new powers or unexplained abilities.

Not much suspense in this, though, she's more in danger of revealing her identity (I don't get the going to a costume ball in your own costume bit, it's always a stupid move) than from the Nazis. Still, a fun a breezy read.

Darci said...

If I count correctly, this is Madeline's 10th appearance (not counting any retcons). It seems a bit chancy for her to be wearing a Miss America costume to a masquerade. Did she just not care about being ID'd?

Pappy said...

Daniel, well, excuse me. When I was nine I was ogling photos of Brigette Bardot that appeared in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, so even though I didn't know what sex was, exactly, I knew I liked looking at such things. (Admittedly, even then BB was beyond her teen years, but not by much.) I always thought everyone was as much a horndog as me, even from an early age. My mistake.

Pappy said...

Ah Darci, Brian...I don't know what a teenager thinks. She probably didn't think that her actions might get her outed; she just thought it was a good idea at the time.