Monday, December 22, 2008

Profiling the Original Blue Beetle

The original Golden Age Blue Beetle was Dan Garret, the son of a police officer who was killed in the line of duty by a criminal. The Fox Feature Syndicate version of the character debuted in Mystery Men Comics #1 (Aug. 1939), with art by Charles Nicholas Wojtkowski (as Charles Nicholas) and began appearing in his own 60-issue series shortly thereafter; however, Holyoke also released some issues of the series during it’s slightly sporadic existence.

Rookie patrolman Garret donned a bulletproof costume (described as being made of a chain-mail which was "as thin and light as silk"), and temporarily gained superhuman strength from ingesting the mysterious vitamin 2-X.

The supporting cast remained fairly stable throughout this original run, and included Joan Mason, a crime reporter for the Daily Blade who would eventually star in her own backup series, and Mike Mannigan, Dan's Irish-stereotype partner on the police force. Dr. Franz, a local pharmacist (and inventor of the bulletproof suit and 2-X formula) played a prominent role in the first few issues of the run, but he was soon phased out.

A popular character of the Golden Age era, the Beetle also had a short-lived newspaper strip (drawn by the legendary Jack Kirby under a pseudonym), and a radio serial that ran for 48 thirteen-minute episodes. When super-heroes fell out of vogue in the late 1940s, Fox downplayed the Beetle's super-heroic angle (his superpowers were removed) and eventually relegated him to a hosting true crime stories within his own series before the book was cancelled.

The featured artwork is from DC Comics Secret Origins #2 (May 1986) by Gil Kane.


cash_gorman said...

Of course, this artwork is not for the original Blue Beetle, but Charlton's revision of the character that was Archaeologist Dan Garrett turned into the superman thanks to a mystical scarab.

Chuck Wells said...

You're absolutely right, Cash and I must admit that I didn't really think about it too much.

L'll just say that the lovely Gil Kane artwork was nice enough to represent the golden age Beetle, but I'm not surprised that you of all people would pick up on that little difference.

Thanks for stopping by.