Friday, November 30, 2012

DC's Who's Who: Quality Pages

From the cover of Who's Who #2;
art by George Pérez.
I never once looked to these profiles when writing my book for any kind of background information, probably because I always prefer to go to the source (original stories) for those things. But it occurred to me I might find something interesting, so I dug out all of my old Who's Whos and scanned the entries for Quality's characters.

There's some gems here in the art. Most notably, Brian Bolland draws Lady Blackhawk, and Murphy Anderson draws the lion's share of the rest. A couple are pretty bad, but it's clear that the artists had to do a minimum of research in order to render the supporting cast and historical details. William Messner-Loebs (very crudely) drew the Human Bomb—who knew he was once an artist? Jerry Ordway, as always, turned in a gorgeous Black Condor.

Not surprisingly, only the core 1970s Freedom Fighters, Plastic Man, and the Blackhawks made it into the original 26-volume Who's Who. The rest appeared in the subsequent Update volumes. The most curious of all of them are Captain Triumph and Doll Girl, who had never appeared in a DC Comics story. The Jester, Midnight, and Quicksilver appeared presumably because of their brief appearances in All-Star Squadron as well.

The histories were largely up-to-date with post-Crisis continuity. This means they reflected the changes that Roy Thomas wrote into All-Star Squadron regarding the Earth-X characters/Freedom Fighters. Some things of note:
  • By the time the Who's Who series reached the profiles for Phantom Lady, the Ray, and Uncle Sam, Crisis had ended and those profiles remarked that because the heroes "journeyed back to the dawn of time when history was changed, he still remembers his life on Earth-X." This was the premise for all heroes who's been to the dawn of time; they remembered life before the multiverse collapsed (Crisis #10-11). 
  • Profiles for Quicksilver, Midnight and Human Bomb do mention those characters' sidekicks, so somebody had been digging into old Quality Comics!
I clipped out the illustrations to make a gallery below...

Black Condor's powers are described as a "mutant ability to fly." This was an amendment from his Quality origin, told in Secret Origins #21.
The Blackhawk entries are very brief but seem to reflect the 1980s version of the team, by Mark Evanier and Dan Spiegle. There are revised entries for them in the Update volumes, which reflect the all new post-Crisis Blackhawks by Howard Chaykin.
Captain Triumph, who was never a member of the All-Star Squadron or Freedom Fighters still warranted an entry. It mentions his sidekicks Biff and Kim. He was "last heard of in 1949."
Curiously, Doll Girl's page omits any Earth-X history, in which she died.

 Kid Eternity was covered in the original Who's Who and after his Vertigo rebirth, he received a page in the loose leaf Who's Who #15 in 1992.

The art in Midnight's page devotes a fair amount of space to some woman. Not sure who this is supposed to be, as his strip never featured a regular female character or girlfriend. 

Miss America's history reflects the retcons introduced in Young All-Stars and Secret Origins #26.
Phantom Lady's entry mentions her familial connection to Starman, told in All-Star Squadron #41 (1985).
Plastic Man's history excludes the crazy 1960s but does  include his Quality adventures and his 1970s DC adventures (#11-20, 1976-77), when he worked for the "NBI." 
Quicksilver's states that he "battled Crime for nine years, then vanished."

Uncle Sam's profile that also suggested that he may be the force that kept the other Freedom Fighters youthful for longer. 


  1. Kid Eternity was in the Who's Who issue 12 Feb. 1986.

  2. my first exposure to comics was an issue of ALL-STAR SQUADRON #31 donated to me by my cousin. the 'Uncle Sam wants you' cover jumped out at my 6-year old self and still remains one of my favorite covers to this day. prior to reading this, I didn't know of any other DC characters except for whoever was on super friends. thank you for this blog.

  3. It's sad that so few people know about Messner-Loeb's Journey: The Adventures of Wolverine Macalistair--it was a great series written *and* drawn by him, published by Aardvark-Vanaheim (Cerebus) originally, and then by Fantagraphics.