Sunday, June 9, 2013

Quality Sightings! Lady Luck, Red Torpedo, the Clock and More...

Lady Luck!

Lady Luck deals the devil's game in Phantom Stranger #6 (2013). Art by Zander Cannon, Gene Ha, and Dan Davis.
Lady Luck made an unexpected appearance in The Phantom Stranger #6 (May 2013). This is strange not only because she is relatively obscure, but also because as far as anyone knows, the character is still owned by the estate of Will Eisner. The story was even written by DC's Editor in Chief, Dan DiDio. I bought the digital edition which doesn't include an indicia (by which I am confused, and maddened). Anyone out there have a copy?

In this story, the Phantom Stranger ventures into Hell in search of his mortal family. He meets a group of card-playing demons—Belial, Suge and Ruskoff, all sons of Trigon. Their dealer is Lady Luck, a slient and mysterious woman whose visage sometimes changes to suggest death.

Lady Luck was one of three characters invented by the Will Eisner shop for his new weekly comic book section of The Spirit. Her alter ego was Brenda Banks, and she first appeared in newspapers on 2 June 1940. After her feature was removed from the weekly Spirit section, she took over the title of Smash Comics in 1949 with issue #86. These were not reprints, but new adventures by her (fourth) newspaper artist, Klaus Nordling.

This is Lady Luck's only appearance in a DC comic. 

SEE: Cosmic Teams > Lady Luck

Red Torpedo!

Jim Lockhart, inventor of the Red Torpedo. From Earth 2 #13 (2013); art by Yildiray Cinar and Bob Hunter.
The new Red Torpedo is one of several "Red Files"—heroes developed by the World Army and introduced by James Robinson in Earth 2 #13 (2013). On this Earth, the World Army put together a task force as insurance against future aggressors (it also included the Red Tornado, Red Arrow, and Red Bee). Jim Lockhart was one of them and its unclear whether he ever donned a costume. He appeared in civilian attire and is an inventor. In the current story, he brings his super-vehicle, the Red Torpedo to Rio de Janeiro so that Captain Steel can enter a smoldering firepit.

Before this, the Red Torpedo had three incarnations at DC Comics. First, as a member of the All-Star Squadron, then as an aide to Aquaman, then reinvented as an android sibling of the Red Tornado.

SEE: Cosmic Teams > Red Torpedo

The Clock!

SPOILERS! There were clues about this. In Masks, the book by Dynamite that teams history's  earliest super heroes, Brian O'Brien aka the Clock made a cameo early in the series (Masks #3). At the time, I thought it was an odd nod in a series already jam-packed. Why take the time to mention a character that wasn't going to be featured in the story?

Sure enough, he had a larger role to play in this series. In 1938, New York state is taken over by the Justice Party, a front for a totalitarian organization bent on solving society's problems with an iron hand. The party quickly implemented sweeping new powers and created a Black Legion police force. Tony Quinn, who succeeded  O'Brien's as District Attorney recalled that Brian had found the law too limiting, which is why he chose to operate outside of it as the Clock. In Masks, Quinn loses his sight and also becomes a masked adventurer, the Black Bat.

When the heroes closed in on the mastermind behind the Justice Party, this master killed his underling, the mayor, with poison gas issued from a wall clock. (#4) The heroes eventually tracked down the master to the Empire State Building, where O'Brien had surrounded himself with clock symbols. He now wore all white (#5) and boasted to them about how easy it was to assume control of government. (#6) He intended to take over the whole country. When the Shadow engaged O'Brien, his face was revealed to Quinn, who recognized him immediately. (#7)

O'Brien's appearance in this series borrows some things from the Clock's Quality Comics adventures. His rather KKK-like white hood is exactly like that of his white-hooded foe, Big Shot, from Crack Comics #1 (1940). In that story, the hooded figure turned out to be the city mayor.

Writer Chris Roberson talks about the Clock's inclusion at CBR. Also according to Roberson, this entire story was inspired by a pulp-era Spider tale by Norvell Page. The Black Legion was inspired by the actual historical Black Legion, a splinter group of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1930s. (The Black Legion was also the name of a group fought by Uncle Sam.)

Big Shot (aka Mayor Kozer).
From Crack Comics #1 (1940); art by George Brenner.
O'Brien's new guise, as leader of the Justice Party. From Masks #6 (2013); art by Dennis Calero.

SEE: Cosmic Teams > The Clock


This great poster was printed twice. Originally it was inserted into the collected History of the DC Universe (1987). According to the DC Vault (2008)—the other place it appears—readers could also send away for a chance to win a limited edition copy. This collage style poster features several Quality characters, each drawn by a different artist. I'm not good enough to pick all of them out and this scan isn't legible for some names:

  • Plastic Man by Bill Sienkiewicz
  • The Ray by Bret Blevins
  • Black Condor by Michael T. Gilbert
  • Lady Blackhawk by Brian Bolland
  • Blackhawk by Howard Chaykin
  • Chop-Chop is Kyle Baker (? most likely) 

SEE: Cosmic Teams > Quality Collectibles


  1. Re: the poster. It was originally commissioned as a centerfold for the limited 1988 hardcover edition of History of the DC Universe. That edition also had essays by various DC luminaries.
    The poster was reprinted in 2008 in the DC Vault. I'm lucky enough to have own both of these items, although I seem to have misplaced the History hardcover.

  2. Thanks, Jason! I was relying on ebay for the info, which was wrong. I am updating everything with your new information. Also, I should know better because I OWN the Vault!

  3. I'd like to know for sure who owns Lady Luck. I've seen her listed as Public Domain but might be owned by DC or the estate of Will Eisner. Does anyone know how to find out for sure?

  4. I'd like to know for sure, too. I'm not sure I'd trust the sites that list public domain characters 100%. It's POSSIBLE that Eisner only renewed copyrights on the Spirit and not Lady Luck or Mr. Mystic. But something in my head tells me those characters were included in Eisner reprint collections at one point. Perhaps it's as "easy" as doing a little digging and/or contacting the estate. I'll put it on my list!

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  6. Weird that I've randomly stumbled across this poster twice in one week. FYI: Plastic Man is by Bill Sienkiewicz, Black Condor is by Michael T. Gilbert, Chop-Chop is Kyle Baker (?--mostly positive) and the Ray is Bret Blevins.

    1. Thanks! Are you very good at this or do you have the list of artists somewhere?