Forgotten Masterpiece: MARY MARVEL #8

In contrast to most of the other publishers in the field, Fawcett Comics wasn’t hesitant to have their various super hero characters interact with one another. Recognizing the promotional strength of their most popular hero Captain Marvel, Fawcett would regularly feature him on the cover of any new title launch, welcoming the new star to the Fawcett line and giving him a thumbs up assurance to the readership. While Fawcett never went all-in on a regular team made up of all of its heroic stars in the manner of the Justice Society (apart from THE MARVEL FAMILY, which regularly united the Captain, Junior and Mary, with Uncle Marvel often on tow) they did produce a bunch of stories in which two of their heroes teamed up for an adventure.

Bulletman had been introduced in the pages of Fawcett’s experimental NICKEL COMICS, a series that was half the length of a regular comic book, but which cost half as much as well. The character was the creation of Bill Parker and Jon Smalle. Though NICKEL COMICS proved to be a bust, the character himself survived, switching to a berth in MASTER COMICS, where he’d headline a lengthy run through to the end of the series in 1949.

Susan Kent was introduced in the first Bulletman story as Jim “Bullet” Barr’s girlfriend, the daughter of the police commissioner. But she didn’t remain in this passive role for very long. in MASTER COMICS #13, after Bulletman was knocked unconscious in an explosion at the end of the previous issue, Susan was able to remove his helmet and identify him as her boyfriend. Rather than being upset, Barr built a second gravity helmet for her, and she joined him as his full partner, Bulletgirl.

Like Robin did for Batman, Bulletgirl completed the feature somehow. Bulletman and Bulletgirl, nicknamed the Flying Detectives, became the second most popular super heroes in the Fawcett line, after the Marvel Family, and they swiftly were given their own title. Bulletgirl was one of the few fully-fledged super-heroines during this early era, holding her own against her male partner. The series developed a broad list of recurring weird villains for the duo to battle, which was another key to the strip’s popularity.

Which brings us to MARY MARVEL #8, cover dated December 1946. In the lead story in this issue, unheralded on the cover and unpromoted anywhere else, May winds up sharing an adventure with Bulletgirl. Susan had previously met Captain Marvel Junior as a member of the one-shot Crime Crusaders Club in the Minute Man story in MASTER COMICS #43 in 1943, an adventure that gets covered in greater detail here:

But this was her first time operating entirely independent of Bulletman, who doesn’t even make an appearance in this Mary Marvel story.

The story was written by Otto Binder, who wound up writing greater than 50% of the Marvel Family’s solo and united adventures over the course of the Golden Age. It was illustrated by his brother Jack Binder, who had operated an art shop that provided material to Fawcett and other publishers. He’s given a small byline at the bottom of the first page. The story pits the team of Mary and Bulletgirl against two of Buleltman’s recurring enemies: The Weeper (a sort of reverse Joker) and Doctor Riddle (who was the Riddler before the Riddler.)

This story is a bit less obscure than the Crime Crusaders Club adventure, as it was one of the stories reprinted in black and white in the hardcover volume SHAZAM: FROM THE FORTIES TO THE SEVENTIES years later:

2 thoughts on “Forgotten Masterpiece: MARY MARVEL #8

  1. One of the odder crossovers I came across at Fawcett was this one, between Commando Yank and the Phantom Falcon:

    I forgot to note what issue of WOW it appeared in (#33), but it’s interesting because both were strictly second-tier heroes, and it seems unlikely that the editors approved the crossover for any hope of boosting either one to starring status, or taking advantage of said status to one hero to boost the other, as with Mary Marvel and Bulletgirl.


  2. An odd thing about this story: the last Weeper story shows him alive and more or less well when he’s captured (BULLETMAN #10), but for this tale writer Otto Binder decides to announce that the original villain is dead and that his son, never seen before or after this (at least at Fawcett), has taken his place, though for the balance of the story Weeper II seems indistinguishable from Weeper I. Did Binder remember one of the old stories in which Weeper I appeared to die, and did Binder think he should follow through on that? Or did some editor suggest the substitution?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s