711 confronts the gangster who is about to kill him. Artist: George Brenner.


Medium: Comic books
Published by: Quality Comics
First Appeared: 1941
Creator: George Brenner
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In the early 1940s, when superheroes in American comic books first flowered, it's a tossup whether their most frequent occupation was wealthy fop (e.g., Green Arrow or The Green Lama) or lawman impatient with the law's little impediments (e.g., Mr. Scarlet or Manhunter). One thing's for sure — no other had the same occupation as this one. He roamed the underworld by night, …

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… in search of villains to bring in, like a good superhero should. But in the daytime, he hung around the jail where he was a convicted inmate.

Of course, the fact that he was a resident of a jail cell with the lucky number 711 at Westmoor Prison, from which he obviously derived his superhero name, was just a ghastly mistake. In fact, when he was known as Daniel Dyce, he was a district attorney. But he had a pal named Jacob Horn, who looked exactly like him, and Jacob was in the process of going down for a crime he actually did commit. Just before he went to trial, Jacob begged Daniel to let him out for just a little while, so he could be at the hospital when his son was born; and what the heck, Daniel was a big enough idiot to let him do it. Since they could pass for each other, and since Daniel had an "in" with the system, they simply traded places for the evening.

But Jacob never made it to the hospital. He got hit by a car on the way, so nobody came to relieve Daniel. The dead guy was identified as the D.A., and the one that was left wound up in the slammer. Fortunately, the prisoner was able to dig a tunnel from his cell, through which he could come and go at will. He had a fine time all night as the scourge of the criminal class, but was always back in time for morning roll call. He even handed out fancy cards, supposedly showing the crooks what fate awaited them, but in reality, they represented the fate that had already befallen the masked hero.

711 may not have been a very credible hero (back each morning?), but he certainly was an odd one. He was created by cartoonist George Brenner, whose earlier creations include the very first masked comic book hero of all, The Clock. His first appearance was in Police Comics #1, published by Quality Comics and dated August, 1941, and he may not even have been the oddest hero in that issue. Aside from Plastic Man, and Phantom Lady, Police Comics #1 carried the debut of The Human Bomb, who boasted the seriously odd super power of blowing things up just by touching them.

Brenner produced a new 711 adventure for each issue of Police Comics up until #15 (January, 1943). In that issue, 711 tracked a criminal named Oscar Jones to his lair, whereupon Jones shot and killed him. The murder was witnessed by a mysterious character named Destiny, who often seemed to be in the right place to witness such things. The following issue, Destiny, also by Brenner, took over 711's position in the comic, and that was the end of one of comics' least probable superheroes. Destiny's first task was to bring in Oscar Jones.

In 1956, DC Comics acquired a lot of properties from Quality — but exactly which ones DC owns seems to depend on which ones they feel like publishing, since nobody else apparently claims them. DC has published 711 in reprinting Police Comics #1, but not otherwise. They might have shown a little more interest in him, if there were any likelihood of getting modern readers to take a guy who gallivants all night, but dutifully returns to his cell each morning, seriously.


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Text ©2006-10 Donald D. Markstein. Art © DC Comics.