The American Eagle invokes an adventurer from the past as he socks it to a Nazi.


Medium: Comic books
Published by: Standard Comics
First Appeared: 1942
Creators: Richard Hughes (writer) and Kin Platt (artist)
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The flag-draped superheroes, who dressed up in a virtual parody of World War II patriotism, began even before the U.S. got involved in the war — nearly two years before, in the case of The Shield, but nearly all the major companies had at least one or two flag wearers in place by the time of Pearl Harbor. In fact, at Quality Comics (Doll Man, Madam Fatal), USA had actually come and gone by that time. But after Americans …

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… got involved, the only thing causing a dearth of flag-wrapping among superheroes was the beginning of a decline in the expansion of the superhero genre itself.

The American Eagle came from a publisher that called itself Nedor and Better Comics, but right then was calling itself Standard Comics. Whatever its name, it was the one responsible for Pyroman and The Woman in Red. Among other things, it published an anthology title, America's Best Comics, where it collected the most popular characters from elsewhere in its line, such as Doc Strange and Fighting Yank. It was unusual for a character to debut there, but that's what the Eagle did in the second issue (September, 1942), the better part of a year after Pearl Harbor.

Up-and-coming scientist Tom Standish was working under the direction of a Dr. Wolfe, trying to discover the secret of an eagle's strength and buoyancy, when he had an accident with a strange black ray. Reeling in its aftermath, he chanced to see Wolfe conspiring with Nazis to attack America's civilian population. The conspirators responded to the threat by knocking him out and throwing him off a nearby cliff.

But Tom survived, and found the accident had imbued him with the eagle attributes he'd been studying, despite the fact that no experimental subjects had been involved in the mishap in any way. Tom then turned the tables and pushed the whole lab over the cliff, dooming the conspirators.

Now out of a job, Tom teamed up with young Bud Pierce, whose immense strength was attributed to the fact that his father had been a circus strong man. But the first job Tom applied for turned out to have been offered by the same Dr. Wolfe, who'd survived Tom's earlier attempt to neutralize his menace. This time, Tom made himself a superhero suit, and dealt with Wolfe once and for all. Bud went along. They called themselves American Eagle and Eaglet.

The American Eagle and Eaglet moved right out into their regular series. It began in Exciting Comics #22 (October, 1942), where, for that issue only, they replaced the title's regular cover feature, The Black Terror. They had the same creative team in both appearances: writer Richard Hughes (Herbie, Commander Battle) and artist Kin Platt (Supermouse, Captain Future).

Hughes and Platt only stuck with the series for a few months, replaced by other hands, most of whose names haven't survived. But the characters continued to appear in Exciting Comics, skipping only an occasional month, for several years. In America's Best Comics, it was a different story. There, they appeared only sporadically until the middle of 1945.

After the war, their style of fighting togs became less popular, but they persevered for about a year following Japan's surrender. Their last issue of Exciting was #50 (August, 1946).

But apparently, there was still use to be gotten from the name "American Eagle". In the 1950s, Prize Comics (Fighting American, The Green Lama) used it for a western character. In the '60s, it was back to World War II, as Charlton used it for a fighter pilot. Finally, Marvel Comics later used it for one of the members of its Squadron Supreme.


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Text ©2011 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Standard Comics.