The Blonde Phantom lurks on a ledge. Artists: Syd Shores and Al Gabrielle.


Medium: Comic books
Published by: Marvel Comics
First Appeared: 1946
Creators: Stan Lee (writer) and Syd Shores (artist)
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During World War II, superheroes were the hottest thing in comic books. But after the war, publishers started dropping them in favor of hard-boiled crime stories, teenage humor, westerns …

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… and various other genres. Few new superheroes were introduced in the early postwar years, but the company that eventually evolved into Marvel Comics was still bringing them out occasionally.

Most of Marvel's new ones of that period, such as Namora (a cousin of their Sub-Mariner), Sun Girl (an ally of their Human Torch) and Golden Girl (who temporarily replaced Bucky as Captain America's partner) featured a variation on the theme — not that they were spin-offs of established characters, but that they were female.

Marvel's Blonde Phantom (not the first of the crowd, but an early one) was Louise Grant, a secretary, whose boss, Mark Mason, ran a private detective agency. During working hours, she would type for him and take his dictation, but afterward she assumed her alternate identity and took a more active role in helping him wrap up his cases. Mark, Louise and Blondie formed a two-person love triangle, just like Lois, Clark and Superman, with drab little Louise, her glorious mane trimly packed up in a bun, secretly pining for her boss while Mark, his detective skills (like those of the earlier Silver Scorpion's detective boss) insufficient to see through the disguise, went gaga over the glamorous crime fighter.

The Blonde Phantom's costume was designed more for sex appeal than practicality, but in a different way than those of most superhero women. Her ankle-length evening dress, with its bare midriff, and her spike heels, stood in contrast to the more popular bathing suit style outfit, but still seemed as much of a hindrance to superhero work as the usual lack of body covering. At least the skirt allowed a little freedom of movement by being slit up the side. To balance these disadvantages, she packed a .45 automatic (tho it isn't clear how she carried it when it wasn't actually in her hand).

Several sources list All Select Comics #1 as her first appearance, but this is incorrect — she actually debuted in the 11th issue (Fall, 1946). She was created by writer/editor Stan Lee (X-Men, Fantastic Four, The Mighty Thor and so much more) and artist Syd Shores (who handled most of Marvel's '40s heroes at one time or another, and also co-created The Two-Gun Kid. The character may have been inspired by a story in Marvel's Millie the Model #2 (October, 1946, which probably appeared at roughly the same time as All Select #11), where Millie dressed up in a different "Blonde Phantom" costume to promote a new brand of perfume — or perhaps the inspiration went in the opposite direction.

With its 12th issue, All Select was re-named Blonde Phantom Comics. She remained its star until #22 (May, 1949), after which the title was changed again, to Lovers, and it became a romance comic without continuing characters. During her three-year run, Blondie also appeared in the back pages of Sub-Mariner Comics, Marvel Mystery Comics, Sun Girl and Miss America magazine; and was cover-featured in the first (and only) issue of the 1948 All Winners Comics.

After that, The Blonde Phantom wasn't seen again until The Sensational She-Hulk #4 (August, 1989). That title was famous for "breaking the fourth wall", i.e., allowing characters to "know" they're in a comic book and act accordingly. There, Louise (who in the intervening years had married Mark, raised a couple of kids and become a widow) was motivated to be a supporting character by the fact that comic book characters don't age while they're appearing regularly, and she figured she'd aged quite enough. Her daughter made a few appearances in the series as "The Phantom Blonde"; and later Louise's own youth was restored by means available only in comic books. Also, she was alleged to have been a member of The All Winners Squad, tho a careful examination of that group's actual 1940s adventures (both of them) reveals no trace of her.

She hasn't been seen very often since the She-Hulk series folded, but now that she's been youthened and fully incorporated into the Marvel Universe, that's probably not a permanent situation.


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Text ©2003-10 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Marvel Comics.