Lady Fairplay chastises a foe. Artist: Jack Ryan.


Original Medium: Comic books
Published by: Progressive Publishers
Creator: Jack Ryan
First appeared: 1941
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The superhero women of the early 1940s tended to be an obscure lot. The Blue Lady, Pat Patriot, Nelvana of the Northern Lights … even tho Nelvana had the distinction of being tied as the first non-Caucasian representative of the genre. Even the relatively famous ones, like Phantom Lady and …

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The Black Cat, didn't have all that high a Q-rating. But one of them is known throughout the world, and she started in the month of December, 1941.

That's Wonder Woman, not the one we're talking about here. Lady Fairplay started in December, 1941 too, but she's even less well known than Wildfire or Miss Victory.

One of the things Lady Fairplay had going against her was that she was published by an obscure company. Not that coming from a big publisher is a guarantee of success — The Silver Scorpion came from Marvel itself, and she never rose above the level of Spider Widow or The Woman in Red.

But Progressive Publishers, where she was from, only had a single title, Bang-Up Comics, and that lasted only three issues. Progressive's other heroes included Buzz Balmer (a Minimidget type, but making less impact) and Cosmo Mann (a sci-fi guy along the lines of Rex Dexter but not as prominent). Lady Fairplay was the best-remembered thing they ever did, and that's only because she just missed beating Wondy into print — which still would have made her only one of a crowd.

Lady Fairplay started out as schoolteacher Mary Lee. She was about as attractive as popular clichés say schoolteachers tend to be. Her origin story didn't appear in Bang-Up Comics #1, but was only summarized in a caption. She'd been asked by Professor Amazo, a brilliant scientist, to participate in an experiment. It transformed her into a "slim, beautiful creature with unlimited energetic powers." It doesn't seem to have had any real effect in inducing weight loss, and the "beautiful" part was apparently accomplished merely by taking off her glasses. But the energetic powers were authentic enough. In the first few pages, she demonstrated super hearing, super speed and super strength. She used the abilities to become a "dreaded foe of the Underworld," styling herself a "goddess of chastisement", bent on meting out punishment to those deserving of it.

As a Goddess of Chastisement, she might be expected to design her superhero costume along dominatrix lines, like those of Elektra and Purgatori. But no such luck. Her mini-skirt was apparently made out of chain mail and her tiara was probably metal, but that's about as far as she went.

Lady Fairplay was in all three issues of Bang-Up Comics, but they ended in Summer, 1942, and that was the end of her as a '40s superhero. She was later spotted in an unauthorized revival from AC Comics (Femforce), but that's about it. The only creator known to have worked on her original run was cartoonist Jack Ryan, who has no other known credits except a couple of stories for Magazine Enterprises (The Ghost Rider).

Only her temporal proximity to Wonder Woman makes her at all notable. And she only tied Wondy.


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Text ©2010 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Progressive Publishers.