King Faraday about to board the Orient Express. Artist: Carmine Infantino.


Medium: Comic books
Published by: DC Comics
First Appeared: 1950
Creators: Robert Kanigher (writer) and Carmine Infantino (artist)
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Aside from superheroes — piles and piles of superheroes, superheroes of every possible shape and description — the DC Universe contains fictional heroes of every other genre popular in America during the middle and end of the 20th century, and on into the 21st. There are westerns like Jonah Hex. There are horror heroes like Baron Winters. There are freedom fighters like Mademoiselle Marie. There are police detectives like Bulldog Drumhead. There are private …

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… detectives like Slam Bradley. There are sci-fi heroes like Gary Concord. There are sci-fi private detectives like Star Hawkins. Of course there's bound to be a spy/secret agent or two.

During the heyday of the latter genre, DC introduced a typical international agent provacateur of the type later typified by James Bond, in King Faraday. He was created by DC stalwarts writer Robert Kanigher (Viking Prince, Rex the Wonder Dog) and artist Carmine Infantino (Adam Strange, Detective Chimp). His first appearance was in Danger Trail #1 (August, 1950).

King (no relation) was, like any other good doer of his government's dirty work, a regular passenger on The Orient Express (the train from Paris to Istanbul); adept with subterfuge, disguise and violence; and untroubled by his conscience no matter how dirty the dirty work got. The antisocial attitude he channeled into his "good works" may have had its origin in his parents' belief that saddling him with a pun (a play on the familiar phrase "king for a day") for a name was a decent thing to do to an innocent child. A later retcon, changing his first name to the more conventional "Thomas" and "King" to a mere nickname, doesn't seem to have helped.

Like several 1950s DC titles (such as Congo Bill, Frontier Fighters and Everything Happens to Harvey), Danger Trail lasted only a single-digit number of issues (in this case five, ending April, 1951). King wasn't even in all of them; in the fifth he was replaced by Johnny Peril.

But like The Phantom Stranger, another short-lived '50s effort, King got a second chance at stardom in the following decade. Reprints in the try-out title Showcase. The 51st issue (August, 1964) reprinted a couple of Danger Trail stories under the name I — Spy. But unlike a majority of Showcase try-outs up to that time, such as The Atom and Rip Hunter, Time Master, this one went nowhere. King didn't graduate into a comic of his own, and never had his own series again.

But by that time, even DC's failures tended not to be completely forgotten. King Faraday went on to a low-key but long-lasting career as a minor functionary in DC's secret-agent community, including his membership in "Checkmate", a secret agency with ties to The Suicide Squad, The OMAC Project, and other operations the U.S. government in DC would rather avoid having the taxpayers find out about. He's even been killed off once or twice.

He's appeared a couple of times in Justice League animation, where his voice is provided by Scott Patterson, who otherwise has done mostly face acting. Not bad for a guy whose career in comic books ended in the early 1950s.


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Text ©2009-10 Donald D. Markstein. Art © DC Comics.