Golden Arrow astride Whie Wind. Artist: Harry Parkhurst.


Medium: Comic books
Published by: Fawcett Publications
First Appeared: 1940
Creators: Bill Parker (writer) and Greg Duncan (artist)
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Fawcett Publications' Whiz Comics #2 (which was actually the first issue to reach newsstands) probably holds some kind of record for introducing characters that went on to their own titles. No less than five of its protagonists — the superheroes Captain Marvel, Ibis the Invincible

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… and Spy Smasher; the seafaring hero Lance O'Casey; and the western hero Golden Arrow — had starred in separate comics within a few years of Whiz's February, 1940 debut.

Golden Arrow was a very young child (name of Roger Parsons) when events set him on the road to herohood. His father, Professor Paul Parsons, had an invention that would revolutionize aviation, but not what modern people, even in 1940, would call aviation — this took place a few years before World War I, in plenty of time for Roger to reach adulthood by the time the comic came out.

Paul had come up with a new gas for balloon travel. He was testing it on a cross-country trip, with his wife and Roger along for the ride, when rival Brand Braddock, looking to profit from Paul's invention, shot the balloon down over a rugged patch of country near the town of Prairie Gulch. When Braddock arrived to make sure they were all dead, he figured Roger would be no threat, as the boy was being dragged off by a mountain lion. But a prospector named Nugget Ned saved Roger and, hearing of Braddock's intentions, kept Roger's continued existence a secret.

Roger grew up healthy and strong — extraordinarily so, in fact, and well skilled in all kinds of athletic endeavors an action hero would find handy, in particular his specialty, archery. He coated his arrowheads with gold leaf, made from Ned's stash, which Ned didn't seem particularly interested in converting into money. Ned bit the dust just as Roger was reaching adulthood, and it was from Ned's dying statement that the young man learned of his origins. Roger dealt with Braddock, using his characteristic weapon as a name (since he'd been raised in secret and was therefore unknown to the townspeople — he never did use his birth name). Then he and his horse, White Wind, embarked on a heroic career of righting wrongs. When he ran out of golden arrows he'd get gold for new ones from a secret mine, just as The Lone Ranger kept up his supply of silver bullets.

The introductory story, like all the others in Whiz #2, was written by editor Bill Parker. It was drawn by Greg Duncan, who also drew the same comic's initial episode of Dan Dare (no relation to Britain's "Pilot of the Future" of that name) and a few other minor features for Fawcett.

Tho Golden Arrow appeared to be set in the Old West, but it only looked that way because there simply didn't happen to be any cars or telephones visible in any of the panels. In Whiz #43 (August, 1943), he had an adventure with Captain Marvel and Spy Smasher, indicating he was contemporary with them — but most of the time, he looked and acted just like a western hero.

Aside from that minor stint in his own comic (six issues, stretched between 1942 and '47), Golden Arrow also appeared in a couple of miniature-size comics. And with a variety of writers and artists (including Bernard Krigstein, later famous for his work at EC Comics, and the first work in comics of Pete Costanza, who also did Captain Tootsie), he continued to appear in the back pages of Whiz Comics — and kept on continuing, far beyond the point where most comic book heroes from the early '40s were gone and forgotten. He remained there until #154 (April, 1953) — the second-last issue. In the final one, his slot was taken by a non-series war story. Very likely, Fawcett was just using up inventory because, giving up on the long-running Superman/Captain Marvel lawsuit, it was getting out of the comic book business.

Today, Fawcett's old superheroes are owned by DC Comics, but it's unclear whether Golden Arrow, who, considering that 1943 crossover, could be argued to be one, is among them. In any case, unless you count having "borrowed" his archery motif years earlier for Green Arrow, they've never made use of the character.


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Text ©2004-10 Donald D. Markstein. Art © DC Comics.