LADY DANGERMedium: Comic books
Published by: DC Comics
First Appeared: 1948
Creators: Robert Kanigher (writer) and Bob Oksner (artist)
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Lady Danger was the result of two late-1940s trends at DC Comics. The first, which pervaded the entire comic book industry, was for the superheroes from the early part of the decade to be
phased out in favor of less gaudy stars; for example, Merry, the Girl of 1,000 Gimmicks losing her slot in Star Spangled Comics to a series titled "Federal Men", and The Atom bring replaced in All-American Comics by a bunch of Flash supporting characters.
The other was for Sensation Comics to fill its back pages with female heroes, to match its cover-featured Wonder Woman. First, Little Boy Blue & the Blue Boys were dropped in favor of "Wonder Women of History", which featured biographies. The following issue (#84, dated December 1948), Sargon the sorcerer lost his slot to Lady Danger.
"Lady Danger" wasn't a superhero monicker, as might have been the case a few years earlier. It was just a nickname, bestowed by the local newspaper, The City Press, upon snub-nosed, curly-haired debutante Valerie Vaughn, whose taste for thrills had gotten her into the paper several times during the months prior to her Sensation Comics debut. As her series opened, she'd apparently gone a while without putting her life in jeopardy, because she was complaining of boredom — having done everything, she was virtually perishing of ennui. Her wealthy father found this amusing, and suggested she try a completely new experience — get a job.
By the end of the story, she was a reporter for the Press. She got the job the way people usually get journalism jobs in comic books — rebuffed by the editor, who suggested, half joking, that he'd hire her if she brought in a scoop, she went out and did so. She called on an acquaintance, private detective Gary Grath, whom she'd worked with before while earning her nickname, and found him up to his neck in trouble. She solved his case (rescuing him in the process), wrote it up, and thus convinced her skeptical editor she was worth a salary. She kept the job for the duration of her series, with Gary as a regular supporting character, the nearest thing she had to a boyfriend.
Val was created by writer Robert Kanigher and artist Bob Oksner. Kanigher, who doubled as editor of Sensation Comics, also created DC series in a variety of other genres, including science fiction (Knights of the Galaxy), western (The Trigger Twins), war stories (Gunner & Sarge) and historical adventure (Viking Prince). Oksner's other DC series included Angel & the Ape and Leave It to Binky, but he also dabbled in newspaper comics such as Miss Cairo Jones and Dondi.
Lady Danger didn't become a major star. In fact, her series ended after only ten installments. A few of them were reprinted in Superman's Girlfriend, Lois Lane in 1972, but that's as close as she came to being remembered. A later DC character, Danger Girl, had nothing to do with her.