LIBERTY BELLEMedium: Comic Books
Published by: DC Comics
First Appeared: 1942
Creators: Don Cameron (writer) and Chuck Winter (artist)
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others patterned their superhero suits after Old Glory. But only Liberty Belle was tied to another prominent icon of American independence, the one she named herself after.
Libby Lawrence was in Poland with her father, Major James Lawrence, just before the war started. He was killed in the initial Nazi assault, necessitating her unassisted escape from territory they controlled. The escape involved swimming the English Channel, which made her an international celebrity and led to high-profile work back in the U.S., as a newspaper columnist and radio commentator. After America became involved in the conflict, she began moonlighting as the costume-wearing do-gooder and freelance war participant, Liberty Belle.
As a superhero, she was aided by a small trophy she'd won in college athletics — a replica of the original Liberty Bell, made of exactly the same material. When the bell was rung, the replica would vibrate, so her confidant Tom Revere (descendant of Paul), custodian of the bell, would ring it to alert her of threats that needed superhero action. In later versions, she got an adrenaline rush along with the vibrations, which functioned as a minor super power.
Libby's superhero career began in the back pages of DC Comics' Boy Commandos #1 (Winter, 1942-43). The story was written by Don Cameron (whose extensive career at DC included both Superman and Batman, as well as a host of lesser characters) and drawn by Chuck Winter (Shining Knight, Mr. Terrific and more). Both stayed with the character for most of her run.
The series continued in Boy Commandos #2, then was transferred to the back pages of Star Spangled Comics, which had started as mostly a vehicle for The Star-Spangled Kid & Stripesy (another pair of flag wearers), but a few months later began cover-featuring The Newsboy Legion. Liberty Belle joined the line-up in #20 (May, 1943), replacing Tarantula, a very minor superhero. She continued there until #68 (May, 1947), after which she was replaced by Tomahawk. At no time had she appeared on a cover, nor had she ever crossed over with another character. She wasn't seen again until decades later, when DC was mining its past for superheroes to exploit.
In Justice League of America #193 (August, 1981), which introduced The All-Star Squadron, Liberty Belle not only ended her run of non-appearance — she also crossed over with Hawkman, Green Arrow, The Spectre, and about a dozen and a half other heroes from '40s comic books. The following month, when the Squadron got its own comic, she even began appearing on covers.
In fact, she was altogether more noticeable as a Squadron member than she'd been as a series star. She even chaired the rather unwieldy group for a time. She acquired a real super power, the ability to shoot sonic blasts from her hands (a much more parent-friendly combat technique than traditional fist-bashing). According to a retcon there, she was descended from Miss Liberty, a '60s supporting character in Tomahawk's comic, which was set back in Revolutionary War days. And in contrast to her treatment back in Star Spangled Comics, she had a romantic attachment in the Squadron — she and Johnny Quick became an "item", and were eventually married.
After the Squadron's run ended, in 1987, Libby and Johnny started turning up in comics set in the present, and it turned out they had a grown daughter, Jesse. The daughter inherited their super powers, and under the name "Jesse Quick", has been showing up here and there in the DC Universe with increasing frequency.
And Libby, too, in her capacity as retired superhero, is still seen from time to time.