Magno and Davey. Artist: Lou Ferstadt.

MAGNO AND DAVEY

Medium: Comic Books
Published by: Ace Magazines
First Appeared: 1940
Creator: Paul Chadwick
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In the early 1940s, the term superhero hadn't yet become universally applied to the many costumed do-gooders who ran around bashing comic book criminals while hiding their true identities (many of whom, especially at the time, didn't have super powers …

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… in the first place). They were more often called "mystery men". In the case of Magno, who first appeared in Super-Mystery Comics #1, published by Ace Magazines (Captain Courageous, Mr. Risk) with a cover date of July, 1940, that term seems particularly appropriate. He did have super powers, but it's a mystery how he got them — more important, tho, was the fact that his identity was a mystery even to the readers. "Magno" is all he was ever called.

Magno was created by pulp writer Paul Chadwick (not the Paul Chadwick who created Concrete), whose 1934 story "The Octopus of Crime", starring the hero "Secret Agent X", has been cited as the one that Magno's introduction was a rewrite of. In a switch on the more common situation, where comics artists can usually be identified by their styles but the writers are often unknown, it's the artist on that story who remains a mystery. Magno had his costume and his super powers right from the start, even if it never was explained how he got them or who he'd been before he did.

Those powers were, as implied by the name, magnetic. He could attract most metals just like a magnet. They also included invulnerability and the ability to fly. How those two related to magnetism wasn't explained, but then, with him, what was? The same applied to his sidekick, Davey Landis, who was introduced in the fourth issue (November, 1940). Davey was one of those kid sidekicks who, like The Black Terror's Tim and Mr. Scarlet's Pinky, used his own first name or nickname for his superhero work; but since nobody seemed to be keeping any secrets (except from the reader), it didn't matter as much as it might. After Davey joined the series, Magno occasionally demonstrated an ability to attract the partner to his side, even over fairly long distances.

Chadwick and his unknown collaborator didn't stick with the series. Among their better-known successors were Jim Mooney (Wildfire, Omega the Unknown) and Harvey Kurtzman (Mad magazine, Little Annie Fanny). In fact, Magno & Davey is Kurtzman's first series. He did it while working at Lou Ferstadt's studio, even before he created Flatfoot Burns.

Magno & Davey ran in Super-Mystery until vol. 6 no. 4 (February, 1947), after which they were replaced by a guy named Harry the Hack. They were also in Four Favorites, which functioned like All-American's Comic Cavalcade or Fox's Big 3, a place where the more popular characters could get extra exposure. They were in the first 26 of that title's issues, ending with its November, 1946 issue.

They're long gone now, and Ace hasn't even published a comic book since the 1950s.

— DDM

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Text ©2007-08 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Ace Magazines