THE MARKSMANMedium: Comic books
Published by: Quality Comics
First Appeared: 1942
Creators: Bob Powell (writer) and Ed Cronin (artist)
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Archer superheroes in comic books go back almost as far as superheroes in general — The Arrow, from Centaur Publications (The Clock, Amazing-Man) came along only three months after Superman himself, who is generally held to have founded the genre. By 1942, Green Arrow, The Spider and Golden Arrow were all active evil bashers. But The Marksman, from Quality Comics
(Blackhawk, Spider Widow) was a little different than most, in that archery wasn't the main point of interest in his series. What got the readers hooked was his day job as a Nazi military officer. He was a costume-wearing, arrow-shooting resistor to the occupiers only during his off hours.
The Marksman was originally Baron Povalsky, a handsome young Polish aristocrat, whose outrage over the German occupation of his homeland was compounded by the fact that occupation forces set up their headquarters in his own castle. He did succeed in relieving his woes by disguising himself and infiltrating their ranks — becoming the occupation troops' commander, in fact, Major Hurtz. In his third identity, The Marksman, he used his skills, especially in archery, to foil the Nazis' every move. Only his faithful manservant, old Vorka, who occupied a small room hidden in a tower, knew his secrets.
Writer Bob Powell (Jet Powers, The Avenger and artist Ed Cronin (who doubled as the comic's editor) offered no hint as to how he'd arranged this bizarre but advantageous situation. They simply introduced the character in Quality's Smash Comics #33 (May, 1942) with all these things in place, which was no-doubt easier than trying to dream up how they got there. The Marksman had replaced The Invisible Hood, who apparently lacked enough visible support among readers. Smash's other series included Wildfire, The Ray and (cover featured) Jack Cole's Midnight.
Powell and Cronin stuck with the series for a few months, but a majority of his adventures were written and drawn by Fred Guardineer (Zatara, Mr. Mystic). As long as the Nazis were rampaging through Eastern Europe, The Marksman was there to oppose them; but that ended after only a few years. His last appearance was in Smash #58 (April, 1945). In #59, his spot was occupied by an Archie imitator named Spunky (no relation).
DC Comics now has title to the Quality Comics properties. This one, however, hasn't made an appearance since World War II.