MERRY, GIRL OF 1,000 GIMMICKSMedium: Comic books
Published by: DC Comics
First Appeared: 1948
Creators: Otto Binder (writer) and Win Mortimer (artist)
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By the end of World War II, the superhero fad in American comic books had run its course, and the long-underwear guys were being replaced by teenage humor, funny animals, westerns and other such genres. But even during the lean
years, there was a steady trickle of new ones. One late '40s trend, especially at Marvel, was female heroes, such as Sun Girl and Namora. DC did a couple of those too, starting with the introduction of Little Miss Redhead as a supporting character to Little Boy Blue. A far more prominent one (which still left plenty of scope for obscurity) was their Merry, Girl of 1,000 Gimmicks, who started in The Star-Spangled Kid's series, and went on to oust him from it.
In Star Spangled Comics #81 (June, 1948), Sylvester Pemberton's mom and dad, deciding their teenage son needed a playmate, adopted Merry, the daughter of a convicted felon named "Fly-foot" Craemer. Of course, they didn't suspect Sylvester already had a "playmate" in the family, Pat Dugan, the chauffeur, who played Stripesy to Sylvester's role as The Star-Spangled Kid. Merry, nowhere near as obtuse, immediately penetrated the secret. Next issue, she got gimmicked up and shared his adventure. Then Stripesy was injured and she started sharing the logo as well. Her big schtick as a superhero was practical joking, like the earlier Jester and the later Funnyman.
All this was engineered by writer Otto Binder (Miss America, Mary Marvel) and artist Winslow Mortimer (Night Nurse, Stanley & His Monster). The same team was still doing her as of #87 (December, 1948), when the Kid was ousted completely and she became the star of the show. In fact, they were still handling the series up to #90, after which it ended.
Most 1940s DC heroes were eventually incorporated into the DC Universe, a vast milieu of comic book characters who all seem to know one another. By the 1980s, the process was nearly complete, and Merry turned out to have married Brain Wave, a Justice Society of America villain. She raised their son alone while he was in prison; and Brain Wave Jr. grew up as a good guy, instrumental in founding a second-generation superhero team, Infinity Inc. At the time of its founding, she was allegedly dead.
But death isn't always permanent in the superhero world, and it later transpired she'd faked hers. She returned in the flesh, in the 16th issue (December, 1999) of DC's Young Justice series, along with several other long-grown juvenile superheroes, now calling themselves "Old Justice". In company with Daniel Dunbar (formerly of TNT & Dan the Dyna-Mite), Amelia and Mortimer Jibbet (formerly The Cyclone Twins) and several others, she now opposed allowing children to be endangered by doing superhero work.