THE MOTHMedium: Comic Books
Published by: Fox Feature Syndicate
First Appeared: 1940
Creators: unknown writer and Jim Mooney (artist)
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A major directory of 1940s comic book characters dismisses The Moth as "a short-lived Batman knock-off", but a look at the character himself doesn't reveal much similarity. The Moth doesn't have the "dark, mysterious creature of the night" motif, the revenge
motivation, or the secret identity as a millionaire playboy or any secret identity, or evidence of a personal life at all, for that matter. (He was, however, short-lived.)
However, artist Jim Mooney (Wildfire, Supergirl) is said to have used his work on The Moth as samples to show DC editors he was capable of handling their #2 cash cow. And it's been suggested that his early demise in favor of The Lynx, a completely different superhero, was due to a threatened DC lawsuit. But considering the tolerance DC had shown to Superman imitators, except for some of the more blatant ones like Steel Sterling or Captain Marvel, it seems likely he got switched out just because he was a bland, uninteresting character to begin with.
The Moth made his debut in Mystery Men Conics #9 (April, 1940), the Fox Feature Syndicate title where The Blue Beetle starred and other heroes, such as The Green Mask, Rex Dexter of Mars, Zanzibar the Magician and more entertained readers in the back pages.
He was created by an unknown writer, which seems to have been the case with many of his contemporary comic book characters, and artist Jim Mooney (Ms. Marvel, Dial H for Hero). Together, they used the house name "Norton Kingsley" as a by-line. Mooney's work continued throughout The Moth's brief run, but the credit was given to "Norman" Kingsley at least once.
The story contained no explanation of who The Moth was, why he did what he did, or where he got his evident ability to fly (tho he didn't display any other super powers). It's been suggested he was a non-powered hero who could fly because of the way his suit was built, but that isn't mentioned in the actual stories. At least one character said his flying "sounds like a moth flying against a light", but since this wasn't accompanied by a phonetically-spelled sound effect, it's hard to be sure exactly what that sound was.
Whether for being perceived as a Batman imitator, or for his own shortcomings, The Moth had only four adventures. They ended with Mystery Men #12 (July, 1940). His replacement, The Lynx, who wasn't the least bit like him, started in #13. That feature, too, was by Mooney, working with an unknown writer, and was credited to "Norton Kingsley".
The Moth was never seen again.