MISS MASQUEMedium: Comic books
Published by: Standard Comics
First Appeared: 1946
Please contribute to its necessary financial support.
Amazon.com or PayPal
Standard Comics (also known as Better Publications and Nedor Comics) was typical of the small comic book producers of the 1940s, pumping superheroes such as Fighting Yank and Doc Strange in the beginning, then phasing them out as the public lost interest. It did, however, have a few distinctions, such as publishing what many consider the first female representative of the genre, The Woman in Red. But Red, whose long, flowing robes were atypical of the superhero women, didn't excite much interest. The company dropped her in 1945 and, tho superheroes
in general were becoming scarce, launched another the following year, designed more to adolescent male taste (i.e., with cleavage and a mini-skirt) — Miss Masque.
Both characters belonged to distinct sub-genres of superheroes. Red was one of those law officers who find the restraints of the law too restrictive for effective crime fighting, like Black Jack, The Guardian and The Ghost Rider. Masque was one of those bored socialites who turn to urban adventuring to relieve ennui, like Firebrand, Miss Fury and Lady Luck.
It was in Exciting Comics #51 (September, 1946) that the wealthy Diana Adams first put on her costume and became, as she was billed, the Scourge of the Underworld. She replaced The American Crusader (no relation) (a minor superhero who had been around since 1941) and Sgt. Bill King (whose military adventures were less in demand with the war over). Two issues later, she replaced The Black Terror, who had been the star of Exciting Comics, on the cover — but only for one issue. She also made a few appearances in the back pages of the Terror's and Fighting Yank's comics.
But in Exciting #55 (May, 1947), she herself was replaced by Judy of the Jungle, who represented the up-and-coming jungle girl genre (cf., Rulah, Princess Pantha, Tiger Girl). Her series didn't end, but was transferred to America's Best Comics, which had started in 1942 as an extra venue for the company's more popular characters, like Captain Future and Pyroman. In this case, however, it functioned as a place to stash a character who no longer fit elsewhere. This one's first appearance there was in #23 (September, 1947). The title lasted only until #31 (July, 1949), and Miss Masque was dropped completely.
But during the 1980s, a publisher came along that regarded those old, defunct characters from old, defunct publishers as marketable properties. With nobody around to offer legal objection, AC Comics revived Miss Masque, moved her to the modern world, and made her, like renamed versions of Señorita Rio and Phantom Lady, part of its Femforce. Also, Alan Moore (Watchmen, Halo Jones) used her (with her name updated to "Ms. Masque"), along with most of the company's other costumed crime-fighters, as part of his "Terra Obscura" line.
And there she stands — not a very long-lived hero in her original incarnation, but able to maintain reader interest for decades in her new one.