REX DEXTER OF MARSOriginal Medium: Comic Books
Published by: Fox Feature Syndicate
First Appeared: 1939
Creator: Dick Briefer
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In the wake of Superman, when comic books were experiencing their first big boom in popularity, there was a sudden need for heroes to fill them. Many of the new heroes were direct imitations of Supes, costume-wearing superheroes, but some imitated other established comics heroes, such as Mandrake (cf. Zatara) or Tarzan (such as Kaanga), instead. Often, these others were about as well thought-out as the super guys. Rex Dexter of Mars, who helped fill up the back pages of Victor Fox's
new title, Mystery Men Comics (no relation this one had The Blue Beetle and The Green Mask) owed more to Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers, but he wasn't as plausible as even those proverbial bastions of pulp-style sci-fi heroics.
Like Fantoman's, Rex's story started at the 1939 New York World's Fair, where a scientist, Montague Dexter, demonstrated his new Mars Rocket by taking off in it, accompanied by his unnamed wife, and never coming back. Instead, their son, Rex, piloted the ship back in the far-flung future year of 2000. In the meantime, Monty and the Mrs. had been living on Mars, where they'd crash-landed all those years ago, and given birth to Rex apparently at least 30 Earth years after arriving. It had taken that long to repair the ship, and they'd become too old to make the trip back.
Rex became a widely-acclaimed hero, and made a romantic attachment with an Earth chick named Cynde. But soon after, Rex brought home a monster from an expedition, and it escaped and wrought havoc. Rex defeated it, of course, but the fickle crowd decided he was more trouble than he was worth, and banished him. Cynde accompanied him into exile.
Rex was the brainchild of cartoonist Dick Briefer (Frankenstein, Yankee Longago, The Bronze Terror). He debuted in Mystery Men Comics #1 (August, 1939), occupying the comic's back pages along with Zanzibar the Magician and Chen Cheng. The only time he appeared on a cover was when he had a title of his own, which lasted a single issue, dated Fall, 1940.
Rex had a couple of dozen adventures in those back pages, ending in #24 (July, 1941), replaced in the 25th with an Army man named Private O'Hara. But that wasn't quite the end of him. He'd been plucked out to help launch The Eagle, one of those Army guys who put on costumes resembling the U.S. flag and defeat villains in their spare time, like Captain America. Rex's function in his new venue was to fill up the back pages. The Eagle #1 had the same cover date as his last appearance in Mystery Men.
He lasted only one issue there, replaced in #2 by a new hero, The Spider Queen (no relation). Unlike the loss of his Mystery Men series, that did finish him. Briefer had been his writer and artist the whole time.