THE WASPOriginal Medium: Comic Books
Published by: Harvey Comics
First Appeared: 1941
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Everybody who's at all into comic books knows who The Wasp is. She's a superhero who's been hanging around The Marvel Universe since 1963. But even very knowledgeable people about comics don't always know she wasn't the first with that name. In fact The Wasp who was
briefly published by Harvey Comics in that genre's first heyday, the early 1940s, isn't even mentioned in many standard reference works about 1940s comic book characters.
The Wasp was first seen in Harvey's Speed Comics #12 (March, 1941), where Shock Gibson was the cover feature. It isn't known who wrote or drew his 8-page story in that issue.
Most comic book superheroes are cast in the mold of Superman, who is considered to have brought the genre to comics. The Wasp was more like The Green Hornet, the radio hero who put on a mask and drove around town, fighting crime. He wasn't the first in that mold DC Comics alone had two, The Sandman and The Crimson Avenger, at least before both put on skin-tight outfits just like all the other superheroes.
When he didn't have the mask and cloak on, The Wasp was newspaper editor Dan Burton. He didn't appear in that guise in the first story, nor did that story explain why he did what he did. The thinking might have been what the heck, he's just like the other urban adventurers; maybe he got to be one the same way they did, too.
The Wasp was in the next issue, but as of the following one, he'd gotten crowded right out of Speed Comics in favor of an enhanced role for Captain Freedom, who'd started in #13. The Wasp was transferred to Champ Comics, where The Liberty Lads were the stars. His first appearance in Champ was in #19 (June, 1942).
Being transferred to Champ was a lot like simply getting cancelled. First, it took over a year for him to make it to the new venue. Second, he was dropped altogether as soon as he turned up there. The only discernible credit on any of his three stories is that the second was drawn by Art Saaf (Princess Pantha).
But he wasn't the first comic book hero called The Wasp, either. More than a year before he was even a gleam in the eye of whoever created him, a very similar character called The Wasp was being published by Lev Gleason Publications (Daredevil, Crimebuster). In terms of the duration of his series, this earliest of all Wasps was an even more minor character than the guy getting written about here. But he did manage to catch the eyes of people who list 1940s comic book characters.