THE YOUNG ALLIESMedium: Comic Books
Published by: Marvel Comics
First Appeared: 1941
Creators: Joe Simon and Jack Kirby
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Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, the comic book legends who created Captain America, Fighting American and the entire genre of romance comics, were also famous for the kid gangs they did in the 1940s. Their very first, before The Boy Commandos, before The Newsboy Legion, long before
The Boy Explorers, was The Young Allies. And they created that one without writing or drawing a single story with The Young Allies as its stars.
The group started out under the name "Sentinels of Liberty". They consisted of Bucky Barnes (Captain America's sidekick) and four of his friends: Knuckles (aka Percival Aloysius O'Toole), Jeff (Jefferson Worthing Sandervilt), Tubby (Henry Tinkle) and Whitewash Jones (who, being merely the requisite black stereotype, didn't have a fancy name like the others). Their first appearance as Cap's supporting characters was in a text story in Captain America #4 (June, 1941), but they turned up in regular comics stories in the next two issues.
Even as the last of these was coming out, Cap's publisher, the company now known as Marvel Comics, gave them their own comic — but with a few changes. The first was the name of the group, which was re-christened The Young Allies. The second was its line-up — Toro, The Human Torch's sidekick, joined them. The third was its creative personnel. In Young Allies Comics #1 (Summer, 1941), the stories were written by Stan Lee (whose fame rests mostly on his '60s work in Fantastic Four, X-Men, etc.) and drawn by Charles Nicholas (The Blue Beetle).
Tho it was just a kid gang, where two of the kids happened to be superheroes, The Young Allies did their share of high-power villain bashing. In fact, in their very first issue, they came up against Cap's arch-enemy, The Red Skull himself. And despite the fact that two thirds of them were ordinary, non-costumed kids, it was the first ongoing comic to team up characters from two or more other Marvel series. And Whitewash may have been a mere stereotype, but he had the distinction of being Marvel's first black character of any type. Also, as the only one to appear during the heyday of stereotypes, Marvel's only black stereotype their next black character, Waku, didn't show up until 1954, by which time a desire to avoid insulting readers had rendered such stereotyping obsolete.
Young Allies Comics ran 20 issues, the last dated October, 1946. Also, there was a Young Allies story in Kid Komics #2 (Summer, 1943). Afterward Toro and Bucky continued to get together for a very brief period, as members of The All Winners Squad. But Knuckles, Jeff, Tubby and Whitewash weren't seen again.