Before Joe Simon and Jack Kirby introduced Captain America to the world, the pair honed their super-hero chops by writing and drawing a somewhat obscure Batman-wannabe for Prize Comics: The Black Owl.
The character – created by Robert Turner and Pete Riss of the Jack Binder Studio – first appeared in 1940 as “K The Unknown,” your typical good-for-nothing millionaire playboy who decided fighting crime was a worthwhile hobby to alleviate boredom. The “K” gimmick apparently worked about as well as the concept of a pro-wrestling dentist, however, as the name was changed to The Black Owl without explanation in the character’s second appearance.
The Black Owl continued, in one form or another, for about seven years. Although the character never really hit the big leagues in any incarnation, Simon and Kirby’s short stint on the would-be Caped Crusader remain a definite high point and set the stage nicely for the duo’s more heralded work on Captain America.
From Prize Comics #9 (Prize, 1941), here’s “The Menace Of Madame Mystery” by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby.
If you’d like to read a more pristine version of this comic – along with tons of other boss Simon/Kirby creations – I heartily recommend purchasing The Simon & Kirby Superheroes, published by Titan Books.
- Seeya Later, Alligator (timebulleteer.wordpress.com)