EC Comics isn’t exactly remembered for its super-hero titles, but the fabled publisher did dip its toes into the long-underwear genre before achieving fame – and earning great hostility in certain, powerful circles – for its legendary line of horror, crime and science-fiction books.
The company’s sole super do-gooder – if you don’t count an incredibly obscure funny-animal hero known as “Firefly” – was Moon Girl, a less than imaginative riff on William M. Marston’s Wonder Woman.
(Who, perhaps or perhaps not coincidentally, was also published by EC Comics founder Max Gaines.)
Moon Girl’s first appeared in Happy Houlihans #1 (Fall, 1947) in a story written and drawn by the highly pedigreed team of Gardner Fox and Sheldon Moldoff. She was a princess from a remote kingdom who – much like Red Sonja a few decades later – swore to only marry the man who could beat her in battle.
Complicating matters, the princess possessed a magic moonstone that made her practically invincible. After defeating numerous suitors, the princess was pit against a prince named Mengu. Although he was easily beaten as well, she found herself drawn to the would-be paramour and searched the world for the disgraced prince.
She eventually found him coaching students at an American college under the name “Lionel Manning.” The princess adopted a secret identity of her own, “Clare Lune,” and was hired for a teaching position at the same school.
(Guess the college in question didn’t believe in conducting rigourous job interviews …)
While they were at it, “Clare” and “Lionel” also decided their talents in combat – or perhaps, more accurately, her talents – would best be utilized fighting crime as Moon Girl and The Prince.
Pretty tame stuff compared to the material EC would soon build its reputation upon, but Moon Girl did receive her own title and even gained a female sidekick named “Star” after poor Mengu proved to be a less than scintillating character.
Once William M. Gaines took over the company, he tried to refurbish Moon Girl and cash in on the then-popular true-crime (renaming her comic Moon Girl Fights Crime) and romance (A Moon, A Girl, A Romance after the “Fights Crime” gimmick didn’t take) genres before throwing in the towel on the character altogether.
The Moon Girl comic was ultimately retitled Weird Fantasy, and the rest was history.
Still, the heroine’s adventures held enough charm to leave at least a few Golden Age enthusiasts (such as myself) with the belief that Moon Girl deserved a better fate. And wouldn’t you know it, after decades spent in comic-book limbo Moon Girl was finally relaunched last year as a creator-owned project from Comixology.
The rebooted Moon Girl is a Russian princess in 1950s New York whose adventures are touted as a mix between “Dark Knight” and “Mad Men.”
Not too bad for a character who – up to now, at least – barely registered as a footnote in comics’ history.
From Moon Girl #4 (EC Comics, Summer 1948) here’s “Vampire Of The Bayous.” Even at that point in its history, EC just couldn’t stay away from the supernatural.
The art is by Sheldon Moldoff.