Tuesday, October 8, 2013
YEAR 1942: THE BLACK ANGEL
The only female star of Hillman Comics' AIR FIGHTERS COMICS was the redoubtable "Black Angel," a British socialite who assumed a secret identity in order to carry on her private war against the Axis. By some reckonings she was the only character in AIR FIGHTERS that might be deemed a "superhero," given that she wore a skintight costume. Like many other superheroes from Superman on down, she had the mysterious ability to run around with her bare face hanging out, and no one (to the best of my knowledge) ever recognized her. So many comic-book heroes-- in contrast to their pulp forbears-- ran around without masks that one must wonder if many artists simply didn't like drawing them. To be sure masks do cut down on the expressions one can conjure with. In the illustration above the Angel certainly looks a lot more pissed with no mask than she would with one.
Speaking of pulps, most of the features in AIR FIGHTERS shared with the pulps an affection for fast-paced, rip-roaring, lurid adventures with only a marginal plotline. The Black Angel's adventures against foes like the Baroness Blood, Madame Claw and the Hag from Hades all contributed to a strong Gothic atmosphere. The Angel, like all the heroes of AIR FIGHTERS, was a superb fighter-pilot and showed a high level of martial athleticism on the ground as well.
Like most Hillman heroes she disappeared after the war, but her character appeared in Eclipse's 1980s AIRBOY titles. She had aged normally and passed on her secret ID to a younger woman, who was a more literally "black" Angel.