Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Golden Age Throwbacks: Miss Masque

It is time once again to return to the pages of the Golden Age comic books of yesteryear and take a look at  the next member of the Golden Age Throwbacks now in the public domain, Miss Masque. As a female superhero, Miss Masque was a relative latecomer, her first appearance coming toward the end of the Golden Age. Nor was she the first female superhero from Nedor Comics - she replaced The Woman in Red (considered to be the first costumed female superhero to ever appear in a comic book) who was simultaneously dropped from Exciting Comics. Unlike The Woman in Red, who wore a long red cloak that covered her whole form, Miss Masque had a more revealing red costume consisting of a short skirt dress with a neckline that got progressively lower over time and finally an exposed midsection as well, most likely in an attempt to appeal to the young adolescent male readership. Despite her relatively short run at the tail end of the Golden Age, Miss Masque was still a very popular secondary feature even though she never got her own title (although she did grace a few covers). Eventually she too was replaced by Judy of the Jungle when the "jungle girl" archetype became the next big thing in comic books.

MISS MASQUE
Origin: Trained
Real Name: Diana Adams
First Appearance: Exciting Comics #51 [Nedor Comics September 1946]

Diana Adams a.k.a. Miss Masque
ABILITIES
Prowess  4
Coordination  4
Strength  3
Intellect  4
Awareness  3
Willpower  6

Stamina  9
Determination  5

SPECIALTIES
  • Acrobatics
  • Athletics
  • Criminology Expert
  • Investigation Expert
  • Martial Arts Master (Jiu-Jitsu, Judo)
  • Pilot Expert
  • Stealth
  • Weapons Master (Guns)
  • Wrestling
POWERS
  • Blast Device 5 (Shooting) - Pair of M1911 Colt .45 Semi-Automatic Pistols

QUALITIES
  • Epithet: Scourge of the Underworld
  • Identity: Wealthy Young Socialite
  • Motivation: Personal war against crime and vice
  • Connections: Russ Bowman (newspaper reporter and fiancé)
  • Sharp Wit
CHALLENGES
  • Enemy: Organized Crime
  • Social: Woman in a Man's World
Point Total: 45 

ORIGIN STORY
Diana Adams
Diana Adams was a wealthy young socialite who had inherited her father's estate but quickly became bored despite her comfortable lifestyle. She decided instead to put her affluence, education and athletic ability to better use and fight crime and injustice by secretly adopting the persona of Miss Masque. Donning a domino mask, a red dress with matching cape, hat and gloves, and armed with two Colt .45 semi-automatic pistols and a sharp wit, Diana was able to investigate crime and corruption free from the constraints placed on her by her position in high society. And while the heiress had no true superpowers, her wealth gave her all the resources she needed to fight crime. She was a trained marksman with a pistol, had a pilot's license and her own private airplane, and also studied jiu-jitsu and other martial arts. To keep people from learning her secret identity, Diana played the part of the delicate, feminine debutante and would always make a point of disapproving of Miss Masque's unladylike activities.

Most of Miss Masque's adventures involved the theft of jewels or other valuables, swindlers, con artists and murderers. Frequently, the always observant Diana Adams would stumble upon these crimes in the course of her socialite activities and then return later to investigate disguised as Miss Masque. If someone was victimizing or taking advantage of someone else, Miss Masque pursued the matter until justice was served, and became known as the Scourge of the Underworld. Anywhere Diana went, she always had her Miss Masque costume hidden and ready nearby. In addition to her weapons and martial arts training, she also possessed great skill as a criminal investigator. Diana operated out of her penthouse apartment and had a maid named Belinda who was the only soul to know her secret identity as a crime fighter.

Russ Bowman with Diana
Russ Bowman, friend and social companion to Diana Adams and reporter for the Daily Standard, often crossed paths with Miss Masque in the course of his investigations for the newspaper, but he was unaware the two women were in fact one in the same. Russ was a good journalist who often did features on organized crime and corruption, and he could hold his own in a fight. Diana would often tease him about his crush on Miss Masque and dismiss her behavior as too unfeminine to prevent him from becoming suspicious. Despite having saved each other on numerous occasions, Russ never could get Miss Masque to reveal too much about herself to him, and she always disappeared shorty after their work together wrapped up. Eventually, however, Russ Bowman and Diana Adams became engaged to be married.

REFERENCES AND FURTHER READING
Miss Masque first appeared in Exciting Comics #51 (September 1946) published by Nedor (a.k.a. Standard, a.k.a. Best) Comics, but the names of the original writer and artist are unknown. Alex Schomburg and Frank Frazetta provided art for later cover appearances, and Ralph Mayo penciled some splash pages.

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