Sunday, May 22, 2016

Golden Age Idol--The All-Losers Squad!

In the crazy days before WWII, there was lots of money to be made by creating super-heroes to sell your comic books. Superman, Batman, Captain America, et al, many big money for their publishers (if not their creators).

So it was a game everyone wanted in on. But not everyone had a Simon & Kirby or Siegel & Shuster on staff. And not everyone had one of those ur-ideas to catch lightning in a bottle and define a new style of hero. So what was a poor, small publisher to do?

If you're small-time publisher Centaur, you just take all the heroes that have debuted elsewhere, put them on a patriotic cover, and see what sticks!

And this time, nothing at all stuck.

Amazing Man, Mighty Man, The Shark, Minimidget, Iron Skull, and adventurer Reef Kincaid had all appeared earlier in Centaur's Amazing Man Comics.

Amazing Man's title ran for 20-some issues. But none of these guys were particularly successful. So why not make our own ersatz Justice Society?!? Throw 'em all on the cover of the first issue of Stars And Stripes Comics (there was no issue started with issue #2!), put 'em in patriotic drag, and watch them catch fire and rack in the dimes!

No, they weren't an actual team--their stories were all still solo adventures--but Centaur was clearly trying to capitalize on the "throw all of your heroes on the cover to attract the kids" scheme that worked so well for All-Star Comics.

Not surprisingly, it didn't work. Within 2 issues, the heroes were off the cover, replaced by the young non-powered Nazi fighters Stars And Stripes:

Yes, I know, there are three of them, but they're known collectively as Stars And Stripes.

Yup, Centaur thought a trio of goober fraternity boys (Pepper, Van & Whitey? Really?) in sad jump suits were a better sales driver than super-heroes.

Stars And Stripes Comics folded two issues later. The loser heroes continued to make occasional appearances in Amazing Man Comics, but within a few month that title ended, too. The Stars And Stripes Boys didn't even get that final bow.

Given that even I had never heard of any of these guys, it's pretty safe to say that they completely faded into obscurity. So they're just laying out there in public domain limbo. Minimidget! The Shark! Iron Skull! Amazing Man! Mighty Man! The Shark!! Reef Kincaid!! Hell, you might as well take Pepper, Van & Whitey while you're at it!! The All-Losers Squad!!

Stars And Stripes Comics #2 & 4 were from 1941

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