Friday, February 20, 2009

Patriot games

Seven days...

Until WonderCon, that is.

While we're waiting for the Bay Area's biggest annual comics and fantasy genre event to begin, let's check out an entry in my Bombshells! commission series. (For any new arrivals, Bombshells! showcases superheroines from the Golden Age of comics — the late 1930s through the early 1950s — in pinups designed after vintage bomber nose art.)

Meet Pat Patriot. "America's Joan of Arc" — as her hyperbolic tagline read — is drawn here by artist Greg LaRocque, noted for his work on such series as The Flash, Legion of Super-Heroes, and Web of Spider-Man.

Pat Patriot ran for a year or two as a backup feature in Lev Gleason's Daredevil Comics. (That's the original Daredevil, the guy in the half-red, half-blue body suit, not the blind lawyer with the horned cowl and billy club.)

Making her debut in Daredevil #2, aircraft factory worker Pat Patrios (perhaps a Greek-American, judging by the last name) joined the war effort by donning a red-white-and-blue costume, changing the last letter of her surname (clever coincidences like this being the stock in trade of Golden Age comics), and aiming her fists at the jaws of criminals and Nazis.

Although she was never a major star, Pat Patriot was a shining example of one of the era's signature themes: nationalistic superheroes. Everyone knows Captain America even today (although Cap wasn't the first such character — that honor goes to the Shield, who preceded the wing-headed warrior by more than a year), but most of the star-spangled crowd faded permanently from the scene at the end of World War II. So far as I know, Pat Patriot has never undergone a revival since her heyday.

Greg LaRocque's stunning Bombshell! art makes a good argument in Pat's favor, though. That comports with Pat's brief history in the comics. Back-pager though she was, Pat attracted some of the finest artists of the time, including Charles Biro (who's generally credited for creating her), Reed Crandall, and Lin Streeter.

Reed Crandall, incidentally, is most often remembered as the longtime illustrator of the aviator series Blackhawk. We'll take a look at a familiar character from that series next week.

And that's your Comic Art Friday.


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