It has occurred to me I hadn’t done a post about a full color, American Golden Age comic book anthology in quite a while. So when the fates (in the form of the Digital Comics Museum) offered up an issue of Hit Comics, one of my all-time favorite Golden Age comics, how could I not do one about it?
Especially since Hit Comics #18 is an issue I’ve been wanting to read for decades, due to the striking Reed Crandall cover and the fact it features the first appearance of my one of my favorite also ran superheroes, Stormy Foster, The Great Defender. He was a pharmacist who took a super vitamin and fought crime — on the surface there’s not much to distinguish him from the rest of the rank and file Golden Age mystery men. Except for the fact…
1) He belongs to that select subgroup of superheroes who’s proper name was a part of his nom de guerre (Power Nelson, Futureman, Brad Spencer, Wonderman, Peter Cannon, Thunderbolt, etc.). I thought this was a pretty cool superhero name when I first read about him in the Steraranko History of Comics. Of course what I didn’t know then was Stormy Foster was the name of the pharmacist, not the superhero. Which is a shame since Stormy Foster is actually a better name (though probably one better suited for a 40′s comic strip about a girl adventurer) than “The Great Defender”.
2) He belongs to that select subgroup of superheroes who fought crime dressed for track, i.e., with bare legs (Dynamic Man, Captain Future, Phantasmo, Master of the World, etc.
3) He belongs to that select subgroup of superheroes who fought crime with facial hair (The Angel, Mr. America, Mr. Scarlet), Though his appears to have been a side effect of his super vitamin as it only appeared after he took it.
You wouldn’t think pharmacies would be a hotbed of superheroic activity, but The Blue Beetle was always stopping by one to get a dose of his super vitamin. And Bob Benton, the secret identity of The Black Terror, used his pharmacy as his base of operations; speaking of which, Stormy bore a striking resemblance to Bob.
Oddly enough Hit Comics never produced an actual hit, a genuine breakout character until Kid Eternity showed up in #25. Mostly the series was the home of such never-wases like The Red Bee, Neon the Unknown and Hercules. Superheroes didn’t get much simpler than the Quality version of Hercules, he was just a guy named Joe (that was his actual given name) who was born really, really strong who just went about looking for cool stuff to do. He had no supporting cast, no sidekick, no base of operations, no returning villains (that I know of). Plus, he was one of those social justice oriented heroes, the type who got involved in tainted milk scandals or when substandard materials caused buildings to collapse, as you can see here as he takes the side of a bunch of disgruntled employees over a group of job creators. Socialist bastard.
— Steve Bennett