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Meet the Freedom Fighters: Phantom Lady

Although Phantom Lady debuted in Police Comics #1, cover dated August, 1941, the story did not tell her origin. And since I couldn’t find a public domain copy of #1; I’m going to write about her last Quality Comics appearance in Police Comics #23.

The Phantom Lady has matched her brains and courage against murderers, saboteurs, crooks, and practically every other representative of crime spewed forth from the underworld -- but at last she meets a menace in the form of four friends disguised as innocent citizens -- a menace calling for her last ounce of ingenuity to survive! In case you don’t know it, The Phantom Lady is really Sandra Knight, daughter of Senator Knight --

When Sandra returns home one day, she meets a man who tells her the senator hired him as the head butler. However, he then tells the senator that Sandra hired him. The confusion doesn’t stop there...

It seems that there was a break at “the nut house.” Phantom Lady fights the escapees, who have the real servants held captive in the basement…

Notes

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With a lackluster story such as this one, it’s no wonder that Phantom Lady’s adventures in Police Comics ended after 23 issues. Her strengths, at least here, were found in her appearance rather than her powers.

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However, this wasn’t the end of the character. Due to confusion on who owned the copyright, Fox Feature Syndicate changed the name of Wotalife Comics to Phantom Lady with #13 (August, 1947.) The title ended with issue #23 (April, 1949), which was about the time Fox went out of business

Its assets were distributed to other companies, and Star Publications produced one Phantom Lady reprint (from All Top Comics, another title in which Phantom Lady guest-starred at Fox) in an issue of Jungle Thrills. Then, Star went out of business.

Ajax-Farrell Publications then published four issues of a second Phantom Lady title from December, 1954 through June, 1955 and a backup feature in two issues of Wonder Boy.

Charlton Comics later acquired Farrell's assets; however, the only appearances of Phantom Lady were in reprinted stories in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

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I.W. Publications, later known as Super Comics, published unauthorized reprints in issues of Great Action Comics and Daring Adventures, from 1958 to 1964. However, the cover images of Phantom Lady bore little resemblance to previous incarnations. Blonde?

Speaking of incarnations, Phantom Lady played a pivotal role in the formation of the Comics Code Authority. The cover of Phantom Lady #17 (April, 1948) was featured in the 1954 book by Dr. Frederic Wertham called Seduction of the Innocent. The caption read:

sexual stimulation by combining “headlights” with the sadist's dream of tying up a woman

Phantom Lady’s costume evolved from a yellow one-piece “swimsuit” with green cape (Quality), to blue swimsuit revealing substantial cleavage with red cape (Fox), to covered cleavage and shorts (instead of skirt) after the Comics Code Authority was formed.

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Phantom Lady did not receive a proper origin story until decades later at DC Comics.

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Fun Facts

  • Phantom Lady used a “black light projector” to blind her enemies and make herself invisible.

  • She drove a sleek black roadster with black lights in the headlights and taillights.

  • Joe Kubert drew Phantom Girl stories in Police Comics #14-16.

  • Her skimpy costume was once explained as a tactic to distract her male foes.

Title: Police Comics

Issue #: 1

Cover Date: August, 1941

On Sale Date: 5-14-1941

Penciller: Arthur Peddy

Inker: Arthur Peddy

Editor: Ed Cronin

Title: Police Comics

Issue #: 23

Cover Date: October, 1941

On Sale Date: 8-13-1943

Penciller: Rudy Palais

Inker: Rudy Palais

Editor: George Brenner


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