THE GREEN MASKOriginal Medium: Comic Books
Published by: Fox Feature Syndicate
First Appeared: 1939
Creator: Unknown writer and Walter Frehm, artist
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The Green Mask wasn't the first character to try riding Superman's coat-tails to fortune, but he was a very early one. Only three months after Wonder Man became the first on the stands to imitate the Man of Tomorrow (and the first to be shut down
by DC Comics as a copyright violator) the same publisher, Fox Feature Syndicate, tried again — only this time with enough variation to fend off such a charge.
The Green Mask made his debut as the cover feature of Mystery Men Comics #1 (August, 1939). It isn't known who wrote his first story, tho Will Eisner, who also created several others including The Flame and possibly Samson for Fox (and is best known for The Spirit) is a strong possibility. The artist was Walter Frehm, who later went into newspaper comics and eventually became the artist on Believe It Or Not. The Mask got his own title with a Summer, 1940 cover date.
When not superheroing, The Green Mask was Michael Shelby ("Selby" in very early issues), a well-to-do private detective. He got his powers from a "vita-ray", which gave him the usual array of super strength, invulnerability and ability to fly. He occasionally displayed other powers, as the plot required. He was also known to pack heat, i.e., carry a gun.
The Green Mask started out as a solitary hero. But he took on a juvenile sidekick shortly after Batman added Robin. Green Mask #1 introduced Don Tracy, who, tho non-powered, went by the nom du superhero "Domino", making the star an early knock-off of two DC characters at the same time.
But he doesn't seem to have imitated them in reader appeal. He was off the Mystery Men cover by #7 (February, 1940), replaced by The Blue Beetle. After #9 (February, 1942), the Green Mask title had its numbering taken over by a new superhero, The Bouncer (tho there was a gap of a couple of years). He continued in the back pages of Mystery Men for as long as that title lasted, but that wasn't very long. It bit the dust with its 31st issue (also dated February, 1942), and after that, The Green Mask (this one, at least) wasn't seen again.
Even while The Bouncer was taking over his numbering, there was a tenth issue of Green Mask itself. But it was about a completely different character with that name. Both Green Masks eventually wound up at AC Comics (Femforce), but Fox never used this one again.