Ms. Mystic looking typically actiony. Artist: Dan Barry.


Medium: Comic books
Published by: Pacific Comics
First Appeared: 1982
Creator: Neal Adams
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Fans of Ms. Mystic, a serious, dedicated female comic book hero who flourished during the 1980s, might be insulted by the comparison, but she was the Woodsy Owl

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… of superheroes. This is because fans of serious, dedicated comic book heroes often respond negatively to suggestions that the objects of their interest might in any way be compared to a mere funny animal, but their disdain for comics overtly aimed at children is clearly misplaced. With his monomaniacal emphasis on environmental issues, Woodsy is every bit as comparable to Ms. Mystic as, say, Captain Planet.

A more cogent objection would be to the word "flourished", describing what Ms. Mystic did in 1980s comics. With 18 issues, including a couple of reprints, and a smattering of back-page stories, published between 1982 and '94, flourishing is exactly what she did not do. Still, she has many fans, who admire her for the quality of the work that went into her comic books, and for her status as a strong female role model.

Ms. Mystic (no relation) was created by Neal Adams, probably the most highly-regarded comic book artist to enter the field during the 1960s. He started during the early part of the decade, at Archie Comics, where he received little attention from the more vocal fans, who took more notice of people who worked at Marvel and DC. But by the decade's end, he'd done top properties, such as Batman and X-Men, for both. He's more closely associated with Deadman and the early '70s teaming of Green Lantern and Green Arrow.

Adams remained a favorite among fans throughout the 1970s and beyond. When Pacific Comics (Groo the Wanderer, The Rocketeer) started, in 1981, he was a prime candidate to do a title for them. Pacific had been concentrating on new creations by bankable creators such as Jack Kirby (whose Captain Victory launched their line) and Mike Grell (whose Starslayer was another of their early titles). Ms. Mystic started in Captain Victory's third issue (March, 1982), and was in a title of her own by October of that year.

Ms. Mystic was one of a class of superheroes made up of super-powered survivors of earlier times, which included Fox's Dart, Fawcett's Ibis the Invincible and Fiction House's Fantomah. She was a witch, burned at the stake in Salem, Massachusetts during the 1690s, who escaped by magically fleeing her own body. Her soul, or "essence", then resided on another astral plane until 20th century metaphysical experiments made it possible for her to return.

She had the power to fly, like so many diverse superheroes, plus she was a magic wielder like Tim Hunter or Dr. Strange. She was also supernaturally smart, almost, according to the comics, to the point of precognition. She was able to smite her enemies with The Sword of Light, which she could summon whenever she needed it.

Ms. Mystic was devoted mostly to environmental concerns. Her attitude toward humanity was, she wasn't positively averse to benefitting people, and would even go out of her way to do so, as long as it didn't interfere with the main mission. She was so deeply concerned with the environment, her supernatural pals included Mother Nature herself. Once, when she needed rescuing, Mother Nature fielded a superhero team called Urth-4, who corresponded to the four elements of antiquity, Earth, Air, Fire and Water, but misspelled in the style of contemporary villains like Bludwulf and Lunatik, a popular way to name comic book characters at the time.

Right from the beginning, Ms. Mystic came out only sporadically. Not only did seven months pass between her introductory story and the launch of her own title — the title itself didn't have a second issue until February, 1984; and Pacific Comics never did publish a third.

Years later, Adams formed his own company, Continuity Associates (Megalith, Bucky O'Hare), which employed other artists but took Adams's work as its house style. Continuity re-launched Ms. Mystic in 1987, reprinting the Pacific Comics series as the first two issues of a regular Ms. Mystic title. Even then, it was sporadic. One of those two was published in 1987 and the other in '88. Then new production began — two issues in 1989, two in '90, 1 in '91 and two in '92, a total of nine issues altogether. Artists contributing to this run all adopted the Adams style, including well-known practitioners of other styles such as Stan Drake (The Heart of Juliet Jones) and Dan Barry Flash Gordon). Continuity also published four issues devoted to Urth-4 in 1989-90.

During the Continuity run, Adams's sole credit as the character's creator was challenged. Michael Netzer, an associate of Adams in earlier years, who had since left comics for other pursuits, returned to claim full partnership in her creation and that of another Continuity character, Crazyman — where slander in naming a terrorist after Netzer, who was formerly known in the comics community as "Mike Nasser", was also alleged. The dispute grew fairly heated, eventually resulting in litigation. The judged ruled that Ms. Mystic claims had exceeded the statute of limitations, and that the Crazyman slur hadn't been intentionally harmful. Netzer later apologized for having let matters go so far, but never stopped claiming to have contributed to Ms. Mystic's creation.

After struggling through that series, Ms. Mystic appeared in two mini-series, one of three issues and the other four, that came out like clockwork in 1993-94. The latter was part of a crossover series called Deathwatch 2000.

Continuity Associates isn't publishing new comics anymore, so the prospect of new Ms. Mystic material appears dim.


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