Pyroman socks it to crime.


Medium: Comic books
Published by: Standard Comics
First Appeared: 1942
Creators: unknown writer and Jack Binder (artist)
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Pyroman was a relative latecomer to the 1940s superhero pantheon. By the time he came along (the last couple of months of 1942), not only were a large majority of the decade's crop of super guys already in place — some companies, such …

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… as MLJ Comics, whose Firefly, Fox, Captain Flag and more had already bit the dust, were actually starting to phase them out.

Nonetheless, Pyroman did reasonably well for his publisher, variously known as Standard, Nedor or Better Comics. He never had his own title, but did take the cover away from Fighting Yank in Startling Comics #18 (December, 1942), where he had his origin story. He didn't keep it permanently, but did hang onto it for three months, alternating afterward with the earlier hero until 1947. And he got himself into America's Best Comics, where the company put its most popular characters, even before his official first appearance — he was there in the third issue, dated November, 1942, alongside Doc Strange, Captain Future and others. The writer who created him isn't known, but the artist was Jack Binder (Daredevil, Mary Marvel).

A common way for a person to become a superhero was to have an accident that would kill anyone else, but come out of it super-powered instead of dead. In Pyroman's case, it wasn't an accident. He was strapped into an electric chair with the deliberate intent of making him dead, and still got super-powered instead. Of course, he'd been wrongfully convicted, or he wouldn't be the hero. Dick Martin had been a student of electrical engineering before being framed for arson, and it was a good thing he got charged up instead of following the normal course of events in such cases, because then he'd never have been able to escape and bring in the real criminals.

Pyroman's powers weren't exactly flame-based, like The Human Torch's or The Flame's, but he did have sort of a flame theme in that he looked like he was surrounded by fire. Actually, he was crackling with electricity, which he could hurl at his foes in the form of lightning bolts or form into a sort of force field. He was also pretty good with his fists.

Pyroman hung onto the America's Best gig for only a half-dozen issues, ending in January, 1944. In Startling, he did a little better, lasting until the 43rd issue. In #44 (March, 1947) he was replaced by Lance Lewis, Space Detective (no relation). Except for reprints and a minor revival by AC Comics, which eventually winds up with all the defunct superheroes from defunct companies, that was the end of him.


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Text ©2007-11 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Standard Comics.