The Red Cross socks it to a health-care obstructionist. Artist: Jack Alderman.


Medium: Comic Books
Published by: Holyoke Publishing Co.
First Appeared: 1943
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The Red Cross stands as testament to how completely the U.S. comic book industry was taken over by superheroes in the early 1940s. Everyone knows the humanitarian organization, The Red Cross, is active in war zones, disaster areas and other places where exciting adventures are a part of daily life. Putting a superhero suit on a Red Cross worker seems like gilding the lily, adding an element of …

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… interest to a situation already capable of gripping a reader's interest as tightly as can be. But medical people had already been done as superheroes, as seen in Harvey's Pat Parker, War Nurse. And that what Holyoke Comics (Miss Victory, Catman) did when it launched its series about The Red Cross in the back pages of Captain Aero Comics #8, dated February, 1942, where the star was a fighting aviator.

That was when Army Captain Peter Hall, a medical doctor, decided his professional expertise wasn't sufficient to relieve the suffering of war victims, but needed to be supplemented with two-fisted action — not just on the part of soldiers trained for such things, but the action of his own personal fists. He put on a red and blue outfit for the purpose, complete with "Rx" symbol on his chest and, of course, a mask. He concealed his identity even from his closest associates, such as nurse Lucy Feller, the better to symbolize "a guiding spirit, watchful and protective". He operated on the European front at first, but later moved to the Pacific.

Holyoke's comic books aren't so well documented that it's possible to say for sure who created The Red Cross. Available credits indicate creative personnel Charles Nicholas (The Blue Beetle), Sol Brodsky (The Avengers), Jack Alderman (Jeep & Peep) and Thor Carlyle (The Grey Mask) were involved with The Red Cross at one time or another.

The character appeared only in the Captain Aero Comics back pages, except for a reprinted adventure in Holyoke's 1945 Veri Best Sure Fire Comics. He lasted until Captain Aero #25, dated February, 1946, a few months past the end of the war that had caused all the suffering he hoped to relieve. A 26th issue managed to reach the stands six months later, but The Red Cross wasn't in it.

As a superhero, The Red Cross was never seen again. But in real life, his work is still carried on in less flamboyant ways than putting on a superhero suit.


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Text ©2008 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Holyoke Publishing Co.