Super Green Beret in action. Artist: Carl Pfeufer.


Original Medium: Comic books
Published by: Lightning Comics
Creators: Otto Binder (writer) and Carl Pfeufer (artist)
First appeared: 1967
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Anyone enumerating the comic book superheroes of the 1960s will have some real obscuroes to deal with. Jigsaw, for example, lasted only a couple of months as part of a Harvey Comics line aimed at older kids, and the whole line didn't last much longer. Tiger Girl wasn't part of a line at all, just the star of …

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… a stray Gold Key title, and she only lasted one issue anyway. Doctor Droom was such a nonentity, even being a product of Marvel Comics itself wasn't sufficient to lift him out of obscurity.

And then there's Tod Holton, Super Green Beret. Tod was the lesser of the only two series characters that ever came from Lightning Comics, a tiny blip that flitted across the radar screen of the comics industry in 1967. And the more prominent of the two was Fatman the Human Flying Saucer.

Tod was introduced in a confused scene that opened Lightning's Super Green Beret #1, dated April, 1967. The scene took place at young Tod's home, where an unnamed young woman welcomed Captain Roger Wilson, home on a two-week furlough from his regular gig in Vietnam. The young woman identified him as her brother. Tod called him "Uncle Roger". It would have made more sense if Tod were her brother and Roger were her boyfriend, but that's what the dialog said.

Roger gave Tod the Green Beret he'd recently used as a uniform accessory, as one of the elite fighting men entitled to that famous badge of honor, and told Tod why it was glowing. He'd saved the life of a mysterious monk, and the monk had rewarded him by saying some mumbo-jumbo over his head, and it had been glowing ever since. The gibberish included something about giving it to someone pure of heart, and something about the power being unleashed when said pure-of-heart person saluted.

Tod tried it on, and was instantly transformed into an adult wearing a Green Beret uniform. Roger surmised Tod must have been the pure-of-heart person it was intended for. Over the next couple of pages, Tod found he could turn tree stumps to stone, tune in on thoughts from halfway around the world, instantly transport himself into the war zone or anywhere else, and, in fact, do pretty much whatever he pleased. What's more, the monk appeared to him and confirmed he was the one, told him he was now to be known as Super Green Beret, and admonished him to use the power in the furtherance of Good over Evil.

The story was written by Otto Binder, whose other co-creations include Supergirl, Mighty Samson and Space Cabby. Tod transforming into a super-powered adult when the beret was on, was reminiscent of another Binder co-creation, Captain Marvel, where a kid not much older than many of the readers became a grown-up superhero when he said the magic word.

It was drawn by Carl Pfeufer, whose most prominent earlier work was the Sunday page Don Dixon & the Lost Empire, along with its topper, Tad of the Tanbark.

Since Super Green Beret could place himself in Vietnam action whenever he wanted to, despite his age, just by wishing himself there (and be back in time for supper), he wasn't limited to just that war. In fact, his instantaneous transportation worked through time as well as space, so he could fight in any war that struck his fancy. In that same issue, he had stories that took place in Africa, South America, and World War II — costing more than twice as much as most comics (a quarter versus 12 cents), Lightning's releases were extra-thick, and had plenty of room for variety.

The second issue, dated June of the same year, had a story that took place in the American Revolution, as well as stories set in the usual Vietnam. But there was no third issue, and Super Green Beret was never seen again. In fact, Lightning Comics (an imprint of Milson Publishing Co.) only published five individual comic books altogether, and Super Green Beret was two of them.


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Text ©2010 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Milson Publishing Co.