Wonder Boy high-tails it down the road. Artist: Al Bryant.


Medium: Comic books
Published by: Quality Comics
First Appeared: 1940
Creators: Toni Blum (writer) and John Celardo (artist)
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The very first comic book hero patterned after DC's Superman, the medium's first break-out hit, was named Wonder Man. But DC quickly took legal action to shut him down, as being too blatant an imitation. So by 1940, the word "Wonder" was still up for grabs for use in a superhero name. That year, with Wonder Woman still in the future, DC introduced Batman's partner, Robin the Boy Wonder, while Novelty Press (Blue Bolt, Target) introduced Dick Cole, with the …

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… subtitle "Wonder Boy". And Quality Comics (Blackhawk, Phantom Lady) introduced a new superhero whose only name was Wonder Boy. He didn't even have a secret identity.

Wonder Boy's origin story was similar to Superman's, an alien who looks just like a juvenile human arriving in the American midwest (speaking perfect English, in Wonder Boy's case). A big departure was that Wonder Boy arrived not in a spaceship, but in an exploding meteorite.

The origin (and first appearance) was in the back pages of National Comics #1 (July, 1940), as were the introductory stories of Sally O'Neill, Merlin the Magician, The Kid Patrol and several other series. The cover-featured star of National Comics, then and for the next several years, was Uncle Sam. It was written by Toni Blum (Samson), who was a close family member of artist Alex Blum (Kaanga). The artist was John Celardo, whose later career includes a lot of newspaper comics work. Among his credits there are Buz Sawyer, Tales of the Green Berets and Tarzan.

When Wonder Boy was spotted, looking like a parentless kid wandering around in the rubble wearing his super suit (the only clothes he had), he was whisked off to the local orphanage. There, he heard on the radio about a Mongol horde that was scooping Hitler by making Europe the opening shot of its attempt at world conquest, but for some reason orphanage officials wouldn't take him seriously when he asked to be sent there so he could do something about it. So, having the strength of a thousand men (which hadn't been making him a very desirable playmate), he vaulted the 20-foot orphanage wall and swam the ocean without so much as a map to give him a clue where he was going. Then he put a stop to the Mongol aggression, and that completed the 6-page story.

He continued with stories about that size, never once appearing on a cover, for the next couple of years, tho Blum gave him only about a dozen issues and Celardo less than half that. Most stories were by Al Bryant (Doll Man) or "Jerry Maxwell" (the Jerry Iger studio, which is where Sheena, The Flame and many others had originated). In #27 (December, 1942) he was replaced by an espionage thriller named G-2, and Quality Comics was through with him.

But that wasn't quite the end of him. In a move of questionable legality, Gilberton, best known as the publisher of Classics Illustrated, repackaged already-published comics with new titles and covers. Their first use of Wonder Boy was in Bomber Comics #1 (undated, 1944), where they put him on the cover. Their last use of him was in Bomber #4 (Winter, 1944-45). Later, he fell into the hands of Robert Farrell, a former associate of Victor Fox. Farrell put out two issues of Wonder Boy in 1955.

Despite unfounded stories of copyright expiration (none of Quality's copyrights had time to expire), DC Comics is now the owner of many of Quality's properties, including, presumably, this one. At least, DC's assertion of ownership of similar Quality characters is never challenged legally. DC has never used Wonder Boy, unless you count a couple of unrelated supporting characters by that name, in Wonder Woman and an offshoot of Teen Titans.


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Text ©2009-10 Donald D. Markstein. Art © DC Comics.