Deck Log Entry # 193 The Silver-Age Challenge---Secret Identities. Answers!



I always get a kick out of reading the posts in response to one of my quizzes.  I get to see the sharp headwork you fellows apply, and there’s always one or more of you who manage to dodge a snare I’ve laid down.  You’re a tough bunch to fool.  Case in point, there was one question on this quiz I had a hunch no-one would get right.  Then Luke Blanchard comes up with the correct response right out of the blue.


Another fun thing about my quizzes is that is usually brings a visit from my old pal, the Silver Age Fogey.  While I always enjoy his comments and his perspective, it’s a mixed blessing because between him and Luke and Philip Portelli, not a question gets left without a correct answer.  That’s not to shoo any of you other quiz-takers under the rug because every one of you who took a shot at it was the first to come up with a correct answer that no-one else had.


O.K, O.K., enough blather from me.  I know what you’re all waiting for.  The answers!  So, let’s go right to it, shall we?



1.  (DC)  What reward did Pete Ross receive after Ultra Boy discovered how Pete loyally protected Superboy’s secret identity of Clark Kent?


I don’t think I’m underestimating it when I say there are dozens of websites dedicated to the Legion of Super-Heroes.  And I would bet that, of those sites, the ones that delve into the Silver-Age existence of the Legion and address the matter of Pete Ross insist that good ol’ Pete was made an honorary Legionnaire at the conclusion of “The Boy with Ultra Powers”, from Superboy # 98 (Jul., 1962).


This is the tale that depicts Ultra Boy’s initiation test to join the Legion.  U-Boy, along with the club’s adult advisor, Marla, travel back to 1930’s Smallville, where the youngster must discover Superboy’s civilian identity on his own.  At the end of the story, Ultra Boy and Marla learn how Pete Ross has been secretly safekeeping the knowledge that Superboy is Clark Kent.  And they reward Pete by making him an honorary member of the Legion, right?




Now, the reason I started off with this question as my lob was because I had already provided the answer in one of my earlier Deck Log entries---entry # 100, from 23 February 2010.  And this was Pete’s reward for protecting Superboy’s secret ID:


Yep, just a coin entitling him to attend a meeting of the Legion of Super-Heroes . . . as an honored guest.


Not an honorary membership, just a chance to watch the Legion sit around the council table with their place cards handily displaying their names and super-powers, and maybe see a few rejected applicants get the boot. But Pete sure gets all choked up about it.


Philip Portelli and Fraser Sherman and the Silver-Age Fogey got this one right.  But it raises the question:  just when did Pete get his picture up on the Legion roster board? The first mention of his honorary status came from Mort Weisinger, in the Smallville Mailsack letter column of Superboy # 102 (Jan., 1963). Reader Ed Kenny, of Worchester, Massachusetts, wrote in, asking for the complete list of Legion members. It probably came as something of a surprise to Superboy fans when Mort concluded the list with “honorary member, Pete Ross.” But no justification for Pete's new status was given.  

(As with so many of Weisinger’s letter-column pronouncements, this was validated in a subsequent issue---Adventure Comics # 323 [Aug., 1964], when Pete and Jimmy Olsen attend a Legion meeting to determine the next leader of the club.) 


That leaves the reason for Pete’s honorary membership as a matter of conjecture.  Mr. Portelli’s to-be-announced theory for how that happened looks to Superboy # 100 (Oct., 1962).  It’s probably something along the lines of my own opinion, since I referenced the same issue and gave my reasoning at the end of that Deck Log entry.




2.  (DC)  Conversely, what reward did Lana Lang receive from Superboy for turning down a perfect opportunity to learn his secret identity?


“The Six-Legged Legionnaire”, from Adventure Comics # 355 (Apr., 1967), opens with a most remarkable act on the part of the snoopy redhead, who often made Lois Lane look like a shy, unobtrusive librarian.  By chance, she stumbles upon a certain opportunity to learn Superboy’s civilian guise---he’s in the middle of changing identities in a phone booth.  Her first instinct is to pounce and open the booth’s door, but instead, in a rare impulse of respect for others’ privacy, she turns away and leaves.  The appreciative Boy of Steel decides to reward her by taking her on a visit to the thirtieth century.  He’s headed there, anyway, for a Legion meeting.


I never really understood why Superboy rewarded Lana for doing the right thing.  I could just see Lex Luthor saying, “Hey, I didn’t try to kill you to-day, Superboy---what are you going to give me for it?”


Anyway, Lana applies for membership in the Legion, in her rôle as Insect Queen, and gets rejected because her power isn’t natural; it comes from her bio-ring.  But seeing as she’s Superboy’s gal, she doesn’t get the usual “Go away, you loser!” treatment from the Legionnaires.


Randy Jackson provided chapter-and-verse on this question, and both Luke Blanchard and the Fogey’s answers were close enough for credit.  (Superboy didn’t take Lana into the future to meet the Legion; in fact, he dumped her off on a Metropolis 2967 street corner and went to attend the meeting alone.  But Lana, being Lana, barged her way in.)




3.  (DC)  Commissioner Gordon briefly appeared as which costumed hero?


As Philip told us, Commissioner Gordon took a turn as the costumed hero, Mysteryman.


In “The Dynamic Trio”, from Detective Comics # 245 (Jul., 1957), the green-garbed Mysteryman appears, without explanation, in partnership with Batman and Robin as they engage in a series of confrontations with a gang of smugglers plaguing Gotham City.  As is revealed at the end, Mysteryman is actually Commissioner Gordon.  Gordon had carefully laid a scheme to snare the smuggling gang, but the mayor of Gotham City, impatient for results, ordered the commissioner to assign the case to the Batman, instead.  The Caped Crusader, however, agreed with Gordon’s plan.


Since the details of Gordon’s operation were too intricate, the commissioner had to be involved, but to avoid the appearance of defying the mayor, Gordon assumed the masked identity of Mysteryman.


Lois Lane wanna-be Vicki Vale pesters the three costumed crime-fighters throughout, in an attempt to ferret the true identity of Mysteryman.  After determining that Gotham City’s newest hero isn’t a robot or Superman in disguise, Vicki persists until she finds the clue she needs to expose Mysteryman as Commissioner Gordon.  What no-one knows was that the Batman had arranged for Vicki to find out.  He anticipated that the indiscreet newshen would reveal to the public that Gordon was secretly behind the capture of the smugglers, giving the commissioner the credit he wouldn’t have taken or received, otherwise.


Luke and Fraser also named Mysteryman as the answer to question number three.




4.  (DC)  After Superman and Batman, and Green Lantern and the Flash, who was the third pair of Justice Leaguers to exchange knowledge of their secret identities?  (For keeps; in other words, JLA # 19 doesn’t count.)


This was the only question that Commando Cody took a shot at, and he was the first one to get it right.  The Fogey was the only other quiz-taker to do so.


In “Wanted---the Capsule Master”, the landmark Green Arrow/J’onn J’onzz team-up from The Brave and the Bold # 50 (Nov., 1963), the Emerald Archer and the Manhunter from Mars exchange knowledge of their secret identities so they can work together in their civilian guises, as part of a plan to lure Martian renegades out in the open.


G. A. and the Manhunter were the third pair of Justice League members to learn each other’s private ID’s, after Superman and Batman (“The Mightiest Team in the World”, Superman # 76 [Jun., 1952]) and the Flash and Green Lantern (“The Duel of the Super-Heroes”, Green Lantern # 13 [Jun., 1962])  Many of you answered with the Atom and Hawkman, but they didn’t show their unmasked faces to each other until “Master Trap of the Matter Master”, from Hawkman # 9 (Aug.-Sep., 1965).


(“The Super-Exiles of Earth”, from JLA # 19 [May,  1963], was obviously exempted because, although the entire membership of the Justice League revealed their secret ID’s to each other in that tale, they voluntarily had that knowledge removed from their brains in the aftermath.)


Before changing his answer to “the Atom and Hawkman”, Luke Blanchard suggested “Hawkman and the rest of the Justice League”, on the basis of the Winged Wonder’s use of his absorbascon in his début from Mystery in Space # 34 (Feb.-Mar., 1961).  However, that does not fit the question asked for a few reasons.


First, despite what was stated in “Creature of a Thousand Shapes”, Hawkman’s absorbascon did not convey to him all of Earth’s collective knowledge.  He did not use the device to learn the secret identities of his Justice League buddies until “The Key-Master of the World”, from JLA # 41 (Dec., 1965).  This places it after “Wanted---the Capsule Master”.


Second, even though he learnt all of his fellow members’ identities in that story, he did not share with them the knowledge of his own secret identity as Carter Hall.  The events of “Secret Behind the Stolen Super-Weapons”, from JLA # 53 (May, 1967), confirm this.  And there’s no evidence that Hawkman divulged his actual identity as Katar Hol, either.


Last, by definition, “Hawkman” and “the rest of the JLA” is not a pair---meaning “two”.





5.  (Marvel)  During his sojourn on Earth as a guest of the Avengers, Hercules briefly used an ordinary mortal alias.  What was it?


I didn’t think this one would be impregnable, though I certainly thought it would be tough to get.  But first, Randy Jackson, then Richard Mantle and Fraser Sherman all answered it correctly.  And the Fogey was close enough to get credit.


As seen in “The Torment . . . and the Triumph!”, from The Avengers # 39 (Apr., 1966), Hercules used the alias “Mr. Powers” (no first name) as his ordinary, getting-around-town name during his exile on Earth.  It also came in handy for ordering suits and shirts from the local big-and-tall shop.

He didn’t have much occasion to use it, though.  I don’t think it was mentioned again after the two times in this issue.




6.  (DC/Marvel)  Both DC and Marvel had a masked, costumed character named "Ant-Man".  Who were their civilian identities?


Arrgghh!  My personal embarrassment.  I was so fixed on using the Ant---Eddie Whit---from Teen Titans # 5 (Sep.-Oct., 1966) that my mind blocked out the fact that Jumbo Carson, from Batman # 156, was the Ant-Man, not “the Ant”.  Once my brain jolted back into place (after posting the quiz, of course), I realised I had to change the question.  Not to take away from Philip, who got it right first, and then Luke and Fraser and the Fogey, but the modified question about two Ant-Men wasn’t as difficult as a poser involving Eddie Whit would have been.

For the record, Henry Pym first appeared as Marvel Comics’ Ant-Man in “Return of the Ant-Man”, from Tales to Astonish # 35 (Sep., 1962), and he went on to a long, if not always stellar, comic-book career.  Meanwhile, DC’s Ant-Man débuted in “The Secret of the Ant-Man”, from Batman # 156 (Jul., 1963).  He was Jumbo Carson, a mobster who posed as a pint-sized super-hero, then vanished into obscurity after this tale.




7.  (Marvel)  Name two masked heroes in the Marvel Universe who were practising lawyers in their civilian identities.


I enjoyed posting this one because it was tricky.  It required some out-of-the-box thinking to get it right.  Richard Mantle, Luke Blanchard, Fraser Sherman, and the Fogey did just that kind of thinking, because it didn’t baffle them at all.  Especially Mr. Mantle, who posted the correct answer pretty quickly.

The two Marvel-Universe lawyers who moonlighted as masked heroes were Matt Murdock, otherwise known as Daredevil, the Man Without Fear---who first hit town in Daredevil # 1 (Apr., 1964)---and Matt Hawk, a.k.a. the Two-Gun Kid---who was introduced in Two-Gun Kid # 60 (Nov., 1962).  With the characters being nearly a century apart, and only one of them a mainstream super-hero, I hoped it might throw a few of you off the track.  At least, those of you who hadn’t read Daredevil # 215 (Feb., 1985).




8.  (DC)  Colonel Steve Trevor gave Wonder Woman a taste of her own secret-identity medicine when he briefly assumed the rôle of which costumed super-hero?


This one was pretty straightforward.  In “Steve Trevor---Alias the Patriot”, from Wonder Woman # 174 (Jan.-Feb., 1968), our lovestruck colonel decides to become a costumed hero after taking super-power pills secretly supplied by Wonder Woman's arch-foe, Angle Man.  It’s part of the villain’s outlandishly concocted scheme to put the Amazon Princess out of the super-heroine business for good.  For a little while, Colonel Trevor enjoys being the one wearing the pants in the relationship, then he tumbles to Angle Man’s shenanigans and ultimately hangs up his tights, in favour of his star-spangled sweetheart.


This one didn’t stump Mr. Mantle, Mr. Blanchard, Mr. Sherman, or Mr. Sofer.




9.  (DC)  Yeah, yeah, we all know about the awful period in which the Blackhawks adopted super-hero identities.  But one of the famed Black Knights operated as a costumed mystery-man before he became a Blackhawk.  Name the man and his costumed identity.


“Operation White Dragon”, from Blackhawk # 203 (Dec., 1964), purports to tell the wartime story of how Chop Chop joined the Blackhawks.  (We’re possibly getting into Earth-One/Earth-Two territory here, since Chop Chop’s induction into the Black Knights was also shown in “The Doomed Battalion”, Military Comics # 3 [Oct., 1941], and the two tales aren’t even close in plot.  On the other hand, marked discrepancies in backstory weren’t unusual in the Blackhawk series.)  The famed aviators clandestinely arrive in a Chinese province to convince the warlord, Khan Huang, to resist the occupying Japanese forces.  The Khan, however, prefers to maintain his neutrality, and his son, Liu Huang, is reputed to be an outright collaborator.


Taking a far less go-along-to-get-along attitude is a costumed rebel called the White Dragon, who harasses the Japanese occupiers of the province at every turn.  Despite the Khan’s entreaties for coöperation, his people, inspired by the White Dragon’s daring, are starting to revolt against the invaders.  Ultimately, the Japanese capture the Dragon and reveal him to be Liu Huang!  Worse yet, Liu’s defeat has caused him to lose face with his people.


The Blackhawks rescue Liu from execution, and in turn, he aids them in a counter-attack which drives the Japanese from the province.  The former White Dragon even saves the life of the big man, Blackhawk himself.  All of this earns Liu, now dubbed “Chop Chop”, a place on the team, and Daddy Khan has learnt that the Imperial Japanese military aren’t such nice folks, after all.


Luke Blanchard got this one right off, and Fraser Sherman did his homework and got it, also.




10.  (Marvel)  After Captain America was revived by the Avengers, what was the first job he had in his civilian identity as Steve Rogers?


This was the question that I thought had a chance of getting by all of you experts.  And for awhile, it looked like it would.  Very early on, I saw the response I was expecting:  that Steve Rogers became a police officer.  But that didn’t happen until the Bronze Age---Captain America # 139 (Jul., 1971), to be precise.  And I saw some references to his even-later career as a commercial artist.  And a couple of answers merged the two, naming Steve’s job as that of a police sketch artist.


Yep, it sure looked like this one was going to stump everyone.  Then, on his final list of answers, Luke Blanchard---who’s one of more unsung Silver-Age experts on this board---nailed it cold.  I don’t know if he suddenly remembered it, or if he just started going through his Silver-Age Marvels until he finally found it (either way, it would be impressive), but he came up with the right answer and was the only one to do so.


At the conclusion of “The Road Back”, from The Avengers # 22 (Nov., 1965), Captain America has had his fill of the other three Avengers’ constant bickering and challenges to his leadership, and he quits the team.  Issue # 23 (Dec., 1965) finds Cap looking to start a fresh life for himself as Steve Rogers, who until this point, hasn’t done anything in his off time but sit around the Avengers Mansion going through old scrapbooks.  He responds to an advertisement seeking a sparring partner for the current boxing champ.  Rogers applies for the job, but since it's twenty years before comic-book artists would start drawing the heroes with outrageously bulging muscles, Steve’s “lesser” physique, pretty-boy looks, and Brooks Brothers suit don’t impress the knuckle-draggers in the champ’s entourage.


It’s only after the goons try to give Steve the bum’s rush and, “exactly fifteen seconds and four punches later”, he has them laid out on the ground, that the champ’s manager signs the mufti-clad hero on as a sparring partner.  As the story progresses, Steve holds the job for at least a couple of days.  Then Kang the Conqueror snatches Hawkeye and Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch up by their short hairs and drags them off to the future.  Hearing of this, Rogers lets his sense of duty get the better of him, and he quits his job to run off and rescue his fellow Avengers, again.


Well done, Luke.



For that matter, all of you deserve a pat on the back for one or more of your answers.  Whenever I do one of these quizzes, I shoot for each of you, as far as the answers you don’t know, walking away with a feeling of “Hey, I didn’t know that!  Neat!”  In that, I hope I’ve succeeded.


And now, I have a whole year to think of the next one.

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Very fun quiz, Commander. I was hapy to get two correct.

Another great quiz with some real stompers!

I've been dying to post these if you don't mind!

I knew about the Teen Titans' Ant, though.

You left out a great bit about Cap as the champ's boxing partner. When Cap learns that the other Avengers were in trouble he tries to leave the ring but the Champ won't let him. One punch later, Cap departs!

Thanks for the kind words. I hope the facetious answers in my first set wasn't offensive. I was in a silly mood.

I got #2 by a lucky guess! My first thought was a kiss, but Randomnole had already guessed that. My second was superpowers, but that seemed too generous. My third was a trip into the past. That gave me the idea of a trip into the future, and I knew of the Insect Queen story. Randy beat me to it, of course.

I don't deserve any credit for #3, as I stole Philip's answer. 

I knew roughly where Steve Trevor's other identity appeared because, in an odd coincidence, I'd run into a panel from the story just a few days earlier.

#9 was the one I knew right away.

As for #10, I remembered Cap's quitting the team at the end of Avengers #22 and found the answer online. I've read #23, but only remember it vaguely.

I enjoyed the challenge.

I read the thread initially, thinking I would read how knowledgeable everyone else would be and found myself knowing a little so jumped on in!

More and more on this forum - I feel like a 'proper' collector/member/contributer.

Feels good.

I also got the answers to 3 and 8 (the Patriot story was one of the few WWs I read back then, so it stuck in my mind).

I got the Two-Gun Kid question only because I went back and browsed the Official Handbook 1960s edition, which looks at what the 1960s version of the OHTMU would have looked like in the Silver Age. The entries on Western characters jogged my memory before I even got to Matt Hawk's mention.

I think I'm most impressed by the people who got the JLA Identity question right, because I'm familiar with that story and it still slipped right by me.

A fun quiz, as always, and added fun from doing the research.

Anyway, Lana applies for membership in the Legion, in her rôle as Insect Queen, and gets rejected because her power isn’t natural; it comes from her bio-ring.

I don't remember this being asked, but did the Insect Queen's bio-ring stories precede the Simon/Kirby character The Fly, who also used a ring to change (Billy Batson-like) from a boy into an adult superhero?

The Fly preceded her (1959 I believe), though his insect powers were much more limited than Lana's for most of his career (I'm aware he seems to have been revamped a couple of times before Archie's camp Marvel-wannabe era which is where I came in).

Fraser Sherman said:

I also got the answers to 3 and 8 . . . . .

You did, indeed, sir. Somehow---even though I made a list of the quiz-takers and tallied their responses, and my list of your correct answers included numbers 3 and 8---it slipped by me in writing the article.  My apologies, and I have corrected the piece to reflect the right score.

As for the the Fly and the Insect Queen, you are quite correct about the Fly coming along first.  In fact, it's not even close.  The Fly was introduced in The Double Life of Private Strong # 1 (Jun., 1959), while Lana Lang did not become the Insect Queen until Superboy # 124 (Oct., 1965).


No problem Commander, thanks for the correction.

Commander, a great quiz as always. Your consistently excellent presentations are always a treat, a challenge, and just a ton of fun!

One headslap on one I should have known - I knew Steve Rogers worked at a boxing camp, but I put that aside because of the easy answer of police officer. See, I should KNOW you put some toughies in there... but sometimes, what others think of as toughies seem kinda easy to me, so I never know. But always think twice is what I SHOULD be thinking for your challenges!

I think I got Steve Powers from Mr. Powers and Steve Reeves getting conflated in my mind. Well, there are a lot of "right turn on red" markers up in the silver age brain...

Great job . Cannot WAIT until next year's!

Also, if you're looking for ideas for next year's quiz, I have one that might be fun. Drop me an email and I'll share it with you.

Well, not like I was gonna post it here - then EVERYONE would know! :D

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