Avenger, The

Tagged: Publication | Character

Pulp Magazine published by Street & Smith for 24 issues, September 1939 to September 1942. Publication was monthly to July 1940, then bimonthly to the end. Edited by John Nanovic.

Each issue of The Avenger featured a short novel by Paul Ernst writing as Kenneth Robeson, plus short mystery stories by various authors. The Avenger was Richard Benson, a wealthy adventurer whose family is murdered by criminals in an aeroplane crash caused by sabotage. The shock turns his skin and hair pure white, and gives him the mild Superpower of being able to mould his facial features to resemble anybody he wished (see Shapeshifting). About halfway through the magazine's run, Benson lost this ability after being trapped inside a machine which restored his skin to normal. This was reportedly an attempt to increase sales by making the character less grotesque. Like Doc Savage, Benson had a supply of gold in Central America furnished later by Nellie Gray, an attractive martial arts expert. Grey was one of the members of Justice, Inc, the name used by Benson's helpers similar to those of Savage; she joined after her father was slain by criminals wishing to claim the gold hoard. Members also included Josh and Rosabel Newton, an African-American couple shown as highly intelligent and capable, unusual for most pulp-fiction of the era. The Avenger character appeared a few more times after his own title's demise in Clues Detective Magazine and once in The Shadow.

In the 1970s, the character was revived when the original novels were reprinted in paperback by Warner Paperbacks, then continued for an additional twelve titles by Ron Goulart. From the mid-1970s DC Comics licensed the character – along with The Shadow – with The Avenger initially appearing in Justice, Inc. Both heroes' titles were short-lived, although unsuccessful revival attempts continued well into the 1980s. [GFi]

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