Thursday, 8 October 2009
Madam Fatal Returns
Imagine the following as a movie pitch. An actor's daughter is kidnapped by a crime boss, an incident that leads to the death of the actor's wife. The actor uses his acting talents to infiltrate a community ruled by the crime boss responsible. The actor spends eight years becoming a part of the community and he's never discovered because he's disguised as an old lady! Eventually the actor manages to get close enough to the boss to force a confrontation, a confrontation that leads to the death of the boss before he can reveal the whereabouts of the missing daughter. The actor therefore decides to continue his gender-bending charade to fight crime and injustice until the day he finds his daughter. Also, the actor owns a Shakespeare quoting parrot called Hamlet. I don't know about you but if this was a film I'd watch it!
This was the plot of the first appearance of Madam Fatal, the world's first cross dressing superhero. Fatal debuted in Crack Comics #1 in May, 1940 and lasted all the way until issue 22 in March, 1942. DC Comics acquired the rights to the character but so far have only made reference to the character twice. Needless to say Fatal has failed to set the comics world on fire, although I'm at a loss to see why not. Type the characters name into Google and you'll find a plethora of bloggers and internet wits taking the piss.
But to me it's comic book gold. Superheroes in capes and tights are ten a penny. In a medium dominated by characters that, let's face it, can be kind of same-y, it's a shame that when a character comes along that's truly unique all we can do is mock.
Madam Fatal's foes constantly underestimated the seemingly feeble old biddy they saw before them. As a result they were constantly taken by surprise when Fatal used the full force of a man in the peak of physical perfection to twat them with her cane.
Don't get me wrong, the original Quality Comics stories don't exactly stand up alongside Maus or Watchmen. But I feel there's a lot of potential in the character that has never been fully exploited. All that may change in the future of course. James Robinson is the acclaimed writer of DC's The Golden Age and Starman, the current writer of Justice League of America and the author of the only two DC references to Fatal. I recently implored Mr Robinson through the medium of Twitter to bring the character back. He was kind enough to reply and assured me that "I do have plans for him/her. Bear with me." Hardly the comic book scoop of the century but it made me happy and Madam Fatal's return is something that I'm looking forward to reading.