Madame Fatal

Madame Fatal from the cover of Crack Comics #1

Publication information
Publisher Quality Comics

DC Comics
Karabear Comics

First appearance Crack Comics #1 (May 1940, Quality Comics)for Karabear Comics: Gold Comics #1
Created by Art Pinajian
In-story information
Universe KC Earth-P
Alter ego Richard Stanton
Abilities No superpowers

Cane fighting
Strength, speed and agility
Superior investigative skills
Acting, disguises and theatrics

Madame Fatal (sometimes referred to as Madam Fatal) is a resident of KC Earth-P, the designate reality for public domain superheroes in the Karabear multiverse. The character was created and originally illustrated by artist/writer Art Pinajian and the debut of the character was in the Crack Comics #1 (May, 1940), a crime/detective anthology series published by Quality Comics. Madame Fatal continued as feature in that title but when the character was not well received, made a last appearance in #22 (March, 1942).

The character later appeared in some publications by DC Comics when DC Comics bought the rights to the character in 1956, along with a bulk buy of all Quality Comic's characters, although Madame Fatal has not been seen much since except a few brief appearances and passing mentions by other comic book characters.

Madame Fatal is notable for being a male superhero who dressed up as an elderly woman and as such is the first cross-dressing comics hero.

Character biography[edit | edit source]

"She" was actually Richard Stanton, a handsome, pipe-smoking, dapper, middle-aged blonde Caucasian man who is exceptionally intelligent and intuitive, as well as being at the peak of his physical abilities. He had made a vast fortune successfully playing the Wall Street stock market of the late 1920s, a time of economic unrest, which incurred the jealousy of many of those close to him. In his private life, Stanton was also a widower and a single father, being the parent of a two-year-old (unnamed) girl. As well as being a successful financial investor, Stanton is also a lover of theatrics and a world-famous stage, theatre, radio and film actor living in Manhattan, until his wealthy and prominent celebrity status brought unwanted attention from costumed villains. Stanton's daughter was kidnapped by them and the police were unable to uncover their identities, but Stanton was, on his wits and superior investigative skills. As such, Stanton decided to take matters into his own hands after he deduced that the leader of the gang was John Carver, a crime kingpin who had been running extortion rackets in various cities.

As a civilian, Stanton had already been searching for Carver for eight years, after a fight they had and the threats that Carver had made. Prior to this, Carver had been the first man to love Stanton's late wife, and Carver had been jilted when she chose Stanton instead. After the kidnapping of Stanton's daughter, and when the police got nowhere, Stanton's wife was riddled with guilt as it was her previous connection with Carver which had brought about the whole scenario. She died of a broken heart. Stanton made his last appearance on Broadway on May 1, 1930, as an old woman, which garnered Stanton praise and acclaim from the audience. After that he disappeared from public view altogether and became "Madame Fatal" full-time.

Stanton was able to infiltrate the John Carver gang due to his convincing acting and stage disguise as an old, helpless, red-cloaked woman with a red walking cane which doubled as a sly quarterstaff. He was able to get into Carver's gang by chance (Carver hit him, as Madame Fatal, with his car, and rushed the "old lady" into his house) and Carver found out Stanton's true identity, pulling a gun. Stanton pulled the rug out from under Carver, who shot himself. In his dying breaths, Carver told Stanton that the latter's daughter was still alive, although held captive by another villain. He never revealed who before dying.

Stanton decided to retire from acting and continue down the path of a crime-fighter and bring other villains to justice, inspired by his first success, adopting the alter-ego Madame Fatal, as well as look for his daughter. When the character rights were sold to DC Comics and DC decided not to continue the character, this plot point was never resolved, and it was never revealed which villain was actually holding Stanton's daughter.

Powers and abilities[edit | edit source]

Although Stanton had no actual super powers to speak of, he was a strong, agile and athletic man at his physical peak and a skilled fighter with a powerful punch, and had a high level of intelligence and intuition which aided his investigative abilities and locating criminals. Madame Fatal often came up against criminal masterminds and supervillains such as Doctor Prowl and Tiger Woman and their henchmen; however Madame Fatal's disguise gave him an edge in physical combat as his foes would underestimate his strength and speed. Madame Fatal's red walking cane was also a formidable weapon in Stanton's hands as he adept at using the cane as a weapon.

The old woman disguise was aided strongly by his expert acting skills, being a former professional actor and female impersonator. This same disguise also often raised Stanton above suspicion, and made him an expert in confidence trickery, inflitration, stealth, information gathering, and melting anonymously into crowds. Madame Fatal was also aided on occasion by his pet parrot, Hamlet, his only connection to his previous life. Hamlet was named so because he was intelligent enough to recite Shakespeare, and would inspire Stanton and help Stanton remember important information.

Controversy and ridicule[edit | edit source]

Madame Fatal was never a popular character given the cross-dressing angle, which is perhaps part of the reason why DC Comics decided not to further run with the character and limited him to light-hearted jibes made by other comic book heroes.

The character has often been ridiculed, such as in a recent article on Cracked.com which has been read well over half a million times, listed the character as one of the "7 crappiest super heroes in comic book history".

Also, the later depictions of Madame Fatal living alone, and as Stanton was a former stage actor who lived alone, many modern readers believe that the cross-dressing character was actually a thinly-disguised homosexual, though this was never expressly acknowledged in Crack Comics, nor are Pinajian's intentions known.

Karabear history[edit | edit source]

Madame Fatal on the cover to "Madame's Night Out" - art by Alex Korbey

Madame Fatal debuted in Karabear Comics in Gold Comics #1 in a story called "Madame's Night Out". This technically was a story which debuted in Lite bites, but Gold Comics was the story's print debut. Art was by Genejoke.

In the story, Madame Fatal wears a black dress rather than red and helps free a captured Bulletman and Bulletgirl so they can take down Captain Nazi. It isn't known how the character knew where the superheroes were being held, but Madame Fatal did use subterfuge to enter the supervillain's compound.

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