He calls himself… The Whizzer! It didn’t used to be quite so embarrassing. Your Major Spoilers (Retro) Review of USA Comics #1 awaits!
USA COMICS #1
Writer: Phil Sturm
Penciler: Al Avison/Syd Shores
Inker: Al Gabrielle/Charles Nicholas/George Klein
Editor: Joe Simon
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: 10 Cents
Current Near-Mint Pricing: $22,000.00
Release Date: April 20, 1941
Previously in USA Comics: At the dawn of the Golden Age of comic books, the rules weren’t set in stone yet. Powers could be nonsensical, costumes were ranged from a cape and shorts to an outfit that would make Beau Brummell green with envy. It was a simpler time, where names were meant to be evocative, and certain euphemisms for micturation weren’t in common rotation just yet.
Enter: THE WHIZZER!
While on safari in the darkest jungles of Africa, Dr. Emil Frank and his son Bob encountered a venomous cobra, whose bite left Bob unconscious. Thinking fast, his father harvested some blood from the mongoose that drove the snake away, saving Bob’s life before falling over from a cardiac arrest due to the strain. The modern explanation is that the injection triggered Bob’s inherent mutant powers, but regardless, he gained superhuman speed, declaring himself a real whizzer from the sound his arm made in motion.
A quick flashback, featuring the kinetic art of Al Avison, explains why the erstwhile Whizzer has sworn revenge on the criminals who led to his father’s death, remembering how he tried and failed to defend his dad. After seeing Bob beaten down by the mobsters, Dr. Frank set out for Africa and his doom.
Interestingly, though his best known look featured a helmet of variant design with wings, this issue’s debut costume features more of a skullcap with a fin, as well as a cape! The Whizzer tracks down the men who were ready to blackmail his father, facing them down in his new identity, pitting his speed against their bullets in a test of wills!
Granno, the ramrod of the criminal group, thinks he’s up to the task, something I attribute to this being early in the Marvel Universe and no one realizing exactly what this growing new breed of superheroes was capable of.
Whizzer makes short work of Granno, blending into the crowds, but becoming annoyed at their slowness. It’s interesting to see this trait, as it would later become the central tenet of Quicksilver’s characterization, a character who was once believed to be Bob Frank’s son, back when that might make sense. USA Comics #1 also features a forgettable adventure of The Defender featuring the work of Simon & Kirby and the short-lived Mr. Liberty in action, but The Whizzer is the biggest historical draw of an issue that ranks a not-too-impressive 2 out of 5 stars overall. Still, if you’ve ever wondered why anyone would name a man with a yellow costume The Whizzer, just remember that language evolves and that sometimes a cool noise is just a cool noise, ya big cynic.
I’m still not sure what was up with that cape, though.
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USA COMICS #1
Avison's art is crude, but energetic, and the story is kind of a mess, but at least now you know the real story behind the man that so many Internet schmucks want to mock for the semantic drift of jargon around his name.