Comic Legends: The Other Golden Age Superhero Who Blocked Black Bat!

Welcome to Comic Book Legends Revealed! This is the seven hundred and twentieth installment where we examine comic book legends and whether they are true or false.

Click here for Part 1 of this week's legends. Click here for Part 2 of this week's legends.

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When Black Bat became a comic book character and had to change its name to avoid confusion with Batman, the first alternate choice was also already taken!


Appears to be True

As I noted in the previous legend, Black Bat was a pulp fiction character who technically pre-dated Batman, but the version that is more similar to Batman, while ALSO predating the Dark Knight, only predated him by a month or so, so obviously Batman was not a rip off of it.

Still, as I noted in a Comic Book Legends Revealed (from 2008, people! I have been doing these things way too long!), both the publishers of Batman and the publishers of Black Bat considered suing each other but then Whitney Ellsworth, a Batman editor who had worked for Thrilling Publications (makers of Black Bat) in the past negotiated a ceasefire and the implication is that the deal involved both companies agreeing not to get into the other company's line of work. So no Batman pulp fiction magazines and no Black Bat comic books.

But then comic book sales exploded and Ned Pines, publisher of Thrilling Publications, decided he had to get into the comic book business. He knew he couldn't call Black Bat Black Bat, but he figured that they could just use a different name.

So, adapting the first Black Bat story by Norman A. Daniels (the creator of the character), in 1940's Exciting Comics #1 by Standard Comics, artist Raymond Thayer did...The Owl!

You might be thinking, "But wait, Brian, that comic says 'The Mask,' not 'The Owl'!"

You see, back around 1939/1940, comic book companies were going overboard coming up with names and then trademarking them. Dell Comics had already trademarked a character named The Owl, who technically didn't debut until AFTER The Mask in Crackajack Funnies #25 (by R. S. Callendar and Bill Baltz), but the character was registered first...

So Standard Comics changed the name of the Owl to the Mask. There was already two comics done with the Owl mask (and the Owl calling card) until finally they made the change in the actual comic in Exciting Comics #3!


It makes sense that they went with the Owl, as years later, when DC was looking for a villain to be the "opposite" of Batman, they settled on Owlman!

Check out my latest Movie Legends Revealed - Did the author of The Silence of the Lambs really make a point to never see the film adaptation of his book?

OK, that's it for this week!

Thanks to the Grand Comics Database for this week's covers! And thanks to Brandon Hanvey for the Comic Book Legends Revealed logo, which I don't even actually use on the CBR editions of this column, but I do use them when I collect them all on legendsrevealed.com!

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is cronb01@aol.com. And my Twitter feed is http://twitter.com/brian_cronin, so you can ask me legends there, as well!

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See you all next week!

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