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Before Carrie Kelley, Before Stephanie Brown, There Was...Roberta?

In every installment of I Love Ya But You’re Strange I spotlight strange but ultimately endearing comic stories. Feel free to e-mail me at brianc@cbr.com if you have a suggestion for a future installment!

Honestly, I was THIS close to counting this as part of my feature, Just Like the Time Before, which spotlights prototypes for future characters. But obviously this wasn't REALLY a precursor to either of the two female Robins, Carrie Kelley...

or Stephanie Brown...

This is just its own, bizarrely awesome thing.

My longtime comic book pal, Drew, suggested this one and while it doesn't work for Just Like the Time Before, it is too good to pass up entirely.

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As you may or may not know, back in the late 1940s through the early 1950s, Robin appeared not only in every issue of Batman, Detective Comics and World's Finest Comics, but also in his own solo feature in the pages of Star-Spangled Comics. The funny thing about Robin's feature is that he continued in it long past the point where he was popular enough to be the lead feature. You see, superhero comics took a big hit in the late 1940s, so starting in the early 1950s, other genres took the lead, including westerns. So Tomahawk, a feature about a young soldier named Tom Hawk who learned from a number of tribes in the United States around the time of the Revolutionary War and so he was able to fight the British using weapons and skills that most normal American soldiers did not have, became the lead feature in Star-Spangled Comics over Robin, who had been the cover feature since he started in the title.

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However, while most of the stories in the comic were of the adventure or western variety, Robin still kept his spot in the title for whatever reason.

Anyhow, in Star-Spangled Comics #103 (by David V. Reed and Jim Mooney), we see Dick Grayson at school, where he has been cast as Romeo in the school play. The girl who is playing Juliet, Mary Wills, is less than enthused to be working with Dick as her Romeo. We learn that her idea of a dreamboat is none other than Robin, the Boy Wonder!

Mary is a special kind of thinker, so she comes up with the idea that if she wants to meet Robin, then she really needs to become a crimefighter, too! It's a simply FOOLPROOF plan!

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(As an aside, as a baseball fan, I just love the idea of her name being Mary Wills)

Mary gets so much into the idea that, damn, I wish more of the police departments around this country developed cruses on teen superheroes, as that motivation apparently pays major dividends!!

The Crime Compact alone was worth the price of the comic book, right?

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