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When We First Met – Who Was the First Superhero to Die in the Line of Duty?

by  in Comic News Comment
When We First Met – Who Was the First Superhero to Die in the Line of Duty?

In this feature we spotlight the various characters, phrases, objects or events that eventually became notable parts of comic lore, like the first time someone said, “Avengers Assemble!” or the first appearance of Batman’s giant penny or the first appearance of Alfred Pennyworth or the first time Spider-Man’s face was shown half-Spidey/half-Peter. Stuff like that. Here is an archive of all the When We First Met features so far! Check ’em out!

Today, based on a request by a few different readers over the years, we take a look at the first comic book superhero to die in the line of duty…

The first issue of Pep Comics came out in late 1939. It introduced the Shield as the lead feature, but the secondary feature in the comic was a series by the legendary Jack Cole, (the writer/artist who created Plastic Man). Cole introduced us to The Comet, whose origin is simple enough…

In his first mission, he is trying to stop a ring of bad guys who are killing people with typhoid fever to collect insurance. That’s a messed up scheme, so the Comet does not give the slightest of f’s when it comes time to mess with them…

Nuts, right?

He catches up with the head bad guy eventually and dishes out some justice…

An issue or two later, the Comet is hypnotized into temporarily becoming a bad guy. He snaps out of it (in hilarious fashion – I’ll feature that story some day in some column. It’s nuts. Cole was amazing), but he is now a fugitive and he remains that way for the next sixteen issues of his feature. The problem was that Cole left the series pretty early on and other artists obviously could not replicate that certain Cole je ne sais quoi, so the feature began to falter. It fell out of the #2 spot in Pep Comics (everyone in the comic was about to be displaced by Archie Andrews in less than a year, but no one knew that at the time) and so, with 1941’s Pep Comics #17, they decided to introduce a new superhero, the Hangman, who would get his start with the DEATH OF THE COMET!

Read on to see the historic story…

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