Can you imagine a time when people were actually sick to death of superheroes? It’s not a concept that’s too hard to grasp, considering the oversaturation of superhero movies in the market today. Superhero fatigue was a very real thing in the post-war era of 1946, and superheroes were starting to fade from the public’s interest. Several genres, including romance and westerns, were still establishing themselves as major players in comics, and the future of comics was uncertain. Comic book publishers were determined to explore new types of characters and stories, and in an attempt to appeal to female fans of comics, they started introducing a slew of superheroines including the famed Black Canary of DC, Sun Girl, Namora, Miss America, and the subject of this post, the Blonde Phantom.
The Blonde Phantom premiered in Marvel’s All Select Comics #11 in the fall of 1946 which adapted the name The Blonde Phantom in the proceeding issue. The creator of the Blonde Phantom is disputed; Stan Lee and artist Syd Shores are believed to have created the character, but script editior Al Sulman claimed to have created her when he worked for Timely Comics, saying “Wonder Woman was popular, so Stan thought we should have a heroine, too. So I created a character called ‘The Blonde Phantom’, and I wrote those strips myself.”
The Blonde Phantom was Louise Grant, a secretary to private detective Mark Mason, of whom she was enamored with. Determined to protect her boss and help him break cases, she’d pull a Clark Kent by losing her glasses, letting her hair down, and donning a black domino mask complete with a sexy slit-leg red evening gown and high heels. Wielding a .45-caliber pistol, the Blonde Phantom near perfectly emulated the feel of a neo-noir heroine–sexy, brave and bold. She was trained in martial arts and highly athletic, and in a twist on the Superman/Lois Lane relationship, her boss Mason fell deeply in love with her while remaining seemingly oblivious to Louise Grant’s affections. Despite being hailed as a crack detective, Mason never discovered the Blonde Phantom’s identity. Her rogues gallery consisted of ordinary criminals, scheming femme fatales, Stillface–a thug who’s maimed face was rebuilt with plaster, Baron Frankenstein, Carlo the Killer and a group of stage magician criminals called the Mad Magicians. The Blonde Phantom’s adventures only lasted two years, but she had several adventures with Sun Girl and Namora in their respective comic book series.
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By the modern age of comics in the late eighties, Louise Grant was reintroduced and left crimefighting to marry Mark Mason, giving birth to two children, daughter Wanda and son Earl. Following Mason’s death, she began working as a legal secretary alongside district attorney Blake Tower and Jennifer Walters in the 1989-1994 comic series, The Sensational She-Hulk. Louise spent the series as a civilian, but she was roped into several of She-Hulk’s adventures, including one to outer space. Her daughter eventually took up after her mother and became the Phantom Blonde.
Sexy, brave and one hell of a sharpshooter, it’s a shame the Blonde Phantom faded into obscurity, even with her adventures alongside She-Hulk. Do you think we’ll ever see her character again? Let me know in the comments what obscure comic book character you’d like me to cover next and as always, stay nerdy!
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