I was hanging out with Flameape (Greg) the other day and he’s been doing these sketches of public domain superheroes, that is, superheroes from the 1940s (mostly) that have fallen into the public domain for one reason or another. These are forgotten characters from a period of time when third rate comics and illustrated adventure stories were being churned out like sausage. Most of these characters are ridiculous and you can tell it took the creators all of 10 minutes to come up with them. But there’s something about their vintage lameness that’s compelling.
One sketch that Greg did recently was of 13, who’s (ironic) super power was apparently that he had really good luck. And according to an origin story that Greg found, 13 is from Vermont! I don’t think I’ve ever heard of another superhero coming from Vermont. IIRC, Mike Grell’s Jon Sable was a Vermonter, but he wasn’t a superhero in the strictest sense — he was more of a mercenary type.
What’s really hilarious is the text of the origin story that Greg found. Here is an excerpt, reproduced verbatim…
In a small town, buried in the maze of rising hills which cover New England’s picturesque Vermont, Harold Higgins was born. And with his birth on Friday the thirteenth, the hand of Fate placed a bony hand against his throat and proclaimed him possessor of a fearsome plague to man — the curse of “13″, nemesis number of all time. Such was the beginning.
Got that? “The hand of Fate place a hand against his throat!”
There are actually competing origins for this character. The one quoted above says he was an overly unlucky child (no duh, born on Friday the 13th!) who, due to tragedy, somehow turned his unluckiness into an obsession to fight crime (!?).
However, the origin at the public domain superhero wiki says…
Harold Higgins was always a lucky child growing up…until he turned 15 and his parents where murdered. He then dedicated his life to capturing murderers, first as a private-eye and then as a superhero named 13. … 13 seems to possess superhuman luck, but it is unclear if it is truly a superpower.
Click here to read more (including an actual 13 comic!) and to see Greg’s sketch.
Such was the beginning….