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Saturday, June 12, 2021

Behind the Masked Raider

Unlike many Golden Age heroes who eventually fell into obscurity, the Masked Raider remained a background figure even during his own era. The western crimefighter premiered in Marvel Comics #1 (Oct. 1939), the same comic book that introduced Sub-Mariner and the original Human Torch. Renamed Marvel Mystery Comics, the anthology series continued to include stories starring the Masked Raider in #2-12.

Disguised in a black mask and riding a white horse named Lightning, the Masked Raider apprehended bank robbers and swindlers under the backdrop of the California Gold Rush. Historical facts were vague within the stories, although literary character Pecos Bill made a guest appearance in #9.

Being a western hero made the Masked Raider something of an anomaly. With the notable excepction of jungle adventurer Ka-Zar, most of the other characters to appear regularly in Marvel Mystery Comics had superhuman powers and a modern setting. As such, the Masked Raider never appeared on the covers, and #8 was the only cover to list him as one of the characters featured within the publication.

The above panel comes from Marvel Comics #1, when Jim Gardley decided to become the Masked Raider.
The Golden Age crimefighter Angel, who featured prominently in the Marvel Mystery Comics, had no connection to Warren Worthington III of the New Defenders. The hero Electro, listed on the cover of #8, had no connection to the villain Electro from Defenders #63-64.

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