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Madam Fatal
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Madam Fatal from the cover of Crack Comics #1

Publication information
Publisher Quality Comics,

DC Comics, Others (character is now in the public domain)

First appearance Crack Comics #1 (May 1940)
Created by Art Pinajian
In-story information
Alter ego Richard Stanton
Identity Male crossdresser
Abilities No superpowers;

Cane fighting, superior investigative skills, acting, disguises, and theatrics

Allies and alliegances Hamlet, Sure-Fire Detective Agency, The Jester
Enemies John Caver, The Jester (impostor), Madam Fatal (impostor), Tiger Woman

Madam Fatal (alternatively, Madame Fatal) is a superhero created by Art Pinajian and published by Quality Comics in their anthology Crack Comics, lasting for 22 issues. The character is notable as the first crossdressing superhero.

HistoryEdit

Madam Fatal was actually Richard Stanton, a handsome, pipe-smoking, dapper, middle-aged blonde Caucasian man who is exceptionally intelligent and intuitive, as well as being at the peak of his physical abilities. He had made a vast fortune successfully playing the Wall Street stock market of the late 1920s, a time of economic unrest, which incurred the jealousy of many of those close to him. In his private life, Stanton was also a widower and a single father, being the parent of a two-year-old (unnamed) girl. As well as being a successful financial investor, Stanton is also a lover of theatrics and a world-famous stage, theatre, radio and film actor living in Manhatan, until his wealthy and prominent celebrity status brought unwanted attention from costumed villains. Stanton's daughter was kidnapped by them and the police were unable to uncover their identities, but Stanton was, on his wits and superior investigative skills. As such, Stanton decided to take matters into his own hands after he deduced that the leader of the gang was John Carver, a crime kingpin who had been running extortion rackets in various cities.

As a civilian, Stanton had already been searching for Carver for eight years, after a fight they had and the threats that Carver had made. Prior to this, Carver had been the first man to love Stanton's late wife, and Carver had been jilted when she chose Stanton instead. After the kidnapping of Stanton's daughter, and when the police got nowhere, Stanton's wife was riddled with guilt as it was her previous connection with Carver which had brought about the whole scenario. She died of a broken heart. Stanton made his last appearance on Broadway on May 1, 1930, as an old woman, which garnered Stanton praise and acclaim from the audience, leaving to pursue his vedetta.

After dealing with Carver, Stanton decided to continue down the path of a crime-fighter and bring other villains to justice, inspired by his first success, adopting the alter-ego Madame Fatal. After that he disappeared from public view altogether and became "Madame Fatal" full-time. Stanton would also use the alternate identity to attempt to locate his captive daughter, whom Carver had passed onto other villains. When the character rights were sold to DC Comics and DC decided not to continue the character, this plot point was never resolved, and it was never revealed which villain was actually holding Stanton's daughter.

Powers and abilitiesEdit

Madam Fatal had no powers, but was a capable fighter, using boxing moves and cane fighting to maximum effect. Stanton was also a accomplished actor. His old woman visage was so convincing, he was never under suspicion. He was aided by his pet parrot Hamlet, who would at times recite Shakespeare. Later, he helped start the "Sure-Fire Detective Agency" with Tubby White and Scrappy Nelson.

Controversy and ridiculeEdit

Madam Fatal was never a popular character given the cross-dressing angle, which is perhaps part of the reason why DC Comics decided not to further run with the character and limited him to light-hearted jibes made by other comic book heroes. {C {C The character has often been ridiculed, such as in a recent article on Cracked.com which has been read well over half a million times, listed the character as one of the "7 crappiest super heroes in comic book history".

Also, the later depictions of Madam Fatal living alone, and as Stanton was a former stage actor who lived alone, many modern readers believe that the cross-dressing character was actually a thinly-disguised homosexual, though this was never expressly acknowledged in Crack Comics, nor are Pinajian's intentions known.

Madam Fatal in recent yearsEdit

DC Comics acquired the rights to all the former Quality Comics characters in 1956 along with a bulk buy of them all, but has yet to make use of Madame Fatal beyond a few very brief cameos and a few mere mentions that made light of the character's transvestite M.O.

Outside of regular DC Universe continuity, comix writer Kim Deitch (Hollywoodland) did a story in 1972 that purported to be about Madame Fatale. But inasmuch as she did things in it that it's hard to imagine a mainstream comic book character doing, there could be some question about the character's identity in this incarnation.

James Robinson and Paul Smith featured Madam Fatal in a cameo in 1993's The Golden Age. In The Golden Age #4, Madam Fatal appears in a panel surrounded by the Fiddler and the Gambler, who all appear to be courting the cross-dressing hero while other villains (including Wildfire, Harlequin and the Psycho-Pirate) stand around giggling (apparently knowing Madam Fatal's true gender).

Later, in a scene in JSA #1 (August, 1999) that depicted the funeral of the first Sandman, Wildcat wonders whether his own funeral will "be like the time they buried Madame Fatal here, and no one turned up for the funeral but the touring cast of La Cage aux Folles?" This would seem to suggest that the character of Madam Fatal is considered deceased in the DC universe, or at least has suffered a comic book death.

The character recently appeared in DC's Shade #4 as part of their "New 52" relaunch, sporting an updated costume.

Major AppearancesEdit

  • Crack Comics #1-22 (Quality Comics) - written and drawn by Art Pinajian (1940-1942)
  • The Golden Age #4 (DC Comics) - written by James Robinson, art by Paul Smith (cameo - 1993)

Other versionsEdit

Madam Fatal appeared in a webcomic by Joshua Florence on Drunk Duck (now "The Duck") called Darkstars, which was about various people of color from the DC Universe. Madam Fatal is here reimagined as a Brazilian trans woman and master of disguise, and the "old lady" aspect is completely taken out of the picture.

The character also appeared in Gold Comics #1 by Ave Messer and published by Karabear Comics. This is an anthology series which uses public domain characters in new stories while reprinting some of their old adventures.

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