Monday, February 11, 2008

The Crimson Avenger

The Crimson Avenger is the name of three separate fictional characters, superheroes who exist in the DC Comics universe.
Lee Walter Travis
The original Crimson Avenger made his first published appearance in Detective Comics #20 (October 1938). He was a wealthy newsman named Lee Walter Travis who took up the identity of the Crimson Avenger to battle crime.

Travis initially dressed in a red trenchcoat, a fedora, and a red mask covering his face; except for the red, he was visually similar to the Shadow. He had an Asian chauffeur/crime-fighting partner, and used a gas gun to subdue criminals, similar to the Green Hornet. Later, when superheroes became more popular than costumed vigilantes, his costume was changed to a more standard superhero outfit, consisting of red tights, yellow boots, trunks and crest, and a "sun" symbol which was recently stated to have been a stylized bullet hole.

It has been shown that he was trained in hand-to-hand combat in Nanda Parbat. While there he saw the future and witnessed an "unnamed" hero, Superman's, selflessness and his death at the hands of a monster Doomsday. This inspired him to return to America and combat crime, first as a corruption-free newspaper owner and later as a masked crime fighter.

Years later he died rescuing his city from a freighter about to detonate within its harbor.

Albert Elwood
Albert Elwood made a single appearance as the Crimson Avenger, in World's Finest Comics #131 (February 1963), in a story entitled "The Mystery of the Crimson Avenger". Eccentric inventor Albert Elwood adopted the guise and attempted to help Superman, Batman and Robin thwart the robberies of the Octopus Gang. After the requisite identity confusion when one of the gang members assumed the Crimson Avenger's identity, Elwood did help the heroes capture the gang, and retired right afterward. He had many sophisticated gadgets, but his efforts often proved counterproductive, more a hindrance than a help. He did mention that he had "taken the name of a former lawman," meaning the by-then long defunct original Crimson Avenger. The former Crimson Avenger was only recorded as having resided on Earth-Two, however the Earth Elwood resided on has never been identified.

Jill Carlyle
Since then, another Crimson Avenger has appeared. This character, like the original El Diablo serves as a minor Spirit of Vengeance. She, possessing the power of teleportation and intangibility, is an African-American woman who might be called Jill Carlyle. In a flashback sequence, she studied law but apparently lost a case in which the defendant was clearly guilty. She obtained a pair of Colt pistols originally owned by the first Crimson Avenger and used them to exact vengeance upon the unknown criminal. These guns were cursed such that, if the possessor were to use them out of revenge, he or she would be cursed to track and kill those who have taken innocent life. As part of the curse, an ever-bleeding bullet hole appeared on her chest.

Upon gaining a new "assignment," she mentally relives the death of the victim, and then is teleported to their place of burial. She then gains the memory and skills of those whose deaths she is avenging. Her guns never miss, never run out of ammunition, and have no triggers. The bullets are capable of penetrating any substance, and can wound heroes such as Superman and Power Girl, as well as crack the armored shell of Captain Atom. The guns seemingly have a mind of their own, as she speaks of having to restrain them from shooting those who come between her and her target. Her intangibility does not function against her own weapons or other magical forces. Unless/until the curse is lifted, she is seemingly immortal. She once attempted to kill herself with her own weapons, but this merely resulted in ending her current "assignment" and delivering her to the next one.

She was a member of the JSA during the "Stealing Thunder" storyline, where her mission was to avenge the death of Lee Travis, revealing that the explosion that killed him was caused by the Ultra-Humanite. She returned later in JSA #52-53, tracking down Wildcat. While she performed her cursed duty, she attempted to learn how Lee Travis seemingly divested himself of the guns' curse.

Though attacked by the Spectre in a 2005 issue of JSA, the Crimson Avenger was seen at Blackgate Prison, fighting escaping inmates during the world-wide supervillain breakout the Society engineered in Villains United: Infinite Crisis Special #1. The Crimson Avenger later appeared, alongside the current Vigilante and Wild Dog, on a rooftop in the great Battle of Metropolis, raining bullets down on the Trigger Twins, the Madmen and Spellbinder. She appeared as one of the heroes kidnapped by aliens in Action Comics #843.

Publisher DC Comics
First appearance (Elwood)
World's Finest Comics #131 (February 1963)
Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. #9 (April, 2000)
Created by
Geoff Johns
Scott Kolins

Alter ego - Lee Walter Travis
- Albert Elwood
- Jill Carlyle
Abilities (Travis) Trained soldier, skilled martial artist (Elwood)

No comments: