Wildcat | The Team-Up with Aquaman
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These best stories of the comic books are preceded by their issue number.
Wildcat appeared in Sensation Comics, from #1 (January 1942) through #90 (June 1949). He also appeared briefly in Comic Cavalcade #1 (Winter 1942) and #2 (Spring 1943), and All-Star Comics #24 (Spring 1945) and #27 (Winter 1945-1946).
Wildcat's secret identity is Ted Grant, world's heavyweight boxing champion.
Ted Grant's boxing manager, Stretch, is in the tradition of comic sidekicks. He is tall and very slim, dresses with a high, old-fashioned collar, and has a strange way of talking. He is also good, kind hearted and loyal. He also seems to be highly competent as a boxing manager. Unlike many 1940's sidekicks, Stretch does not know about Ted's secret identity as Wildcat. Neither does Ted's girl friend Joan Fortune.
The Origin of Wildcat (1942). Writer: Bill Finger. Art: Irwin Hasen. Orphaned Ted Grant takes up a career as a boxer, but his crooked managers have sinister plans. This is a cheery, if cliched boxing tale. It has some nice touches of humor. The story is the origin of Wildcat. It also marks the first appearance of Ted's girl friend, Joan Fortune. Ted trains here at Willman's Gym, which will play a continuing role in the series.
In this story, Ted Grant's real life identity as a boxer is far more important than his secret identity as Wildcat. This tale, like several of the Wildcat stories, is as much a boxing tale as it is a detective story or a costumed hero tale. Partly this relates to the simplicity of Wildcat as a hero. He has no special powers, other than his fists. Mainly, he is a masked guy who goes around beating up crooks. Unlike Batman or Green Arrow, he seems to have no technological gadgets. And he is not a Great Detective either, at least in his early tales. This makes his Wildcat persona barely functional. By contrast, Ted Grant takes his boxing career very seriously.
The villains do use a technological device to commit the crime.
There are some nice recursive elements here. Ted Grant is inspired to take on a costumed role by a Green Lantern comic a kid tells him about. Green Lantern is another of Finger's heroes of this era. And in the same issue of Sensation Comics #1, Finger's hero Little Boy Blue is inspired to take up his costumed hero role by reading the Wildcat story!
Crime Takes the Count (Comic Cavalcade #1, Winter 1942). Crooked gamblers try to keep Ted from appearing at a big boxing match. This tired old plot was already being used in 1840's England, in Angus Reach's Clement Lorimer, or the Book with the Iron Clasps (1848-1849). Ted fights against a boxer named Tiger Taffer.
There is a nice portrait of Ted donning his Wildcat costume on the last page; only his head is still not covered by the mask, so we see Ted's head above Wildcat's body.
The Story Behind the Bellyache (1943). Writer: Bill Finger. Art: Irwin Hasen. Retired boxer Socks opens a successful restaurant, till a mob-backed rival tries to put him out of business.
This story is related in subject matter to a Superboy tale Finger wrote, "A Lesson for a Bully" (Adventure #123, December 1947). Both stories deal with a campaign of dirty tricks carried on by a vicious rival against a good guy. Here, the rivals are two restaurant owners; in the Superboy tale, they are two candidates in a school election. In the Superboy tale, the obnoxious bully is a spoiled star athlete; here, the good guy is a retired athlete.
Socks looks terrific in his double-breasted black tuxedo. The restaurant opened by Socks is in the shape of a giant boxing glove; it is an imaginatively drawn piece of architecture.