Wildcat | Origin | Comic Cavalcade Tales

Classic Comic Books Home Page (with many articles on comics)

Recommended Stories

Sensation Comics

Comic Cavalcade

The above is not a complete list of Wildcat stories. Rather, it consists of my picks of the best tales in the magazines, the ones I enjoyed reading, and recommend to others.

These best stories of the comic books are preceded by their issue number.


Wildcat

Wildcat is another crime fighter with a costume, a secret identity, but no super-powers. In all of these aspects, he is in the tradition of Batman. Also like Batman, his costume and persona have an animal motif: he is a giant black cat, just as Batman looks like a giant black bat.

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.

Where Wildcat Appeared. 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).

Wildcat was twice involved with the The Justice Society of America. This was in All-Star Comics #24 (Spring 1945) and #27 (Winter 1945-1946). Both of these stories are key Justice Society works. They are discussed in my linked article.


Origin

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.

This 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.

RECURSION. There are some nice recursive elements:

  1. 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.
  2. 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!


Comic Cavalcade Tales

Crime Takes the Count (Comic Cavalcade #1, Winter 1942). Writer: Bill Finger. Art: Irwin Hasen. 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), where gamblers go after horse racing. 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 Sock Smith opens a successful restaurant, till a mob-backed rival tries to put him out of business.

The villains in the tale have humorous, clever names. However, this does NOT make them sympathetic.

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, both the good guy and bad guy are retired athletes (boxers).

CLOTHES. Sock looks terrific in his double-breasted black tuxedo (page 1). Ted Grant wears what looks like a similar tuxedo through much of the tale. This makes the two men look like "doubles". It emphasizes their friendship.

We learn that Wildcat's cat-costume is made of "dark denim". The "dark" is no surprise: the costume looks more or less black. But I've never heard of a comic book hero in denim. The denim would make the costume tougher than most heroes'. The denim also gives a tactile dimension to the costume: we all know what denim feels like.

POLICEMAN. When Ted goes to bail Sock out, Ted talks to a policeman. This is a good-looking man, with authoritative Sergeant's chevrons on his sleeves.

ARCHITECTURE. The restaurant opened by Sock Smith is in the shape of a giant boxing glove; it is an imaginatively drawn piece of architecture. The thumb of the glove looks phallic.