So, who is this Phantom Lady you might ask? That’s a torrid tale that has taken many twists over the decades. Phantom Lady was one of the very first female superheroes, appearing in Quality’s Police Comics #1 on August 1941. She was the creation of Arthur Peddy for the Eisner & Iger studio, a vendor of ready to print artwork for the exploding comic book industry.
Phantom Lady’s alter ego was known as Sandra Knight, daughter of U.S. Senator Henry Knight. After thwarting an attempt on her father’s life with a rolled-up newspaper (demonstrating once again the power of the press) Sandra was forever hooked on crime-fighting. Assisting towards that end was the lucky discovery of a “black light ray projector” that could either blind her enemies when pointed at them, or pointed at herself turned her invisible. One could also say she later further aided her abilities by swapping her original yellow bathing suit/green cape costume for a new one that “tactically” distracted foes. Enter publisher Fox Feature Syndicate.
When Quality stopped running Phantom Lady, what was by now Iger Studio (less Eisner) was still busy supplying its various comic publishers. One of its clients was Fox Feature Syndicate. That company was run by Victor Fox, who was notorious for pushing any envelope to help boost sales. Iger, presuming his studio had a solid claim to the character’s ownership, turned to artist Matt Baker to “spruce” Phantom Lady up a bit. The result was a success. Victor Fox like what he saw, collectors got one of its most iconic images of good girl art, and Dr. Fredric Wertham got more material for his publication Seduction of the Innocent. Everybody won.
The Phantom Lady title ended its Fox run April, 1949 with issue #23, around the time Fox’s business collapsed. Phantom Lady wound up in the hands of Farrell Publications running just four issues — the two published post Comics Code Authority (thank you Dr. Wertham) featured a much subdued Phantom Lady.
In 1956, DC Comics obtained the rights to the Quality Comics characters. They relaunched Phantom Lady (in original Quality Comics costume colors) as part of the Freedom Fighters in Justice League of America #107 (Oct. 1973). This run lasted from 1976-78. In 1981, Phantom Lady began appearing in DC’s All-Star Squadron.
Meanwhile, AC Comics acquired the Fox characters in the late 1970s and developed their own dolled up version of Phantom Lady. DC quickly executed legal action which resulted in AC changing its character’s name to The Blue Bulleteer (now known as Nightveil).
And that, at least for now, is the end of the Phantom Lady story.
As of this writing my issue (#21*) of Phantom Lady (published by Fox Features Syndicate on December of 1948) is the fourth most expensive comic in my collection. Not by Overstreet Price Guide value mind you, but by what I paid. It ranks behind only All Select Comics #4, Captain America Comics #27 and Cindy Comics #37. That’s some pretty good company.
I bid considerably over Guide for a G- 1.8 grade copy – after having been outbid in other auctions for the same book I was forced to let the bid fly. And why not? Its a Matt Baker two for one cover – we get good girl Phantom Lady busting a bad girl criminal. I have since replaced #21* with a copy of #16.