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The Black Owl, 1940
|First appearance||Prize Comics #2 (April 1940)|
|Alter ego||Doug Danville|
|Notable aliases||K the Unknown|
|First appearance||Prize Comics #34 (Sept. 1943)|
|Alter ego||Walt Walters|
|Partnerships||Yank & Doodle|
In 1940, Prize Publications, which was already established as a producer of pulp magazines, began publishing superhero comic books with a new title, Prize Comics. The first issue featured “K the Unknown,” whose name was changed to the Black Owl in issue #2 (April 1940). In issue #24 (Oct. 1942), the Black Owl was part of a large, one-time crossover in which several heroes, including the Green Lama, fought together against the Frankenstein monster.
In issue #34 (Sept. 1943), the identity of The Black Owl was passed on from Doug Danville to Walt Walters, a character who was already established as the father of Yank & Doodle; the two series were merged. In issue #64 (June 1947), the father was sidelined by means of a bullet, and the focus was almost entirely on Yank & Doodle.
With issue #69 (April 1948), Prize Comics became Prize Comics Western, and everything that didn’t fit the new Western format — including Yank, Doodle, and the Black Owl — was discarded. The three characters have since fallen into the public domain.
In 2008, the online superhero fiction site Metahuman Press debuted the series Living Legends which featured the first Black Owl as part of its cast. The second Black Owl appeared briefly in Fantastic Comics #24, the first issue of the Next Issue Project. In issue #6 of Project Superpowers, The Black Owl and Yank & Doodle were included in a two-page layout of Golden Age character sketches; In the one-shot Project Superpowers: Chapter Two Prelude, it was stated that the three of them would appear in the second volume of this comic title, and that The Black Owl (which one is not yet known) would be transformed into a living black hole.
In 1940, Doug Danville, being a bored and wealthy playboy, decided to add meaning to his seemingly pointless life by fighting the criminal element hand to hand. Originally calling himself “K the Unknown,” he quickly changed his identity to that of The Black Owl. His original outfit was a tuxedo and an owl mask, but he soon switched to a blue and red costume.
Finally, after more than three years of crimefighting, Danville decided to do something even more meaningful with his life; he joined the army and fought in World War II. Before leaving, he passed on the costume and identity of The Black Owl to Walt Walters. Whatever became of Danville after the war is not yet known.
Walt Walters was already indirectly connected to superheroing; his twin sons, Rick and Dick, were the costumed heroes Yank & Doodle. After Walt took up the mantle of The Black Owl in 1943, he and his sons worked as a team, with Rick and Dick essentially being his sidekicks.
In 1947, Walt suffered a bullet wound and found himself reconsidering being an active superhero; from that point on, he simply served as an adviser to Yank & Doodle.
- The Black Owl at Don Markstein's Toonopedia. Archived from the original on August 10, 2015.
- Yank and Doodle at Don Markstein's Toonopedia. Archived from the original on August 10, 2015.
- Living Legends at MetahumanPress.com
- Black Owl (1) at the Comic Book DB
- Black Owl (2) at the Comic Book DB
- The Next Issue Project #1 at the Comic Book DB
- Project Superpowers #6 at the Comic Book DB
- Project Superpowers: Chapter Two Prelude at the Comic Book DB