Fantomah transforming. From Jungle Comics #15 (March 1941). Art by Fletcher Hanks.
|First appearance||Jungle Comics #2 (Feb. 1940)|
|Created by||Fletcher Hanks (as "Barclay Flagg")|
|Abilities||Superstrength, flight, other unspecified powers|
Fantomah is a fictional character, best remembered as the first comic book superheroine. Created by Fletcher Hanks, the character first appeared in Jungle Comics #2 (Feb. 1940), published by Fiction House.
Fantomah, "Mystery Woman of the Jungle", was the first female comic book superhero. She first appeared as a back-up feature in Jungle Comics #2, and continued as a back-up feature until her final appearance in issue #51 (March 1944). Her early adventures were written and drawn by Fletcher Hanks; later stories were drawn by George Appel. Some of her early adventures were later reprinted by Fiction House in Ka'a'nga Comics, and later by AC Comics in Golden Age Greats #14 (March 1999).
Fantomah's is a mysterious woman who protects the jungle with her many supernatural powers, making her somewhat similar to magical creatures like the Spectre. She loved her jungle, the people and the animals and would often inflict cruel punishment on anyone who threatened any of them. When Fantomah uses her powers, her normally beautiful face turns into a blue skull (though her curly blonde hair remains unchanged).
A second Fantomah was created by H.B Hovious after Fletcher Hanks stopped making comics. She debuts in Jungle Comics #27 (March 1942), in which it is revealed that this Fantomah is an ancient Egyptian princess, revived to protect the jungle. These stories take away some of the original Fantomah's supernatural powers, and she began to resemble the more popular Sheena, Queen of the Jungle.
Powers and abilities
Fantomah exhibited a large number of magical abilities, generally as required by the story's plot. Among others, she demonstrated the ability to fly, transform objects into different objects, levitate other objects, cause humans to mutate into other forms, and so on. Generally, whenever Fantomah used her powers, she would change her face from a normal human woman to a blue-skinned skull-like visage.