Liberty Belle (comics)
|First appearance||Boy Commandos #1|
|Created by||Don Cameron|
|Alter ego||Libby Lawrence|
|Team affiliations||All-Star Squadron|
|Abilities||Enhanced speed, strength, stamina, and sonic vibrational pulses|
Exceptional hand to hand combatant
The first Liberty Belle was Libby Lawrence. Her powers of enhanced speed, strength, and stamina were linked to the ringing of the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia. Early in her mystery-woman career, she had an arrangement with Tom Revere, a guard at the Liberty Bell. When she signaled him, he would ring the bell for her and trigger her powers. In her later years, after decades of super-strength many began to theorize about the nature of her powers. Some believed the sonic vibrations of the bell triggered a metahuman gene, some believed that it was mystical because Libby is connected to the power of the Spirit of America, like the heroes Uncle Sam and General Glory. Most of Liberty Belle's heroic exploits took place during the Second World War, and she was one of the founding members (and later chairwoman) of the All-Star Squadron. In her public identity, she was the famous radio columnist Libby Lawrence, and therefore well-known both in and out of costume. During the war, she married speedster Johnny Quick. After the war, they had a daughter, Jesse, who shared both their powers and took the codename Jesse Quick. Libby Lawrence is a descendant of Bess Lynn, alias Miss Liberty.
This character appeared in several publications. Liberty Belle debuted in Boy Commandos #1 (winter 1942/1943). After her second appearance in Boy Commandos #2 (Spring, 1943), the character thereafter appeared in Star Spangled Comics #20 (May, 1943) through to Star Spangled Comics #68 (May, 1947).
In 1981, DC published issue #1 of All-Star Squadron, a book whose first story appeared as an insert in Justice League of America #193. The self-described "conceptualizer" of the book was its writer Roy Thomas. He chose to include Liberty Belle in this World War Two comic to, in his own words, "play down the Earth-Two heroes who have counterparts on Earth-One in favor of other, quite promising characters who have been ignored or underplayed." Thomas also said that Liberty Belle was chosen to stand in for Wonder Woman. All-Star Squadron lasted sixty-seven issues with the last being published in 1987.
As he did with several other characters, Roy Thomas took some liberties with Liberty Belle's golden age continuity by having her retroactively marry Johnny Quick in 1942, while all her golden age appearances throughout the 1940s depict her as a single woman with a semi-romantic relationship with Captain Rick Cannon of G2 Army Intelligence. Thomas also wrote a story depicting the death of Tom Revere in 1942, despite the fact that he was a supporting character from the golden age Liberty Belle stories, most of which take place in 1943 and later. Finally, Thomas had Liberty Belle retroactively wear a mask from her first appearance, rather than her original unmasked look, in which she disguised herself only by allowing her loosed hair to partly drape over her face in a look inspired by Veronica Lake.
Young All-Stars #1 came out in 1987 as a replacement book for All-Star Squadron in the wake of the Crisis on Infinite Earths and the loss of Earth-Two as a fictional setting. Liberty Belle was used as a supporting character in this book which came to an end in 1989 with issue #31.
In 1992 DC began publishing Justice Society of America with writer Len Strazewski. Liberty Belle appeared in flashbacks and only in her public persona of Libby Lawrence. She was used to flesh out the characters of Johnny Chambers (her ex-husband) and Jesse Chambers (their daughter).
Fictional character history
All-Star Squadron #61 (September 1986) is the first true post-Crisis issue of that comic which chronicled the origin of Liberty Belle.
Libby Lawrence wins the American Intercollegiate Girls Athletic Tournament and receives a bell-shaped medal made from a piece of the original Liberty Bell. Years later, she becomes a member of the American team at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, where she wins gold medals for competitive swimming.
World War II
When the Second World War begins in 1939, the young Libby Lawrence is in Poland acting as personal secretary to her father, Major James Lawrence, but returns to America when the war starts. Libby is received with a ticker-tape parade on New York's Fifth Avenue and is shortly thereafter given work at a daily news syndicate, and then as a radio reporter, and she even has a television program (suspended only after the events at Pearl Harbor)
Now a mystery-woman, Liberty Belle becomes involved in the founding of the All-Star Squadron. On December 8, 1941 she is present, with a handful of other mystery-men, in the White House when President Roosevelt announces his order that the Justice Society of America mobilize all American costumed heroes into a single unit, an All-Star Squadron, responsible directly to the President. Their first mission is to fly to the West Coast, search out any saboteurs and prevent a Japanese attack on the US mainland. They find the JSA have been captured by the time travelling villain Per Degaton, who is planning to change the events in an attempt at world domination. They stopped this, though when Per Degaton went back to 1947 they forgot his involvement. Soon after, the core members of the All-Star Squadron, including Libby, begin the process of electing other mystery-men for membership. During the meeting, the matter of electing a permanent chairman is decided by secret ballot, and Liberty Belle receives the majority vote.
Days later, Libby returns to Philadelphia to visit with her friend Tom Revere. Independence Hall is attacked by Baron Blitzkrieg, Zyklon and Major Zwerg. In the battle, Tom Revere is killed while Major Zwerg is badly injured, the two other Nazi agents escape with the Liberty Bell. After learning that Blitzkrieg wanted the Liberty Bell to restore his sight, Libby gets to his base in a church with the help of Hawkgirl. Lightning strikes the Bell, the Baron regains his sight and escapes and Libby gains the ability to manipulate sound waves.
On April 1, 1942 Libby marries Johnny Chambers in Boston.
At some point after the War, Libby retires as a mystery-woman. Later still, she and Johnny have a child whom they name Jesse and begin raising a family.
Libby finally breaks up with Johnny as he founds his company called Quick-Start; the divorce soon follows. It is during the very ugly and painful divorce that daughter Jesse uses her father's speed formula for the first time.
Libby later becomes extremely bitter about the costume-adventurer business.
Libby puts on her costume again during the Infinite Crisis. Libby is fighting against Baron Blitzkrieg and other members of the Society when her powers fail. She goes to Philadelphia and attempts to increase her power levels by repeatedly ringing the Liberty Bell. However this does not work, and Belle is trapped on the bell which is producing damage via sonic waves. The JSA try to help her and in the end she is saved by Stargirl.
A short time after the events of the Brightest Day crossover, Libby returns to superheroics after being recruited by Manhunter to help the JSA battle a villain named Scythe. Writer Marc Guggenheim explained that having Libby return to the Liberty Belle identity was suggested to him by James Robinson after Libby's daughter returned to the Jesse Quick identity and joined the Justice League.
Jesse Chambers is the second woman in the DC Universe to take the name of Liberty Belle. As discussed earlier, she is the daughter of Liberty Belle and Johnny Quick, having inherited her mother's powers. She combines those powers of enhanced strength, agility, reflexes and stamina with her father's speed, which is invoked by reciting a mathematical formula. Realizing her powers, she joins the JSA in its third incarnation. Although originally known as the speedster Jesse Quick, in December 2006 she debuted as Liberty Belle. Jesse marries the second Hourman, Rick Tyler, and they work as a duo within the Justice Society, until the team splits into a smaller Justice Society and a new incarnation of the All-Stars. In 2010, she joins the Justice League of America.
A backup feature in Charlton's E-Man #5 (November 1974), Caroline Dean, the second Liberty Belle, was a red-white-and-blue heroine who helps out on an American rocket launch. Joe Gill scripted, with industry legend Steve Ditko supplying the art.
Libby Lawrence-Chambers is President of the USA on this Earth, and referred to as the former Liberty Belle.
In other media
- Liberty Belle is referenced in The Powerpuff Girls. Blossom adopted the character name as an alias after reading a comic book about a superhero (similar to Wonder Woman) named Freedom Gal.
- Liberty Belle is referred to in the Wonder Woman at Super Hero High ebook as one of the teachers in Super Hero High.
- Liberty Belle is mentioned in the video game Injustice 2 in one of Jay Garrick's fighting intro quotes.
- Libby Lawrence is one of the many names that Eobard Thawne mentions when guessing Nora West-Allen's name in the 100th episode of the live-action series The Flash.
- "Liberty Belle (Libby Lawrence) Chronology - DCU Guide". dcuguide.com.
- All-Star Squadron #1
- Frankenhoff, Brent (2011). Comics Buyer's Guide Presents: 100 Sexiest Women in Comics. Krause Publications. p. 43. ISBN 1-4402-2988-0.
- All-Star Squadron #61 (September 1986)
- All-Star Squadron #61 (September 1986)
- All-Star Squadron #1 (1981)
- All-Star Squadron #13 (1982)
- All-Star Squadron #45 & #61
- All-Star Squadron #46 & #61
- All-Star Squadron #50 (October 1985)
- Justice Society of America #3 (1992)
- Justice Society of America #3 & #7 (1992)
- Justice Society of America #81 (April 2006)
- Justice Society of America #48
- "JUSTICE SOCIETY | Marc Guggenheim | JUSTICE SOCIETY Gets New Characters, More Humor with #50". Newsarama.com. Retrieved 2011-04-11.
- Liberty Belle (1942) at Don Markstein's Toonopedia. (1942) at Don Markstein's Toonopedia. Archived from the original on October 25, 2015.
- Liberty Belle at The Unofficial Guide to the DC Universe.
- Vibber, Kelson, ed. "Liberty Belle I: Libby Lawrence". Flash: Those Who Ride the Lightning (fan site). Retrieved October 25, 2015.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)