Red Bee (character)
|First appearance||(Rick) Hit Comics #1 (July 1940), (Jenna) Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters #5 (January 2007)|
|Created by||Toni Blum|
|Alter ego||Richard Raleigh|
Carries a special "Stinger Gun"
Use of trained bees
Human/insect biology that grants:
Enhanced physical attributes
Ability to "mark" people for later tracking
Use of two large robotic bees which fire electricity blasts
Wears a mechanized battle suit that grants:
The second, written as the grandniece of the original, first appeared in Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters #5. She was written as the granddaughter of the original.
Fictional character biography
The Red Bee's secret identity is Rick Raleigh, assistant district attorney in Superior City, Oregon. His superhero modus operandi is to put on a red and yellow costume and, with his trained bees and "stinger gun", fight Nazis and gangsters. His favorite bee is named Michael and lives inside his belt buckle for use in special circumstances. He has a series of adventures which lasts until issue #24 (Oct 1942).
According to Jess Nevins' Encyclopedia of Golden Age Superheroes, "he fights enemies like the evil spiritualist Dr. Marah, the Swordsmen (who use electrified swords), and Yellow Peril hatchet men".
The character never became very popular, and was largely forgotten until reappearing in DC Comics' All-Star Squadron. In the 'Squadron', it is learned he was killed by the Nazi supervillain Baron Blitzkrieg while saving the lives of Hourman and other allies. The group Freedom Fighters was formed out of the Squadron and the Red Bee was made an honorary member.
Red Bee appears as a ghost in the pages of Starman. The focus of this appearance is a dinner party attended by many deceased heroes. Other heroes in attendance include the original Mr. Terrific and Hourman. The topic discussed is the intense appeal of the superhero life.
Other post-Crisis appearances include a cameo in Animal Man in which the character resides in a canceled characters' "limbo", and in Bizarro World, where he and his agent attempt to improve his marketability. He is mentioned by Plastic Man as having been a friend and drinking buddy in an issue of JLA.
Rick's grandniece, Jenna, takes up the mantle of the Red Bee. She uses a mechanized battle suit and two robotic bees that can fire electricity. She assists the group in fighting S.H.A.D.E., an evil governmental organization. She soon learns that the leader of the Freedom Fighters Uncle Sam has assisted with the development of her technology. She decides to stay and fight with the group. Moments after this, she sees the death of the Invisible Hood, another ally, killed by a S.H.A.D.E.-influenced Ray.
Over the course of Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters vol. 2 (2007), Jenna is mutated by an alien insect colony into a human/bee hybrid, with enhanced physical abilities, pheromone production capabilities, and antennae on her head.
However, her mind is later completely circumvented by the mutation. After trying to colonize the entire Earth, she is cured of her affliction when Lanford Terrill uses his new Neon powers to destroy the insect influence. By the series' end, Jenna feels guilt over her actions, and she eschews the superhero life to continue her work in the research field.
Powers and abilities
Richard Raleigh had no superpowers but carried a special "Stinger Gun" and he specialized in the use of trained bees.
Jenna Raleigh possesses a human/insect biology which grants her enhanced physical attributes, pheromone production and the ability to "mark" people for later tracking. She formerly wore a mechanized battle suit which granted her enhanced strength and flight and used two large robotic bees that could fire electricity blasts.
In American Comic Book Chronicles: 1940-1944, comics historian Kurt Mitchell calls the Golden Age strip "inane", and describes it in a dismissive way: "... a masked mystery-man aided by the trained bees he stored in his belt buckle. No, that's not a typo. Bees. Trained bees. In his belt buckle".
In other media
In the Peter Bogdanovich screwball comedy movie She's Funny That Way, several characters refer to Rhys Ifans' character, an actor named Seth Gilbert, as having played a character named "Red Bee Man" in five movies. The character is said to have "puffy sleeves" and a "trained bumble bee in his belt buckle".
The Rick Raleigh version of Red Bee is briefly mentioned in the Stargirl episode "Hourman and Dr. Mid-Nite". Beth Chapel is told by the AI of Charles McNider that not protecting secret identities is what got a hero named Red Bee killed by Baron Blitzkrieg just like the comics version.
Red Bee appears in comic Teen Titans Go #2 (2013).
- DC Atlas: Pacific Northwest Region
- Morris, Jon (2015). The League of Regrettable Superheroes: Half Baked Heroes from Comic Book History. Philadelphia: Quirk Books. p. 106-109. ISBN 978-1-59474-763-2.
- Benton, Mike (1992). Superhero Comics of the Golden Age: The Illustrated History. Dallas: Taylor Publishing Company. p. 167. ISBN 0-87833-808-X. Retrieved 8 April 2020.
- Nevins, Jess (2013). Encyclopedia of Golden Age Superheroes. High Rock Press. p. 218. ISBN 978-1-61318-023-5.
- Koolman, Mike; Amash, Jim (2011). The Quality Companion. TwoMorrows Publishing. pp. 179–180. ISBN 978-1605490373.
- Thomas, Roy (2006). The All-Star Companion: Vol 2. TwoMorrows Publishing. p. 95. ISBN 978-1893905375.
- Starman #37 (1997). DC Comics.
- "Comics Review: Bizarro World | Arts | The Harvard Crimson". www.thecrimson.com. Retrieved 2020-12-15.
- Dark Nights: Death Metal #5. DC Comics.
- Greenberger, Robert (2008), "Freedom Fighters", in Dougall, Alastair (ed.), The DC Comics Encyclopedia, New York: Dorling Kindersley, p. 131, ISBN 978-0-7566-4119-1, OCLC 213309017
- Mitchell, Kurt; Thomas, Roy (2019). American Comic Book Chronicles: 1940-1944. TwoMorrows Publishing. p. 36. ISBN 978-1605490892.