Fantomah: First Female Superhero in Comics

Fantomah, protector of the jungle and first female superhero in comics. (2015)

This is one of our favorite characters, Fantomah. She debuted in Jungle Comics #3 in February 1940 under Fiction House, written and drawn by the truly bizarre Fletcher Hanks. If you like weird stories, her 12 adventures in Jungle Comics #3-15 are worth the read. She continued on after Fletcher Hanks disappeared, but was never as bizarre under new creative talent. I penciled a chibi version of Fantomah and Road-sine inked it this weekend. I’ll do a more conventional drawing sometime this week.

Depending on the criteria, Fantomah may be the first female hero. Some people look at her as an anti-hero or more of a mystical guardian, but she does transform into her blue skullface form to mete out her divine retribution. Her February 1940 debut came almost two years before Wonder Woman. Her last Golden Age appearance was in Jungle Comics #51 in 1944.

I love lines like “Now you will pay a dreadful penalty!” Even the “grim and gritty” heroes don’t talk like that. Fantomah from Jungle Comics #15 (or from “I Shall Destroy All Civilized Planets” The Comics of Fletcher Hanks by Paul Karasik from Fantagraphics.

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