The Black Fury: A Woman in Tights; No Cape

One of the more meaningful characters in my next novel Who is Killing the Great Capes of Heropa? (to be published in September) is actually an inanimate one.

We’re talking up a doll—which probably augers poorly for the book in question and isn’t the best advertisement for what I’m supposed to be hawking here.

Disclaimers aside, this doll is the childhood plaything of central character Louise Starkwell, a clerk at the Warbucks & Erewhon Union Trust Bank, and it has a name: Tarpé Mills.

A reason for the meaningful nature of this pre-plastic thing made from glue mixed with sawdust is in nicking its moniker from another Tarpé Mills—the flesh-and-blood woman, real name June Mills, who created comic book daredevil Miss Fury way back in April 1941.

Miss Fury gun

Initially called Black Fury (a title promptly changed), Miss Fury always was the kind of label that’d snag the noir/femme fatale-inclined side of me, yet until last year I’d never heard of the character.

This being a confession (of sorts) brings me full circle to the point where, having discovered her, I’m now paying the respect you’ll discover here.

In a book heavily influenced by the lads’ locker room that was New York’s Marvel (Comics) Bullpen in the 1960s, as well as the California-baked hardboiled fiction of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler (also men’s men) from the 1930s on, when I started doing research into the basic premise for this story I figured it essential to shoehorn in the leverage of a woman of some repute, if only to get a much-needed sense of balance.

Miss Fury 1

After all, I’d grown up with tough, self-reliant women including my mother, Sigourney Weaver in Alien, Mary Astor in The Maltese Falcon, Buffy, Xena, even Lady Penelope Creighton-Ward in Thunderbirds. The “fair-sex” fragility inherent in a lot of American comic books leading up to the 1970s was something preferable to ignore.

Yet I wasn’t expecting to discover what I subsequently did.

Turns out, Miss Fury was the first female action hero created by a woman, beating Wonder Woman into print by over six months.

 

READ MORE OF THIS ARTICLE @ LOITERING WITH INTENT.

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