5703 in-depth character profiles from comics, games, movies

Marvel Boy I (Timely Comics)

Marvel Boy I

(Martin Burns) (First iteration)


Context

*This* Marvel Boy appeared in 1940. He openly fought Nazis before Pearl Harbour, which is unusual. This is because he was created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby.

Marvel Boy is chiefly notable for his name, though Timely Comics was decades away from becoming Marvel Comics. There would be other Marvel Boys later on, including Marvel Boy (Bob Grayson) after Timely became Atlas.

Confusingly, there were two iterations of Marvel Boy (Martin Burns). These are different characters, and a middle name was added later on to help differentiate between the two.

This first iteration of Marvel Boy only appeared once, though a blurb promised more appearances. We have never trusted a blurb ever since.


Background

  • Real Name: Martin “Marty” Simon Burns.
  • Marital Status: Single.
  • Known Relatives: Andrew and Barbara Burns (parents).
  • Group Affiliation: None.
  • Base Of Operations: An unspecified East Coast bustling metropolis.
  • Height: 5’7” Weight: 139 lbs.
  • Eyes: Blue Hair: Blond


Powers and Abilities

Marvel Boy is very supple and very fast. He acts with superhuman strength, and is listed as being able to lift seven tons. From some panels it seems he can run at least as fast as an automobile – some say 100 mph or more. He’s a superior pugilist.

Apparently, the shadow that originally instructed him to become Marvel Boy acts as his scout and “intelligence agent”. This allowed Marvel Boy to make a beeline for the secret conspiracy headquarters or the inevitable Nazi submarine whenever needed. The shadow is of course invisible, able to slip in anywhere and seems to have Olympus… sorry, Valhalla-borne divinatory powers.


History

Marvel Boy stems from a particularly confused mythological background.

Apparently the “secrets of reincarnation” from the “superior civilisation” of “ancient Egypt, mysterious Egypt” were learned by the Greek demigod Hercules, Son of Power (a blond Aryan, obviously). Thus, when he shed his mortal form and ascended to Valhalla (yep), Hercules could carry on and reincarnate himself.

During the late 1930s, Hercules watched the Nazi hordes, seemingly spurred by the evil Ares, in distaste. Obviously, Hercules sided without question with the peace-loving American people.

Angered by the Nazi efforts establishing a potent fifth column  on neutral American soil (yet not giving a damn about, say, Poland), Hercules convinced Zeus to allow him to be reincarnated as a mortal American newborn.

Boy of power

Thus was Martin Burns born. Although his superhuman strength was evident from infanthood, he had a fairly normal childhood. He simply refused to play team sports such as football, fearing he would injure other kids.

Inexplicably, 14 years passed between Hercules’s decision (which at best occurred in 1938) and 1940. During this time, the remarkably muscular (and blond) Martin grew up as his parents’s only son.

Marvel Boy (Martin Burns) punches criminals in a truck

One night under a raging storm, a shadow-shrouded stranger rang at the Burns’ door. He gave Martin’s mother a birthday present for her son, stating that no one but Martin should open it. The shadow then slipped unnoticed into Martin’s room, and woke him up.

The shadow told Martin that within him stirred the soul of a giant among men. It said that Burns was a child of destiny holding Hercules’s essence : the Marvel Boy.

Biffing Nazis

Opening the birthday present to find his Marvel Boy costume, Martin received his first orders to fight evil. More specifically, he was to take on hundreds of warlike German agents comprising the fifth column in the area.

Whilst but a few hours past his 14th birthday, Martin efficiently took out a truckload of German spies before they could infiltrate US society. He then worked his way up to the local spy command, leaving them and their agents lists for the FBI to find. He also arranged for the submarine ferrying the spies from Europe to be directed right into a US naval compound, which he warned ahead.

Burns then sneaked back into his room after his busy night, to protect his secret identity. Whilst at this pace he would likely have won the war by 1942, he was never seen again.

Two quick continuity notes

The second Marvel Boy (Martin Oksner Burns) is very much like the first (Martin Simon Burns). He was the same conceot recycled with a slightly different take.

It is certainly possible to devise an in-character explanation for this. For instance it could be the same person getting reincarnated mere years after the first Marvel Boy. Or the chronicling may have been garbled and this is the same person. But there is little material to work on.

Second, there is no obvious way to reconcile the Hercules that is introduced here and the Marvel Universe Hercules. However, given the astounding mythological hodge-podge “Hercules” comes from, he was likely completely unrelated to the Olympians.

Perhaps he was an Eternal patterning himself after the Son of Zeus ? There is a rich history of this and this take could be used to explain pretty much everything. The Forgotten One or the Interloper (both of whom sometimes have odd psionic abilities) would be the prime candidates.


Description

See illustrations.


Personality

None. Martin is an obedient, disciplined little soldier and boy wonder with complete trust in the authorities.

He’s bright and resolute. He can quickly come up with clever plans in his vigorous, ever-victorious struggle against the evils of the all-pervasive Fifth Column.


Quotes

“All right, pull over you dogs !”

“Strike one for democracy !”

“I hate to spoil your elaborate plans. By tomorrow, my countrymen will be rounding up the rest of your kind. I think your mighty army will get a different reception here !”

“How’s this for a blitzkrieg ?”

“Alright, mister spy ! Follow my instructions or I’ll pound you to a pulp ! Contact the [submarine] – give her this course to follow !”


Sharing

The links to follow us and/or subscribe to our monthly newsletter are at the bottom of this page.



Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Marvel Boy

Dex: 07 Str: 08 Bod: 07 Motivation: Upholding America
Int: 06 Wil: 06 Min: 06 Occupation: Student, masked spybuster
Inf: 06 Aur: 05 Spi: 07 Resources {or Wealth}: 002
Init: 021 HP: 035

Powers:
Running: 07

Skills:
Acrobatics (Athletics, Climbing, Dodging)*: 07, Evasion (Ranged only): 08

Bonuses and Limitations:
Evasion is a Powered Skill that is Contingent on Running.

Advantages:
Buddy (the shadow).

Connections:
None.

Drawbacks:
Age (Young), Innocent, Secret ID, SIA toward Upholding the Peace-Loving Superior American Democracy That Loves Freedom (And Peace).

By Sébastien Andrivet.

Source of Character: Daring Mystery Comics #06 (cover-dated Sept. 1940).

Subscribe to our MINI-NEWSLETTER !

One bare-bones e-mail per month. Plain text. Short. To the point. Learn more.