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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 – two, as the American saying went, “premature anti-fascists”.

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.

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Background

  • Real Name: Martin “Marty” Simon Burns.
  • Known Relatives: Andrew and Barbara Burns (parents).
  • Group Affiliation: None.
  • Base Of Operations: An unspecified East Coast bustling metropolis.
  • Height: 5’7” (1.70m). Weight: 139 lbs. (63 Kg.).
  • Eyes: Blue. Hair: Blond.

Powers and Abilities

Marvel Boy :

  1. Is particularly supple.
  2. Is exceptionally fast.
  3. Is a superior pugilist.
  4. Acts with superhuman strength, and is listed as being able to lift seven tons.
  5. Seems able to run at least as fast as an automobile. Perhaps 100 mph (160 km/h) or more.

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.

Marvel Boy I (Timely Comics)

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. Who is a blond Aryan, obviously.

Thus, once 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. But he refused to play team sports such as football, fearing he would injure other kids.

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

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. And stated that no one but Martin should open it.

The shadow then slipped unnoticed into Martin’s room, and woke him up.

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

Biffing Nazis

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

While but a few hours past his 14th birthday, Martin 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.

Marvel Boy 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.

While at this pace he would likely have won the war by 1942 or so, he was never seen again.

(On the cover of Daring Mystery Comics (wait, why is the mystery daring ?), Marvel Boy is seen intervening against caricatured Black mobsters in zoot suit. Who are, obviously, kidnapping a beautiful White woman. This scene doesn’t feature in the published stories so heh, small mercies.)

Marvel Boy I (Timely Comics) briefed by the shadow

Continuity notes

The second Marvel Boy (Martin Oksner Burns) was very much like the first (Martin Simon Burns). He was the same concept recycled with a slight spin.

(The middle names refer to two Golden AgeSuper-hero comics from the late 1930s to the early 1950s comics greats who worked at Timely. Bob Oksner created the second Marvel Boy take, and Joseph Simon the first).

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 too little material to work with.

Herculean

There is no obvious way to reconcile the Hercules that is introduced here and the Marvel Universe Hercules.

However, given the mythological hodgepodge “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 psionicPsionics are sci-fi style psychic powers[/newinfobulle abilities) would be the prime candidates.

Description

Even as a teenager, Marty is drawn with an impressive musculature – that of a champion, adult body-builder of that time.

(1940, Marvel Boy’s debut, is the first year the Mister America body-building competition was organised. So yes, it already was a thing back then.)

Personality

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 !”

Marvel Boy I (Timely Comics) ready for action costume

DC Heroes RPG

Marvel Boy

Dex: 07 Str: 08 Bod: 07
Int: 06 Wil: 06 Min: 06
Inf: 06 Aur: 05 Spi: 07
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 Upon 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).

Motivation:

Upholding America.

Occupation:

Student, masked spybuster.

Wealth:

002

Marvel Boy I (Timely Comics) fights fifth column nazi

DC Adventures RPG

Marvel Boy (Martin Simon Burns) — Averaged PL 9.4

STR STA AGL DEX
07 06 05 02
FGT INT AWE PRE
05 02 02 02

Powers:

Herculean ● 5 points ● Descriptor: Epically confused mythology
Speed 5.

Combat Advantages:

Close Attack 3, Defensive Roll 2, Takedown.

Other Advantages:

Sidekick 3 (Intangible, invisible shadow that does recon).

Skills:

Acrobatics 5 (+10), Athletics 3 (+10), Close combat (Unarmed) 3 (+11), Deception 3 (+5), Insight 4 (+6), Perception 5 (+7), Persuasion 2 (+4).

Offence:

Initiative +5
Unarmed +11, Close, Damage 7.

Defence:

Dodge 12
Fortitude 10
Parry 11
Toughness 06*/08
Will 09

* Without Defensive Roll.

Complications:

  • Boy of destiny Marvel Boy is still a teenager, and not a worldly one.
  • Secret identity
  • Starry- and stripey-eyed patriot Marvel Boy deeply believes in an idealised version of the USA.

Powers Levels:

  • Trade-off areas. Attack/Effect PL 9, Dodge/Toughness PL 10, Parry/Toughness PL 10, Fort/Will PL 10.
  • Points total 113. Abilities 62, Defences 24, Skills 13, Powers 5, Devices 0, Advantages 9. Equiv. PL 8.


Notes

Ain’t much material and it was formulaic, so I stuck to stats that felt flat.


Writeups.org writer avatar Sébastien Andrivet

By Sébastien Andrivet.

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