Airboy was Davey Nelson Jr, a Golden Age comic book character that originally appeared in Air Fighters Comics #1 (Volume 2). He proved to be so popular that Air Fighters Comics was eventually renamed Airboy Comics. The original comic ended in 1953, when Hillman Periodicals left comic publishing business. All the characters that appeared eventually lapsed into public domain, allowing Eclipse Comics to revive them in the early 1980s. Chuck Dixon handled the writing and Tim Truman handled the initial art. The revival is notable for trying to bring some measure of realism into the story while still honoring the original continuity.
When Eclipse Comics went out of business, Todd McFarlane wound up getting the company's assets. Although he announced his intention to revive Airboy and other Air Fighters characters, it didn't pen out. Since the original characters were still in public domain, Chuck Dixon decided to try to revive them. He originally intended to publish it through Shooting Star Comics, but when the company folder, he wound up taking his pitch to Moonstone Books. The company published Dixon's original story and proceeded to revive the other characters on the pages of revived Air Fighters title.
The original Airboy was a young pilot who flew Birdie - an occasionally plane that flapped it's wings like a bird. He used his plane to fight the Axis forces and various supernatural menaces. When the World War II ended, he shifted to more super-villains and air-related criminals. The Eclipse revival starred David Nelson III, the original Airboy's son. The new series (simply called Airboy) was a continuation of the original Golden Age stories, except it tried to take a more realistic approach to airplanes and flight, even as it kept some of the odder aspects of the original stories. The Eclipse series featured many characters that originally appeared in Air Fighters Comics as supporting characters. Most notably, it featured Valkyrie, the original airboy's memorable but rarely seen love interest, became part of the main cast.
The Moonstone revival returned to the World War II era and revamped most of the Air Fighters characters from scratch (while throwing Captain Midnight into the mix). The Moonstone version of Airboy appeared in comics and prose anthologies. At this point, it's hard to say how this version will compare to the preceding versions.
Air Fighters Comics/Airboy Comics:
- Absolute Cleavage - Valkyrie. This carried through to all her subsequent incarnations.
- Amazon Brigade - The Airmaidens.
- Awesome but Impractical - Skywolf's semi-planes were a neat-looking visual (one plane splitting into two independent halves), but the actual designs wouldn't work too well in real life (the Eclipse revival lampshades this repeatedly).
- But Not Too Foreign - the Bald Eagle was canonically half-Cherokee.
- Comic Book Time - surprisingly averted with Airboy. The character started out as a 10-year-old boy and aged visibly over time. By the time the comic was canceled in 1953, he was a young man in his early 20s. According to the artist who co-created him and drew most of his appearances, this was deliberate. Played straight with most other characters, though.
- Cool Plane - Airboy's Birdie, Skywolf's "Semi-Planes", Iron Ace's armored plane, Bald Eagle's Flying Coffin, Black Angel's tricked-out plane, the list goes on.
- Discontinuity - most fans prefer to pretend that the stories which featured Valkyrie as the Communist agent never happened (because it went against all her prior characterization and history with Airboy). The Eclipse revival established that the Communist Valkyrie was the original's doppelganger.
- Fair for Its Day - while the Japanese were usually depicted pretty the way you would expect them to be depicted in 1940s, the Japanese-Americans usually wound up looking less caricatured and were treated as full-fledged human beings rather than racial stereotypes. Heck, one Bald Eagle story actually featured a Japanese-American intelligence agent and his loyalty was never in doubt.
- Plucky Comic Relief - "Skinny" McGinty, a 1940s era walking hick stereotype with flying powers.
- Heel Face Turn - Valkyrie, a Nazi air ace, turned against her superior when he insisted on executing her teammates for helping Airboy escape (though, honestly, what did she expect).
- May-December Romance - When they first met, Airboy was 12 and Valkyrie was at least 18. The age difference became less noticeable in later stories thanks to real time aging.
- Spin-Off - the Heap appeared in Sky Wolf stories before moving on to his own feature.
- Sexy Discretion Shot - a rare Golden Age example. At the end of an Airboy story in Airboy Comics #6 (Volume 3) Airboy and Valkyrie head off to get some private time and warned their friend that they didn't want to be disturbed. Jeez, I wonder why.
Airboy 1980s Revival:
- Crossover - with the Prowler, Sgt Strike and Mr Monster (fellow Eclipse Comics characters).
- Crisis Crossover - in Total Eclipse, Eclipse Comics' only line-wide crossover, Zzed, a Golden Age Airboy Comics character, set out to destroy the universe in order to end his immortality, setting the events of the crossover into motion.
- Identical Son - David Nelson III looked pretty much identical to his father when he was young (to the point where even Valkyrie is fooled.
- Legacy Hero - Airboy, Black Angel, Lupina (to Skywolf)
- Reed Richards Is Useless - Nelson Aviation scientists devised a complex cybernetic shell to save Iron Ace's life (robotic limbs and metalic casing that contained his surviving organs. For some reason, they never thought the release the technology to the public, or utilize it for further research, like, at all.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism - varied. While the comic ran with much of the original series' weirdness, it also tried to bring realism into aviation, air combat and firearms. As the result, some of that weirdness was justified or explained away.
Moonstone Books Revival:
- Author Filibuster - In Airboy: 1942 – The Best of Enemies one-shot, Chuck Dixon goes out of his way to show that communists are bad. Very bad. So bad that they make Nazis look like honorable and reasonable by comparison.
- Ultimate Universe - most of the Airboy characters were revamped from the ground up.
- You Fail History Forever - Airboy: 1942 – The Best of Enemies one-shot sees our hero dealing with the Red Army in Poland. In 1942. Yeah.