Madame Fatal (sometimes referred to as Madam Fatal) is a comic book transvestite vigilante from The Golden Age of Comic Books in the 1940’s. Madame Fatal was created and originally illustrated by artist/writer Arthur Pinajian and the debut of the character was in the Crack Comic #1 (May 1940), a crime/detective anthology series published by Quality Comics. Madame Fatal continued as a feature in that title but when the character was not well received, Madame Fatal made a last appearance in #22 (March 1942). A crime-fighting little old lady had limited appeal to the young male readership.
Madame Fatal is notable for being a male superhero who disguised himself as an octogenarian woman and as such is the first cross-dressing hero. The introduction later that same year of the more comical Abegail ‘Ma’ Hunkle, the original Red Tornado, would become more popular.
Madame Fatal was actually Richard Stanton, a handsome, pipe-smoking, dapper, middle-aged Caucasian man at the peak of his physical abilities. Stanton was a world-famous stage, theatre, radio and film actor living in Manhatten, until his wealthy and prominent celebrity status brought unwanted attention from criminals. Stanton's daughter was kidnapped by them and the police were unable to uncover their identities, but Stanton was, on his wits and superior investigative skills.
Stanton decided to take matters into his own hands after he deduced that the leader of the gang was John Carver, a crime kingpin who had been running extortion rackets in various cities. Stanton was able to infiltrate the John Carver gang due to his convincing acting and stage disguise as an old, helpless, red-cloaked woman with a walking stick which doubled as a sly quarterstaff. Once inside Carver’s lair Stanton then used his natural athleticism and physical abilities to wipe out the unsuspecting gang, and revealed his true identity to Carver. In his dying breaths, the crime kingpin told Stanton his daughter was still alive but held captive by another villain. Carver died without identifying the other criminal.
Stanton decided to retire from acting and continue down the path of a crime-fighter and bring other villains to justice. Inspired by his first success, he adopted the alter-ego Madame Fatal. Stanton would use the alternate identity to attempt to locate his captive daughter, whom Carver had passed on to other villains. When the character rights were sold to DC Comics and DC decided not to continue the character, this plot point was not resolved contemporaneously, and it was not revealed which villain was actually holding Stanton's daughter until Shade #4 in 2012.
The character later appeared in some publications by DC Comics when DC Comics bought the rights to the character in 1956, along with a bulk buy of all Quality Comic's characters, although Madame Fatal not been seen much since except a few brief appearances and passing mentions by other comic book characters.
- Badass Normal
- Becoming the Mask
- Crossdresser/Wholesome Crossdresser
- Harmless Lady Disguise
- Little Old Lady Investigates: Subverted, in that the little old lady was actually a man in vigorous middle age.
- Never Mess with Granny: invoked.
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