Avenger. Richard Benson is a world-traveling millionaire adventurer who decides to retire from exploration to be with his wife and daughter. But Benson is a bully, and he pushes his way on to a plane which turns out to be manned by a gang of kidnapers. While Benson is in a washroom his family is murdered, and he is then knocked out by the criminals. When he awakens he is gripped by “brain fever” for three weeks, and when he finally recovers his sanity his hair has turned completely white and his face has become white and expressionless, like a “wax mask.” Moreover, the muscles on his face are paralyzed, so that when they are moved by Benson’s fingers, the muscles stay in their new position, giving him the ability to assume any other person’s features. Now grim and emotionally frozen, Benson swears vengeance on the criminals who killed his family. When that is achieved, he widens his quest to include all those who have harmed others, and he carries out a never-ending war on crime and criminals. Benson uses his facial paralysis to rearrange the muscles in his face so that he can take on the appearance of other men. Benson also uses a variety of special gadgets, from gas bombs to “Mike,” his special .22 pistol, against criminals. Benson is assisted in his war by Fergus “Mac” MacMurdie, a brilliant Scottish chemist; Algernon Heathcote “Smitty” Smith, a huge electronics genius; Nellie Grey, a beautiful woman who is an expert at the martial arts; Cole Wilson, a lighthearted mechanical engineer who initially opposed the Avenger; and Josh and Rosabel Newton, an African-American couple who work undercover for the Avenger. He appears in stories with titles like “The Yellow Hoard,” “House of Death,” and “The Smiling Dog.”

First Appearance: Shadow Comics #2 (Street and Smith), 1940. 7 appearances, 1940-1944. Created by Ray Harford. Note: This is the comic book version of the Paul Ernst pulp character.

 


 

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