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The Avenger (II). The Avenger (II) was created by “Kenneth Robeson,” the pseudonym of Henry W. Ralston (Bill Barnes, Doc Savage), Lester Dent (Foster Fade, Curt Flagg, Gadget Man, Genius Jones, Lynn Lash, Lee Nace, Oscar Sail, Doc Savage, Ed Stone), Walter B. Gibson (Avenger (III), John Haverson, Norgil the Magician, Shadow), and Paul Ernst (Dick Bullitt, Doctor Satan, Anthony Lance, Seekay, Perry Westbrook), and appeared in The Avenger #1-24 (1939-1942) and six stories in Clues-Detective Stories and The Shadow from 1942 to 1944; the Avenger also appeared in a radio serial in 1941.
The Avenger (II) is a Superhuman. 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, from Mad Scientists who use deadly molds to thieves using a technologically-advanced automobile. 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. (The portrayal of the Newtons was surprisingly positive and was at odds with the racism of the pulps).
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