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Duke. Duke was created by “J. Figueroa Fields,” a pseudonym of the Spanish author José Mallorquí (Coyote, Sherman Ryles, Three Good Men), and appeared in Duke #1-10 (1943-1946).

Duke Straley is an American millionaire who lives in New York. Assisted by his sister Elizabeth Straley and his friends Bob Dennison, Max Mehl, and his girlfriend Susana Cortiz, Straley wages war on criminals, Axis spies, Mad Scientists, Yellow Perils, and other wicked individuals. Straley is an expert in a variety of sciences, is deadly in combat, and has a range of high-tech gadgets, including his car, which is capable of reaching 120 mph, is full of weapons and is a precursor to the super-autos of James Bond. In his final appearance Straley marries the redheaded Cortiz and retires from crime-fighting.

Straley appears in stories with titles like “The Dragons of Confucius,” “Liquid Air,” and “The Sentence of Dr. Death.”

* I've included Duke in the Best of the Encyclopedia category because he was an archetype and icon. Not in the US or Europe, of course, where such characters weren't unheard of. But in Spain Duke set the mold and then broke it for James Bondian adventurers and gadget-wielding warriors against evil. Jose Mallorqui was influential on other writers and in a certain respect limited their imaginations so that they generally didn't go beyond what Mallorqui had envisioned and written, and Duke-like characters appeared but didn't surpass the original. 

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