Frontispiece art:
Eric Roman, pencils & inks
John Kovach, coloring

The first of Comics’ costumed, non-powered heroes, the Arrow debuted in Funny Pages, Vol. 2 #10, September, 1938, and ran till Vol. 4 #9, Oct., 1940. His adventures were reprinted in Amazing Adventure Funnies #1, June 1940, Fantoman #2, Aug., 1940, and in The Arrow #1-3, Oct, 1940 - Oct. 1941. He was the longest running character of those exclusively published by Centaur.

He first appeared in a loose fitting blue uniform that quickly became the red skintight costume that he is usually identified with. At first, he fought the traditional mob-style gangsters associated with the genre, but soon found himself fighting a mad scientist, a woman mob leader, and eventually fifth columnists trying to bring the US into the war in Europe.

Though initially portrayed as non-powered, the Arrow was shown displaying greater and greater feats of strength, and in the July 1939 issue was shown tearing the door off a safe. He was also said by that time to be 7’ tall.

The Arrow

His usual mode of operation was to use arrows and a long bow. Though he generally did not kill, he did keep a special black shaft reserved for those deserving death that the courts could not convict.

Initially, his face was never shown, but with time, a dim, ill-defined face became visible beneath the hood.

The artistic creation of Paul Gustavson, who was later to create the Fantom of the Fair, the Arrow’s secret ID was never seen in the early adventures. Though one supporting character claimed to know the Arrow’s ID, and one text portrayed him as a rich man with a clock, no firm clues to the Arrow’s identity were given. One of the Arrow’s support staff commented that he’d worked for the man for 15 years.

Eventually, the Arrow was recruited by Military Intelligence, and began doing missions for the government. This series of stories resulted in the publication in the 1st issue of his own magazine of a tale revealing his identity. The story claimed that he was Ralph Payne, a government agent who had adopted the Arrow identity. This story showed the Arrow in a slightly different outfit than that in the earliest adventures, with a more standard cowl and boots. His personality and speech were also markedly different than his earlier appearances, so it is easy to believe that the early and later versions of the Arrow were not the same man.

HISTORICAL NOTE: The Arrow predates the better-known Green Arrow’s debut in comics by 3 years. His creation was apparently inspired by Errol Flynn’s Robin Hood, released in June of 1938. Gustavson also went on to create another bow wielding avenger for Quality Comics: Alias the Spider.

Though the original Arrow was never revived, he inspired the creation of a character of the same name for Malibu’s Protectors series.

MORE ARROW: available on Microfiche & CD-Rom See Arrow Cover Gallery Learn more about Eye-n-Apple’s Arrow: The Man Behind the Mask COMING SOON: A new E-serial featuring the Arrow!

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Update: Mar 22, 2002 8:21p GMT
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