Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Jane Martin Flies Under The Radar

Of the various women featured in the Fiction House line of comics, two held the record for sheer endurance. The most obvious one was Sheena, Queen Of The Jungle, whose prominence in Jumbo Comics merited star treatment practically ever issue.. and eventually landed her in a book of her own. And a television series.

The other less prominent heroine lasted for well over 100 issues of Wing Comics... with nothing more than a passing mention in a caption on the front cover for publicity. Her name was Jane Martin and she managed quite nicely without the benefit of an animal skin wardrobe.

The secret to Jane's longevity was her flexible career path. During her 100-plus issue run, she switched jobs four separate times.

She started her working life as a war relief nurse in Wings number 1 (September 1940), ostensibly for the International Red Cross. Her non-combatant status in the early days of World War 2 was open to question, however, as her activities in the field favored the Allies over the Germans.

When America officially entered the war, she wasted no time shifting over to the position of U.S. Army Nurse, becoming a certified pilot in the bargain. Given the action-oriented venue of Wings, the stories of this particular nurse veered toward Nazi-bashing instead of health maintenance. Regardless of what the enemy was scheming, Jane found herself in the wrong place at the right time to thwart it.

After so many unintentional run-ins with Axis conspirators, Jane bowed to the inevitable by hanging up her nurse's uniform and jumping abruptly into Allied espionage work.

Following the war's end, Jane found employment as a sales representative for an aircraft company. Not an easy job, but she was never reduced to selling planes door-to-door. The work provided her with a string of opportunities for tangling with the criminal element before the entire premise began to wear thin.

The following story, from Wings number 103 (March 1949), occurs after Jane's last career switch. She finally settled for the all-too typical vocation of working women in comics at the time: plucky news reporter. True to the Wings motif, she maintained her status as pilot, frequent flier, and trouble-chaser.

For those who need additional incentives to read this vintage piece: it was rendered by the legendary E.C. artist George Evans and featured something that was a nascent technology in those days: television.

Want more? How about a dastardly enemy spy whose face reminds me of Spiro T. Agnew?

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