MADAM FATAL: Such a dear sweet little old granny lady. Surely her inclusion in the action packed pages of 1940’s Crack Comics #1 was some sort of mistake? After all, such a harmless looking old girl couldn’t be expected to do anything much more thrilling than crochet a sweater for a tow-headed, apple-cheeked grandchild or tackle any challenge tougher than the Sunday crossword puzzle right? Wrong!
That old lady was more than “she’ appeared to be. Madame Fatal was a MAN, man! Comics’ first cross-dressing superhero made his dubious debut disguised as that thing least likely to strike fear into the hearts of evildoers: an elderly matron with a Shakespeare-quoting pet parrot! In times of trouble, retired actor/female impersonator Richard Stanton would spring into action using his wits, physical strength, athletic skills, and a full complement of women's un undergarments to foil crime as the tranny tornado, MADAM FATAL:
His/Her origin story begins as a white-haired old woman comes to the aid of a neighbor who is being shaken down by a thug from the John Carver gang. Showing surprising strength, Madam Fatal sends the goons running, then returns home, reporting delightedly to her pet parrot that she's finally caught up with John Carver. The next day, she arranges a false traffic accident with Carver, when she confronts him with HIS true identity:
But then he never finds the daughter, and he decides to keep up the old lady disguise, even after he tips his hand to the crook that kidnapped her. He says something about his wife dying of heartbreak after the daughter was kidnapped, but embarrassment could have played a part, too.
Whatever the case, Richard Stanton seems to have one and only one solution to most problems:
As crime fighting methods go, dressing up like gradma is at the bottom of a very deep barrel, but Madam Fatal actually lasted for 22 whole issues of 64-page Crack Comics. It was not to last; astoundingly, kids didn’t line up to read about a crimebuster who looked like the old lady down the road with all the cats. Madame Fatal was purchased by DC comics in a bulk buy of all of Quality’s characters, but Grant Morrison hasn’t gotten around to introducing a modern version of this bizarre character yet. Madame Fatal did make a cameo in The Golden Age Elseworlds series, being courted by the Gambler and the Fiddler.