Monday, July 24, 2017

Homegrown Hero

Tulsa might not exactly be Gotham City but that doesn't mean it can't have its own superhero.  And for awhile, it did...a homegrown hero for Oklahomans, by Oklahomans.  Say hello to the Twilight Avenger:

He was a tribute to old school pulp heroes and was a creation of Okie writer John Wooley and Okie artist Terry Tidwell and if you haven't heard of him it might be because his biggest enemy wasn't some mad scientist in a secret lab, it was the fickle nature of the comic book small press industry.

Our avenging hero began his crime busting career as a title published by "Elite Comics" in Midland, TX.  After two issues of dashing heroics, the publisher went out of business and our hero eventually ended up at Eternity Comics.  I was able to get my grubby mitts on (a not so mint copy of) the first issue of its short 1988 run.  And while I can't tell you too much about the character, I can confirm that the setting was 1930's Oklahoma:

It's not everyday you see the Oklahoma dust bowl as the backdrop for high adventure and super heroics but its a unique time and place that sets the Twilight Avenger apart from so many other mystery men.

The story follows our hero, college student Reece Chambers (the Twilight Avenger's secret identity), his comatose girlfriend's father and a plucky reporter as they track down some Oklahoma zombies...and these are the good old fashioned "voodoo zombies"...not so much the Walking Dead type zombies.

The creators were known for taking advantage of their hometown setting and throwing in Okie easter eggs whenever possible so I thought I'd see if I could find any in this issue.  For example, in this panel Professor Herth is reading a newspaper with a headline about a car crash on Highway 51:

Another one can be seen in the background of the lab of the evil, zombie-creating mad scientist.  If you can look past the chain smoking zombie pilot and the femme fatale wondering where her clothes went, you can see a Bank of Tulsa calendar on the wall.

This should not be interpreted as an endorsement of zombie-creating mad scientists by any particular bank in the greater Tulsa area.

And finally, we get another geography shout-out when Reece and Dr. Herth try to figure out the location of the zombie-making fiend and their plucky (and now disrobed) young friend:

While trying to triangulate their abducted friend's location, Dr. Herth speculates that she's on or near Peoria Avenue which we all know runs north and south in the great city of Tulsa:

You can also see in the Professor's map (and the map above) the Arkansas River which flows through Tulsa.  If his pencil compass is marking a search perimeter around Peoria Street then the placement of the river is off.  But, of course, we can forgive a little artistic license in a story where a masked vigilante is fighting zombies. 

The Twilight Avenger had to change publishers more than once but he did finally get a couple of trade paperback collections of old issues.  So now it's easy to get a hold of the adventures of an Oklahoma hero...and maybe spot some familiar locations.

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