Thursday, August 25, 2016

Gone & Forgotten remembers GALE O'LEARY, WILL O'THE WISP!


Key Comics (Consolidated Magazines Inc, early 1944 through 1946) seemed obsessed with justifying its title. Not only did it boast the adventures of its eponymous hero, The Key, but also contained features titled Key Corn, Keylines, Tommy’s Time Key, its Musical Key Series of famous operas, and, if I’m not pushing my luck, EsKEY & Mo and Mascot MonKEYshines. 

One of Key’s heroes who defied that theme was Gale Leary/O'Leary, a.k.a. The Will O’ The Wisp, a woman who clutched a willow branch for justice! Few other characters in comics could ever be described as wielding “the avenging swish” of justice but, then again, none of them are Gale! ## Well here's a gruesome panel! Keeping in line with the traditionally grim origins of golden age comic book superheroes, Gale’s tale of tragedy begins in the cradle. Disgraced politico “Boss” Bob Evans and his underling Red Brandois break into the home of District Attorney Greg Leary in the middle of the night, intent on avenging themselves against the DA for his recent conviction of the corrupt public figure on fraud and money-laundering. Leary's wife Martha is murdered in the middle of hollering for help (what is it with comic books and their mothers named Martha?), but Greg is kept alive long enough to be tied between two chairs and to have Boss Evans put his considerable weight down upon the D.A.’s legs, shattering them into uselessness.

What about baby Gale, however? Well, Boss Evans isn’t all bad. Instead of hucking her out a window or engaging her in direct fisticuffs, he chooses to keep the kid from caterwauling into the night by breaking a branch off a nearby willow tree and leaving it for her to play with. This is a great idea – babies love branches!

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