Looking back at Canada’s First Age of Comics, the WECA period (1941-6), we find that it never produced a team of superheroes like the JSA/JLA, The Avengers, The Mighty Crusaders, or Alpha Flight. Among the three “big” publishers we find that for two of them, Maple Leaf out of Vancouver and Toronto’s Anglo-American, their heroes just weren’t really super enough. Sure Maple Leaf had the Flash Gordon type Brok Windsor and Cosmo and his White Magic, but they didn’t have any extraordinary abilities. Anglo-American had loads of feature characters (Freelance, Commander Steele, Terry Kane, Dr. Destine, Red Rover, etc) but none of them really stood out as a “super” hero.
The only company that could have put together a super squad of heroes after the fashion of The Avengers or JLA was Bell (the closest they came was probably the crossover of Nitro into The Wing strip in Joke Comics 17). With Bell, you had quite a few truly “super” characters to choose from. Here’s my logic for a Canadian WECA super team and I welcome your ideas and counter selections.
First we need a human in costume who’s comparably a weak link in the “super-ness” of the team, but who can provide leadership and work on its cohesiveness a la Captain America or Batman. With this criterion in mind we can choose from Super Commando, The Dreamer, The Whistler, Night Hawk, The Penguin, Nitro, Speed Savage, and Mr. Monster. All of these are essentially human beings in costume and in the previous sentence I’ve listed them in order of my preference from least to most preferred. However, the shoo-in has to be Leo Bachle’s Johnny Canuck who’s purely Canadian in name and character. Who else on this list has punched Hitler in the mouth?
Next we need a female foil and perhaps love interest. Here we find the enigmatic Polka Dot Pirate and the beautiful Wing who both have the power of flight, some extra strength, and are skillful fighters. But, again, by default, we are compelled to select the semi-divine Nelvana who stands as one of the icons of Canadian comics from this era. Nelvana could travel on the rays of the Aurora Borealis, make herself invisible, make use of her divine father Koliak’s ray, and was a shape shifter.
Now we’ve got to choose a couple of heavy guns. Here it’s easy to toss out The Invisible Commando because he all he possessed was a formula that he drank to render himself invisible and also Kerry Dane who was a later hero with telepathic powers, flight, and extra strength. Both of these appeared in Commando Comics. The three that we are left with can probably complete our team. First there is Thunderfist whose costume and gadgets (his wrist bands give him a super punch, his belt superstregth, and feet plates provide super speed and flight) give him super strength and the ability to travel on electrical currents. Also from Dime Comics is The Brain who, through the influence of his war hero father’s spirit, has flight, super strength and the ability to psychically visualize distant events. Lastly, there is Captain Wonder who, through a “Shazam” style lightning bolt from three conjured up gods in Triumph Comics 7, is endowed with “… the strength of a hundered men, great wisdom and speed, the power t fly like a bird and swim like a fish.”
So here’s the team: Johnny Canuck, Nelvana, Thunderfist, The Brain, and Captain Wonder—five points of a maple leaf, a Team Canada from the forties. They would need a name. Off the top of my head, I can think of The Canadian Shield or North Force, but anybody else got any ideas?