Wonder Woman Wednesday: Was the First Superhero Actually a Woman?

Hello, readers! Welcome to another exciting episode of Wonder Woman Wednesday and Happy Women’s History Month. The sisters are doing it for themselves! I trust everyone bought Justice League on Blu-ray, so they can fast forward to all of the Wonder Woman scenes without having to sit through the rest of that white-hot mess? Good.

Anyway, in honor of Women’s History Month, I give you a shocking bombshell. I hate when something I so staunchly believed in turns out to be a lie (unless it’s a really juicy Real Housewives-level lie).

They say history is written by the victors, and I think this is a case of that. Speaking of history, I’ve been doing a lot of research on the history of comics and the industry itself. As much greatness as there is, I’m shocked about some of the things I’ve learned about the industry’s shady underbelly. It's sort of like living in Los Angeles and experiencing or hearing bad stories about a celebrity you like. Or like finding out . . .

Spoilers.

. . . there is no spoon.

I believed (and most people agree with the “fact”) that Superman was the first superhero, debuting in Action Comics in 1938; however, ten months prior to that, Olga Mesmer, The Girl with the X-Ray Eyes, made her debut in Spicy Mystery Stories in 1937. Granted, it was a sci-fi pulp comic, but she had all of the earmarks of a traditional comic book hero: a killer origin, superpowers, crime fighting, and a bad@$$ code name.

Okay... so Olga Mesmer isn’t a dope name; it’s her real name. And, it sounds more like a Drag Queen moniker than a caped crusader, but what’s in a name (someone once said).

Olga’s mad scientist father experimented on her mother, and she was born with superpowers like her titular X-ray vision and super strength. If this doesn’t qualify her as a superhero, I don’t know what would. By Marvel Comics standards, being born with abilities of parents with abilities would make her a mutant. Although, her mother was from Venus, so she could just be an alien hybrid... where’s Giorgio Tsoukalos when you need him?

I almost forgot her costume. She has none. Literally. She fights crime in her street clothes until they become partially ripped off during battle. I think it’s safe to say this wasn’t written by Gloria Steinem.

Come on, now - you wouldn’t expect the first female superhero not to be sexualized by men, now would you? 

Sadly, the writer of Olga Mesmer, The Girl with the X-Ray Eyes is unknown, and the art is credited to Watt Dell Which may have been a pseudonym. Maybe one day, the mystery will be solved. It’s hard to imagine such an important event in comic book history has been buried so deep that I just stumbled upon it myself. It’s just casually mentioned in most articles. How is this not commonly known in the comic book community?

Well, it’s not time to repeat history. It’s time to retell it the right way. Give the lady her due! Spread the word. Superman isn’t the first superhero after all; it is a scantily clad, half Venusian crime fighter with X-ray vision and underwire support. Granted, her debut only preceded Supes by 10 months, but that’s more than enough time to have a 13 lb. baby.

I think I just hallucinated. I think it’s great that the first superhero may have been a woman, but I’m sad to know that would mean it’s not Wonder Woman, because she’ll always be number one in my eyes. But, I imagine Diana would welcome Olga Mesmer with open arms (after making her put on a blouse, of course).

Follow me on Instagram (@MichaelFitzTroy).

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