The Comet was a superhero who first appeared in Pep Comics #1 in January, 1940. Possibly the first superhero killed in the line of duty, he died in issue #17 (July, 1941), which also introduced his brother, a brutal hero called the Hangman who would use the projected image of a scaffold and descriptions of hanging to frighten crooks. A number of his foes ended up hanged by pieces of rope which had coiled around their necks while they were falling.
In Pep #1, in a story drawn by Jack Cole, young scientist John Dickering has discovered a gas fifty times lighter than hydrogen. By injecting small doses of it into his bloodstream, he is able to make great leaps through the air. After a number of injections, twin beams come from Dickering's eyes and when he crosses the beams, whatever he is looking at disintegrates. He makes a glass shield (visor) as that is the only thing his beams will not disintegrate, a weakness often used against him from the first story onwards. In the second story, tied up and unable to raise his visor to save himself, he smashes it against a rock, breaking the glass. Realising that such a discovery could wreck humanity, Dickering destroys the formula for the gas and uses his powers to benefit humanity.
Despite the first page blurb, in the first story, Dickering flies rather than floats/jumps (there was no explanation about his propulsion method but if he disintegrated the air in front of him, the vacuum caused might pull along someone almost without weight.) In the first story alone, he callously disintegrates 3 gangsters and drops one to certain death. He kills more in Pep #2. At the start of issue 3, we find that the police know he is Dickering but want him on the force rather than trying to stop his vigilantism. In that story, he comes under the hypnotic control of Doc Zadar and causes widespread destruction while Zadar robs places and is then considered an outlaw. The Comet helps a young reporter named Thelma Gordon and in her newspaper she reports all the good things that The Comet does to get him back in the public's good graces. In Pep #7, the gas wears off so Dickering loses his powers and he discovers he can modify his gas intake, rendering him human when he wants, so he can appear in public without fear of destroying people with his disintegration vision.
A key member of the Mighty Crusaders, The Comet - John Dickering - was given powers (including flight) thanks to "an experimental substance," and "soon decides to use his newfound powers in the fight for justice."
Despite his death in 1941, Archie used the character again (possibly to renew copyright and ownership of the character) twenty-five years later. His origin was repeated in The Mighty Crusaders #2 (1966), as well as in the later Red Circle Comics-published truncated mini-series The Comet (October-December, 1983).
DC Comics licensed the Comet and other members of the Mighty Crusaders, calling them simply the Crusaders, for its Impact Comics line. The Comet series from DC lasted for eighteen issues from July 1991 to December 1992, plus The Comet Annual #1. The eight-issue series The Crusaders ended the same month. Following the conclusion of both series, a six issue mini-series titled Crucible followed, featuring a redesigned Comet living in the ruins of his home city which he had destroyed. Crucible was originally intended to have been the start of a reboot of the Impact Comics line. This second phase would have included a new Comet title (The Wrath of the Comet), but this never came to publication.
A new version of the Comet is set to appear in the Inferno back-up story in the Shield #5, sporting a new design courtesy of artist Duncan Rouleau. This new version of the character has also appeared in the 2010 minis series The Mighty Crusaders.
- Ask the Archivist - "Didn't you guys used to publish superhero characters?". Retrieved July 1, 2008.
- "DC Universe: The Source » Blog Archive » Editor Rachel Gluckstern on the next wave of Red Circle characters". Dcu.blog.dccomics.com. 2009-12-18. http://dcu.blog.dccomics.com/2009/12/18/editor-rachel-gluckstern-on-the-next-wave-of-red-circle-characters/. Retrieved 2010-12-27.
- Comet's page at International Superheroes
- Impact's Comet page at International Superheroes
- Comet's page at Mighty Crusaders
- Comet's page at Toonopedia