The Superhero Legacy of Irwin Hasen
, World War Two veteran and a Golden Age comic book artist whose cover art is well-known to aficionados of 1940s comic books, passed away at the age of 96 in March, 2015.
His best know creations include the comic-strip character Dondi
, and the pugilistic Wildcat of DC Comics' Justice Society of America (JSA). According to comics historian Michael Uslan, Hasen was the last surviving member of DC's Golden Age/World War Two bullpen of artists, and, as such, his death brings to a close the last remnants of DC's Golden Age. (On the Timely/Marvel side, Stan Lee, a Golden Age writer, is still kicking and still taking more money from comic book nerds than a schoolyard bully at lunchtime...no, not original, but true, nonetheless).
Dondi was a popular comic strip about a young war orphan adopted by an America GI after the war. The Dondi strip ran from 1955 to 1986 in newspapers around the country. But, as this is a website dedicated to Superheroes, we will look at Irwin Hasen's lasting contribution to comic book and superhero art.
As mentioned, he was the creator of Wildcat, one of this reviewer's favorite Golden Age JSA characters. Hasen co-created Wildcat along with Bill Finger (who was an uncredited co-creator of Batman), and also was the cover artist on a slew of some of the best known DC Comics covers in the Golden Age of the 1940s.
Below, we take a nostalgic look at some of Irwin Hasen's best art, from Wildcat to Green Lantern, and the JSA.
All-Star Comics #36 (1947)
This issue of All-Star Comics, the title that served as the vehicle for DC's Justice Society of America, shows the members of the JSA, Dr. Midnight, Wonder Woman, Hawkman, Green Lantern, and the Flash all marching along with two special guest stars: Superman and Batman.
All-Star Comics #37
Here we see Hasen's cover of All-Star Comics #37, from 1947, showing the Injustice Society of the World, including one of DC's top villains, Vandal Savage, carving up a map of the U.S. while the JSA watches helplessly.
Green Lantern #29 by Irwin Hasen
Green Lantern cover art by Irwin Hasen. (Note this is the Golden Age Green Lantern, not one of the modern space-cop Green Lanterns).
Wildcat, by Irwin Hasen
Wildcat first appeared in Sensation Comics #1 in 1942, the same issue in which Wonder Woman and Mr. Terrific debuted (all in separate stories). Wildcat was in reality heavyweight boxer Ted Grant, who donned a cat costume and fought crime with his fists.
Irwin Hasen's legacy lives on, as Wildcat has, over the years, mentored Batman, Green Arrow, and the Black Canary. His son and granddaughter have also taken the name Wildcat to fight crime. Wildcat is still active (he ages differently as a result of a magical spell cast upon him), as a veteran member of the current JSA.