Madame Fatal (sometimes spelled "Madam Fatal") is a fictional comic book crimefighter in Quality Comics stories during the Golden Age of Comic Books. The character is notable as the first cross-dressing comics hero. (The original Red Tornado, later that year would become the first cross-dressing heroine.)
"She" was actually Richard Stanton, a retired actor in New York City who disguised himself as an old lady and used nothing but his wits, natural athleticism, and acting skills to fight crime. Madame Fatal was created by artist/writer Art Pinajian in Crack Comics #1 (May, 1940), an anthology series published by Quality Comics, and appeared as a feature in that title through #22.
Stanton first adopted the identity of "Madame Fatal" to rescue his daughter from kidnappers, and then was inspired by his success to regularly fight crime. His disguise gave him an edge in physical combat, as his foes would underestimate his strength and speed. Madame Fatal was also aided on occasion by his intelligent pet parrot, Hamlet. As Stanton was a former stage actor who lived alone, many modern readers believe that the cross-dressing character was actually a thinly-disguised homosexual, though this was never expressly acknowledged in Crack Comics, nor are Pinajian's intentions known.
DC Comics acquired the rights to the former Quality characters in 1956, but has yet to make use of Madame Fatal beyond a mere mention that made light of the character's transvestite M.O. In a scene in Justice Society of America #1 (August, 1999) that depicted the funeral of the first Sandman, Wildcat wonders whether his own funeral will "be like the time they buried Madame Fatal here, and no one turned up for the funeral but the touring cast of La Cage aux Folles?"
Outside of regular DC Universe continuity, James Robinson and Paul Smith featured Madam Fatal in a cameo in 1993's The Golden Age. In The Golden Age #4, Madam Fatal appears in a panel surrounded by the Fiddler, and the Gambler, who all appear to be courting the cross-dressing hero while other heroes (including Wildfire, Harlequin, and the Psycho-Pirate) stand around giggling (apparently knowing Madam Fatal's true gender).
- Crack Comics #22 - Madam Fatal reprint story
- Gay League Profile
- Madam Fatal Profile
- Toonopedia article on Madam Fatal
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