The Legion of American Watchers
"We'll finish what you started, No-Joe Tojo! And that's the truth!" (Captain Steadfast #13)
To the people of Atlantis she is Princess Naia, half-mortal daughter of the Oceanid Queen Metis and her long-lost human consort. To the surface-dwellers she is Water Woman, sensual and spritely as Aphrodite, fearless and feisty as Artemis... Water Woman, Mistress of the Seas. (Not "The Meaty Whipped Lash". I mean, "meaty"? WTF? Anyway...) When Princess Naia investigates a disturbance among her dolphin subjects, she discovers Ensign Hank Murray, the sole survivor of a German U-boat attack. And even though her people are sworn never to intercede in the affairs of surface-dwellers, she saves his life. Exiled from her beloved Atlantis as a punishment, what's a girl to do but... fight Nazis with her electric eel-hide whip!
"His strange skin... so... pink!" (Top-Notch Comics #8)
Polio-stricken cub reporter Gary Gordon may walk with a cane, but when he shouts the magic word three times in less than a second -- "Thunderbolt!Thunderbolt!Thunderbolt!" (try it, kids!) -- it activates the powers given him by a mysterious wizard masquerading as a doctor, and Gary transforms into the fastest man on the planet: the Human Blur, the Blue Streak... the Thunderbolt! Well, of course, that's the Golden Age origin. The Thunderbolt who heralded the Silver Age with his 1956 revival had his particles accelerated to the speed of light by blue omicron rays... but that's another story. Either way, he can run rings round the super-villain, save the planet, and get the copy in before the Globe's "star" reporter, Clark Parker has even finished his coffee. Often with some friendly banter aimed at fellow Legion member Flameboy along the way.
"Yeah? Well, light me up a Lucky, hotshot. I'll try not to snuff you with my slipstream." (Legion of American Watchers #18)
Attacked by bandits and left for dead in the Sahara Desert, millionaire playboy Franklin Wallace stumbles on the lost oasis of a mysterious green-robed Moor, Amir Al-Hazred. Bound for centuries by an evil sorcerer's curse, Al-Hazred plays on Wallace's greed and gratitude to trick him into a death-match... where the true conflict is in Wallace's heart. ("Am I only fighting to win this 'great treasure' he guards? Or to give a poor madman the release he prays for... in death? I... I don't know!") Only as Al-Hazred dies in Wallace's arms does he reveal the truth, that Wallace was led there to take his life... and his sacred duty as the Archon of the Earth's "Champion of All Life." For only a man on the cusp of redemption, a man whose past is vice and his future virtue, can take up the Kamir Husam -- the Green Blade, a sword (later proteanite power-blade) that can cut through anything, even space and time itself.
"When lesser man and greater man / Together with a single hand / Strike out for freedom on command / Then vice will fall and virtue stand!" (True American Comics #16)
Professor Miles Quant is on the verge of replicating the primal state of matter in his physics lab, when he discovers one of his colleagues is a Nazi spy sent to steal the secret for the Germans. Knocked out and left in an overloading photon chamber, exposed to an "uncertainty field" beyond all measure, his atoms are thrown into pure flux. (It's only later, during AC's "Catastrophe For Two Worlds" event, in an attempt to simplify the morass of rationales for superpowers, that the Prof's "primalised matter" is revealed to be none other than the proteanite toxic to Overman, but in an omicron-irradiated form harmless to the Man of the Future.) Able to transform himself into any element, to shrink or grow at will, even to teleport by swapping places with something of equal mass, he is no longer Quant, M., Phd., but is now The Quantum, Master of Matter!
"Turn lead into gold? No, Dr Von Strann... Into the very stuff both elements are made of!" (True-American Comics #3)
Caught in the blast of a meteorite, its exotic alien minerals vaporised on impact, permeating every cell in his body, Jake Walker wakes up in the crater, apparently unharmed but for a weird golden glow to his skin, fading even as his head clears. With his thrill-seeking nature though, it's not long before a practice run in an abandoned Speedway track reveals the truth... that when excitement sparks in his heart, that spark ignites his very molecules, transforming him into Flameboy -- Flameboy, the Comet Kid, shooting fireballs from his fingers, blasting through the sky like a human rocket. Fighting villains for the fun of it, ribbing the other Legion members, (which often ended with him doused by an irate Water Woman or blown out by the Thunderbolt,) Flameboy's rogueish charm made him an instant hit with fans. While the friendly banter between "the Blunderdolt" and "Ginger, the Dancing Zippo" (a reference to Ginger Rogers as much as Flameboy's red hair,) was notably condemned by Dr Werther Fredericks in The Corruption of the Young (1954) as "blatant homoerotic flirtation, rife with sexual innuendo," this pairing has remained one of the most popular double-acts in comics, with the limited series "Flameboy and Thunderbolt: Red Shift, Blue Shift" one of AC's all-time bestsellers.
"You're light on your feet for a hoofer, Twinkletoes. But me? I'm just plain smokin'!" (Legion of American Watchers #18)
A villain wakes from a nightmare, heart pounding, hands grasping the bedsheets in panic. What was that noise? A whisper? An echo? A moan of the soul, a groan of terror in a guilty heart? And in the dark, a shadowy shape slips away, for the Secret's work is done. Dream on, you wrongdoers who think that you are safe! Imagine that no one knows your foul deeds! But there is one who walks among the sleeping, one who can damn you with a single word whispered softly in your ear. His origin unknown, none can say from whence his powers came, whether the terrible torments he brings to the wicked are magic, mechanics or mesmerism. But of this you can be sure: you can cover up your crimes, hush up and hide your sins in silence... but the Secret will haunt you to the grave!
"An iron cage? Hah! There are some secrets that cannot be kept, my friend. Whatever you do, they will... slip out." (Awesome Comics, #40)