World Comic Book Review

A Deep Six’d Publication

24th September 2022

Happy 80th Birthday, Liberty Belle

Creators: Don Cameron and Chuck Winter

DC Comics, Winter 1942

Liberty Belle debuted in Boy Commandos #1 in the middle of World War 2, when superhero comics were at the height of popularity. Liberty Belle was the alter ego of famous radio columnist Libby Lawrence, whose initial disguise was merely to part her hair in a different way. 

As Wikipedia notes, after her second appearance in Boy Commandos #2 (Spring 1943), Liberty Belle was featured in Star Spangled Comics #20 (May 1943) through to Star Spangled Comics #68 (May 1947). By then, as soldiers returned home, the market for superhero comics had dried up. Like so many other DC Comics superhero characters from the era, Liberty Belle was was largely forgotten about for decades.

It was not until comics writer and later period historian Roy Thomas blew the dust off his archived issues and revived the character for his title, All-Star Squadron (1981-1987) that the character came into genuine prominence. Liberty Belle would lead the likes of Batman, Superman, the membership of the Justice Society of America, and many other superheroes during the grimmest days of the war. Chauvinistically even for 1940s, Wonder Woman was merely the secretary of the Justice Society of America: Liberty Belle as at 1981 was the chairwomen of the much larger All-Star Squadron, and was depicted as having the ear of wartime president Franklin D. Roosevelt.

In his magazine Alter Ego https://twomorrows.com/alterego/articles/08a-ss.html, Mr Thomas notes:

I wanted (and probably needed) at least one female member, especially if Wonder Woman were to be de-emphasized. Only thing is, DC didn’t have a late-1941 super-heroine to replace her! (At this time Dinah Drake, the future Black Canary, would have been maybe 14-15-though I always considered bringing her in later as a teenager, with some bird-related name like Hummingbird, and somehow just never got around to it in nearly seventy issues.)

However, from my comics-reading youth post-1945, I was aware of one gold-tressed lass who, with only the barest bit of chronological fudging, would definitely fill the bill:

Liberty Belle!

This colorful heroine in jodhpurs had debuted in Boy Commandos #1 (Winter 1943), on sale in autumn of 1942. That’s nearly a year after the time period in which All-Star Squadron would be set, but I had a way around it:

In May of 1940, according to her origin story, Libby Lawrence, an Olympic-level athlete, had swum the English Channel to escape the Nazi encirclement of British and French forces at Dunkirk, France. She had quickly become a female Edward R. Murrow, one of the best-known voices on the radio as well as a newspaper columnist. So it wouldn’t be hard to postulate that her first appearance as Liberty Belle had occurred shortly before December 7, 1941, instead of months later.

(Actually, what might be more difficult would be making readers believe she could get by without a mask. All that ever protected the true identity of this doubly famous lady was a Veronica Lake-style peekaboo hairdo-and the apparent near-sightedness of the entire US population.)

Okay, so Liberty Belle would take care of the obligatory distaff member.

**

The character has been used in an ancillary way several times since the conclusion of All-Star Squadron, as noted in the character’s Wikipedia entry.

What of Liberty Belle’s powers? As a poster noted on the CBR.com message boards back in 2018 https://community.cbr.com/showthread.php?110939-Golden-Age-Liberty-Belle-Appreciation-Thread , “The ultimate erotic metaphor as far as powers in superhero comic books go: literally a women who gets all excited when her little bell gets tinkled.”

Perhaps the character’s creators, Don Cameron and Chuck Winter, were sharing a grubby joke with the teenaged GIs hitching lifts on the backs of tanks in France in 1942, reading Boy Commandos. Even the cracked bell has a lewd interpretation.

As Sigmund Freud once said, sometimes a cigar is merely a cigar. In this instance, perhaps a bell is merely a bell. Still.

Happy 80th Birthday, Liberty Belle.