Regrettable superheroes: Captain Truth dressed like a shirtless musketeer to wage war on poverty.

The Half-Naked Superhero Who Waged War on Poverty

The Half-Naked Superhero Who Waged War on Poverty

Brow Beat has moved! You can find new stories here.
Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog
July 14 2015 8:32 AM

The Half-Naked Superhero Who Waged War on Poverty

screen_shot_20150713_at_1.49.58_pm

All week, we’ll be presenting our favorite half-baked superheroes from comic book history, excerpted from The League of Regrettable Superheroes by Jon Morris. Out now from Quirk Books.

CAPTAIN TRUTH

Advertisement

Created by: Bob Fujitani

Debuted in: Gold Medal Comics No. 1 (Cambridge House, 1945)

Possible additional superpowers: Super-millinery, couch surfing

© 1945 by Cambridge House

Advertisement

As superhero costumes go, most of Captain Truth’s outfit probably wouldn’t raise an eyebrow. If anything, it’s understated. Bare chested and bare limbed, the young captain was practically dressed down for crime-fighting in his combination of shorts, boots, gloves, and long flowing cape. An outfit like that is the superheroic equivalent of sweat pants and a ratty T-shirt. What really puts the ensemble over the top: his enormous musketeer hat, complete with oversized feather!

The origin of Captain Truth’s flamboyant costume—and whether it had anything to do with his tremendous strength or ability to fly—remains untold; indeed, not much background was given during the character’s sole appearance. What we do know is that Captain Truth, a.k.a. “The Power Boy,” is in fact Ken Elliot, and like many superheroes he’s an orphan. But where other orphaned superheroes get adopted by kindly strangers, or at least have a family fortune to fall back on, Ken lives in poverty without parents or guardians. After being evicted from his tenement, he finds himself homeless.

screen_shot_20150713_at_12.48.36_pm

Although our glimpse into Captain Truth’s civilian life is brief, it’s unusual because it’s so close to the dirty streets. Most other superheroes of the day were adventuring on fantastic planets or leaping from rooftops. Ken Elliot’s world was full of poverty, hungry families, broken-hearted children, and ramshackle homes. In fact, Captain Truth’s real power may reside in his social conscience. Over the course of his story, he cheers for the razing of his decrepit home so that it can be replaced by safer, cleaner low-rent housing. Later, he fulfills a young friend’s wish that his father—caught up in crime because he’s desperate to feed his family—would abandon his criminal career. (Also, he rescues a tungsten shipment vital to America’s war effort, just so we know Captain Truth can multitask).

Along the way, Captain Truth finds time to whip up a stirring audiovisual presentation showing how the war effort depends on everyone pulling together—even ex-crooks! Unfortunately, although Captain Truth always kept up his optimism, he couldn’t keep up his popularity. The closest he experienced to a second appearance was a reprint of his singular adventure seventeen years after his debut.

Excerpted from The League of Regrettable Superheroes by Jon Morris. Reprinted with permissions from Quirk Books.