13The Blonde Phantom
First appearance: All Select Comics #11
Back in the mid-1940s, superhero comics were starting to lose their popularity. That might be hard to believe, especially considering how popular superheroes have become over the last decade - but, following World War II, readers simply weren’t interested in traditional superhero stories anymore. As a result, comic book publishers started to look for a way to fix their dwindling sales numbers: many turned to new genres, such as the Western, but a few companies focused more on new demographics above all else.
After all, boys had always been the major target demographic for superhero comics - but young girls were, up until that point, a relatively untapped market.
The Blonde Phantom was one of Timely Comics’ major attempts at creating an ongoing comic book aimed squarely at younger female readers. First debuting on the pages of All Select Comics #11 back in 1946, the Blonde Phantom wore a black domino mask, a red evening gown and a .45-caliber pistol - and, while the stories may not seem all that progressive by today’s standards, the Blonde Phantom was still a big step forward in showing that female characters could lead their own series.
Surprisingly, the Blonde Phantom still pops up in Marvel’s stories from time to time: the character re-appeared as part of the Sensational She-Hulk throughout the ‘90s. Her crimefighting career may have come to a close, but that didn’t stop the Blonde Phantom from staying relevant more than forty years after her initial debut.