Captain Triumph is a fictional superhero from the Golden Age of Comics who first appeared in Crack Comics #27, published in January 1943 by Quality Comics. The character was later obtained by DC Comics, though by that time he had already lapsed into public domain. Some of his Golden Age adventures were reprinted by AC Comics on the pages of the Men of Mystery anthology. He is not to be confused with another DC Comics property, Triumph.
In 1919 twin brothers Michael and Lance Gallant were born in New York City. They were so alike, even to a T-shaped birthmark on their left wrists, that even their mother could not distinguish between them. The two remained close, even for twins, as they grew up.
When America was drawn into the Second World War, Michael enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps, becoming a pilot. However, on his his 23rd birthday, as he brought his plane in to land, the hangar he was entering blew up. His fiancée, Kim Meredith, and his brother Lance witnessed this act of sabotage, and the latter raced into the burning structure, managing to retrieve his badly injured sibling, only for Michael to die in his arms.
Lance swore vengeance on the murderers and those like them. Unknown to him, the Fates, creatures of myth, were watching all this and decided to create a champion. Soon afterwards Lance received a shocking visitation from Michael's ghost, who revealed that they remained linked together, and that if Lance was to touch his birthmark, they would merge, gaining superpowers as a result. Touching the mark a second time would separate them again. Calling himself Captain Triumph, Lance became a crimefighter.
Captain Triumph had a minimal costume which consisted of ordinary white (later light blue) jodhpurs, a plain red tunic, brown riding boots, and no mask. By the time Cap appeared in 1943, the tide of superhero comic book characters was receding somewhat. Captain Triumph's costume was just enough to get across the idea he was a superhero, but since the genre was fading didn't emphasize the fact.
Cap's writer is unknown, but as the series opened, the artist was Alfred Andriola, former assistant to Milton Caniff on Terry and the Pirates. Andriola had also drawn a newspaper comic based on author Earl Derr Biggers's famous character, Charlie Chan. He stayed with Captain Triumph a mere five months, leaving to create the character he's best remembered for, Kerry Drake. He was followed by a succession of other talents, none of which especially stood out.
Crack Comics had started out monthly, like most 1940s anthology titles, but dropped down to bi-monthly shortly after World War II began, due to wartime paper shortages. It switched to quarterly about a year after Captain Triumph joined the lineup. When the war was over, most surviving anthologies ramped back up to monthly, but Crack Comics only ever got back to bi-monthly (coming out in odd-numbered months). But it did outlast most of the others, succumbing with its 62nd issue, dated September 1949.
By the mid-1950s, with television and paperback books drawing readers away from comic books in general and superheroes in particular, interest in Quality's characters had declined considerably. After a foray into other genres such as war, humor, romance and horror, the company ceased operations with comics cover dated December 1956. Many of its properties were sold to National Periodical Publications (now DC Comics) which chose to keep only a few titles running, such as Blackhawk and G.I. Combat. Though it owned the rights to Captain Triumph, DC would not use the character for several more decades.
Captain Triumph was retconned as a member of the All-Star Squadron, the World War II group of mystery men brought together by Franklin Roosevelt. He appeared on the cover of the first issue, as one of a group of photos spread over a table, along with the tag line "Who Will Be the Heroes of the....All-Star Squadron", although he did not actually appear within the issue. Writer Roy Thomas indicates he always intended to use Captain Triumph in All-Star Squadron but never got around to it before the title was cancelled.
Captain Triumph appeared in flashback in a small cameo in Grant Morrison's Animal Man series (issue #7) fighting the unsuccessful supervillain The Red Mask who described him as possessing "the personality of a deck chair." Given his characterization in this story - admittedly from The Red Mask's not exactly unbiased viewpoint - that was not an entirely inaccurate assessment.
Captain Triumph's most substantive post-Golden Age appearance was, ironically enough, in The Golden Age, a DC Comics Elseworlds "imaginary story", 4-issue prestige format mini-series by James Robinson (writer) and Paul Smith (artist). In it, Lance Gallant has retired as Captain Triumph and is trying to lead a normal life, despite his brother's ghost urging him to become a hero again. When he meets the reformed supervillain, the Tigress, he falls in love with her. In the end he refuses to accede to his brother's requests and dies fighting the original Golden Age Robotman as a normal man, defending the Tigress.
Robinson intended that The Golden Age be canon, and his subsequent series Starman always assumed that the events in The Golden Age (for instance Ted Knight, the original Starman, having a nervous breakdown after his research was used to help create the atom bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki) actually happened. However The Golden Age has always been classed as a non-canonical "imaginary story" by DC's powers-that-be.
Back in the "real" DC Universe, Captain Triumph retired from action at an unknown time. Lance later appeared in Teen Titans as a friend of Jesse Quick's mother, the aged heroine Liberty Belle. Michael was still present as a spirit but had apparently gone psychotic in the many years of inactivity. The twins discovered a love affair between Jesse and her mother's young fiancé. Lance tried to confront the fiancé on the matter but was taken over by his brother Michael, who quickly murdered the man for his infidelity to his friend.
Lance's current whereabouts and the current state of his brother's sanity are unknown. However, a new, female version of Captain Triumph debuted in Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters #3. This version has only demonstrated super-strength and the ability to fly.
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