|CRIMSON AVENGER I (Lee Travis)||BIOGRAPHY|
|Created by Jim Chambers|
Real Name: Lee Travis
Full Name: Lee Walter Travis
Aliases: The Crimson
Occupation: Newspaper Publisher, The New York Globe-Leader
Marital Status: Presumed single
Known Relatives: Winston W. Smythe (grandfather, deceased)
Base of Operation: New York City, NY
Group Affiliation(s): Seven Soldiers of Victory, All-Star Squadron
Weight: 180 lbs.
First Appearance: Detective Comics #20 (October 1938)
Creators: Jim Chambers
| I think I'd rather have it said that an anonymous Crimson Avenger struck down the 'Martians' - Lee Travis on his first appearance as the Crimson Avenger|
Quote taken from Secret Origins Vol. 2 #5 (August 1986)
The very first publicly recognized costumed hero of the Golden Age, Lee Travis had a desire for justice and the right awakened by a mystical vision of the future in the city of Nanda Parabat. When he returned to the USA, he set about his mission through his crusading newspaper, but later turned to crimefighting when he witnessed a murder at a costumed ball. He and his chauffeur Wing then acted as heroes through the war years until the team to which they belonged, the Seven Soldiers of Victory, was betrayed by one of its own and flung through time. When rescued by the heroes of the Justice League and Justice Society, he discovered that he was dying of an incurable disease, and became the Crimson Avenger only one more time, sacrificing his life to save the city of New York.
All his young life, Lee Travis felt that his duty as a member of the upper class was to help his fellow man. Lying about his age, he joined the American Expeditionary Force and fought through terrible battles at the end of World War I. Seeing his friends die in the trenches of France and Germany broke his spirit. He spent the next several years like many of his generation roaming around looking for meaning and purpose to his life.
Hearing stories and legends, Travis made his way to the Himalayas and at death's door found himself at the mystical city-state known as Namba Parbat. Healing his body and spirit, he spent what felt like several months there, but nearly ten years had passed. Trying to find a purpose, he was shown that the world was soon heading again to war. Revealing the future to him, Travis saw in the future a vision of Superman, a man who could have used his powers for personal gain or power sacrificing his life to stop the monster Doomsday.
Making his way back to America, more than ten years younger than his contemporaries, he spent some time in college, meeting Wes Dodds, who voiced many of the same feelings about helping his fellow man.. Joining up with the Abraham Lincoln Brigade in war-torn Spain during 1936, he was injured coming off the boat and immediately shipped back to the US, unfulfilled in his quest to help rid Spain of the Fascists.
Completing college, he found that his grandfather had left a large portion of his personal fortune and a New York City newspaper to him. Taking the helm of the paper, he used its forums in the op-ed pages and molded the editorial content to that of social reform and aid for the downtrodden. Even with all that, he had those who felt that even that wasn't enough, one of which was Claudia Barker, a young socialite who had caught his eye on the cocktail circuit. He was going to a costume party that was raising funds to aid Chinese refugees from the invading Japanese, when he was quietly confronted by his chauffeur, Wing How. Travis was braced by Wing's quiet resignation that the social set would soon find another "worthy cause" and his family members in China would be left to suffer.
At the party, the guests were confronted by robbers disguised as Martians, capitalizing on the hysteria generated by the 'War of The Worlds' broadcast that evening. Claudia, who was also there at the party, challenged the robbers and was gunned down by them. Travis, in his costume as a Highwayman, decided that he would avenge her and rescue the funds. As Wing gave chase, Travis fired his guns with amazing accuracy and brought the fleeing crooks to a halt. Exacting his vengeance, Travis continued his fight as The Crimson (though he later changed his name to the Crimson Avenger). Travis thought that as the publisher, he could further the mystique created by his other identity by offering a reward for the vigilante in his newspaper.
Several months passed, and Wing and the Crimson Avenger became involved with spies from Germany trying to get their hands on a 'gas-gun', which would aid the invading German troops. After getting the gun and modifying slightly, The Crimson Avenger added it to his arsenal, setting it to shoot a screen of heavy crimson fog to mask his movements.
The Crimson Avenger fought crime from the inside out, as many criminals considered him on the wrong side of the law, but as the tales of his crime-fighting spread, he became more of a traditional "mystery-man", after ridding himself from two possessed weapons. He soon started to wear a streamlined crimson-and-gold costume, with Wing later adopting a gold-and-crimson costume. In mid 1941, The Crimson Avenger and Wing became founding members of The Law's Legionnaires (or Seven Soldiers of Victory, as they were better known) while stopping The Hand in a plot to overthrow America. Both later joined the All-Star Squadron, along with the other Legionnaires, but spent most of his time operating either solo or with Wing.
As the years took their toll, the duo semi-retired in 1944, only coming out to adventure with the SSoV. When the group disbanded in 1945, their careers were all but over. In 1949, however, the group returned to battle The Nebula-Man, and was hurtled through time, the resulting explosion killing Wing. The Crimson Avenger spent several weeks in pre-Columbian Central America. After being rescued by several members of the Justice League and Justice Society, Travis was returned several decades after he had left, but still youthful.
Discovering that his holdings had prospered after he had been thrown through time, Travis began an around-the-world tour, hoping it would cure his depression. He cut it short when he discovered that he had an incurable disease that would kill him within weeks. Donning his costume one last time, he saved a young Hispanic infant from falling to his death and saved New York from disaster by stopping an exploding barge from detonating in a populated area at the cost of his own life. After several months, the Star-Spangled Kid, his former teammate, had discovered his selfless deed and had a monument erected in a Metropolis cemetery.
POWERS AND WEAPONS
The Crimson Avenger was one of the many early "mystery men" that relied on their inborn abilities, rather than "super-powers". His two 1910 Colt handguns became possessed with a spirit of vengeance. He somehow rid himself of the two guns and switched to a more traditional "super-heroic" garb. He used various technical devices until acquiring the "gas gun" from the Nazi bund The Black Cross. With this gun, he was able to project a thick red gas that clouded his movement and allowed him to move stealthily. Perhaps this is why he changed his costume from a primarily black business suit to a skin-tight crimson costume. He was trained in Judo and Karate by his associate, Wing. He used his wits more than his fists, solving problems and mysteries. In the early years, he rode in a modified Rolls Royce, complete with stealth gas and bulletproof sides.
For a definitive list of appearances of Crimson Avenger in chronological order click here
Who's Who Update '88 #1 (August 1988)