Who's Merry the Girl of a Thousand Gimmicks

Who's This? The Golden Age teenage heroine on page 10 of Who's Who vol.XV.
The facts: Way back in 1948, in Star Spangled Comics #81, Star Spangled Kid was given an adoptive sister who soon started wearing a costume and under the name Merry (uhm, that was actually her first name, so playing fast and loose with the secret identity), helped him fight crime in a handful of stories, before replacing him with her own short-lived strip. She was apparently the mother of Infinity Inc.'s Brainwave Jr., which is really yucky if you know the original Brainwave who's his father, and was said to have died.
How you could have heard of her: Young Justice (the series from almost 15 years, not the recent cartoon series) brought her back and made her a part of Old Justice, former Golden Age sidekicks who take an interest in the younger team. Geoff Johns used her in his Black Reign storyline, while Grant Morrison's 7 Soldiers of Victory features a character called Gimmix, apparently Merry's estranged daughter.
Example story: Star Spangled Comics #90 (1949), reprinted in Adventure Comics #416 (1972)
This story is loaded with gimmicks since both protagonist and antagonist use them, so what better tale to choose? (Also, the easiest to find because it's been reprinted, thank you all-female hero reprint issue of Adventure Comics!) In "The Duel of Gimmicks", Merry basically creates her own villain by inspiring a gold thief to use gimmicks too. What's amazing about our girl Merry is that instead of some utility belt, she hides most of her gimmicks in her cape. Not in a backpack under her cape, mind you. Literally inside the cape, which appears to work like a D&D magic item.
Gimmicks, puns, is there anything Merry can't make in her fight against crime? Well, the main thief manages to escape and he decides to escalate his operations by making his own gimmicks. Aw bless, Merry made a difference! She figures that because he stole a gold depository once, he's likely to attack the Golden Jubilee Exhibit because GOLD, and she's right (this isn't exactly a Joker or Penguin level mystery). But he's come prepared!
Merry has a "Glitter gun" which sounds girly, sure, but the self-proclaimed "Gimmick Guy" (what, no Who's Who entry?) is kind of beating her on the girlie-meter. An explosive doll?! (Don't worry, that was a dummy of someone in the Royal Family, if I understand the exhibit correctly).
See? Now he's using gimmick perfume, while Merry is using what is still a GUN, and mangled comic book science too, and earlier, a baseball mitt, all of which are usually the purview of male heroes. And now for the winning gimmick:
I don't know what makes me more speechless. The very idea of a mule kick on a stick, or wondering where in the cape she kept it. Though captured, Gimmick Guy escapes again with the help of a fake arm he leaves in a policeman's handcuffs. She tracks him down again, at the Golden Grotto Dining Patio (for some reason, I don't think there would be a lot of gold there), but he steals her cape. Oh noes!
Ha ha, she knew that would happen so she stuffed it full of backfiring gimmicks! (Obviously.) So he defeats himself by using her stash. More or less. It gives her a chance to show what's up her considerably short sleeve (a rocket firecracker) and get her vest pocket net out as well.
It was in the papers and everything. You know where I think she REALLY hides most of her gimmicks? In the borders between panels. Because she rarely seems to reach for anything (the mitt up top was a rare exception), they just sort of appear in her hands. Villains never think of looking there. The cape is just an access way.

DC Heroes RPG anecdote: One of my players in the early 90s played a male version of Merry without knowing it. His character, Jack of All Trades, had several Omni-Gadgets, but the twist was that I had to make up flash cards with each of these gadgets (one per Power and Skill, essentially) and he would pull like 5 of them at random at the start of each game. Those were the "gimmicks" he had access to during that session. I don't think we even thought of Merry as a close parallel back then, though I don't think it would have deterred him. I like heroes who surprise you with new tricks every time you see them.

Who else? I'm gonna stay in the Golden Age for our next target, if you don't mind.



Blog Archive


5 Things to Like Activities Advice Alien Nation Aliens Say the Darndest Things Alpha Flight Amalgam Ambush Bug Animal Man anime Aquaman Archetypes Archie Heroes Arrowed Asterix Atom Avengers Awards Babylon 5 Batman Battle Shovel Battlestar Galactica Black Canary BnB 2-in1 Books Booster Gold Buffy Canada Captain America Captain Marvel Cat CCGs Charlton Circles of Hell Class Comics Comics Code Approved Conan Contest Cooking Crisis Daredevil Dating Kara Zor-El Dating Lois Lane Dating Lucy Lane Dating Princess Diana DCAU Deadman Dial H Dice Dinosaur Island Dinosaurs Director Profiles Doctor Who Doom Patrol Down the Rabbit Hole Dr. Strange Encyclopedia Fantastic Four Fashion Nightmares Fiasco Films Within Films Flash Flushpoint Foldees French Friday Night Fights Fun with Covers FW Team-Up Galleries Game design Gaming Geekly roundup Geeks Anonymous Geekwear Gimme That Star Trek Godzilla Golden Age Grant Morrison Great Match-Ups of Science Fiction Green Arrow Green Lantern Hawkman Hero Points Podcast Holidays House of Mystery Hulk Human Target Improv Inspiration Intersect Invasion Invasion Podcast Iron Man Jack Kirby Jimmy Olsen JLA JSA Judge Dredd K9 the Series Kirby Motivationals Krypto Kung Fu Learning to Fly Legion Letters pages Liveblog Lonely Hearts Podcast Lord of the Rings Machine Man Motivationals Man-Thing Marquee Masters of the Universe Memes Memorable Moments Metal Men Metamorpho Micronauts Millennium Mini-Comics Monday Morning Macking Movies Mr. Terrific Music Nelvana of the Northern Lights Nightmare Fuel Number Ones Obituaries oHOTmu OR NOT? Old52 One Panel Outsiders Panels from Sheena Paper Dolls Play Podcast Polls Questionable Fridays Radio Rants Reaganocomics Recollected Red Bee Red Tornado Reign Retro-Comics Reviews Rom RPGs Sandman Sapphire & Steel Sarah Jane Adventures Saturday Morning Cartoons SBG for Girls Seasons of DWAITAS Secret Origins Podcast Secret Wars SF Shut Up Star Boy Silver Age Siskoid as Editor Siskoid's Mailbox Space 1999 Spectre Spider-Man Spring Cleaning ST non-fiction ST novels: DS9 ST novels: S.C.E. ST novels: The Shat ST novels: TNG ST novels: TOS Star Trek Streaky Suicide Squad Supergirl Superman Supershill Swamp Thing Tales from Earth-Prime Team Horrible Teen Titans That Franchise I Never Talk About The Orville The Prisoner The Thing Then and Now Theory Thor Thursdays of Two Worlds Time Capsule Timeslip Tintin Torchwood Tourist Traps of the Forgotten Realms Toys Turnarounds TV V Waking Life Warehouse 13 Websites What If? Who's This? Whoniverse-B Wikileaked Wonder Woman X-Files X-Men Zero Hour Strikes Zine