They may not inspire the adoration and instant recognition (to say nothing about their value in the Super Hero Fantasy League) as Superman or Batman, but that doesn’t mean that they’re not every bit the hero. Even though one of them is kinda a villain. Yes, Powerless fans, I’m talking about Charm City’s two most frequently spotted colorful crusaders—Crimson Fox and Jack O’Lantern.
Alright, alright. I realize you probably had never heard of these guys before they showed up up on DC’s newest series. But make no mistake, Charm City might be a new addition to the DC Universe, but its super heroic (and kinda villainous) inhabitants are anything but. They’ve been around the block a few times, and before they were ruining the days of the employees at Wayne Security, they were teaming up with some pretty familiar faces, like that Bat guy and Kryptonian you’re all so fond of.
So grab your Rumbrellas and maybe avoid taking the train for a while, it’s time to take a look at the secret origins of Charm City’s metahuman population.
Meet The Fox(es)
On the surface, Crimson Fox might look like your run-of-the-mill vengeance-inspired super hero, but her origin story has one important twist: Her original incarnation wasn’t a “her.” Nor was it a “he.” It was a “they.”
Created in 1989 in JUSTICE LEAGUE EUROPE #6, Crimson Fox was the shared super hero identity of identical twin sisters Vivian and Constance D’Aramis. They used their matching genetics to the fullest by splitting their time evenly between their civilian life and their vigilante hobby with one sister maintaining their cover and the other fighting crime interchangeably.
Yep, Superman may have heat vision and unrivaled strength, but he can’t do that!
They weren’t always so interested in super heroics, however. The sisters grew up wealthy, the daughters of cutting edge French research scientists whose lives were turned upside down when their mother died of cancer due to chemical exposure in her lab. It turned out that this was more than just a tragedy—the company the D’Aramis parents had been working for knew the risks. Even worse, when the twins’ father uncovered the conspiracy wrapped around his wife’s death, he was murdered for interfering, leaving Vivian and Constance orphans.
The two sisters got their start in the vigilante life by first vowing revenge on Maurice Puanteur, the CEO of the company responsible for their parents’ death. They established their own competing research firm called Revson, angling to put Puanteur out of business in the public sphere while mopping up his criminal dealings as Crimson Fox.
To make their secret identity gambit even more bulletproof, Constance faked her own death, leaving Vivian the only legal D’Aramis twin in the picture, and allowing both “Vivian” and Crimson Fox to work simultaneously.
As you might imagine, two people pretending to be one might lead to some...awkward moments in both professional and crime fighting spheres alike. There were some cover-blowing near misses as people began to pick up on Crimson Fox’s slightly incongruous behavior depending on which sister they were getting at the time.
Crimson Fox officially began working with the Justice League’s European division at the behest of none other than Batman himself, after “Vivian” played host to a charity banquet with Bruce as the guest of honor. Like most high profile charity events (seriously, why does anyone even hold these in comic books?), the banquet became a target for thieves and villains, aiming to get their hands on the cash donations made throughout the gala. Thankfully, Crimson Fox and several members of the JLE are able to apprehend the would-be thieves.
Crimson Fox’s skill fails to impress fellow JLE member Captain Atom, who is resentful of his personal property being destroyed in the ensuing fights, but she does make an impact on Bruce, who puts in a good word or two for her with the team—and being vouched for by Batman is never something any incarnation of the League takes lightly.
Both Vivian and Constance worked on and off with the JLE until their eventual deaths—Vivian in JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #104 in 1995 and Constance in STARMAN #38 in 1998.
Later, after the events of INFINITE CRISIS and “One Year Later,” a new Crimson Fox came on the scene—a mysterious woman who claimed to be the heiress of the D’Aramis fortune took up the mantle and began to fight alongside groups like the Global Guardians.
Beyond her apparent connection to the D’Aramis family, much of the new Crimson Fox remains a mystery. Is this the version of the Fox we’ve seen on Powerless? Or are there a pair of Français-speaking twins flipping around the streets of Charm City? Perhaps time will tell.
Strange as it may sound, Jack O’Lantern didn’t actually get his start as a maniacal super villain.
Created in 1977 in the pages of SUPER FRIENDS #8, and then reintroduced in 1982 in DC COMICS PRESENTS #46, Daniel Cormac was the son of a poor Irish farmer who managed to make some strange and magical friends while helping tend to his father’s land. The Sidhe, or faery, population of Ireland, ruled over by Queen Maeve, took a liking to Daniel and eventually granted him a magic lantern, which inspired him to try his hand at super heroics.
Giving himself the kinda on the nose name of Jack O’Lantern, Daniel joined up with the international super team known as the Global Guardians as a representative for Ireland. While Daniel was not a metahuman himself, his lantern gave him the ability to fly, teleport and cast a variety of whimsical magic spells that would manifest as illusions or even physical entities limited only, apparently, by his imagination. The lantern's power, however, seemed to be dominated by the phases of the moon, being at its strongest when it was full.
On that note, as far as I know, Jack O’Lantern never hunted werewolves, which seems like A CRYING SHAME seeing how he was at his strongest when the furry little fiends would have been out wreaking havoc. Plus, who wouldn’t read a comic called Jack O’Lantern, Werewolf Hunter?! If any of you Rebirth writers feel like reintroducing ol’ Jack, feel free to take that idea and run with it.
But getting back to Jack’s actual comic book history, it turned out super heroics were not all they were cracked up to be for Daniel, and he eventually found himself to be frustrated with his position in the Guardians. This led him to a team-up with the devious Queen Bee—who, in fairness, may or may not have been mind controlling him at the time—to assist her with a coup d’état of the nation of Bialya.
With Bee successfully in power, Daniel stayed in Bialya to continue to make things pretty miserable for the nation’s inhabitants. He even went as far as to design an electronic implant for every citizen that would prevent them from leaving the country—or, should the need arise, become Jack O’Lantern’s own personal brainwashed army.
Unsurprisingly, the need did arise at least once, when Crimson Fox’s team, Justice League Europe, came knocking at Bialya’s door. (So THAT’s where the rivalry comes from!)
The fight was disastrous for both sides and resulted in Jack O’Lantern being beaten and left for dead, and later taken into custody by Queen Bee herself. Ouch.
Eventually, Daniel is redeemed by the Guardians and allowed to return, having served his time as a villain (literally—Bee threw him into prison after the incident with the JLE). He would serve as a hero once more with the Global Guardians until his apparent death in JUSTICE LEAGUE QUARTERLY #17 in 1994. And no, I don’t know if they played “Danny Boy” at his funeral. But come on, the guy was named Daniel and was Irish. I’d feel pretty darn comfortable staking my geek cred that they did.
And speaking of geek cred, yours just went up about 500 points. You now know about all that there is to know about Crimson Fox and Jack O’Lantern. Of course, we don’t know why Jack O’Lantern is a villain on Powerless. Maybe he’s still under the control of Queen Bee in Powerless’ timeline. Or maybe he finally got fed up with Batman and Superman stealing all the attention.
But that’s not going to happen anymore, right? Now that you’re armed with some info about Crimson Fox and Jack O’Lantern’s not-so-secret comic book origins, you’re going to sing their praises to super hero fans across the nation, aren’t you? I want to see Crimson Fox cosplayers and Jack O’Lantern logos (that is, er…once he creates one) on t-shirts at cons! At the very least, I expect you to watch tonight’s episode of Powerless confident in the knowledge that while Charm City’s destructive duo may not have their own self-titled comics, they’ve certainly appeared in quite a few of them.