MISS LIBERTY: The Life and Death of America’s First Costumed Hero

It’s the Fourth of July!


With July 4th here, I wanted to salute our country’s first costumed champion: Miss Liberty, the hard-riding masked heroine of DC’s Tomahawk. OK, yes, she was introduced in 1962 but her adventures took place during the American Revolution, so she was, in essence, the first stars-and-stripes champion. And when Miss Liberty rode out onto the battlefields of America, she would always be saving Tomahawk and his fellow men from certain death at the hands of British soldiers. Likewise, unbeknownst to them, she also saved their lives as a nurse in her secret identity of Bess Lynn.

Here’s a Miss Liberty chronology, listed in order of cover date:

Tomahawk #81 (July-Aug. 1962). Nurse Bess Lynn and her costumed patriot counterpart first appeared here but, though she has the cover, Miss Liberty’s story is relegated to the back nine pages of the issue. However, as she did every time she was in a story, she saved Tomahawk’s life. Without revealing her identity to him, she said she disguises herself because “my brother is being held captive in England!  If my true identity were known, they would take their revenge out on him!”  (Cover by Fred Ray.)

Tomahawk #84 (Jan.-Feb. 1963). Though the backup story in this issue still had a “Tomahawk” header, it was essentially a feature tale for Miss Liberty in her second appearance, aided by her “Women’s Underground” brigade. (Art by Fred Ray.)

Tomahawk #88 (Sept.-Oct. 1963). Another backup “Tomahawk” story with Miss Liberty and her Women’s Underground brigade. (Cover by Bob Brown.)

Tomahawk #101 (Nov.-Dec. 1965). Miss Liberty only made a quick four-panel appearance here but, as usual, she saved Tomahawk’s hide before riding off. (Cover by Bob Brown.)

Tomahawk #106 (Sept.-Oct. 1966). When Tomahawk was apparently killed by British soldiers, a ghostlike image of him appeared before his men. Miss Liberty helped expose the fraud. (Cover by Bob Brown.)

Tomahawk #110 (May-June 1967). Tomahawk got amnesia in this issue and sided with the British, falling under the charms of Lady Shilling who was also the masked villainess known as “the Hood.” In order to save him, Miss Liberty, who was in love with Tomahawk, crossed swords with the Hood, who also had the hots for the frontiersman. (Cover by Bob Brown.)

Justice League of America #159 (Oct. 1978). Taking place in the 20th century during their annual dinner, the Justice Society and the Justice League were suddenly attacked by Miss Liberty, Jonah Hex, Black Pirate, Viking Prince and Enemy Ace, pawns of the Lord of Time, who had plucked them out of their different eras… and the time travelers won! (Cover penciled by Rich Buckler and inked by Dick Giordano.)

Justice League of America #160 (Nov. 1978). In Part 2, Miss Liberty and the others resent being used and attack the stronghold of the Lord of Time. (Cover penciled by Dick Dillin and inked by Dick Giordano.)

All-Star Squadron #45 (May 1985). In this issue, Miss Liberty was given the most ignoble death of any comic character than I can think of. The brave lady rode out into the night to stop British soldiers and Hessian mercenaries who stole Philadelphia’s State House bell (now known as the Liberty Bell), but in battling them the bell fell from a cliff above her and crushed her to death. Miss Liberty represented the greatness of early America and was crushed by its very symbol? Come on! (Pencils by Arvell Jones, inks by Pablo Marcos.)

All-Star Squadron #54 (Feb. 1986). In a tale taking place before the above, during the Crisis on Infinite Earths, the Monitor’s aide Harbinger sent Firebrand, Miss Liberty, Silent Knight, Golden Gladiator, the Trigger Twins, Viking Prince, Don Caballero, Black Pirate and others against the Ultra-Humanite. (Pencils by Arvell Jones, inks by Vince Colletta.)

All-Star Squadron #55 (Mar. 1986.) Wrapping up the story begun in #54. (Cover pencils by Arvell Jones, with inks by Tony DeZuniga.)

Who’s Who: The Definitive Directory of the DC Universe #15 (May 1986.). The one-page bio was drawn by Don Lomax.

The cover was by George Perez:

History of the DC Universe #1 (Jan. 1987). Harbinger relates the coming of heroes on our planet and, in a one-panel history at the start of the United States of America, she tells how Miss Liberty, Tomahawk and Dan Hunter fought for freedom against British tyranny. (Pencils by George Perez, inks by Karl Kesel.)

Superman and Batman: World’s Funnest (Jan. 2001). Miss Liberty and Tomahawk make a very tiny appearance during a universe-destroying battle between Mxyzptlk and Bat-Mite. (Art by Ty Templeton.)

DC Comics Encyclopedia (2004, Dorling Kindersley). The first edition of the history of DC characters carried a bio of Miss Liberty. After one more appearance in a subsequent edition, DC dropped her from future updates. The art for this was by Don Lomax and was reprinted from Who’s Who #15.

Countdown #45 (Aug. 2007). A one-panel appearance in this issue recapped the events in JLA #s 159 and 160.

Justice League of America #41 (March 2010). In a short sequence set during the American Revolution, Miss Liberty stood alongside Tomahawk and his Rangers as he recovered from a mental attack caused by touching an alien artifact they found. Miss Liberty instructed the item be bundled up and taken to Benjamin Franklin. Fast forward to 2010 and the artifact was examined after having been in storage for centuries. (Art by Mark Bagley.)

Wonder Woman #51 (Sept. 2018). Wonder Woman is shown the diary of Bess Lynn, with an image on the back cover of Miss Liberty. The diary is said to have been found “hidden beneath some floorboards in Saratoga.” Unfortunately, before looking at the book, WW is attacked by a supervillain, and nothing further was revealed about the journal. This was the last appearance of Miss Liberty as of this date. (Art by Laura Braga.)


— 13 COVERS: Hey, Baby, It’s the Fourth of July! 2021 EDITION. Click here.

— 13 COVERS: Hey, Baby, It’s the Fourth of July! 2019 EDITION. Click here.

PETER BOSCH’s first book, American TV Comic Books: 1940s-1980s – From the Small Screen to the Printed Page, has just been published by TwoMorrows. He has written articles and conducted celebrity interviews for various magazines and newspapers. Peter lives in Hollywood.

Author: Dan Greenfield

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  1. Nice retrospective of Miss Liberty. I first saw her in the JLA issues and enjoyed the idea of a hero during the American Revolution.

    If Liberty Belle is a descendent, that means Miss Liberty had a child sometime before the revolution. Was this ever explained? Or is this something where they didn’t quite think out the timeline after they killed her?

    I’ve read entries where it just says Belle is a descendent – but it seems like Miss Liberty was killed before she could have a family.

    Anyway. Thanks for sharing the appearances of this character.

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    • Maybe Liberty Belle is descended from Miss Liberty’s brother?

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  2. Happy Independence Day! And what a brilliant showcase of an underrated-but-very-inspiring DC Universe character. 🙂

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  3. Wonderful July 4th read, very informative and fun to read!

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  4. Sigh. Tomahawk, another DC series sorely in need of a collected edition.

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