The King + King Chimera

Created by Gardner Fox and William Smith
King Chimera created by Bill Willingham, Matt Sturges, and Jesus Merino

The King

NAME + ALIASES:
King Standish

KNOWN RELATIVES:
Unnamed wife (deceased), King Standish, Jr. (King Chimera, son)

GROUP AFFILIATIONS:
All-Star Squadron, O.S.S.

FIRST APPEARANCE:
Flash Comics #3 (March 1940)

APPEARANCES:

  • Comic Cavalcade #3-4
  • Flash Comics #3-41 (March 1940 – May 1943)
  • Star-Spangled Comics v.2 #1
  • World's Best/Finest #1-5, 8
  • Who's Who #12

SEE ALSO:

Who's the King?

King Chimera

NAME + ALIASES:
King Standish, Jr.

KNOWN RELATIVES:
King Standish (the King, father), unnamed mother (deceased)

GROUP AFFILIATIONS:
Justice Society of America

FIRST APPEARANCE:
Justice Society of America v.3 #29 (Sept. 2009)

APPEARANCES:

Justice Society of America v.3 #29-33

JSA All-Stars, 18 issues (2010–11)

History

"Like a man whose name is never known, King Standish—"King" to the underworld of crime—remains a mystery and a terror to the overlords of vice and murder! His names are legion—his faces myriad! He is a tyrant to the cruel, a benefactor to the weak." —Flash Comics #3 (1940)

The King was an early feature in Flash Comics. His inaugural six-page episode in Flash Comics #3 (Mar. 1940) was titled "King Standish." It changed to "The King" with issue #16 (Apr. 1941). These stories never revealed whether "King" was this mystery man's true first name, but the character's profile in Who's Who #12 (Feb. 1986) listed the name using quotation marks. His son, King Chimera, also referred to his father's name as if it were a nickname. Regardless, there were never any clues given to the man's origins or background. The character was only occasionally drawn wearing his signature top hat, mask and tuxedo; he was usually in disguise. The King made only one cover appearance, Flash Comics #5 (May 1940).

Readers met the King fully formed, a wealthy master of illusion who perpetuated the rumor that he was a thief in order to draw the criminal element. In the first episode Boss Barton ordered his gal Myrna Mallon to find the King. All she knew was that the King was wealthy and wore disguises, so she ventured into the seedy part of town to engage one "Hunchback Harry." She asked Harry for a meeting with the King that night—never suspecting that Harry was the King! The storytelling in these early episodes was fairly disjointed, with the King and others changing costumes and faces too quickly, leaving the reader disoriented.

That night, clad in top hat and tails, Standish met up with Myrna, and quickly disabused her of her notions that Barton was on the level. He indicted her boss as a dope peddler. When Barton caught up to them, the King didn't hesitate to use his gun and plug the men; "two less enemies," he said. After the gun play Myrna led him back to Barton's lair. Only then did the King don his red domino mask (although on the next page he is drawn without it). In the climactic firefight, the King's head was grazed by a bullet, but his bulletproof vest saved him from worse. (Flash Comics #3)

Myrna Mallon meets the King. From Flash Comics #3 (1940); art by William Smith.
The King's arch nemesis, the Witch. From Flash Comics #5 and #8 (1940); art by Harry Lampert.

It looked as thought Myrna might become a fixture, but she replaced by a different woman called the Witch, the King's first costumed foe. The Witch became the costar of the King's feature, appearing in most episodes. She began appearing in the "roll call" of the splash panels in Flash Comics #28. This wily brunette wore a domino mask in her first appearance (only) and was also adept at disguise. Mostly she was a thief whose schemes lured the King. When they first met, he impersonated one of her men and accompanied her back to her apartment. He confiscated her stolen jewelry but chose not to turn the Witch in because she was "much too exciting to go behind bars." The King hoped to reform her while she found herself likewise attracted. (#5)

True to his word, the King kept on the Witch's tail. He impersonated a safe cracker and stole her haul of emeralds. (#6) On their third meeting, he saved her life and escorted her home. She remarked that she was even beginning to feel good about the idea of going straight. (#7) She wavered on this point, often seeming as if she'd give it up. She never did. Her lust for rare jewels was too strong and the King even followed the Witch to a Pacific island to foil her pursuit of rubies. (#8) This caper stirred only a desire for revenge as the King continued to torment her. The Witch remained in the South Seas and dared him—through a personal ad—to stop her again. As an elderly missionary, he saved her from natives and pirates. This time, they unearthed a legitimate fortune in jade, and sailed with it back to the States. (#9)

Splash panel from Flash Comics #17 (1941); art by Harry Lampert.
The King aids the All-Star Squadron. From Star-Spangled Comics v.2 #1 (1999); art by Chris Weston.

The King also exhibited considerable athletic and acrobatic skill. He jumped from a bridge to save a doomed driver from a watery grave. It turned out to be a senator, whom he then impersonated in order to capture the senator's kidnappers. (#11)

It's unclear why the King chose to pretend that he was a criminal. In numerous cases, he left his foes gift wrapped for the police. He'd always left a "crown card," a calling card imprinted with a crown and his name. (#12)

The King encountered only a few other super-villains. The Scarlet Mermaid targeted the wealthy owners on their yachts. After making a grab, the slender blond leapt into the river and disappeared. The King trailed her to shore and reclaimed her spoils. To capture her, he took a bullet in the shoulder but still managed to swim after her and bring her in. (#19) And the Murder Master was a costumed villain, who wore a very strange bug-like scarlet mask and devised unusual ways of killing people which he considered his "art." (#36)

The Witch often used henchmen to steal for her (#21) and also coached a pair of brothers to pretend they were conjoined twins. (#22) Occasionally the King and the Witch found a common enemy. They teamed up to stop a murderous German spy and turned him over to the FBI. (This adventure was the first time Standish dressed as a woman.) (#23)

She once fooled him into thinking they were a team against the Harbor Haunt, whose gang wore hoods and capes with the letter "H." In truth the Witch was their leader; she wanted to keep tabs on the King while they were pulling their heists. (#30)

The Witch's schemes were usually quite commonplace but she wasn't averse to drug trafficking either. The King discovered that she was part of a gang who were hiding opium under the surface of paintings. (#33)

The King's feature was squeezed out when Flash Comics cut pages from 68 to 60 in issue #42 (June 1943). He made a few miscellaneous appearances, in other DC books. Those in World's Finest Comics (#1-5, 8) were published concurrently with the King's run in Flash Comics. One tale was notable for the appearance of the Witch's father—both of them. When she was a baby, she was kidnapped and adopted by a painter named Paul Prentis. When she returned home to New Orleans, she and the King found Prentis dead, and her real father revealed himself! He claimed that they were descended from the famous pirate, Jean Lafitte, which accounted for her larcenous leanings. Both of the Witch's fathers were murdered by the racketeer Dagger Dan. (World's Finest Comics #2)

The two appearances in Comic Cavalcade #3-4 ran just after the King's regular run ended, and both costarred the Witch. In issue #4, a rival disguised himself as the King, fooling the Witch. The closing panel claimed that the King was now appearing exclusively in Comic Cavalcade, but he never appeared again.

These events are a part of a timeline which may no longer exist. They are not a part of the New 52 universe.

Post-Golden Age

During the war, the King made peace with authorities, and was employed by the O.S.S. until the end of the war. His last recorded case was in 1945, when he aided the original Sandman and Star-Spangled Kid in defeating a disciple of the Stalker. This appearance suggests that the King might have participated in the All-Star Squadron, but no are no other references to confirm it. (Star-Spangled Comics v.2 #1, 1999)

King Chimera

At some point, King Standish sought a source of higher knowledge and discovered an unnamed, distant land where he studied with a secret order. There he met a younger (unnamed) woman, a member of this order. Her people could manipulate sound and light to cast supernatural illusions. The order taught the hero their magics, and the King and this woman bore a son who was raised with her people's powers as well. There are few details about the childhood of King Standish, Jr. until he appeared as a recruit to the Justice Society. What is known is that some incident caused by the young King resulted in the death of his mother, the monks of her order, and other villagers. (JSA All-Stars #10)

He had a British accent, and used the code name King Chimera. The aspiring hero joined the JSA at a time when their mission had expanded to include anyone carrying on the legacy of elder super-heroes. King Chimera's new roommate was the All-American Kid. On their first day at JSA headquarters, the team left to confront a team of super-villains, but the new members were ordered to remain behind. King had no desire to socialize with the Kid and chose to meditate instead. Meanwhile, the All-American Kid was seemingly possessed and stabbed the JSA's Mr. Terrific in the back! (JSofA v.3 #29)

Move-in day with All-American Kid. From JSofA v.3 #29 (2009); art by Jesus Merino.

The team returned to a crisis and while the surveillance footage clearly implicated the All-American Kid in the attack, the Kid tried to blame King. He reasoned that King could easily use his powers to fool everyone and manipulate the evidence. King knew this was impossible, since such a feat would involve magics that were outside his ability. It didn't help that King made a poor first impression. The young man came across as condescending and aloof—even creepy—to his peers. Still, King admitted to the Flash that he was in need of real world experience (despite the fact that he had perfect memory and could retain any form of knowledge). (#30-31)

From JSA-All Stars #6 (2010); art by Freddie Williams II.

Soon enough, the All-American Kid revealed his true intentions: he was the sociopath Kid Karnevil, come to betray the JSA. King Chimera cornered him but Karnevil slipped away. (#33) After this case, in which Karnevil was captured, the Justice Society split into two teams. King Chimera went with Power Girl's team and moved to a new headquarters in upstate New York, at the Star-K Ranch. As they began to train, King realized the benefit of physical preparedness. (JSA All-Stars #1)

The new team was dubbed the "JSA All-Stars" and they immediately found themselves up against Johnny Sorrow and his Injustice Society. (#2) King was one of the first to fall in this battle when Sorrow exposed his "face" to him. (#4) Normally this caused instant death, but King held on long enough for help to arrive. A mysterious protege of Dr. Fate, Anna Fortune, appeared to aid the JSA and Power Girl asked her to heal King Chimera. (#5) King Chimera was then instrumental in Sorrow's defeat. Because King has perfect recall, he used his illusion powers to conjure the deadly visage and broadcast it back at the villain. (#6)

Heavy is the head: haunted by his dead lover, Namita. From JSA-All Stars #1 (2010); art by Freddie Williams II.

From the start, King found himself attracted to his fellow teammate, Cyclone. But he refrained from acting upon it because of guilt he still harbored guilt for the death of his girlfriend, Namita. Whether intentional or not, King's powers occasionally manifested Namita's image—a reminder of his past crimes. When Cyclone was critically injured in battle, (#8) Anna Fortune teleported she and King to a place he could recall without error—it was the site of Namita's death, Ankara, Turkey. (#9) This tragedy was the final call for King to let go of the guilt for the deaths he'd caused. After Cyclone underwent the pair emerged as a couple and King gave in to his feelings for her. (#13)

With love interest, Maxine Hunkel aka Cyclone. From JSA-All Stars #1 (2010); art by Freddie Williams II.

King Chimera eschewed spandex for a tailored suit. He remarked, "I'm neither a circus performer nor an aerobics instructor. A gentleman is always willing to sacrifice comfort for style." (#14)

These events are a part of a timeline which may no longer exist. They are not a part of the New 52 universe.

Notes

King Chimera's real name was never given but it seemed clear that his first name is in fact, King.

Matt Sturges commented on King Chimera: "One of the interesting things about [the original] King is that you never saw his actual face. You only saw him in disguise. And so, with this new King Chimera, it's a bit more metaphorical than that. I'll just leave it at that. You can read the book and see what his powers are and how they work. He was created specifically to be on that team [JSA All-Stars]."

+ Powers

The King used all manner of things to create impeccable disguises. He applied soft colored wax for subtle surface illusions, and used wax under his nostrils, cheeks, and lips to shape his face. Wigs, costumes and any number of accents rounded out his impressions. He also carried an automatic firearm.

In addition to his magic, King Chimera has supremely trained senses and total recall. He once exhibited control over other-dimensional demonic creatures. It's unclear whether this was an illusion.