Black Condor

Created by Will Eisner and Lou Fine
black condor

Black Condor I

NAME + ALIASES:
Richard Grey, Jr., aka Senator Thomas Wright

KNOWN RELATIVES:
Major Richard Grey (father, deceased), Mrs. Grey (mother, deceased)

GROUP AFFILIATIONS:
All-Star Squadron, Freedom Fighters

FIRST APPEARANCE:
Crack Comics #1 (May 1940)

APPEARANCES:

All-Star Squadron #31-35

Black Condor #4, 10

Crack Comics #1-31 (May 1940–Oct. 1943)

Freedom Fighters, v.1 #1-15

The Ray v.2 #10, 18, 20-21

Justice League of America #107-108

Secret Origins v.3 #21

Uncle Sam Quarterly #2

SEE ALSO:

Toonopedia: The Black Condor

 

black condor 2

Black Condor II

NAME + ALIASES:
Ryan Kendall

KNOWN RELATIVES: Unnamed father, Creighton Kendall (grandfather)

GROUP AFFILIATIONS: Primal Force, Freedom Fighters

FIRST APPEARANCE: Black Condor #1 (June 1992)

APPEARANCES:

Black Condor #1-12 (1992-93)

Hawkman v.3 #20

JSA #49-51

JSA: Our Worlds at War #1

Justice League America #71, 73-75

Primal Force #8-14

The Ray v.2 #20-21

Starman v.2 #47, 61-63, 67, 69, 70–73, 75, 80

black condor 3

Black Condor III

NAME + ALIASES:
John Trujillo

KNOWN RELATIVES: Tse “James” Natseway (cousin)

GROUP AFFILIATIONS:
Freedom Fighters

FIRST APPEARANCE:
Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters v.1 #3 (November 2006)

APPEARANCES: 

Freedom Fighters v.2 #1-9

Uncle Sam & the Freedom Fighters v.1 #3-8

Uncle Sam & the Freedom Fighters v.2 #1-8

+ History

black condor
Growing up in vulture-land. From Crack Comics #1 (Ma 1940). Art by Lou Fine.
Against his doppelganger. From Crack #14 (1941).
Art by Lou Fine.
From Black Condor #1 (1992). Art by Rags Morales.
The original Condor reveals his plans, from Black Condor #4 (1992); art by Rags Morales.
bc3
John Trujillo becomes the third Black Condor, from Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters #3 (2006); art by Daniel Acuña.

The Black Condor is one of Quality’s most enduring and popular creations. Like the Ray and Uncle Sam, he was created by Will Eisner and Lou Fine (here, under the pen name “Kenneth Lewis”). Fine’s art on these features quickly set the bar for artwork at Quality. No doubt the “Black Condor” feature would have lasted longer had Fine remained on it. He drew the Condor’s first 24 adventures, and signed his true name beginning with issue #13. The Black Condor nabbed alternating covers of Crack Comics through #26 (when Captain Triumph took over).

The Black Condor was destined never to know his given name. He was born Richard Grey, Jr., the son of archeologist Major Richard Grey. When he was yet an infant, his family went exploring in Mongolia, where they were besieged, and both his parents were murdered by raiders. Before her death, the baby’s mother hid him away so he might survive. In this remote land, the only living things were the native condors, with whom the infant Grey seemed to make a connection.

Not long before, a meteor crashed near the mother condor’s nest. The radiation from this meteor created a strange bond between her and the infant Grey, and she adopted him as one of her own. (The meteor was the only detail added to this origin by Roy Thomas in Secret Origins #21, 1987.)

As he grew, the boy studied the mechanics of flight, and eventually succeeded in emulating it. He had grown to adolescence before meeting another human, the monk named Father Pierre. It was Pierre who taught the boy how to speak English, but his mentor also fell prey to raiders led by Gali-Kan. Afterwards the boy committed himself to using his gift of flight to combat injustice. As the Black Condor, he made a name for himself across continents and got revenge on the men who murdered Pierre. (Crack Comics #1)


[ Read the full profile in the Quality Companion ]

Fate, DC

… The Black Condor’s current DC continuity picks up from his Quality appearances more-or-less chronologically with his appearances in All-Star Squadron, set in the days of World War II. After the U.S. entered the war, the Black Condor decided to enlist his services with the All-Stars. At his first meeting, he met Uncle Sam and joined his splinter group called the Freedom Fighters. They moved to stop Baron Blitzkrieg’s invasion of Santa Barbara, California. (All-Star Squadron #31) For the remainder of the war, the Black Condor remained with this group, who eventually separated from the All-Star Squadron and were based in Washington D.C. (Who’s Who ‘87 #5)

[ Q. C. ]

Black Condor II, Ryan Kendall

Ryan Kendall’s destiny as the second Black Condor was engineered by his grandfather, Creighton Kendall. For 200 years, the Kendall family’s Society of the Golden Wing had strived to make humans into super-humans. Ryan’s own father was a victim of Creighton’s experiments, among untold others. Creighton himself was disfigured by the experiments: left with a monstrous arm and wheelchair-bound. Ryan’s transformation was the first which did not result in death or in driving the subject mad. The Society gave Ryan enhanced mental powers which mostly manifested in the power of flight (via telekinesis), and heightened senses.

After his transformation, the new Black Condor fled from the Society. He no longer chose to identify as “Ryan Kendall” and eschewed use of the name. Neither did he like the label of “super-hero.” The Condor settled in near Philadelphia, where he was guided by his friend, the park ranger Ned Smith. (Black Condor #1-2)

[ Q. C. ]

Black Condor III, John Trujillo

The third Black Condor was recruited by Uncle Sam to join the Freedom Fighters. At that time, the team was battling against the U.S. government agency called S.H.A.D.E. The F.F. met John Trujillo just after his transformation into the Condor. Trujillo lived among the Navajo, a southwest American Indian tribe. To the Navajo, the “Black Condor” had been a powerful defender since their fall to Col. Kit Carson in Arizona. After the tribe’s relocation, the condor was symbolized as the escort for fallen souls to the afterlife. When the Navajo finally returned to their own land, they were protected by this condor spirit made incarnate.

The spirit was known as the goddess Tocotl, the mystical Spider Woman, and first took root in a young man who begged for protection. John Trujillo was the latest in this line of Black Condors. After his journey, the Spider Woman charged him to work with Uncle Sam. (Uncle Sam & the Freedom Fighters v.1 #3)

[ Q. C. ]

Notes

Another one of Quality’s flying heroes, the Raven, shared the same last name as the Condor: Tony Grey. The Raven came two years after Black Condor (Feature Comics #60, Sept. 1942). No link was ever made between the two.

The Black Condor was the inspiration for the character called Kondor in John Arcudi’s 2002 Elseworlds series, JLA: Destiny. This character was a super-human.

Because of the coloring and facial features, many readers assumed that Ryan Kendall was a Native American. Editor Christopher Priest (then Jim Owsley) refuted this in a letters column. Both Priest and Brian Augustyn seeded many DC books with the Black Condor and the Ray, including their own series, Justice League America and Justice League Task Force.

Trujillo’s co-creator, Justin Gray, characterized him thus, online: “The idea with Black Condor… was that the mythology behind Uncle Sam being representative of America, left open the idea of another mythical American figure. Condor is designed to be a force of nature, soft spoken, stoic and ferocious in battle.

+ Powers

In his DC origin, the Black Condor was said to be powered from exposure to radiation from a meteor. This gave him the innate ability to fly, which he developed through adolescence. In the original tale, he developed his power independently. He had an empathic relationship with the condors that raised him, and could communicate with them. When confronted by trained eagles, however, he was unable to command those birds. The Condor also employed a “black ray gun” that rendered things immobile, cut, and could be used with force.

Currently, the original Condor exists in some sort of supernatural state which allows him to apparate instantly anywhere. He also controls to whom he is visible.

Ryan Kendall’s powers were mental in nature. Their primary manifestation was a form of telekinesis that enabled him to fly. He also employed this telekinesis to free himself from under rubble, to cause a gun to explode, and to add to his own strength. His senses were heightened so that he could project his mind out from his body. To this effect, he could cause mental agony in others, and “see” beyond his own body, even while unconscious. His hearing was sufficient to hear through the walls of a concrete building. When gravely injured, Ryan was enveloped by a strange, hard cocoon which sped his healing.

John Trujillo’s power comes from the Navajo goddess Tocotl, the Spider Woman. He can fly and has super-strength and considerable invulnerability. He has also exhibited powerful telekinesis and a sonic scream.

Appearances + References