Mr. Mystic

Created by Will Eisner and Bob Powell
mr mystic

NAME + ALIASES:
Ken (last name unrevealed)

KNOWN RELATIVES:
None

GROUP AFFILIATIONS:
None

FIRST APPEARANCE:
The Spirit Section, 2 June 1940

APPEARANCES:

  • The Spirit Section (June 2, 1940–May 14, 1944 [#1–207 whole])
  • Will Eisner Presents #1 (Dec. 1990)

+ History

Yarko, from Wonderworld Comics #8 (Fox, 1939).
Mr. Mystic, from The Spirit Section Sept. 1, 1940.
The taming of his former foe, Eléna, from July 28, 1940. All art by Bob Powell.

Mr. Mystic followed in the footsteps of Will Eisner and Bob Powell’s Yarko the Great, published by Fox in Wonder Comics #2 (1939). Both heroes wore yellow turbans, red capes and tuxedos. Yarko was most likely inspired by Mandrake, a popular turbaned magician that was syndicated in newspapers starting in 1934.

“Yarko” was prepared at the Eisner & Iger studio, but when Will Eisner separated from Iger to create his new Sunday Spirit Section, Powell moved with him. They retooled Yarko as “Mr. Mystic.” Powell’s last Yarko feature was Wonderworld Comics #10 (Feb. 1940), and Mr. Mystic debuted on June 2, 1940. Yarko continued through Wonderworld #33, so the two were published simultaneously for a time. (DC had a similar hero, Sargon the Sorcerer, who first appeared in All-American Comics #26, May 1941.)

According to Will Eisner, Mr. Mystic’s paramours were reflections of those in Bob Powell’s own life. When Powell got married, Mr. Mystic also settled, on the lovely Penny. (These details come via Cat Yronwode, in Will Eisner Presents, 1990.)

“Mr. Mystic” appeared in five pages every week as the last of the three features in the Spirit Section. Along with the Spirit and Lady Luck, the character has always been under the copyright of Will Eisner. According to Eisner, Bob Powell wrote and drew Mr. Mystic himself. (Alter Ego #48)

Mr. Mystic’s war against evil began in “a tiny country in the path of an invader.” This land was ostensibly Tibet, where American diplomats were forced to flee from Asian aggressors. One of them, a man named Ken, selflessly gave up his seat on the plane to an important scientist. Ken hopped another abandoned plane and attempted to fly to safety, but he was shot down in the Himalayas. This was his fate, preordained by a council of seven lamas (spiritual masters). These monks retrieved Ken from the wreckage and transformed him. Before he could learn much more, the lamas ascended to the clouds. Ken stood stranded and confused when a voice boomed from above and declared that henceforth he would be called Mr. Mystic. He became magically attired in a turban, cape and tuxedo and with his slightest wish, his broken plane was repaired! His forehead was now emblazoned with an arcane symbol (which resembled the “pi” symbol). His new powers were limitless, and he wasted no time in ousting the European invaders. (Spirit Section 6/2/1940)


[ Read the full profile in the Quality Companion ]

Notes

Unlike the Spirit and Lady Luck, Quality did not reprint Mr. Mystic’s adventures in its monthly titles. The first five Mr. Mystic adventures were reprinted in black-and-white by Eclipse in one volume of Will Eisner Presents (1990). Some of the features were reprinted in Kitchen Sink’s Spirit Magazine. More appear in IDW’s trade paperback John Law: Dead Man Walking (2004).

+ Powers

Mr. Mystic’s vast powers included teleportation, astral projection, control over the elements, physical transformations of all sorts—any fantastical feat, really. The powers were partly derived from amulets, or “luck charms,” worn as necklaces or on his cape.