Spy Smasher

Spy Smasher


caption="Spy Smasher" #2 (1941). Art by Charles Sultan.
character_name=Spy Smasher
real_name=- Alan Armstrong
- Katarina Armstrong
publisher=Fawcett Comics (1939–1948)
DC Comics (1976–present)
"Whiz Comics" #2 (1940, historical)
"The Power of Shazam!" #8 (1995, canon)
Birds of Prey #100
C. C. Beck
Bill Parker
Gail Simone
Nicola Scott
Squadron of Justice
Federal Bureau of Investigation
United States Department of Homeland Security
United States Department of Defense
Department of Extranormal Operations
Central Intelligence Agency
United Nations
Department of Defence (Australia)
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
Crime Smasher
No superpowers, skilled at hand-to-hand combat, intelligent scientist and inventor.
No superpowers, skilled at hand-hand combat, extensive political connections and expert marksman|

Spy Smasher is the name of two fictional characters appearing in comics published by DC Comics. The first is a superhero that was formerly owned and published by Fawcett Comics. The second is a female anti-terrorism government agent.

Fictional history

Alan Armstrong

Similar to Batman and the Modern Age Blue Beetle, Spy Smasher (real name Alan Armstrong) is a master detective, equipped with a number of gadgets and a specialized vehicle, the "Gyrosub", which was a combination airplane, automobile, and submarine. Created by Bill Parker and C. C. Beck, Spy Smasher was introduced in "Whiz Comics" #2 (February 1940). Alongside Captain Marvel, Spy Smasher became one of the magazine's most popular characters.

His name was changed to "Crime Smasher" after World War II ended. In 1953, Fawcett ceased publication of all superhero comics, after settling a lawsuit against DC Comics over Captain Marvel being an infringement on the copyright of Superman, agreeing to cease publishing Captain Marvel.

After DC Comics obtained the rights to the Fawcett characters in 1972, Spy Smasher began appearing irregularly in DC Comics, presented as one of the heroes of Earth-S prior to "Crisis on Infinite Earths". The character was used prominently in the 1990s series "The Power of Shazam!", in which aged Alan Armstrong often recounts his adventures as Spy Smasher. "Power of Shazam!" #24 was dedicated to Armstrong's recounting of a Cold War-era mission he undertook with an archaeologist named CC Batson to Batson's children, Billy and Mary.

While Alan was still Spy Smasher in that story, a crossover between "Power of Shazam" and "Starman" included Jack Knight running over the history of the Fawcett City heroes, and mentioning that he thought Spy Smasher became Crime Smasher after the war, but was unsure.

AC Comics has published reprints of some Golden Age Spy Smasher stories that have lapsed into the public domain.

Katarina Armstrong

A new Spy Smasher, government agent Katarina Armstrong, created by Gail Simone, first appears in "Birds of Prey" #100 (January 2007). She is a high-ranking anti-terrorism agent who is affiliated with several American, Commonwealth, and United Nations agencies (see table). Her relation to Alan Armstrong has not been revealed, though her secret identity and costume seem clearly inspired by him. She is depicted in her first appearances as having a domineering demeanor, and is not hesitant to kill or order deaths in order to complete a mission. Having forced Oracle to work for her, she plans to take over the Birds of Prey organization and usurp Oracle's position. Issue #103 indicates that Katarina and Oracle were friends in college. At some point prior to Katarina's debut, they became rivals. That issue shows a flashback of both women competing in a race, with Katarina beating Barbara by cheating but immediately confessing to the judges after she had won.

Katarina accompanies the Birds on a mission in Russia, and in a conflict with the Secret Six, Katarina finds her equal marksman in Deadshot. Katarina assumes leadership of the Birds from Oracle and fires Lady Blackhawk for dissent. Back at Oracle's base, she is challenged to a fight by Oracle, who then manages to give Katarina a proper beating. She is humiliated when she faces the united front of every single one of Barbara's living former agents. Spy Smasher leaves disgraced after being threatened by Black Canary, but before doing so also gives Oracle information on Misfit's background.

It was later mentioned in "Checkmate" #16 by Sasha Bordeaux that Josephine Tautin had "drop-kicked her down a deep, dark hole. Something she quite enjoyed doing, incidentally." "Checkmate" #18 has Sasha personally apologising to Barbara for Katarina's actions.


Creator Gail Simone said on Katarina, "I felt the DCU needed a Jack Bauer. In these early issues, she looks like a pointed allegory to the abuse of powers by the government, but she doesn’t see it that way, and she’s a lot more complex than that. It’d be a cheat to simply make her evil and completely hate-able, I think. She’s got some levels. And she knows Babs’ weaknesses. I like her. She’s very very dark... Even above [Barbara and Katarina's] competitive natures, there is a perfectly valid and honest ideological difference of opinion there. Babs believes what she’s doing is necessary, Katarina believes what Babs is doing is treason. They actually like each other, but like brothers fighting on opposite sides of the Civil War, the distance between them is so vast and clearly drawn that they can’t even hope to reconcile. They were friends; their ideals make them bitter enemies."cite web
last =
first =
title = Newsarama: The Simone Files I: Birds of Prey
accessdate = 2007-08-27

Powers and abilities

Spy Smasher is an expert marksman and fighter on a similar level to Deadshot. She claims to be of higher political authority than anyone in the United States, even the President, but is later outranked in an issue of "Checkmate" by Sasha Bordeaux. Although she explicitly states that her job is to kill people, specifically terrorists and those who aim to harm the United States, she has yet to be directly depicted as taking a life.

Other media

*In 1942, Spy Smasher was adapted into a popular 12-part film serial directed by William Witney for Republic Pictures. "Spy Smasher" featured actor Kane Richmond in a dual role, as both the title character (an American freelance agent in Nazi-occupied France who was originally believed to have been killed in a plane crash) and his identical twin brother, and Marguerite Chapman as the brother's imperiled fiancée, Eve Corby. Edited down to 100 minutes in 1966 the serial was re-released for television under the title "Spy Smasher Returns".

*Spy Smasher made a brief appearance in "Justice League Unlimited" episode 507 "Patriot Act", in which a flashback sequence is shown with him preventing the creation of Captain Nazi and confiscating the unstable serum that would be used later in the episode. He was voiced by Nathan Fillion who remained uncredited.


;Alan Armstrong
*"Whiz Comics" #1–83 (February 1940–March 1947, Fawcett Comics)
*"America's Greatest Comics" #1–6, 8 (1941–Summer 1943, Fawcett Comics)
*"Spy Smasher" #1–11 (Fall 1941–February 1943, Fawcett Comics)
*"Crime Smasher" #1 (1948, Fawcett Comics)
*"Justice League of America" #135 (October 1976, DC Comics)
*"The Power of Shazam!" #8, 24–25 (October 1995, March–April 1997, DC Comics)
*"Men of Mystery" #30, 33 (AC Comics);Katarina Armstrong
*"Birds of Prey" #100-108 (January 2007-July 2007)


External links

* [http://www.dcuguide.com/profile.php?name=spysmasher Unofficial Guide to DC Comics entry]
* [http://www.toonopedia.com/spysmash.htm Toonopedia entry]

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