On This Day: The Crimson Avenger
Lee Walter Travis was raised to wealth and privilege but nonetheless developed a social conscience, becoming a member of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade during the Spanish Civil War and then turning to publishing and producing a progressive paper called The Globe Leader. It was while attending a Halloween costume ball in 1938, however, that he discovered his true career.
A band of crooks robbed the party and shot several people, including Travis’ fellow reporter Claudia Barker. She died in his arms and Travis, enraged, pursued and subdued the crooks, leaving them for the police to find afterward. His costume—a red trenchcoat, fedora, and mask—and Claudia’s last words and favorite motto, “Qui Vindicet ibit” (“The avenger will come”) combined to create tales of a strange “Crimson Avenger.” Travis had found his calling.
The Crimson Avenger was later one of the Seven Soldiers of Victory and part of the All-Star Squadron. Years later, Travis sacrificed his own life to save an entire city, steering a deadly tanker well away and staying at the helm until it exploded. The Crimson Avenger first appeared in Detective Comics No. 20, predating Batman by a full seven issues.