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NELVANA OF THE NORTHERN LIGHTS

Appearances:

Triumph–Adventure–Comics Nos. 1–7 (Hillborough Studios, Aug. 1941–Feb. 1942); Triumph Comics Nos. 8-31(Commercial Signs of Canada/Bell Features, ca. Mar. 1942–1946); Super Duper Comics No. 3 (F. E. Howard, 1947). Six adventures were later reprinted in Nelvana of the Northern Lights (Bell Features, ca. 1945).

Writers:

Adrian Dingle – all stories, except Triumph No. 31. John Hollis Mason - Triumph Comics No. 31.

Artist:

Adrian Dingle

Background:

Adrian Dingle credited Franz Johnston of the Group of Seven with the concept of Nelvana. It seems that following a trip to the Arctic (probably in 1939), Johnston intrigued his friend Dingle with references to a powerful Inuit mythological figure – an old woman called Nelvana. Dingle was fascinated by the Nelvana character and thought that she had comic book potential, but decided that he would have to transform her, in keeping with the conventions of the superhero genre. In reshaping Nelvana, Dingle appears to have drawn on a number of sources, including Canadian political cartooning and the adventure-fiction tradition of the "white queen."

Origin:

Nelvana is the daughter of a mortal woman and Koliak the Mighty, King of the Northern Lights. Koliak's marriage to Nelvana's mother so angered the gods that he is no longer visible, although his spirit is manifested in the form of lights – the Northern Lights. Both Nelvana and her brother Tanero protect the people of the North with the assistance of Koliak.

Other Identity:

Alana North, Secret Agent (Triumph Nos. 20–31)

Costume:

Her early costume, worn for her Northern adventures, consisted of a fur-trimmed mini-dress with a knee-high boots and matching gloves, plus a cape and a headband.

Powers:

Nelvana is able to fly and can travel at the speed of light on a giant ray of the Aurora Borealis. She can also call upon other powers of the Northern Lights, including Koliak's powerful ray, which can melt metal and disrupt radio communications. As well, she can make herself invisible (Triumph Comics No. 2), can alter her physical form (she becomes dry ice in Triumph Comics No. 13), and can use her magic cloak to transform her brother from light form to human form (he must not be seen by Whites while in human form). She can also communicate telepathically with her brother. She is apparently immortal (Triumph Comics No. 12).

Residence/Locale:

The Far North until Triumph Comics No. 19, in which she relocates to Nortonville, Ontario

Associates:

Tanero, Nelvana's brother (Triumph Comics Nos. 1–7); Felix and Silas Langdon, scientist-inventors; Cpl. John Keane, RCMP; Sgt. Michael O'Donnelly, Nortonville Police.

Summary of Major Adventures/Enemies:

1. KABLUNETS (Triumph Comics Nos. 1-7)
Nelvana and her brother, Tanero, are called upon to assist the Inuit ["Eskimos" in comic–Ed.]. Nelvana discovers that the "evil white ones" (Kablunets), led by Commander Toroff, are destroying fish and other food stocks with time bombs. Koliak assists Nelvana and transforms the Northern Lights into a gigantic magnet which draws the bombs skyward, where they explode harmlessly. Toroff then attacks Nelvana and Tanero with killer boats armed with Thormite Rays, all the while surveying the battle from his Devil Ship by means of his aeroscope. Nelvana and Tanero land on the Devil Ship, which is loaded with dead finback whales. Nelvana directs Tanero to destroy Toroff's fleet by opening the seacocks of the Devil Ship and by attacking the killer boats. Meanwhile, Nelvana searches Toroff's quarters looking for his plans.

After Nelvana finds Toroff's plans, she is captured by Toroff, who orders his men to leave her bound on a barrel just above a gaping digestor pit! Koliak, realizing his daughter is in peril, directs Tanero to rescue Nelvana. Once the Devil Ship sinks and the Kablunet fleet is destroyed, Nelvana reveals that Toroff's plans relate to a secret Zircondium mine. Nelvana creates a forged drilling plan, which eventually leads to a cave-in and the flooding of the Kablunet mine. She also rescues a geologist, Dr. Rockingham, who tells a sceptical Corporal Keane, of the RCMP, about the marvellous superheroine.

Meanwhile, Nelvana discovers that Kablunet warplanes are amassing for an invasion of the North. The Kablunet attack the Inuit, but the invasion is thwarted by Koliak's ray, which disrupts communications and leads to the defeat of the Kablunet force by the RCAF. As a result, Nelvana's existence becomes known to southern Canadians and to Hitler, who is so frustrated by "Dis Arctic girl" that he dispatches two agents, Mardyth and Karl, to the Arctic to foil Nelvana. Nelvana and Tanero eventually defeat the Kablunets.

2. NELVANA OF THE NORTHERN LIGHTS IN THE STRANGE FROZEN WORLD OF GLACIA (Triumph Comics Nos. 8-18)
Koliak informs Nelvana that Glacia, a lost world, is hidden beneath the Arctic ice, under the polestar. A chasm over Glacia is opening and life is returning to this "Land of Frozen Life," which has learned the secret of immortality. Nelvana is swept into a crevasse and eventually finds herself on a glass floor, through which she views the futuristic world of Glacia. Nelvana meets Prince Targa and his father, King Rano, and learns that Glacia is threatened by the giant Mammoth Men, who are controlled by the wicked scientist Vultor. She also realizes that the Glacians have been asleep for five million years and that their last record of the world above – viewed through their Space-O-Graph – is of the prehistoric world.

With the assistance of Nelvana and Koliak's Might Ray, the Glacians repel an attack by the Mammoth Men. However, not long after the battle, a Glacian traitor flees to Vultor and tells the evil dictator how he can infiltrate Glacia. Disguised through super-science as King Rano, Vultor prepares to attack Glacia. Meanwhile, Nelvana convinces the Glacians to view the contemporary world and all its horrors. Vultor then slips into Glacia and captures Rano in order to learn the secret of eternal life. Nelvana becomes invisible and is able to learn of Vultor's plot. Vultor captures Targa (Nelvana has some romantic interest in him) and tries to convince Nelvana to become his queen. Nelvana turns herself into dry ice and destroys Vultor.

Not long after, the dome of the Glacian city is pierced by a rocket, which turns out to be a Japanese bomb. Nelvana realizes that her world is being attacked by Japanese forces. While Nelvana is presumably busy tying things up in Glacia, the story shifts to the Arctic (Triumph Comics Nos. 15-18), where the Japanese threaten to prevent the completion of the Alcan Highway. Eventually, they drop "swarms of savage, starved Manchurian wolves," but before they can kill the Alcan work crews, Nelvana, who is riding a polar bear, reappears (Triumph Comics No. 18) and destroys the wolves.

3. NELVANA OF THE NORTHERN LIGHTS AND THE ICE-BEAM (Triumph Comics Nos. 19-23)
The inventor/scientist Felix Langdon is working on a secret weapon, the ice beam, with his brother Silas. When they are kidnapped, Koliak tells Nelvana that she must go south and assume a new identity. Nelvana, with Silas, flies to Nortonville, Ontario, where a policeman, Sgt. Michael O'Donnelly, helps Nelvana to assume a new identity: Alana North, Secret Agent. Her new identity is threatened, however, when she rescues Silas from a devilfish. Investigating the devilfish, Nelvana and Silas stumble on the lair of the German villain One-Ear Brunner and his henchmen Dwarfo and Slimey. Brunner, who is holding Felix captive, captures Nelvana and Silas and demands that Silas hand over his half of the ice-beam plans. Nelvana lures Brunner to a boat and then knocks him out. She then rescues Felix, but is grabbed by Dwarfo. Nelvana responds by threatening to open water valves and drown everyone in the lair. Brunner and his accomplices surrender, and the ice-beam is used in Britain to bring down Nazi robot-bombs.

4. NELVANA OF THE NORTHERN LIGHTS AND THE ETHER PEOPLE (Triumph Comics Nos. 24-29; Super Duper No. 3)
Corporal Keene is confronted by a little green man, an emissary from the ether world, Etheria (the void band surrounding the outer strata of the globe), who warns that Earth's radio broadcasts must stop, as they are driving the Etherians crazy. At first Keene doubts his own sanity but then realizes the encounter was for real and decides to find Nelvana, who, as Alana North, is in Ottawa. An Etherian confronts Nelvana and repeats the warning. Nelvana makes him disappear and then arranges for the construction of the largest radio loudspeaker ever built, which will serve as the entry point to Etheria for her and Keene.

After entering the stratosphere, Nelvana and Keene find themselves trapped in Statica and are captured by the Staticites and taken before the Queen of Statica. The haughty Queen, who watches Earth events on a televisor-glass and is served by robots, leads them to the Hall of Time, where, in a crypt, she has preserved the great men (good and evil) of history. The Queen desires Nelvana's power and knowledge and tries to place her in an Electro-Extracter. Nelvana destroys the Queen. As she and Keene return to the stratosphere, they witness the explosion of the Atom Bomb in New Mexico.

Keene and Nelvana are then caught up in a battle between humanoid beings and the flame-men. Nelvana defeats the flame-men and then learns that Etheria is about to attack the Earth. Keene and Nelvana arrive in Etheria just as the invasion fleet prepares to attack. They are captured and are forced to accompany the invaders. Before arriving on the Earth, the invaders stop so that Nelvana can meet the invaders' real leader Vultor! Vultor uses a magic stone to hypnotize Nelvana and then launches an attack on ... Glacia! Keene knocks the stone out of Vultor's hand, thus freeing Nelvana to use her powers. Nelvana defeats the Etherians, but Vultor, alas, escapes.

5. NELVANA AND THE INDESTRUCTIBLE CRIME KING (Triumph Comics No. 30)
Nelvana confronts Knuckles, a criminal inventor who has coated himself with indestructible plastic. Nelvana uses her powers to melt his protective skin.

6. [NELVANA] MEETS HER MATCH (Triumph Comics No. 31)
Nelvana does battle with Dr. Electra, a super-criminal armed with an Atom Ray. Dr. Electra tries to frame Nelvana for the murder of the reporter Jim Blair, but Nelvana succeeds in rescuing Blair.

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