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During a recent conversation about female superhero code names, it occurred to me that, for the first half-century of comic books, the titles "Captain" and "Doctor" were exclusively reserved for male characters, like Captain America or Doctor Fate. The first female characters I could think of to carry those titles were the Monica Rambeau version of Captain Marvel and the Kimiyo Hoshi version of Doctor Light over at DC. It struck me as interesting that the earliest women I could think of with these titles had borrowed them from pre-existing male counterparts.

So my question is, are Captain Marvel and Doctor Light in fact the first super-heroines to use those titles, or was there someone prior to them I'm forgetting? If these are indeed the first, does anyone know the first time "Captain" or "Doctor" were used for female characters who were NOT based on prior male versions?


To clarify: I'm specifically looking for a Code Name adopted by a female character (a la Captain Boomerang or Doctor Octopus), not just a character who is actually a Captain or Doctor.

  • Beth Chapel, the second Dr. Midnite, may have pre-dated Kimiyo Hoshi at DC by a few months. – RDFozz May 26 '18 at 2:26
  • Captain Marvel is actually a captain. Doc Ock is a real doctor. – Valorum May 26 '18 at 7:17
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    @Valorum Yes, but I don't think the questioner required they not BE a Doctor or Captain, but merely that not be the sole reason they're addressed that way, that it actually BE a code-name. Doctor Octopus qualifies because he's not actually a Doctor with the last name Octopus. Similar for Captain Marvel. – starpilotsix May 26 '18 at 11:50
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    However, Wonder Woman villain Doctor Poison, from 1942 and originally a woman (although disguised so people couldn't tell) was a Japanese princess rather than an official Doctor named Poison so I assume she'd qualify and wasn't based on an existing character. I don't know if she's the FIRST, but she certainly moves the benchmark back a few decades. – starpilotsix May 26 '18 at 11:50
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    If the question is specifically about superheroines, Doctor Poison obviously doesn't apply, but the question seems to go back and forth whether that's specifically what's being requested so it might be that 'heroine' is used generally to include both heroes and villains, much like you might refer to something as a superhero story even if that particular one focuses on villains. – starpilotsix May 26 '18 at 11:53
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1940: Gale Allen of the Women's Space Battalion. Written by Fred Nelson (house name?). Introduced in Planet Comics #4, April 1940, p. 55. We learn her rank in Planet Comics #5, May 1940, first panel on p. 15, when a subordinate addresses her as "Captain Allen":

BEG PARDON, CAPTAIN ALLEN. MIDWAY FLOAT BEING ATTACKED—YOU ARE TO PROCEED THERE AT ONCE!

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    Thanks, but I was specifically interested in superhero Code Names. In this example, "Allen" is simply her name. While her rank is impressive for the time, it doesn't qualify as an adopted Code Name. – Allen R. Brady May 26 '18 at 3:29

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