Tom Dalton was a lineman for the Atlas Electric Company until he was shocked and killed by 10,000 D.C. volts of electricity. He was brought back to life by a coworker, who used 10,000 A.C. volts. Tom Dalton became the first Magno. He was powered by the very electricity that saved his life, and he used it to fight crime with his magnetic and electrical abilities. He sometimes ran out of power and had to recharge himself by touching exposed wires.
The first Magno was created for Quality Comics by Paul Gustafson, golden age writer/artist who also created heroes like the Human Bomb. Magno made his debut in Smash Comics #13, published August 1940 in his self-titled origin story. He continued on for only another nine issues before being replaced by the Jester.
Silver Age and the End of Quality Comics
In 1956, Quality Comics, the original publishers of Magno, closed shop. In 1957, DC Comics purchased the right to publish the Quality stable of characters, which included characters like the Magno, Blackhawks, Plastic Man, and a host of others. Unlike Plastic Man or the Blackhawks, Magno sat on the shelf throughout the silver age.
Bronze Age and a New Origin
As DC Comics entered the Bronze Age, writer Roy Thomas took ownership of DC’s stable of golden age heroes. Thomas sought to revitalize the golden age heroes, and retroactively created a new wartime super-team called the All-Star Squadron. Thomas wanted all of the golden age heroes to be part of this group. With All-Star Squadron issue #31, Thomas brought the Quality characters into Earth-2 continuity. Thomas retconned that Magno joined an earlier version of the Freedom Fighters (including Miss America and Uncle Sam) that he created prior to their exploits in Justice League of America #107. This version of the Freedom Fighters were actually from Earth-2 with the other heroes of the Justice Society of America, and that they migrated from Earth-2 to Earth-X to aid that Earth’s fight against the Nazis.
In the wake of the multiverse-changing Crisis on Infinite Earths, there was no more Earth-2 or Earth-X. Thomas needed to revamp some of the histories he had just fleshed out. Now, instead of multiple Earths, the exploits of Magno, the Freedom Fighters and the All-Star Squadron happened on the same Earth, all during World War II. In addition, Thomas wrote an origin story for retconned Freedom Fighter member Miss America in Secret Origins #26, where the rest of the Freedom Fighters (with the exception of Magno) did not die and actually survived World War II.
Key Story Arcs
Magno’s Solo Adventures
Magno made a name for himself with a small but successful heroic career. He stopped a cruise ship from being torpedoed by a German U-Boat, stopped a rash of bank robberies in the city of Hillcrest, saved Bob Green from being wrongfully electrocuted, and preserved the secret of Kali-Hana.
World War II and the Freedom Fighters
During World War II on Earth-2, the embodiment of America, Uncle Sam, discovered a parallel Earth. On this Earth, later called Earth-X, the Nazi’s were winning World War II. Uncle Sam recruited a group of heroes to traverse the multiverse to Earth-X to stop the Nazis on this world. Uncle Sam invited Hourman, Invisible Hood, Magno the Magnetic Man, Miss America, Neon the Unknown, and the Red Torpedo to join the Freedom Fighters. This team traveled to Earth-X and fought combined Nazi and Japanese forces at Pearl Harbor. They prevented the attack on Pearl Harbor, but, with the exception of Uncle Sam and Hourman, all hands died in the line of duty.
Powers and Abilities
Magno could manipulate the electromagnetic spectrum. This allowed him some control over metals, though not as strong as other metahumans like Doctor Polaris. He could use this control to attract or repel himself in relation to metal objects, as well as attract and repel smaller metal objects from his hands. He could manipulate small amounts of electricity, shocking people with his hands, or creating an electrical aura around himself. His powers gave him immunity to electricity.
In addition, Magno also gained other abilities. He possessed telescopic vision, along him to see great distances. He had superhuman strength, and could bend metal with his bare hands.
The first Magno was just one of the hundreds of golden age heroes featured in James Robinson’s four-issue Elseworlds series Golden Age. Magno is seen very little in the series, seen only as one of the myriad of heroes that fights Dynaman in the series’ ending.