Richard Jones was an ex-All American fullback, ex-collegiate boxing, wrestling and fencing champ. After his school career, Richard became a reporter for a new paper in New York City. He was however repulsed by all the evil things he saw and soon decided to become a hero and fight the crime that he could only report about as a journalist. He made himself a secret identity as the Phantom Reporter. At first he fought many criminals, but soon, when the Second World War started, found himself fighting overseas against the Nazis.
The Phantom Reporter was created by Mike Robard and Sam Cooper and first appeared in Daring Mystery Comics issue 3 (1940). His character only appeared a few times before J.Michael Straczynski and Chris Weston revived and further developed the character in the pages of "The Twelve".
Major Story Arcs
During World War II, the Phantom Reporter helped the superhero group known as the Invaders fight the Nazi's in Europe, as did most other heroes. While fighting the war, a group of twelve superhero's, including the Phantom Reporter, formed when they entered a headquarters of the SS in Berlin. It was a random group with the heroes who were nearest to the building and wanted to check out if they could find anything inside the building to help the war effort. During they're inspection of the building however, the heroes were trapped by Nazis in a basement and put to cold sleep, for studying after the war. Things however turned out different then the Nazis had hoped. The Axis didn't win the war, and the secret basement was forgotten in time. Nothing was heard from the twelve heroes from that point on. On August the second, 2008 the basement of the SS bunker was discovered during construction work on the sight and the heroes were discovered to still be alive, frozen inside their tubes. The Pentagon brought them over to America and defrosted them, asking them to work for the government once again, openly this time as the Super- Human Registration Act was in effect.
For every hero, now collectively better known as The Twelve, it was a mayor adjustment to wake up 'in the future', more then 60 year after they where frozen. Sometime after they had been unfrozen, the Phantom Reporter was asked by the Daily Bugle to write articles for the paper. They wanted to hear from his unique point of view about how he felt about this day and age. Richard accepted and started writing, on his typewriter, about how hard it was to adjust to this time. He missed the good vibration of the 1930's where people would sit outside during hot summer nights, play ball with their sons and have good conversations . Now it was only computer games and so much anger, while people seemed to have it all.
Most of the heroes stayed inside a mansion that had been payed for by the US government. Inside Richard started a somewhat strange relationship with fellow Twelve member, the Black Widow. A strange sexual tension between the two started. Richard however noticed she went outside during the night, and was not sure whether she was truly good or evil. Eventually the Black Widow convinced Richard and the two became even closer. Most of the heroes stayed at the mansion all the time, but Richard's teammate Blue Blade went his own way and started a television show. He did this with another member of "The Twelve", the robot named Electro. It was however not soon after that Richard got a disturbing phone-call; Blue Blade had been killed, and it seemed that the lifeless robot Electro was to blame for it. Electro however could only be controlled through a control panel, and nobody was at the panel at the moment that the robot killed Blue Blade. Phantom Reporter investigated the scene and, through a device that let the person see through the eyes of Electro, he almost managed to find out the person responsible for the killing. He was however interrupted without knowing the truth, or so he told the others. He tried to make up a plan so he could stop the killer in their midst without drawing to much attention of the others.
Eventually, Phantom Reporter brought the remaining Twelve members together to expose the murderer. He revealed that Electro's control helmet revealed to him that Electro had been searching for contact while the twelve slept. It had made contact with the synthetic brain of Dynamic Man. This enabled Dynamic Man to control Electro. Richard revealed that Dynamic Man used Electro to murder several people including Blue Blade. Dynamic Man snapped and destroyed the mansion the Twelve were staying in. Phantom Reporter, Mastermind Excello, Fiery Mask and Captain Wonder found Dynamic Man at the lab of his creator Professor Goettler. During the ensuing battle Fiery Mask was killed but was able to pass his powers to Phantom Reporter (as they were passed to him). Phantom Reporter used his powers to incinerate Dynamic Man and permanently scarred Captain Wonder in the process.
It now appears that Phantom Reporter and Black Widow work as superpowered investigators under the guidance of Mastermind Excello.
Richards does not possess any superhuman abilities but is very strong, and has a nose for investigation.
Update: the Phantom Reporter has the Flame generation powers that were possessed by Fiery Mask. It it as of yet unrevealed if he possesses any other powers.