This page is for the original Black Condor, Richard Grey Jr.
For the second Black Condor, see Ryan Kendall
For the current Black Condor, see the Black Condor page
Archaeologist Richard Grey and his wife were on an expedition in Outer Mongolia. During this time Grey’s wife had given birth to an infant boy, Richard Jr. Tragically the expedition was attacked by Yakki raiders. All were killed except the Greys’ infant son, now an orphan. The infant Richard was saved from the same fate as his parents, as a race of highly intelligent condors looked after him and nurtured him until the day he discovered he had the mutant ability of flight. Found wounded one day by Father Pierre (a local hermit), Richard was taken in by the old man and educated in the ways of survival and the wider world. When Father Pierre was killed by the same bandits that took his parents’ lives, Richard sought revenge and killed those that were responsible. Richard then felt his destiny lied with his real birth place and left his condor family to find it.
Calling himself Richard Grey, he arrived in the United States, and became a costumed hero, taking the name Black Condor. By some strange twist of fate, Richard came upon the accident scene of Senator Thomas Wright. Wright was thrown from a speeding car, by thugs of Jasper Crow who wanted to prevent him from casting an important vote in the Senate. Realizing how much he looked like Wright, Black Condor posed as the senator and stopped the evil scheme. When Wright died from his injuries, Black Condor took the senator’s identity permanently at the senator’s request, and went on to stop the saboteurs and crooked politicians, becoming a force for good.
Black Condor first saw the light of day in Crack Comics #1, published in May 1940, by Quality Comics. Black Condor was one of many heroes created for Quality Comics by Eisner and Iger Studios. Eisner and Iger Studios, sometimes abbreviated as Eisner & Iger, was an art syndication company founded by comics greats Will Eisner and Jerry Iger. During the years 1936 to 1940, this company produced a large amount of stories and strips for both comic books and newspapers. Black Condor was created by Will Eisner himself, together with Eisner & Iger artist Lou Fine. Eisner leaned heavily on the origin of another prevalent comic character at the time: Tarzan.
Black Condor debuted in the 8-page story “The Man Who Could Fly like a Bird”, by Eisner and Fine, though the story is credited to the pseudonym “Kenneth Lewis.” Will Eisner only wrote the first few stories before he left Eisner & Iger to start The Spirit. Condor continued to get cover billing in Crack Comics until issue #26. Condor’s stories continued in Crack Comics until issue #31, where he was replaced by Captain Triumph and retired by Quality.
Silver Age and the End of Quality Comics
In 1956, Quality Comics, the original publishers of the Black Condor, closed shop. In 1957, DC Comics purchased the right to publish the Quality stable of characters, which included characters like the Blackhawks, Black Condor, Plastic Man, and a host of others. Unlike Plastic Man or the Blackhawks, Black Condor sat on the shelf until 1973, when writer Len Wein brought him and five other Quality Comics characters back in the pages of Justice League of America. Taking a page from greats like Julius Schwartz and Gardner Fox, Wein created a world called Earth-X, where the exploits of the Quality Comics characters existed. However, this world differed from Earth-1 and Earth-2 in the fact that the Nazi’s won World War II. Black Condor and the other Quality Comics characters ( Doll Man, Human Bomb, Phantom Lady, the Ray, and Uncle Sam) made up a new team called the Freedom Fighters, and needed help from the Justice League of Earth-1 and the Justice Society of Earth-2.
The Freedom Fighters' guest appearances in the Justice League of America #107 and #108 garnered enough fan response to get them their own series. The Freedom Fighters ongoing series debuted in April of 1976 as part of the DC Explosion, a marketing initiative that led to the creation of a large number of ongoing series for DC, including Return of the New Gods and Starfire. In issue #13, writer Bob Rozakis revisited the origin of Black Condor. Freedom Fighters lasted 15 issues before being canceled. Black Condor and the other Freedom Fighters once again resided in obscurity, outside the occasional guest appearance in DC Comics Presents and Secret Society of Super-Villains.
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 Black Condor and 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 the Black Condor, the Freedom Fighters and the All-Star Squadron happened on the same Earth, all during World War II. Roy Thomas also revisited the Black Condor’s origin in detail in Secret Origins #21 (released December 1987). Thomas, with art by Murphy Anderson, re-told the story from Crack Comics #1, with minor adjustments. Thomas explained that Black Condor’s ability to fly came from the energies of a fallen meteor.
The last days of the first Black Condor were never recorded. He is seen, as a ghost, in the Brian Augustyn/ Rags Morales 1992 series Black Condor, which follow his successor Ryan Kendall. In Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters #5, Miss America confirms that Richard Grey is, indeed, deceased.
Key Story Arcs
Black Condor’s Early Adventures
After his defeat of the Yakki raiders, the Black Condor continued to fight for good. Due to his connections in Washington D.C., the Black Condor often faced international or political threats. The high-flying crimefighter defeated the armies of the dictator Sihn-Fang, the thieving Human Kites, the asian Lung Woe, and the corrupt General Korn. He helped in the war effort as well, defending Panama Canal against a combined assault from Nazi and Japanese forces. The Condor also found crime boss Jasper Crow an ongoing enemy, always trying to corrupt American politics for his own greedy needs.
Prior to taking on the identity of Tom Wright, Black Condor caught the attentions of Andrea Kent, also known as the Princess of Raj, and helped protect her on a couple of occasions. However, after taking on Senator Wright’s identity, Condor continued Wright’s engagement to Wendy Foster. Wendy was so enamored by the fact that her fiancée was no longer a coward, that she did not acknowledge the switch. Wendy’s father, Dr. Foster, knew of the switch and aided Black Condor in his cover story.
World War II, the Freedom Fighters, and the All-Star Squadron
When President Roosevelt sent out the call for the heroes of Earth-2 to form the All-Star Squadron, the Black Condor heeded the call. Black Condor joined the 47 other World War II heroes at the All-Star’s base of operations: the Perisphere. Their first meeting was interrupted, though, by Uncle Sam. Uncle Sam told the All-Stars of a world (later called Earth-X) where the Nazis were winning World War II. Uncle Sam had formed a group called the Freedom Fighters (consisting of Hourman, Invisible Hood, Magno, Miss America, Neon the Unknown, and Red Torpedo) and brought them from Earth-2 to Earth-X to stop the Nazis in that parallel Earth. Unfortunately, they failed, and all but Uncle Sam and Hourman died.
Uncle Sam returned to Earth-2 and recruited a new team of Freedom Fighters: Black Condor, Doll Man, Human Bomb, Phantom Lady, the Ray, and the Red Bee. The Spectre transported them to Earth-X, where they planned on stopping Baron Blitzkrieg from orchestrating an attack on U.S. soil. The Freedom Fighters succeeded in stopping most of the German and Japanese troops, but unfortunately Baron Blitzkrieg had an ace up his sleeve: Hourman as a hostage.
The crossings between Earth-2 and Earth-X started to cause a disruption between the two Earths; one that the Spectre held off long enough for Uncle Sam’s team to finish their mission and return to Earth-2. Meanwhile, Uncle Sam’s Freedom Fighters were captured trying to free Hourman. When Baron Blitzkrieg killed Red Bee, Red Bee’s death pushed the Freedom Fighters into breaking free and defeating the Baron’s plans. With the walls between Earth-2 and Earth-X becoming thinner, Baron Blitzkrieg fled to Earth-2. Most of the heroes followed, with Uncle Sam, the Ray, and Black Condor staying behind to help Earth-X, where the Nazis still had the upper hand.
As time went on, the Nazis continued to dominate Earth-X Realizing that Earth-X needed as much help as it could get, Uncle Sam, Black Condor, and the Ray returned to Earth-2. Making use of the weakening of the bonds between worlds created by the Crisis, the three heroes recruited as many heroes as they could to help on Earth-X on a more permanent basis. Plastic Man and Phantom Lady were the first to agree, and they, alongside the other Quality heroes, left for Earth-X permanently.
Even with the help of the various heroes of Earth-2, the Nazis of Earth-X eventually conquered America. Many Earth-X heroes gave their lives to try to stop them, including the Blackhawks of that Earth. In order to help control the population of the world, the Third Reich developed mind-influencing transmitters and stationed them at the Eiffel Tower, Mount Rushmore, and Mount Fijuyama. The remaining Freedom Fighters (Black Condor, Doll Man, Human Bomb, Phantom Lady, the Ray, and Uncle Sam) went underground.
The Freedom Fighters and the Heroes of Earth-1
While on patrol, the Freedom Fighters discovered an unusual sight: seven costumed super-heroes fighting the Nazi army. These heroes were members of the Justice League of Earth-1 ( Batman, Elongated Man, Green Arrow, and Red Tornado) and the Justice Society of Earth-2 ( Dr. Fate, Superman, and Sandman). The Freedom Fighters rescued them and took them back to their underground bunker.
Once regrouped, the heroes of Earth-1 and Earth-2 decided to end Nazi rule on Earth-X forever. They split up into three teams, each one targeting one of the mind-influencing transmitters. The heroes were successful, thanks to the Red Tornado bringing the attack to the Nazi’s orbiting base. Tornado destroyed the android Adolf Hitler running this Nazi regime, and enabled the Freedom Fighters to gain the upper hand. The heroes of Earth-1 and Earth-2 left for home, confidant that the Freedom Fighters could end Nazi rule.
With the help of the heroes of other Earths, Black Condor and the Freedom Fighters made Earth-X an Earth of peace. However, with no super-villains, the heroes eventually became bored. With the help of an Earth-X scientist, the Freedom Fighters made the trip from Earth-X to Earth-1 in search of a new home. They came over to our New York City, where they immediately found themselves facing the villainous Silver Ghost and his gang. The Silver Ghost would turn out to be a recurring enemy of the team, just as New York City D.A. David Pearson would turn out to be an ally. Pearson arranged for the Freedom Fighters to be based out of a building in the East Armory. While in New York City, the team faced King Samson, Skragg the Super-Sniper, the demon Homilus, Cat-Man, the Renegades, and the alien Warmakers. Firebrand, also a native of Earth-X, would eventually join the Freedom Fighters as well.
The Freedom Fighters realized that the same order of events that had triggered the Nazi party victory on Earth-X was happening on Earth-1: the destruction of the U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence. The Freedom Fighters and Superman stopped the Earth-1 neo-Nazi party responsible, and shortly after, the Freedom Fighters returned to Earth-X.
The Crisis on Infinite Earths
As Black Condor and the Freedom Fighters were rebuilding their Earth, they encountered a white anti-matter wave annihilating everything in its path. This wave was the precursor for the Crisis on Infinite Earths. The Freedom Fighters investigated, only to find themselves controlled by the Psycho-Pirate and thrown at the rest of the multiverse’s heroes trying to stop the Crisis. The Harbinger helped free the mind-controlled Freedom Fighters, and saved Earth-X from being eaten away by anti-matter. Black Condor and the Freedom Fighters joined the other heroes in trying to stop the Crisis.
During the Crisis, Brainiac organized all of the multiverse’s villains into a single force of chaos. Black Condor joined the heroes in trying to stop the villains. However, a rousing speech from Uncle Sam united both heroes and villains against the main villain behind the Crisis: the Anti-Monitor. Black Condor joined the heroes to fight at the dawn of time. While the heroes were successful, events set in motion could not be stopped, and Earth-X merged with the order surviving earths to form a new single Earth, complete with a new past, present, and future.
In the wake of the Crisis, the DC multiverse was condensed into a universe. Because of that, Black Condor’s history changed. Now, instead of being taught how to fly by intelligent condors, Black Condor received the ability to fly by gaining telekinetic abilities from a meteor. With a single Earth, there was no longer an Earth-X. This meant that the Freedom Fighters were simply an offshoot team of the All-Star Squadron that fought during the unified Earth’s World War II. Also in this new history, Black Condor and the Freedom Fighters helped the newly-formed Justice League fend off the second Apellaxian invasion.
At some point either during or after the Crisis on Infinite Earths, the first Black Condor (Richard Grey Jr.) died. The events around his death have not been revealed, though he would appear as a spirit to help guide the second Black Condor.
Powers and Abilities
Richard Grey, the first Black Condor, was able to perform unaided flight through telekinesis given to him by energy from a meteor. His maximum altitude and airspeed were never gauged, but some condors’ maximum altitude is around 15,000 feet, while their airspeed is nearly 60 miles per hour. The Black Condor used his flight to aid in his fighting style, swooping in to deliver devastating punches and kicks while his maneuverability kept him out of harm's way.
Black Condor was a skilled hand-to-hand combatant and an Olympic-level athlete.
During his childhood, Black Condor also learned how to speak the language of the condors.
Height: 6' 2"
Weight: 196 lbs
Weapons and Equipment
For a part of his career, the first Black Condor used a Black Light Gun which could deliver force beams that were capable of stunning an opponent or knocking down a brick wall. This gun was eventually passed down to Ryan Kendall, though he only used it for one adventure.
This weapon was redesigned and given to the first Phantom Lady. The technology behind the Black Light Gun has been vastly re-tooled and redesigned, and is currently in the hands of the newest Phantom Lady, Stormy Knight.
Batman: The Brave and the Bold
The first Black Condor appeared with his Freedom Fighter teammates Doll Man, Human Bomb, Phantom Lady, the Ray, and Uncle Sam, in an episode of Batman: Brave and the Bold. The episode (episode 21 of season 2, “Cry Freedom Fighters!”) featured Batman, the Freedom Fighters, and fellow Quality Comics superhero Plastic Man fighting against the Weaponers of Qward. Black Condor was voiced by Jason Miller.