The Woman in Red (WIR) was really police officer Peggy Allen. Disgusted after seeing how criminals were getting away from normal law enforcement she decided to do something about it. Thus becoming The Woman in Red.
Peggy’s usual method was to investigate first where the crime was taking place. She did this by taking a role that would let her blend in, such as a student, nurse, or actress. After gathering the clues she needed she would strike as the Woman in Red.
WIR had no special powers or training but was a very good actress, investigator, an excellent shot with her .45 automatic, and was ok in a fight. She tended to struggle when unarmed and often even when armed against many opponents. Often going from one peril to the next all within a short 5-6 page adventure. Usually her detective skills and the help of allies helped her win the day.
The WIR first appearance in the comic book Thrilling Comics #2. This comic came out one month after Fantomah appeared in Jungle Comics #2. This would not make the WIR the first female crime fighter, but most defiantly one of the first female crime fighters. It is because Fantomah transformed herself into a blue woman with a skull face that the WIR is considered to be the first female "Masked" superhero.
Besides, it is always stated correctly that she came before Wonder Woman but Wonder Woman didn't wear a mask either.
Originally produced by Nedor Comics the WIR is a golden age hero and has become public domain due to copyright and trademark laws. It is for this reason that the WIR has been written about by other comic companies like AC Comics, America's Best Comics, and Dynamite Entertainment. These new stories stick with most of her Golden Aged origins but some make small changes. Most Golden aged origins are kept when a comic company tries to revive a character but then branch out in different ways from that point like a fork.
So, the characters all have a very similar or exact origin story but a completely different career from their counterparts who are written about in the other comic companies.
Due to the WIR going into public domain she has evolved into several different versions of the character.
In Thrilling Comics and Americas Best Comics (Golden Age Version)
The Woman in Red in the Golden Age had a very distinct personality during her time Under Nedor.
There could be considered two distinct versions of the Woman In Red as she appeared in Thrilling Comics and Americas Best Comics 1-2. They are a Strong to VERY Strong Era which didn't last very long, and her Weak State Era, which would be the vast majority of her appearances. There are commonalities with both eras of the Woman In Red such as her relations with the Police overall, With Detective Cavanaugh and the Chief, also her ability to swing around like Tarzan and shoot straight.
In her strong state, the Woman in Red is a no-nonsense Costumed Detective. Although she has a terrible relationship with most uniformed Police officers and Detective Cavanaugh, she is on good terms with the Chief of Police. The WIR is very tough in this form, although not very athletic she is not afraid to confront her foes directly. She is tougher, stronger, faster, very aware of her surroundings making her hard to sneak upon. She is a much better shot than in her Weak State, easily capable of shooting to wound or kill. She depends less on her gun in this form and uses her environment to even the odds. Although sometimes outnumbered and overpowered. She quickly recovers and is able to track down her foes for retaliation. Her Detective skills are top-notch and she's quick to gather clues and make connections. Her Rival Detective Cavanaugh, often interfered at his own risk many times, often bungling her adventures. This Era of the Woman in Red didn't last very long. It came back towards the end of her run, where she even got a short skirt and cape for a costume, losing the long flowing cloak. She more resembled characters like Miss Masque and Phantom Lady. She was even tougher during these last couple of issues. Essentially a different character.
This version of the Woman in Red was nowhere as tough or strong as the Strong Stae version. She was weaker physically, lacking toughness, speed, strength, and was easily ambushed. She was also a sub-par physical combatant. She was on far better terms with the Police department even her rival Cavanaugh, which proved to be beneficial, as she was often saved by him. She was a decent Detective here but took longer to gather her clues which often led to more peril for her. Even in a few short pages, The Woman In Red was in peril often. She struggled against even the average mook let alone their Bosses. She had a knack for being knocked out at an alarming rate. Often recovering too late to save the victim or very nearly herself. Luck was with her often.
Since she also had a habit of being tossed from high places, there seemed to be a lot of Luck over Skill in terms of her survival, much like Rulah The Jungle Goddess. There was always a Gable, Rope, Pipe, or Bush to save her from Death. Many of which would be implausible in reality. In this mode she relied on her gun far more often than her fists, even then it was taken from her frequently. This version of the WIR is close to the version used by AC Comics. Where she is a relatively minor character, and often teamed with other Gun-toting heroes and often in peril or the losing end of a fight.
In America's Best Comics
The WIR finds an unusual ruby crystal that gives her the powers of flight and the ability to shoot energy blasts. She, unfortunately, finds out that it also changes her skin to a ruby color as well. In a sense become the Red Woman instead of the Woman in Red. Embarrassed by the change in her skin pigmentation she hides her skin as much as possible with clothes. She eventually becomes comfortable with her new look and decides to be comfortable in her own skin. She even ends up wearing a bathing suit style costume revealing even more skin.
The WIR along with many other heroes become a part of a program where they are placed in suspended animation for thirty years in 1969. They are released by Tom Strong and have to deal with the new environment around them.
The Woman in Red appeared in several comics published by AC Comics as a member of the Sentinels of Liberty. She made an appearance in the short-lived Fighting Yank comic, where she was overpowered and knocked out by the villainess Titanica, who stole her costume to use as a disguise. The real Woman In Red was later discovered bound and gagged in a broom closet.
WIR also appeared in several issues of FemForce. This version of the Woman In Red is very closely matched to the Weak State version of the '40s under Nedor Publishing.
Dynamite Entertainment Comics - Project Super Powers:
In Dynamite Entertainment Comics the WIR is relatively unchanged from her original conception. She is however trapped in the Urn of Pandora by a misguided Fighting Yank and released about sixty years later. She also has to struggle with a world that has changed just as her counterpart in America's Best Comics.
In this new time, she is teamed up with similar heroes known as the Scarlet Sisters. Among them are the Woman In Red, Lady Satan, and Masquerade A.K.A. Miss Masque. While she possessed none of the powers of Lady Satan or Miss Masque, she still helped their three woman team try to put together their new identity in this new world.
She is on the scene when Zeus, as Captain Future attacks the Pentagon and seemingly kills a weakened Samson. The three woman launch a plan to get Masquerade into his body. She distracts with bullets, while Lady Satan uses her magic. Masquerade jumps in, and Lady Satan is able to use the mask to get her safely out. The plan works, and they discover that Captain Future, is actually the God Zeus, the maker of the Urn of Pandora. Now he seeks the other half of The Flames of Prometheus.
Later, she is at the battle against the Patriots at the Pentagon. She forms a plan to bait Zeus, using his love of Earth Women, and The Flames of Prometheus on a rescue mission. The Flame gathers a small team, including her, and they leave. They meet with Marvelo's team, and learn that The Flames flame wants revenge on Zeus. As they arrive at the location of Flamegirl's imprisonment. She cautions the team that Pyroman is their only real chance to escape alive. They discover Flamegirl and distract Zeus just long enough for The Flame to Reignite Flamegirls energy. Seeing this Zeus knocks the women aside. Gathering themselves, they pull The Flame and Flamegirl to safety, while Pyroman fights Zeus. Airman then blows them even further away. Later she is seen battling Zeus with bullets, ad Lady Satan is struck down by Zeus's Lighning. Thinking she is dying Woman in Red tries to comfort her, before Lady Satans eyes start to glow, and she attacks Zeus again, calling herself Hades.
With Zeus ascendant, the heroes are on the backfoot, and she can barely keep up, as one of the last unpowered heroes on the scene. Zeus goes on to electrocute all the heroes on the scene to test if they are all truly immortal. The heroes fall. But are revived, after Green Lama reveals hey are all now immortal. The heroes are joined by most of the other heroes of the urn, and trap Zeus in a suit of armor, and he is sent to the center of the world.
After Zeus defeat, they join the heroes still in DC, who are now fighting a giant flesh golem of the Claw. There lightning is used on the heroes again, Woman in Red is downed once more. But the day is saved by the Daring Devil. While now Immortal, this version matches the Weak State, as she goes down often in these battles, but is more of a planner and support.
Vampirella - Dark Powers (Dynamite Entertainment Comics)
This is a variant version of the Woman in Red, named Margret Allen. She is a member of the Pan Plural Project; an interdimensional organization, that recruits heroes with super human abilities, to protect the multi-verse. She hails from Plural Earth - 0017. She is said to have Crystal- Derived Hypergifts. They manifest themselves as powerful Telepathy. She was shown capable of scanning for active brain activity, was able to probe Vampirella's brain, and tried to mind control her into submission.
She was the leader of Team Red, on Plural Earth - 4437, home to a variant of the Golden Age hero named, Liberator. They were based in New York City, where they fought his enemies known as the Anticlan, a group of terrorists, who used evolving biotech, to commit their crimes. She was the battlefield leader, and more of a tactician, than a close combatant.
She is portrayed as very calm, patient, and understanding, if a bit flustered at Vampirella's violent tactics. The Project used non-lethal means to stop their foes. She also confronted Vampirella's about her Risque' costume, asking why it wasn't a bit more conservative, and made of their special weave material, that was practical and protective. The WiR's own costume was her original from the 40's. As Vampirella's actions threatened their trust in her, she was attacked by the Black Terror, whose world was destroyed in a cataclysm, with many thinking she was the cause.
Team Red, went after her, and the Woman in Red attempted to mind control Vampirella, which led to a psychic feedback, that knocked out not only the Woman in Red, but most of Team Red, as her pain hit their minds. She is closely matched to the Weak state version of the Woman in Red. Being more of a thinker, than a fighter.
The Woman in Red is also slated to be in Domino Lady's Threesome Issue 3.
The Moonstone version of the Woman in Red has her team up with the Domino Lady and Bulletgirl to investigate a series of murders that seem to be of the Domino Lady herself. She is still Peggy Allen, and a recently transplanted Detective to the Hollywood Division. She's the first on the scene to discover the corpse of one of the Domino Lady's doppelgangers. She meets Detective Sam Washington in the Morgue. Since it is his case, she tells him of her discoveries.
She discovers that the three dead women were given makeovers to more closely resemble the Domino lady in the face, since they all shared similar body types. As the Domino Lady and Bulletgirl discover the plot of the Tigress to use the distraction of the dead women to kidnap a Senator, Peggy dons her disguise and attempt to join the fray. At a ball gathering to swap the Senator, Tigress captures the Domino Lady, but as she talks to her in a dark location. The Woman in Red is able to sneak in and whack her on the back of the head.
Domino Lady and The Woman in Red discuss the situation, having figured out each others real identities. Bulletgirl shows up and they discuss the Tigress' plans. They realize the swap has already occurred, and Bulletgirl leaps into action. Using the Distraction, the Tigress takes down the Woman in Red, but Domino Lady leaps in and knocks her out. The Woman in Red had setup the arrival of Detective Washington and the Police, and the plot is foiled. Later they discuss how Domino Lady figured out the right person. It turns out she'd had relations with the actual Senator in her alternate ID. The Domino Lady promised to keep the Woman in Reds secret, and she and Bulletgirl leave. This version of the Woman in Red isn't in the issue much, but is shown to be a good detective. She still lacks the situational awareness of the Weak State version, as she is surprised by Washington's entry into the Morgue. While she is able to take down the Tigress in a sneak attack, Tigress takes her down in a direct fight. She is saved by Domino Lady. So this version aligns with the Weak State version of the Woman in Red.
Avenging Force: The Scarab (Movie) Brett Kelly Entertainment 2010
The Woman in Red appears in the Independent Film, Avenging Force the Scarab, as a non-powered agent named Rose of N.E.D.O.R.. she is played by actress Alix Pasquet, in 2010. She is promoted to field work and given the assignment to hunt for the mystical Scarab. which has already been found by the Archaeologist, Peter Ward. She discovers his location, After the Villain The Sphinx, sends some elite thugs to capture ward. She is able to hold them off long enough for both to escape. Later after Ward unlocks the power of the Scarab while searching for clues. They are confronted by the Black Terror (Non superhuman), who in this universe is a gun-toting Merc for hire. She tries to protect ward, but The Black Terror easily defeats her, knocking her out. He is about to kill her, but she is saved by Ward, now the Scarab. She then makes Black Terror an offer of payment, if he helps them out.
They later confront the Henchmen and minions of the Sphinx in a Mattress factory, where she battles the villainess Blades. She wins her match only just, then she battles some low tier thugs. With the villain defeated, they form the team, Avenging Force, along with the Daring Daredevil.
In this universe, she is closely matched to the Strong State version of the Woman in Red. But struggles against elite villains and thugs. She is more than a match for common thugs.
The Legacy of the Masque Movie Short (Aegis Studios 2012)
The Legacy of the Masque is an independent web series featuring the adventures of the grand-daughter of Miss Masque, in the fictional Rochford city. According to the indiegogo summary; the Woman in Red is inspired to fight crime and corruption in the city. She is played by Actress Kitsie Duncan. In the short, she is basically giving her introduction to who she is. In it we see her meet an informant. Then she is next seen shoving a car thief's head into a car window from behind. She is never in the Web series proper, as production has ended on it.
The webisode is too short to get a good idea of which version she is. But she appears to match the Strong State version of the Woman in Red.
[ICONS]The Super Villain Handbook Deluxe Edition (Fainting Goat Games)
In the Role Playing Game ICONS, after Peggy Allen retires from being the Woman in Red, after being injured by a fleeing felon, due to age slowing her down. She trained her Grand-niece Barbara Allen, a recent graduate from High school, with no real plan for her future. Peggy taught Barbara the skills that were taught to her by Ethel Boston. Of whom, studied under Sherlock Holmes. Barbara would go on to solve the copycat case of the Mysterious Black Death, a foe from Peggy's past. Apprehending him, she accepted the identity of the Woman in Red permanently and joined the police Force as a young cadet.
Tina McDuffie would take on the mantle in a much different manner. By 2010, Peggy Allen had passed away, and Barbara was on the run from the FBI. America had become increasingly aware of police militarization, and the shocking rate of the death of young black men at the hands of the police. Tina was a young policewoman trying to make an impact on her neighborhood, building relationships and had a reputation for being a good and moral cop. But when another of Peggy Allen's old foes, the seemingly-supernatural killer called the Voa appeared. she went undercover to flush him out.
At the conclusion of the case, the Chief of Police, made a bold suggestion. With some guidance of the personal journals, and video logs of Peggy Allen, left by her for the Police Department, Tina became the new Woman in Red. Now a costumed cop, Tina has forsaken firearms. even though she is a good shot and trained to use them. She believes the police are too quick to draw weapons, and she aims to be a better example. Her use of the Woman in Red uniform is known by her supervisors in the department, but not the general public, who do not realize that she is a police officer. She is a fearless detective and investigator, who respects Peggy's work and reputation, but will not embrace the originals methods.
Since becoming the Woman in Red, she has confronted all manner of bizarre and fantastical crimes, occult conspiracies and things she never would have believed to exist. But what she really seeks, more than anything, is to find Barbara Allen, and restore the legacy of the Woman in Red.
As a young black woman, Tina is a symbol of the current debate over police violence, and their relation to the black community. She's young, armed with flashlight, instead of a gun, in the tradition of the Scooby Gang. Her investigations often end with the reveal of the Vampire, or tribal spirit being a mundane murderer or crook in disguise. But sometimes, they are more, that vampire might be real. While she is not armed. She isn't a pacifist, she fights when she must. She prefers soft martial arts techniques that emphasizes throws, locks, and holds. While this version of the Woman in Red favors intellect over brawn, she is closely matched to the Weak state version. Being a heavyweight in the mind, but a lightweight in combat and superhuman encounters. She flourishes in investigative and support roles. But would need an assist in a fight. Barbara on the other hand, is closer to the Strong state version. Willing to use violence to get her version of justice, and a capable close combatant. But not as good a detective.
Skills and Abilities:
Nedor Publishing Version: This version of the Woman In Red was costumed but non-powered Superheroine. Relying far more on her Detective Skills which in Comics terms was rare. As she put together her clues rather than rely on Intuition. She also had a knack for surviving by carrying small tools for escaping and swing on things like Chandeliers and Ropes. Which saved her on MANY occasions.
Depending on the version she was also a better or worse Combatant.
The Strong State Version was remarkably tough and capable of taking down men bigger than her. Even if stunned, she would recover quickly. She was also a remarkable shot with her firearm.
The Weak State version was a very poor combatant, physically weaker, dependent on her gun, and often needed the help of others to make it through a case. She was all too often overpowered and taken down by even the average crook. She was consistently countered and knocked out. Her marksmanship was slightly worse than the Strong State version. in a few short pages, this version of the Woman in Red would be in peril of some sort, nearly every page.
Public Domain status:
The Woman in Red is a public domain character and thus there are several versions of her out there. Many stick with the original origin of the character, then deviate from her original version. There are Role-playing game versions, fan-created versions, etc. All versions are valid, as she rests in the public domain.