You probably barely know who Cyril "Speed" Saunders is, if at all.
He's one of the thousands of mostly generic "adventurers" from the Golden Age of DC comics, before the superheroes took over. Created in 1937, he pre-dates Batman & Superman. In modern times, he occasionally figures as a supporting character in JSA-related stories; he was posited as Hawkgirl's grandfather in Robinson & Goyer's JSA and later as her uncle (or grand-uncle) in the Palmiotti & Grey run on Hawkman.
|From JSA #2 (1999)|
Was there a Crisis in between these two storylines to blame the change on?
|From Hawkman #2 (2002).|
But originally he was (like David S. Pumpkins) his own thing.
|From Detective #1, if you can imagine such a thing.|
At first he was clearly part of 'the River Patrol' (which was apparently part of the FBI? Sure, okay). But no river is mighty enough to contain the awesomeness of Speed Saunders, so pretty quickly that was generalized into being a vague 'agent' or 'investigator' who pretty much stuck his nose in wherever he wanted.
Later retcons had him part of the O.S.S. (because comics just loves the O.S.S.), but the truth is his authority came FROM BEING SPEED SAUNDERS.
When Speed Saunders shows up (which is always when the story begins because no story REALLY begins until Speed Saunders shows up), he demands to know what's up and no matter who you are, you tell him, unhesitatingly, and THEN you ask him how HE would like to proceed.
|Later he sold his used car to Bruce Wayne. |
THAT'S how cool Speed Saunders was.
EVERONE always deferred to Speed's vague authority. It's a great power; he's the Aquaman of Ace Investigators. I'd love to see him brought back in that capacity, with his authority always unquestioned and rooted in universal societal respect (for no reason that we ever get a clue about).
|INSTANTLY in charge of any situation he happens upon. Before there was "I'm Batman", there was "I'm Speed Saunders".|
So, I should haven't been surprised to discover that he's probably the first hero with the power of metatextuality.
|"The Bat-Man, eh? Seems rather too overly dramatic to be taken seriously, I should think..."|
|His name is Speed Saunders, and don't you forget it.|