Lee Walter Travis was a member of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade during the Spanish Civil War, and soon became the young publisher of the Globe-Leader, a paper devoted to progressive causes, such as the support of war victims in China. A hard-working and forward-thinking publisher, Travis nevertheless seemed devoted only to selling newspapers and his place in the social set, qualities which did not go unnoticed by fellow journalist Claudia Barker, who was interviewing Travis for Downtowner magazine, and Wing How, Travis' valet and chauffeur. Wing in particular was guardedly vocal about his distaste for wealthy Americans' predilection for solving problems, like the war in Asia, with parties and charity events.
That would change with a costume ball being held at the Van Gilder estate on the evening of Halloween. Clad in a "highway robber" costume ordered by his secretary, Lee Travis made his first appearance as the Crimson Avenger on the night of Orson Welles' famous broadcast of The War of the Worlds. Having gotten advance notice of the radio show, a group of criminals dressed in alien-like costumes took advantage of the ensuing panic in order to rob the Van Gilder party of funds raised for Chinese war victims. In the ensuing melee, Claudia Barker was shot while one of the criminals tried to steal her gold lighter.
Holding the dying woman in his arms, Travis heard her last words, "Qui vindicet ibit". An enraged Lee Travis went after the criminals in his limousine, while the broadcast by Welles went on, sending the nation into a state of panic. With Wing at the wheel, Travis exchanged gunfire with the costumed thieves, driving them into a ditch. Ably assisted by Wing, Travis was able to subdue the criminals and retrieve the money. Among the effects were Claudia's gold lighter inscribed with "Qui Vindicet Ibit", which is Latin for "The avenger will come". When the police arrived, Travis and How quickly drove away, letting it be said that a mysterious "Crimson Avenger" stopped the thieves, and giving Lee Travis a more meaningful purpose to his life.
After being diagnosed with an incurable, deadly disease, Lee Travis feared he would die unremembered as a hero. Seeing a freighter flashing SOS with its lights in the harbor, he lept into action in costume. Saving a small boy on the way, the Crimson Avenger reached the ship, which was carrying some highly explosive volatile chemicals, and was being hijacked by criminals. The ensuing battle caused a fire. Since he was dying soon away, Travis insisted that the captain and crew leave and then piloted the ship out into the harbor himself, saving the city from the explosion. When asked what happened, the captain did not know who had saved him, so Travis' fear apparently coming true. But elsewhere in the City, the mother of the little boy he saved would remember, and so would the son, and his children.
- Business Management
- Equestrianism (Pre-Crisis)
- Hand-to-Hand Combat (Basic)
- Martial Arts: (Pre-Crisis)
- Less than a year into his crime-fighting career, the Crimson Avenger began using a sleeping-gas gun instead of his original .45-caliber pistols.
- Although this character was originally introduced during DC's Earth-Two era of publication, their existence following the events of the 1985–86 limited series Crisis on Infinite Earths remains intact. However, some elements of the character's Pre-Crisis history may have been altered or removed for Post-Crisis New Earth continuity, and no longer apply.
- The Crimson Avenger has some strong similarities to the commercially successful Green Hornet, including his choice of weapons, his sidekick's Asian ethnicity, and his alter-ego as a newspaper publisher.
- Pre-Crisis, Crimson Avenger was an editor, not a publisher.
- Crimson Avenger (Volume 1)
- Detective Comics (Volume 1) (first featured in Detective Comics #20)
- Leading Comics (Volume 1)
- World's Finest (Volume 1)
- 154 Appearances of Lee Travis (New Earth)
- 16 Images featuring Lee Travis (New Earth)
- 2 Quotations by or about Lee Travis (New Earth)
- Character Gallery: Lee Travis (New Earth)
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