Real Name: Brian O'Brien
Identity/Class: Normal human
former District Attorney, All-American fullback
Affiliations: Pug Brady (first sidekick, his double), Butch (second sidekick, orphaned teenage girl), Captain Kane (police chief)
Enemies: the Skull Gang, Magoni, Phantom Gang, the Reaper, Stuporman, Tiger Woman, Cyrus Voltan
Known Relatives: None
Base of Operations: Chicago
First Appearance: Funny Pages #6 (Comics Magazine Publications, November 1936)
Powers/Abilities: Extremely fit, excellent fighter
History: (Funny Pages #6, Funny Picture Stories #1-2, Detective Picture Stories #2, 5, Keen Detective Funnies #1-2, Feature Funnies/Feature Comics #3-31, Crack Comics #1-35, ga) Brian O'Brien was a college sports star, excelling in both American football and polo. After graduating his strong sense of justice led him to become a District Attorney, but even there, he found the law's inability to deal with crime frustrating. So O'Brien quit his job, and became the masked crimefighter known as the Clock, taking on the crooks while dressed in a business suit and full-face mask (later reduced to a domino mask). At first he often worked alongside Pug Brady, who looked remarkably like O'Brien, but later he adopted Butch, a teenage orphan, who became his new sidekick.
Comments: Created by George Brenner.
The Clock is allegedly the first masked hero in American comics. Though other masked heroes pre-dated him (Zorro for one), none appeared in comics before the Clock debuted in November 1936 in both Funny Pages #6 (previously titled The Comics Magazine), a title which consisted of mostly newspaper reprints, and Funny Picture Stories, where the Clock was that month's cover star. He appeared in several Comics Magazine Publications titles, among them Detective Picture Stories and Keen Detective Funnies, even as his company was bought out and became Ultem Publications. The Clock was then sold on to Quality Comics, where he debuted in Feature Funnies #3 in December 1937 (a month or so later, Ultem was bought out, and renamed Centaur Publications, which reprinted several older Clock stories even as Quality produced new ones). Though most of the Quality line became the property of National Periodical Publications (later to become D.C. Comics) in 1956, ownership of the Clock seems a bit muddled. Though he has never been seen in a D.C. title, he was mentioned in Starman II#19, where the journal of a character called the Shade debunked a claim that he was killed in 1944 by Hubert Mason.
Going back to Quality Comics, the Clock moved around various of their titles, running in Feature Funnies until #31 in April 1940 (by which time the comic had been renamed Feature Comics), then transferring to Crack Comics #1 (May 1940), where he stayed until #35 (Fall 1944).
The Clock, who changed to using a domino mask after a while, may well have been at least partially the inspiration for Will Eisner's The Spirit.
To me, the real mystery about the Clock is how he managed to keep his secret identity. Presumably reasonably well known to the underworld from his time as a D.A., he began his crimefighting career teamed up with a guy who looked exactly like his civilian identity (Pug's crimefighting garb seemed to differ from the Clock's mainly by way of wearing a different style of mask). Later (as of Crack Comics #21, when he rescued her), he worked with a girl whom he had adopted (I think), and who wore no disguise. Apart from child endangerment (hey, at least Robin was protected from revenge attacks while he was at school by dint of his secret identity!), couldn't the crooks figure out that the adult hanging out with this teenage crimefighter was the guy who was her legal guardian? At least, I hope he was her legal guardian, because otherwise the former D.A. was keeping a teenage orphan girl in his home, without informing social services...
Thanks to Jim Sharpe for corrections.
CLARIFICATIONS: Not to be confused with
Clock, Yesterday Men
Any Additions/Corrections? Please let me know.
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