Real Name: Steve Adams
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Superb hand-to-hand combat skills. Unparalleled horsemanship. Archery skills approaching or surpassing those of DC's Green Arrow.
In a way similar to how Quaker Oats Company hoped to use the film Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory to launch a new line of chocolate bars, Nabisco used the radio character of Straight Arrow as a way for it to shake up the Post/General Mills/Kelloggs dominance of the cereal industry.
By alloying its outdoorsy, adventurous plains warrior with the healthful consumption of Shredded Wheat®, Nabisco was betting that their "adult" (read: non-sugared) cereal could be made more attractive to kids.
And for a time it worked. Not only did their market share improve, but the wholly original character that they had commissioned became a multimedia sensation for a few years.
His radio show was successful enough to have secured a multi-year contract, with its first nationwide production being overseen initially by Ronald Reagan's brother, Mutual Network executive Neil Reagan.
After spending the last half of the 1940s on the radio, Straight Arrow seamlessly made the jump to comic books in 1950, where writing chores were mostly handled by DC legend, Gardner Fox. This character was one of his main projects in the "decade without superheroes".
The radio show also spawned a syndicated newspaper strip which ran from 1950 to 1951.
Ironically, both comic representations outlasted the radio show, which ended in June 1951.
On the trail of Steve Adams
A Comanche orphan raised by European-Americans, Straight Arrow entirely invented the persona of "Steve Adams" as a way to conceal himself in society. In this sense, the closest analogue to Straight Arrow's "secret identity" may be the Martian Manhunter's use of "John Jones" to secure a job working on a regular police force.
To be sure Straight Arrow was his "real" self, and his actual Comanche name. Steve Adams was entirely fictional.
The fact was that the Comanche nation had little need of a super hero. It was historically a low-crime, well-ordered society. Only by taking a name and an identity that "passed for white" could Straight Arrow be of greatest use to the whole community around him.
Stories typically involved the "white" Steve Adams encountering the aspect of greed or lust in his adopted society. Then, by using his natural born gifts as a Comanche warrior could he put an end to the grief evildoers were causing.
It was never particularly explained why, upon being orphaned, he wasn't cared for by the tribe, but instead ended up in white society geographically close to the Comanche Nation.
Indeed there was never an origin story of any kind told for this character in any work of dramatic fiction. The closest the character ever came to having an origin story was on the manual included with the Straight Arrow trading cards that came in boxes of Shredded Wheat®.
Fury, a Palomino.
Despite brief, but significant, fame, this character is all but forgotten in the 21st century. There are many reasons for this.
It's probably not insignificant that Shredded Wheat® is no longer a Nabisco product. Thus the company that created the character no longer has a legal right to talk about the character.
The current copyright holder (ironically, Post) has not discovered a reason to preserve any aspects of the creation. Almost all of the radio programs have been lost over time, and there is no company really pressing to search for any stray recordings that may be out there.
Also, the radio show itself was almost always a live broadcast, so the hope of finding recordings is slim.
The character isn't quite old enough to have passed into the public domain, so there are no comic companies really moving on the property.
And the name "Straight Arrow" has come to have several different connotations in 21st century American slang that it probably didn't have back in the 1950s. One wonders if the character returned whether it would maintain that name. Sundance Kid (1971)
First Appearance: Straight Arrow (1950) #1
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Straight Arrow (1950)
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