For the latest entry in my series of portraits of Obscure Marvel Women of the Original Marvel Universe, I present the never-before-revealed life story of one of Britain’s first super-heroines, whose brief career would nevertheless help inspire a nation during the dark days of World War II.
Ann Digh Trask was born in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1920, and as a child, she was fascinated by the city’s rich heritage of the paranormal. As she grew older, this developed into a keen interest in science, which eventually led her to the University of London, where she studied at the Bedford College for Women. However, by this time, the Second World War had begun, and the university was heavily bombed during the Blitz, forcing it to close for the duration. Rather than return to Scotland, Ann felt it was her patriotic duty to do her part for the war effort. Thus, she volunteered for the Mechanized Transport Corps and, like many other women, became a driver for various military and governmental personnel. She found her service in the MTC very exciting, but still wished she could do more.
Then, in the early weeks of 1942, Ann encountered an uncouth and somewhat disreputable taxi driver who called himself “Alfie.” After chatting her up a few times, much to Ann’s annoyance, Alfie then revealed that beneath his gruff Cockney exterior he was, in fact, a government agent, and was looking to recruit her into the hush-hush Project Crusader. Ann was intrigued, and was told that the British government sought to create a team of costumed super-agents to rival the Invaders, most of whom were Americans. Stirred by patriotic fervor, Ann readily agreed.
She was taken to a seedy warehouse on the River Thames, where Alfie presented her with a costume that incorporated sophisticated technology that would endow her with a superhuman ability, namely the power to refract light from her body, rendering her invisible while casting an image of herself several feet away. She donned a silver bodysuit and a mask with a long silvery wig attached, and it was decided that she would thenceforth be known as Ghost Girl.
Soon, Ann met the others Alfie had recruited into the Crusaders, though for security purposes, the team members were kept ignorant of each other’s secret identities, as well as of the precise workings of the devices that empowered them. Alfie informed them that, to keep them from going rogue, he carried the power source for their costumes on his person, and that he could switch off their super-powers at any time. The team accepted this as a sensible precaution. Like Ann, they were all enthusiastic about fighting the Nazis, and they trusted Alfie implicitly. Subsequently, the team met on a large, dilapidated boat moored on the Thames, where they were drilled in the use of their powers. The other Crusaders were as follows:
Dyna-Mite: Though he was suffering from near-total amnesia, his real name was Roger Dane Aubrey, and he had by some mysterious means been miniaturized to approximately five inches in height. Captain Wings: Kept out of the Royal Air Force by a heart murmur, Dr. Harry Gice, Jr. had been equipped with a pair of golden wings that enabled him to fly. Thunderfist: The taciturn Connor Lily had been outfitted with green gauntlets that greatly magnified his blows to explosive force. Tommy Lightning: Another Cockney, Randall F. Ripley-Thorp wore a costume that enabled him to absorb, channel, and discharge massive amounts of electricity. The Spirit of ’76: The only American on the team, William Samuel Nasland received a bulletproof, flameproof cloak and a costume reminiscent of the American Revolution.
In February 1942, the Crusaders made their public debut when a German bomber crash-landed in London after an aerial battle. Ghost Girl joined the Spirit of ’76 and Dyna-Mite in capturing the plane’s trigger-happy crew while the others helped control the fires caused by the bombing. The Invaders arrived on the scene moments later, as Ghost Girl and her teammates posed for photos with the defeated Luftwaffe airmen. After showing off their powers to the Sub-Mariner, the Human Torch, and Toro, the three Crusaders rejoined their comrades and disappeared into the night.
The next day, the press reaction to the new British super-team was enthusiastic, with the tabloids even claiming the Crusaders had made chumps of the Invaders with their lightning-fast response to the crisis. This perception was reinforced that same day when the Crusaders were again first on the scene to foil an assassination attempt on King George VI. In gratitude, the King asked the team to replace the Invaders as his official Guard of Honor at a ship-christening ceremony the following day. The Crusaders were an immediate national sensation.
That night, at a team meeting on the boat, Alfie appeared and gave the Crusaders some shocking information: the Invaders were actually double-agents for the Nazis. He presented the incredulous team with photographic evidence and revealed that the Crusaders were created to counter just such a threat. Alfie then left them to mull over what they’d learned, and to speculate about what branch of the government he actually reported to. As the meeting ended, Ghost Girl failed to notice that Dyna-Mite had suddenly disappeared.
Come morning, the Crusaders escorted the King to the docks where the battleship H.M.S. Hornblower was to be launched. It was only then that they realized Dyna-Mite had gone missing. However, just as the King was about to christen the ship with a bottle of champagne, the Invaders disrupted the ceremony. Convinced that Captain America and company were traitors to the Allies, the Crusaders attacked. Ghost Girl confounded Toro with her image projections, but the flaming lad nevertheless seized the champagne bottle from the King and passed it to the Sub-Mariner, who hurled it into the river. When the champagne bottle then exploded in a tremendous fireball, Ghost Girl and her teammates realized at once they had been duped by Alfie, who owed his true allegiance to Adolf Hitler. Alfie at once fled the scene, pursued by the Human Torch. Desperate to evade capture, Alfie lost control of his taxi and plunged off a bridge. The car exploded before hitting the water, and with the power source destroyed, the Crusaders suddenly found their super-powers nullified. Horrified at having been pawns of the Third Reich, the team disbanded on the spot. Ann’s career as Ghost Girl was finished.
Later, Ann learned that Dyna-Mite had hidden himself in Alfie’s coat pocket after the meeting, and thereby learned their boss was a Nazi spy. He’d managed to tip off the Invaders in time to stop the plot. However, not wanting to dispirit the public, the government decided to hush up the truth of the matter, and so the media reported that the Crusaders had gone on a top-secret mission deep inside occupied Europe. Thus, the Crusaders quickly passed into popular legend. In fact, the government was impressed with the team’s courage and fighting spirit, and offered the former Crusaders positions in the Special Operations Executive, Britain’s wartime espionage agency. Ann accepted and went on to have a successful career as a spy, using the alias “Nan Darksight,” an anagram of her real name. After the end of the war, she continued to do intelligence work for MI-6. Eventually, she retired and returned to Edinburgh, where she became a well-reputed ghost hunter.
When a new generation of superheroes emerged in the 1960s, such as the Black Knight and Captain Britain, Ann Digh Trask took satisfaction in the knowledge that Ghost Girl had played a small part in paving the way.
First Appearance: Invaders #14
Final Appearance: Invaders #15