Larry Jordan was a clerk in the Brooklyn’s District Attorney’s office when his boss, D.A. Cole, declared war on organized crime. Wanting to help fight, Larry Jordan put his electronics expertise to good use. He created an electronic helmet and belt that allowed him to absorb the electronic waves in the atmosphere, and then use them to redirect his voice to any location within range. He could use the antenna he built in his helmet to detect conversations miles away, and he built rollers in his boots that allowed him to “skate” on power lines. Jordan created the costumed identity of Air Wave, and took to the streets.
His first mission would be to rescue his own boss. D.A. Cole had been captured by agents of “Snake” Scarlotti. Air Wave detected the kidnapping, and then used his electronic ventriloquism to confuse the thugs. After freeing D.A. Cole, Air Wave declared himself an ally on the war against crime. Cole accepted Air Wave as his partner, little realizing that Air Wave was secretly his law clerk Larry Jordan. Air Wave captured Scarlotti, and Cole tried him. Scarlotti was found guilty, and locked away.
Air Wave was created for DC Comics by writer Murray Boltinoff and artists Harris Levy, who drew under the pen name Lee Harris. Air Wave debuted in Detective Comics #60, published in February of 1942, replacing the adventures of non-super-powered D.A. Steve Malone. By issue 76, though, the creative team for Air Wave changes, with Boltinoff and Levy being replaced by Joe Samachson and George Roussos, though Levy would later return to the strip with issue #116. Air Wave’s series would last non-stop until issue #137, an impressive six year run. Air Wave’s slot in Detective Comics would later be taken up by Robotman. Over the course of his run, though, Air Wave would never get cover billing, always being beat out by the much more popular Batman.
After his cancellation from the pages of Detective Comics, Air Wave would not be heard of for another thirty years, except for the occasional Detective Comics reprint..
Death in the Silver Age
In the pages of Green Lantern, Air Wave would be revamped by writer Denny O’Neil, creating a younger, more super-powered Air Wave as the son of the original. To prepare for the launch, the golden age Air Wave appeared in two DC Comics Presents issues. The first issue, DC Comics Presents #40, highlighted the death of Larry Jordan at the hands of writer Bob Rozakis in a backup story. DC Comics Presents #55 highlighted the first and second Air Wave teaming up with Superboy and Superman, respectively.
The Bronze Age and the All-Star Squadron
During the Bronze Age, when DC Comics’ writer Roy Thomas created the retroactive All-Star Squadron for Earth-2, he brought in the Golden Age Air Wave as a member with issue #31. Air Wave would only go on to appear in a handful of stories over the course of the eight year run of the All-Star Squadron and its spin-off book Young All-Stars.
Note on Continuity: Before the pages of the All-Star Squadron, the Golden Age Air Wave’s history was rooted in the continuity of Earth-1, having met Superboy in the 1960s. However, Roy Thomas included Air Wave as a member of the Earth-2 All-Star Squadron. Either Air Wave traveled between the Earths (which would seem unlikely, since he had established ties with the rest of the Jordan family), or there was both an Earth-1 and Earth-2 counterpart of the golden age Air Wave. DC Comics’ Who’s Who supports the former, but does not explain how Jordan’s cousins grew up with him on Earth-1.
Key Story Arcs
After Scarlotti’s trial, Air Wave continued cleaning up the various remaining members of the Scarlotti gang. With them all behind bars, Air Wave continued as a mystery man. When he shut down crime boss Father Kind’s pet store crime front, Air Wave gained a “sidekick” in a parrot he named Static. While air Wave focused on stopping organized crime, he also helped foil German saboteurs, fought crime in nearby towns, and captured serial killers. As good a hero Air Wave was, however, he was not able to save the life of D.A. Cole, who was killed by a gang called the “Shooting Spooks.” At first, the Spooks framed Jordan, however, “Air Wave” cleaned Jordan’s name and brought the Spooks to justice. Larry Jordan was named the new District Attorney.
World War II and the All-Star Squadron
When America entered the second World War, President Franklin Roosevelt sent out a call of all its costumed heroes to come together to fight the Axis powers as the All-Star Squadron. Air Wave heeded the call, and met the other 40-some members of the All-Star Squadron at their base of operations: the Perisphere.
Air Wave did not join many All-Star missions, though. He was present during the All-Stars two annual meetings, and served as a liaison between the All-Stars and the criminal justice system of New York City. He joined Green Lantern, Firebrand, and Shining Knight in trying to retrieve the body of the evil robot Mechanique from the laboratory of the Golden Age Robotman. Air Wave served as a member of the All-Star Squadron until their disbanding at the end of the war.
After the War
Larry Jordan continued to fight as Air Wave well into the 1960s. While not as numerous as Batman’s villains, Air Wave did gain some enemies over his career. As a crimefighter, Air Wave faced off against the Machine Man, the Candy Kid, and Swami Abdul. Larry also hired an unnamed assistant D.A. that would sometimes run afoul of the mob himself.
During one case, Air Wave tracked down some thieves in the middle of a break-in at Scientific Research Associates (a precursor to S.T.A.R. Labs). Air Wave’s fight caught the eye of a visiting Superboy. Superboy offered to help air Wave, but Air Wave shooed him away. Unbeknownst to Superboy, Scientific Research Associates had been researching Gold Kryptonite, and if Superboy had stayed, he would have lost his powers forever.
Larry Jordan’s Legacy
Though Jordan continued to be a top-notch District Attorney for Brooklyn, he also found time for a family life. He married his sweetheart Helen, and the two were blessed with a child, whom Larry named after his cousin: Harold “Hal” Jordan. As he grew older, Larry became closer to his cousins, visiting the Jordans' on various occasions. However, he never gave up being Air Wave, and continually made improvements to his equipment.
In fact, after work one day, Jordan wanted to test out his newest modifications: he had designed his helmet to convert his entire body into energy that allowed him to travel radio waves. Tuning into the police scanner, Jordan detected a prowler at his own home. He entered as Jordan, and found his wife and son held at gunpoint by Joe Parsons, a criminal Jordan had put away as a D.A. Parsons tracked Jordan down for revenge, and killed him in cold blood.
Wanting justice, Helen took her husband’s Air Wave costume and became the second Air Wave. She tracked Parsons down, and captured him for the police. With Parsons in jail, Helen retired the Air Wave costume, though she vowed that her son, Hal would continue the tradition. And sure enough, when Hal became a teenager, Hal took his father’s costume to become the third Air Wave, frequently teaming up with his namesake, cousin Hal “Green Lantern” Jordan and eventually serving with the Justice Society of America.
Weapons and Equipment
Larry Jordan, an electronics and ham radio expert in his spare time, developed numerous pieces of equipment to fight crime as Air Wave. First and foremost is the original Air Wave Helmet. This helmet had two antenna on each side. With these antennae, Air Wave could intercept any sound waves within miles of his location. He could also throw his voice, sending his voice through those same antennae to make his voice come from various objects. He controlled the range and amplitude of the radio waves generated by these antennae with a controller on his belt.
In addition to his helmet and belt, Air Wave also employed boots that allowed small wheels to be deployed from the heels. He could use these wheels to skate at great speeds, and he frequently traveled using telephone and power lines. The boots served as insulation against any electricity generated by the power lines he skated on. The boots also allowed for “magnetic traction,” which enabled him to scale walls.
At one point, Air Wave created a mechanical dummy wearing a duplicate of his costume that he would throw his voice into. He would control the dummy’s movements using a remote in his helmet.
Height: 5’ 10”
Weight: 175 lbs.
Note: Air Wave sometimes wore a fake mustache and glasses while being Larry Jordan.
The first Air Wave was just one of the hundreds of golden age heroes featured in James Robinson’s four-issue Elseworlds series Golden Age. Air Wave is seen very little in the series; he is one of the myriad of heroes that fights Dynaman in the series’ ending.