The Dragon Lady first appeared in one of the first Terry and the Pirates Sunday comic strips. Writer Milton Caniff based her of real Asian pirate Lai Choi San, and as such she was named after her. Alternatively known as Madame Deal, she was shown to be a mastermind and a formidable foe to the heroes.
A master strategist, criminal, and fighter, the Dragon Lady was a master foe indeed. In fact she was so formidable, that the heroes usually just let her go than turn her in. There was no one like her.
Despite her stereotypical personality, the Dragon Lady eventually switched sides from her Asian heritage, and allied with the U.S. Actually leading the Chinese Resistance Force. Though she was on the side of the heroes, she wasn't any less ruthless
In Other Media
Dragon Lady appeared in all of the Terry and the Pirates film serials, the feature length movie and the short lived television series. She was portrayed by Agnes Moorehead, Adelaide Klein, Marion Sweet, Sheila Darcy, and Gloria Saunders.
Dragon Lady is a real striking beauty. She is known for wearing a wide assortment of exotic clothing and shoes. For all of her ruthlessness, her beauty is never tarnished.
Dragon Lady doesn't have any actual superpowers. But she does have her quick wit, her dangerous tactics, and her excellent hand to hand combatant to dispense any and all foes.
The Real Lai Choi San
The character of the Dragon Lady was based off of real Asian pirate Lai Choi San, who was the most powerful and well known pirate leader in China's history. She has been seen as a female "Robin Hood" archetype. Operating with little to no interference from authorities.
The Dragon Lady, along with Fu Manchu's daughter, single-handely created the Dragon Lady stereotype that lingered in cinema, comic books, & literature. Her personality and design heavily influenced characters such as Lady Shiva, Lady Serpent, & Sasha Hammer.
Even though the Dragon Lady was a stereotype, she still presented herself as a smart dignified Oriental woman, with strong philosophical views and intelligent theories of American culture.
Her legacy also poured out into a the real world. Aviators during World War II had her images painted on the side of WWII bombers.
She also acted as one of the first physically strong if not one-dimensional female villains./heroes For all of her stereotypic ways, she was the most positively portrayed Asian character in the strip.