While she first appeared in a newspaper strip and did not appear in a comic until 1941, she was still the first superpowered heroine.
Scarlet was a newspaper reporter who, after sticking her finger in a ray from a machine her scientist father had created, found she was invisible, clothing and all. It was not long before she found that she could change from visible to invisible by pinching a nerve in her left wrist. Scarlet used her ability to become a better reporter and take down such villains as the King of the Slums and others.
Created by Russell Stamm, (who also created the Hostess Twinkie Twins, Charley the Tuna, and contributed to the Jolly Green Giants look) in the comics she was drawn by Golden Age Wonder Woman artist Harry G. Peters in her Famous Funnies series. A new version of Scarlet, set in the 21 century, has just appeared in graphic novel form.
Major Story Arcs
At the height of her popularity, Scarlet used her ability mainly to help those in need. She did help the police with criminals, but mostly she helped people in need.
With the changing climate in comics in the 1950s, Stamm shifted her focus even further from heroism, and removed "Invisible" from the strip's title. Scarlet O'Neil became more soap opera than super. A new character (and love interest) was introduced in 1953, Stainless Steel. Steel was a sheriff and less than a year after his introduction, the strip was renamed again and became "Stainless Steel," with Scarlet appearing only occasionally. Stamm ended the strip in 1956.
Russ Stamm Jr. has taken up the reins of his father's character and updated her with a modern look. A graphic novel has been written, but possibly remains unpublished.
Powers and Abilities
Scarlet had the ability to turn Invisible simply by pinching a nerve on her wrist.
Invisible Scarlet O'Neil was originally a daily comic strip appearing in the Chicago Daily News. Within a few months, her strip was also included in the Sunday papers.
The strips were collected and reprinted in Famous Funnies comic books.
Whitman Publishing Company also printed an illustrated novel Invisible Scarlet O'Neil: A New Story Based on the Famous Newspaper Strip in 1943, and a couple of "Big Little Books."
Scarlet had a set of paper dolls based on her and her adventures. A paintable plaster statuette was also available.