Airboy was Davey Nelson Jr, a Golden Age comic book character that originally appeared in Air Fighters Comics #1 (Volume 2). He proved to be so popular that Air Fighters Comics was eventually renamed Airboy Comics. The original comic ended in 1953, when Hillman Periodicals left the comic publishing business. All the characters that appeared eventually lapsed into public domain, allowing Eclipse Comics to revive them in the early 1980s. Chuck Dixon handled the writing and Tim Truman handled the initial art. The revival is notable for trying to bring some measure of realism into the story while still honoring the original continuity.
When Eclipse Comics went out of business, Todd McFarlane wound up getting the company's assets. Although he announced his intention to revive Airboy and other Air Fighters characters, it didn't pan out. Since the original characters were still in public domain, Chuck Dixon decided to try to revive them. He originally intended to publish it through Shooting Star Comics, but when the company folded, he wound up taking his pitch to Moonstone Books. The company published Dixon's original story and proceeded to revive the other characters on the pages of revived Air Fighters title.
The original Airboy was a young pilot who flew Birdie - an occasionally plane that flapped its wings like a bird. He used his plane to fight the Axis forces and various supernatural menaces. When the World War II ended, he shifted to more super-villains and air-related criminals. The Eclipse revival starred David Nelson III, the original Airboy's son. The new series (simply called Airboy) was a continuation of the original Golden Age stories, except it tried to take a more realistic approach to airplanes and flight, even as it kept some of the odder aspects of the original stories. The Eclipse series featured many characters that originally appeared in Air Fighters Comics as supporting characters. Most notably, it featured Valkyrie, the original Airboy's memorable but rarely seen love interest, became part of the main cast.
The Moonstone revival returned to the World War II era and revamped most of the Air Fighters characters from scratch (while throwing Captain Midnight into the mix). The Moonstone version of Airboy appeared in comics and prose anthologies. At this point, it's hard to say how this version will compare to the preceding versions.
Image Comics has recently started an Airboy miniseries written by James Robinson and drawn by Greg Hinckle. It's a semi-autobiographical meta story focusing on Robinson and Hinckle as the main characters alongside Airboy, who somehow ends up in the real world. The series is also focusing on a fictional interpretation of the low points in Robinson's later career, such as his last few critically lambasted works for DC Comics and his alcoholism. This is a very adult take on the character and concept, and also very NSFW.
Air Fighters Comics/Airboy Comics examples:
- Absolute Cleavage: Valkyrie. This carried through to all her subsequent incarnations.
- Amazon Brigade: The Air Maidens.
- Awesome, but Impractical: Skywolf's semi-planes were a neat-looking visual (one plane splitting into two independent halves), but the actual designs wouldn't work too well in real life. The Eclipse revival lampshades this repeatedly.
- But Not Too Foreign: The Bald Eagle was canonically half-Cherokee.
- Comic-Book Time: Surprisingly averted with Airboy. The character started out as a 10-year-old boy and aged visibly over time. By the time the comic was canceled in 1953, he was a young man in his early 20s. According to the artist who co-created him and drew most of his appearances, this was deliberate. Played straight with most other characters, though.
- Cool Plane: Airboy's Birdie, Skywolf's "Semi-Planes", Iron Ace's armored plane, Bald Eagle's Flying Coffin, Black Angel's tricked-out plane, the list goes on.
- Expy: Valkyrie as an alluring, dark-haired, Germanic action-girl, with a "peek-a-boo" hairstyle, was inspired from both Hedy Lamarr (who was Austrian and Jewish, ironically) and Veronica Lake.
- Plucky Comic Relief: "Skinny" McGinty, a 1940s era walking hick stereotype with flying powers.
- HeelFace Turn: Valkyrie, a Nazi air ace, turned against her superior when he insisted on executing her teammates for helping Airboy escape (though, honestly, what did she expect).
- MayDecember Romance: When they first met, Airboy was 12 and Valkyrie was at least 18. The age difference became less noticeable in later stories thanks to real time aging.
- Spin-Off: The Heap appeared in Sky Wolf stories before moving on to his own feature.
- Sexy Discretion Shot: A rare Golden Age example. At the end of an Airboy story in Airboy Comics #6 (Volume 3) Airboy and Valkyrie head off to get some private time and warned their friend that they didn't want to be disturbed. Jeez, I wonder why.
Airboy 1980s Revival Examples:
- Crossover: With the Prowler, Sgt Strike, and Mr Monster; all fellow Eclipse Comics characters.
- Crisis Crossover: In Total Eclipse, Eclipse Comics' only line-wide crossover, Zzed, a Golden Age Airboy Comics character, set out to destroy the universe in order to end his immortality, setting the events of the crossover into motion.
- Identical Grandson: David Nelson III looked pretty much identical to his father when he was young, to the point where even Valkyrie is fooled.
- Legacy Hero: Airboy, Black Angel, Lupina (to Skywolf)
- Lipstick-and-Load Montage: The first page of Airboy vs. the Air Maidens consists of the Air Maidens (Valkyrie, Black Angel and Lupina) performing one of these as they don Stripperific outfits to infiltrate a drug lord's birthday party as "gifts".
- Moe Greene Special: At the end of Airboy vs. the Air Maidens, Valkyrie takes revenge on the crime lord who brainwashed her and the other Air Maidens by using a sniper rifle to put a bullet through his wineglass, his sunglasses, and his eye.
- Reed Richards Is Useless: Nelson Aviation scientists devised a complex cybernetic shell (with robotic limbs and metallic casing that contained his surviving organs) to save Iron Ace's life. For some reason, they never thought to release the technology to the public, or utilize it for further research, like, at all.
- Shout-Out: The original Valkyrie of World War II being in stasis and then rescued and revived un-aged in the 1980s is just like the story of Captain America.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Varied. While the comic ran with much of the original series' weirdness, it also tried to bring realism into aviation, air combat and firearms. As the result, some of that weirdness was justified or explained away.
Moonstone Books Revival Examples:
- Artistic License History: Airboy: 1942 The Best of Enemies one-shot sees our hero dealing with the Red Army in Poland. In 1942. Yeah.
- Author Filibuster: In Airboy: 1942 The Best of Enemies one-shot, Chuck Dixon goes out of his way to show that communists are bad. Very bad. So bad that they make Nazis look like honorable and reasonable by comparison.
- The Remnant: The Peekaboo Bandit
- Ultimate Universe: most of the Airboy characters were revamped from the ground up.
2015 Image Comic Examples:
- Adam Westing: James Robinson and Greg Hinkle portray themselves as burnt-out bitter men who are trapped by their prior creative output and need drugs and alcohol to get by.
- Biting-the-Hand Humor: Robinson throws a lot of criticism at the big two comic publishers, but he specifically calls out DC and their editorial staff by name.
- Fish Out Of Temporal Water: Airboy comes straight out of a 1940's comic.
- Intoxication Ensues: Throughout the story.
- Mushroom Samba: The creators assume this is the reason for Airboy's appearence in their apartment. They are, however, smart enough to wonder why they're both seeing the same thing.
- Refugee from TV Land: Airboy appears at the end of issue #1, which leads to
- Trapped in TV Land: Airboy takes Robinson and Hinkle to his comic world at the end of issue #2.
- Self-Deprecation: The creators take a lot of potshots at themselves.
- The Future Is Shocking: Airboy has this reaction upon seeing present day San Francisco.
- You Can See That, Right?: Robinson and Hinkle have this reaction after seeing Airboy.