Real Name: Professor Kenneth Downs
First Appearance: Boy Comics #118
A renowned naval engineer, Kenneth Downs reached the height of his profession during World War II, designing ships for the American war effort. In 1943, though, tragedy struck: the Coast Guard cutter ship Icarus, which Downs designed, disappeared during it’s shakedown voyage. All hands were assumed lost, and with no other explanation possible, Downs was blamed for faulty design.
Fired by the government and reduced to a pariah, Downs’ reputation was shattered. After many years, though, Downs called in some favors from old friends and was hired as the Assistant Professor for Marine Design at Curtiss Tech.
There, he continued his research, trying to discover where and how the Icarus sank. He believed that if he could find the wreck, he could find out why the ship disappeared, and potentially clear his name.
When a particularly gifted group of students came through his classroom, including Chuck Chandler and Stu Stuart, Professor Downs struck on the idea of giving the class the assignment of locating the Icarus. It worked, as Chuck devised a search pattern that was sure to locate the missing vessel.
Downs hired a salvage company to help him track down the ship, but it turned out to be a scam. Luckily, Chuck uncovered the truth by tracking down a surviving crew member from the Icarus, who revealed that the ship hadn’t sunk at all, but had been captured by the German navy. he and his fellow crew members had been press-ganged into service aboard the enemy ship until it was finally sunk by Allied forces near the end of the war.
With his reputation restored, Professor Downs initially hoped to be reinstated with the Navy so he could resume his career. However, he realized that he had come to love teaching and academia. He decided to stay at Curtiss Tech, and even satisfied his other lifelong passion by starting and sponsoring an archaeology club.
The club was successful beyond his wildest dreams, as it was invited to excavate an ancient temple recently discovered in Peru. Amazed at his turn in fortune, Professor Downs led a group of students and teachers on the summer trip, including fellow faculty member Miss Grady, and students “Jabbo” Crawford, “Weenie” Dinkle, and Stu Stuart.
Sadly, Chuck was unable to come on the trip, but the Professor can’t wait to share with Chuck the amazing discovery they made…