We start with Libby Lawrence also known as Liberty Belle. The character first appeared in the first issue of Boy Commandos in the winter of 1942, after her second appearance she moved to Star Spangles Comics #20 in the spring of 1943 and found her home there through issue #68 in May of 1947. The character fell out of relevance until 1981 when DC published the All-Star Squadron of which Liberty Bell was a founding member of.
Libby Lawrence’s powers of speed, strength, and stamina were linked to the ringing of the Liberty bell. At the start of her story she had an arrangement with Tom Revere, a guard of the Liberty Bell who she would signal to trigger her powers. Roy Thomas took some liberties with the reviving of her character including having her retroactively married off in 1942 instead of the reality of her origins where she was single woman who was only occasionally romantically involved with Captain Rick Cannon, he also killed off Tom Revere even though he was an integral part of Liberty Belle’s stories.
In the 90s Liberty Belle was only used in flashbacks and used to flesh out the characters of Johnny Chambers (her ex-husband) and Jesse Chambers (her daughter).
Most of her early stories take place around WW2 in 1939 Libby is in Poland acting as a personal secretary to her father but returns to America when the war starts. After returning to America she becomes a very well known news reporter, even having a television program of her own. In 1941 she helped found the All Star Squadron, acting as the only woman of the team and she married Johnny Chambers in 1942. She also plays a small role in the Infinite Crisis storyline.
As with many of our older female superheroes there was more than one woman to take the mantle. The first woman to take up the mantle was Caroline Dean who was featured in a backup feature for Charlton’s E-Man issue #5 in November of 1974, written by Joe Gill and Steve Ditko. The second to take up the name after Libby was her daughter Jesse. Jesse Chambers had inherited both her mother and her father's powers. She joins the third incarnation of the Justice Society Association originally named Jesse Quick, and debuts as Liberty Belle in 2006.
And as with all DC characters there are different versions of the characters on the various Earth’s that exist, in Earth-51 Libby Lawrence is the president of the United States and is only referred to as the former Liberty Belle.
The 40s also brought us Mary Marvel; created by Otto Binder and Marc Swayze she made her first appearance in Captain Marvel Adventures #18, in 1942. Mary is the alter ego of Mary Batson the twin sister of Billy Batson. Mary was one of the first female heroes created as a direct counterpart to an already existing male hero. Mary Marvel began co-starring in multiple series, Shazam which ran from 1973-1978, The Power of Shazam from 1995-1999, Countdown from 200-2009 and Final Crisis which features an evil version of Mary having her acquire her powers from Black Adam. She was given her own headline not long after her introduction, Wow Comics had her front and center before 1945 she had her own Mary Marvel comic book.
The Marvel family was revived in 1972 in a new series titled Shazam! Where it was revealed that the Sivanas had put the Marvel family into suspended animation for 20 years accounting for their absence in the comic book world. In the 90s iteration of the family Mary shared the title of Captain Marvel with her brother, only distinguished by a white costume and the general public calling her the Lady Captain Marvel.
A darker version of the character remains prevalent starting in 2008 in the Final Crisis series and carries into Black Adam and Isis a storyline featured in Justice Society of America Vol.3 #23-25 by the end of which she loses her powers and returns to being a normal teenage girl. She doesn’t regain her powers until Justice League #21 In 2013 Mary then became largely absent from the universe until 2018 when Geoff John and Dale Eaglesham launched a new iteration of Shazam!
Both Ladies were created in the early 40s and made sporadic appearances throughout the entire existence of DC comics. Mary did make her appearance in the Shazam movie as did the rest of the Marvel/Batson family and I certainly look forward to them expanding on her story.