Real Name: Karl Kaufman

Identity/Class: Human (German/USA, World War I era)

Occupation: Pilot

Identity: Secret

Legal status: Citizen of the United States with no criminal record

Group Membership: Freedom's Five

Affiliations: Curly Anderson, Rex Griffin, Paula Jackson, Jack Norris

Enemies: The Central Powers of WWI including Baron Blood, Captain Carlson, Hermann von Reitberger, General Heinrich von Ronstadt

Place of Birth: Oshkosh, Wisconsin

Place of Death: Alsace, France

Marital Status: Presumed single

Known Relatives: Unnamed parents (deceased)

Aliases: None

Base of Operations: Mobile

First Appearance: Marvel Super-Heroes II#16 (September, 1968)

Powers/Abilities: The Phantom Eagle was an ordinary human with exceptional piloting, aerial combat, and hand-to-hand combat skills.

Height: 5'11" Weight: 175 lbs. Eyes: Blue Hair: Brown

History: (Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe#14 - Phantom Eagle entry) - Karl Kaufman was the son of a pair of German immigrants, and grew up in the United States. At some point, his parents returned to Germany, but he reamined in the USA.

(Marel Super-Heroes II#16 (fb)) - Growing up, Karl had a rival with fellow teenager Rex Griffin, and both were attracted to Paula Jackson. After high school, Rex and Karl flew planes in a flying circus, but while showing off for Paula, Rex struck Karl's plane and crashed, badly injuring his leg. Rex was grounded, and eventually was engaged to Paula. Karl tested the Thomas Morse Scout plane for the US Air Corps, and was introduced to Major Jack Norris by Rex. Norris tried to enlist Karl as a flyer in the likely event that the USA become involved in World War I, but Karl was afraid that if he fought against Germany, his parents would be made to suffer. To conceal his fears, he claimed that the Air Corps couldn't offer him the money he wanted. In order to protect his family, Karl created the costumed identity of the Phantom Eagle so that he could take to the skies for the USA safely. Only his friend Curly shared his secret.

(Thor Corps#3) <1916, September 7> - While flying over Germany, the Phantom Eagle encountered a squad of late-20th century planes, hurled through time by the machinations of Demonstaff.

(Marvel Super-Heroes II#16) <1917, March 5> - While on a test flight, the Phantom Eagle came upon a formation of German Fokkers, and managed to outfight them. He discovered that they had come from an enormous dirgible which had invaded the USA. Returning to Curly, he sent word to Rex at the nearest base, and Rex assembled a squad of fliers to intercept the dirgible, taking the cockpit of one of the planes himself. The Phantom Eagle was annoyed when he found Rex in the air, and took command of the US planes to attack the dirgible. Landing on the dirgible, he planted explosives and managed to fight past the Germans back to his plane and escape before the explosion. While fleeing, he noticed that Rex's plane was going to crash, and he threw Rex a rope from his plane. However, Rex cramped up due to his old injury and slipped from the rope, falling to his death. At Rex's funeral, Karl vowed that as the Phantom Eagle he would continue to oppose Germany until he had gained his revenge.

(Incredible Hulk II#135) - The Phantom Eagle was on a mission to destroy a giant German cannon when he encountered the time-tossed Hulk, who had been tricked by Kang into thinking that if he killed the Phantom Eagle, he could be rid of Bruce Banner. However, when the Hulk was struck by German bullets he turned on them, and wound up destroying the cannon. Before the Phantom Eagle could learn more about the Hulk, he was sent back to his own time.

(Invaders I#7 (fb)) - In the latter days of the war, the Phantom Eagle joined a team of fellow costumed heroes called "Freedom's Five." His teammates included Union Jack, the Crimson Cavalier, Sir Steel and the Silver Squire.

(Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe#13 - Freedom's Five entry) - At some point, the members of Freedom's Five fought Baron Blood, a vampire serving the Germans.

(Ghost Rider II#12 (fb)) - The Phantom Eagle finally tried to get his parents out of Germany, and led them to his plane, when Hermann von Reitberger came upon the scene and shot the Phantom Eagle and his parents to death. The last thing the Phantom Eagle heard was von Reitberger's laughter. The Phantom Eagle's ghost challenged von Reitberger to an aerial duel, and von Reitberger accepted. He succeeding in shooting the Phantom Eagle down, and witnessed his "death" amidst the ruins of his plane. Before "dying," the Phantom Eagle vowed that he would have revenge upon von Reitberger.

(Ghost Rider II#12) - The Phantom Eagle's ghost continued to pursue von Reitberger into the modern day. Ghost Rider (Johnny Blaze) became entangled in the feud, thinking von Reitberger a victim until he heard the full story from the Phantom Eagle's ghost. The Phantom Eagle and von Reitberger engaged in aerial combat once again, and von Reitberger crashed and died. With von Reitberger gone, the Phantom Eagle's ghost finally went to rest.

Comments: Created by Gary Friedrich and Herb Trimpe.

Ghost Rider II#12 identified Karl Kaufman as a German-born American, but the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe#14 identified him as an American of German descent. Considering that his parents were living in Germany in World War I, it makes better sense for him to be German-born.

Also, where'd the OHOTMU get that "brown" hair from? As you can see, he's clearly blond in Marvel Super-Heroes II#16.

The date for the Phantom Eagle's adventure in Thor Corps#3 doesn't quite work -- Kaufman was still based in the USA in his 1917 adventure in his first appearance. He wasn't supposed to be fighting overseas until after the USA entered WWI (April 6, 1917).

Friedrich's setup in Marvel Super-Heroes II#16 reminds me a lot of Marvel's western heroes. If it had successfully launched a series, I expect it would have been a bit like the Two-Gun Kid or Ghost Rider, with Curly in the Boom-Boom Brown/Jaime Jacobs role, Paula as a Nancy Carter/Natalie Brooks, etc.

Examine the images below...then, keeping in mind how late in Trimpe's career he took on aspects of Rob Liefeld's style, tell me if you think Liefeld got his infamous gritted teeth from Trimpe.

by Prime Eternal

Phantom Eagle should not be confused with:


Curly Anderson was Karl Kaufman's assistant in his identity of the Phantom Eagle. Curly performed all of the mechanical work on the Phantom Eagle's planes. He kept a journal which contained all of his friend's secrets, and it was eventually obtained in modern times by Joel von Reitberger, grandson of Hermann von Reitberger.

--Marvel Super-Heroes II#16 (Incredible Hulk II#135 [Ghost Rider II#12]


Rex Griffin was Karl Kaufman's friend, although as teenagers they sometimes fought each other for the affections of Paula Jackson. As adults, Rex and Karl flew together in a flying circus, but while showing off for Paula Rex hit Karl's plane and crashed. Suffering a bad leg injury, Rex was grounded from flying. This brought him closer to Paula, and they eventually became engaged. Rex went to work behind a desk for the Air Corps under Major Jack Norris, and tried to get the major to recruit Karl, to no avail. When the Karl alerted Rex to the invasion fleet led by General Heinrich von Ronstadt, Rex took command of a squadron, despite his injury. The Phantom Eagle destroyed the dirgible, but Rex's plane was damaged. The Phantom Eagle threw him a rope to bring him aboard his plane, but Rex cramped up from his injury and slipped, falling to death. At Rex's funeral, Karl vowed that he would have his revenge upon Germany.

--Marvel Super-Heroes II#16 (16 (fb), 16


Jack Norris was an officer in the Air Corps who attempted to enlist Karl Kaufman as a combat pilot, but was refused because Kaufman wanted to protect his family. He also served as Rex Griffin's superior, and attended Rex's funeral.

--Marvel Super-Heroes II#16 (16 (fb), 16


Paula Jackson was beloved by both Rex Griffin and Karl Kaufman, and the two would sometimes fight each other for the honor of taking her to a dance. When Rex was grounded from flight, he and Paula became engaged, even as he joined the Air Corps behind a desk. Paula saw Rex off as he went into combat against the forces of General Heinrich von Ronstadt. After Rex's death, she attended his funeral.

--Marvel Super-Heroes II#16 (16 (fb), 16

Images taken from:
The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe#14 - Phantom Eagle entry
Marvel Super-Heroes II#16, page 6 (numbered), panel 3
Marvel Super-Heroes II#16, page 14 (numbered), panel 1
Curly- Marvel Super-Heroes II#16, page 6 (numbered), panel 7
Rex- Marvel Super-Heroes II#16, page 7 (numbered), panel 1
Norris- Marvel Super-Heroes II#16, page 6 (numbered), panel 1
Paula- Marvel Super-Heroes II#16, page 5 (numbered), panel 2

Marvel Super-Heroes II#16 (September, 1968) - Gary Friedrich (writer), Herb Trimpe (artist), Stan Lee (editor)
Incredible Hulk II#135 (January, 1971) - Roy Thomas (writer), Herb Trimpe (penciler), Sal Buscema (inker), Stan Lee (editor)
Ghost Rider II#12 (June, 1975) - Tony Isabella (writer), Frank Robbins (penciler), Frank Giacoia, Mike Esposito (inkers), Len Wein (editor)
Invaders I#7 (July, 1976) - Roy Thomas (writer/editor), Frank Robbins (penciler), Vince Colletta (inker)
Thor Corps#3 (November, 1993) - Tom DeFalco (writer), Pat Olliffe (penciler), Romeo Tanghal (inker), Mike Rockwitz (editor)

Last updated: 08/19/06

Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.

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