NOTE: Because we missed this with Monday, I'm posting the Free Comics today instead. - Jim
I've talked about how some of the Quality Heroes have fallen into Public Domain, but one of the best examples of a character falling into public domain and then getting published by many different companies is The Phantom Lady.
Since her intial appearance, she has appeared in titles by: Quality Comics, Fox Feature Syndicate & Star Publications, Ajax-Farrel Publications, Charlton Comics & I.W. Publications and DC Comics. Other than Tarzan, I'm not sure who else has appeared in comics from so many different companies. (Zorro maybe?)
Phantom Lady is one of the first female superhero characters to debut in the 1940s Golden Age of Comic Books. Originally published by Quality Comics, the character was subsequently published by a series of now-defunct comic book companies, and is currently owned by DC Comics.
As published by Fox Feature Syndicate in the late 1940s, the busty and scantily-clad Phantom Lady is a notable and controversial example of "good girl art," a style of comic art depicting voluptuous female characters in provocative situations and pin-up poses that contributed to widespread criticism of the medium's effect on children. Phantom Lady was created by the Eisner & Iger studio, one of the first to produce comics on demand for publishers. The character's early adventures were drawn by Arthur Peddy.
The Fox version which premiered in Phantom Lady #13 (taking over the numbering of Wotalife Comics) is better known to contemporary comic fans than the Quality version because of the "good girl art" of Matt Baker. Baker altered her costume by changing the colors to red and blue, substantially revealing her cleavage, and adding a very short skirt.
[ Phantom Lady 13 ]
Fox published Phantom Lady only through issue 26 (Apr, 1949), though the character guest starred in All-Top Comics #8-17, also with art by Baker. Her rogue's gallery in these two Fox titles included the Avenging Skulls; the Fire Fiend; the Killer Clown; Kurtz, the Robbing Robot; the Subway Slayer; and Vulture.
[ Phantom Lady 16 ]