Neon the Unknown

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Personal information

Real Name:  Tom Corbet

Residence: Mobile
Occupation: Adventurer, soldier in the Foreign Legion
First Appearance (Golden Age): Hit Comics #1 (July 1940)
First Appearance (Post-Golden Age): All-Star Squadron #31 (May 1984)

Character History

Little is known of the life of Tom Corbet prior to his enlistment in the Foreign Legion sometime prior to the summer of 1940.  When a corrupt magnate organizes an effort at world dominion, he exploits aboriginal peoples across the Southern Hemisphere in a large army.  Realizing there is unrest but not appreciating the scope, an arrogant lieutenant sends a platoon of legionnaires across the desert to confront one of the African tribes.  The ill-fated platoon soons falls to the unrelenting desert climate, all dying save Tom Corbet.  Corbet, near death himself, stumbles as the last survivor into an oasis unknown to any map.  He greedily drinks the waters and is restored but a tiger soon appears and stalks him.  Throwing up his hands, he finds that "neonic" energy fields unleashed from his body strike the tiger dead, Realizing he has been transformed, he takes the new identity as Neon the Unknown.

Returning to his post, he witnesses the aborignal army assembling squadrons of war planes and races back to warn commandant.  Initially dubious, the commandant is swayed when war planes pass closely overhead.  He send his legions with Neon, who uses his powers to aide them in defeating the aboriginal army and destroy the hangers.   As the planes divert toward South America, the Legion gives chase and again Neon uses his powers to shift the tide and the planes are downed into the unforgiving sea (Hit Comics #1).

From that point forward, Neon the Unknown traveled the world confronting evil.  He made particular efforts to defeat Axis activities, including liberating the small Axis ally of Dunland (Hit Comics #2), rescuing a woman trapped in a 5th columnist plot (Hit Comics #8), prevents an Axis takeover in the Balkan nation of Slovia (Hit Comics #11-12) and targeting axis threats against the still-neutral United States (Hit Comics #14, #15 and #17).

In addition to his Axis forays, Neon engaged an array of bizarre case work.  He rescued Sir Humphrey Walker when the polar explorer was lost in a land of savages and dinosaurs (Hit Comics #3). He defeated Fritz Cardiff, an evil scientist with an invisibility ray (Hit Comics #6) and malevolent Tibetan llama using mental projection to seek world dominion (Hit Comics #7).   He also periodically checked back in with the Foreign Legion and revealed to them his dual identity (Hit Comics #9).

 In April of 1942, the Neon was contacted by a man claiming to the be the living spirit of America, Uncle Sam.  Uncle Sam alleged that he had seen a world in far more dire straits that Earth-Two, one in which the Axis forces were making steady in-roads into Allied Territory.   Neon, along with several other second tier adventurers including Hourman, were beseeched to join the fight on the other Earth, named Earth-X, to slow the Axis advance.  Neon agreed and joined the fateful group.  Probability favored the Axis in the new world however and the initial corps of Uncle Sam’s “Freedom Fighters” were quickly defeated and thought dead.  Hourman was later shown to have survived the assault  and no other bodies were recovered so whether the Neon - one of the most powerful of the group -  was truly dead on Earth-X has never been verified.

Powers and Abilities

As Neon the Unknown, Corbet possess a wide array of abilities,  These included flight, energy projection, super-human speed, strength and resilience and the ability to manipulate energy in a number of exotic ways.  The basis of his powers was "neonic" but the scientific basis of such is poorly defined and its not clear whether the waters of the oasis that embued him was even of earthly origin.   The full extent of his powers has not been defined.

Weaknesses and Limitations

As the basis of his powers is unknown, likewise are his limitations.  Documentations of casework where Neon was captured or subdued are few tho that may reflect his skill and avoiding injury more than withstanding it.  If his demise on Earth-X is verified, it would indicated that he was ultimately mortal and could be slain as such.

Multiversity Villains



In the Post-Crisis timeline, the origins of Neon the Unknown are largely similar. Neon was involved in a battle at Pearl Harbor alongside Uncle Sam's recruits but a bomb exploded and somehow sent him back to his oasis, where his injuries were healed as the further loss of his humanity.  As he spent decades in his sanctuary, Neon became less and less human until Corbet no longer existed.  When the original Ray sought him out to join Sam's latest incarnation of the Freedom Fighters, Neon refused, citing no residual human concern in the world around him.  As he faded from view,  the Ray drank from the Oasis himself and became the new Neon (Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters Vol. 2 #5-8).  The Flashpoint Event closed off this timeline from view and whether the Ray retained the Neon identity is not clear.


The Neon of this Earth is thought to have origins similar to his Earth-Two counterpart but never served as a Freedom Fighter and he remained active throughout the war. He survived into the 1950’s, when he participated in Senator Tex Thompson (secretly the Ultra-Humanite)’s effort to organize all costumed adventurers under his authority.  Neon participated in the conflict after the Humanite’s unmasking but whether he survived that conflict on Earth-22 has not been revealed (The Golden Age LS).

Golden Age Appearances of Neon the Unknown