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January/February 2016
 
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The Truth About Wilson, by W.S.K. Webb (1962)


"THE fastest man alive!" Not the Flash, but William Wilson, who first appeared in the British all-text boy's magazine, the Wizard, in 1943. His creator was Gilbert Lawford Dalton (1904-1963), writing as W. S. K. Webb. An even more exact American equivalent might be found in the 1970s DC comic book, Strange Sports Stories.

"Who was this William Wilson?" asked reporter-narrator Harry Cobb. "A slight, wiry figure in an old-fashioned black running costume, he appeared out of the mists of the Yorkshire moors to shatter athletic records like cheap crockery, all over the world. He was a mystery—but he was news. And now, at last, the incredible truth can be told."

After each record-breaking track event, Wilson would virtually collapse and then vanish into his vast moorland hideaway. He wasn't avoiding a positive drug test but only needed enough time to rejuvenate himself—literally so. Wilson claimed to have been born on November 1, 1795, but parish records indicate that he was already a young man in 1774. As a doctor, he had developed a superhuman fitness regime, and eventually learned, from a secret enclave of long-lived people (perhaps located in Tibet) how to slow his heart rate down to hibernation level.

Then along came World War II and the Battle of Britain. "Unfortunately, Britain's casualties today include the world-famous athlete, Squadron-Leader W. Wilson, D.S.O., D.F.C., and Bar, who had 25 air victories to his credit. Wilson's machine was last seen on fire over the Channel after he had shot down two Junkers bombers and he is officially posted as missing.…" But not, be it noted, killed.

—Graham Andrews

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