Rex Lane

First Appearance: Young Men #21 (October 1953).
Appearances: Young Men #21-23.
Years Active: 1950s.

Rex Lane, "Solver of the Supernatural," is an private investigator who...well, it's easy enough to quote the sign on the door to his office: "Rex Lane. Private Investigator. We specialize in the unusual and hard to handle." Originally he had his mind set on being a cop, but he kept failing the exams: "Gosh, I know all the answers and everything, but I just can't pass the physical tests! I'm too light!" (This is somewhat at odds with depictions of him without his shirt on, where he reveals a good, albeit not overly muscled, physique.) His girlfriend/fiancee, the winsome Belle, encourages him to "do police work without being on the those guys on television." Inspired, Rex takes the private investigator exams, hangs up his shingle, and begins freelancing. His first client wants him to investigate a haunted house, one that turns out to have a real ghost in it, and from there Rex makes his specialty in investigating the supernatural. Although he's initially doubtful about the existence of ghosts and the occult, his adventures quickly disabuse him of that notion. He's an empiricist, of course, always looking for material things as the source of his clients' problems, but when he sees the supernatural, he believes in it.

Rex has no superpowers, and beyond being good with his fists and a skilled private eye has no exceptional skills, but he is tenacious in his cases. The supernatural things he deals with are ghosts and hauntings, for the most part, and usually Rex does not dispel or fight the ghosts so much as facilitate the achievement of their wishes, which are usually to see their murderers or swindlers brought to justice. When the case calls for it Rex brings Belle along to help him, and she, feisty and smart, is of great help to him on these occasions. Rex and Belle aren't rich--they often worry about bringing in the rent--but they are successful, and their relationship is a solid one, with Rex vowing to marry her as soon as he has the money for it and Belle sticking by Rex no matter what.

Note: Lane is one of the unjustly forgotten characters of the Atlas era. His stories are entertaining, but nowhere near live up to the potential in the character. If any of the Atlas characters deserve to be brought back, Lane and Belle do. He's John Constantine, but for Atlas/Marvel. Surely someone like Warren Ellis could do the character justice.

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