Lee Walter Travis, a member of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade during the Spanish Civil War, and as a young publisher of the Globe-Leader, a paper devoted to progressive causes, such as the support of war victims in Asia. A hard working and forward thinking publisher, Travis nevertheless seemed devoted to selling newspapers and his place in the social set, qualities which did not go unnoticed by fellow journalist Claudia Barker, who was interviewing Travis for Downtowner magazine, and Wing How, Travis’ valet and chauffeur. Wing in particular was gently vocal in his distaste for wealthy Americans’ predilection for solving problems like the war in Asia with parties and charity events.
That would change with a costume ball being held at the Van Gilder estate on the evening of Halloween. Clad in a “highway robber” costume ordered by his secretary, Lee Travis made his first appearance as the Crimson Avenger on the night of Orson Welles famous broadcast of The War of the Worlds. Having gotten advance notice of the radio show, a group of criminals dressed in alien-like costumes took advantage of the ensuing panic in order to rob the Van Gilder party of funds raised for Chinese war victims. In the ensuing melee, Claudia Barker was shot while one of the criminals tried to steal her gold lighter.
Holding the dying woman in his arms, Travis heard her last words, “Qui Vindicet Ibit”. An enraged Lee Travis went after the criminals in his limousine, while the broadcast by Welles went on, sending the nation into a state of panic. With Wing at the wheel, the Crimson exchanged gunfire with the costumed thieves, driving them into a ditch. Ably assisted by Wing, the Crimson was able to subdue the criminals and retrieve the money. Among the effects were Claudia’s gold lighter inscribed with “Qui Vindicet Ibit”, which is Latin for “The avenger will come”. When the police arrived, Travis and How quickly drove away, letting it be said that a mysterious “Crimson Avenger” stopped the thieves, and giving Lee Travis a more meaningful purpose to his life.