Published: Emma #67 (02 June 1979) – #81 (08 September 1979) – final issue
Artist: José Ariza
Louise Colbert is a nurse in Verville in Nazi-occupied Belgium during World War II. She is known as a timid, gentle, unassuming person. One night an Allied pilot is shot down. In hospital, a patient named Mr LeBlanc confides in Louise that he is hiding the wanted airman in his old theatre. She must inform a Mr Gabin about this, and that the airman is to be taken to a pickup point that night. But both Gabin (had to evade arrest by the Nazis) and LeBlanc (died later) become unable to help the airman, so it falls to Louise. She makes her way to the theatre, but finds the Nazis have caught the airman. Louise heads to the props room, where she dons a white mouse mask and uses a prop rifle to help the airman get away from the Nazis and to his rendezvous to be picked up.
And so Louise’s career as “the daring White Mouse” is born. Word soon spreads about this new resister. A lot of people, such as fellow nurses at the hospital, laugh at the idea that the White Mouse could be Louise because she is so timid. It doesn’t take long for the White Mouse to become so famous that other European countries, including Nazi Germany itself, hear about her; she gets plenty of comment from overseas agents and one defecting German saying so. The White Mouse is soon the bane of Colonel Koenig of the Gestapo and his henchman, Major Lutz. But like everyone else, Koenig and Lutz assume Louise is too timid to have any connection to the White Mouse.
White Mouse cases often start at the hospital where Louise works. Louise encounters more patients who have connections to the Resistance one way or another, and it is a simple matter to put on her mask and get them to confide in her as the White Mouse. Other times it is someone she meets while out cycling, such as a defecting German, downed Allied airmen, or Resistance fighters. After that she takes up their cases, which include rescuing their relatives from the Nazis, retrieving items they stole from the Nazis, getting people on the underground railroads to safe countries and other emergencies.
Koenig sets several traps for the White Mouse, of course. In one episode, he rigs up a German as a downed Allied airman for the White Mouse for help. But the White Mouse gets suspicious, simply on finding that his rifle is cold and therefore could not have opened fire on Germans only moments before, as he claimed. She goes along with him until she is ready to turn him over to the Resistance.
Ironically, in one episode Koenig actually does capture the White Mouse – in her civilian identity – without realising it. It takes a bit of luck and ingenuity for Louise to get rid of her White Mouse mask before the Gestapo search her and find it, and they soon release her. Presumably she got another mask from the old theatre, for the theatre does reappear in the strip to get disguises for the people she is helping.
The White Mouse carries on until the last issue of Emma. Sadly, she does not make it into the merger. The final episode is a regular White Mouse episode, where she comes to the aid of Belgian resistance fighters and a British radio operator, who have been surprised by German forces. After seeing them all to safety, Jacques the leader thanks the White Mouse for the service she has done for them, which they can never repay. The war still rages, so the career of the White Mouse continues.
Curiously, there was a real-life WW2 SOE (Special Operations Executive) agent and resistance fighter called The White Mouse. Her name was Nancy Wake and she made it all the way to Number 1 on the Gestapo’s Most Wanted List. Unlike her Emma counterpart, the real White Mouse did not wear a mouse mask or adopt the moniker as a code name; the Gestapo dubbed her the White Mouse because of her ability to elude them.
The shyness of Louise Colbert could be described as a Clark Kent personality – except that unlike Superman she did not develop it as a cover for her secret identity. Rather, this is her own personality; Louise starts out as a nurse who is known for her shyness. However, Louise does not show her shyness much, either before or after she becomes the White Mouse; it’s only through the comments of other people that we know it at all. She comes across more as an ordinary nurse, no different from any other.
Shyness does not make Louise a coward, though; even before she dons the mouse mask she does not hesitate to go to the rescue of her first case at the old theatre when his initial helpers become unavailable. The moment he is caught by the Germans, she has no qualms about going to the rescue and thinks fast as to how to do it. In that split second Louise demonstrates not only courage but also instant powers of resourcefulness, quick wits and fast thinking in getting out of sticky situations. She also has amazing powers of observation that would make Sherlock Holmes proud. For example, she is tipped off to the phoney British airman Koenig set up for her by the mere fact of discovering his rifle was cold.
Luck also plays its role in the success of the White Mouse. For example, on her debut night, she is stopped by German soldiers as she drives the British airman to safety. But they are so startled by the mouse mask that they flee in fright. Silly boys! That mouse mask sure does create a lot of humorous moments, especially from an artistic point of view; for example, when it is drawn at an upwards angle.
It is ironic that everyone assumes Louise is too timid to be the White Mouse. Does nobody remember that mice are associated with timidity? They probably equate shyness with cowardice, as one hot-headed resister does in one episode. So much the better for keeping the identity of the White Mouse secret.