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EP254: How American History Created the American Superhero

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb
The Truth Network Radio
April 8, 2022 3:00 am

EP254: How American History Created the American Superhero

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb

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April 8, 2022 3:00 am

On this episode of Our American Stories, Jeffrey Johnson, WWII historian at Pearl Harbor in Honolulu, Hawaii and author of Super-History: Comic Book Superheroes and American Society tells us how the comic book superhero was born in the country’s margins.

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Toes, you've hit the jackpot of comfy. Hey dude, good to go to. This is Lee Habib and this is Our American Stories, the show where America is the star and the American people. And we also love to hear your stories. We feature them routinely.

Send them to They're some of our favorites. Jeffrey Johnson is a World War II historian at Pearl Harbor in Honolulu, Hawaii. He's also the author of Super History, comic book superheroes, and American Society. He's here to share this story. Let's take a listen.

My name is Jeffrey Johnson. I have a PhD in American Studies from Michigan State University. I was always drawn to comic books since I was, I guess, about 10 or 11. And then I stopped reading them and then I picked them back up during the late 80s and the early 90s. And then when I started my PhD in, I guess, 2004, I started reading them again and it really just struck me just how cohesive the narrative is and how I very much speak to the American experience in the way that King Arthur does for England and Beowulf does for the ancients and the Greek gods do for the Greeks and the Roman gods for them.

I mean, they're this mythological force and they're a narrative driver that speaks to these heroes that a certain society needs at a certain time, that speaks to their hopes and their dreams and their fears. And they're a real mirror to what is always going on in the greater U.S. mindset and the background of how we live, which is an amazing thing to have to track, basically, how the American society changed from 1938 until now through these superheroes. The first comic book superhero was Superman and he debuted in June 1939 was the cover date of Action Comics No.

1 when he came out. There were comic strips and comic books before that. The first comic strip, which was a newspaper strip, came out in 1896 and it was called The Yellow Kid. But it was a different art form than what comic books are because comic strips were different for comic books because comic strips came out daily in the newspaper and they were three, four, five panels and a strip every day and they often touched on politics or things of the day at the early start and then they would follow the daily adventures of somebody and they were, from the beginning, really highly respected. And the people who created them became pretty famous and pretty wealthy pretty quickly because they were read by so many people in the newspaper every day. And most of the people who went into that sort of artwork, the kind of cartooning artwork, really wanted to get into comic strips. But in the early 1930s, there were these pulp magazines and then the early precursors to the comic books were these little pamphlets that were put out at newsstands that were very much cheap paper, very quickly made stories, and often they were reprints of the comic strips that had been put in the paper. But the real first major difference of what a comic strip and a comic book could be was in 1938, Action Comics No.

1 came out and the superhero was introduced. That was the first appearance of Superman and the creators of Superman were two teenage boys from Cleveland, Ohio. The names were Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.

Jerry mostly wrote the stories and Joe mostly did the art. And they worked together on Superman and they came up with the idea just while that they were trying to think up a comic strip for the newspapers because they really wanted to be comic strip guys because that was where all the money and all the fame were. And these were two teenage boys who felt like they were outcasts. They didn't really do particularly well at school. They wanted to have girlfriends but they didn't.

They were a little bit nerdy. They were two people who really felt like they needed a champion for them, someone who could stand up for people like them. And one of the really interesting things is that Jerry Siegel's father had been murdered during a robbery and he had always carried that with him. And so in some ways he said later that he created Superman because he didn't want people to feel like he felt in this fictional world that he created.

And he couldn't do anything about his father's murder and he couldn't do anything in actual time. But he could create this world in which this super-powered hero could actually fight for the common man and could be this larger-than-life force who actually worked for real people and who tried to avenge the wrongs and tried to stop crime and make up for things that went wrong. It's fascinating that two teenage boys created Superman, this first superhero who had created this entire industry that we're still talking about today.

I mean, it came out of nowhere and yet it's this amalgamation of all of these different background things. I mean, you have Superman who's dressed in this costume that's very much taken from these circus acrobat performers and strongmen, very bright and colorful and stem-type costume. And then you have all of these different pulp heroes like Doc Savage and the Phantom, Zorro, Tarzan, the Shadow, who all have these secret identities and they fight crime and they're in the shadows. But they weren't really Superman because they didn't put it all together. I mean, you had strongmen like Popeye and you had Avengers like Zorro or you had people who went on adventures like John Carter from Mars.

And you had all of the elements were there, but no one ever put them into one person because it was too fantastical. When Siegel and Shuster first came up with the idea, they first tried to make it into a comic strip and put it into the newspapers and nobody wanted it. Then they went around and they tried to get every comic book publisher to take it and nobody wanted it because nobody believed that anybody would want to read something that was this unbelievable, that was this super. And so they finally found a comic publisher that was run by two guys named Harry Donofield and Jack Leibowitz, who started what was at that time called National Comics, but it later became known as DC Comics, and they were looking for filler for this new comic book they were creating called Action Comics Number One. And you've been listening to Jeffrey Johnson tell the story of comic books and where it all really began and not superheroes because they'd been around Greek mythology to the present. But in 1938, a couple of young guys, teenagers, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, and they had more than an idea.

They wanted, as Jeffrey said, to create a champion for sort of nerdy outcasts like themselves. And by the way, the book is Super History, comic book superheroes in American society. Go wherever you get your books, Amazon or the usual suspects. And when we come back, more of the life of comic book superheroes and how they mirror American life here on Our American Stories. Here at Our American Stories, we bring you inspiring stories of history, sports, business, faith and love, stories from a great and beautiful country that need to be told.

But we can't do it without you. Our stories are free to listen to, but they're not free to make. If you love our stories in America like we do, please go to and click the donate button. Give a little. Give a lot. Help us keep the great American stories coming.

That's And we're back with Our American Stories and Jeffrey Johnson, who is a World War Two historian at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. And he's also the author of Super History, comic book superheroes and American society. We'd left off with him talking about two teenagers in Cleveland, Ohio, and this idea for a character and a cartoon and a comic book called Superman.

Let's pick up where Jeffrey last left off. Although everybody remembers Action Comics number one as the first appearance of Superman, there were multiple stories in there about detectives and crime and there was a magic story and there was all of these different formats were basically pushed in this one episode. And Superman was basically added to this first issue because they needed something to put in there that was a story.

And this was Siegel and Schuster's last chance. So when Action Comics came out with the cover dated June 1938, they did put Superman on the cover and there's this incredible cover of Superman picking this car up and he's smashing it and you see these guys in the background with fear on their face and running around. I mean, it's not what people think of Superman now is this, you know, person who fights crime and he's, you know, nice to children he saves cats from trees and that sort of thing.

But this is somebody who was terrifying the people on this cover of this first issue and the story inside is much the same way. I mean, you know, Superman goes around and he fights these kind of petty street criminal type crime and, you know, he fights corrupt politicians. There's a portion of Action Comics number one where the villain is a lobbyist who's corrupt and Superman basically holds him upside down on a wire and tries to scare him to death. That's very different from the Superman that most people think of who pushes planets around to a guy who's worried about a lobbyist who's kind of make a bad backroom deal.

But I mean, that's what Superman was in the beginning. He was someone who stopped petty thieves and he stopped corrupt slumlords and he took on gambling dens that put slot machines for our children to use. I mean, he worried about street level crime because that's what Siegel and Schuster were worried about.

They were worried about the things that they saw every day. I mean, this was 1938. This was in the midst of the Great Depression, right? Things were going terribly in the U.S. economy that crashed back in 1929.

So you have almost a decade of bread lines and soup lines and massive amounts of people out of work. So when it came out, Harry Donofield and Jack Leibowitz printed 200,000 copies and they printed it as an overprint. They thought they'd have a lot extra sent back and then it immediately sells out and the retailers are asking them for more. So they printed more for issue two and they sold out of that and they printed more for issue three. But nobody knew that it was Superman selling the issues because there were so many different stories in there. And then by issue six, they finally got numbers and they were able to figure out that it was Superman. And they went around and they talked to a newsstand dealers and they said the kids don't know action comics.

They asked me for the one that's got Superman in it. And by action comics number six, they were selling about 500,000 copies each, which was up from that 200,000 print run for the first one that they thought was wildly optimistic. I mean, Superman took off in a way that I don't know if American culture has ever seen before. It became a mania of just how popular, how quickly he became. He got a Macy's Day Parade balloon like within a couple of years.

Pretty soon he gets his own show on the radio and he's got radio adventures. And I mean, and then really quickly in the summer of 1939, he gets his own comic book. Superman number one comes out basically a year from the first issue of action comics number one. I mean, this was grassroots. This wasn't marketing.

Nobody went out and asked people what they wanted or, you know, tried to do these surveys or tried to, you know, come up with something that people wanted. This was a vision of these two kids who changed the entire world in some way by creating these superheroes. There were soon dozens and dozens of knockoffs of Superman. And one of the first Superman knockoffs was actually done by DC itself. I mean, when they saw how popular Superman was, they quickly talked to writers and tried to figure out if they could get another superhero to make more comics about.

And so they talked to a guy named Bob Kane as the story. And he came back after a weekend with this idea for Batman. And Batman couldn't be any different from Superman. They wanted a Superman knockoff, but I mean Batman is not super powered. He's a millionaire playboy who is everything that Bob Kane, the writer who created him, wanted.

He wanted to be rich and popular and be able to do all these things. He's wished fulfillment for Bob Kane in the same way that Superman was for Siegel and Shuster, but in the exact opposite way. So you have this really interesting dynamic now that you have these two DC superheroes that couldn't be any different. You have Superman, who's eventually shown as being this Kansas farm boy who's from a place that's so quaint and so middle America that it's called Smallville. He's adopted by this wonderful couple who teach him values and who teach him that he's supposed to fight for right and for truth and justice and all this stuff.

And I say the other stuff because they didn't start saying the American way until the Adventures of Superman TV show with George Reeves came about in 1953. And then you have Batman, who sees his parents murdered. And he's got all of this money and all of the things that he could want, but he's in this city that basically the crime of the city killed his parents.

And now he has to start this war on this city and the crime that's in it. So you have these two heroes, but they do reflect these two sides of this American mythology that's been around since the very start of who we are. What's fascinating about Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster is they were immigrants, as were almost all of the early creators of comic books. They both had parents who fled different countries because of the anti-Semitism of where they were from, as did a lot of the early creators. I mean, Bob Kane was of a Jewish background and his parents fled where they were from because of problems. I talked about the publishers of some national comics.

They both came from different countries to the States when they were young, and they fled because their parents thought that they could have a much better life in this country. And one of the creators we're going to talk about later, Jack Kirby, he was from New York and his parents were also immigrants, and they came to America because of a better life. And Stan Lee was born Stanley Lieber, and he was of a Jewish background too.

So, I mean, a really large portion of the early creators were from Jewish backgrounds and where people really understood how things could go wrong in places other than the U.S., and they came to the U.S. really wanting a better life. By the end of the 1930s and the early 1940s, there were literally dozens, if not hundreds, of knockoff comic book superheroes. I mean, people like the Black Hood, Cat Man, Sub-Zero Man, Hydro Man, Voltron, the Human Generator, the Phantom Lady, Major Victory, the Human Bond, and Vapoman are, you know, some of the great names that come out of that era.

But, I mean, there were also some that were really successful. One of the most successful ones is Arne Shazam, or Captain Marvel as he's known sometimes, who came out of Wiz Comics number two in 1940, and he was a Superman ripoff, but he was done in this very safe, very cleansed, and a very easy read. So Shazam, who was created to look just like Superman, but he's given these much more child-friendly adventures, where there was nothing violent or nothing that parents could feel bad about their children reading.

And he was highly popular. He outsold all superheroes, including Superman, for a while, but then he was such a Superman knockoff that D.C. sued Fawcett, and then they won eventually, but by the time the courts had dragged out, this was in the 1950s when his sales had dropped so much that the effect of D.C. winning the court case really didn't matter. So by like 1940 and early 1941, you have this mass of superheroes, right? Dozens of publishers who are publishing hundreds of different superheroes who all share some of the same elements, being super-powered and wearing bright costumes and fighting crime.

They're selling millions of copies across the boards of these issues. And then you have World War II come about. And you've been listening to Jeffrey Johnson tell the story of how, well, how our comic books came to be in America.

And again, it started with two teenagers in Cleveland. And the next thing you know, from Superman, we get a very different character from the same company, Batman. When we come back, more of this remarkable historical look at America through the lens of comic books, here on Our American Stories. And we continue with Our American Stories and with Jeffrey Johnson, who's a World War II historian at Pearl Harbor. And he's also the author of Super History, Comic Book Superheroes, and American Society.

Let's pick up where Jeffrey last left off. And then you have World War II come about. And everything within American society as a general, and for comic book superheroes in particular, changes. And I mean, you know, you have this war effort where everything becomes about the war, right?

I mean, Americans start to ration, servicemen are sent to war. And so, because of this, these superheroes necessarily have to change. I mean, you can't have Superman taking on the police or the government at some time, as he did during the 30s, now that you're at war. So, I mean, these heroes become super patriotic, and they become part of the war effort, and they sell war bonds on the covers of their issues. And then on the covers, you see them fighting Hitler. One of the early issues has Superman trying to enlist in the military, and his x-ray vision malfunctions. So he reads the eye chart in the room next to their room through the wall, and he's not actually allowed to join because he's 4F. And so he decides that the American service person can actually fight the war far better than he can, and they don't need him.

And so he'll stay at home, and he'll fight the wars and the crime that is here at home. So there was a Look magazine article in the early part of the war with it. I mean, he basically, it's like a two or three page story in which Superman basically goes, and he captures Hitler and Stalin, and he takes them to the League of Nations, and he turns them in, and he, you know, ends the war. Which is a great story, but it's hard to keep telling that story when you have people who are actually at war for a prolonged time. And then on the 20th of December 1940, you have this other comic book come out.

It's called Captain America Number One. Let me stress, this is December the 20th, 1940. This is a year before Pearl Harbor, basically. This is before the U.S. has officially entered the war. And you have this cover of Captain America punching Adolf Hitler in the jaw and taking on the Nazis.

Which doesn't seem that incredible now, because we know how the war ended, and we understand exactly what everything was. But a year before the U.S. entered the war, you have a comic book character who's punching a world leader in the face in a magazine meant for children. It's pretty incredible, and it shows you how creative and also how fearless a lot of these comic book creators were. The people who created Captain America 1 were Joe Simon and Jack Kirby. He was Jewish, and he grew up in the streets of New York, but he was this rough and tumble street kid who used to get into fights. He was this little bitty guy, but he was, you know, fearless and rough and tumble. There's this great story that while they were working at what was then called Timely, but would later change his name to Marvel Comics, they got a phone call that there was somebody down in the lobby who said that he didn't like what Captain America Comics was saying about Nazis, and he was going to bomb the building. And Kirby immediately picked up the phone, and he said, wait down there, because I'm going to come down there and beat the stuffing out of you. That's Jack Kirby.

Fearless. And it's really telling that, I mean, much like Superman and much like the other creators, Kirby was this immigrant whose parents knew about oppression and knew about all of these terrible things that had happened to them in the place they came from. But the problem was, after the war, there really was nowhere for a lot of these comic books to go. Because, I mean, you have these incredibly powerful heroes who are fighting society's wrongs, and they became very patriotic during the war, and then once the war is over, people want to move on. I mean, you have this generation who basically from 1929 to 1945 had only known depression, downtimes, and war. Suddenly the war is over, and the U.S. is the one country who comes out of the war really prosperous.

Suddenly for the first time in a lot of these people's lives, they have stability, they have quiet, they have peace, they have all of these things they had dreamed about in their whole life. Which is really great for the country and really great for a lot of people, but it's bad for the people who have to write stories for these superheroes. And sales drop tremendously.

A lot of these publishers go out of business. Captain America, they try to turn him to this anti-communist hero. His comic book is changed from Captain America to the title of Captain America Commie Smasher.

But, you know, it doesn't work. So in the early 50s, Captain America is cancelled, as is a lot of these heroes. Superman and Batman still continue to sell well. What Superman and Batman begin to do is they start to mirror this 1950s stereotypical working man. You know, has a family in the suburbs.

And, you know, they certainly don't have a job in the way that I'm talking, but I mean they take on extended families. I mean, Batman gets Robin and then Superman gets this incredible extended family. You know, he's got Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, he gets a cousin from Krypton named Supergirl.

And he gets this whole zoo of pets. Krypto the super dog, Streaky the super cat, Comet the super horse, and my favorite, Beppo the super monkey. That's very different from the 1938-1939 version of these social avengers who were trying to affix society.

Now, they want to make sure that nothing changes in society. So basically from the end of World War II to the early 1960s, you just have an era where people really just want their comic books to be child friendly and safe enough to make everybody feel good about how life is going in the U.S. So there's this great story that the person who was head of DC at that time, Jack Leibovitz, he was playing golf with Martin Goodman, who was the head of Marvel Comics at that time. And Jack Leibovitz says to Goodman that he had just started this new superhero comic called the Justice League of America, where they put all of the superheroes together on one team and they were super surprised at how well it sold. So once Martin Goodman gets finished with his golf game, and then he goes back to Marvel, and he talks to his nephew, who had been working for him since the early 40s, who had been this guy who had been there the whole time and who had basically kept the company running. And this nephew of his, whose name was Stanley Lieber by birth, but he changed his name to Stan Lee because he didn't want people to know what his real name was because he thought that he could be this great American writer.

At some point, and he very much wanted to save his real name for the real novels he was going to write. He goes back to Stan Lee, and he says, I want us to do superheroes again. And you know, Stan Lee, who's at this time just tired of it all. He says, superheroes are no good. No one ever reads superheroes.

I don't want to do superheroes. And Martin Goodman's like, no, there's money in superheroes. We're going to do them for a couple of years, and then we'll move on to the next thing. And Stan Lee decides then that he's going to quit because he's had enough. And so he goes home to his wife and he says to her, I'm going to quit.

I can't take this anymore. I'm going to go into advertising. I'm going to write my novel. I can do something else. And she says, just this one time, write the superhero story that you would like to read. And then Stan Lee says, yeah, that's what I'll do.

I'll blow it up on my way out, and then I'll be finished with it. So Stan Lee goes back and he writes Fantastic Four number one. It's almost impossible to overemphasize what a sea change this was in comic book storytelling.

Stan Lee created these characters along with Jack Kirby that had real problems, that fought among themselves, that actually had things that really made their lives terrible at some points. And my goodness, what storytelling. And to think that Stan Lee was out the door.

And it was his wife, just like Steve McQueen, who convinced Steve McQueen to do the Thomas Crown affair and did it in really interesting ways. It was Stan Lee's wife, his bride, who said, hey, out the door, just write that comic book you would have always wanted to write before you write the great American novel. And indeed, that's how Fantastic Four number one comes to creation. When we come back, more of this remarkable look at American history through the prism of comic books and how our society changed and the writers, well, they changed right along with us. More with Jeffrey Johnson and the story of comic book superheroes here on Our American Stories. And we continue with Our American Stories and author Jeffrey Johnson and his book is Super History, comic book superheroes and American society.

Let's pick up again where Jeffrey last left off. Superman and Batman and all of the DC heroes, they fought crime and they had these really fun lives and you would love to be them. The Marvel heroes always had such problems and such often horrific things happen to them that you felt bad for them.

These were heroes who had flaws and who were human in a way that heroes had never been before. I mean, there's a popular culture commentator, Pierre Comptos, who says of the Fantastic Four, here's the book that neatly divides the history of comic books in the two era, everything that came before and everything that came after. Fantastic Four became a hit, it sold hundreds of thousands of copies and then pretty quickly Lee and Kirby create other superheroes to fill out the Marvel universe.

You have the Incredible Hulk that comes out in May 1962. You've got Spider-Man who is some scrawny teenager who has all of these home life issues and problems. The fascinating thing about Spider-Man is that Martin Goodman, the head of Marvel, absolutely did not believe that Spider-Man would work. Stan Lee had to beg him many times to let him publish Spider-Man because he was a teenage hero and teenagers weren't heroes.

He didn't think kids wanted to read about teenagers, they wanted to read about adults. So you have all of those and you have Ant-Man, Thor, Iron Man, the X-Men eventually come out. At some point he puts together a Justice League of America type team called the Avengers and then they bring back Captain America.

He becomes a member of the Avengers. The Marvel comic books of the 1960s were often really irreverent and really fun. And then towards the end they start to take on some of the social issues of the day, some of the 1960s and the Vietnam protests and things like that.

But they begin to get more and more serious. And then as the 1970s hit, there's this sea change not only in American comic books but also in the American society in general it seems like. There are these films that come out in the day like Death Wish or the Clint Eastwood Dirty Harry movies where they show this backlash against what's seen as crime being rampant and this lack of a structure that can take care of them. That's the late 1970s and then right about that same era you also have the Punisher who's this Vietnam veteran who doesn't have superpowers. He shoots and kills a lot of people and he goes after drug lords, he goes after street crime, he does all of these things. There's a great quote by one of the people who wrote him, Mike Barron, that I want to read. Barron in 1988 when he was talking about the Punisher wrote, The Punisher embodies the voice of conservative Americans who see their quality of life threatened by criminal behavior and the confused thinking of liberals. This average citizen is concerned with getting through the day and protecting his family. The police and the courts may constantly disappoint us but the Punisher never does. So read and enjoy and don't let liberals make you feel guilty. The Punisher knows what's right. It's quite simple when you think about it.

Just don't forget to shower afterwards. Now heroes aren't just protecting society within societal rules. They're actually setting their own rules. And the point that this becomes the most apparent is when by the mid 1980s Frank Miller writes this four issue miniseries called Batman and Dark Knight Returns and it's his take on this older Batman who had been retired for a while. Who then comes back to this Gotham City that's overrun by crime and so Batman's the only one who can take care of this. And so this keeps going in the 90s and there are a lot of different stories trying to figure out what comic books should be. For a while Marvel asked to go into bankruptcy actually and they're on the brink of closing down. It was a really dark time both in the storylines of comic books and the way that comic books are produced and the way that they were sold.

They do catch a little more of their footing by the 2000s. As far as the 9-11 attacks and then the post 9-11 world comic books become a very fearful place where that it's hard to trust heroes and then the people around them. There's a storyline called Civil War by Marvel where that Captain America and Iron Man basically disagree about should heroes have to register with the government. Captain America is against it, Iron Man is for it and they basically fight it out and they basically bring heroes onto their sides. And then at the very end Captain American basically loses. He's arrested at the end so you have this image of Captain America in handcuffs and there's this great quote by one of the writers where he says, basically what this story is about is where do we draw the line between safety and freedom. You have stories like that, you have the death of Captain America where he briefly dies and he dies as this sort of story about who can be trusted in America and have things shifted so much that things don't make sense anymore.

These stories were really a lot of creators trying to come to grips with what the world meant after the 9-11 attacks and then all of the aftermath of that. It's hard to talk about comic books now as just comic books in the last decade or so because you have this merging of outside media and comic books. Starting in 1978 you've got this Superman movie that's probably the first time where people really took superheroes seriously as a storytelling device and as a way to tell stories. And then you also after that have this 1980s Tim Burton Batman movie which is this big budget with big stars movies. So you would definitely have that and the 2000 X-Men movie and the 2002 Spider-Man movie and Punisher and Fantastic Four.

But the really big changes as far as how American society views comic books as this larger mythology seem to be the Christopher Nolan Batman films in 2005, 2008, 2012 which were critically acclaimed and did huge box office numbers. And then in 2008 you have this Iron Man film that comes out from Marvel and it's the first of what's called the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Now you know there were Marvel films before but all the Marvel films before had been produced by studios that weren't Marvel.

They were Fox or Sony had bought the rights back when Marvel was bankrupt and then they were the ones that put on the films. But Marvel starting with Iron Man in 2008 and then the Iron Man 2 in 2010 and then Thor and Captain America and the Avengers and so on created this universe of storytelling that really mirrors what comic books have done. I mean each story is a unique story but they also fit together to create this bigger universe. So I mean you can add films in like Guardians of the Galaxy and Black Panther and Ant-Man and it all becomes part of the same universe. There were really no films that had done that before and it's really following one of the tropes of comic book storytelling. So you now have this reality where that superheroes aren't comic books anymore. If 40,000 people read an issue of You Name the Hero but they watch his film, he's a film star now instead of a comic book star. That's a really interesting development that has now created this world popular culture that now has seen this art form that started in the 1930s as these street level characters that were mostly produced by these immigrant kids who wanted to be part of society who were outcast and who didn't know how to get the things that they thought they wanted. So they created these narratives where that these ciphers of theirs could do it for them have now become this worldwide industry and this mythology that I would dare say I think most people know a lot about the Marvel Universe and about the DC Universe now in a way that I think maybe superheroes have outgrown comic books. And maybe comic books are going to exist as a niche art form for a long time but it feels like film and television is now their new outlet and it feels like a lot of people like that and a lot of people really respond to that and it's created this mythology that now just keeps growing and growing and growing. And a terrific job on the production by Greg Hengler and a special thanks to Jeffrey Johnson, who's a World War Two historian at Pearl Harbor in Honolulu, Hawaii. He's the author of super history comic book superheroes and American society, get it at your local bookstores or wherever you buy your books, and it all started with two Cleveland teenagers.

Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. The Fantastic Four, as Jeffrey noted, that was the dividing line everything before and everything after as we got much more complex characters. And then came the trilogy, the Batman trilogy by Christopher Nolan, which changed everything. And those films, my goodness, three of my family's favorites. And soon thereafter, Marvel steps in to make their own movies. Warner Brothers did the Nolan films, but Marvel stepped in and said these characters are ours. And now comic books are sort of like secondary to the movie business itself and these superheroes brought onto the big screen. The story of comic book superheroes here on our American story.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-15 09:56:20 / 2023-02-15 10:10:56 / 15

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