By Jacobus Dixon

With the arrival of Whiz Comics #2 (later renumbered to #1) and Captain Marvel, National Comics had some true competition against Superman, their star seller. What tipped the balance was a demographic that neither National Comics nor Fawcett Publications really paid much heed to, children. Ever since their onset, comic book magazines were really meant to be an all-ages form of entertainment. And all ages did indeed read them. From Little Lulu to Tarzan to Gasoline Alley, readers from a variety of demographics would indulge in the books to get some disposable entertainment while on the go or whenever they had a little downtime. As long as there was a demand for the comics, the publishers were happy to print them. As long as the profits came in, who cared who was paying for them? Although Captain Marvel was definitely not the first comic to feature a series based around a child or children, it combined the sensibilities of those previous comics with that of the superhero genre, and as a result swayed many children away from Superman to Captain Marvel.

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By Jacobus Dixon

By 1940, National Comics was sitting pretty. And why shouldn’t they have been? Superman and Batman were the highest selling comic-magazine characters, and they were both National’s. Superman alone was a sales powerhouse that just kept on chugging (they did say he was more powerful than a locomotive). He was the highlight of Action Comics, he had his own magazine, he had a newspaper strip (not actually published by National, but hey…market recognition), and an upcoming radio show to boot. The only real competition to Superman was the growing popularity of Batman, but since he was a National character too, it really didn’t count as competition. Timely had a niche audience with Namor the Sub-Mariner and the Human Torch, but not enough sales to really threaten Superman. Yes, other companies thought to churn out doppelgangers to the Man of Tomorrow (Superman’s first nickname for you kids out there). But none of them really stuck, due in part to National’s quick litigation team and just simply unappealing character designs that left readers with a “meh” sensibility. That is…until Captain Marvel came around in February of 1940.

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Detective Comics #31

By Jacobus Dixon

It’s late 1939, we’re coming out of the Great Depression, World War II has started everywhere except the U.S., Gone with the Wind is the motion picture everyone’s talking about, the New York World’s Fair has opened, and Superman is dominating comic book magazine sales. A close second of course, was Batman (originally Bat-Man, but I guess National Comics figured the hyphen cut in on the name’s appeal). Unlike Superman, Batman was not super-powered and relied on his athletic abilities, gadgets, spooky appearance, and sheer determination to get him out of a jam.  But he wasn’t the only popular character to have these traits.

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Batman No. 27

By Jacobus Dixon

Now as much of a smash that Action Comics #1 was, it was by no means the first comic book cover. And Superman was not the first recurring famous character. Characters like Doc Savage, The Shadow, Slam Bradley (also a Siegel and Shuster creation), Buck Rogers, and Flash Gordon were quite famous already and had their own fan bases to boot. However, none equaled Superman when it came to sales. The simple-but-appealing back-story, combined with amazing powers to take on current societal ills, wrapped in a dynamic costume really stuck out for readers. What happens when you’re digging and strike gold? Well, you’re gonna mine that vein till it’s dry! Which is exactly what National Comics (remember they weren’t DC just yet) were going to do.

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By Ted Alexander – @Teddow

Unfortunately, There is no such thing as Superman or Spider-Man in our real world. There is no one we can look up into the sky and see protecting us from the real evil that surrounds us.  While superpowers are useful, there are still superheroes who are just like us, making it their duty to protect and serve without any Spider-Sense, X-RayVision, or Adamantium Claws.  Living in a world of superheroes without any powers may be tough, but here are my Top Eight Heroes who can still get the job done!

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