Superman

By Jacobus Dixon

What is it that Superman stands for? Most of us would answer “truth, justice, and the American way…duh”. But believe it or not, it was originally just truth and justice. Which, don’t get me wrong, are pretty arduous and lofty ideals to fight for. So where does this whole “American way” come from? Aren’t truth and justice enough to make an ideal hero? Well…in an atmosphere that has American soldiers entering a second world war, no.

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By Jacobus Dixon

It was bad enough having to contend with Captain Marvel, but now Superman-DC (the nickname given to comics from National Allied Publications and Detective Comics Inc. as they unofficially merged) had to deal with Captain America as well. One was a living childhood fantasy; the other was a super-idealized form of what happens when you mix nationalism and super heroics. Yeah, Superman’s great, but he’s a grown up while Captain Marvel is actually still a kid doing amazing things. And it’s fun watching Batman and Robin take on the Joker with nothing but their manpower and wits, but Captain America is fighting the real threat of German spies. While both Batman and Superman are certainly not devoid of neither childhood fantasy nor real world danger (or at least as real as it gets in terms of comic book writing), those subjects did not feature as strongly in their stories. So how did they contend with characters that used them as a solid foundation?

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By Jacobus Dixon

Although All-Star Publications wasn’t in a complete rivalry with National Allied Publications or Detective Comics Inc. (due to the fact that they were all owned by Harry Donenfeld) they still didn’t want to sit out on the superhero craze that was transforming the publishing industry.  They had some success with the Flash, Hawkman, and Johnny Thunder in Flash Comics. And naturally that taste of success led them to produce more superheroes. The spooky Spectre had promise, but he may have been a little too supernatural to attract more average readers. While most superheroes were defined by their phenomenal abilities, it was that human appearance that made them so appealing to readers. So you didn’t want to step too far away from that (at least not in the late 1930s/early 1940s) if you wanted your character to be successful. People do like supernatural stories though, so where do you strike the balance?

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FunComics

By Jacobus Dixon

Throughout mythology you have these basic archetypes that define a culture’s heroes. Whether it’s with incredible strength, quick wits, or nimble swiftness, these characters use these talents to maintain an idealized status quo. However, there’s another class of hero whose habits dangerously border on being something not so much admired and awed…but feared. The Spectre is one of those heroes.

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