America's first two superheroes originally appeared in the 1930s. Superman and Batman were so well-loved that movies based on their stories are still produced today. Though they were the first to grab the attention of eager readers, they weren't the last. Others who became just as famous appeared in the 1940s and 1950s.
1940s: The Golden Age of Comics
The 1940s were a golden age for comic books. Many superheroes recognizable in mainstream popular culture today originated then, becoming favorites of thousands of young servicemen fighting in World War II. In 1940, DC Comics issued the first story about The Green Lantern, whose superpower came from his power ring. The Flash, the fastest man alive, also appeared in 1940 from DC, along with Hawkman -- alias Carter Hall, an antique weapons collector -- and Amazon warrior princess Wonder Woman. Marvel also contributed a major player during the golden age. Super soldier Captain America, alias Steve Rogers, arrived on the scene in 1942.
Superheroes of the 1950s
Superheroes that first appeared in 1950s comic books have less mainstream visibility today than their 1940s counterparts. Among those making their debuts during this decade were DC's Adam Strange, an archaeologist with twin jetpacks on his back, and Lady Blackhawk, alias Zinda Blake, a self-trained pilot and combat expert. The Fly, about orphan Tommy Troy who uses a ring to transform into an adult superhero, also first appeared from Archie Comics in 1959.
- California State University Bakersfield: The Education of Green Lantern: Culture and Ideology
- University of Florida Department of English: Interdisciplinary Comics Studies: DC: The Flash
- University of Florida Department of English: Interdisciplinary Comics Studies: DC: Hawkman
- Marvel Universe: Captain America
- Jack Kirby Museum: Adventures of the Fly, the First Issue
- University of Florida Department of English: Interdisciplinary Comics Studies: DC: Overview of "The Establishment"
- University of Florida Department of English: Interdisciplinary Comics Studies: DC: Fascism and Mass Culture in Howard Chaykin's Blackhawk
- University of Kansas: History of American Journalism
- University of West Florida: Encyclopedia of Comic Books and Graphic Novels Volume 1
Karen Clark has been writing professionally since 2001. Her work includes articles on gardening, education and literature. Clark has also published short literary fiction in the "Southern Humanities Review" and has co-authored a novel. Her professional experience includes teaching and tutoring students of all ages in literature, history and writing. She holds a Bachelor of the Arts in political science and a Master of Fine Arts in writing.