History in Tights: Heroes and Government

While America faces the deepest recession in several decades, many of us are reluctantly reminded of the cataclysmic Great Depression of the 1930’s. Perhaps to lighten the mood, I have decided to reveal a dark, dirty secret about our favorite golden boy, Superman:

He wasn’t always beating up Lex Luthor. (shocker!)

That’s right, folks. In fact, Supes’ creation during the Great Depression is no coincidence. Instead of facing supervillains, Superman was a champion for the common man, battling corrupt bosses, officials and lawmakers who put their own priorities before the people. It certainly alludes to why his adventures became so popular: the Superman strips wonderfully meshed a Man of Steel fantasy against a realistic setting that his audience could easily relate to. This excerpt from the fifth Superman newspaper issue, “Skyscraper of Death,” wonderfully demonstrates Superman’s battle against corrupt businessmen instead of supervillain maniacs:

Click the comic to see the full strip by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster!

Of course, Superman doesn’t face such villains now, but his humble beginnings still set him on the path to the most well-known superhero of all time. And in today’s modern world, we still hold the possibility of corruption in government–hopefully a possibility that remains slim. Take a look at Marvel’s Civil War series to see how Captain America goes rogue when he suspects similar corruption within the Superhero Registration Act:

Civil War

Click the image for the full 35 page preview of Civil War #1

What do you think about Superman and Captain America’s actions against government and power?

You can view more of the original Superman comic strips by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster on DC’s official website.


to DC’s official website , Marvel’s Digital Comics and  Comic Book Nation, by Brandon Wright. This incredible novel inspired my passion on this topic, so you should certainly read it if you have an interest in superheroes and history.

Superman copyright DC, created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.

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