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Transcript of Comic Books
Through Heroic Creations
The first comic book super hero was brought to life in 1938: Superman. He was created by writer Jerry Siegel and artist Joe Shuster and was published by DC Comics.
Superman soon became popular, fighting the social crimes of the day such as corrupt businessmen and politicians, and even a comic book rendition of the Ku Klux Klan.
He though made his first appearance though in a fanzine called Science Fiction: The Advance Guard of Future Civilization #3 and the story was called "The Reign of Superman".
During World War II Superman's enemies went even further than America.
Superman's newest enemy was Hitler and the entire Nazi party. Comics showed the super hero battling Hitler and stereotypical Japanese soldiers.
After the atomic bomb was dropped in 1945, a comic issuing a new villain, Atom Man, is seen fighting Superman. In the comic the super hero tells the readers the dangers of radiation through Superman's new weakness kryptonite.
In 1941 the first patriotic super hero was created:
Captain America. He was created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby and was published by Timely Comics, which would later become Marvel Comics.
Captain America was created out of World War II. He was given an experimental drug that physically changed his appearance and strength so he could help the U.S. government win World War II.
Because Captain America was seen fighting the Axis Powers he was a favorite during war time. He battled the evils of the day with America always coming out on top.
Captain America fought for the ideals that America at war time was based on: freedom, justice, liberty, and victory.
After the war, though, the comic soon lost it's luster and was soon discontinued in 1950.
Wonder Woman was created in 1941and while she wasn't the first super heroine she was the first super hero who wasn't a side kick to a male super hero.
Wonder Woman was created by psychologist and writer William Moulton Marston.
Wonder Woman fought for sexual equality, justice, peace, and love which led many to believe that she was feminist icon.
Like Captain America, Wonder Woman was created during World War II. Her enemies at the time ranged from Nazis to Japanese and Italian soldiers.
The super heroes of the 1930s and 40s were just beginning to develop, but they were already fighting for the American way of life.
During World War II many people were afraid of what might have happened if the evils of the world won. Super heroes like Captain America and Superman gave the people a glimpse of hope and a distraction from their lives. It showed them that good always won.
After the atomic bombs were dropped people celebrated that the war was over, but there was a new fear out there: atomic weapons.
With a fear of atomic weapons now gripping young readers, comic book heroes were created to ease their fear. If they could read Superman battling the evil Atom Man then it gave them a sense of safety. Comic books were also used to educate young readers about atomic weapons and what they might do.
The super heroes of war time were fading out now that there wasn't a threat to the country anymore. New super heroes were emerging, ones that went against the main stream and going against what their parents grew up with.
Horror was a new genre for the young new generation and parents were becoming concerned about what their children were reading.
There was also a new group of comic heroes that weren't necessarily "super", but they defended their country just as well.
In June of 1950 the Korean War had broken out and the United States decided to back South Korea. The fictional heroes of the war had no super powers, but they still fought for the American way, which had now switched to the containment of Communism.
In the 60s, the Cold War grew and grew with the Soviet Union and America racing to build as many nuclear weapons as they could. Many super heroes of the day explored the themes of the Cold War.
America during the Vietnam War forced the country to look at itself in the a newer, more depressed lighting and it soon spilled off into the once mighty super heroes. They began to question why they were defending justice and peace and what might become of the country.
There have been many versions of G.I. Joe over the years, but in 1950 on of the most famous versions were published.
Ziff-Davis published the first volume of G.I. Joe in 1950 and released five issues for volume one and forty-six for volume 2.
Joe Burch was a young lazy boy who loved his country so he joined the military and was shipped off to Korea in order to fight communism.
Like the super heroes of World War II, America and democracy won every challenge and it instilled hope in the people during the war despite having no super powers of his own.
First published in 1963, Iron Man was created by writer-editor Stan Lee, developed by script writer Larry Lieber, and designed by artists Don Heck and Jack Kirby.
Tony Stark was a young billionaire philanthropist who had been kidnapped, is severely injured in his chest, and is forced to create weapons for his captors. Instead of creating the weapons he builds a giant super suit and frees himself.
After freeing himself, Tony uses the suit to fight crime thus becoming Iron Man. He uses technology from his company, Stark Enterprises, to upgrade the suit and attaches weapons to the suit as well.
Stan Lee originally created Iron Man so he could explore Cold War themes, mainly the new technology that was being created at the time by America.
Iron Man's theme has changed throughout the years, ranging from terrorism to corporate corruption.
In 1962, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created The Incredible Hulk and was published by Marvel Comics.
Hulk is the alter ego of Dr. Bruce Banner, who was a socially and emotionally withdrawn, that was created when Banner saved the life of a young boy and got hit by a gamma radiation bomb.
People have viewed The Incredible Hulk as a reaction to both the Cold War and the Vietnam War.
With the Cold War, it was a reaction to the nuclear weapons that were being created and the fear of what could happen to a person who was exposed to radiation.
With the Vietnam War, many believe that the Hulk himself was a persona of the anger of the protestors. His rage reflected the country's outrage of what was happening over seas.
At the beginning of the 70s there was a large counter culture movement.
Women were beginning to fight for equal rights and birth control was now easy to obtain, giving women the freedom to have sex.
Drugs were now becoming more and more mainstream. Drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, acid, and heroin were becoming increasingly popular among the younger generation.
Like the last three decades, the 80s were still gripped in the Cold War and many Americans were still worried about a possible nuclear attack.
What would happen if there was a nuclear fallout? Who would take over the government? What kind of government would we be left with?
Though both characters had been around for years, in 1970 Dennis O'Neil and artist Neal Adams brought together Green Lantern and Green Arrow for short lived, but very popular, series.
The two green clad super heroes would battle the issues of the day, but the two posed different views on how to go about battling said issues.
In Volume 2 Issues #85-86, the most controversial and most acclaimed story was published.
Speedy, Green Arrow's young side kick, became addicted to heroin. It was meant to show what the youth of the day were doing and hopefully be a wake up call to parents.
Despite receiving a letter from the mayor of New York, John Lindsay, saying how bold it was for the men to write such a story, it was discontinued because it was not received by parents like they thought it would.
Set in 1940s and 60s America, Watchmen was first published in 1987 by DC Comics and was created by writer Alan Moore, artist Dave Gibbons, and colorist John Higgins.
The story takes place with America and the Soviet Union moving closer and closer to war and the super heroes, the Watchmen, are meant to help stop that from happening.
By the end of there series there are only two options that the heroes must chose from: let the world fall into nuclear chaos or kill millions of innocent people and save the world.
The comic plays off old fears and new fears and is able to bring them together. There is still the threat of a nuclear war between the Soviet Union and the United States and this comic expresses the fear of the time.
In 1982, V for Vendetta was published, in the United States, by DC Comics and by Quality Comics in the United Kingdom and was created by Alan Moore and artist mostly by David Lloyd.
In a post-nuclear war world, a totalitarian government has taken over the United Kingdom.
V, who is an anarchist, plots to take down the government through a campaign where he will kill his former captors (he was held in a concentration camp of sorts), the corrupt politicians, and encourage the people to govern themselves.
What would have happened to our government if the Soviet Union and America had gone to war? Would we still be a democracy? Or would we have ended up like the United Kingdom in the comic books?
In 1991 the Cold War finally ended and for the first time in forty years America could breathe easily.
Technology was becoming more sophisticated and one of it's newest creations, the internet, was able to bring information of a country with the click of a mouse.
America was in an economic boom with the country managing its debt, but there was soon a shift at the turn of the century.
Changes in government took place in the early 2000s with President G.W. Bush coming into power. Then one of the worst tragedies in America happened: the 9/11 terrorist attack.
The country soon found itself back in debt from the war in Iraq and it led the United States into a recession which caused millions of people to become unemployed.
Unfortunately for the 90s, no good comic book super heroes were created or recreated. Those that had been recreated were poor excuses to their former selves such as Thunder Strike, who was supposed to be a 90s version of Thor, and Electric Blue Superman and Red Superman, who were Superman, but not at the same time since they had completely different powers than the original.
A few series that are worth noting that came out of the 90s and present day are:
-300 which was created by writer and illustrator Frank Miller and was published by Dark Horse Comics in 1998
-Sin City was also created by writer and illustrator Frank Miller and was published by Dark Horse Comics in 1991
The 90s the characters and heroes were maxed out to the extreme. Everything had to be big from muscles to guns to swords to breasts. It was a big turn off for traditional comic fans.
Comic book super heroes have been able to distract the American people during war time, through the terror of possible nuclear war, and through other social and political issues.
The heroes were able to do this because they were always able to over come the evil of the times, whether it was drugs, nuclear war, or even Nazis. The heroes always defended the American way of life and its ideals.
Comics and their heroes have spanned many generations and have been able to bring them together, despite how different each generation may be.
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