The Origin of the Comic Book Hero

And What Hero Means Today

Artist is John Romita Jr.
From The Kid Who Collects Spider-Man

Artist is John Romita Jr. From “The Kid Who Collects Spider-Man”

When the word “Superhero” is uttered one of the first things people think about would be the more modern Heroes in Marvel’s lineup along with some DC classics such as Batman and Superman, but what really makes a superhero, a superhero? Before we can talk about the modern era of Heroes we need to acknowledge the missing link of comic book heroes to comic book superheroes and the one responsible for many tropes would be The Phantom. The first issue was released in 1936, two years before Superman’s first issue in 1938. What makes The Phantom a transition from normal heroes to modern day heroes we know today is through his design. A skintight suit with a mask that gets rid of all color in the eye’s leaving only white. Beforehand all these traits were not seen and The Phantom serves as a “missing link” of sorts from normal heroes to superheroes.

The first truly successful superhero is the iconic Superman who debuted as we know him Action Comics No. 1 in 1938. With a haste, other authors go and create many other superheroes to come and have a piece of the super pie.

The Amazing Spider-Man drawn by John Romita, Jr. (1984) (John Romita Jr.)

 The superhero comic book scene started out just to be a way to make some good cash but over time as the industry had their big players finally establish themselves the authors finally would finally experiment with the kind of stories they can tell. A prime example of this sort of story would be “The Kid Who Collects Spider-Man” A story about a kid who considers himself the biggest Spider-Man fan, he collects just about everything about what Spider-Man has done. Spider-Man comes into the room and talks to the kid about all his endeavours, afterwards Spider-Man is ready to leave but then the kid asks for his identity and Spider-Man reveals it and reveals his origin story. The readers are told via newspaper that the boy has leukemia and his last wish was to meet Spider-Man.

It has stories like this that have more human interactions and moments that can help ground a superhero to our reality. Away from all the super-villains wanting to destroy the world through impossible means. When someone feels grief or loss of a loved one or has to deal with the harsh reality of the society we are in, it’s these kinds of stories that can help remind readers that no matter how “strong” you are there are days that will be hard. No one is exempt from these days but instead of giving up you should continue on and show how much of hero you are.