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10 Superhero Legends The Survived The Golden Age

Updated on September 2, 2011

The following is a list of legendary superheroes that were created during the golden age of comics and managed to survive to present day. Many comic superheroes that were created in the late 1930s and 1940s disappeared during the 1950s as readership for superhero comics declined after WWII ended. Throughout the 1950s romance and western comic books series dominated. However during the late 1950s and throughout the 1960s a massive revival in superheros ensued with many new superheroes being created and some once forgotten being revived.

1. Superman

Superman is probably the most well known superhero in the world. Action Comics #1 (supermans debut) has sold for as much as 1 million dollars for copies of the comic in great condition. He has become an icon of the 20th century and beyond.

Superman's origins begin as the story of "Kal-El" a baby sent to earth by an alien race to escape the destruction of his home planet to be raised by a down to earth mid western couple. Eventually when he grows up having been taught the morals and values he needed by his parents he becomes Superman. Concealing his identity by day a the "mild mannered" reporter Clark Kent.

Unlike many of his counterparts of the golden age comics era (1930s - 1955) Superman has survived in the comic book world because of his broad range appeal. He is an archetype character patterned after many through history: hercules, Samson, etc. and he was the model of everything that the world wanted, truth justice, what is right.

2. Batman

Bat is another hugely popular superhero that originated from the Golden Age era of comic books and over time has become a massively successful one.

Batman was created by Bob Kane and made his debut in Detective Comics #27 in May 1939.

His origins began when Bruce Wayne as a small child witnessed the murder of his parents. As an adult he became Batman to fight crime and to protect the innocent. Unlike other superheroes Batman has no super powers. His long running side kick has been Robin.

The secret to Batman's longevity in the comic realm is similar to Superman in the sense that both are battling on the side for good and seeking justice but there is more depth and mystery woven into the character of Batman. He also takes the spot of working man's hero, Batman is a real person he does not have superhuman strength and he is vulnerable, he risks his own life each time he confronts evil. Batman to me also represents the first real start of anithero themes(in a 1940s limited way) in comics that would eventually prepare comic readers for characters like Wolverine, the Punisher, Deadpool in others.

3. Captain America

Captain America now a character in Marvel comics was originally a character created by Jack Kirby for Timely Comics, which during the 1950s became Atlas Comics which in turn became Marvel Comics in the 1960s.

In the original story is that of Steve Rogers a weaker man endowed with superhuman strength by an experimental serum. Set during WWII he was to be a breed of new super soldier to help fight against Germany.

Captain America did survive the transition from golden to silver age comics but did disappear during the 1950s (when super hero comics were not very popular) but returned as part of marvel comics in the 1960s (apparently being awakened from suspended animation). One noticeable change from the original was that he now has a round indestructable sheild which was originally a normal shield shape.

4. Green Lantern

The original Green Lantern made his debt in All-American Comics #16 in 1940 created by Martin Nodell. A railroad engineer named Alan Scott found an unusual lantern made of green metal, enchanted by the lantern he forges a ring from it's metal and becomes Green Lantern. During the 1940s he was a founding member of the Justice society of America. As with many other Golden Age superheroes he disappeared during the 1950s.

During the 1960s the Green Lantern story was expanded upon and there was Green Lantern Corps not a single hero but many, their job to police the universe lead by Hal Jordan. One noticeable difference between the 1960s Green Lanterns and the original is the completely redesigned green costume whereas the original costume was green, red yellow and blue. They also eventually brought back the original Green Lantern although not technically part of the Green Lantern corps his ring did apparently originate from the same source.

5. The Flash

Golden Age Flash was created by Gardner Fox and first appeared in Flash comics #1 in 1940. Originally he wore a red suit with a lightning bolt on it but unlike the newer version he wore a metallic helmet with wings modeled after the roman god Jupiter.

In the original story of the Flash a college student Jay Garrick accidentally inhales heavy water vapors with end up activating an unusual dormant gene that allows him to run at an incredibly high speed. During the 1950s the Flash was cancelled by like a few others reinvented in the 1960s. The new Flash named Barry Allen was struck by lightning giving him the same power as the original.

They have since brought back the orignal into the comics as well and they have both crossed paths.

6. Captain Marvel

Captain Marvel created in 1939 was the flagship superhero for Fawcett Comics during the 1940s. Many believe he was modeled after Superman, even the the cover of Whiz Comics #2 (the first appearance of Captain Marvel) bears a very close resemblance of Action comics #1 (the first appearance of Superman. Fawcett Comics did very well financially during the 1940s with Captain Marvel.

During the 1950s Fawcett stopped publishing comics with Captain Marvel. In 1972 DC Comics purchased the rights to the character and integrated it into the DC universe and so Captain Marvel began anew.

7. The Submariner

The official Sub-Mariner's debut occurred in 1939 in Marvel Comics #1 released by Timely Comics (the precursor to Marvel Comics). Much like many super heroes of the period many of the comics showed Namor battling against the Axis powers of World War II. The submariner was supposed to be the prince of the mythological city of Atlantis. Part atlantean part human he was able to breath under water as well as on land.

Although the readership dried up and Namor disappeared during the 1950s they did bring him back during the early 1960s with the increase in popularity of Marvel comics. He was found wandering Manhattan as an amnesiac homeless man by the Fatastic Four's Human Torch. Submariner appears frequently in comics to this day.

8. Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman first appeared in All-Star Comics #8 in 1941 as part of the Justice League of America. She was the first honest attempt by the comic book world do create a super heroine for young girls/women to identify with.

Wonder Woman was princess of the Amazons she has super strength, speed and flight. The comics featuring Wonder Woman continued from the Golden Age uninterrupted except for a short period in the 1980s.

9. Hawkman

Hawkman was created by Gardner Fox (the creator of the original Flash) and first appeared in Flash Comics #1 in 1940. He became a member of the Justice Society of America throughout the 1940s often appearing in All Star Comics with other big names: Flash, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, the Spectre, etc.

His backstory was that he was the reincarnation of an ancient Egyptian prince who in present time had found a new type of metal that could defy gravity which allowed him to fly.

As with others his popularity waned during the 1950s and the comics he appeared in were cancelled. During the 1960s his character was reincorporated into Marvel Comics.

10. Aquaman

Aquaman was created by Paul Norris & Mort Weisinger and first appeared in More Fun Comics #73 in 1941.

Aquaman is the DC Comics version of Marvel Comics Submariner. In the DC universe Aquaman is the ruler of atlantis, he appeared frequently during the 1940s. During the 1960s the character was revived as part of the Justice League of America.


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    • terrektwo profile image

      Candle Hour 2 years ago from North America

      cool, thanks.

    • Taranwanderer profile image

      Taranwanderer 2 years ago

      Ah yes - Superman; the greatest of them all! I enjoyed reading this keep up the great work. Btw, perhaps you can drop by my own Superman vs Hulk hub and drop a comment if you please? Thanks!

    • terrektwo profile image

      Candle Hour 3 years ago from North America

      true things are very different from the golden age era

    • MatthewParker profile image

      MatthewParker 3 years ago

      Awesome hub! Its interesting to think about how far these characters have come, and how much they have changed over the years.