Fictional Superhero Essays

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My Hero essay: Batman

                  Batman is my hero. He is a fictional hero; he was created by the artist Bob Kane and the writer Bill Finger. He made his first appearance in DC comics issue number 27 on May 1939. Since his first showing he has been in many comics but mainly in one made by DC. Batman goes by many nicknames. Some of them are: The Batman, the Bat-man, the caped Crusader, The Dark Knight, The bat, and many more. His true identity is Bruce Wayne, a billionaire who took over his father's company when his parents were shot by a homeless man.  The company is called Wayne industries and it is the biggest company in Gotham city, where Wayne lives. He is billionaire by day and hero by night.

Batman is a hero to me because I have learned many good things from him. He has showed me that it is better to care for everybody than just the people who are close to you. He has also taught me that you don't need powers to be a hero, and that even if you have a lot of money you should still go out of your way to help people who aren't as fortunate as you. He has also taught me some pretty sweet fighting moves. He is also my hero because he has always been my favorite super hero and I have always looked up to him. Batman was my favorite cartoon when I was a kid and The Dark Knight is my favorite movie. He is my hero because he stands for everything that is good in the world.

    Batman is important to me because he has made me a better person. If I didn't watch Batman I would not be as caring for other people as I am now. I would lose my cool more often but I don't because Batman always stays calm and thinks through situations. An example is when I'm playing basketball, instead of just running up the court and shooting the ball, I think the whole situation through and try to find the best option. I never let other people get in my head, just like how Batman never lets the Joker get into his head. I don't let other people get in my head because I know that if they do it will only make me play worse. I have learned that all from Batman. He has inspired me to do good in the world and has taught me that I can do anything if I really work hard at it. I aspire to be like the Batman because I want to help people; I want to bring out the good in everybody, just like the Batman does. I aspire to be like Batman because he plays by his own rules, but stays true to his morals. I aspire to be like Batman because he is my hero.               

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Last edited 1/13/2012 12:00:00 AM

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Superhero fiction
Stylistic originsEarly 20th century United States
Cultural originsGolden Age of Comic Books
FeaturesFocus on the adventures of heroic figures possessing superhuman abilities.

Superhero fiction is a type of speculative fiction examining the adventures, personalities and ethics of costumed crime fighters known as superheroes, who often possess superhuman powers and battle similarly powered criminals known as supervillains. The genre mainly originated in and is most common to American comic books, though it has expanded into other media through adaptations and original works.

Common plot elements[edit]


Main article: Superhero

A superhero is most often the protagonist of superhero fiction, although some titles, such as Marvels by Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross, use superheroes as secondary characters. A superhero (sometimes rendered super-hero or super hero) is a type of stock character possessing "extraordinary or superhuman powers" and dedicated to protecting the public. Since the debut of the prototypical superhero Superman in 1938, stories of superheroes—ranging from brief episodic adventures to continuing years-long sagas—have dominated American comic books and crossed over into other media. The word itself dates to at least 1917. A female superhero is sometimes called a superheroine (also rendered super-heroine or super heroine). "SUPER HEROES" is a trademark co-owned by DC Comics and Marvel Comics.

By most definitions, characters do not strictly require actual superhuman powers to be deemed superheroes, although terms such as costumed crime fighters or masked vigilantes are sometimes used to refer to those such as Batman and Green Arrow without such powers who share other common superhero traits. Such characters were generally referred to as "mystery men" in the so-called Golden Age of Comic Books to distinguish them from characters with super-powers. Normally, superheroes use their powers to counter day-to-day crime while also combating threats against humanity by their criminal counterparts, supervillains. Long-running superheroes such as Superman, Batman, Spider-Man and Iron Man have a "rogues gallery" of such enemies. One of these supervillains might be the superhero's archenemy. Superheroes will sometimes combat other threats such as aliens, magical/fantasy entities, natural disasters, political ideologies such as Nazism or communism (and their proponents), and godlike or demonic creatures.


Main article: Supervillain

A supervillain or supervillainess is a variant of the villain character type, commonly found in comic books, action movies and science fiction in various media. They are sometimes used as foils to superheroes and other heroes. Whereas superheroes often wield fantastic powers, the supervillain possesses commensurate powers and abilities so that he can present a daunting challenge to the hero. Even without actual physical, mystical, superhuman or superalien powers, the supervillain often possesses a genius intellect that allows him to draft complex schemes or create fantastic devices.

Another common trait is possession of considerable resources to help further his aims. Many supervillains share some typical characteristics of real world dictators, mobsters, and terrorists and often have aspirations of world domination or universal leadership. Superheroes and supervillains often mirror each other in their powers, abilities, or origins. In some cases, the only difference between the two is that the hero uses his extraordinary powers to help others, while the villain uses his powers for selfish, destructive or ruthless purposes.

Secret identities[edit]

Main articles: Secret identity and Alter ego

Both superheroes and supervillains often use alter egos while in action. While sometimes the character's real name is publicly known, alter egos are most often used to hide the character's secret identity from their enemies and the public.

With superheroes, the duality of their identities is kept a secret and closely guarded to protect those close to them from being harmed and to prevent them from being called upon constantly, even for problems not serious enough to require their attention.

With supervillains, by contrast, the duality of their identities is kept a secret and closely guarded to conceal their crimes from the general public, so that they may inflict greater harm on the general public, and to enable them to act freely, and hence illegally, without risk of arrest by law-enforcement authorities.


Main article: Comic book death

Death in superhero fiction is rarely permanent, as characters who die are often brought back to life through supernatural means or via retcons (retroactive changes to the continuity), the alteration of previously established facts in the continuity of a fictional work. Fans have termed the practice of bringing back dead characters "comic book death".

Another common trait of superhero fiction is the killing off of a superhero's significant other by a supervillain to advance the plot. Comic book writer Gail Simone has coined the term "Women in Refrigerators" (named after an incident in Green Lantern #54 where Kyle Rayner's girlfriend Alex DeWitt is murdered by the supervillain Major Force and stuffed into Rayner's refrigerator) to refer to this practice.[1][2]


Main articles: Continuity (fiction) and Canon (fiction)

Many works of superhero fiction occur in a sharedfictional universe, sometimes (as in the cases of the DC and Marvel Universes) establishing a fictional continuity of thousands of works spread over many decades.

Changes to continuity are also common, ranging from small changes to established continuity, commonly called retcons, to full reboots, erasing all previous continuity.

It is also common for stories works of superhero fiction to contain established characters and setting while occurring outside of the main canon for those characters.


Main article: Fictional crossover

Crossovers often occur between characters of different works of superhero fiction. In comic books, highly publicized "events" are published featuring crossovers between many characters.

Intercompany crossovers, between characters of different continuity, are also common.



The mythologies of many ancient civilizations feature pantheons of gods and goddesses with superhuman powers, as well as heroes such as Gilgamesh, Perseus, Odysseus and David and demigods like Heracles.[3][4] The hero's journey is a well-known archetypal story type in which the protagonist undertakes a quest to achieve both material advantage and psychological and ethical maturity, and is generally considered to function as a metaphor and guide for children transitioning to adulthood or from egoism to altruism as the core concept of the self.

Antecedents of the superhero archetype include such folkloric heroes as Robin Hood, who adventured in distinctive clothing,[5]Penny dreadfuls, shilling shockers, dime novels, radio programs, and other popular fiction of the late 19th and early 20th centuries featured mysterious, swashbuckling heroes with distinct costumes, unusual abilities and altruistic missions, with the 1903 play The Scarlet Pimpernel and its spinoffs popularizing the idea of a masked avenger and the superhero trope of a secret identity;[5] such characters as the Green Hornet, the Scarecrow of Romney Marsh, and Spring Heeled Jack,[5] the last of whom first emerged as an urban legend, would follow. Likewise, the science-fiction heroes John Carter of Mars and Flash Gordon, with their futuristic weapons and gadgets; Tarzan, with his high degree of athleticism and strength, and his ability to communicate with animals; Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian and the biologically modified Hugo Danner of the novel Gladiator, were heroes with unusual abilities who fought sometimes larger-than-life foes. The word "superhero" itself dates to at least 1917.[6]

The most direct antecedents are pulp magazine crime fighters such as the masked and caped Zorro (introduced by Johnston M. McCulley in 1919 with The Curse of Capistrano) with his trademark "Z," the preternaturally mesmeric The Shadow (1930), the "peak human" Doc Savage (1933), and The Spider (1933), and comic strip characters such as Hugo Hercules, Popeye, and the Phantom.[citation needed] The first masked crime-fighter created for comic books was writer-artist George Brenner's non-superpowered detective the Clock,[7][8] who debuted in Centaur Publications' Funny Pages #6 (Nov. 1936). Historians point to the first appearance of Superman, created by Jerome "Jerry" Siegel and designed by Joseph "Joe" Shuster, in Action Comics #1 (June 1938) as the debut of the comic-book archetype of the superhero.[citation needed]

Outside the American comics industry, superpowered, costumed heroes such as Ōgon Bat (1931) and the Prince of Gamma (ガンマ王子) (year unknown), were visualized in painted panels used by kamishibai oral storytellers in Japan.[9][10]

Golden Age[edit]

Main article: Golden Age of Comic Books

In 1938, writer Jerry Siegel and artist Joe Shuster, who had previously worked in pulpscience fiction magazines, introduced Superman. (Siegel, as the writer, actually created the central and supporting characters; Shuster, as the artist, designed these characters, and gave Superman the first version of his now-iconic uniform.)
The character possessed many of the traits that have come to define the superhero: a secret identity, superhuman powers and a colorful costume including a symbol and cape. His name is also the source of the term "superhero," although early comic book heroes were sometimes also called mystery men or masked heroes.

DC Comics, which published under the names National and All-American at the time, received an overwhelming response to Superman and, in the years that followed, introduced Batman, Wonder Woman, The Green Lantern, The Flash, The Hawkman, Aquaman, and The Green Arrow. The first team of superheroes was DC's Justice Society of America, featuring most of the aforementioned characters. Although DC dominated the superhero market at this time, companies large and small created hundreds of superheroes. The Human Torch of the Golden Age and the Sub-Mariner, from Marvel Comics (then called Timely Comics and later re-branded Atlas Comics), and Plastic Man and Phantom Lady from Quality Comics were also hits. Will Eisner's The Spirit, featured in a comic strip, would become a considerable artistic inspiration to later comic book creators. The era's most popular superhero, however, was Fawcett Comics's Captain Marvel, whose exploits regularly outsold those of Superman during the 1940s. When Fawcett Comics went out of business as such, DC Comics, which had been embroiled in a bitter copyright dispute with Fawcett Comics over Captain Marvel, bought out the copyright to not only the character but also his ancillary "Marvel Family" of heroes and villains.

During World War II, superheroes grew in popularity, surviving paper rationing and the loss of many writers and illustrators to service in the armed forces. The need for simple tales of good triumphing over evil may explain the wartime popularity of superheroes. Publishers responded with stories in which superheroes battled the Axis Powers and the patriotically themed superheroes, most notably Marvel's Captain America as well as DC's Wonder Woman.

Like other pop-culture figures of the time, Superheroes were used to promote domestic propaganda during wartime, ranging from the purchasing of war bonds[citation needed]

Following superheroes's popularity during this time, those characters' appeal began to dwindle in the post-war era.[11] Comic-book publishers, casting about for new subjects and genres, found success in, particularly, crime fiction, the most prominent comic of which was Lev Gleason Publications's Crime Does Not Pay,[12] and horror.[citation needed] The lurid nature of these genres sparked a moral crusade in which comics were blamed for juvenile delinquency and the United States Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency began. The movement was spearheaded by psychiatrist Fredric Wertham, who famously (but falsely) argued, especially in his infamous book Seduction of the Innocent, that "deviant" sexual undertones ran rampant in superhero comics.[13] In 2012, his methodology was reviewed and his results were found to be misleading if not falsified.[14][15]

In response, the comic book industry adopted the stringent Comics Code. By the mid-1950s, only Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman retained a sliver of their prior popularity, although effort towards complete inoffensiveness led to stories that many consider silly, especially by modern standards. This ended what historians have called the Golden Age of comic books.

Silver Age[edit]

Main article: Silver Age of Comic Books

In the 1950s, DC Comics, under the editorship of Julius Schwartz, recreated many popular 1940s heroes, launching an era later deemed the Silver Age of comic books. The Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkman and several others were recreated with new origin stories. While past superheroes resembled mythological heroes in their origins and abilities, these heroes were inspired by contemporary science fiction. In 1960, DC banded its most popular heroes together in the Justice League of America, which became a sales phenomenon.

Empowered by the return of the superhero at DC, Marvel Comics editor/writer Stan Lee and the artists/co-writers Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko and Bill Everett launched a new line of superhero comic books, beginning with The Fantastic Four in 1961 and continuing with the Incredible Hulk, Spider-Man, Iron Man, Thor, the X-Men, and Daredevil. These comics continued DC’s use of science fiction concepts (radiation was a common source of superpowers) but placed greater emphasis on personal conflict and character development. This led to many superheroes that differed from predecessors with more dramatic potential. For example, the Fantastic Four were a superhero family of sorts, who squabbled and even held some unresolved acrimony towards one another, and Spider-Man was a teenager who struggled to earn money and maintain his social life in addition to his costumed exploits.


In the 1970s, DC Comics paired the Green Lantern with the Green Arrow in a team-up series, Green Lantern co-starring Green Arrow. Writer Dennis O'Neil portrayed the Green Arrow as an angry, street-smart populist and the Green Lantern as a good-natured, but short-sighted, authority figure. This is the first instance in which superheroes were classified into two distinct groups, the "classic" superhero and the more brazen anti-hero.

Likewise in Marvel Comics, Captain America was revived in the Silver Age, as a hero out of his time after spending decades in suspended animation. The character grew to question his patriotic ideals until he received a traumatizing shock at the end of an adventure that was the Marvel Universe's analogy to the Watergate scandal. Disillusioned, the Captain gave up his persona in favor of Nomad until he came to a personal epiphany that he could champion America's ideals alone.

DC Comics also returned Batman to his roots as a dubious vigilante, and Marvel Comics introduced several popular antiheroes, including the Punisher, Wolverine, and writer/artist Frank Miller's dark version of the longtime hero Daredevil. Batman, The Punisher, and Daredevil were driven by the crime-related deaths of their family members and continual exposure to slum life, while X-Men's Wolverine was tormented by barely controllable savage instincts. Iron Man, already a heart-transplant patient subject to occasional heart attacks, now also struggled with debilitating alcoholism. The trend was also seen in the 1986 miniseriesWatchmen by writer Alan Moore and artist Dave Gibbons, which was published by DC but took place outside the DC Universe with new characters. Some of the superheroes of Watchmen were emotionally unsatisfied, psychologically withdrawn, sexually confused, and even sociopathic. Watchmen also examined perceived flaws in the superhero mythos such as the inculpability of vigilantism, and the supposed ultimate irrelevance of fighting crime in a world threatened by nuclear holocaust.

Another story, The Dark Knight Returns (1985–1986), continued Batman’s renovation/reinterpretation. This miniseries, written and illustrated by Frank Miller, featured a Batman from an alternate/non-continuity future returning from retirement. The series portrayed the hero as an obsessed vigilante, necessarily at odds with official social authority figures, illustrated both by the relationship between Batman and retiring police commissioner James Gordon, and by the symbolic slugfest between the Dark Knight and Superman, now an agent/secret weapon of the Federal government of the United States.

Miller continued his treatment of the Batman character with 1987's Batman: Year One (Batman issues #404-407) and 2001's The Dark Knight Strikes Again (also known as DK2). DK2, the long-awaited follow-up to The Dark Knight Returns, contrasts the traditional superhero-crimefighter character with the politicized characters that evolved during the 1990s; this was, perhaps, epitomized by The Authority and Planetary, both written by British author Warren Ellis. In DK2, Superman's nemesis Lex Luthor is the power behind the throne, controlling a tyrannical American government, as well as Superman himself. Superman's submission to Luthor's twisted power structure, in the name of saving lives, is contrasted with Batman's determined attack against corrupted institutions of government; the dual message has been interpreted to be that crime can occur at all levels of society, and that heroes are responsible for fighting both symptoms and causes of societal dysfunction and corruption.

Struggles of the 1990s[edit]

By the early 1990s, anti-heroes had become the rule rather than the exception, as The Punisher, Wolverine and the grimmer Batman became popular and marketable characters. Anti-heroes such as the X-Men’s Gambit and Bishop, X-Force's Cable and the Spider-Man adversary Venom became some of the most popular new characters of the early 1990s. This was a financial boom time for the industry when a new character could become well known quickly and, according to many fans, stylistic flair eclipsed character development.

In 1992, Marvel illustrators Todd McFarlane, Jim Lee and Rob Liefeld—all of whom helped popularize anti-heroes in the Spider-Man and X-Men franchises—left Marvel to form Image Comics. Image changed the comic book industry as a haven for creator-owned characters and the first significant challenger to Marvel and DC in thirty years. Image superhero teams, such as Lee’s WildC.A.Ts and Gen¹³, and Liefeld’s Youngblood, were instant hits but were criticized[citation needed] as over-muscled, over-sexualized, excessively violent, and lacking in unique personality. McFarlane's occult hero Spawn fared somewhat better in critical respect[citation needed] and long-term sales.

In this decade, Marvel and DC made drastic temporary changes to iconic characters. DC's "Death of Superman" story arc across numerous Superman titles found the hero killed and resurrected, while Batman was physically crippled in the "KnightFall" storyline. At Marvel, a clone of Spider-Man vied with the original for over a year of stories across several series. All eventually returned to the status quo.

Throughout the 1990s, several creators deviated from the trends of violent anti-heroes and sensational, large-scale storylines. Painter Alex Ross, writer Kurt Busiek and Alan Moore himself tried to "reconstruct" the superhero form. Acclaimed titles such as Busiek's, Ross' and Brent Anderson's Astro City and Moore's Tom Strong combined artistic sophistication and idealism into a super heroic version of retro-futurism. Ross also painted two widely acclaimed mini-series, Marvels (written by Busiek) for Marvel Comics and Kingdom Come for DC, which examined the classic superhero in a more literary context, as well as satirizing antiheroes. Magog, Superman’s rival in Kingdom Come, was partially modeled after Cable.

In non-comics media[edit]


Main article: Superhero film

Superhero films began as Saturday movie serials aimed at children during the 1940s. The decline of these serials meant the death of superhero films until the release of 1978's Superman, a critical and commercial success. Several sequels followed in the 1980s. 1989's Batman was also highly successful and followed by several sequels in the 1990s. Yet while both franchises were initially successful, later sequels in both series fared poorly both artistically and financially, stunting the growth of superhero films for a time.

Hit films such as Blade (1998), X-Men (2000), and Spider-Man (2002) have led to sequel installments as well as encouraging the development of numerous superhero film franchises in the 21st century, both successful (such as the 2005 reboot of the Batman film franchise) and unsuccessful (such as 2004's Catwoman). Although the genre's commercial appeal has been relatively uneven, the subgenre have become a major element of mainstream film production with outstanding successes like The Dark Knight in 2008, The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises in 2012, Iron Man 3 in 2013, and Avengers: Age of Ultron in 2015 attracting major revenue and critical plaudits. This trend was reinforced in 2016 with the outstanding success of the critically lauded Deadpool, a film adaptation of a relatively minor Marvel Comics character that premiered at over $100 million in February, a time of year generally considered poor for movie audience interest.[16] In 2017, the film Sign Gene featured about deaf superheroes who use sign language.[17]

Live-action television series[edit]

Main article: List of superhero television series

Several live-action superhero programs aired from the early 1950s until the late 1970s. These included Adventures of Superman[18] starring George Reeves, the action-comedy Batman[18] series of the 1960s (often interpreted as being campy) starring Adam West and Burt Ward. In the 1970s however, the genre would find a newfound credibility in the medium with the original series, The Six Million Dollar Man and its spinoff, The Bionic Woman, being sustained successes. This led to direct adaptations of comic book superheroes such as ABC/CBS drama series Wonder Woman[18] of the 1970s starring Lynda Carter. The Incredible Hulk[18] of the late 1970s and early 1980s, however, had a more somber tone. Superboy[18] ran from 1988-1992 in syndication. In the 1990s, the Power Rangers,[18] adapted from the Japanese Super Sentai, became popular.[19] Other shows targeting teenage and young adult audiences that decade included Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman[18]. In 2001, Smallville[18] retooled Superman's origin as a teen drama. The 2006 NBC series Heroes[18] tells the story of several ordinary people who each suddenly find themselves with a superpower. The British series Misfits incorporates super-human abilities to undesirables in society. In this case, young offenders put on community service all have super powers and each use them to battle villains of sorts. (In the 1980s, an unsuccessful attempt was made to realize this last concept in the United States with the short-lived action comedy, Misfits of Science.[20]).

DC series include Shazam![18], The Secrets of Isis[20], The Flash (1990 TV series)[18], Swamp Thing[20], Birds of Prey[20], Gotham[18], Legends of the Superheroes, Human Target (1992 TV series), Human Target (2010 TV series) and Powerless[18] . Arrowverse series include Arrow[18], The Flash (2014 TV series)[18], Supergirl[18], Legends of Tomorrow[18] and Constantine[18]. Marvel series include The Amazing Spider-Man[18], Spidey Super Stories, Spider-Man (Toei TV series), Mutant X[20] and Blade: The Series. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.[18], Agent Carter[18] and Inhumans are part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Netflix series include Daredevil[18], Jessica Jones[18], Luke Cage[18], Iron Fist[18], The Defenders[18] and The Punisher. The Gifted and Legion[18] are part of the X-Men universe. Series based on independent titles include Conan the Adventurer[21], The Crow: Stairway to Heaven[18], Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation[18], The Tick (2001 TV series)[18], The Tick (2016 TV series)[18], Witchblade[18], Powers[20], Night Man[20], Lucky Man and The Phantom. Tokusatsu series include Ultraman, Spectreman and Kamen Rider. Disney produced family-oriented superhero sitcoms including Mighty Med, Lab Rats and Lab Rats: Elite Force. Nickelodeon also aired family-friendly comedies including The Secret World of Alex Mack, Henry Danger and The Thundermans. Other programs include- Captain Nice[20], Mr. Terrific, The Green Hornet[18], Electra Woman and Dyna Girl[20], The Greatest American Hero[18], Dark Angel, No Ordinary Family[20], Buffy the Vampire Slayer[22], Alias[23], Angel[24], Automan[20], Black Scorpion[20], M.A.N.T.I.S.[20], RoboCop: The Series, RoboCop: Prime Directives, Man from Atlantis, Manimal[20], My Secret Identity[20], My Hero, No Heroics, The Cape[20], Alphas[18] and Heroes Reborn.


Main article: Superheroes in animation

In the 1940s, Fleischer/Famous Studios produced a number of groundbreaking Superman cartoons, which became the first examples of superheroes in animation. Since the 1960s, superhero cartoons have been a staple of children’s television, particularly in the U.S.. However, by the early 1970s, US broadcasting restrictions on violence in children’s entertainment led to series that were extremely tame, a trend exemplified by the series Super Friends. Meanwhile, Japan's anime industry successfully contributed its own style of superhero series, such as Science Ninja Team Gatchaman.

In the 1980s, the Saturday morning cartoonSpider-Man and His Amazing Friends brought together Spider-Man, Iceman, and Firestar. The following decade, Batman: The Animated Series and X-Men, aimed at somewhat older audiences, found critical success in mainstream publications.[25] Series that followed included Superman: The Animated Series (1996) and Cartoon Network's adaptation of DC's Justice League (2001) and Teen Titans.

Comics' superhero mythos itself received a nostalgic treatment in the 2004 Disney/Pixar release The Incredibles, which utilized computer animation. Original superheroes with basis in older trends have also been made for television, such as Cartoon Network's Ben 10 franchise and Nickelodeon's Danny Phantom.


Beginning 1940s, the radio serial Superman starred Bud Collyer as the titular hero. Fellow DC Comics stars Batman and Robin made occasional guest appearances. Other superhero radio programs starred characters including the costumed but not superpowered Blue Beetle, and the non-costumed, superpowered Popeye. Also appearing on radio were such characters as the Green Hornet, the Green Lama, Doc Savage, and the Lone Ranger, a Western hero who relied on many conventions of the superhero archetype.

Novels, prose, poetry[edit]


Superheroes occasionally have been adapted into prose fiction, starting with Random House's 1942 novelThe Adventures of Superman by George Lowther. In the 1970s, Elliot S! Maggin wrote the Superman novels, Last Son of Krypton (1978) and Miracle Monday, coinciding with but not adapting the movie Superman.[26] Other early adaptations include novels starring the comic-strip hero The Phantom, starting with 1943's Son of the Phantom. The character likewise returned in 1970s books, with a 15-installment series from Avon Books beginning in 1972, written by Phantom creator Lee Falk, Ron Goulart, and others.

Also during the 1970s, Pocket Books published 11 novels based on Marvel Comics characters.[26] Juvenile novels featuring Marvel Comics and DC Comics characters including Batman, Spider-Man, the X-Men, and the Justice League, have been published, often marketed in association with TV series, as have Big Little Books starring the Fantastic Four and others.

In the 1990s and 2000s, Marvel and DC released novels adapting such story arcs as "The Death of Superman" and Batman's "No Man’s Land".


Original superhero or superhuman fiction has appeared in both novel and short-story print forms unrelated to adaptations from the major comic-book companies. It has also appeared in poetry.

Print magazines devoted to such stories include A Thousand Faces: A Quarterly Journal of Superhuman Fiction, published since 2007 in print and electronic form, and online only as of 2011[27] and This Mutant Life: Superhero Fiction, a bimonthly print publication from Australia, published since 2010.[28] The latter magazine was one of the few to also publish superhero poetry, ceasing to do so as of 2011. Superhero poems there included Philip L. Tite's "Brittle Lives", Mark Floyd's "Nemeses", and Jay Macleod's "All Our Children".

Novels with original superhuman stories include Robert Mayer's Superfolks (St. Martin's Griffin, March 9, 2005); James Maxey's Nobody Gets the Girl (Phobos Books, 2003); Rob Rogers's Devil's Cape (Wizards of the Coast Discoveries imprint, 2008); Austin Grossman's Soon I Will Be Invincible (Pantheon Books, 2007); Lavie Tidhar's The Violent Century (Hodder & Stoughton, 2013), David J. Schwartz's Superpowers: A Novel (Three Rivers Press, 2008); Matthew Cody's Powerless (Knopf, 2009); and Van Allen Plexico's Sentinels series of superhero novels (Swarm/Permuted Press, beginning in 2008). Collections of superhuman short stories include Who Can Save Us Now?: Brand-New Superheroes and Their Amazing (Short) Stories, edited by Owen King and John McNally (Free Press, 2008), and Masked, edited by Lou Anders (Gallery, 2010). With the rise of e-book readers like Kindle and Nook, a host of superhero stories have been self-published, including Aleron Kong's The Land: Founding (2015), R. R. Haywood's Extracted (2017), and R. T. Leone's Invinciman (2017).

Video games[edit]

See also: Category:Superhero video games

While many popular superheroes have been featured in licensed video games, up until recently there have been few that have revolved around heroes created specifically for the game. This has changed due to two popular franchises: The Silver Age-inspired Freedom Force (2002), City of Heroes (2004), and Champions Online (2009), a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (or MMORPG), all of which allow players to create their own superheroes and/or villains.


In the 1980s and 1990s, the Internet allowed a worldwide community of fans and amateur writers to bring their own superhero creations to a global audience. The first[citation needed] original major shared superhero universe to develop on the Internet was Superguy, which first appeared on a UMNEWS mailing list in 1989.[citation needed] In 1992, a cascade on the USENETnewsgroup

The first Phantom Sunday strip (May 28, 1939). Art by Ray Moore.


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