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Thread: Superman was the first?

  1. #21
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    This leads into an interesting discussion of what defines a super hero (or a mystery man, etc.). I had a book, (The Super-Hero Photo-Book by Dave Rogers, when i was young that defined a superhero as a) having an unusual power/ability or b) wearing a distinctive costume (and c) a combination of both). As a result, the book included the Doctor from Doctor Who because he could regenerate and the Lone Ranger for wearing a mask. That's definitely a sloppy definition, and I remember the Encyclopedia of Adventure Heroes and Encyclopedia of Super Heroes, both by Jeff Rovin, distinguishing types of heroes (Odysseus was in the former, for example, as was the Scarlet Pimpernel, often credited with Zorro for influencing early superheroes). As I recall, both Rogers and Rovin counted the Phantom in with superheroic others, based on the costume.

    I've actually wanted to collect the names of the various masked cowboys who were put out, with many created to capitalize on either Zorro or the Lone Ranger's possibility. I don't think such a list already exists.
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  2. #22
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    I think the other thing about Superman that made him relatively different to the other comic/pulp/what have you heroes of the time is that he was an alien who is also our hero. I don't think there's much from that period where the being from another planet is the uncontested good guy.
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  3. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by thunderbolt View Post
    Not a mention at all of Doc Savage. Superman's human first name and the Fortress of Solitude swiped from the original Super-Human Man of Bronze.
    I was going to mention Doc Savage.

  4. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by phil View Post
    I was going to mention Doc Savage.
    Surprised he was left out of that video.
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  5. #25
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    It's the Scarlet Pimpernel, Tarzan, Zorro, the Shadow, and Doc Savage that lead to the Phantom, Superman, and Batman IMO.

    Possibly Fantomas influenced the development of the super-villain, but I'm not sure how accessible British and French pulp characters would be to comics creators of the '30s. Judex is prescient of the Shadow of course, but is that just parallel development/coincidence?

    ***

    My personal criteria for a super-hero is 1)thematic costume coupled with 2)advanced expertise and/or 3)superhuman or paranormal abilities.

    To me, a "mystery-man" is primarily in civilian clothing, usually masked, and often a vigilante--but no "powers."

    In this vein, the pulp Shadow is a mystery-man. But the radio Shadow, with his mental powers, is closer to a super-hero.

    It's not a perfect system, it's just how I compartmentalize these characters.
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  6. #26
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    ^^^ Right just kind of glaring omission by the video creator on Savage. He had elements of Supes, Batman and Captain America all rolled into one.
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  7. #27
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    Is Superman the first Alien come to earth superhero?

  8. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by tjacwave50 View Post
    Is Superman the first Alien come to earth superhero?
    Lensman was an Earthman given alien tech, that count? The pulps started in 34.
    Last edited by thunderbolt; Mar 22, '18 at 3:19 AM.
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