Batman and the Rise of the American Superhero ~ The Imaginative Conservative

It is only in this context of history that one can understand the rise—uniquely American—of the “superhero,” especially those that came out of the company that would eventually be known as D.C., Detective Comics. While the art of D.C. might not be the equivalent high art of Eliot or Cather or Davis, it is art nonetheless, taking from the past and searching for a goodness and truth in a generation that desperately fought to be for something rather than just against. Between 1938 and 1940, D.C. (for sake of argument, this is short hand, even when the company was called National or something else), creators brought into existence Superman, the alien immigrant raised in innocence and honesty by a Kansas couple who understood the Christ-like powers of their adopted son; Batman, the American aristocrat, detective, and crime fighter, who patrolled the darkest corners of urban America, protecting the innocent from harm; and Wonder Woman, the angelic, Greek classical goddess, who comes to the aid of American servicemen waging just and proper war against the ideologues. This trinity of heroes stood powerfully in 1940, but it remains equally powerful almost a century later. The heroes—immigrant; dark avenger; and demigoddess—speak to us of the twenty-first century every bit, if not more, as much as they did to the generation of the Great Depression and the Second World War.
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One thought on “Batman and the Rise of the American Superhero ~ The Imaginative Conservative”

  1. HOLY BATMAN! It is quite amazing to consider the longevity of Batman. I had almost forgotten my early love affair with Batman and DC comics but of course, reading this brings me back to Metropolis, Commissioner Gordon, Bruce Wayne, and all Batman’s adventures. It is interesting to compare him to Superman or Wonder Woman as he alone was vulnerable and had no superpowers.I always thought his character showed some influence from the Sherlock Holmes stories. Certainly an American icon. What red-blooded American boy didn’t stay up late reading comics with his flashlight?


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