ORIGIN OF: The Superhero


If you were to ask a person with little or no knowledge of comic book history who they thought the first superhero was what do you think their answer would be?


Well from my experience I have found that the majority of people would say they believe Superman was the first superhero.  

Superman's Origin


And though I do acknowledge The Last Son of Krypton's existence since the Golden Age of Comics, (first appearing in Action Comics #1 in June 1938), I can assuredly tell you that it just is not the case.

For those who may not know the one who is truly considered comicdom's FIRST superhero appeared four years before the debut of the Man-of-Steel. 
 
 
 
 
Mandrake the Magician , first appearing in 11th June 1934, created by Lee Falk (also known for creating the Phantom ).

Mandrake the Magician Comicdom's FIRST superhero

Mandrake started as the star of his of his own syndicated newspaper comic strip. The character of Mandrake the Magician is displayed as a master of magic and hypnosis, who used his skills to battle a variety of thugs, evil geniuses, extraterrestrial and extra dimensional threats. Mandrake also had himself a sidekick of-sort in his best friend Lothar. Though unfortunately in recent times Mandrake (along with many Golden Age characters) seems to be almost forgotten by the world.  
(See public domain characters )  

 
 
 
 
 
 
Of cause this may lead some to ask what was it that caused Mr. Falk to suddenly create a character with super-natural abilities. Though Mandrake IS a magician it can easy be assumed it was just that, real performers have been doing magic acts for centuries. 
Then again the concept of magic and the mystical has been around since the dawn of man, and as such so have beings with incredible power. 

 
 
Through out history there have been tales, legends and 'myths' >:3 of people performing incredible feats, like David vs. Goliath, a mere mortal being able to fell a mighty giant with a single pebble. 
And then you have beings with powers, gifts often given to by gods or inherited through being a descendant of gods (demigod), such is the case of the well known character of Hercules. Gifted with incredible strength from his father Zeus, king of the Olympian Gods. Charged by the gods to perform 12 trials, 

Hercules Vs Hydra

 

David Vs Goliath

1) Slay the Nemean Lion. 
2) Slay the nine-headed Lernaean Hydra.     
3) Capture the Golden Fleece of Artemis.  
4) Capture the Erymanthian Boar.  
5) Clean the Augean stables in a single day.  
6) Slay the Stymphalian Birds.  
7) Capture the Cretan Bull.  
8) Steal the Mares of Diomedes.  
9) Obtain the girdle of Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons.  
10) Obtain the cattle of the monster Geryon.  
11) Steal the apples of the Hesperides.  
12) Capture and bring back the hell hound Cerberus.      
 
 
 
Given the nature of the Human race and our love of good stories one can see why such awe inspiring being were created. Heroes that children could look up to and perhaps one day stive to follow in their footsteps and achieve greatness of their own. So perhaps it was ideals such as these that came to the creatures minds when they came up with characters such as Mandrake and Superman. 
 
So I leave you now hoping that I may have given you a little bit of a glimps into The Origin Of The Superhero. 

 



 
'The Myth' is nothing more than an urban legend!!!

11 Comments
11 Comments
Edited by alexandrinus


Nice thread and good explanation about the origin of the term superhero.

 

But you state that Mandrake was the first superhero. The term was only used when superman was created. Until that time, people perfoming supernatural feats and helping mankind where called onle heroes (such as the heroes from myth). The word and term "superhero" was actually born when superman was dubbed as such. But I di admit that Mandrake should fit in the superhero profile.

 

But again, really nice thread. I enjoyed a lot.  

Posted by superstay

Superman is not the first Superhero, but the first original comic book Superhero. Mandrake the Magician along with others started in comic strips in the News Papers then probably a month later the strip would be recycled into a Comic Book so the publishers could make more money off the strip. That’s why Batman is the first Non-Powered Comic Book Superhero when The Shadow, Green Hornet & Kato, Tarzan, The Lone Ranger, Robin Hood, Zorro Ect. Came out before him, he's just the first Non-Powered Superhero originally made for the Comics.

Posted by The Myth
@superstay
That's what I was saying in the blog!
Posted by beatboks1

Few things I feel the need to point out.
1. Mandrake is hardly the first "Pulp" era hero who could be considered the first "super hero". The Shadow first appeared 3 years earlier in 1931, he had a secret ID (something Mandrake lacked) a mask ans super powers (psychic). there was Doc Savage a year or so prior to Mandrake in 33. Savage was trained to near superhuman levels.The Spider in 33 also.  Not to mention Zorro (who of course had no powers) as early as 1919.
2. Jerry Seigal and Joe Shuster actually created their first version of Superman before all of these (bar the Shadow and Zorro) saw print. Their initial concept was rejected by several publishers as early as 1932 because of the obvious plagiarism. In 1931 the two creators reviewed for a sci fi fanzine magazine the   the Philip Wylie novel " Gladiator". the novels lead character was Hugo Danner a character who's scientist father injected his pregnant wife with an experimental serum that resulted in his son being super strong, fast able to leap buildings and skin that could bounce bullets and heal quickly (sound familiar). Their first version was a bald scientist with superman powers (sort of a cross between Superman and Lex Luthor). they made several plugs over the following years (after each rejection making changes to the character) until the fledgling National comics gave it a go. At one point Philip Wylie was going to sue over plagiarism but chose not to. While there idea for Superman was being rejected they did create another character who was taken up called Dr Occult (began print in "more fun comics" in 1935 )

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Posted by Jnr6Lil

Well Greek Gods could be considered superheroes.

Posted by Larkin1388

Nice Post.

Posted by beatboks1
@Jnr6Lil said:
Well Greek Gods could be considered superheroes.
the god's no. Mythical figures like Hercules, Samson, Jason (and the Argonauts) Archilies etc yes.
legendary wizards like Merlin also. other Legends also.
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Posted by Jnr6Lil
@beatboks1 said:
@Jnr6Lil said:
Well Greek Gods could be considered superheroes.
the god's no. Mythical figures like Hercules, Samson, Jason (and the Argonauts) Archilies etc yes. legendary wizards like Merlin also. other Legends also.
The Gods formed the basis for superpowers 
 
Also Superhero may've not been the first superhero but he was the first iconic superhero, He started the whole trend of names ending in Man or Woman, started the whole cape trend.
Posted by Primmaster64

Superman was based on Hercules, Moses and Buck Rogers

Posted by beatboks1
@Primmaster64 said:
Superman was based on Hercules, Moses and Buck Rogers
Superman was very much based on " Gladiator". Not only did the original version of Superman (Action comics 1 1938) have exactly the same power set, and was from a similar area of the. The earlier version of the character that Jerry Seigal and Joe Shuster pitched to publishers had even more similarities. PLus it is a know fact that they reviewed teh bnovel for a SCi Fi Fanzine a year after it was published and 9 or 10 months before they first pitched their first concept of "Superman" unsuccessfully in 1932.
 
@Jnr6Lil said:
@beatboks1 said:
@Jnr6Lil said:
Well Greek Gods could be considered superheroes.
the god's no. Mythical figures like Hercules, Samson, Jason (and the Argonauts) Archilies etc yes. legendary wizards like Merlin also. other Legends also.
The Gods formed the basis for superpowers  Also Superhero may've not been the first superhero but he was the first iconic superhero, He started the whole trend of names ending in Man or Woman, started the whole cape trend.

The Gods may have formed the "basis" for powers but most of their fabled exploits were far from "heroic". You can't be a "Superhero" if your "super" but not a "hero". to have that title you need to be both.
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Posted by Jnr6Lil

Yes but they did help mankind.