72 – The First Iron Man

Quality released Smash Comics #1 in June 1939. It featured a silly series called “Hugh Hazzard and his Iron Man”, who is turned from villain to crime-fighting slave and given the humiliating name of “Bozo” in this first story. Of course, Bozo the Iron Man predates Marvel Comics own Iron Man by decades.

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71 – The Blue Beetle?!?

June 1939 saw another important superhero moment in the publishing of Mystery Men Comics #1 (Fox Feature Syndicate) which included the first story of The Blue Beetle. I was first introduced to the spandex-wearing, powerless-but-gadget-loving Ted Kord version of the Blue Beetle in the 1980s after DC decided to fold its Charlton comic characters into […]

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70 – Batman’s Gadgets

In June 1939, Detective Comics #29 is the first story to feature The Batman‘s use of gadgets. This much longer story (10 pages) featured Batman’s first “arch criminal”, Doctor Death and lots of action: Batman swinging around the city on his rope, Batman scaling a building, Batman getting shot, and finally vanquishing his foe. I […]

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69 – The Sandman Creepeth

In June 1939, Adventure Comics #40 published the first Sandman story (after the appearance in New York’s World Fair Comics). What I love about this story is the panels without dialog or captions. It really helps to establish the mood and the characterization of Wesley Dodds.

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68 – The Flame

Fox Feature Syndicate continued their attempt to break into the superhero comic business by renaming Wonder Comics to Wonderworld Comics and creating a new superhero: The Flame. Created by Will Eisner and Lou Fine, The Flame’s powers were focused on being able to control fire, heat and the like and he carried a tiny flame […]

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67 – The Kents

In May 1939, DC decided to publish a comic book dedicated entirely to a single character, Superman #1. It reprinted the Superman stories from Action Comics #1-4, but added 6 pages to the first story that told a 2-page Superman origin story, introducing the Kents. Not Martha, but apparently Mary here.

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66 – The Ultra-Humanite!

In Action Comics #13 (May 1939), Jerry Siegel introduced the first super-villain to the Superman mythos with the Ultra-Humanite. A “paralysed cripple” who was also a genius bent on world domination. He is revealed to be the mastermind behind the “cab protective league”, a corrupt cab company that shakes down smaller cab companies for protection […]

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65 – Enter The Sandman!

Among the stories included with New York World’s Fair Comics (April 1939) was the first Sandman story. The Sandman was Wesley Dodds, an inventor and millionaire playboy (beating Tony Stark to the superhero game by at least twenty years). He ran around in a gas mask and used a gas gun to put criminals to […]

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64 – The Man of Tomorrow at the World’s Fair

In April 1939, DC also published a 96-page one-shot, the New York World’s Fair Comics. This featured stories of several established characters like Superman and Zatara promoting the 1939 World’s Fair. This was also the first time that Superman’s vision powers were mentioned as Superman stood atop the Trylon looking for Lois Lane.

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63 – The Bat-Man!

In April 1939, Bob Kane (and Bill Finger) published the first story about The Bat-Man in Detective Comics #27, bringing DC what would be its second big hit. Certainly his dramatic appearance had something to do with the character’s success, but I thought the first story was interesting by keeping him mysterious: He was not […]

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