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Happy Birthday,
Superman!

By Ed Dillon
Art by Rick Blackwell,
Shawn Van Briesen & Kurt Belcher
The Big Three

For sixty years now, the names of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman have stood tall in the DC Universe. This month we celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the first of these classic characters, Superman. The next few years will see 60th anniversaries for Batman and Wonder Woman, as well as Dr. Fate, Green Lantern, The Flash, Hawkman and the Justice Society of America, the very first super-team. While a lot has gone on in their comic-book lives one thing has remained unchanged, they are the flagship characters for DC comics.

Superman and Lois Lane Superman made his first appearance in ACTION COMICS #1 during June of 1938. Created by Jerry Siegel & Joe Shuster, Superman would become the first true super hero of his time. Although throughout the years his origin may have changed, it remains well known that Superman is the sole survivor of the planet Krypton and was rocketed to Earth in a birthing matrix. Discovered by John and Martha Kent who raised him as their own son.

Early into adulthood he would find his way to Metropolis and soon make his public appearance. Superman would become the leader in the pursuit of truth, justice and the American way. Although his impact was felt throughout the world, those words are his most memorable. Right up there with, "It's a bird, it's a plane, NO, it's Superman!"

Jimmy Olson

Lois Lane Originally conceived as a comic-book superhero, his image is known world-wide. Almost anyone you ask knows who Superman is. His presence can be seen all over the place, in our music, and on TV. Every Seinfeld episode you watch, Superman can be seen somewhere lurking in the background. Somewhere, at almost when you lest expect it, a reference to Superman can be heard.

His is one of the truly global heroes that all people can look up to. And although his appearance and costume may have changed over the years, each new generation that grows up, one little boy somewhere will be climbing into his bed tonight, getting dressed in Superman pj's, and the last thing he will see is his poster of Superman on the wall as he drifts off to sleep, dreaming about what it would be like to fly.

Lex Luthor

Batman's Face The other great male character in the DC Universe is the Batman. He made his first appearance in DETECTIVE COMICS #27, in May of 1939. Batman was created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger, and although not as universally well-known as Superman he stands out almost as much.

Batman could be considered Superman's opposite in almost every aspect. While Superman stands out in society, Batman tends to stay in the shadows, not wanting any recognition for his acts and deeds. In the DC Universe, Batman's origin has stayed pretty much the same throughout his history.

Batman

Two terrible moments changed the life of Bruce Wayne. The first came at the age if six, when he roamed the far grounds of Gotham City's Wayne Manor and fell into a deep cavern swarming with bats. Though his father soon rescued him, Bruce never again felt completely secure in his world.

Catwoman

Golden Age Batman The second came two years later, in the alleyway behind a movie theater in which the Waynes had just seen The Mark of Zorro. There, before Bruce's very eyes, a mugger named Joe Chill shot Thomas and Martha Wayne in cold blood before fleeing into the night.

These events are what made Batman much different from Superman. Both turned out to be the World's Finest super-heroes, but they took different paths to get there. You ask someone on the street who Batman is, you might get a funny look. But with four feature films, and many television shows, Batman's presence can be felt in and out of the DC Universe.

Wonder Woman by Rick Blackwell To round out our look at DC's heroes and their 60th Anniversaries, we have Wonder Woman. She made her first appearance in comics in ALL-STAR COMICS #8 in the Winter of 1941. Created by William Moulton Marston, Wonder Woman would become the most prominent female in comics. Today, she still holds that mantle.

Her origin dates back to 1200 BC, when the goddess Gaea used her powers to reincarnate the souls of thousands of woman who had died before their time, into the race known as Amazons. A race of adult woman who could teach humanity to the gods of Olympus. Their leader, Hippolyte desperately wanted a child of her own, and created a clay figure that was given special gifts and powers by the gods, and Wonder Woman was born.


She came to "Man's World" to teach the Olympian virtues, not to patrol against crimes and theft. As a member of the Justice League she has done just that. And although the persona of Wonder Woman has changed over the last few years, she still stands as a gentle soul who preaches - and demonstrates - the power of peace.

Wonder Woman would probably rank as the third well-known member of the DC Universe, and her influence can be seen outside the DC Universe as well. Just think back to the TV series, starring Lynda Carter. And possibly a new television series this fall, or maybe a feature film. I am sure that there have been many a little girl that ran around and pretended to be Wonder Woman.

DC Comics has a rich tradition and heritage of great comic book characters, with Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman heading that list. With such a great history behind them, we all can be excited at the future of DC Comics, and look forward to another 60 years of great stories.

All characters are ™ DC Comics
This column is © July, 1998 by Michael Hutchison.
All artwork is © July, 1998 by their respective artists.
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