When I was an impressionable kid, I would spend hours pouring over the books at my local library. One book in particular I would come back to again and again and again. It was The Great Comic Book Heroes edited by Jules Feiffer.
The Great Comic Book Heroes was a distillation of the dawn of the superhero comics in the early 1940’s.
It had an early Superman story by his creators, Siegel and Shuster;
|Written by Jerry Siegel and drawn by Joe Shuster From Superman #3 (1939). Shuster is not the slickest artist but he's got a power and flow to his artwork that I'm sure added to the phenomenal popularity of Superman.|
A very early Joker Appearance by Kane and Finger when the Joker was still really menacing;
|Written by Bill Finger and drawn by Bob Kane and Jerry Robinson From Batman #1 (1940)|
An awesome Wonder Woman tale complete with bondage scenes; and so much more!
|From Wonder Woman #2 (1941)|
I think my favorite of the bunch is the early Sub-Mariner story by Bill Everett. This is not the sweet Subby that saves baby polar bears from an iceberg.
|Bill Everett's Sub-Mariner From Marvel Mystery #7 (1940)|
No, this is a vicious Subby who has a hard on for destroying all surface dwellers for what they did to his under sea kingdom.
|Check out the sophisticated coloring on this page! I didn't know that the Chrysler building was colored in 3 primary colors.|
If he didn’t have the hots for the smoldering Betty Dean, I think New York would be a pile of kitty litter!
|Wonder Woman may loose her powers when she falls for a cutie, but not Namor. He's the dude!|
Not that the book had a bad story. Like how can you forget seeing the Spectre going to heaven to confer with the dead!
|Written by Gardner Fox and drawn by Bernard Bailey From All-Star Comics #1 (1940)|
Or how he made a crooks head invisible so that he could pick his brain!
Or a 40 foot Spectre taunting fleeing criminals like a cat plays with mice!
This stuff is just priceless!
But wait, That’s not all folks!
There’s the stunning artwork of Sheldon "Shelly" Moldoff on Hawkman;
|Written by Gardner Fox and drawn by Sheldon Moldoff from Flash Comics #5|
And Jack Cole’s classic Plastic Man!
|Jack Cole's Plastic Man from Police Comics #1 (1941)|
And to top it all off, we have a 1941 Will Eisner Spirit story!
|Will Eisner's legendary comic, The Spirit! with it's classic fun letter/buildings.|
What’s not to like!
The one problem with the book is it gets you all hyped up for the Golden Age heroes and leaves you craving for more with no where to go!
I don’t mean to sell this book to you but it’s hard for me not to gush at how amazing this book is. And, that my friends, is why I named my blog The Great Comic Book Heroes. Though it doesn’t hurt that the name can be taken in many ways. “Comic book heroes” can be the long underwear kind, which is cool, or it can refer to the “real” heroes, those amazing artists and writers that I love so much. Not to mention the fact that, as sophisticated as the new comics are with their more realistic stories and super polished, photo-realistic art, or conversely, it's arty, fun deconstruction comics, the first comics have a power and vitality that is hard to compete with and totally inspiring whatever type of comics you are into!