Created By: Lumpenprole on September 23, 2013 Last Edited By: Paradisesnake on March 19, 2014

Pre-Golden Age Super Heroes

The time of superheroes from before the Golden Age Of Comic Books

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Note: This thread is copied from "Prehistoric Age of Super Heroes"( ) ,which crashed due to the editor choking on some bad code I linked to. I think the original was denied a proper chance, so I'm reincarnating it here.

added: 2012-02-11 13:49:09 sponsor: Gamingboy1

Everybody knows that the superhero genre as we know it didn't start until Action Comics #1. But Ur-Example superheroes existed long before Superman arrived in Metropolis, in fact Superhero-like beings go back to ancient times, a fact acknowledged by how the The Avengers have had at least three mythological figures on their roster at one point or another. As a result, the "Prehistoric Age of Superheroes" is by far the longest, but also the least defined time for superheroes.

There are a few reasons for this: A) How many pre-Superman superheroes there were, or even if there were any at all, depends greatly on your definition of the term. B) Unlike every other "age" of superhero fiction, characters in the Prehistoric Age were usually not created for Comic Books, Movies or the extremely-nascent medium of Television, but rather were in novels, pulp magazines or folklore. C) Many of the characters became forgotten or overshadowed once The Golden Age of Comic Books started up, and those that didn't usually weren't referred to as Superheroes. D) Many of them didn't have actual superpowers and would today be referred to as being Badass Normal. Examples of "Prehistoric Age of Superheroes" Characters:
  • The Shadow (introduced in the early 30s) from radio dramas and pulp novels. One of the main inspirations for Batman. Other pulp heroes like The Spider and to a certain extent Doc Savage also apply.
  • Zorro, started in 1919 and also one of the inspirations for Batman.
  • The Phantom, created in 1936, was one of the first costumed superheroes in comics (comic strips, in his case)
  • Mandrake the Magician, much like The Phantom, was created in comic strips (1934). Prototype for many of the magician-style heroes, most notably the Zatara family.
  • The Scarlet Pimpernel, 1905.
  • The Green Hornet and The Lone Ranger, both made by the same guy and basically having the same shtick only in different time-period, both debuted on the Radio before Superman debuted.
Community Feedback Replies: 10
  • September 23, 2013
    Some of the fantasy, satirical or utopian literary works from the 16th century onwards border on proto-science fiction, or feature characters with impossible abilities that we would now call "super powers". Examples include:
  • September 30, 2013
  • September 30, 2013
    There's also Doc Savage, who's at the very least at the pinnacle of Badass Normal and was introduced in 1933.
  • September 30, 2013
    Linked the examples to their respective pages.
  • September 30, 2013
    ^Thank you. I was dreading having to do that ;^)
  • October 1, 2013
    We need a definition of "super hero" as well as a requirement for their original incarnation. If this is comics-only then Lumpenprole's examples don't count. Are we including Greco-Roman heroes, Robin Hood, Gilgamesh, etc.?
  • October 1, 2013
    Gilgamesh was anything but a super hero, what with forcing everyone in the country to sleep with him (and he is older than the Greek definition if you try to pull that so he still does not count).

    But then, I guess it should be limited to stories that have superhero genre tropes, otherwise any "hero" with super powers might get added. Secret identity, crime fighting, superpowers, gadgets in some combination with modern heroism seems good. Anything else?
  • December 6, 2013
    I'd suggest "fighting evildoers" broadly, rather than "fighting crime" specifically. Otherwise, Zorro and the Scarlet Pimpernel might not make the cut, as they fought villainy that was being perpetrated by abusive government officials, not criminals.
  • March 19, 2014
    Gladiator and Golden Bat just came to my mind for more Superheroes predating the golden age of comic books.
  • March 19, 2014
    Other Pulp Heroes