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.
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 before the Golden Age the 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 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.
- The Count of Monte Cristo has a pretty good claim for being a proto-hero as well as an inspiration for Batman. He's a brooding loner bent on revenge who is [[Fiction500 massively wealthy]], a Master of Disguise, and has picked up immense physical prowess along the way. The Batman villain Bane, who is an Evil Counterpart of Batman, has a backstory based off of that of Dantes/The Count.
- The first literary Superhero is believed to be Nyctalope, who had cybernetic implants to enhance his vision and even had a cybernetic heart. He either debuted in 1911 or 1908 depending on who you ask. He was created by author Jean De La Hire.
- John Carter of Mars: The first work was released 1912. John Carter have a Mysterious Past, he doesn't remember his childhood and seem to always been in his thirties. Being from Earth he has seemingly 'Supermarsian' strength and agility in Mars' lower gravity.
- Zorro, started in 1919 with the The Curse of Capistrano story in the Pulp Magazine All-Story Weekly. The Californio nobleman Don Diego de la Vega disguises himself in black clothes, cape, mask and hat. Using the alias Seņor Zorro (Mr Fox) to "avenge the helpless, to punish cruel politicians", and "to aid the oppressed." He's cunning like a fox and a Skilled sworman. He's one of the biggest inspiration for Batman, another superhero without superpowers masked in black fighting crime and corruption.
- The 1930 Pulp novel Gladiator focused on Hugo Danner, who became gifted with incredible strength thanks to an experiment carried out by his father. However, unlike several examples here, all Hugo wants to do is utilize his powers to make a normal life for himself.
- Doc Savage is another early example from 1933 to 1949. He lacks any traditional superpowers, instead having been trained by both scholars and savages alike to become the pinnacle of humanity, becoming a massive Genius Bruiser with his own group of partners to help him out with certain fields of expertise.
- 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.
- 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.