Wednesday, November 11, 2009
How "original" is Superman?
OK, so Superman is simply NOT as original as I thought he was and here's why:
DC Comics in launching a shadowy new universe, “First Wave,” in March 2010, where super-powers or aliens do not exist.
It features the return of "Doc Savage," a hero from pulp fiction in the early 1930s.
(“Batman-Doc Savage Special," $4.99, is now out and is the prologue to an eventual six-part miniseries to focus on this new, pulp-inspired universe.)
Anyway, when you examine Doc Savage, there are at least three things that Superman may have borrowed from him.
(Savage started in 1933, Superman in 1938.)
1. Doc Savage often retreats to his “Fortress of Solitude” in the Arctic. That reference pre-dates Superman’s origin.
2. “Man of Steel”? Does that sound reminiscent of “Man of Bronze," who Doc Savage was nicknamed before Superman came along?
3. Savage’s real name is Clark Savage, Jr. Know any other hero named Clark?
So, pulp fiction may be much more an influence on comic books than I earlier thought.
DC Comics is also not being secretive about billing Doc Savage as the 'superman" in this First Wave universe.
Doc Savage — “He’s our superman, but as you notice, in the lowercase sense,” DC Comics states of the revived character.
Doc Savage is also not to be confused with “Doc Sampson,” a gamma-powered Marvel Comics character.
(However, Marvel did feature Doc Savage in an early 1970s comic series. DC ran a Doc Savage series in the late 1980s and Dark Horse Comics did a series with Savage in 1995, so he's a hero who has been around, but has never found a permanent home.)
Besides Batman and Doc Savage, “First Wave” will also feature “The Spirit,” a former cop, as a force for good. There’s also a Black Canary, The Avenger and Rima the Jungle girl in this new, alternate universe. Savage is also backed up by his “Fabulous Five.”
The "First Wave" variation of Batman has the Dark Knight at a youthful and inexperienced age. It also has Batman carrying a .45 pistol.
(Photograph at the top is of the prologue to "First Wave," "Batman-Doc Savage," a November 2009 comic that introduces a new universe. Courtesy from DC Comics.)