BEING A SLIGHT
EXPLANATION OF THE REAL STORIES
OF SOME COMIC BOOK "SUPERHEROES" IN THE WNU
Please bear with me while I enter forbidden territory. I am now about to talk about something that most WNU scholars shun. It is something that even my living source from the Wold Newton Universe has only confirmed with a great deal of reluctance. There are "super" heroes in the WNU whose exploits have been recorded in our universe through various media but mainly in the medium of the so-called "comic" or "funny" books. The scope of this article is not to discuss all those characters who exist in the WNU and also exist in the pages of the so called "funny" books, such as The Phantom, Zorro, Jonah Hex, Archie Andrews, Dick Tracy, etc. but rather the high profile "super" heroes who have "powers beyond those of mortal men".
We all know that Superman, although not the exaggerated version prevalent in post war comics, existed in the WNU as did his friend and relative by marriage, Batman. Further research has uncovered the existence of the Sub-Mariner, Captain America, Wonder Woman, The Spirit, Neptune Perkins, Plastic Man, his son Elongated Man, the war time super soldier projects, Gladiator, Rebirth, X and M which gave us the "superheroes" Captain America, Invisible Agent, Creature Commandos, The Unknown Soldier.
Dr. Nevins has explored some of the truths behind the so called "super" heroes of the war effort. He has effectively demonstrated that the "Human Torch" of "comic" book fame had some basis in reality but was special effects wizardry performed by a stage magician (Norgil) and an inventor of some repute (Click Rush).
Also examined by Dr. Nevins were the story of the "Whizzer" a super speed hero also of some repute. The realistic basis for this tale was a British special operations program using Professor Alfred Gibberne's drug the "accelerator.
"This stimulant gave the human body super speed; that is, once taken a human being could run at speeds so great that other humans were reduced to statues, and miles could be covered in the space of seconds." The drug was however fatally flawed most women and men died after taking one dose their systems unable to take the tremendous increase in the metabolic rate. There was also the extreme danger of moving too rapidly while under the influence of the drug. Many a volunteer burst into flames upon reaching too high a velocity.
Dr. Nevins has
possible reality-based explanation of the "comic" book hero, Green
Lantern. The Green Lantern was in fact an alien device used by an
person. However the powerful radiations exuded from the "lantern"
poisoned and eventually killed the person who had used it. The lantern
(purportedly) in a
There are others of course, not many but quite a few. The real exploits of the "super" heroes are overshadowed by voluminous output of the "comic" book industry. There are literally thousands of characters whose exploits posit destruction and death on epic proportions just about every week. It is easy to loose sight of the fact that out of the thousands of characters out there, some of the comics are based on a handful of real people. Dr. Nevins has explored some of this content in his scholarly articles.
We must first understand that although the "comic" book characters and exploits are based on real people they are highly fictionalized, often to a point where the true character is unrecognizable so far as its comic book persona or continuity are concerned.
The reason for this of course is deliberate, it adds to the mystery of the character. It also creates a fundamental disbelief about the reality of the character that allows him or her to operate without a great deal of press coverage, although a few characters such as Superman or the Spider did get constant press.
One of the more obvious tell tale signs that comic book stories do not tell the who truth is their depiction of events in a chronologial fashion. Atlhough they make a sometimes convincing pretense that time passes normally, the characters do not age as much as they should given the length of their careers and the events that shape their lives. The comic books have dealt with this issue in a couple different ways; by reinventing the characters to keep their ages and lives current with the contemporary society, by pretending that only a few years have passed since the inception of the characters despite the obvious passage of time in the storylines of the books. Both of these methods have their flaws. The first eliminates the character's actual place in the historical record and it has a habit of regurgitating the past into a revisionist present. The second method also distorts the historical record but does so in a subtler method. It makes the characters themselves static while around them time marches on. The Brady Bunch movie showed how jarring and incogruent this could be.
The two main examples of these trends are Superman and Spiderman. Superman began his career in 1938, he remained such a perennial favorite that it became necessary to reinvent him every decade or so for a more contemporary audience. Spiderman was given a specific birth year by the comics, by inference. From textual evidence he was six years old when his parents disappeared. In one of his earlier comic appearances he finds a newspaper clipping which has a date of 1949 as the year his parents disappeared. So we can then figure his birth year to be 1943 or 1944. For the first year of his publication they went along with a consistent chronological development, he graduated from High school at about the same time he should have. Yet after his character popularity took off, he was kept in his twenties for decades as a means of keeping the book contemporary without having to resort to a reinvention of the character.
The comic book industry is of course not to be held entirely responsible for this for their primary purpose is of course to entertain not to be historians despite however Elijah Price may feel. They are also often times unable to present the true historical or chronologial record as per their license agreements with the vigilantes.
Most of these the vigilantes followed the example set by Superman and licensed the use of their characters by the comic book industry and sometimes the film and radio and television media. Superman did this at first because he wished to make his alien origins seem less ominous or frightening. This actually had the effect of making most people disbelieve their veracity. He also wished to warn criminals that there was a new force to be reckoned with. Since comics also until recently provided a bit of moral guidance to children, he thought that the example of a good super strong character easily defeating evil characters would help children stay on the right moral path. Then there was the money, while the comic book companies paid an annual or monthly fee for the use of the character and royalties based on the sale of books. Most of the characters we deal with donated their proceeds to charity, some did not. Those that did not should not be judged too harshly, for crime fighting can be an expensive business and the money had to come from somewhere, especially if crime fighting becomes such an obsession that it tends to crowd out your day job.
Marvelous, Fantastic Team-Ups
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