HISTORY OF THE MODERN HEROIC AGE PART II:
The current era of the modern age began approximately 14 years ago. Superman was the first and his appearance in the early part of that year seemed to inspire other such individuals to debut publicly. Within a few weeks of Superman's first documented appearance came the early reports of the mysterious "Bat-Man" of Gotham City. In the months that followed came the debuts of the second Flash and Green Lantern, the alien Martian Manhunter, and the second-generation heroine, the Black Canary. Several more heroes debuted and by year's end a group of them had banded together to form the first super-hero team of the period: the Justice League of America. Collectively these events, which encapsulated almost an entire calendar year, are referred to as Year One.
Pictured below are three newspaper headlines representative of this period of the modern heroic age. Each headline is accompanied by a brief commentary. To view a larger version of the headline double-click the picture to the left of the article. To view additional information click the book icon associated with each article.
The Debut of Superman:
To cap off her 250th anniversary celebrations, the city of Metropolis had arranged with NASA to have their experimental space plane Constitution land at Metropolis International airport. During the Constitution's approach a small civilian plane had managed to slip through the security cordon and collided with the space plane. The crowd watched in horror as the two planes spiraled to their doom, then in awe as a flying man caught both aircraft and guided them safely to the ground.
Though he flew away from the scene without a word, this was not the last appearance of the mysterious "Superman." The name Superman was coined by Daily Planet reporter Lois Lane and was used by other news media for their stories of the incident and the name stuck. After the space plane incident Superman began appearing all around Metropolis, and later the world, in his trademark costume, fighting for Truth, Justice, and the American Way.
Superman's debut was but the first as a horde of new heroes began appearing across the country from Gotham City, New Jersey to Coast City, California. Throughout the years Superman has remained one the most public and popular heroes in the world. From his spectacular debut to his miraculous return from the dead and his brief transformation from Man of Steel to Man of Energy, Superman remains, as always, one the world's finest heroes.
The Debut of the Batman:
In direct contrast to the very public debut of Superman were the shadowy beginnings of Gotham City's "Bat-Man." The first confirmed reports of a criminal being assaulted by the mysterious vigilante occurred several weeks after Superman's debut, but unconfirmed reports may place his debut before that. The first confirmed use of the name Bat-Man comes from police reports from a few weeks after the first assaults took place, at the time when the police began to realize the dozens of attacks on criminals were apparently the actions of a single person.
To this day there are many in Gotham and beyond that deny a Batman exists. These people are few and it is generally accepted that yes, Virginia, there is a Batman. Though his appearances in public before the media have been few and far between, his membership in several incarnations of the Justice League is proof enough of the Batman's existence. Who or what the Batman may be is another matter entirely.
Descriptions of the Batman's abilities are varied, some claim he just a man, though a highly skilled and driven one; others say he is a machine, a robot or cyborg dedicated to destroying evil wherever he may find it; and there are a few who claim that there is a reason he is only out at night, that the Batman is no mortal man but a creature of the night, a supernatural being. Whatever the truth may be, it is best to think of the Batman in the same terms as the people of Gotham do: to the criminals he stalks he is the devil bat, striking in vengeance out of the darkness; to the good citizens he is a guardian, a protector, glimpsed as sudden motion against the Gotham skyline, a Dark Knight in every sense of the word.
The Debut of the Justice League:
The Justice League of America was founded when five of the new heroes that had recently debuted joined forces to combat an alien invasion. Seven warriors from the planet Appellax had selected Earth as their battlefield to choose the new ruler of their world. The five heroes had each defeated one of the aliens (a sixth was defeated by Superman), but it was only by combining their efforts that the five were able to defeat the final Appellaxian. Realizing that there would always be threats too great for any one of them to battle on their own, the group decided to make their one-time team-up a full-time commitment as the Justice League of America. The League has gone through many incarnations in the years since its founding and in every case has been a stalwart defender of planet Earth, saving the world more times than can be counted and on more than one occasion a member has given their life in the process. The founding members of the Justice League were:
* denotes that these were the second heroes to use these names. With the exception of the Black Canary, there is no known connection between these heroes and the originals.