Nowadays, most forms of superheroes are just recycled concepts trying to out-gimmick each other. Save the earth, save the damsel in distress, fend off aliens, and secret identities are just some examples of the tired and worn-out concepts plaguing modern comics. All they serve to do is give a couple of quirks that simply add a streak of silver to the same old core-concept found in almost every story out there.
Yet how come these classic formulas from the comic golden age still appeal to today’s readers?
Comic books that were introduced in the later 1930’s was the new format that appealed to both the young and young at heart, rather than the blocks of text that came before the advent of such comic books. Superman, Spiderman, Batman and any other superhero you could name, first appeared during the comic golden age, and they came with a fresh new concept: heroes who would battle against the various forces of evil to save the day! Being able to see and read these wonderful, colored paragons of justice was a “wow” factor for the people of the time. Of course, you have a spattering of politics and technology, like how World War II put Adolf Hitler and the Japanese against the superheroes while the threat of atomic war added a little ‘nuclear’ spice into the stories.
When you look back at the heroes of the comic golden age, they symbolize the hopes and dreams of the common person, as well as the innate desire for good within each person enamored by these heroes. It’s a fantasy that a mere mortal could never reach but be enthralled to witness: being able to witness and understand the situations in such a rich format allows readers to ‘experience’ the challenges that each hero must face in their adventures. This experience of being taken away from the mundane matters of life was a fresh breath of air for people, and this was a welcome diversion from the everyday proceedings of life.
Heroes reminiscent of the comic golden age are, surprisingly, still alive and kicking in today’s markets. More than half a decade later, you see these comic book legends reintroduced in new comic-book formats, banded together in cartoons, reborn into block-buster movies and even fully-controllable video game characters.
It basically boils down to repackaging the concept of superheroes to fit into the current technological trends of our time. The concept of super-powered beings that fight for the cause of good has transcended from ink on paper to the silver screen, wide screen and the PC screen. As long as these stories continue to keep pace with the way we work and live, they’ll always find themselves a place in society.
The comic golden age still has appealing lessons and stories to offer to us, no matter how much time passes. As long as we continue to be human beings, aspiring for something good in life, these long-time superheroes that have been with us for more than half a century will always have a place in our hearts.