The origin of the superhero dates as far back as the 1800s, with the advent of pulp fiction penny dreadfuls and Victorian-era folklore character Spring-heeled Jack. But it wasn't until the 1930s that the big boom of superhero popularity took off. That was a special time for the superhero genre, marking the debut of #Superman and #Batman. But what if I told you there was a superhero that debuted even before Superman? That's right, his name is...
Created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, the same men who gave us Superman, Doctor Occult debuted in 1935s New Fun Comics, Issue 6. Doctor Occult was not only one of the first superheroes, but the first published by #DC Comics. He's a private investigator who is a practitioner of magic (similar to #DoctorStrange, but not to the same extent), and has the power to astral project. He's also possessed of the power of hypnosis, illusion casting and telekinesis.
Even though he's not the most well-known of superheroes, Doctor Occult is still deserving of major credit. Seeing as he was created by the same guys that brought you the Man of Steel, it's safe to assume that without Doctor Occult, we may not have had Superman and therefore no Batman or DC Comics as we know it today.
Take a look at some of the original DC superheroes that debuted soon after Doctor Occult.
Ever since he was introduced in Action Comics, Issue 1 in 1938, Superman, the hero of heroes, has become a cultural icon. Not only does he represent justice, strength, and moral integrity, he symbolizes what we as people strive to be.
The Man of Steel has also been a template for thousands of superheroes to emulate. Just like Doctor Occult, without Superman there would be no #Batman, #WonderWoman, Justice League, or even the Fantastic Four, leading into what we know as the modern-day Marvel Comics.
Making his first appearance in the same issue as Superman, Giovanni "John" Zatara is a magician who uses real magic. Many fans of DC may know more about his daughter #Zatanna, who was a member of Justice League Dark.
Zatara has direct ties to the Wayne family, having become close friends with Thomas Wayne. Following the deaths of Thomas and his wife Martha Wayne, Zatara fled #Gotham, blaming himself for their murders.
3. Crimson Avenger
As Lee Walter Travis, the Crimson Avenger made his first appearance in 1938's Detective Comics, Issue 20. The Crimson Avenger is similar to the #GreenHornet and is noted as the first superhero to wear a mask.
While not having any powers in his first iteration, the Crimson Avenger uses his wits, fists, gadgets and stealth to fight crime. He later teamed up with Justice League Unlimited and All-Star Squadron.
Making his debut in Detective Comics Issue 27 in 1939, Batman has become one of the most iconic and influential comic book characters ever created. The Dark Knight is so well-known, even non-comic fans know who he is and how he became the Batman.
The Caped Crusader is a hero we could all become. He's just a normal human being who gained the knowledge and training to do what he does through hard work and dedication. Batman is a unique character who represents many things: justice, integrity, incorruptibility, practicality and sacrifice.
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5. The Sandman
Not to be confused with #Spiderman's enemy of the same name, this is a much different character. His origins remain dubious, with many believing he debuted in Adventure Comics, Issue 40, while others believe he appeared in World's Fair Comics, Issue 40.
Being one of the many underrated characters out there, the #Sandman is known as a co-founder of the Justice Society of America. Just like Batman, he's also a skilled detective who specializes in hand-to-hand combat and uses his gas gun to put criminals to sleep.
6. The Flash
While many people know Barry Allen as the first Scarlet Speedster, it was actually Jay Garrick. Making his first appearance in Flash Comics, Issue 1 in 1940, the Flash has become a popular and larger-than-life staple in the superhero genre and what we know as DC Comics today.
Love the Flash? Then check out the below clip of The CW crossover final battle with the Scarlet Speedster, Arrow, Supergirl and the Legends.
So far, there have been four speedsters: Jay Garrick, Barry Allen, Wally West and Bart Allen. After Barry Allen's Flash debut and later encounter with Jay Garrick's Flash, the idea of the #multiverse was solidified, making it a crucial storytelling technique that's still used today in the Flash comics.