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Did a fatal robbery inspire Superman?

 
 
Reply Sun 31 Aug, 2008 04:14 pm
Superman's story: Did a fatal robbery forge the Man of Steel?

Quote:
On the night of June 2, 1932, the world's first superhero was born " not on the mythical planet of Krypton but from a little-known tragedy on the streets of Cleveland.

Past accounts suggest Siegel and Shuster, both 17, awkward and unpopular in high school, invented the meek Clark Kent and his powerful alter-ego, Superman, to attract girls and rise above their humble Cleveland beginnings.

But now it appears that the origin might have been more profound " that it was the death of Jerry Siegel's father that pushed the devastated teen to come up with the idea of a "Superman" to right all wrongs.
 
edgarblythe
 
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Reply Sun 31 Aug, 2008 04:26 pm
@Robert Gentel,
That would be half of the story. The other half is Gladiator, by Phillip Wylie. It came first, and the character created by Wylie is very much the same as the original concept of Superman. There are stories to that effect from many sources on the net.
Robert Gentel
 
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Reply Sun 31 Aug, 2008 05:41 pm
@edgarblythe,
Interesting. I'll have to look it up. I suspect a lot of the superheroes borrow from each other.

In any case, the trauma induced superhero story was one I more normally associated with Batman.

http://i35.tinypic.com/mk5ue.jpg
edgarblythe
 
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Reply Sun 31 Aug, 2008 06:27 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Readers of superhero fiction will find this 1930 novel hauntingly familiar.

Philip Wylie's Gladiator is often cited as the inspiration behind Superman. The parallels are obvious: Both Hugo Danner and Clark Kent grow up in rural small-town America, possessing powers far beyond the common mortal; both are imbued, from an early age, with a profound sense of fairness and justice; and they hide their respective secrets from the world at large. The resemblance is even more obvious when you consider the original 1930s conception of Superman. Their powers are the same: great strength, skin so tough that it can withstand just about anything short of an explosive artillery shell, and the ability to jump so high and so far that it almost gives the impression of flight. And both, despite their superhuman status, espouse a political philosophy that celebrates the common human being over capitalist elites.

In Gladiator, readers will find the roots of other superheroic icons. Hugo Danner's scientific creation and upbringing by a scientist father recall Doc Savage's origins. And rarely mentioned are Gladiator's links to Spider-Man. The prototype for the famous scene in which the fledgling Spider-Man defeats a hulking wrestler to make money is found in Wylie's novel; Hugo's bout in the ring is eerily similar to Spider-Man's as seen in 1962's Amazing Fantasy #15 (a scene later filmed by Sam Raimi in 2002's Spider-Man). Even Spider-Man's famous motto""With great power comes great responsibility""is touched upon during Hugo's many ruminations about his place in the world. At one point, in this novel from the pre-superhero era, Hugo even considers using his powers as a vigilante crime fighter!

Gladiator is a brave novel that unflinchingly portrays people at their ugliest and pettiest, all the while reflecting on the better worlds that could be were it not for humanity's relentless failings.

Endymion
 
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Reply Sun 31 Aug, 2008 06:57 pm
@edgarblythe,
interesting write up
- new to me

thanks
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
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Reply Sun 31 Aug, 2008 08:17 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Hmmmm....at least as interesting is the information about the struggle to reap financial rewards and artistic recognition. Thank you.

edgarblythe
 
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Reply Sun 31 Aug, 2008 08:48 pm
@dlowan,
I've been following this stuff all my life, and this is the first time I realised those guys were denied so much.
dlowan
 
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Reply Mon 1 Sep, 2008 02:59 am
@edgarblythe,
The possible holocaust aspect is interesting, too, when you look at the back story for Superman.....though I do wonder if that was by Siegel, or embroiidered later?

Perhaps Superman is a Golem in tights!
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JGoldman10
 
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Reply Sat 2 Apr, 2011 05:57 pm
@edgarblythe,
Wasn't Gladiator written as a human character?
edgarblythe
 
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Reply Sat 2 Apr, 2011 06:10 pm
@JGoldman10,
The scientist caused his own son to have those powers.
JGoldman10
 
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Reply Sat 2 Apr, 2011 07:14 pm
@edgarblythe,
Thank you- making Superman a human character who acquired his superpowers would make a good Elseworlds story.
0 Replies
 
 

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