bona fide comic book hero is still the most popular: Superman. When Action Comics introduced him in 1938, in a story written by Jerry Siegel and drawn by Joe Schuster, they established the basic pattern of the comic book: a hero with super powers, usually disguised as an ordinary man, who fights an assortment of bizarre and evil villains for "Truth, Justice, and the American Way." Superman was quickly followed by Batman, Captain America, and Captain Marvel as syndicates vied for a space in this growing market.
The exaggerated muscles of the hero, the skimpy clothing of the women, the dramatic foreshortening bringing the action toward the reader, the speech balloons and the depiction of sounds--"Zap!" "Paka-Thanng!" "Wok!"--all set a style that had tremendous appeal to teen boys, who became the prime audience for comic books. Though they seemed simpleminded and excessively violent to many adults, the stories in comic books resembled the great myths and legends of Western culture, and their crowded pages and constant interplay of text and pictures required more than childish intelligence to read. They filled a need for affordable, exciting reading and for fantasies of power at a time when most middle-class teen boys had little of either; probably the disapproval of adults increased their appeal. They were in the vanguard of the separate teen culture that was beginning to emerge.
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