Unmarked store poster featuring Superman. This poster was used by various bakeries to sell licensed Superman bread and invite membership in the “Superman Junior Defense League,” a World War 2 era promotional program. Children were offered membership in the League by collecting cards found in bread packages, as well as getting confirmation that they had gotten adults to try the product.
The character of Superman first flew into action in 1938. The costumed superhero was created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, two Jewish teenagers from Cleveland Ohio, who used, among other things, Classical mythology, philosopher Fredrich Nietzche’s concept of the “uber mensch,” and the era’s popular science fiction and adventure writing, for inspiration.
With his debut in Action Comics #1, Superman became an instant sensation with audiences, inspired by the “Man of Tomorrow’s” virtue and heroics at time when the Nation was slowly emerging from the economic catastrophe of the Great Depression and moving closer to World War.
Born on the doomed planet Krypton, Superman was sent to Earth as a child, where our world’s yellow sun granted him extraordinary powers such as flight, super-strength, near-invulnerability, as well as other extraordinary abilities including heat and X-Ray vision. As an adult living in the city of Metropolis, the alien, born Kal-El, protects his identity by assuming the persona of Clark Kent, a “mild-mannered” journalist.
Fighting for “Truth and Justice,” Superman birthed a cultural fascination with superheroes, and has become one of the most recognizable and influential fictional characters in history. In addition to comic books, the character has been explored in all forms of media, including radio, television, and film, and has been used to promote a variety of successful consumer products, educational initiatives and public service campaigns.
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