When superheroes debuted in comic books of the Golden Age, they had never been more needed. The landscape of 1900-1940 American comic books had been racked by one World War, a flu pandemic, the Great Depression and the beginning of another World War. In the late 30's, Superman fought corrupt businessman, while Batman carried a gun, and Captain America urged readers to buy war bonds. Though these heroes would experience a decline after World War II due to the loss of the G.I. readership and social scapegoating in the 1950's, classic comic books and superheroes comic books along with them would return undaunted in the 1960's.
The 1960's started with the birth of counter-culture and put the boom in Baby Boomers. Reflecting these social changes, superheroes comic books were certainly more rebellious. In the Spider-Man comics, Peter Parker uses his powers for money – until his actions cost the life of his uncle. Scientific breakthroughs succeeding from atomic age and the Space Race also influenced comic books. The Green Lantern superhero no longer found a magic ring, but instead was inducted into cosmic police by a dying alien. This age of sympathetic heroes with jets-streamed origins and costumes was the Silver Age.
By the 1970's, counter-culture had given way to social revolution. Resistance to the Vietnam War was intensifying, and so was the Watergate scandal. More cynical superheroes comic books were called for. In DC Comics, Green Arrow teamed up with the Green Lantern superhero to tackle social issues. In the Wolverine comics, the man known only as Logan was a victim of government experimentation. And as the Comics Code Authority fell apart, monsters roared back with a vengeance, and none more vengeful than the comic book Ghost Rider – a stunt rider turned into a blazing skeleton whenever innocent blood was spilled.
This trend continued well into the 80's, 90's and present day. Graphic comic books were not uncommon, even as superheroes comic books began aimed at teenage audiences and older. In particular, teenagers of the 90's were drawn in by cartoon series like Batman: The Animated Series, X-Men and Iron Man leading a revival in interest as such properties were adapted into movies recently. Reinforced by nonstop Hollywood hits, interest in comic book superheroes continues to soar as it did in the Golden Age of comics.
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