From Roy Thomas, co-founder of the superhero comics fanzine Alter Ego and former Editor-in-Chief at Marvel Comics, comes three new books that tell the stories of DC Comics’ most iconic characters and their involvement in World War II: Batman: The War Years 1939-1945, Superman: The War Years 1938-1945, and Wonder Woman: The War Years 1941-1945. Whether it’s foiling Nazi and Japanese spies, smashing tanks on the front lines, or fighting nuclear foes, the Man of Steel, America’s Guardian Angel, and the Dark Knight battle tirelessly for truth, justice, and the American way. Each book in this collection contains over 20 classic full length stories from the DC vault.
These books offer an enlightening, if somewhat shocking, view of the period from the late 1930s to the mid 1940s that might do well with a small disclaimer. If you’re buying them for your children, you should probably be aware that Batman has no problems letting criminals fall into vats of acid or tossing out the occasional German or Japanese ethnic slur. Also, while Wonder Woman was a bastion of feminism in the late 1930s, some of the comments from the men she encounters are pretty cringe-worthy.
That said, from the standpoint of both comic and American history, I found it fascinating to read the origin stories of such well-known characters and to see how they evolved over the years as the war raged on. At first, both Wonder Woman and Superman’s skills were much less impressive than they would eventually become. Wonder Woman was only as strong as 40 regular men, and Superman could not only not fly, but could only jump about 600 ft. high. As for Batman, you might be surprised to know that Michael Keaton and Christian Bale’s violent portrayals of the Dark Knight were much closer to the original comic than that of Adam West, with the bad guy often falling or crashing to his death due to the actions of “The Bat-Man*.”
*It also took them a while to standardize on a name for the caped crusader, often switching among Batman, BatMan, Bat-Man, and my personal favorite, “The Bat-Man.”
You can enter below for your chance to win all three books in this series.
The giveaway is over. Congratulations to Paul Krueger!
I received copies of these books for review purposes. All opinions are my own.