ACDelco Radiators & Heating Components Best Books of the Month Shop Men's Watches Cloud Drive Photos nav_sap_SWP_6M_fly_beacon $5 Albums belkin All-New Fire TV Stick with Voice Remote Beauty Videos Introducing Handmade Find the Best Purina Pro Plan for Your Pet Amazon Gift Card Offer wdftv wdftv wdftv  Amazon Echo Starting at $49.99 Kindle Voyage AutoRip in CDs & Vinyl Shop Now Kids Halloween

Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.

Buy New
  • List Price: $26.99
  • Save: $4.52 (17%)
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
Only 10 left in stock (more on the way).
Ships from and sold by
Gift-wrap available.
has been added to your Cart
Sell yours for a Gift Card
We'll buy it for $5.05
Learn More
Trade in now
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See all 2 images

Supermen!: The First Wave Of Comic Book Heroes 1936-1941 Paperback – April 20, 2009

12 customer reviews

See all formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price
New from Used from
Paperback, April 20, 2009
"Please retry"
$16.02 $9.99

"The Best American Comics 2015"
Featuring comics by Gabrielle Bell, Mat Brinkman, Jules Feiffer, Ed Piskor, and many others. See more.
$22.47 FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Only 10 left in stock (more on the way). Ships from and sold by Gift-wrap available.

Frequently Bought Together

  • Supermen!: The First Wave Of Comic Book Heroes 1936-1941
  • +
  • The Shadow Hero
Total price: $37.13
Buy the selected items together

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Superheroes have been the dominant comic-book genre ever since Superman transformed the industry in 1938. Other than a handful of hardy survivors, the hundreds of costumed crime fighters that sprang up in comics’ early era are long forgotten. Supermen! consists of vintage stories featuring a representative handful of those heroes. The earliest, some actually precursors of the Man of Steel, are Mandrake-inspired magicians (Yarko the Great), masked detectives (the Clock), space explorers (Cosmic Carson), and, occasionally, hybrids (Fero, Planet Detective). Later come cape-and-tights-clad stalwarts Skyman, Silver Streak, Daredevil, and Blue Bolt. Their primordial exploits may be crude, primitive even, but also quaintly entertaining and possessed of a brash, undeniable vitality. Often their naïveté is unintentionally hilarious, as in two stories by Fletcher Hanks, the Ed Wood of comics. But there’s also incipient artistry in the early work of Jack Kirby, Will Eisner, Basil Wolverton, and Jack Cole, who developed into leading talents. These early examples of a genre still finding its way display conventions recognizable in their superpowered successors. --Gordon Flagg


“What was once mundane had become utterly fascinating in Fantagraphics’ superb collection Supermen!” (Rob Lott - Bookgasm)

“A beautifully designed volume of early American comics... The edition is both aesthetically pleasing and sturdy, featuring clarified reprinting of the colour strips, covers, and scattered elements of advertisements and back matter.” (Michael Leader - Den of Geek)

“A fun anthology that perfectly captures the experience of stumbling across a random stack of old comics in someone’s attic.” (

Supermen! provides a concise glimpse into what the early comic books were like back when the medium was really fresh... Today’s readers will be surprised at how some of the material from a supposed more naive times really comes across rather grim and gritty... The 20 stories on view here provide an intriguing insight of where many of our modern day comic book heroes may have originated from, even if indirectly.” (Kevin Mathews - The Power of Pop)

“Pure pop culture heaven.” (Kevin Church -

“Excitingly surreal…our appreciation for the bizarre otherness of these characters in retrospect suggests that our contemporary icons might well appear no less ‘totally opaque and infinitely awkward’ to future readers.” (The Village Voice)

Supermen!, this anthology lovingly assembled by Greg Sadowski, makes the case that these earliest endeavors by the future creators of masterworks like The Spirit, Captain America, and Plastic Man were more than crude throat-clearings―they were unfiltered manifestations ?of psyche, lousy with erotic charge and questionable politics. [Grade:] A–.” (Entertainment Weekly)

“The biggest surprise might be how good these stories are, even if they failed to take off in the way that, say, Superman did... [T]he Notes section at the end, written by editor Greg Sadowski, truly fantastic... His studious efforts are worth the price of the book alone... These stories deserved another look and more attention. Sadowski has done an admirable job of making Supermen! The First Wave of Comic Book Heroes 1936–1941 not only reverent, but exciting and fun as well.” (John Hogan - Graphic Novel Reporter)

Supermen! is a rambunctious anthology of the earliest superhero stories―gaudy, crude, infernally potent things, cranked out by young cartoonists.” (Douglas Wolk - The New York Times Book Review)

“I’ve always gotten a kick out of early comics. They’re anti-art in action. Irrational, crude and daffily violent. Kinda like early punk rock.” (M. Ace - Irregular Orbit)

Supermen! excited me... for suggesting a burning, manic soul of superhero comics... It felt like the start of a future, and the comedown only hit when I realized I enjoyed it more than any new superhero comic of 2009.” (Joe McCulloch - Jog: The Blog)

“Featuring an eclectic assortment of rare, long-out-of-print American superhero short stories... an all-star cast of early work from luminaries including Siegel and Shuster, Simon & Kirby, Fine & Eisner, Wolverton, Cole, Hanks, etc. The reproduction of each story is top notch, with bright, vivid colors, slightly oversized pages and thick paperstock.” (Marc Sobel, - Comic Book Galaxy)

“[A]n amazing collection of Golden Age comics and heroes, beautifully restored.” (Carol Borden - The Cultural Gutter)

“I can’t think of a better single volume of what the period style of fast looked like in practice than last year’s Supermen! anthology. Yes, there’s an added winnowing by genre but that just sharpens the sense of the reductive visual and narrative requirements that were standard for the hot new gravy train that hit the business.” (Rich Kreiner - The Comics Journal)

“A marvel... a non-stop visual delight as much for the art as for the colors as for the audacious (sometimes by default) layouts… [T]he early days of comic books were like the underground: Everything was possible, especially the impossible. You absolutely must buy this book.” (Jean-Pierre Dionnet, co-founder, Les Humanoïdes Associes)

See all Editorial Reviews

Best Books of the Month
Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Fantagraphics; Original edition (April 20, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1560979712
  • ISBN-13: 978-1560979715
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 0.8 x 10.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #811,772 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Babytoxie on April 9, 2009
I have looked forward to the release of SUPERMEN! THE FIRST WAVE OF COMIC BOOK HEROES 1936 - 1941 solely due to the horrible experience I had reading Jim Krueger and Alex Ross' PROJECT SUPERPOWERS. The promo material for PS looked great and really got me interested in its modern take on a selection of public-domain Golden Age heroes, but the result was a catastrophe. When I learned that SUPERMEN! contained classic appearances from some of those very same characters, I decided that it was time to wash out my mouth with a sample of their original adventures.

SUPERMEN! is a selection of covers, ads, and stories featuring forgotten characters such as Dr. Mystic, the Clock, the Face, the Flame, Skyman, Blue Bolt, the Comet, and many more. Creators include a who's who of comic history: Jack Cole, Will Eisner, Bill Everett, Gardner Fox, Jack Kirby, Ogden Whitney, & Basil Wolverton, just to name a few. These stories are from the earliest days of the comic industry, and many of them, even though written by acknowledged founding fathers, are pretty laughable in terms of plot; however, the art, whether realistic or cartoonish, shows an inspired creativity that would shape the medium for decades. In any case, this book achieves exactly what it sets out to do: to give forgotten work from the Golden Age of comics its due. Jonathan Lethem provides an excellent introduction that really hits home, making me feel like we are long-lost brothers. In fact, it's one of the few truly worthwhile intros I've ever read in a comic collection. The end notes by editor Greg Sadowski wrap the book up nicely, providing interesting tidbits on the creators, stories, and characters.
Read more ›
2 Comments Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By L. Johnson on August 17, 2009
Verified Purchase
I love this book! I read it through cover-to-cover twice during the first week I owned it. "Supermen! The First Wave of Comic Book Hereos 1836-1941" is a great collection, and in a way is kind of nostalgic for me.
That may sound kind of funny considering I am from the baby boomer generation (I'm 55). That means I was a kid during the Marvel Age of Comics. In the late 60s their title Fantasy Masterpieces ran Golden Age stories of Captain America, Human Torch, Submariner and others. These tales, 25 years old at the time, were so foreign from the 60s comics that I was immediately taken with them. The art on Captain America just flowed, liquid-like from panel to panel - sheer action. It was fascinating to see where Jack Kirby came from in his early days, and Bill Everett's Submariner had such an elegant style to it. And being an aspiring comic book artist myself I remember looking at Carl Burgos' primitive efforts on The Human Torch and thinking, "I could do better than that!"
At around that time I got introduced to comics fandom, subscribing to "fanzines" with articles about the Golden Age of Comics written by readers who happened to be kids at the time. And even the self-published comics of the day had a "gutsy" quality to them, akin to the Golden Age. Anyone remember Biljo White's "The Eye"?
It was just a few years later when DC experimented with a 48-page format filling the extra pages with more Golden Age material, and then their 100 page spectaculars. These efforts were quite exciting to behold, but the Comics Code Authority at the time wouldn't allow the more gruesome and off-the-wall type of comics popular in those early days.
Not so in "Supermen!
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Kid Kyoto VINE VOICE on July 5, 2009
Verified Purchase
Greg Sadowski deserves high honors for putting this book together. While most comic fans know that Superman, Batman and Captain America date to late 30s and early 40s few have seen the environment where these enduring icons emerged.

Sadowski starts with a 1936 strip by Superman creators Siegel and Shuster featuring a character in a precussor to Superman's costume.

He continues with over 20 Golden Age stories including space heroes, masked crime-fighters, and the surreal works of Fletcher Hanks. Commentary by Sadowski puts each story in context and explains the significance.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Considering how much tribute the current comics industry pays to the Golden Age of its past, it's amazing how much is overlooked and how often we forget the real glut of comics being produced at the time. Redressing the issue somewhat is Supermen! The First Wave of Comic Book Superheroes 1936-1941, which compiles some of the lesser-known lights of the time. The biggest surprise might be how good these stories are, even if they failed to take off in the way that, say, Superman did.

Speaking of Superman, his creators, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, kick off this collection with a story about their mysterious "occult detective" Dr. Mystic. The rest of the stories run the gamut from fun to frivolous and include some of the biggest luminaries comics has to offer: Will Eisner, Gardner Fox, Jack Kirby, Jack Cole, Basil Wolverton, and a host of others, some of whom never attained the recognition they deserved. The styles incorporate the building blocks of comic art today, and the stories represent the superheroes, aliens and monsters, and mystic forces that drove the marketplace.

Bestselling author Jonathan Lethem provides a foreword to the book, properly cataloguing the scope and impact these stories had. Putting the works into context is helpful, but it's the Notes section at the end, written by editor Greg Sadowski, that is truly fantastic. He documents each story included in this collection and provides the history, background, and explanations needed to understand the stories in the proper context. His studious efforts are worth the price of the book alone.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Most Recent Customer Reviews

Set up an Amazon Giveaway

Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers. Learn more
Supermen!: The First Wave Of Comic Book Heroes 1936-1941
This item: Supermen!: The First Wave Of Comic Book Heroes 1936-1941
Price: $22.47
Ships from and sold by

Want to discover more products? Check out these pages to see more: comic books ww.2, joe simon jack kirby dreams