Are you aware that Superman once pitted himself against the infamous KKK, or Popeye helped pulling America out of the clutches of the Great Depression? The article lists few amazing tales of comic book heroes who made an impact in the real world.
Superman vs KKK
The era was the 40’s when the Adventures Of Superman became a sensation on the radio. Kids thronged their radio sets , listening with bated breath to the antics of the Man Of Steel as he leapt of the comic book pages and over airwave. Although he has been busy fighting crime in print since 1938, it was the weekly radio episodes that farther fleshed out various storylines and propelled Superman’s popularity. It was in this medium that Superman first came across the dangerous Kryptonite, met the Daily Planet scribe Jimmy Olsen and soon became the ultimate embodiment of truth, justice and the quintessential American Way. So it is not surprising that when a charismatic young activist Stetson Kennedy decided to bare the malevolent secrets Of KLu Klux Klan, he looked up to the Man Of Steel for inspiration and courage.
Post the Second World War, in the latter half of the 40’s,KKK enjoyed a tremendous surge in its popularity. Its ranks swelled in numbers and its political clout grew significantly. There was widespread lynching and staking of African Americans and other minority groups, yet this shadowy organization remained largely unscathed and shrouded in mystery. So Kennedy an young journalist, decided to go undercover and infiltrate the group. He religiously attended their meetings, their macabre ceremonies and in the process was able to gather substantial incriminating evidence. When he approached the local authorities with his damning findings, the local law enforcement agencies, intimidated by the Klan members, hesitated in building any sort of case against them. Struggling to find any meaningful use of his findings, a desperate Kennedy turned to the writers of the Superman radio serial as the last recourse-and the writers seeing tremendous potential in his report, wasted no time in lapping it up. With the Nazis being largely rendered insignificant, it was time to find another formidable adversary for Superman and the KKK, with its mystique, perfectly fitted the bill. Thus “The Clan Of The Fiery Cross” a 16 episode series was born where the Man of Steel went head to head with the men in white hoods. Each episode revealed several, most well- guarded secrets of the KKK , from code words to rituals and managed to strip away the allure and expose their true henous colors. The impact was immediate. Within a fortnight the group’s numbers plummeted significantly, new enrollments were down to zero and in no time the group lost its entire identity and became irrelevant
Popeye Saves America From Great Depression.
Spinach, the food that was rendered iconic by this extremely popular comic book character, went a long way in lifting America out of a financial quagmire. However, very few of us are actually aware of the government’s role in making Popeye so overly dependent on spinach.
In 1930s when the entire nation was in the throes of a debilitating depression, the government was busy finding ways to prop up iron rich spinach as a meat substitute. After a lot of brainstorming they decided to hire a celebrity – Popeye the Sailor Man. It turned out to be a masterstroke. Till then the actual cause Popeye’s sudden superhuman, opponent pummeling strength was never fully explained. However, in light of the Government’s campaign, the writers were suddenly more than willing to share the secret to his strength.
Predictably, soon after Popeye started endorsing, the sales of the mighty veggie skyrocketed so much so that the Americans rated it as their third favorite food item after turkey and ice cream. The Government’s ingenious plan of selling the merits of canned food as a nutritious option and an easy way to stock up on emergency rations, proved to be a success.
A Spiderman Villain that kept People out Of Jail –
The tracking device that the iconic Spiderman villain Kingpin used to track down the web crawler in 1977 edition of Spiderman, proved to be major source of inspiration to a judge in New Mexico. The electronic transmitter that the villain had fastened to the heroes’ wrist to trace him, gave birth to the novel idea of tracking people awaiting prosecution. Enamored with this concept Judge Jack Love sought help from a computer salesman to create a similar device to keep tabs on crime suspects awaiting trial. Soon after the first batch of electronic devices were produced, which were first tested on five offenders in Albuquerque, to gauge whether this entire process can replace incarceration. Today, the transmitters are a common sight in courtrooms across the country, usually in the form of electronic ankle bracelets. Most famously Martha Stewart donned one while she was under house arrest in 2004. Perhaps she would have felt better knowing that the gadget had once nabbed Spider-Man, too.