Column: The Art of War – Superman Reports for Duty in World War II

The impact of Superman Comics during WW II dealt mainly with the covers of the comics. Most of the actual stories did not deal with Superman fighting the Axis Powers. The covers were drawn to get the immediate attention of the buyer.

Who wouldn’t buy a comic book of Superman battling Hitler? The covers served the war effort as a sign of complete support for the American military. The actual Superman Comics of the war years, dealt with confrontations with Lex Luthor and other fictional villains, not battles with enemy soldiers.

The covers were strong images to show the nation’s complete support of the war. During WW II, Superman fought against petty dictators and terrorists. Our soldiers on the front lines loved to read Superman comics of him fighting at home, protecting our citizens.

In one issue, Superman actually helps to train the troops. Superman even calls them the “Real Super Soldiers.” In 1944, a Superman story featured him fighting  Lex Luthor over a crazy thing called an “Atomic Bomb”.

That story was never published until the actual atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. On February 27, 1940, an edition of Look Magazine featured an article by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, the creators of Superman. It was called, “What If Superman Ended the War”?

In that magazine, Superman tires of the war and captures Hitler and of all people, Joseph Stalin. This was years before Russia became our ally in the war. He takes them to Geneva for a war crimes trial. This showed that even as early as the 1940’s, American sentiment toward Russia was not very good.

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