“I’m II, between the two nations because of both

“I’m not saying you can’t be anything you want to be but the whole superhero thing is much more than just wearing a cape and getting famous” (Seven Soldiers Zatanna, volume 1). Superheroes are often associated with children or children’s liturature, but they are much more than just fictitious stories about fantasy heros. The Justice League is an important team of heros in the DC comics universe, however, they are more than just a fictitious group of heros fighting crime, they are a representation of American society throughout the late 1900s. The stories of Captain America work similarly as a representation of American society in the Marvel Comics universe. Steve Rogers, Captain America, was first introduced to the Marvel universe in March of 1941, and the Justice League first appeared in March of 1960 in the comic The Brave and the Bold #28. The Justice League were the perfect team for the their time, and they represent many american symbols, such as unity, diversity, civil rights, and a need to explore and understand science. Captain America worked similarly representing similar American symbols, such as hope, bravery, and compassion. They represent the people. They tend to appear in times of distress. Throughout American history comic book superheroes, such as the Justice League and Captain America, reflect the needs of American society in times of struggle and predict the direction of American society.     The Justice League was a team comprised of some of DC Comics best heroes, Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, The Flash, Green Lantern, and Martian Manhunter. This union of heros worked as a symbol of unity for American citizens, especially in times of distress. The Justice League arose in the middle of the Cold War between Russia and the United States of America. The Cold War was a time of tension, following World War II, between the two nations because of both countries possession of life altering nuclear weapons. In such a tense time the American people needed something to provide hope, and to simplify the complicated issues of the time. This is where the Justice League came in. America felt isolated and the people were afraid. Although this was not a war that could be won on the battlefield it was still a war nonetheless, and one with disastrous consequences should something have gone wrong. The Justice League represented unity in a time of fear and discord (strife). In 1949 the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO, was formed to strengthen the alliance between certain North American and European countries. They, “…could have been a superheroic representation of the United Nations or NATO,” expressing the ability to come together to fight against a common enemy or to protect one another from a threat (Darowski 8). This sense of unity was exactly what the American people needed and the was shown not only through historic changes, but through these comics. In addition, during this battle that occured off of the battlefield, the Justice League worked to simplify the forces of good and evil. The Cold War consisted of a democratic force against a communist force, but there was no physical battle. Although many Americans believed that a democratic government is the best form of government, and a communist government is inferior, that is not the case with everyone. There are many layers to each type of government, and it was not a clear battle between good and evil. However, in the comics there are heroes and villains, and the Justice League was a team of heroes. They represented the good in the world, and their unity correlated with NATO thus implying that the United States were on the “good” side of the war, also suggesting that Russia was “evil” like the villians in the comic books.     As time progressed, the Cold War was not the only battle that the Justice League helped America face. From 1957 to 1975 Cold War rivals, the Soviet Union and the United States competed to get the first man in space and on the moon. With these new possibilities being opened new fears and curiosities rose amongst the American people. New concerns and excitement about space, and what could be found when America accomplished this aspiration; the Justice League comics reflected this. J’onn J’onzz, or better known as Martian Manhunter, is a DC superhero, and original Justice League member, from the planet Mars. He is brought to Earth because of a scientific experiment by Dr. Saul Erdel, and is stranded here for over a decade. Martian Manhunter first appears in the DC Comics universe in 1955 in the story “The Manhunter from Mars”,  this is two years before the beginning of the Space Race. In 1960 however, when Brave and the Bold #28 was released the first villain that the Justice League had to face was Starro, an alien starfish with plans to conquer Earth. Although the space race began when the United States declared that they would be launching satellites into space, the idea of space exploration was already an exciting and controversial topic, and the Justice League reflected that with the use of Martian Manhunter and Starro. With space exploration right around the corner the American people imagined what they might find, alien life being a major topic of conversation. Martian Manhunter expressed the stereotypical idea of what alien life would be like, green, human-like, and intelligent. He represented what the American people wanted to find. They wanted to meet alien life not unlike themselves, but most importantly: non threatening. However, Starro reflected the opposing view. Starro was what the American people were afraid they would find. According to the NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, currently 95 percent of Earth’s oceans remain largely unexplored. The use of the starfish as inspiration for Starro expresses how Starro represents the unknown, because Earth’s oceans were just as mysterious as space.     the mid twentieth century era reflected a time of great social upheaval. The fight for improved civil rights for African Americans and the continued fight for equality for women gained momentum during the second half of the twentieth century. The Justice League emerged half way through the African American civil rights movement. The Justice League consisted of “a Martian, a Kryptonian, an Amazon, and an Atlantean” illustrating the idea of diversity and inclusion being a strength rather than a weakness. Although it is not explicitly stated or shown that they represent diversity it is implied through extreme ethnic differences, for example two of the members are very literally aliens. They implicitly symbolize the idea that people are stronger when they stand together and do not let differences such as race stop them from defending the world. In addition, woman’s fight for equality was still a large part of society, especially since winning the fight for suffrage in 1920. Wonder Woman played an integral role in the Justice League, but also in representing women in the world of superheroes. Princess Diana of Themyscira, Daughter of Hippolyta, or Wonder Woman, is one of the original, and most important, members of the Justice League. Her character was first created in 1941 at the beginning of World War II, where she acted as a strong woman who fought valiantly against the axis powers. Her role in the Justice League, during a time of turmoil, represented woman’s ability to be just as strong and heroic as their male counterparts. She was a huge departure from the past representation of women in comics who typically needed to be rescued rather than taking on the role of the hero. Additionally, most male heros utilize weapons, such as swords or guns, which symbolize strength. However, Diana uses her tiara as a projectile and her indestructible bracelets for protection in battle. In contrast, she embraces her femininity by turning typical female symbols like bracelets and tiaras into weapons that symbolize strength and power.    Before the Justice League was formed by DC Comics, Marvel Comics had Steve Rogers, or better known as Captain America, to support the American people in times of distress. The first Captain America comic book was released in March 1941, approximately a year and a half after the beginning of World War II, and 2 years before the United States entered World War II. The story is about a young boy from Brooklyn, New York with big dreams to fight for America, however, he was constantly being denied the opportunity. Until, Dr. Abraham Erskine chooses him for his super soldier project. The once weak and feeble Steve Rogers is turned into the powerful Captain America who is sent into battle to defend his country. Captain America was the most appropriate hero for his time; he was inspired by the chaos from the war. Captain America was written because America was losing hope, especially after the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1942, and his character worked to instill a sense of confidence and faith in the American people during a time of immense distress. He was a hyperbolic version of America’s dream solution to the war, the perfect soldier. He “is loyal to timeless principles of freedom, equality and justice,” and represents the core values of compassion and bravery used to inspire Americans (qtd. In Gray 3). Furthermore, he was used as a form of propaganda to motivate Americans to fight. Steve Rogers was the perfect underdog story, a frail boy from Brooklyn whose only dream was to defend his nation, and despite all the odds against him he manages to achieve his aspiration, “he symbolized the American Dream” (qtd. in Aiken 5).  This story aided his ability to inspire others to join the military and the fight against the Nazi Party.     Captain America was not only written to inspire people during World War II, but still continues to inspire people today. In 2003 a new series of Captain America comics called Truth: Red, White, and Black was released featuring a new Captain America, Isaiah Bradley. Isaiah Bradley was an African-American male from World War II who was chosen for a supersoldier program run by a group of Nazi scientists in the efforts to recreate the serum used on Steve Rogers. Out of all of the men chosen Bradley was the only one to survive, and he was affected similarly by the serum to Steve Rogers, enabling him to turn away from the Nazi scientists and fight like Captain America for freedom from Nazi reign. Although in 2003 there were no major civil rights movements occuring, such as the African-American civil rights movement that lasted from 1954 to 1968, racism was, and is still, a very relevant and controversial issue. Bradley’s version of the Captain America story is extremely important in todays society. According to Bussiness Insider, in the year 2000 minorities made up about 35 percent of the Department of Defense, and today they still make up about 30 percent. This new representation of Captain America reflects the new demographics of the United States military. Minorities make up a large portion of the military and need to be represented appropriately. Bradley is an important figure amonst the African-American community because he provides them the representation that the they have lacked for so long, especially through an individual that has been associated with traits such as strength, bravery, and freedom since World War II. He is a necessary advancement in comic books that aligns with the times.      Comic books have always been an important part of American literature. They are often used as a type of coping mechanism or outlet for people during times of crisis, and represent what society needs. The Justice League and Captain America, although were entirely fictional, they alluded to a plethora of legitimate, real world problems. The Justice League helped to simplify and express the issues behind the Cold War and the simultaneous space race between the United States and Russia, as well as represent diversity and equal rights among Americans during a time of controversy. Captain America acted as the perfect archetypal hero continually providing hope to a distressed country. In the end, a true superhero is more than just its appearance.