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AC Comics Heroes

Along with Pacific, First, and Eclipse Comics, AC Comics was a pioneer of the independent direct market for color comics in the early 1980s, distributing comics directly to a new network of specialty shops. While the other three companies are long gone and many indie publishers are now known for steering clear of superheroes, preferring not to compete with industry giants Marvel and DC Comics’ specialty, AC Comics publisher Bill Black built his company on costumed characters and it prospers to this day. Having already created an interwoven universe of supertypes in his black-and-white Paragon Publications line of the 1970s, Black began bringing them to comic-shop shelves in full color, starting with the very first official AC Comics publication (or “Americomics” as the company was called until 1984), Fun Comics #4.

African-American Heroes

In 1990, DC Comics editorial director Dick Giordano was asked by one of his young staff editors why virtually all of the DC superheroes were white: "Because they were created in the 1940s by Jews and Italians who wrote and drew what they knew," he replied.

From Invisibility to Comic Relief

Superhero comic books have mirrored societal trends since their inception, and when the medium originated in the late 1930s, African Americans cast no reflection: Segregation made blacks invisible to most whites.

Alternative Futures

Hailing from the hinterlands of science fiction, the superhero genre has a history of asking speculative questions about the future. During the 1960s, a time when the promise of the burgeoning space age contrasted sharply with cold war nuclear fears, DC Comics pioneered the exploration of possible futures. Some of these imaginary stories—an awkward term that DC used to describe stories set outside of canonical continuity—offer tantalizing glimpses into worlds that might, or might not, one day come to pass.

America's Best Comics Heroes

America's Best Comics Heroes. The Many Worlds of Tesla Strong

The Many Worlds of Tesla Strong #1 © 2003 America’s Best Comics/DC Comics. COVER ART BY BRUCE TIMM.

Anime and Manga

For American fans, the year 1963 marks an important date in the history of anime (Japanese animation) and manga (Japanese comics). It was in that year that Astro Boy—the English-language version of the anime Tetsuwan Atom—first premiered on American television. In the forty-plus years since Astro's arrival, anime and manga have grown from an underground murmur to a major cultural phenomenon. Even though both are still regarded as a niche market, it is an indisputable fact that they are here to stay.


A fitting ending for his kind, the hero remarked without compunction, as the adversary he just assaulted flailed toward a grisly demise into a vat of acid. This was, surprisingly, the Batman, at the conclusion of his first story—The Case of the Chemical Syndicate—in Detective Comics #27 (May 1939). Granted, his foe, a murderous rat named Stryker, certainly deserved a comeuppance, but Batman's action was shockingly excessive. By conventional standards, heroes do not kill.

Aquatic Heroes

Action Girl Cover Image

Thrill-O-Rama #2 © 1966 Harvey Comics. COVER ART BY GEORGE TUSKA AND JOE SIMON.

Archie Heroes

Archie Comics is best known for the superheroic feat of continuing to thrive while the rest of the comics industry slumps, outpacing other companies by still selling millions annually and appearing at point-of-sale in supermarkets throughout the United States while most of its competition is consigned to the specialty comic shop. But the imprint that has prospered from tales of the ageless all-American teen and his madcap pals has at times also fearlessly pursued the caped crime fighter market, heeding the call of the genre's cyclical booms.

Astro City

Action Girl Cover Image

Astro City #1 © 1995 Juke Box Productions. COVER ART BY ALEX ROSS.

Atomic Heroes

Action Girl Cover Image