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The oldest super hero is?

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by abradley, May 21, 2019.

  1. abradley

    abradley Deity

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    Even older then me.

    When I was a wee lad I'd listen to the Shadow on the radio, his intro was enough to hook me for the next half hour.

    A reminder, the Shadow didn't start his career as a mystic, clouding peoples minds. He first appeared as a guy who used shadows for cover and magican's tricks as needed.






     
  2. Naskra

    Naskra King

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    Gilgamesh?
     
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  3. GoodSarmatian

    GoodSarmatian Blackpilled Idealist

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    Was about to write the same thing. At least the oldest that we still know of.
     
  4. Takhisis

    Takhisis is it fall yet

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    Dangit, I thought of Gilgamesh too when I read the thread title.

    I've never been able to take the Shadow seriously after reading MAD magazine's version.
     
  5. Kyriakos

    Kyriakos Alien spiral maker

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    Superhero isn't the same as hero. Let alone that "hero" is used in a number of ways; it can mean protagonist, itself connoting glory, it can also mean very powerful figure, and doesn't have to be a paragon of all virtues.*
    Afaik "superhero" is an american pop-culture term and refers to comic book protagonists and anything which ties (in whatever way, including small degree of likeness) to them; furthermore in that context it has the connotation that the character is a role-model or at least not closer to villain than to role model (?)

    *One can also, if they want to, examine the term etymologically. Obviously comes from the greek "heros/heroas" (ήρως/ἥρως etc) which seems to be tied linguistically to the major deity Hera, and perhaps also to the term for hour. Hera was the patron deity of (among other stuff) the succession of time/seasons, while having a timely and glorious end (death) was one of the heroic traits. You could also tie it to the english expression "man of the hour", i suppose.
    The archetypical hero was Herakles, given he killed (or brought to a state of permanent near death) a horde of monsters (and a few humans too, not always with good reason), following the example of his father (Zeus) who did the same against those that birthed said monsters.

    It is also worth noting that ancient greek heroes were always linked to deities, that is they had the backing of at least some deity or deities. It is interesting that during the era of the greek kindgom in India (which lasted iirc till 10AD) Herakles was presented as the guardian of Buddha. :)
     
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  6. Valka D'Ur

    Valka D'Ur Hosting Iron Pen in A&E Retired Moderator

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    And thank goodness, because JR Ewing is the main protagonist of the TV series Dallas, but nobody would ever mistake him for a hero, super or otherwise. He was the anti-hero everyone loved to hate, before that became a popular term and type of TV character.

    Gilgamesh is much older than Herakles. ;)
     
  7. Zkribbler

    Zkribbler Deity

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    Those guys are mythic heroes. IMHO. they are not the same as modern superheroes.

    The first modern characters to use secret identities are the Scarlet Pimpernel and the Zorro, but both of them had extraordinary skills, not superpowers.

    Maybe Doc Savage, Mandrake the Magician, and the Shadow. I'd have to check dates.
     
  8. Zardnaar

    Zardnaar Deity

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    In the modern sense Mandrake.
     
  9. Leifmk

    Leifmk Deity

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    I don't think you need actual superpowers in order to qualify as a superhero, because that would disqualify characters like Batman, Green Arrow and the Phantom. At least in their standard versions these guys are "merely" extremely competent and highly-skilled humans backed by unusual resources. (Sure, often with gadgets that require comic-book science to work, but.)
     
  10. Perfection

    Perfection The Great Head.

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  11. Kyriakos

    Kyriakos Alien spiral maker

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    He can only defeat antagonists up to early tankman.
     
  12. Thorgalaeg

    Thorgalaeg Deity

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    This one is pretty old.
     
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  13. TheMeInTeam

    TheMeInTeam Top Logic

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    Their depictions in comics, movies, and animations suggest they're superhuman despite being allegedly human. Batman has low key slammed people through walls and broken substances using their bodies in a way that should typically kill normal human beings, no gadgets allegedly involved. He also takes hits that no amount of training would allow a normal person to physically survive. You could invoke "plot power" here or something, but it's not very convincing to hear a character is a regular human while he's performing superhuman feats even w/o tools.

    Amusingly, the Batman Beyond series actually did a better job of this, as the main character's relative lack of training/experience as Batman makes his lapses in concentration more plausible than Bruce's and he's wearing a suit that easily explains the extra durability + strength (I think it was a 10x multiplier?). That would make a well trained person capable of bench pressing 3000 pounds and such. Though sometimes this show had the reverse problem, where things that shouldn't be an issue for a person wearing a suit like that would randomly work against him.

    Consistency is hard in comics...if you start looking carefully you realize issues like "Superman couldn't actually stop that plane that way, his arms would punch through it no matter how strong he is". But drawing him starfishing onto the bottom of the plane or constantly getting something to help distribute the force would look stupid, so they don't do that.

    I also don't see how modern superheroes are particularly different from say Beowulf or Gilgamesh, who both performed superhuman acts broadly considered good in the context of their stories. The only significant difference is the hidden identity perhaps, but that doesn't seem very "super" (especially when you consider say Superman's version of "hiding" his identity).
     
  14. Broken_Erika

    Broken_Erika Nothing

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    The oldest superhero is Og, the big rock thrower.
     
  15. TheMeInTeam

    TheMeInTeam Top Logic

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    If the rocks are big enough, it would qualify. It's actually not that easy to lift and throw 600+ pounds as it turns out.
     
  16. rah

    rah Deity Supporter

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    Mandrake doesn't really cut it for me in terms of powers. More of a magician/hypnotist.
    Batman and Phantom, didn't really have super powers.
    So we have to go SUPERMAN. Come on, he has SUPER in his title. :p
     
  17. TheMeInTeam

    TheMeInTeam Top Logic

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    Batman does things humans can't physically do fairly routinely, even if you factor in his technology. What counts a s "super power"? The Flash is pretty broken, considering p = mv and also his ability to break causality. But even characters that can just casually pick up a car and throw it are pretty far out of bounds compared to humans, so they're "superhuman" in at least one aspect. What causes a "power" to qualify or not qualify?
     
  18. rah

    rah Deity Supporter

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    That's more a testament to bad writing and not the Batman.
     
  19. TheMeInTeam

    TheMeInTeam Top Logic

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    If it were more rare I might be inclined to agree, but nearly every iteration does it many times over. Ranging from modern movies to TAS to the slapstick "bam, pow" stuff to the comics. Maybe they didn't in some of the older movies at least.

    I can agree he's at least not *conceptually* a hero with superpowers. It doesn't define him the way the Flash, Superman, Spiderman, Wolverine, or Mr. Incredible have powers that define their character. However, that isn't true for old heroes like Beowulf/Gilgamesh --> they, too, were defined by abilities beyond that of humans, as opposed to being something more similar to old school batmen.
     
  20. Berzerker

    Berzerker Deity

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