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                            The College at Brockport: State University of New York
Digital Commons @Brockport
	Fall 12-7-2013
Men of Steel & Sentinels of Liberty: Superman and Captain America as Civilians and Soldiers in World War II
	Richard D. Deverell
		Repository Citation
Microsoft Word - 364874-convertdoc.input.354844.z9Qis.docx
                        
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The College at Brockport: State University of New York
Digital Commons @Brockport

History Master's Theses History

Fall 12-7-2013

Men of Steel & Sentinels of Liberty: Superman and
Captain America as Civilians and Soldiers in World
War II
Richard D. Deverell
The College at Brockport, [email protected]

Follow this and additional works at: http://digitalcommons.brockport.edu/hst_theses

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Deverell, Richard D., "Men of Steel & Sentinels of Liberty: Superman and Captain America as Civilians and Soldiers in World War II"
(2013). History Master's Theses. 16.
http://digitalcommons.brockport.edu/hst_theses/16

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Page 2

Men of Steel & Sentinels of Liberty:

Superman and Captain America as Civilians and Soldiers in World War II



by

Richard Donald Deverell



















A thesis submitted to the Department of History of the College

at Brockport, State University of New York, in partial

fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of

Master of Arts

December 7, 2013

Page 42

35

peoples in the world are cheering them! It’s the greatest tribute I’ve ever had!-”
66



Superman quickly partakes in war games with the soldiers and Don Cameron’s story

reaffirms the greatness of American soldiers. At the story’s conclusion, Superman

says,

And because I lost, this is the proudest moment of my life! I have seen proof that
American soldiers cannot be defeated by Superman or any one else – not even by
Mr. Schickelgruber’s so-called Master Race! I hope the whole world hears of this,
and of our nation’s real secret weapon – the unflagging courage of her men, no
matter what the odds and their indomitable will to win! Against that, Hitler and
Hirohito haven’t a ghost of a chance!

67




The story largely serves to boost the morale of both the soldiers reading on the

battlefront and the civilians reading on the homefront. Of course, Cameron could not

resist the German stereotype in his “master race” reference, but that only aids the

hyper patriotic theme.

The September-October 1943 issue of Superman, number 24, features Jack

Burnley’s iconic cover art of Superman standing proudly while holding an American

flag as a sun rises in the background against the cityscape of Metropolis, representing

hope in the middle of America’s involvement in the war and fitting into the larger

trend of patriotic pinups that began prior to the war. The final story in the issue,

“Suicide Voyage,” features both the Japanese and the Nazis in an expedition to the

North Pole. In the story, Superman must aid Americans seeking to establish an Arctic

supply route. Once there, the Nazis and Japanese capture him and Lois, leading to a

number of comical quick changes and dueling stereotypes of the Nazis and the


66 Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, Superman Archives, Volume 6 (New York: DC

Comics, Inc., 2003), 118.
67 Siegel and Shuster, Superman Archives, Volume 6, 126.

Page 43

36

Japanese. In the end, Superman pits the two against each other and succeeds in

helping establish an American base. While the Nazis and the Japanese, unlike the

Allied Powers, never cooperated directly in a mission, the story portrays this fear

before offering reassurance that the United States can overcome any such operation.

Action Comics number 66 features a cover in which Superman protects a

motorcyclist delivering war dispatches from an exploding shell. The image remains

among the most subtle war covers and, if not for the time period, could have easily

served as the cover for one of the earlier, pre-war issues. Superman number 29, cover

dated July-August 1944, features a cover in which Superman looks on as a young

woman says to soldiers from the Army, Navy, and Marine, “You’re my Supermen!”
68



The cover, like the story in Superman number 23, serves to support the military and

boost morale on the homefront. Though Wayne Boring’s art appears simplistic, it

clearly conveys its patriotic message. Superman number 34, cover dated May-June

1944 features one of the last pinup covers of the war. Jack Burnley’s minimalist

artwork portrays the Man of Steel holding a large, three-dimensional red cross while

saying, “The American Red Cross Needs Your Support! Give Generously!”
69

As the

war wound down, American soldiers required medical care for injuries and support as

well as for supplies the U.S. could send overseas to its allies. The first story in this

issue, titled “The United States Navy,” focuses on the work of Naval officers, almost

entirely without Superman’s aid. The first panel resembles a tourist photograph in


68 Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, Superman Archives, Volume 7 (New York: DC

Comics, Inc., 2006), 195.
69 Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, Superman Archives, Volume 8 (New York: DC

Comics, Inc., 2010), 172.

Page 83

76

Joe Simon, Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, Al Avison, and Syd Shores, Marvel Masterworks:

Golden Age Captain America, Vol. 3 (New York: Marvel Publishing, Inc.,

2009).

Joe Simon, Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, Carl Burgos, and Bill Everett, Marvel Masterworks:

Golden Age All Winners, Vol. 1 (New York: Marvel Publishing, Inc., 2005).

Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, Marvel Masterworks: Golden Age Captain America, Vol.

1 (New York: Marvel Worldwide, Inc., 2011).

Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, Marvel Masterworks: Golden Age Captain America, Vol.

2 (New York: Marvel Publishing, Inc., 2008).

Bradford W. Wright, Comic Book Nation: The Transformation of Youth Culture in

America (Baltimore, MA: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001).

Nicholas Yanes, “Graphic Imagery: Jewish American Comic Book Creators’

Depictions of Class, Race, Patriotism and the Birth of the Good Captain,” in

Captain America and the Struggle of the Superhero: Critical Essays, Robert

G. Weiner, ed. (Jefferson, NC: MacFarland & Company, Inc., 2009).

Page 84

77

Vita

The author Richard Donald Deverell was born in Rochester, New York. He attended

Monroe Community College from 2005 to 2009 and received an Associate of Arts in

Liberal Arts in 2009. He attended The College at Brockport, State University of New

York from 2010 to 2012 and received a Bachelor of Science in History/Film Studies

in 2012. He began work toward a Master of Arts in History at The College at

Brockport, State University of New York in the Fall of 2012.

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