Great War Supers

Wonder Woman issue 228

I am often a stickler about matching the mythos around comics when they become a movie. This is doubly true about comics which matter to me. My first two comics loves are The Legion of Superheroes and Wonder Woman. You would think that means I disliked the new Wonder Woman movie from the get go. After all it made a huge change to her back story. Steve Trevor was not a pilot from the US Army Air Corps in World War II. Instead he is a pilot from the US during the Great War.

I actually like this change. A crucial part of the Wonder Woman mythos is the hidden nature of Paradise Island. This is a much easier sale in the era of the Great War. The planet wouldn’t fully mapped until into my lifetime with satellite. It arguably still is not fully mapped. That said, a large island in the middle of the Mediterranean completely unknown to the outside world is a hard sale once routine flights across the sea begin. In 1918 that flights were mostly in the future.

Superboy and the Legion of Superheroes issue 226

There is another reason I find this idea interesting. The Great War is an excellent but untaped period for supers. Nationalist heroes are arguably more at home in that era than even World War II. At least in the first world the hangover of The Great War was starting to poison nationalism although it would take Italy’s Fascists and Germany’s National Socialist, although with a bit of help from Japanese nationalists, to finally poison it.

National heroes would have a bigger, if less cut and dry role, in The Great War. A big role could be played by nationalist heroes from many Balkan nations and Eastern Europe. After all, the war had its beginning in a nationalist assassination. For those looking for something off the beaten path Poland and Finland gained statehood in the modern era as a result. You could even add heroes from the colonies in various roles. Nationalist movements in many French and British colonies had their origins among veterans of the Great War in France just as the US Civil Rights movements had origins among black veterans of World War II.

Legacy of Justice

At the same time the rise of transnationalism, which would fit many more modern hero archetypes, came out of the war. The new Wonder Woman movie plays with this a bit, but there is a lot more that can be mined. Playing in the late or immediate period could combine the ideas with a League of National Heroes or some other group attached to the League of Nations.

Supers drew on the pulp heroes who were first born in the Twenties. The Twenties were also a time of great adventure and exploration. Aviation was a particular proper genre in the Twenties.

Yet this era remains untapped. Marvel has the Freedom Five who have only appeared in flashbacks in The Invaders. Big Finger Games put out a source book on late Great War and Twenties heroes called Legacy of Justice which appears to be out of print. To the best of my knowledge that is about for Great War supers. If you know of any more please let me know in the comments.

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