No, but if they did it would be Doctor Occult! He wields arcane magic like Constantine, while also being a formidable detective. I’ll forgive you if you don’t know who this is because honestly, neither did I till I researched him. But this supernatural detective just might be the world’s first superhero ever in comic books! Read below and let’s see if you can prove me wrong…
Doctor Occult a.k.a. Dr. Mystic was created by the legendary team of Legers and Reuth. Yes, I said LEGENDARY. Why? Because Legers and Reuth were the pseudonyms of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. That’s right! The creators of Superman created Dr. Occult. One of the earliest and longest-lasting characters ever in DC history. Now to show you why I believe Dr. Occult is the first superhero, we must look at the first comic book ever.
The First Comic Book
Talk about a true Holy Grail! So now I am going to give you a quick history lesson. (Sorry, this is what you get from someone whose major is History) The Glasgow Looking Glass, is the first “comic” ever created. Published in 1825, it was the first mass-produced publication with illustrations and a narrative. These journals focused on the eccentricities of Glasgow, Scotland. In 1934, Famous Funnies #1, the first-ever comic book, or what we consider a comic book, hit the newsstands. Maxwell C. Gaines, thought of combining comic strips that he loved reading into a single publication. In doing this, the first incarnation of what we consider a comic book was born. So although many books and comic strips have been created by this point, Famous Funnies #1 is considered to be the first “comic book” to be published and sold on newsstands. But, it also boasts two other firsts. It was the first work ever done by Shuster and Siegel for DC and the first-ever Vampire in comics!
Enter the 1st Super Hero
Hold on now. I am going to be throwing out some names that many have never heard of. But it’s time for me to educate you a little. Superman first appeared in Action Comics #1 in 1938, 5 years after the first comic book. However, creator, director, and writer Lee Falk beat Siegel and Shuster, well in a way by a few years. Lee Falk created The Phantom in 1936, a crime-fighter from the African country of Bangalla, and gave him a costume. This made him the first costumed hero in comics and the first time a face mask that hides their pupils is used. Before he created the Phantom, he made a superhero magician, Mandrake the Magician in 1934.
Okay, so here is where the confusion starts because technically Mandrake the Magician is the first superhero ever in comics. But wait there’s a catch! Although these two did make it into comic books down the line, they were first introduced through comic strips. So in 1935, two years after the first comic book and 3 years before Superman, New Fun #6 was published. This introduced the world to Dr. Occult, a superhero that uses the mystic arts to fight crime. But that’s not all folks! He also appeared in The Comics Magazine #1 in 1936, as Dr. Mystic beating out Superman for being the first superhero to wear an iconic cape. Thus technically becoming the first superhero ever in a comic and the first to use a cape!
Great but who the heck is Dr. Occult?
Now that we can see why I think he is the first superhero. Let’s go a little into his backstory. In 1899, a satanic cult was sacrificing two young infants to summon Satan for the new coming year. What they summoned was not Satan, but Koth, a demonic entity that deemed the two infants unworthy. Koth then killed all members in the cult, then set his eyes on the infants.
Luckily, Zator a member of the Seven, a mighty group of mystics, saved and transported the infants away. These infants are known as Richard Occult and Rose Psychic. The Seven taught both of them how to use arcane magic and imbued Occult with The Symbol of the Seven. Occult leaves and decides to take residence in America, where he goes to school and gets his Doctorate. This truly earns him the name Dr. Occult. Pretty much the same concept of Dr. Strange minus the medical part.
Dr. Occult continues on to fight crime and even is a crucial part of the arc Crisis on Infinite Earths, joining forces with Constantine and other mystics. Unfortunately, Dr. Occult who is also discovered to be the keeper of the House of Secrets is killed by Nick Necro in Justice League Dark #12, all thanks to the new reboots of The New 52.
So tell me, do you think I’m right? If not tell me why below. I think this will spark up some thought between all of us collectors. Either way, hope you enjoyed reading and learning a little about comic book history.
Till Next Time, Happy Hunting!