Truth, Justice and the American Way: History As Portrayed By Comic Books

Throughout time, comic books have been known to serve as a chronicle to history -- sometimes even predict it. In many ways, comic books have used real-life events and people to further propel their storylines. The reason is that they are part of our pop-culture history. As we all know, life imitates art.

Comic books have often addressed the issues of the time -- if not made them more digestible. They have addressed social problems such as racism, government policy and corruption. Other times they have offered an alternate history, such as what is seen in Watchmen.

Other times, comic books are symbolic, if not reflective of the times. When DC Marvel Comics decided to kill off Captain America in 2007, fans were upset. Some even felt insulted.

We decided to review some other great moments.

10. Maus

Though it was written like a memoir, this graphic novel forever changed the way comic books were seen in that they were now considered great literature. The story follows author and artist Art Spiegelman's father's story of how he survived the Holocaust. The graphic novel won a Pulitzer Prize -- a first for comic books.

9. The 'Nam The 'Nam was a limited-run comic book series that ran from 1986 to 1993. It directly dealt with the Vietnam War through the eyes of Private First Class Edward Marks. The comic book touched on such related subjects as the Tet Offensive and the icy reception soldiers received upon their return.

8. The Amazing Spider-Man vol. 2 #36, a.k.a. "The Black Issue" September 11, 2001, is an unforgettable day. Marvel Comics, whose characters are predominantly based out of New York City, dealt with the issue head-on. They created an issue that dealt with the feelings of New Yorkers, the loss and the heroism of the firefighters on that terrible day.

Subsequently, in the 2001 film version, two scenes were added in response to the attacks: one in which Spider-Man lands on an flagpole bearing the American flag, and a scene where New Yorkers are throwing trash at the Green Goblin. This was done as a way of paying tribute to the sense of unity that came over the city shortly after the attacks.

7. Watchmen Watchmen is full of references to such events and people as President Nixon, the war in Vietnam and the Cold War. However, it deals with the idea of an alternate 1985 and the onslaught of a nuclear war.

6. Captain America

The story of Captain America was born out of a major historical event in world history: the then-looming World War II. For the United States -- more specifically Captain America's alter ego, Steve Rogers -- it wasn't a question of whether the country was going to enter World War II, but when.

In fact, many times in the various runs of Captain America, the author has referenced history. In issues #176-183, published in the '70s, Captain America finds out about the government engaging in events very similar to Watergate. This deeply troubles the superhero, so he forsakes the identity of Captain America. This was a mirror image of what people were thinking about Watergate. 5. Batman: Death of Innocents

Batman: Death of Innocents dealt with an issue that was very prevalent in the '90s: land mines. Though the graphic novel took place in the fictional country of Kravia, that country itself was engaged in a civil war much like places like Honduras, the former Yugoslavia, Bosnia, Nicaragua and Kosovo. The graphic novel was aimed at children to warn them of the dangers of undetonated land mines.

4. The Amazing Spider-Man #96-98

It's a well-known fact that drug use was prevalent in the '60s-'80s. So the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare sent a memo to Spider-Man creator Stan Lee asking him to do a panel about the horrors of drug use. Lee wrote up a story panel in which a young guy was high, thought he could fly and nearly fell off a building. However, the man was saved by Spider-Man.

According to the History Channel's Comic Book Superheroes Unmasked, the Comics Code Authority told Lee that he couldn't do the panel even though it portrayed drugs in a negative light. The CCA did not give their seal of approval, so Lee went to his publisher, Martin Goodman, who gave the green light for the story to run.

3. Before Watchmen #2 of 6: Comedian

The latest issue of Watchmen shows that Comedian fought in the Vietnam War. As with the original Watchmen series, it is also riddled with historical references, including Senator Bobby Kennedy and Muhammad Ali.

2. Green Lantern vol. 2 #76

In the '70s, Green Lantern addressed the Civil Rights Movement. Green Arrow brings to the attention of Green Lantern that "on the streets of Memphis a good black man died... and in Los Angeles, a good white man fell. Something is wrong. Something is killing us all! Some hideous moral cancer is rotting our very souls."

1. Speedy (a.k.a. Mia Dearden) -- Green Arrow's Sidekick When Green Arrow introduced Speedy, the intro directly dealt with not one but two current issues: HIV and child prostitution. Mia was a teenage runaway who was offered shelter and food by a man named Richard. However, he exploits her as a child prostitute -- resulting in her contracting the disease. She petitions Green Arrow to let her become his sidekick, and becomes a formidable force herself.

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