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15 Oldest Superheroes We All Have Forgotten

Most of us grew up with comic books and tales of powered beings fighting for the greater good. It would be hard to imagine a world without them, and some of the best cinematic feats of storytelling exist today because of these comic books. They have been around for a long time, and the first-ever superhero to come alive on paper dates back as early as the 1930s.

Why don’t we travel time and take a look at some of the oldest superheroes created?

#15 Batman

#15 Batman - Oldest Superheroes

First Appearance: Detective Comics #27 (March 30, 1939)

The Dark Knight is one of the most popular heroes on this list, but few know that he is one of the oldest superheroes. None here are unfamiliar with Batman. A wealthy boy who lost his parents and decided to use his resources to avenge his parents and fight crime in Gotham. 

Batman was created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger to strike terror into the hearts of criminals everywhere, and he has been doing his job successfully for years. This brooding hero has been part of every other Superhero team in the DC Universe, including the JSA and the JLA. The Dark Knight is even revered as one of the most dangerous individuals on Earth. 

It is natural to wonder how Batman has survived this long after being introduced in the 30s, but the character is too loved to die. The Bat has been ingrained in pop culture and is probably the first superhero everyone thinks of when someone says superhero.

Powers:

  • Expert martial artist
  • Genius detective
  • Advanced tech
  • Peak physical condition

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#14 Zatara

#14 Zatara - Oldest Superheroes

First Appearance: Action Comics #1 (June 1938)

Zatara is the father of the Mystic Superhero – Zatanna. Zatara started his stories in Action Comics during the Golden Age of Comics. He is mainly portrayed as a stage magician who also practices real magic secretly. He is one of the most excellent practitioners of the mystical arts of her generation and accesses his magic by speaking backward. This hero can do anything as long as he can speak the words backward.

Zatara makes many appearances in modern-day comics, is a supporting character for Zatanna, and is even the mentor to Batman in Escape Artistry. 

His love for magic was sparked when he was gifted a kid’s magic set when he was just a kid. Initially unsuccessful, his magic journey began when he met the Phantom Stranger. His curiosity was stoked even further when he discovered Leonardo da Vinci’s Diary, who is Zatara’s Ancestor. The diary was written backward, and Zatara realized he could command things by speaking backward when he began reading it.

Zatara was a very close confidant of Thomas Wayne.

Powers: 

  • Mystical arts
  • Magician
  • Teleportation
  • Levitation

#13 Superman

#13 Superman - Oldest Superheroes

First Appearance: Action Comics #1 (June 1938)

We are no stranger to the Man of Steel. The Bat and Supes are so famous because they have been around for so long. The story of Superman starts when he is sent to Earth on a ship after his home planet is destroyed. It also makes sense that Superman is around for so long, given that his Superman attributes slow his aging down. There are comics where he is seen to live for centuries and become stronger still.

Superman has been the Leader of many teams, the most notable being the Justice League. His demeanor, means, and morals make him one of the most loved characters in the comics and have been a symbol of hope for years. 

The feats pulled off by this man are in the hundreds. From fighting off alien Invasions, punching giant monsters, and going toe to toe with Space Warlocks, The Man of Steel has done it all.

Powers:

  • Super strength
  • Super agility
  • Laser eyes
  • Flight

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#12 Phantom

#12 Phantom - Oldest Superheroes

First Appearance: The Singh Brotherhood (The Daily Strip) (February 1936)

Phantom is one of the first costumed superheroes ever and operated from the fictional country of Bangala. This iconic character, created by Lee Falk, made his debut in the newspapers, and even until recently, comic strips would appear in the papers. 

Fee Falk was also the creator of Mandrake the Magician. The story follows Christopher Walker, a sailor whose father was murdered during his last voyage. Christopher swore to exact revenge against all piracy, greed, and injustice as the sole survivor of the wreckage. He washed ashore on the Bengalla beach, where he was nursed back to health by the Bandar tribe. They showed him a cave that resembled a skull and was said to belong to a demon god. Christopher would take on the appearance of the demon in his costume. 

When the first Phantom died, his son took over, and when the second died, his son took over. This continued for centuries, leading people to believe that the Phantom was immortal. It also caused him to be called “the ghost who walks” and the “one who cannot die.”

Powers:

  • Expert marksman
  • Genius level intellect
  • Use of advanced tech

#11 Dr. Occult

#11 Dr. Occult - Oldest Superheroes

First Appearance: New Fun #6 (October 1935)

Doctor Occult was brought to us by the same creators of the Man of Steel – Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. As the name suggests, this hero is all about the occult. A private detective specializing in the supernatural, Dr. Occult first appeared around the Golden Age of Comics. He is one of the earliest fictional characters created by DC that still appears in their comics. After being saved from a demonic cult, Dr. Occult was trained in the mystical arts along with his sidekick, Rose Psychic. 

After this, the doctor opened his own private investigation agency specializing in all things supernatural. He was instrumental during World War ll and was a part of the All-Star Squadron. 

Dr. Occult uses his magic to slow his aging process, which allows him to look like he is in his early thirties at the most. This also enables him to be part of the DC continuity to this date.

Powers: 

  • Hypnosis
  • Astral projection
  • Telekinesis
  • Illusions

#10 Mandrake the Magician

#10 Mandrake the Magician - Oldest Superheroes

First Appearance: King Features Syndicate (June 1934)

Mandrake the Magician was brought to us by the same creator of the Phantom, Lee Falk. Both these heroes have teamed up on many occasions with great success. 

As the name suggests, this hero uses the mystic arts, though slightly different from the other magic-based heroes we are familiar with. His magic works on an unusual hypotonic technique. When he applies this technique, his enemies see illusions. He uses these powers to fight against villains ranging from gang members to extraterrestrials. His powers of illusion sometimes appear to be capable of teleportation and even levitation. 

Like Zatara, Mandrake works as a stage magician who does parlor tricks but spends a good portion of his time – fighting criminals and saving innocent people from evil.

Powers:

  • Invisibility
  • Shapeshifting
  • Teleportation
  • Levitation

#9 Doc Savage

#9 Doc Savage - Oldest Superheroes

First Appearance: Doc Savage Magazine #1 (March 1933)

Doc Savage, otherwise known as Clark Savage Jr., is a scientist, inventor, doctor, and polymath who is all about righting wrongs and fighting evildoers. This hero was created by the legendary Stan Lee himself and is said to be the forerunner to most modern superheroes. 

The Doc has no inherent superpowers, but his abilities make it easy for someone to mistake him for a superhuman. The Doc’s father and a team of scientists trained his body and mind right from birth. This gave him an intellectual capacity beyond anyone else, and his body was at such peak performance that he could move at speeds that were sometimes too fast to react to. 

Imagine someone with the mental capacity of Sherlock Holmes and the physical attributes of Tarzan. We give you Doc Savage.

Powers: 

  • Genius level intellect
  • Eidetic memory
  • Inventor
  • Expert martial artist

#8 The Lone Ranger

#8 The Lone Ranger - Oldest Superheroes

First Appearance: WXYZ (January 31, 1933)

The Lone Ranger may be familiar to most from a recent cinematic adaptation of the character. He is also one of the oldest superheroes to exist. This former Texas ranger does not precisely have superpowers but fights outlaws in the old American West. He made his first appearance on a radio show that quickly became a hit and has since established character as a famous icon in American pop culture.

The origin story of this hero is one of vengeance. He is part of a six-member Texas Ranger team who are pursuing a band of outlaws. This team is betrayed by their civilian guide and is led into an ambush. He’s the one who sees all of his teammates killed. The lone survivor is then discovered by Tonto, who becomes his helper. At this point, he decides to don the identity of the Lone Ranger and hunt down the outlaws who killed his teammates and brother. 

The Lone Ranger has endured all these years and remains at the top of pop culture.

Powers:

  • Expert marksman
  • Hand-to-hand combatant
  • Master of disguise

#7 The Shadow

#7 The Shadow - Oldest Superheroes

First Appearance: The Living Shadow (April 1, 1931) (print)

Unlike the other heroes on this list, the Shadow started as a radio show narrator’s voice and was later adapted into a literary character due to his success. Due to time constraints of the radio show, very little was revealed about the character until the print versions of him were out. 

Once he made his magazine debut, audiences had a figure to match his mysterious voice. The character was so Iconic that a movie was even made based on the hero, played by Alec Baldwin. 

Like Batman, The Shadow uses many gadgets and chemical concoctions to create feats of illusion and fight criminals with it. He is also a Master of Disguise and uses this to fight his enemies with significant effect.

Though not introduced in a comic book, this character is probably one of the earliest renditions of a superhero, and it appears that many modern characters have taken inspiration from The Shadow. 

Powers: 

  • Invisibility
  • Telekinesis
  • Telepathy

#6 Buck Rogers

#6 Buck Rogers - Oldest Superheroes

First Appearance: US Newspapers (January 1929)

Buck Rogers is a superhero who started in a US newspaper, and his popularity led to other media adaptations, including an eventual movie.

The backstory of the character is rather interesting. It follows the story of Buck Rogers, A World War veteran, who is accidentally thrown into the 25h Century. Here he learns the new world’s ways and dons a crime-fighting persona when he realizes that his knowledge of the past would help in the war in the future. The future he is thrown into is one where Mongols possessing advanced tech emerge from the Gobi Desert and take over the world. 

Like we said, interesting. If you’re wondering how a person from the past could help in a war against advanced aliens, so are we.

Powers: 

  • Skilled pilot
  • Expert martial artist

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#5 Zorro

#5 Zorro - Oldest Superheroes

First Appearance: Argosy (August 1919)

We’ve seen Antonio Banderas play Zorro’s character to perfection, which is now an iconic part of American pop culture. This dashing masked vigilante has been around for generations, and the identity has been played by many characters. Set in the early 1900s, this hero is depicted protecting the commoners and the indigenous people of California from the corrupt and greedy. Boy, does he look good doing it, too!

Being a skilled swordsman, this hero is too much for the bumbling authorities and outwits them every time with ease. The costume and the methods used by the character can be seen trickling down to modern superheroes, and there are obvious similarities. 

The character was so good that it even prompted a movie adaptation in the 1920s and led to many more movies that did great at the box officer. The original novel that the character appeared in – The Curse of Capistrano, sold more than 50 million copies and became one of the best-selling books of all time.

Powers:

  • Expert martial artist
  • Expert swordsman
  • Weapons specialist

#4 Tarzan

#4 Tarzan - Oldest Superheroes

First Appearance: Tarzan of the Apes (1912)

Introductions are not needed for Tarzan of the Jungle. Raised by the Mangani great apes in the African jungle, this feral child grew up to be someone who felt more comfortable among the trees than surrounded by buildings. 

The King of Jungle has been around for a long time and is one of the first heroes we were introduced to. Before people were getting their powers from serums and cosmic entities, Tarzan simply used what was around to develop himself into a peak human specimen that most could barely even compare to. 

Even though the initial stints of the character did not take off, the writers were stubborn enough to keep going. This eventually led to several novels and movies being made.

His signature chest beating and jungle call have lived through the 20th century, and it is hard to come across someone who doesn’t know it.

Powers:

  • Enhanced agility
  • Enhanced strength
  • Animal communication

#3 Nyctalope

#3 Nyctalope - Oldest Superheroes

First Appearance: Le Mystère des XV [The Mystery Of The XV] (1911)

This French Superhero is one of the first cyborgs that came from the fictional world. This cybernetically enhanced individual has many powers, including improved durability and enhanced night vision. Armed with a laser gun, this character fights off aliens, dictators, and any evildoers. 

Nyctalope predates heroes like Superman, Batman, and Iron Man by decades and is sometimes described as a Proto-Superhero. There appears to be some kind of inspiration taken from the character of Iron Man, as Tony Stark has an artificial heart and uses his mechanical enhancements to fight crime. 

Powers:

  • Cyborg
  • Enhanced biometrics
  • Super night vision

#2 John Carter

#2 John Carter - Oldest Superheroes

First Appearance: Under the moons of Mars – The All-Story (February 1912)

The most recent depiction of the character in his very own movie would make this character a familiar name. However, this fictional superhero was one of the first to ever come into existence. 

John Carter of Mars is a Virginian soldier who finds a portal that transports him to Barsoom, Mars. This is what earns him the name. The strange new planet gives him powers like enhanced strength, agility, and the ability to jump long distances. Carter uses this power to fight mythological creatures and foes on the planet and becomes Barsoom’s savior on many occasions. 

The Civil War Veteran finds his true calling on Mars and fights for the innocents of the planet. The character depiction and storylines took the readers of that time to a world unknown and opened their eyes to new possibilities.

Powers:

  • Enhanced strength
  • Telepathy
  • Superhuman agility
  • Telepathic immunity

#1 Hugo Hercules

#1 Hugo Hercules - Oldest Superheroes

First Appearance: Chicago Tribune (September 1902)

Hugo Hercules is depicted as one of the first super-powered individuals. Unlike most other superheroes, there are no costumes or ‘big bads’ that Hugo fought. He mostly appeared in a comic strip in the Chicago Tribune, and his stint was pretty short-lived. He walked around town and helped random people with random things. 

One comic strip depicts the character lifting an old-timey vehicle so the driver could kiss his lover, who is standing at the windowsill. Like we said, random.

He essentially just walked about, shocking people with his inhuman strength, and would always leave the conversation saying, “Just as easy.”

Seems like a very cool guy.

Powers:

  • Super strength
  • Super durability

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Honorable Mentions

  • The Woman in Red
  • Fantomah
  • Olga Mesmer
  • Ogon Bat
  • The Shield

We have come a very long way. The fantasies of flying individuals saving the day have taken over our culture, and we couldn’t be happier. These heroes got the ball rolling and have led to an entire multiverse of superheroes being explored. How rad is that!

If you could go back in time, which one of these superheroes would you like to meet?

FAQs

Who Is the Oldest Marvel or DC Superhero?

The oldest DC Superhero is Zatara.

Who is the 2nd Oldest Superhero?

John Carter is the second-oldest superhero.

Who Is the Oldest DC Superhero in Age?

Dr. Fate (Nabu) is the oldest DC superhero in age.

Who Is the Oldest Superhero, Batman or Superman?

Superman is older than Batman in terms of their creation.

Who Is the Oldest Super Villain?

Ultra Humanite is the oldest super villain.

Is Captain America Older Than Thor?

Thor is much older. He is a Nordic God that has been alive for thousands of years.

How Old Is Thor?

Thor is said to be more than 1500 years old.

That’s all for today folks! So, Who is your favorite old superhero from the above countdown?

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