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Superman Serials – The Complete 1948 & 1950 Collection

Turn of the century detectives typically dispatched the bad guys with handcuffs or handguns – commonplace but effective best practices. In 1938 the aptly named Action Comics flipped that script with a new kind of crime fighter.

This depression era RoboCop didn’t just brush off bullets – he snatched up getaway cars with one arm while corralling bank robbers in the other. And he flew. Written by Jerry Siegel and illustrated by Joe Shuster, the mysterious crusader was a high profile hero with a low brow reputation – in spite of his Olympian physique and matinee idol looks Hollywood remained dubious until 1941 when Paramount rolled the dice with a series of animated shorts.

Produced by Max Fleischer’s studio and directed by his brother Dave, the cartoons were expressionist showcases featuring geometrically precise action sequences that felt retrograde and futuristic at the same time – wisely evoking Fritz Lang’s Metropolis rather than Shuster’s blandly conceived cityscapes.

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