During World War II the demand for superheroes ran high, and several of the most famous and enduring characters debuted during this period. These heroes included Captain America, who battled Nazis beginning in 1941; Wonder Woman (1941), who boasted superhuman strength and speed, special bracelets that deflected bullets, and a magic lasso; and others, such as The Sub-Mariner (1939), Green Lantern (1940), the Flash (1940), and Captain Marvel (1940).

After the boom of the war years and with the early coming of television, comic-book readership dropped dramatically. Many publishers went out of business, and others turned to stories featuring violence and horror. The most extreme case was William Gaines’s line of horror comics that became popular during this period under the EC label, including titles such as Crypt of Terror, The Vault of Horror, and The Haunt of Fear.

This trend toward violence and horror tales resulted in a public outcry that reached a peak in 1954. In that year psychiatrist Frederic Wertham published Seduction of the Innocent, a book sharply critical of the comic book industry, and the U.S. Senate held hearings on Juvenile Delinquency (Comic Books). To prevent government censorship, publishers were compelled to set up the Comics Code Authority (CCA), a self-regulating body with broad policing powers. The comic book code saved the industry from probable ruin, but it also stifled creativity in the field, discouraging artists and publishers from exploring new styles and genres. Sales slipped even more. (Source : Encarta)

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