Superman: The War Years, 1938-1945, by Roy Thomas ISBN 9780785832829
Four out of five stars
The early Superman was a hero that was not all that concerned with the loss of human life as long as they were the “bad guys.” Criminals and villainous military leaders died in explosions and car crashes and Superman thought nothing of terrorizing and torturing the villains into confessing their crimes.
When World War II opened in Europe and Asia and the United States was attacked, the comics were drawn into the patriotic fervor and Superman was no exception. Along with his secret identity Clark Kent, Superman was engaged in fighting the Axis forces, yet always within limits. Given his great power, Superman could simply fly to the locations of the enemy critical war industry infrastructure and destroy it all, ending the war in a matter of hours. Therefore, the actions of the mighty Superman were largely restricted to supports roles or the periphery. There are stories where fighting men on both sides are killed in the fighting while Clark Kent is merely an observer.
Therefore, the most interesting aspect of this book is the manner in which war propaganda was expressed in comic form. All aspects of the war, from rationing and the black market at home to the pure heroism of American forces versus the bloodthirsty evil of the enemy are exaggerated as can only be done in the comics. In that sense, it is a history lesson.