Full record for superhero n.

Definition a person with superpowers who uses them to fight crime
OED requirements antedating 1937
Earliest cite Norman F Stanley, letter
Comment Garrett Wollman submitted a 1997 cite from Ron Tiner's entry on "Superheroes" in Clute's and Grant's "Encyclopedia of SF". Enoch Forrester submitted a 1983 cite from an article by Roger Moore in Dragon Magazine. Jay Rudin submitted cites from the April 1958 and December 1959 issues of Adventure comics. Fred Galvin submitted a 1942 cite from the cover of Supersnipe Comics. Fred Galvin submitted a 1953 cite from L. Sprague de Camp's "Science Fiction Handbook". Fred Galvin submitted a 1937 cite from a letter by Norman F. Stanley to Thrilling Wonder Stories.

(There are no cites in the OED explicitly with the sf sense.)

Last modified 4 December, 2008

Citations for superhero n.

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1937 Thrilling Wonder Stories Aug. 120/2 Re ‘Zarnak’; the strip started off very well, but I must agree with others that it is rapidly degenerating into the juvenile antics of a musclebound superhero. This latter sort of stuff may be all right in the Sunday comics but it is decidedly out of place in a respectable science fiction magazine.
1942 Supersnipe Comics Oct. (front cover) Super-hero.
1953 L. S. de Camp Sci.-Fiction Handbook 161 These are world-flinging space-operas similar to those that Edmond Hamilton was writing at the same time, with dastardly villains, spotless heroines (who stay that way even when stranded with the hero for months on one of Jupiter's moons) and super-heroes who get out of tight predicaments by single-handedly inventing super-ray projectors to melt their enemies' planets.
1958 O. Binder in Adventure Apr. (front cover) Featuring ‘The Legion of Super-Heroes’.
1958 O. Binder in Adventure Apr. 3 (in figure) You would be the greatest super-hero of us all!
1959 Adventure Dec. 1 (cartoon caption) Saddened and hurt, he departs from the planet earth, and encounters an even worse fate when‥he becomes‥prisoner of the super-heroes.
1983 R. E. Moore in Dragon Mag. Jan. 39/2 You could probably count on the fingers of one hand the number of superheroes who have been killed in the comics.
1983 R. E. Moore in Dragon Mag. Jan. 38/2 There are also a number of games out now about superheroes, in which players take on the personas of various costumed do-gooders of comic-book fame.
1991 Sci. Fiction Chron. May 24/2 Dollman , inspired by the old comic book superhero.
1991 D. R. Koontz Cold Fire i. iv. 135 Even a self-appointed superhero with clairvoyant powers might just spend a day‥doing nothing more dangerous than eating Szechuan Chinese with the chef's hottest mustard.
1997 R. Tiner Superhero in J. Clute & J. Grant Encycl. Fantasy 905/1 Superheroes , fantasy characters with superhuman powers visually marked out from the rest of humanity with their fantastical apparel.
2000 Interzone Nov. 41/1 The moment you allow the superheroes the kind of freedom of association that they take for granted in a mainstream comics universe, all hell pops loose.
2002 Dreamwatch Sept. 25/2 That makes it very different because he's not going to do the kind of things that you'll expect from a super-creature. Superheroes have these unique abilities, the ability to do something that humans cannot do.