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Understanding World War II through the lens of comic
By Karina Ramirez Velazquez
Welcome Historians! This book will help us
understand World War II through the lens
of comic book covers. I will give a brief
introduction on the start of the Golden Age
of comic books, and after an introduction
of the start of the World War II (1939) and
how that inﬂuence comic books. The
essential question for this book is: What
can early comic book covers tell us about
World War II? The target audience for this
book is ninth grade high schoolers. The
historical skills that will be studied are
sourcing, contextualization, corroborating,
and close reading.
The ﬁnal project will be creating your own
comic book cover or meme against or for
the U.S. involvement during WWII. As well
as writing a reﬂection of 1-2 pages. This
introductory page will also give you an
idea of how to interact with this book.
Did You Know?
INTERACTIVE 1.1 Click the “Did You know?” Tab
Meet the Author: Karina
Ramirez Velazquez is the
daughter of immigrant
parents from Michocan
and Morelia, Mexico.
Scroll up or down the image
Click the icons!
Comic Book History
The Golden Age of Comic Books is a
term to describe an era of American
comic books from the late 1930's,
when comic books where beginning
to boom, to the early 1950's. This
was the time that modern comics were ﬁrst published
and their popularity increased. Many well known
characters where introduced, such as Superman,
Batman, Captain America, Wonder Woman, and
Captain Marvel. Most would say that the Success of
Superman in 1938 launched the Golden Age of
comic books. Superman was the ﬁrst heroic of the
Golden Age comic that perpetuated the launch of
the superhero archetype. Characteristics or qualities
of a hero or heroine are brave, courageous, valiant,
superhuman, bold, fearless, daring, or noble. This
also introduced the audience to the villain archetype.
Characters like the Joker, Lex Luther, Doctor
Octopus, Thanos, Red Skull, and more. Good vs. Evil
was given a modern twist through the Golden Age of
Comic Books. Most importantly, the Golden Age
cemented comics as a mainstream art form that
created a new identity in American culture.
Batman was first introduced in Detective
Comics No. 27 of May 1939. Batman’s
popularity did not end at the Golden Age
Era. He is now an American cultural icon.
GALLERY 1.1 Detective Comics No. 27.
REVIEW 1.1 Pow! Pop Quiz Time!
Batman’s true identity is?
A. Steve Rogers
B. Bruce Wayne
C. Peter Pappas
D. Clark Kent
During the boom of the Golden Age of
Comics books the start of World War II was
in motion. Between 1939 and 1941
Detective Comics and All-American
Publications began to portray their iconic
heroes in red, white, and blue. You can see in many of the
covers superheroes battling the Axis powers. Comic book
sales increased during World War II. Because comic book
were cheap, portable, and created a venue of inspiration
these lead to authors to create patriotic stories of good
triumphing over evil. This is reﬂected in comic book covers of
Captain America dressed in stars and stripes battling Adolf
Hitler on his ﬁrst issue. Superheroes were depicted doing
things to help war effort as well. Readers would see them do
things like deliver supplies, stop spies at home, and do what
they could to help to help at home.
Several writers of books were part of the Ofﬁce of War
Information and the War Writer’s Board. The purpose of
those organizations were interested in give accurate
information about what was happening overseas. After the
end of World War II, the superhero genre lost momentum,
which many consider that being the end of the Golden Age
Boeing B-17 radar bombing through clouds: Bremen, Germany
November 13, 1943.
GALLERY 1.2 World War II Photos and Comic Book Covers
Captain Aero Comics
Captain Aero Comics was a war comic of the Golden Age Comic Book, appearing in
GALLERY 1.3 Read through Captain Aero Comic
Executive Order 9066:
“Whereas the successful prosecution of the
war requires every possible protection
against espionage and against sabotage to
national-defense material, national-defense
premises, and national-defense utilities as
defined in Section 4, Act of April 20, 1918,
40 Stat. 533, as amended by the Act of
November 30, 1940, 54 Stat. 1220, and the
Act of August 21, 1941, 55 Stat. 655 (U.S.C.,
Title 50, Sec. 104);
Now, therefore, by virtue of the authority
vested in me as President of the United
States, and Commander in Chief of the Army
and Navy, I hereby authorize and direct the
Secretary of War, and the Military
Commanders whom he may from time to time
designate, whenever he or any designated
Commander deems such action necessary or
desirable, to prescribe military areas in such
places and of such extent as he or the
appropriate Military Commander may
determine, from which any or all persons
INTERACTIVE 1.2 PIONEERS OF TELEVISION |
George Takei's life in an internment camp | PBS
Watch George Takei’s interview.
War at Home
Action Comics Vol. 1 No. 58 March, 1943.
GALLERY 1.4 World War II Comic Book Covers
7, 1941, Japan
naval base at
Pearl Harbor. This attack led
to direct American
involvement into World War
II. The following day the
United States declared war
on Japan. During World War
II, the United States detained
over 110,000 Japanese
Americans and relocated
them in internment camps.
This act is considered to be
the largest violations of civil
liberties in the nation.
or in a group you must
either create your own
comic book cover or a
meme supporting or
against U.S. involvement in World War
Each student must write a 1 to 2 page
essay on your reﬂection of how did early
comic book covers tell you about World
War II. Can youth culture like comic
books or media effect our understanding
of an event or perceptions of people? Do
you see that happening today? Why or
why not? And what was your biggest
take away from this unit?
Sensation Comic Vol. 1 No. 13 January, 1943
GALLERY 1.5 Examples of a Comic and Meme
Overall I really enjoyed and found value in creating a
document based lesson. This semester I’ve been
reading, Lies My Teacher Told Me, by James W.
Loewen and a quote that really stood out to me was,
“What would we think of a course in poetry in which
students never read a poem? (pg. 7).” I kept thinking about this quote
throughout this project because that’s how high school social studies have
been teaching history to students, poetry without poems! I feel document
based lessons is an alternative that ﬁxes that problem. It gives students a
chance to work with primary resources and challenges them to be the
historians in the process. The challenge for me was which primary
resources did I wanted to use, and what questions did I want my students
to answer. I am glad I got to use a topic that I am super passionate about
and be able to use it as my document based lesson project. My plan is to
use this next year with my students at OPEN School.
What I gained most from this project was the skills of using google and the
book author program. I am already thinking of creating another document
based lesson on a different subject just so I can continue to grow my skills
in using this program to be a better teacher. My only feed back I would
give about this project is that it’s a bit difﬁcult for people that may not
have a mac device on hand.
Comic book heroes like Wonder Woman are still influencing
American pop culture today. Many comic book heroes from the
past are being converted into live action films to still represent
hope for the future.
GALLERY 1.6 Sensation Comics Vol. 1 No. 1
http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2002719307/ - Cover Wonder Woman
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Action_Comics_1 - Action Comics No. 1 Superman
http://dc.wikia.com/wiki/Detective_Comics_Vol_1_27 - Detective Comics No. 27 Batman
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Captain_America - Captain America March No. 1
http://digitalcomicmuseum.com/index.php?dlid=14515 - Captain Aero Comic
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:B-17F_Radar_Bombing_over_Germany_1943.jpg -Boeing B
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Invasion_of_Normandy - Landing supplies at Normandy photo and
beautiful-death-robert-capa-second-world-war - American soldier killed at Leipzig
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Captain_America - Captain America punching Hitler in Captain America
March No. 1
http://dc.wikia.com/wiki/Action_Comics_Vol_1_63 -Superman fighting a Japanese soldier
http://dc.wikia.com/wiki/Batman_Vol_1_15 - Batman and Robin with a Machine Gun
Transcript of Executive Order 9066
http://dc.wikia.com/wiki/Action_Comics_Vol_1_58 - Superman Propaganda against the Japanese
http://marvel.wikia.com/wiki/Captain_America_Comics_Vol_1_22 - Captain America punching
http://dc.wikia.com/wiki/World's_Finest_Vol_1_8 - World’s Finest Comics
http://dc.wikia.com/wiki/Sensation_Comics_Vol_1_13 - Wonder Woman Sensation Comic
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wonder_Woman_(2017_film) - Wonder Woman Teaser Poster
Exploring History Vol IV
University of Portland Students
Peter Pappas, Editor
This eBook is a collaborative project of Peter Pappas
and his Fall 2016 Social Studies Methods Class
School of Education ~ University of Portland, Portland Ore.
Graduate and undergraduate level pre-service teachers were assigned the
task of developing an engaging research question, researching supportive
documents and curating them into a DBQ suitable for middle or high
For more on this class, visit the course blog EdMethods
For more on this book project and work ﬂow tap here.
Chapters in chronological order
1. Mysterious Bronze Age Collapse by Sam Hicks
2. From Revolution to Government by Valerie Schiller
3. Imagination, Innovation & Space Exploration by Molly Pettit
4. The Real Romanovs by Kelly Marx
5. World War I: The Human Cost of Total War by Anna
6. Collectivization and Propaganda in Stalin’s Soviet Union by
7. Holy Propaganda Batman! by Karina Ramirez Velazquez
8. The Nicaraguan Literacy Crusade by Scott Hearron
EXPLORING HISTORY: VOL IV
Engaging questions and historic
documents empower students to be
the historian in the classroom.