Superman isn’t just any old superhero -- he was the very first costumed superhero! He paved the way for Spiderman, Wonder Woman, Batman and all the other caped, masked and spandexed superheroes. In this episode, join Joy, her cohost Aaliyah, and special guest Molly Bloom to hear how his origin story was written by two teens from Cleveland in the 1930s, inspired by their experiences as children of immigrants. Plus, a brand new First Things First!
ALLIYAH: In a world where history is always happening, where donuts are good, and mayonnaise is disgusting, one woman dares.
JOY DOLO: Da da da, da, da, da, da!
ALLIYAH: One weird woman dares to host a history podcast.
JOY DOLO: Aluminum linoleum, aluminum linoleum. Prrrrrrr.
ALLIYAH: A podcast that is more powerful than a locomotive. [TRAIN HORN] Faster than a school bus on a Monday morning. [HONKING]
JOY DOLO: [PANTS] Slow down. Wait, please! Hold the door!
ALLIYAH: And more factual than your uncle at the dinner table.
UNCLE: I'm telling you, Bigfoot is out there. And I know, because I saw him!
ALLIYAH: One strange woman, along with her trusty co-hosts will bring you a brand new batch of episodes, where they explore topics like Thanksgiving, libraries, and gum!
JOY DOLO: Look how big I can blow my bubble gum. Aaliyah! Look at me. Are you watching, Aaliyah?
ALLIYAH: One woman who was desperate for attention--
JOY DOLO: Hey, Aaliyah! Look at me, Aaliyah, Aaliyah, Aaliyah, Aaliyah, Aaliyah, Aaliyah, Aaliyah!
ALLIYAH: --will use her special superpowers to chart the uncharted. Superpowers like reading really fast.
JOY DOLO: If your daddy's name is Jim and if Jim swims and if Jim's slim, the perfect Christmas gift for him is a set of slim Jim swim fins.
ALLIYAH: Drinking really spicy soup.
JOY DOLO: [SLURPS] That's super spicy. Get it, soup-er, soup-er.
ALLIYAH: And pulling the popcorn out of the microwave at just the right time.
JOY DOLO: And done!
ALLIYAH: Joy, hold on. These aren't special superpowers. These are just weird things that you're good at.
JOY DOLO: I know, but I wanted to make a trailer because you do that dramatic movie voice so well. Maybe that's your superpower. We are both super. Let's end this really dramatically.
ALLIYAH: Let's do it. Never a bore uncovering lore 2 plus 2 is 4.
JOY DOLO: It's time to explore the before.
Hello, you're listening to Forever Ago from APM Studios. I'm Joy Dolo, and my co-host today is Aaliyah from Tennessee. Hi, Aaliyah!
ALLIYAH: Hi, Joy. I'm so happy to be back.
JOY DOLO: Aaliyah, in honor of the first episode of our fourth season--
ALLIYAH: Hooray for us!
JOY DOLO: Hooray, indeed! I've decided to create a superhero who has all the powers of a Forever Ago episode.
ALLIYAH: Ooh. So they're super curious?
JOY DOLO: Yeah, and super smart. Also, they have X-ray vision to see into the dusty forgotten corners of history and super strength to carry all these books I checked out from the library for research. Oof, heavy.
ALLIYAH: I love it. What's the superhero going to be named?
JOY DOLO: I'm thinking Forever Agirl or maybe the Fantastic Forever or A History Podcast for Kids and Families Woman?
ALLIYAH: Hmm, doesn't exactly roll off the tongue.
JOY DOLO: That, it doesn't. No, hm-mm.
MOLLY BLOOM: Hi, friends!
JOY DOLO: Oh, hey! It's Brains On! host, Molly Bloom. What's up, Molly?
MOLLY BLOOM: Well, I couldn't help overhearing that you're trying to create a brand new superhero.
JOY DOLO: Molly, we've talked about this, the eavesdropping.
MOLLY BLOOM: But, Joy, I can't help it that I have such excellent hearing, and that you talk so loud.
ALLIYAH: It's true. My mom just texted me from the parking lot, with a suggestion for a superhero name. She heard us all the way through the building's double-paned windows and her super thick windshield.
JOY DOLO: OK, fine. It's actually pretty special, come to think about it. Let's add super loud voice to my list of super powers.
MOLLY BLOOM: So your superhero has lots of cool powers, but what's their origin story?
JOY DOLO: Well, you see, it's actually--
ALLIYAH: Ah, what's an origin story?
MOLLY BLOOM: Oh, Aaliyah, I'm so glad you asked. An origin story is the story of how your superhero came to be so gosh darn super in the first place.
JOY DOLO: Ooh, fun! OK, let's start brainstorming.
ALLIYAH: How about a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away?
JOY DOLO: Oh, I've heard that one before. Oh, I've got a super original one. In West Philadelphia, born and raised--
MOLLY BLOOM: I'm pretty sure I've heard that one, too. What if you look to your own stories for inspiration?
JOY DOLO: Oh, I don't know. I'm just a normal super talented and charismatic podcast host. Not sure if that translates into a superhero.
MOLLY BLOOM: Well, what if I told you that the very first superhero was created and inspired by the lives of two regular kids in the 1930s?
ALLIYAH: I'd be very interested to hear that story.
MOLLY BLOOM: Well, that's great news, because that's what this episode is all about.
JOY DOLO: Wait, did you say the very first superhero?
ALLIYAH: That's got to be--
JOY DOLO AND ALLIYAH: Superman!
MOLLY BLOOM: That's right. Superman was the very first costumed superhero. If you like Spiderman, Wonder Woman, Batman, or any other caped, masked, or Spandex superhero, you have Superman to thank for paving the way.
JOY DOLO: Superman! He wears a tight blue shirt and a pair of blue tights with a red pair of underpants on top.
ALLIYAH: He has matching red boots and a long flowing red cape.
JOY DOLO: Emblazoned on his chest is a giant red S.
ALLIYAH: His powers are super strength, super speed, laser eyes, freezing breath, and he can leap tall buildings in a single bound.
JOY DOLO: Born on a distant planet, he was sent to Earth as a baby and raised by a kind human family.
ALLIYAH: In order to live a normal life, he hides his super self behind another identity, that of Clark Kent, a shy, nerdy reporter at the local newspaper. No one knows he is Superman!
MOLLY BLOOM: Wow, chills. So good you two.
JOY DOLO AND ALLIYAH: Thanks!
ALLIYAH: But how was that story inspired by two normal kids?
JOY DOLO: Were they aliens? Oh my gosh, they were aliens from Krypton?
MOLLY BLOOM: No, not aliens. They were Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, and they lived in Cleveland.
JOY DOLO: Cleveland? They lived in Cleveland in Ohio?
ALLIYAH: Not sure that needs the same astonishment as the alien idea. But I like your enthusiasm, Joy.
MOLLY BLOOM: Yes, Jerry and Joe lived in Cleveland. They met in high school there in the early 1930s.
ALLIYAH: In the early 1930s, people didn't have computers or cell phones.
JOY DOLO: Right. There were phones that plugged into the wall. They had a base with a round dial and a piece you held in your hand and put it up to your face. One end for your ear, the other for your mouth.
ALLIYAH: There were no TVs or video games, but there were magazines and newspapers and radios and movie theaters.
JOY DOLO: It was also the beginning of the Great Depression, a time when many businesses were struggling, and it was hard to find jobs. A lot of people didn't have much money.
MOLLY BLOOM: Absolutely. And both Joe and Jerry's families struggled to make ends meet. The two boys helped where they could. And in their free time, they threw themselves into their passions. For Jerry, it was writing and, specifically, writing science fiction. He was always churning out stories.
JERRY SIEGEL: Antares was a cruel and unyielding world to any soul unfortunate to land there.
MOLLY BLOOM: And for Joe, it was drawing. He would pore over the Sunday comics that came in the weekly newspaper. Inspired by the gorgeous art, he'd draw for hours.
Now, as anyone who's been to school knows you're often alphabetized by your last names. Definitely in the yearbook, but maybe your locker or your desk, too. Well, Jerry and Joe found themselves alphabetized together.
JOE SHUSTER: Hi, I'm Joe. Joe Shuster.
JERRY SIEGEL: And I'm Jerry. Jerry Siegel.
MOLLY BLOOM: They realized they both loved reading science fiction magazines.
JERRY SIEGEL: Hey, Joe, I got to show you this thing I wrote.
JOE SHUSTER: I have a few sketches you might want to see.
MOLLY BLOOM: They quickly became best friends. And pretty soon, also a writing team. Jerry described it in a later interview as--
JERRY SIEGEL: When Joe and I first met, it was the right chemicals coming together.
JOY DOLO: OK, so it's always wonderful to meet a friend who gets you, especially in high school. But, Molly, where is my superhero inspiration? I need help with my origin story.
ALLIYAH: Yeah, origin stories don't grow on trees, Molly.
MOLLY BLOOM: You're right. You're right. OK. So when Joe and Jerry met, they realized they both loved sci-fi, and they both loved to tell stories. So they teamed up. Jerry would write the words, and Joe would create the images.
JOY DOLO: And then they came up with Superman?
MOLLY BLOOM: Not quite yet. The first comic strip they made together was called "Interplanetary Police."
ALLIYAH: Let me guess. It was about police who fought crime in space?
JERRY SIEGEL: 2000 years, hence, fantastic aircraft soar overhead. It is the year 3000 AD.
JOE SHUSTER: With interplanetary travel came a new menace-- space pirates. And in their wake--
JERRY SIEGEL: Policemen of the sky.
MOLLY BLOOM: They were still figuring it out. While they were in high school, they printed a magazine called Popular Comics, full of comic strips the two created together, such as the comedy duo, "Snoopy and Smiley."
JERRY SIEGEL: Smiley, when that lady dropped her handkerchief, you permitted her to retrieve it herself. Now why didn't you pick it up?
JOE SHUSTER: I had one of my own.
MOLLY BLOOM: There was a Tarzan parody called "Goober the Mighty."
JERRY SIEGEL: Goober slips and falls. The bee zooms down for the death thrust.
JOE SHUSTER: Will the Princess be too late to save Goober? Of course, she won't. Next, Goober's revenge.
MOLLY BLOOM: And there were lots more. "Inko," "Public Pests," "Louisville Lil," "Gloria Glamour." I could go on, but I won't.
ALLIYAH: I was going to ask how that went for them. But since I haven't heard of any of those comic strips, I'm guessing not great?
MOLLY BLOOM: Yeah, people weren't buying popular comics.
JOY DOLO: I do appreciate that name, though. Definitely trying to manifest their dreams through words. Like if I started calling myself Chili Cook-off Winner Joy or Olympic Gymnast Joy or Beyonce Level Famous Joy.
MOLLY BLOOM: But then in 1933, before their senior year of high school, Joe and Jerry came up with the idea that would make them famous.
JOY DOLO AND ALLIYAH: Superman!
JOY DOLO: Finally, the origin story.
MOLLY BLOOM: The way Jerry told the story later in life makes it sound like something out of a dream. Here's how he remembered it.
JERRY SIEGEL: The air was still and heavy. Clouds had drifted past the moon. Up there was wind. If only I could fly, if only. And Superman was conceived, not in his entirety but little by little throughout a long and sleepless night.
MOLLY BLOOM: As the legend goes, Jerry plotted out this new character's story and rushed over to his friend Joe's first thing in the morning. They sketched out a pitch for his new comic idea and sent it to some comic book publishers in Chicago.
JOY DOLO: And then overnight success. Superman serial. Superman lunchboxes. Superman underwear.
MOLLY BLOOM: No.
JOE SHUSTER: The pitch failed.
JERRY SIEGEL: We were both so mad!
JOE SHUSTER: How could they look at such brilliance and just cast it aside?
ALLIYAH: How could they?
MOLLY BLOOM: Well, the comic wasn't quite there yet. It was a bit rushed and missing some of the crucial elements we would come to know as important parts of the Superman backstory. A lot of that would come when Joe and Jerry added a little bit of their own backgrounds into Superman's origin story.
JOY DOLO: Finally!
MOLLY BLOOM: But, Joy, I understand you have something important to take care of first?
JOY DOLO: Oh, the suspense. But I sure do. It's time for--
ANNOUNCER: First Thing's First!
JOY DOLO: OK, let's put these superheroes in the order they were created. Spiderman, Batwoman, and Black Panther. OK, Alliyah, which do you think came first, which came second, and which came most recently in history?
ALLIYAH: I feel like Spiderman was kind of like the middle, because it wasn't the early-- the earliest, but it wasn't the newest either.
JOY DOLO: Mm-hmm, good guess. Have you seen any Batwoman comics or TV shows or anything like that?
ALLIYAH: I used to watch it with my cousin when I was really young. So I can't really remember a lot of it. But I think Batwoman, Spiderman, and then Black Panther.
JOY DOLO: Yeah, have you seen any of the Black Panther movies?
ALLIYAH: Yes, I saw both.
JOY DOLO: Yeah, I saw them, too. They were so good.
ALLIYAH: So good.
JOY DOLO: I loved it. Whenever-- I love whenever they run across a field.
JOY DOLO: It's like I feel like I'm running, even though I'm just sitting and watching. But I agree with this order. I think this is right. So we'll hear the answers after the credits.
Here at Forever Ago, we love talking about the surprising history behind some of our favorite inventions. Like remember how the microwave was invented totally by accident?
ALLIYAH: Or how the person who invented Velcro came up with the idea after his dog came home covered in sticky little burrs?
JOY DOLO: Listeners, we want to hear from you. Do you have an invention you want to shout out for being totally awesome? It could be something unusual or something totally common that you think deserves more love. Send us a recording of yourself, sharing your favorite invention and what's great about it at foreverago.org/contact. Alliyah, what's an invention you feel like you couldn't live without?
ALLIYAH: Ooh, that's a hard one, because there's a lot. There's a lot of inventions that have been made, and I really, really, really love. That's really hard.
JOY DOLO: I know it's hard. I feel like, today, I couldn't live without my backpack because I put everything inside of it to travel.
ALLIYAH: I put so much stuff in there, because I have to switch between two classes. And it's a mess.
JOY DOLO: Yeah, [LAUGHS] it's a lot going on. But my backpack or pens, because I love to color and draw and stuff, I don't think I could live without that. Is there something like that for you?
ALLIYAH: I really like art and stuff. I can't live without that. But I think the main thing is toothbrushes.
JOY DOLO: [GASPS] That is a great answer. Brushing your teeth is necessary.
ALLIYAH: So necessary.
JOY DOLO: Yeah, we can't wait to hear your invention mentions, too. Send them to us at foreverago.org/contact.
ALLIYAH: And we'll be right back.
JOY DOLO: You're listening to Forever Ago. I'm Joy.
ALLIYAH: And I'm Alliyah.
JOY DOLO: OK, Molly, we're ready to hear about how Superman's origin story reflects the lives of his creators.
ALLIYAH: Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.
MOLLY BLOOM: I asked Brad Ricca for help on this. He's a writer and historian.
BRAD RICCA: Everyone knows Superman's origin. As a baby, he is rocketed from the planet Krypton and comes to Earth for a new life. I mean, this is the immigrant story.
MOLLY BLOOM: Brad wrote a book about Joe and Jerry called Super Boys, and he's from Cleveland, too.
JOY DOLO: Cleveland? He's from Cleveland in Ohio?
ALLIYAH: Yes, Cleveland.
MOLLY BLOOM: And Brad says you can draw a direct line from this new Superman origin story they came up with to Joe and Jerry's experiences as first-generation immigrants.
JOY DOLO: Hey, I'm a first-generation immigrant, too. That means my parents moved here from a different country. But I was born here, the first generation to be born in this new country.
ALLIYAH: Where did your family emigrate from, Joy? Why did they come to the US?
JOY DOLO: My parents came to the United States from Liberia, which is a country in West Africa. And they came in the early '80s. They came because they wanted to give us a life with lots of opportunities.
ALLIYAH: Oh, that's really cool.
MOLLY BLOOM: Both Joe and Jerry's parents immigrated to the US from Eastern Europe, specifically from land controlled by Russia. They were Jewish. And those areas were really hard to live in, if you were a Jew. There was a lot of anti-Semitism.
ALLIYAH: Anti-Semitism is a word for when people hate someone just because they're Jewish.
MOLLY BLOOM: When Joe and Jerry's parents were growing up in the late 1800s and early 1900s, Jewish people faced a lot of violence. Sometimes, groups of Christian Russians would raid Jewish villages or neighborhoods, burning buildings and killing people. Police and the military did nothing to stop them or sometimes even took part in the violence themselves. These acts of violence were called pogroms, which is Yiddish for destruction and devastation.
Some Jews like Jerry's dad, Mihail, were forced to join the Russian army. He and other Jews were bullied and looked at as less than human. Jerry's and Joe's parents scraped together enough money to flee the violence in their homelands, both eventually landing in Cleveland, where their American sons, Joe and Jerry, created Superman. Joe and Jerry used a similar story for their new hero. But instead of fleeing to a new country, Superman's parents sent their kid to a different planet to avoid destruction.
JOY DOLO: OK, this is super cool. I see the similarities now.
MOLLY BLOOM: And there's more. When he arrives on Earth, Superman gets a new identity that helps him blend in.
ALLIYAH: Oh, right. He becomes Clark Kent, a seemingly average American guy. It's a way to hide his true background.
MOLLY BLOOM: Exactly. Joe and Jerry kind of did the same thing. But rather than having an alter ego, they blended in by becoming more American. They didn't dress or act like their parents did in their home countries.
JOY DOLO: Clark has glasses. He's shy. He has a crush on someone who doesn't like him back--
MOLLY BLOOM: --which also describes Joe and Jerry in high school.
JOY DOLO: That's the identity Superman puts on to blend in with humans.
ALLIYAH: But his superpowered self, that's him representing his home planet.
MOLLY BLOOM: Exactly. And he has to juggle these two identities and try to keep them separate, something American-Jews like Joe and Jerry were very familiar with. Here's Brad again.
BRAD RICCA: And we hear this from tons of first-generation Americans of trying to find their way with their foot in one old culture, and the other foot in the new culture of America. And that's Superman.
ALLIYAH: Joy, does that ring true to you as a first-generation immigrant?
JOY DOLO: Absolutely. I grew up with a lot of African families in my neighborhood, and my school was predominantly white. I felt like I didn't belong with the African-Americans either. Our culture was so different from the United States. We ate different foods, we had different hair styles, and my parents have accents. I felt like I was in a maze. I had to pick what world I belong to.
ALLIYAH: That feels similar to me.
JOY DOLO: Really? What do you mean?
ALLIYAH: Sometimes, in my older schools, when I was younger, I felt like I wasn't-- I couldn't fit in, because, usually, there wasn't a lot of my skin color kids or just Black kids, in general, there.
JOY DOLO: Yeah.
ALLIYAH: But now there's a lot of kids who are my skin color or Black, now that I'm in fifth grade.
JOY DOLO: Oh, how does that make you feel?
ALLIYAH: It makes me feel really good. It makes me feel like I belong there.
JOY DOLO: Yeah, yeah. It's good, because it's hard when you're just on your own. It gets kind of lonely.
JOY DOLO: And it's hard to just walk up to people that maybe you might think might not understand you or know what you're trying to-- a lot of people didn't get my jokes. [LAUGHS] And they wouldn't understand things. But, yeah, it takes some time just to get comfortable in your own skin. And then it's easier to make friends with anyone.
JOY DOLO: So I hear you. I get it.
MOLLY BLOOM: So Joe and Jerry graduated high school and eventually got jobs writing and drawing comic books. But they were still waiting for someone to publish Superman. They kept at it, pitching it over and over again. And then about five years after they first dreamed up Superman, he made his official comic book debut.
JERRY SIEGEL: Superman, champion of the oppressed, the physical marvel who had sworn to devote his existence to those in need.
ALLIYAH: Superman was a huge hit. He went on to be in radio shows.
ANNOUNCER: Presenting Superman!
MAN: Up in the sky. Look! It's a bird!
WOMAN: It's a plane!
MAN: It's Superman!
ALLIYAH: Television programs.
MAN: Look! Up in the sky! It's a bird!
WOMAN: It's a plane!
MAN: It's Superman! Yes, it's Superman!
ALLIYAH: Action figures and lots of movies.
SUPERMAN: Superman. [CHUCKLES] You mean-- you think I'm Superman?
JOY DOLO: He's truly an American icon.
MOLLY BLOOM: Definitely. And he was drummed up and made famous by kids. Here's my friend Brad again.
BRAD RICCA: These two kids who had nothing created this, and what a story that is. And it is a big corporate logo now. But Superman started in somebody's bedroom on a piece of paper, with a pencil. So many of those kids reading him in the '30s were first generation Americans, too, and they knew what it felt like.
MOLLY BLOOM: And it just so happens, I know one of these kids pretty well. He's not a kid anymore, though.
RICHARD HONIGS: My name is Richard G. Honigs, But I'm known as Dick or Dickie.
MOLLY BLOOM: My grandpa Dickie is 92 years old. And his parents and grandparents came to the US around the same time Joe and Jerry's parents came, also fleeing anti-Semitism in Europe.
RICHARD HONIGS: My mother was born in a small town in Poland. The town that she grew up in was probably 70% or 80% Jewish.
MOLLY BLOOM: So when and why did her family come to America?
RICHARD HONIGS: Well, clearly, it was due to pogroms that would occur from time to time in that area of Poland.
MOLLY BLOOM: Did your parents speak Yiddish to each other, or they spoke English?
RICHARD HONIGS: My parents spoke English. But if they didn't want me to understand what they were talking about, they would speak Yiddish. Of course, that led me to understand that Yiddish.
MOLLY BLOOM: [LAUGHS]
RICHARD HONIGS: And they didn't realize that they were educating me at the time.
MOLLY BLOOM: [LAUGHS] Sneaky. So sneaky.
RICHARD HONIGS: It was very, very tricky, because I didn't let on I knew what it was all about. It's interesting. I remember my mother telling me the story when she first came to this country. And the school system enrolled her in kindergarten. But she was really, really offended, because she was seven years old. She could read, write-- not English. And that's why they put her in the kindergarten class, because she was bigger than everybody else and older and assigned things that were too simple for her.
So she was really offended by that. And she worked very hard to learn English in order to get into the proper grade. So they said, mom, you didn't need to be ashamed. She said, I didn't speak the language. They said, well, no, but you spoke a lot of other languages. You spoke Polish. You spoke Ukrainian. You spoke German. You spoke Yiddish. And you can read and write in all of those languages. So my parents were very patriotic for America. And they recognized the difference, especially my mother from where they came and where they ended up.
MOLLY BLOOM: Dickie and his friends grew up in a primarily Jewish Minneapolis neighborhood. They heard stories about Europe and carried on in the same Jewish traditions. At the same time, they were embracing America and Superman.
RICHARD HONIGS: He looked like he was really a cool guy. I couldn't get my hair to quite look like that, though, or my muscles.
MOLLY BLOOM: [LAUGHS] And you dressed as him for Halloween?
RICHARD HONIGS: Yes, I decided I would be Superman. My mother helped me find a Superman outfit, but the costume then was to wear white socks. So I wore white socks over my booties.
MOLLY BLOOM: [LAUGHS]
RICHARD HONIGS: I think it detracted a little bit from being Superman.
MOLLY BLOOM: [LAUGHS]
RICHARD HONIGS: But the girls at the party all thought it was daring. And the guys all thought I was silly.
MOLLY BLOOM: [LAUGHS] My grandpa Dickie and his friends felt a special connection to Superman.
RICHARD HONIGS: Oh, we identified the authors, the story writer, and the artist as a couple of young Jewish guys. So they became heroic in their own way to me, at least.
MOLLY BLOOM: How did you know they were Jewish?
RICHARD HONIGS: By their names.
MOLLY BLOOM: So if you had the last name Siegel and Shuster, you were Jewish?
RICHARD HONIGS: Yeah, that's right. And that was easy to identify with the fact that it was written by a couple of young Jewish guys. And I could understand what was going through their minds. Superman resembled a huge, powerful guardian against crime, against evil doers, protected the innocent. It was easy to identify with a hero like that.
MOLLY BLOOM: There were kids like Dickie all over the US, and they loved Superman. Comics featuring Joe and Jerry's creation were flying off the shelves.
YOUNG CHILD: Do you have action comics, one with Superman?
VENDOR: Sure do, kid. That'll be $0.15.
MOLLY BLOOM: Superman was an instant hit. But back then, there were no computers or social media to see how well something was doing.
ALLIYAH: So how did they know it was an instant hit?
MOLLY BLOOM: Well, my friend, Brad Ricca, has the story.
BRAD RICCA: So there's this story that the head of the comics company at the time wanted to know how Superman was doing. So he had a tried-and-true method of doing this. He would leave his plush office and walk downstairs, New City, walk to the corner, and he would go to the newsstand. And he would ask the guy who ran the newsstand what's selling. And he said, the one with Superman. And he asked him who's buying it. It's the kids!
YOUNG CHILD: Excuse me, do you have the comic with Superman?
VENDOR: Sure do, kiddo.
BRAD RICCA: And it was kids who got Superman off the ground and to where he is today. Even though superheroes are run by giant corporations now, they were put there by kids first.
JOY DOLO: OK, that is a super-de-duper cool origin story. Thanks for sharing it with us, Molly.
MOLLY BLOOM: My pleasure.
JOY DOLO: I'm feeling really inspired now. So I've written my own origin story.
Joy was a middle child in Tennessee. Her parents moved to Minnesota when she was 10. It was really hard, and Joy was quite sad. But then her mentor, Kevin Dutcher, invited her to do a play, and it changed her life. Now, she is an actor and a podcast host by day and a super cake-eating, super dog-walking, super puzzle-making genius by night! Maybe I should get a cape. Alliyah, what would your superpower be?
ALLIYAH: I have been waiting this question all my life.
I literally have been thinking about it for the longest time.
JOY DOLO: Oh my gosh, the anticipation.
ALLIYAH: OK. So I feel like my superpower would have something that would involve my favorite color.
JOY DOLO: OK.
ALLIYAH: Like, I like this type of light purple. And I feel like it would involve maybe something glittery or shiny.
JOY DOLO: So it would be like a color that would like-- just like you would turn everything into that color?
ALLIYAH: Yeah, like-- have you guys seen the TV show Avatar?
JOY DOLO: I've heard of it. I don't think I've seen it.
ALLIYAH: Basically, it would look like air superpowers from a TV show but purple.
JOY DOLO: [LAUGHS] OK, I get it. That's a pretty cool superpower. And there's glitter involved, so I'm in.
ALLIYAH: Love glitter.
JOY DOLO: This episode was written by Molly Bloom. We had help from Nico Gonzalez Wisler, Sanden Totten, Shahla Farzan, and Aron Woldeslassie. Anna Goldfield, Rosie DuPont, Ruby Guthrie, and Anna Weigle. Sound design by Rachel Brees. Theme music by Marc Sanchez. Beth Pearlman is our executive producer. We had engineering help from Alex Simpson, Anna Hoberman, and Dave Walton. The executives in charge of APM Studios are Chandra Covatti, Joanne Griffith, and Alex Schaffert. Special thanks to Lulu, Coco, Andy [? Doucette, ?] [? Baird ?] [? Tortorello, ?] and Caleb Wahls.
ALLIYAH: If you want access to ad-free episodes and special bonus content, subscribe to our Smarty Pass.
JOY DOLO: Check it out at foreverago.org/contact. OK, Alliyah, ready to hear the answers for First Things First?
ALLIYAH: Yeah, yeah.
JOY DOLO: Yeah, yeah! OK. So as a reminder, we're putting the superheroes in the order they were created. And you chose Batwoman, Spiderman, and then The Black Panther. Drum roll, please. Doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo. Oh my gosh, do you want to hear something nutty? You were absolutely right!
JOY DOLO: Yes! You are a super podcast person!
ALLIYAH: Oh, yeah.
JOY DOLO: Oh, yeah! Pump it up! Pump it up! So first, it was Batwoman. She made her comic debut in 1956. And like Batman, she has no superpowers but is very wealthy. I am all about that life. She's also a former circus performer. She decided to use her acrobatic skills and money to imitate Batman and become a costumed crime fighter, which is amazing.
And then second was Spiderman who made his debut in 1962. He was a regular teenage boy, until he got bitten by a radioactive spider, which gave him super spidey powers, which were all kind of familiar with. I love Spiderman.
ALLIYAH: Me, too.
JOY DOLO: Yeah. And then third, last, but not least was The Black Panther, who first appeared in 1966. His super powers come from the ability to harness a powerful substance called vibranium, found in his homeland of Wakanda, and a magical herb that gives him superhuman strength and senses. So what do you think about that? You did it. You're so smart.
ALLIYAH: Well, first of all, I'm really surprised, because I've never got First Things First right before.
JOY DOLO: It's a big day.
ALLIYAH: Yeah, yeah. Ba, ba, ba.
JOY DOLO: Well, the thing is, too, we were talking about Black Panther and how we both saw the movies. I didn't know that it came out in the '60s.
ALLIYAH: I didn't neither.
JOY DOLO: Yeah, that's like a long time ago.
ALLIYAH: And like-- in the mid 2000s.
JOY DOLO: Yeah, yeah. But I guess it's been around for a long time. And I'm going to have to do some research on Batwoman, because that sounds like the life I want to live. [LAUGHS]
JOY DOLO: We'll be back next week with an episode, All About the History of Thanksgiving.
ALLIYAH: Thanks for listening.
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