It all began in 1938.
It was in that year that two young men from Cleveland created the first caped and costumed "Superhero" and ushered in the Golden Age of American comic books.
Or did they?
That is, was the strange visitor from another planet with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men the first superhero? The same team that created the "Man of Steel" created the supernatural detective Dr. Occult three years earlier. Doc Savage, the so-called "Man of Bronze", debuted two years before Dr. Occult. In essence, it's safe to say that the Pulp Era ushered in the superhero. They just hadn't gotten around to donning colorful outfits with letters on their chests.
Or was it earlier? Robin Hood, King Arthur, Beowulf, Hercules -- certainly these characters are heroic and certainly they are superhuman. Are they not superheroes?
What if the first superhero was not only not a man of steel in the late 1930's, but also a woman of stone during America's war for its independence in colonial times?
Ah, the "What If," cornerstone of the entire genre of Science Fiction and a favorite subject of comic book writers since the dawn of the medium. In Gardner Fox's landmark issue of The Flash titled "Flash of Two Worlds" (DC Comics, The Flash #123, September 1961), we learn that the adventures of the Golden Age Flash occurred on an alternate Earth, separate from the one on which the Silver Age Flash lived. The two Earths had alternate characters and alternate histories.
My dear and talented friend Erin Palette knows a thing or two about alternate histories. How? Well, she knows a thing or two about actual history and about comic books and therefore knowledge of parallel world events should be second nature. If the tale of her colonial era superwoman Silence Do-Good is any indication, my theory is proven a million times over.
I am very honored to introduce you to the story and the world of Silence Do-Good. Not only is it an excellent example of an alternate world history, it's also a damn fine tale of a superheroine in the tradition of Marvel and DC's greatest legends. I can honestly say that in many ways it's better. Why? Simply put, the big guys never give the superheroine the credit they give the superhero. Wonder Woman will never matter as much as Superman. Between you and me, that's a shame. Silence Do-Good scores one for originality, one for being part of the events that change the world, and one for being a woman -- and a damn fine one at that.
Please don't take my word for it. Read on and find out how a woman in colonial America paved the way for the Golden Age Superhero and beyond.
Adam Dickstein 04/25/11
The Silence Saga is the centuries-spanning epic history of the world's first superhero, created by Ben Franklin in 1787. Her actions create a historical divergence, and this alternate history defines her as much as she defines it. My hope for the project was to create a world that explored the long-term effects of a super-powered individual upon world history. A secondary goal was to explain, in as logical a manner as possible, all of the comic-book tropes of today which we all take for granted but, when examined objectively, are really quite silly. I think I accomplished both of these goals and I hope you enjoy the fruits of my labor.
-- Erin Palette
Silence Do-Good, The All-American Golem Girl
|Art courtesy of the lovely and talented Anne Terres.|
- Part 1: Origin
- Part 2: The War Years
- Part 3: Reconstruction of Nation and Mind
- Part 4: A Butterfly Flaps Its Wings
- Part 5: All Silent on the Mexican Front
- Part 6: Rise of the Mystery Men
- Part 7: Costumed Crusaders
- Part 8: The Golden Age
- Part 9: The End
The character of Silence Do-Good is copyright Erin Palette 2011. All art in these sections is either public domain, or machinima from the City of Heroes MMO. I do not claim any ownership of art.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution- Noncommercial- No Derivative Works 3.0 License.